Tag Archives: gifts

Bean Counters and Dreamers

Story of the Day for Friday August 24, 2012

Bean Counters and Dreamers

                      In Christ we, who are many, form one body, and each part belongs to all the others. 

                                                                                           Romans 12:5    

Someone once said there are only three kinds of people in this world: those who are good at math and those who aren’t.

I’m not good at math.

Numbers are confusing, abstract things. I have a difficult time remembering people’s ages – including my own. My wife can recall phone numbers and zip codes from places where we lived over 20 years ago. I struggle, at times, to remember my current zip code. To me, numbers are not all that important.

People who are good with numbers feel quite differently.  They actually show compassion through numbering things. A pastor once asked me how many members were in my congregation. I didn’t know. This pained him. “How can you care about your flock if you don’t know how many there are?”

He didn’t understand that I couldn’t number my flock even if I wanted to (which I don’t).  Do you include the Pozanskis – who regularly attend worship, but have never  officially become members?  And what about Jason, whom I’ve never met?  He’s in the military, and moves every few years, but wants his membership to remain here. When I try to number people, I always bog down, and end up with a muddled sum.

Some people love numbers and attention to detail. Those of us who are bold visionaries refer to them as “bean counters.” Bean counters, however, can dish it back.  They view us visionaries as impractical, and call us “dreamers.”

So, how do people who approach life in such different ways get along with each other?  The solution is surprisingly simple.  We just round up all the “bean counters” and lure them onto cargo ships with offers of free calculators.  Then we ship them off to a remote jungle in the Amazon basin, and provide them with spreadsheets and those plastic pen protectors you wear in your shirt pocket, and let them lead a happy life.

That’s the easy way.  But God has the better way.

God wants us to realize how desperately we need each other’s gifts — as much as the heart needs the lungs and the lungs need the heart.

In the body of Christ, we have people who are brilliant at organizing things.  As strange as it sounds to us Big Picture types, they love working out the details and keeping the trains running on time. Without them, bold visions never become a reality.   Administrator types also need those gifted in leadership.

When we learn to appreciate and value each others gift, good things happen.  Only then will we see the body of Christ being built up.

I can’t locate the exact Bible passage at the moment, but I think there’s a verse that says you should find a brother or sister who has the opposite gift from you, and buy them pizza, and tell them you appreciate them. Or something like that.

(copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre) 

The Gift You’re Given

Story of the Day for Monday August 20, 2012

 

The Gift You’re Given

                     The eye isn’t able to say to the hand, “I don’t need you.” 

                                                           1 Corinthians12:21

 

 

On June 6, 1944, Allied forces staged the largest-ever amphibious assault and established a foothold on European soil.

Nazi commanders, however, knew the invasion was coming. Once a beachhead was established, their strategy was to advance their formidable tank divisions and destroy the Allied forces – who were backed up by the sea and had no means of escape.

 

Germany’s fearsome  2nd SS Panzer Division was ordered to advance. The division’s new Tigers were the best tanks yet produced. Yet, because of its formidable size (sixty-three tons), the Tiger was a gas-guzzler – getting only a half mile to the gallon. In addition, the steel tracks wore out quickly on highway travel. The Germans had to move the tank division into position by railroad.

 

To prevent air attacks, the rail cars were carefully camoflauged at village railway sidings in the area of Montabuban.  These transport cars were unguarded.

In his book, D-Day, Stephen Ambrose narrates the actions of a sixteen-year-old girl named Tetty. Joined by her boyfriend and fourteen-year-old sister, Tetty would slip out in the dark on bicycle and siphon off the axle oil from the railroad cars and replace it with an abrasive powder.

 

When the Allied invasion hit the shores of Normandy, the Germans loaded their Tigers onto the railroad cars and prepared their counterattack. But every railroad car soon seized up and the damage to the axles was so extensive they couldn’t be repaired. The German division was stuck in southern France and couldn’t find replacement railroad cars for a week.

By the time they were able to move, the French Resistance was in place to harass any movement by rail.

 

Instead of arriving while the Allies were pinned down on the  beaches, the German division didn’t reach the front until seventeen days later—when the Allied forces had already been able to organize, advance, and disperse.

 

So, did a French teenager prevent the annihilation of the Allies’ precarious foothold on the continent?  Did her brave action tip the balance, which enabled us to eventually win the war?

I don’t know. But I do know that she did what she could.

 

Whatever your calling in life, don’t bemoan the things you’re unable to do. The Lord asks of you only one thing: to do what you’re able with the gift you’re given.

(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)

Hidden From View by a Shoe and a Smelly Sock

Story of the Day for Friday May 20, 2011

Hidden From View by a Shoe and a Smelly Sock

                        “The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I don’t need you!’  And the head cannot say to the feet, ‘I don’t need you!’  On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable.” 

                                                                      1 Corinthians 12:21-22

 When you crouch down to lift a heavy object (a hay bale, let’s say) what is the most important muscle group you use?  I’ll give you a hint: it’s not any muscles in your legs.  No, it’s not in your back either.  Or your arms.

I have a friend who is a university choir director.  Though I was skeptical at first, Hank (that’s Dr. Alviani to you) convinced me that the most important muscles necessary to lifting a heavy weight are your vocal chords.

When you lift things, he explained, your body must hold air pressure in your chest cavity, or else it would collapse.   That is why you always take a deep breath and hold it before you lift.  Your vocal chords are holding the air in your chest. (The grunts you make while lifting is from tiny bits of air escaping.)  Yet, without those tiny muscles in your throat, you would be unable to lift my daughter’s rock collection off the floor.

While God has given all of us our gifts and talents, it takes effort to view them from a proper perspective.  All of us are tempted to make one of two mistakes.  The first mistake is to feel that our gifts are superior to those of others.   The second is to think that our gifts are not nearly as important as others.   We wish we had gifts that others have.

Both of these attitudes are profoundly unhelpful.

God tells us that one part of the body should not look down on another part and consider it unnecessary.

Dizzy Dean was one of the greatest pitchers of all time.  He led the National League in strikeouts his rookie year.   In five years he won 120 games.

While pitching in the All-Star game in 1937, a grounder glanced off his toe.  Rather than waiting for his toe to heal, he simply re-adjusted his pitching motion. Adjusting his delivery eased the pain, but overextended his arm.  As a result, he ruined his arm, and no batter would ever see his blazing fastball again.

At the peak of his glory, many people could say, “Wow! What an arm that guy has!”  Nobody would have praised his toe.   But without his toe working right, his arm was ruined.

We all need each other.  “Those parts of the body that seem weaker, are indispensible.” The secret is to thank the Lord for the gifts he has given you.  And, if you feel your gift is like Dizzy Dean’s toe — hidden from view by a shoe and a smelly sock, don’t let that keep you from using it.  The body of Christ will have a really sore arm without you.

                                                               (copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)