Tag Archives: football

The Best Medicine

Story of the Day for Wednesday January 18, 2012

The Best Medicine

                    When Jesus got ashore, he saw a great crowd, and was moved with compassion for them. 

                                                                        Mark 6:34

Karl Menninger built the internationally renowned Menninger Clinic in Topeka, Kansas.  He built a career around providing psychiatric care for troubled patients.

Once, Menninger gave a lecture on mental health and answered questions from the audience.  One person lobbed him a softball, “What would you advise a person to do,” they asked, “if they felt a nervous breakdown coming on?”

Well, duh!  Everyone already knew his answer before he said it: see a psychiatrist.

Dr. Menninger caught everyone off guard with his response.  What should they do if they felt a nervous breakdown coming on?  His answer was, “Lock up your house, go across the railway tracks, find someone in need, and then do something to help that person.”

I like this guy.  He’s my favorite person from Topeka, and I’m not saying that just because he’s the only person I know from Topeka – he really sounds like a man of extraordinary common sense.

People who focus on the needs of others are coming down with mental health at an alarming rate.  You’ve already noticed this, haven’t you?  If you are unaware that compassionate people have fewer struggles with depression and anxiety, then maybe you’re just not paying attention.

Physical or emotional pain tends to drive me inward.  When I have a toothache, it’s harder for me to think about your problems.  Yet, as odd as it sounds, the best thing I could do when I’m hurting is to focus on helping other people.

Duffy Daughtery, the legendary football coach at Michigan State, aptly observed, “Football isn’t a contact sport, it’s a collision sport.  Dancing is a contact sport.”

I loved high school football.  A game consisted of an evening a planned collisions.  Great fun.  Those of you played football know that it isn’t until the game is over that you realize your arm is bleeding and your knee is swollen.  You were too focused on the game.

But imagine if you were standing in a living room during a cocktail party, and someone took a five yard head start and tackled you?  Without an external focus, it would really, really hurt.

When Jesus learned his friend, John the Baptist, was executed, who could blame him for wanting to get away. He tried. But the crowds noticed him and ran after him.  I’m still amazed that Jesus wasn’t annoyed by this.  The Bible says that, when he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them.  He spent the rest of the day teaching them and giving them fish and bread.

  Please – I’m not trying to minimize your pain. But tending to the hurts of others may be the best medicine you’ll ever find.
(copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

You’re Kidding, Right?

Story of the Day for Friday January 13, 2012

You’re Kidding, Right?

                “Behold, I’m sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves.” 

                                                                                Matthew 10:16

St. John’s University in Collegeville, Minnesota, has a football coach whose methods are . . . different.

John Gagliardi (pronounced gah-LAR-dee) does virtually no recruiting. No player is offered a scholarship. And there are no tryouts. If you want to play, you’re on the team.

Gagliardi doesn’t use a whistle in practice. He never raises his voice. And you’re not allowed to call Coach Gagliardi “coach.” He insists you call him, and all the other coaches, by their first names. His players call him “John.”

The team has no spring practice sessions. There is no compulsory weight lifting. During practice, they run no wind sprints. They run no laps. Matter of fact, they don’t even do calisthenics. (I take that back: they do a couple of workout exercises. One is called “Ear Lobe Stretches” which is followed by the “Nice Day” drill. Players lie flat on their backs to stretch, then lean over and say to a teammate, “Nice day, isn’t it?”).

It gets worse: the team doesn’t have a playbook, and players don’t watch game film. During practice, they use no blocking sleds or tackling dummies. In fact, tackling is NEVER allowed in practice.


You think I’m making this up, don’t you? Well, I’m not. The St. John’s Johnnies are an NCAA Division III school in a highly competitive conference.

The next question is: has this goof of a coach ever won a football game?


Matter of fact, John Gagliardi has won over 470 games – more than any other college football coach in history. His team holds the college record for the most offensive points scored, on average, throughout a season (61 points per game). He has won 27 conference titles, four national championships and is in the NCAA’s College Football Hall of Fame.


When Jesus sends us into the world, his methods are a little . . . different. He doesn’t want us to be fierce lions. It’s almost embarrassing, but he wants us to be a sheep.


Sheep have no offensive strengths. They can’t claw, trample, or bite you to death. Sheep have no defensive power. They can’t outrun savage wolves. They don’t know how to hide. They’re sheep.

Is this Jesus’ method for conquering the world? Going out into a hostile world like a harmless bag of wool?

I’m afraid so.

And yet, Jesus’ sheep have done what mighty armies could not. They have won the hearts of men by the power of God’s love.


Jesus’ method boggles the imagination.  That’s why I appreciate John Gagliardi so much. He reminds me that, sometimes, doing the impossible works best.

                                                         (copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

It’s the Thought That Counts

Story of the Day for Monday June 20, 2011

It’s the Thought That Counts


         I am filled, having received from Epaphroditus the gifts you gave me. They are a fragrant aroma.  

                                                                                  Philippians 4:18

Now, don’t quote me on this because I’m not a doctor, but I think there’s a virus out there that can infect your mind. You become nutty and, as the condition worsens, it can even make you want to root for the Chicago Bears.

My Brain Virus Theory is helping me come to grips with my friend, Marilou Payton. She’s one of the funnest people you’ll ever meet, and if you talk to her for two minutes and aren’t laughing, it means you’re a crabby person. She’s more than a little nutty, and – since you’d find out sooner or later – she’s a huge Bears fan.

So, how do you help someone when they reach this point?  At times like these, you might not be able to cure them, but you have to let them know that you care. That is why I decided to give Marilou my Green Bay Packers hat for Christmas.

It’s the thought that counts.


While the apostle Paul was in prison, the Christians from Philippi in Macedonia sent him some gifts. He claimed he wasn’t desperate for their gifts, because he had learned the secret of being content – no matter what situation the Lord put him in.

All the same, Paul was delighted by their thoughtfulness and generosity.  He was very pleased, but he told them that God was pleased as well.


When the British liberated the German concentration camp at Bergen-Belsen in 1945, they were deeply shaken by what they saw. Jewish men, women, and children were dying – five hundred a day – from sickness and starvation.

One British officer wrote in his diary about the “Horror Camp.” The people, obviously, desperately needed food and medicine. But Lieutenant Colonel Mercin Willet Gonin mentioned that, shortly after the British Red Cross arrived, they received a large shipment of . . . lipstick.

Lipstick? People are dying and someone gets the notion to send lipstick?

But Gonin says the gift was “genius, sheer unadulterated brilliance.” He makes the outrageous claim, “I believe nothing did more for these internees than the lipstick.” Women wandered around camp wrapped in a blanket because they had no clothes, but they wore bright red lipstick. At last the women were no longer a number, but a person. “That lipstick,” Gonin wrote, “started to give them back their humanity.” The gift the prisoners never requested was one of the gifts they needed most.


The prognosis for Marilou’s recovery is grim, but hopeful. She still mails me sympathy cards whenever the Bears beat the Packers. But – and this is gossip, so I shouldn’t be telling you this – but I hear she wears her Packer hat every night until she goes to bed.  The cure may be on its way.

But, as I say, this is only a rumor. And I would never want to spread rumors.

                                     (copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)