Tag Archives: faith

Two Bridges

Story of the Day for Saturday July 16, 2011

Two Bridges

 

                     The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith.”   And the Lord responded, “If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and plant yourself in the sea’ and it would obey you.” 

                                                      Luke 17:5-6

 I’m going to ask you a question in just a moment. It’s not a trick question, but most Christians answer it wrong, while those who aren’t particularly religious tend to give the right answer.

 

You and a friend go for a walk and come to a raging river. Since it’s impossible to swim across it, you look along the bank, and spot two bridges.

The first bridge is buttressed on both ends with thick concrete. Massive steel girders span the river, which have been overlaid with thick oak planks. It looks like you could drive a tank over it.

The other bridge is an oddity. It’s constructed out of cardboard and fastened together with duct tape. The light rain the night before has left the cardboard sagging somewhat, but it is, nevertheless, a bridge.

Your friend asks, “What bridge you gonna to take?”

“What! You’re joking, right? I’m taking the steel bridge.”

You soon discover your friend isn’t joking. “I’m taking the cardboard bridge,” he says.

As your friend starts out across the sagging cardboard bridge, he doesn’t have the slightest concern about its strength. He’s humming a song as he boldly strides across.

You, on the other hand, are unnerved. Your palms begin to sweat and you notice there’s a tremor in your hands. Thinking it will help to better disperse your weight, you begin to crawl across the steel bridge.

 

So, here’s the question. Who will make it safely to the other side: the person with the strong faith or the person with the weak faith?

I’ve asked this question dozens of times, and, invariably, Christians tend to blurt out, “The person with the strong faith.”

Wrong answer. The person who will make it safely across the river is you, with the weak faith. Your friend may have a strong faith, but it is faith in a weak bridge incapable of holding a person’s weight. You, on the other hand, may have a weak faith, but as long as it is in a strong bridge, you will make it safely to the other side.

 

Jesus’ followers asked him to increase their faith – and there’s certainly nothing wrong with that. But Jesus knew they were looking at things from the wrong perspective. Ultimately, it’s not how much faith you have that matters; it’s what you have your faith in that counts.

   Even a weak faith, a faith as tiny as a mustard seed, can do great things if it’s placed in the true source of power and strength.
(copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

Why Faith Doesn’t Create Open Pickup Windows

Story of the Day for Friday July 15, 2011

 

Why Faith Doesn’t Create Open Pickup Windows

 

                They called on the name of Baal from morning until noon, shouting, “O Baal, answer us!” But there was no voice; no one answered.  

                                                              1 Kings 18:26

Different roads can lead us to the same town and many believe that all religions lead to the same God. Our generation has made a breathtaking transition in thinking. In the past, people thought you could be right about what you believed, or you could be wrong. But something wasn’t true because you believed it.

All that has now changed. Today, vast multitudes think that, if you believe something, and believe it sincerely, then it’s true. Why? Because you believe it.

 

Brian Tracy, a leader of the Positive Thinking movement teaches that, if you are on a crowded street looking for an empty parking space, and you believe strongly enough, you will always find that a vacant parking space has been created for you.

In this same vein, we don’t bother so much with asking whether our beliefs in God are true; the only thing that matters is that we have a sincere faith.

 

Last week, I used a cup of cold coffee to disprove this notion.

Early, on a chilly morning in the mountains, I grabbed a cup of coffee and drove down the road to the old Pinkham schoolhouse. The day turned into a scorcher and, by late afternoon, everyone had opened the windows to their vehicles to cool them down.

When it was time to go home, I climbed in my pickup and noticed I hadn’t finished my coffee so I picked up the cup and threw the cold coffee out the window.

THWACK!

I thought the window was open, but it wasn’t. The cup banged against the window and sent a shower of cold coffee my way.

If you ever want to feel really stupid . . .

 

Now, I sincerely believed that the window on my pickup was rolled down. I sincerely believed that I could fling the cold coffee outside and life would be better for my having done so.

Sadly, my faith could not create truth. If faith made things true, I wouldn’t have had sore knuckles and coffee dripping from my face.

 

On Mount Carmel, Elijah challenged the prophets of Baal to a contest. Whoever could pray to their God to miraculously light the sacrifice on the altar would be acknowledged as serving the true God. Back then, everyone agreed that faith was useless unless it was placed in the truth.

In the old days, they wouldn’t scratch their heads and wonder why my faith didn’t create an open window on my pickup; they would be looking at my soppy face and laughing until their stomachs hurt.

                                                  (copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

Walk on Water and Doubt

Story of the Day for Wednesday May 25, 2011

Walk on Water and Doubt 

                    Live such good lives among the pagans that. . . they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.  

                                                                                  1 Peter 2:12

Paul Mason is writing a book on losing weight.  He has lost some pounds of late and is eager to share his insights with others.  Yet, what makes us admire his chutzpah is that, at 686 pounds, Paul Mason is still considered the heaviest man in the world. He grew so enormous that, to get him to a hospital, firemen had to knock down a wall of his house and lift him out with a forklift.

We wish him well – both on his book and his diet.  (One witty journalist thinks his book will be a “vest-sweller”). But you do have to wonder, don’t you — who would buy a diet book from the fattest man on earth?

The apostle Peter talks about our lives being a creditable reflection of our faith.  He believes that our behavior serves as a witness to unbelievers and helps lead them to the God of grace.

So, do you wince when annoying busybodies like me talk about being a witness for Christ?  More often than not, this topic dredges up painful memories.  We recall some of our spectacular failures to live a Christ-like life, and know, sometimes, we’re not a good witness at all.

If you’re feeling pretty cruddy about how you’ve behaved lately, maybe you need to remember Peter.  He pledged his loyalty to his Lord and declared he was willing to die rather than disown Jesus. Hours later, he vehemently denied any knowledge or allegiance to Jesus.  Not once, but three times.

Peter knows what it is like to fail the Lord.  And, unlike your failures or mine, Peter’s sin got stuck in the Bible for the whole world to see.

Are you embarrassed because you have fallen flat on your face?  Well, this is not the time to talk about being a witness.   We first must go to the one who covers our shame.  Jesus didn’t come into the world to pat good people on the head; he came as a doctor to care for our spiritual sickness.  Only Jesus’ forgiveness can get us back on our feet again.

Look at Peter’s life.  He tried to walk on water and doubted.  Jesus grabs his hand and lifts him up.  Peter gave the misguided advice that Jesus would never need to suffer and die.  Jesus called him Satan. But he kept him as his disciple.  And, around a campfire on the shore of Galilee, the risen Lord confronted Peter after his denial, and restored him to a place of leadership.

We are not fooling unbelievers when we try to deny our failures and hypocrisy.  Our witness to the world will sometimes be the wonder of Christ’s mercy when we fail.

But the real goal is still that the world would observe us rising from the ashes and — even though fuzzy at the edges — they would see a reflection of the goodness of our Lord. It’s never too late to be a positive witness for Christ.  Just ask Peter.
                                                          (copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

Swimming in the Fog

Story of the Day for Tuesday May 17, 2011

Swimming in the Fog

                              My soul is very troubled. How long, O Lord, how long?  

                                                                                   Psalm 6:3

On July 4, 1952, Florence Chadwick attempted to become the first woman to swim the twenty-one miles from Catalina Island to the California coast.

The fog was so thick, however, she could barely see the support boats accompanying her. After fifteen hours and fifty-five minutes, she begged to be taken out of the water. Soon after she got in the boat, Chadwick discovered she was only half a mile from shore.

At a news conference the next day, she said, “All I could see was the fog . . . I think if I could have seen the shore, I would have made it.”

Marathon runners who know how much further it is to the finish line are better able to summon the strength to reach their goal. But, with most things in life, we’re like Florence Chadwick: we know the goal we want to accomplish, but we have no idea how close we are to reaching it. We live in a fog.

Louis L’Amour has more than 300 million copies of his books in print, but, in the early days, he says, “There was a steady flow of rejection slips.” He was not exaggerating. Publishers rejected his submissions 200 times before the first one was accepted.

If you knew your 200th story would usher you into a life of fame and fortune, you wouldn’t mind your 199th rejection slip. In fact, it would be kind of exciting. But, if you didn’t know whether your writing would ever be accepted by a publisher, your 199th rejection slip would be pretty discouraging, wouldn’t it?

The psalmists often ask God a question for which they never get an answer: “How long, O Lord?”

We’re encouraged to ask the Lord the same question – even though we’ll get the same answer they did. All the same, even groaning to God is an act of faith.

We don’t know how many more job applications we’ll have to fill out before we land a job. We don’t know how many prayers we’ll have to make on behalf of a loved one who is breaking our heart. How many more strokes did Florence Chadwick need to make before she reached her goal? How many more manuscripts did Louis L’Amour need to mail before he earned his first dollar?

The key is to take a deep breath, trust the Lord, and keep at it.

If we never know when the answers will come, is there ever a time to give up? I guess so.  James Reeves’ little poem speaks about just such a time:

The King sent for his wise men all

To find a rhyme for W.

When they had thought a good long time,

But could not think of a single rhyme,

     “I’m sorry,” said he, “to trouble you.”

                                          (copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)