Tag Archives: just do it

Getting Into the Water

Story of the Day for Thursday January 26, 2012

Getting Into the Water

                 There is profit in all hard work, but more talk leads only to poverty. 

                                                          Proverbs 14:23

John W. Holt describes an exercise used by Outward Bound in their program on Hurricane Island, Maine. Twenty people are told to squeeze into a cave that is only wide enough for one person to walk through. The group comes to a dead end. The only way out is to climb up to a crack above them and climb out to the other side. The group is lined up alternating a tall person with a shorter one. The instructors tell them they must climb up and exit the cave in this order within twenty minutes.

Want to know what typically happens?  They argue for 19 minutes about how to solve the problem. The instructor warns them they have one minute left. They stop planning, and by brute force, they climb up through the crack. The point of the exercise is that talking and planning can go on and on. At some point you have to stop talking and just do it.

 

That’s the hard part: gettin’ ‘er done.  It’s so much easier to talk about what we want to do rather than starting the hard work necessary to accomplish our dreams.

Nolan Bushnell, the founder of Atari and Chuck E. Cheese’s, says, “The critical ingredient is getting off your butt and doing something. It’s as simple as that. A lot of people have ideas, but there are few who decide to do something about them now.  Not tomorrow. Not next week. But today.” Bushnell then concludes, “The true entrepreneur is a doer, not a dreamer.”

We would do well to apply Bushnell’s words to our life of faith. John Michael Talbot, in Changes: A Spiritual Journal, does just that. He says, “I am wearied by a fellowship of many words. I grow tired of talking about the worship. I would much rather simply worship. I grow tired of talking about music. I would much rather simply make music. I grow tied of talking about humility and love. I would rather simply serve in humility and love.”

 

Obviously, you always precede work with talk. With ideas. With discussion of ideas. And a plan. But the focal point is not the talking; it is the work to be accomplished.

When I was in college I took a course in evangelism at a local congregation. The class was great, but the pastor confided to me his disappointment. He told me that the members love the evangelism class. But they don’t want to go out and share their faith.  Instead, they want me to start another class so they can keep on studying about evangelism.

 

For eight years, Kim Linehan held the world record for the women’s 1500 meter freestyle.  When she was 18 years old, her coach called her the leading amateur woman distance swimmer in the world. It took a lot of hard work for her to accomplish such a feat.  Do you know the hardest part of her training?  Kim says it’s, “Getting into the water.”

(copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

Too Long in the Huddle

Story of the Day for Saturday January 7, 2012

Too Long In The Huddle

                 The words of the wise are like goads . . .  

                                                     Ecclesiastes 12:11

University of Miami head coach, Leonard Hamilton, called a time-out with sixteen seconds left in the basketball game. They were leading the Pittsburgh Panthers, 84-82, but Hamilton wanted to give his team instructions on how to preserve their lead in the final seconds.

The official at the scorer’s table sounded the horn to signal there were fifteen seconds left in the time out.  Instead of sending his team back on the floor, Hamilton kept his team huddled up as he shouted directions to his team.

Fifteen seconds later, the horn sounded again, signaling that the timeout was over. A Pitt player was handed the ball, but stood there, confused, as he waited for Miami to take to the court. Panther coach, Paul Evans, screamed at his team to run the play.

Pitt guard, Jerry McCullough took the inbound pass and went in for an uncontested layup. The stunned Miami team took to the floor and McCullough quickly stole the ball, passed to his teammate, Antoine Jones, who drove the lane for the winning basket.

 

Meetings and planning are vital. But sometimes we spend too much time in the huddle.

I have a friend who was a member of a church council. He was frustrated. For thirteen years they discussed building an addition to the church entryway. The hammers have yet to sound, but they love to meet each month to talk and plan.

 

I like to talk politics with a friend. We bemoan the state of the union, and are a little miffed that the President of the United States refuses to call us, so we can tell him how to solve the nation’s problems.

My friend’s wife listened to our griping and said, “If you don’t like what’s happening in government, why don’t you do something about it?”

Well, she’s obviously naïve. We’re political philosophers, for Pete’s sake! We use our searing intellects to provide insightful analysis about the political landscape. We don’t want to do anything; we just want to talk about it.

 

The Bible takes a more alarming approach to education. The spiritually wise, it says, wield goads. A goad is a sharp, pointy stick. You use it to poke slow-moving animals in the rump when you want to inspire them to greater things.

Learning is not an end in itself. The words of Scripture are goads – pointy sticks aimed at our behinds – to quickly kindle in us an interest in moving.

The goal of learning is not just to stuff our heads with biblical information. We learn in order that we may adore God, trust in his mercy, and run a tuna casserole over to a sick neighbor.

 

We huddle up in order to run the next play.

                                                  (copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

It’ll Be Enough

Story of the Day for Thursday October 27, 2011

It’ll Be Enough

                    Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother said, “Here’s a boy with five loaves of barley bread and two little fish. But how far will they go among so many people?”  

                                                                                     John 6:8-9

Sometimes at night, when the wolves were howling on Still Peak, our old dog, Ivan the Terrible, would join in. Some deep, primal memory told him he was part of the pack. Pointing his nose to the night sky, he would reply with a lonesome howl.

But Ivan never sounded like a wolf. He sounded like a cow trying to yodel.

 

Ivan the Terrible died this last summer, but I always envied him when he would sing. I didn’t envy him because he was good – he was so bad as to make you wince – but he howled nonetheless. I’m afraid to sing in public. What if I’m off-key? Ivan, on the other hand, never worried what he sounded like – he just gave you what he had.

 

“Use what talents you possess,“ Henry Van Dyke said, “the woods would be very silent if no birds sang there except those that sang best.”

And, yeah, I know William Purkey’s words can be misconstrued, but I like them anyway: “Dance like no one is watching, love like you’ll never be hurt, sing like no one is listening, and live like it’s heaven on earth.”

 

But, hey, if we don’t attempt something, at least we won’t fail, right? Who’s going to laugh at our clumsiness if we don’t join in the dance?

It turns out our common notions about this are completely backward. The well-known psychologist, Karen Horney, discovered that, if you do not attempt to do something, you will usually have the self-impression you have failed.  Horney claims that, by simply attempting to do something, we will almost always conclude that you have succeeded.

It’s not about performance; it’s about trying.

 

All the same, we often define ourselves by our limitations. How many times have you found yourself lamenting, “I wish there was more I could do?”

But the Lord only expects you to use the gifts he’s given you, to offer what you have – and not worry about what you don’t have.

 

Once, a young boy had little to offer Jesus. Just five loaves of barley bread and a couple of small fish. Not much, but he gave what he had.

Yet, in the hands of Jesus, it was plenty.

 

Don’t focus on the talents you don’t have, the money you don’t have, the opportunities you don’t have. The only thing that matters to Jesus is using what you’ve got.

It’ll be enough.

                                                                       (copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

Getting Into the Water

Story of the Day for Thursday October 6, 2011

Getting Into the Water

                     There is profit in all hard work, but more talk leads only to poverty. 

                                                           Proverbs 14:23

 John W. Holt describes an exercise used by Outward Bound in their program on Hurricane Island, Maine. Twenty people are told to squeeze into a cave that is only wide enough for one person to walk through. The group comes to a dead end. The only way out is to climb up to a crack above them and climb out to the other side. The group is lined up alternating a tall person with a shorter one. The instructors tell them they must climb up and exit the cave in this order within twenty minutes.

Want to know what typically happens?  They argue for 19 minutes about how to solve the problem. The instructor warns them they have one minute left. They stop planning, and by brute force, they climb up through the crack. The point of the exercise is that talking and planning can go on and on. At some point you have to stop talking and just do it.

 

That’s the hard part: gettin’ ‘er done.  It’s so much easier to talk about what we want to do rather than starting the hard work necessary to accomplish our dreams.

Nolan Bushnell, the founder of Atari and Chuck E. Cheese’s, says, “The critical ingredient is getting off your butt and doing something. It’s as simple as that. A lot of people have ideas, but there are few who decide to do something about them now.  Not tomorrow. Not next week. But today.” Bushnell then concludes, “The true entrepreneur is a doer, not a dreamer.”

We would do well to apply Bushnell’s words to our life of faith. John Michael Talbot, in Changes: A Spiritual Journal, does just that. He says, “I am wearied by a fellowship of many words. I grow tired of talking about the worship. I would much rather simply worship. I grow tired of talking about music. I would much rather simply make music. I grow tied of talking about humility and love. I would rather simply serve in humility and love.”

 

Obviously, you always precede work with talk. With ideas. With discussion of ideas. And a plan. But the focal point is not the talking; it is the work to be accomplished.

When I was in college I took a course in evangelism at a local congregation. The class was great, but the pastor confided to me his disappointment. He told me that the members love the evangelism class. But they don’t want to go out and share their faith.  Instead, they want me to start another class so they can keep on studying about evangelism.

 

For eight years, Kim Linehan once held the world record for the women’s 1500 meter freestyle.  When she was 18 years old, her coach called her the leading amateur woman distance swimmer in the world. It took a lot of hard work for her to accomplish such a feat.  Do you know the hardest part of her training?  Kim says it’s, “Getting into the water.”

                                       (copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

Pick Up the Bowling Ball

Story of the Day for Tuesday August 23, 2011

Pick Up the Bowling Ball

                     They will still bear fruit in their old age. 

                                                            Psalm 92:14

 Dale Davis grew up with a passion for bowling. As a youngster, he got a job setting up pins in a bowling alley. When he left the Navy after World War II, he won $2500 in a bowling tournament in California.

But, around the age of sixty-eight, he began losing his eyesight to macular degeneration. He is now legally blind, and has only slight peripheral vision out of his right eye. Dale’s blindness forced him to give up bowling.

He moved from California to his hometown of Alta, Iowa, where he lives with his sister. She assists him with his blindness, but doesn’t coddle him. She encouraged him to begin bowling again.

Dale can’t see the pins. He can’t see the bowling lane, and sometimes can’t even find his bowling ball. But if he bends over and cocks his head sideways he can make out the small dots on the floor that show him where to stand.

Although he is frail-looking, he still uses the heaviest ball, and brags that he weighs 130 pounds – as long as he’s holding his bowling ball.

 

When we’re young, we’re always growing and getting better at things. We can throw a ball farther, learn to play chess or earn a driver’s license. It’s exciting.

But, when we get old, it’s not quite as exciting to slowly decline. As the body slows and the memory fades, many older people feel a sense of frustration because they can’t do what they used to do.  When we’re young we often envy other people, but when we get older, we tend to envy ourselves – we envy the person we used to be.

 

As we age or become handicapped by disease or injury, we can’t accomplish the things we used to, but the comforting thing is that we don’t need to. Our worth, in God’s eyes, is not based on achievement.  Once we’re freed from a sense of attainment by God’s grace, we can then focus on the lordship of Jesus – which means that our life is not about accomplishing what we want, but what he wants.

And what Jesus wants is that we will accept what he gives us each day, and use it as best we can for his glory.

 

Dale Davis was no longer as strong and agile as he used to be when he won bowling tournaments as a young man. At the age of 78, he was slow and bent over. But, even with his age and blindness, he did what he could.

And that’s the point.

On the final day of the bowling league season in Alta, Iowa, Dale Davis became the first person in the history of Century Lanes to bowl a perfect game.

 

In the end, however, it’s not about perfect games; it’s about the courage to pick up the bowling ball.

                                            (copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

 

Throw Your Heart Instead

Story of the Day for Saturday July 30, 2011

Throw Your Heart Instead

                                      ”They gave as much as they were able to give. “

                                                                                2 Corinthians 8:3

 Tony Melendez is a talented singer and guitar player. He lives and often performs in Branson, Missouri. He sang the National Anthem for the fifth game of the 1989 World Series. And he has played a solo performance before the Pope.

 

We have more to say about Tony in just a moment, but if I may be so rude as to interrupt myself, I want to ask you a question.

If a quarterback is right-handed, he throws the bomb with his right hand. If a tennis player is left-handed she makes a serve by holding the racket in her left hand. But, in what sport are athletes forced to rely on their weaker hand as an essential part of their athletic performance?

Baseball, right? All the players on the field must put their gloves on their weaker hand to field the ball.

There’s nothing wrong with putting your best foot forward. But if that won’t work, any foot will have to do.

 

A mother in Nicaragua was prescribed medicine to calm morning sickness during her pregnancy.  At that time, they didn’t know that thalidomide could cause birth defects. Her son, Tony Melendez, was born without arms.

When he was older, they moved to Los Angeles where he was fitted with prosthetic arms, but the fake limbs only got in his way so he refused to wear them.

 

If you don’t have arms, there are things you can’t do.  Tony Melendez, however, didn’t focus on what he couldn’t do; he focused on what he could do.

He learned to play the guitar with his toes. When he sang and played for Pope Paul II, Tony was shocked as the Pope jumped down from the stage on which he was sitting and went over to Tony to give him a hug. “My wish for you,” the Pope said,” is that you continue to give hope to others.”

He does.

 

Want to know something? Right now, I don’t feel so much like bellyaching about all my ailments and the things I can’t do. Instead, I feel like thanking the Lord for what I have, and asking him to teach me how to use them well.

 

Toward the end of his life, Ernest Hemingway was diagnosed with a disease by which his body could no longer metabolize iron, and leads to mental deterioration.

His writing was declining.  Nevertheless, the great mystery writer, Raymond Chandler, voiced his admiration. He likened Hemingway to a champion pitcher in his declining years. “When he can no longer throw the high hard one, he throws his heart instead. He throws something. He doesn’t just walk off the mound and weep.”

                                     (copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)