Tag Archives: growth

Step Out on Our Own

Story of the Day for Tuesday July 10, 2012 

 

Step Out on Our Own

 

                              Each one should examine his own work. Then he can take pride in himself without comparing himself to someone else. 

                                                                         Galatians 6:4

 

 Roger McGuinn was bowled over the first time he heard the Beatles. McGuinn, trained on folk guitar and banjo, was a songwriter for Bobby Darin. His job was to listen to the latest hit recordings, learn them, and try to mimic the sound. When the first Beatles hits topped the charts, McGuinn noticed they used folk-style passing chords with a rock & roll backbeat.

He loved the unique combination and employed it in his performances in Greenwich Village — so much so that one owner billed his gigs as “Beatle Imitations.”

McGuinn moved to California and helped form the Byrds. But the new band so adored the Beatles that their earliest recordings sounded eerily similar to the sound of their idols. When they watched the movie, “A Hard Day’s Night,” McGuinn noticed George Harrison playing a Rickenbacker 12-string, and immediately bought the same guitar.

The Byrd’s manager, Jim Dickson, however, was troubled by the band’s desire to be like the Beatles, and pushed them to create their own style. So, McGuinn began experimenting with a brighter tone and longer sustain on his Rickenbacker, and developed a simultaneous flatpicking and banjo-style fingerpicking technique to create his famous “jingle-jangle” sound.

 

The Byrds’ first English tour, hyped as “America’s Answer to the Beatles,” was a disaster. The critics dashed off scathing reviews.

But one night, two musicians attended a Byrds concert. Afterward, they went backstage and introduced themselves as John Lennon and George Harrison. They were fascinated with the Byrds unique sound and creative harmonies. They invited the Byrds to their homes and shared musical ideas.

The harsh reviews of the Byrds were tempered when the Beatles publicly announced that the Byrds were their favorite band.

Soon after their visit, George Harrison sent press officer, Derek Taylor, to California to hand deliver to McGuinn a recording of his latest song, “If I Needed Someone.” Harrison, in tribute to McGuinn, had imitated Roger’s guitar work from “Bells of Rhymney.”

The Beatles, whom the Byrds originally sought to emulate, turned out to be the ones who encouraged the Byrds to continue exploiting their own unique style.

 

We learn by imitation. The great comic writer, S. J. Perlman said, “You must learn by imitation,” and adds he “could have been arrested for imitating Lardner” in his early writing style.  Just as all great artists begin by copying the styles of others, one of the best ways to grow in our Christian faith is through role models.

While we may learn by imitating others, however, eventually we must step out on our own. The Byrds began by trying to emulate someone else, but found their greatest strength was to discover their own creative potential.

Roger McGuinn acknowledges his debt to the influence and encouragement of the Beatles. On his solo CD, “Limited Edition,” his opening song is George Harrison’s “If I Needed Someone.” But McGuinn has also learned to step out on his own, not only by finding his own musical style, but also, in 1977, by finding Christ.

(copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre) 
 

“It’s What You Know After You Know it All That Counts”

Story of the Day for Friday June 1, 2012

“It’s What You Know after You Know It All That Counts.”

                Instruct a wise person, and he will be wiser still. Teach a righteous person, and he will increase his learning.  

                                                                Proverbs 9:9

 

Hoagy Carmichael rarely let the facts bully him around when he had a good story to tell. So, according to one version, his first day golfing went like this:

His golf instructor patiently showed him how to hold the club, how to stand, how to follow through. After a half hour of instruction, Hoagy teed up on the first hole and smacked the ball down the fairway. It rolled onto the green and dropped in for a hole in one. Hoagy flipped the club to a caddy, and said to the dumbstruck instructor, “Okay, I think I’ve got the idea now.”

 

We can only hope that Hoagy Carmichael’s instruction didn’t end there. But it is true that accomplishment can be one of the greatest hindrances to growth.

Contrast Carmichael’s attitude with professional golfers. The top golfers in the PGA depend on their coaches to help them improve every day. I listened to an interview where one of the world’s top golfers spoke about his preparation. He didn’t say, “I’m getting ready for the Masters . . .” but “We’re getting ready for the Masters, and one day we just took a day off – which we normally do, but . . .” He viewed his career in terms of himself and his coach.

Best-selling author, Steven Pressfield, says, “The student of the game knows that the levels of revelation that can unfold in golf, as in any art, are inexhaustible.”

 

If “the levels of revelation” in golf are inexhaustible, how much more is the knowledge of the living God? Yet, sadly, our growth in biblical knowledge can become the very thing that hinders further understanding of the ways of the Lord. Once we’ve learned more than we used to know, we begin to feel like we know it all. And that is where growth stops.

The wise person is one who is humble enough to admit there is always more to learn.

 

John Wooden is rightly considered the greatest college basketball coach of all time. He took a faltering program at UCLA and transformed it into a powerhouse – winning ten national championships.

Wooden listened to others. When Wooden’s players were shorter-than-average, his assistant coach, Jerry Norman, persuaded him that a zone press defense would work. It won them a national championship.

But then Wooden got a tall, talented player. After winning a national championship with one style of play, he decided to scrap it and learn a completely new system that exploited the talents of Lew Alcindor (later known as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar). The result: three more national championships with Alcindor.

John Wooden’s  favorite motto reflected the Proverbs: “It’s what you know after you know it all that counts.”

(copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

What Comes From the Heart

Story of the Day for Tuesday February 21, 2012

What Comes From the Heart

              With their mouths these people honor me. But their hearts are far from me. 

                                       Isaiah 29:13

 If you resist treating a rich friend better than a poor friend,

If you can eat the same food every day and yet be grateful for it,

If you can bear your aches and pains without boring others with your troubles,

If you patiently wait when others are too busy to give you their time,

If you can take criticism without blaming others,

If you can honestly claim no prejudice against another’s creed, color, or religion,

If you can conquer stress without relying on alcohol, drugs, or nicotine,

If you can ignore another’s rudeness without lashing back,

If you can defend those close to you without first having to justify their actions,

then, my friend, you are almost as well-adjusted as my dog.

 

When I assess my behavior, sometimes I’m quite satisfied with myself, but only because my standards are too low. For example, being faithful in worship attendance is a good thing, yet, it can easily degenerate into the notion that we’ve done something spiritual just by showing up.

But even my dog used to be faithful in worship attendance. When I was young I served a rural church out in the country. In the summertime they would open the windows and entrance doors to create a cooling breeze in the sanctuary.

I was embarrassed one day when I looked at the back of the church to discover that my golden retriever, Fred, had sauntered in and joined us for worship.

Afterward, one of the members who always sat in the back pew, sheepishly approached me.  He said that this wasn’t the first visit by my dog; he had been attending all summer. When Fred would walk in to join the faithful they would quietly invite him into the back pew where he would lie down and enjoy the service.

My dog had been attending church all summer and yet I noticed no growth in his spiritual life.

 

Jesus told the religious people of his day that they worshipped God with their lips — they attended synagogue and said all the right things — but their hearts were far away.  Yet, the life that God is looking for is something deeper than outward actions.

 

Suppose a child runs into the house and leaves the door open. If his dad tells him to shut the door and his son refuses, that’s not good.

But suppose the child stomped back to the door, slammed it shut as hard as he could, and huffed off to his room. Would that action now please the father? Not really.

 

Outward actions may be commendable, but, in themselves, may be no more praiseworthy than the behavior of my pet dog. God is looking for more than the outward action; he’s looking for what comes from the heart.

                            (copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

An Overlooked Big, Fat Ripe Berry

We’re Back!

The brief hiatus is over…our backpacking trip into the wilderness was blessed in many many ways.  Now we are back to computers and the ‘real’ world.  The stories continue! Enjoy!

Story of the Day for Wednesday August 17, 2011

An Overlooked Big, Fat Ripe Berry

 

                               The stream of God is filled with water. 

                                                                  Psalm 65:9

 My wife and I picked raspberries yesterday, and were joined by our son-in-law, Jeremy, and daughter, Nikki. The bushes were loaded with berries, but soon I noticed I could return to the area I had just picked and find still more berries I missed.

When I commented on this, Jeremy made the interesting comparison of berry-picking and reading the Bible.

Have you ever done this? You reread a part of the Bible you’ve read before, and all of a sudden you discover something you never noticed before?

It’s not that God’s truth is in constant flux – with the Lord frantically readjusting his opinions to match those of contemporary culture. Instead, God has more truth to show us than we can discover on our first picking.

 

This last week, five of us disappeared into the Bob Marshall Wilderness for a week. On the last day of hiking, I set out early to reach the van and drive it a few miles closer to the trailhead.

As I hiked along the trail I noticed footprints. Another hiker we met had hiked out the day before, so the fresh prints were made after that. Deer tend to move at night or early dawn, and there were mule deer tracks on top of the footprints, so the hiker probably came through late yesterday.

The foot tracks on the trail were slightly bigger than my own, so I concluded it was a male. He wasn’t camping, however, because the tracks came in and retraced their steps.

The more I focused on the tracks, the more I saw. The tracks were not the deep tread of hiking boots, but came from a running shoe. I’m fairly tall and have a long stride length, but his were considerably longer. He had to be jogging. From the point he turned around to the trailhead was four miles, so he was on an eight mile run. He must be in decent shape.

You could see where he stood still once. He didn’t stop to rest or he would have shuffled his feet.  He probably stopped to get a quick drink – which meant he was carrying his own water – but wasn’t using a camelback.

The longer I hiked, the more I saw.

 

Some people think of God’s Word as being like a cookie. Once you gobble it down, there’s nothing more to be enjoyed. When I was in college, I worked as a janitor with a delightful, older man. He whistled cheerfully, he whistled constantly, he whistled well. But he only knew one tune.

The more we ponder God’s Word, the more we will hear the many themes and harmonies.

It’s exciting when  you find a big, fat, ripe berry you had previously overlooked.

                                    (copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

Dead Things Don’t Grow

Story of the Day for Monday June 12, 2011

Dead Things Don’t Grow

 

                                           . . . Just as you learned from us how to live in a manner pleasing to God, in the same way you are living, do so more and more. 

                                                                                          1 Thessalonians 4:1

 

My daughter, Erika, used to walk to work.  She had no choice.  Her summer job was at Schaeffer Meadows, a remote ranger station near Glacier National Park in Montana.  The closest road to the ranger station, at Morrison Creek, was 14 miles, but her usual route from Spotted Bear headquarters wound18 miles over a mountain pass.

Having completed a semester at NOLS, the National Outdoor Leadership School, hiking 18 miles to work was no big deal.

 

Our family thought we’d just drop in for a visit one summer, so we hoisted our backpacks, hit the trail, and managed 300 yards before we stopped, exhausted, and had second thoughts about whether we were capable of completing an 18 mile hike.

The first day, we managed to trudge up to a high mountain lake near Whitcomb Peak. And the second day we straggled into the ranger station.

When we hiked out, we followed Morrison Creek and completed the 14 miles in one day.

 

My son, Randy, joined the Marines a couple months later. Basic training was no picnic. After their first ten mile hike, the exhausted recruits complained at how strenuous the hike had been.

Randy just smiled and said he had been hiking further than this in Montana.  At far higher elevation.  With a sixty pound pack.  And then the clincher . . .and accompanied by his five year old sister.

 

Faith is like that.  When we do more than we ever thought we could have done, we find there is still more that we can do that we never thought we could have done.

Paul is commending the congregation at the Greek town of Thesslonica.  They have been learning to apply their faith in Jesus and live in a way that pleases God.

And what does Paul say? “Good going, you guys!  Now, keep growing more and more.”

 

The life which Jesus calls us to is not static. We grow.  Look at how the Bible describes the church: we’re always growing.  Moving.  Building.

Growing doesn’t earn us eternal life.  It’s the other way around: you have to first be alive. Dead things don’t grow.

                                                            (copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)