Tag Archives: love

What Happened on the Drawbridge?

Story of the Day for Thursday October 4, 2012 

                                One of our FAVORITE stories being reposted for your reading today! 

What Happened on the Drawbridge?

 

 

              God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.

                                                          John 3:16

 

John Griffith worked as the controller of a railroad drawbridge across the Mississippi River.  One day, in the summer of 1937, John took his eight-year-old son, Greg, along with him to work.

At noon, John put the bridge up so ships could pass, and then sat on the observation deck with his son to eat lunch.

John was startled by the sound of a train whistle from the east.  He knew it was the Memphis Express, a 400-passenger train heading over the Mississippi from East St. Louis.

He raced from the observation deck to the control tower.  Just before he threw the lever to lower the bridge, he glanced down to see if any ships were passing below, and noticed that his son had slipped from the observation tower and fallen into the gear mechanism.  His left leg was caught in the cogs of the two main gears.

John Griffith froze for a moment in fear.  The Memphis Express was nearing the  river. If he did not lower the bridge, the train would have no time to stop.  But if he lowered the bridge, it would crush his son to death.

John knew what he had to do.  He grabbed the master lever . . . and lowered the bridge.  The train was just starting across the river when the bridge was completely lowered.

As the train passed his control booth, he saw the faces of the passengers.  No one looked at him.  No one looked down at his dead son in the gear assembly.

In his anguish John shouted, “I sacrificed my son for you!”

 

This story, made popular by the late Dr. D. James Kennedy, has been retold countless times as a parable of the Good News.

But how could such a tragedy become a picture of good news?  Well, it’s about love, really.  God the Father spoke form heaven at Jesus’ baptism, “This is my Son, whom I love! With him I am well pleased.”  When Jesus stood on a mountain top with three of his disciples, the Father repeated his words, “This is my Son, whom I love!”

We cannot comprehend the moment, but we know that the Father willingly took his beloved Son, and put him to death.

 

Why?  To spare the lives of all of us as we were speeding to our deaths.  God’s Son stood in our place and died, that we, the guilty ones, might live.

God loved his Son.  No surprise there.  But the beauty of it all, and what makes this message so good, is that God loves us as well.

And many years ago, he stood with his hand on the switch, and made his choice.

(copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

The Dfeniton of Lvoe

Story of the Day for Tuesday Augus 21, 2012 

 

The Dfeniton of Lvoe

 

 

                             Love is the fulfillment of God’s law.

                                                            Romans 13:10

 

After my wife, Darla, graduated with her teaching degree, she went on to get a masters degree in the teaching of reading.

When we were first married, I would listen to people moan about children’s inability to read well. “The problem today,” they told me, “is that we don’t teach enough phonics.”

I was hooked on their argument, and felt it in the best interests of my wife’s career to inform her of this. “The problem today, honey,” I told her, “is that we don’t teach enough phonics.”

You will be shocked to learn that Darla thought I was talking outside my area of expertise. She believes that, while teaching phonics is important, the key to reading better is rooted in the concept called “Whole Language.”

“When we read,” she explains, “we see more than individual phonetic sounds. To read well, we must learn to see the whole: the entire word, the context.”

I don’t argue with her anymore. When our first child, Nikki, took a standardized reading exam in second grade, she was already reading at the college level.

You decide if Darla is right. Can you read the following paragraph?

 

Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch stduy at an Elingsh uinervtisy, it deosn’t mttaer in what oredr the ltteers  in a wrod are. The olny  iprmoetnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer is in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a toatl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit a porbelm. This is bcuseae we do not raed ervey lteter by itslef but the wrod as a wlohe.

 

The problem with some people who try to be religious is that they see the details but not the context.

God told his people to rest on the Sabbath Day. What a cool deal. God not only thinks it’s important to work, but also important to relax.

The Jewish theologians, unfortunately, saw the commandment, but failed to see the reason for it. As a result, they created dozens and dozens of nitpicky rules. You couldn’t check your clothes for fleas, light a lamp to read, or put a false tooth back in your mouth. You couldn’t chew your fingernails. You could tie a knot – as long as it wasn’t a camel driver’s knot or a sailor’s knot. A midwife may not help deliver a baby on the Sabbath.

By the time the Bible experts finished their rules for the Sabbath, it was no longer a time of rest and relaxation – it was a hardship.

 

Have you ever thought of God’s commandments as a burden? As something that keeps you from enjoying life?  Sometimes our problem is that we focus so closely on the rule that we fail to see the reason for it.

Wehn you setp bcak and veiw the wohle cnotxet, yul’ol dscvoer taht ervey cmmonad of God is smilpy the dfeniiton of lvoe.

(copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

Jesus’ View of Status

Story of the Day for Wednesday May 2, 2012

Jesus’ View on Status

                   Jesus told them, “Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me. And whoever welcomes me welcomes the One who sent me. For the least one among you is the greatest.”
Matthew 25:40

The murmurs of anticipation began to increase in this year’s NFL draft as the Baltimore Colts were on the clock to make their pick. They surprised everyone by picking a quarterback.

I’m not talking about the Colt’s number one pick of quarterback Andrew Luck; the place was buzzing over the last pick in the draft: Chandler Harnish from Northern Illinois. By being selected dead last in the draft, Chandler captured the dubious honor of being named “Mr. Irrelevant.”

For the last twenty years, the final pick in the draft has been announced by Paul Salata, a white-haired man in his mid-eighties. He invented the Mr. Irrelevant award thirty-seven years ago — not to honor the first, but the last player picked in the NFL draft.

Chandler Harnish will hold news conferences and be showered with gifts. One bank will give him one day’s interest on a million dollars so he can feel like a millionaire for a day. He’ll get a jersey from every team in the NFL just in case he, um, gets traded to another team.

Harnish will be flown to Newport Beach, California, where they’ll throw beach parties, parades, and regattas in his honor. Then Disneyland. He will drag the infield during an Anaheim Angel’s baseball game (they won’t let him throw out the first pitch because that would make him relevant). After a banquet held in his honor he will receive his award. Instead of the Heisman, he’ll get the Lowsman trophy — a statue of a football player with a clueless stare as he’s fumbling the football.

Some think the hoopla surrounding the Mr. Irrelevant award is stupid. Even more consider it insensitive. But I think Paul Salata’s brainchild is genius. He reminds us of a teaching of Jesus that we easily forget.

In society, we honor and award the highest achievers, and why not?

But love can’t be won by achievement. Ask a mother if she loves her newborn baby less because it hasn’t yet won a spelling bee or hit the winning home run in little league. God doesn’t love us because we’re better than others; God loves us because we’re there.

Jesus gravitated toward society’s losers. He takes all our rankings according to status and tips them upside down. When it comes to learning acceptance and love, it may take us a while to wallow through the confusion and realize the least are the greatest.

Paul Salata knows what it’s like to be overshadowed by greatness. He played for the 49ers and the Colts, but didn’t amount to much. Salata went on to become an actor. He appeared in movies such as “Singin’ in the Rain” and “The Ten Commandments,” but his roles were so unimportant he’s not even listed in the credits.

The public may see Mr. Irrelevant Week as a lot of overblown silliness. Yet, Salata has used donations for the event to quietly give over a million dollars to those who are “irrelevant”: Goodwill, Marines at Camp Pendleton, and disabled athletes needing artificial limbs.

Whenever anyone reminds me about Jesus’ view on status, I find it intensely relevant.

                                                  (copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

The Best Bad Call

Story of the Day for Tuesday May 1, 2012

The Best Bad Call

                                If your adversary is hungry, give him something to eat.
Romans 12:20

The decision of the umpires was later found to be in error, but I’m so happy that they got it wrong.

Central Washington University was hosting Western Oregon University in 2008 in the last game of the season. The winner would earn a spot in the NCAA Tournament in Division II woman’s softball.

Western Oregon sent Sara Tucholsky to the plate. With two runners on base she hit a home run – the first one of her career. She was so jubilant that she forgot to step on first base. Realizing her mistake, she spun around so quickly that she tore her ACL in her knee.  As she lay writhing in pain, her teammates were helpless. If they touched her, that would constitute assisting a base runner and she would be called out.

After conferring on the rules, an umpire told Western Oregon’s head coach, Pam Knox, that a pinch runner could come in for her, but it would be credited as a single, and her home run would be taken away.

It broke the coach’s heart to erase the only home run of Sara’s career, but she was clearly unable to tag the bases on her own.

At that moment, however, Mallory Holtman, the star player for the opposing team ran up to an umpire and asked, “Would it be okay if we carried her around and she touched each bag?” The ump shrugged and said there was no rule against it.

So, Holtman, and her teammate, Liz Wallace, gingerly picked her up and started walking her around the bases. When they came to a base, they would gently lower her good leg and tap the base with Sara’s foot.

As the three girls rounded the bases, the crowd gave them all a standing ovation.

This caring act for their opponent ended up costing Mallory and Liz’s team the game – ending their hopes of getting into the tournament. But no one seemed to care.

Mallory Holtman viewed Sara Tucholsky as her opponent . . . until she was overcome by compassion for her need.

We are so easily angered by the behavior of our enemies. But what if we focused more on their hurts. Their needs. What if, when we noticed how hungry they were, we gave them some of our food?

The NCAA later said the umpire’s ruling was in error. A substitute could have run the bases and Sara would’ve been awarded a home run.

I’m so glad, however, that the umpire got it wrong. Far more important than a correct ruling was what happened to our hearts when two brave women helped their opponent when she was hurting.
                                           (copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

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)

Gain the Same Reputation

Story of the Day for Wednesday October 26, 2011

Gain the Same Reputation

                     Everyone will know you are my followers by this: if you love each other.  

                                                             John 13:35

In A Severe Mercy Sheldon Vanauken writes of the time he and his wife, Davy, traveled across the Atlantic on an ocean liner. During the voyage, a woman traveling to Rome lost her handbag containing all her money: four hundred dollars. Sheldon and Davy were struck by the fact that there were four hundred passengers on the ship. “Only one dollar apiece,” Vanauken thought, “and the poor lady would smile again.”

The couple took their idea to the Purser, who said company rules forbade employees from taking up a collection, but urged them to take up a collection themselves.

The Purser gave them the passenger list and almost everyone – from a Shropshire landed baronet to an American communist gave a contribution. They faced the most suspicion from New Yorkers, who wanted to know what their racket was. They learned to say politely: “Do you mind me asking, are you from New York? You are? Well, never mind, then. We’re not asking New Yorkers – too suspicious. Forget it. Thank you very much.” Later, some of the New Yorkers would sidle up to them and hand them their donation – one giving twenty dollars.

Vanauken tried to keep their activities anonymous, but someone spilled the beans and the woman, who received the collection, rushed to their dining table and wept in gratitude. The woman was so moved by their compassion that she asked if they were Christians.

 

Have you ever gone out of your way to help a stranger and have them ask you that? If you’re a Christian, it’s a gratifying question. But what if you’re not? In Sheldon and Davy’s case, they told the woman, no, they were not Christians.

It must be annoying for those who don’t follow Jesus to go out of their way to help someone, and then be asked if they’re a Christian. Do you have to be a Christian, for Pete’s sake, just to be kind to someone?

No, you don’t. But isn’t the question thought-provoking?  Why is it, when we show care to a stranger that we don’t hear them inquire, “Excuse me, but are you an atheist?” Or, “You wouldn’t, by any chance, happen to be a Steelers fan, would you?”

Sheldon Vanauken and his wife held no religious beliefs. But they were taken aback by the mere assumption that this woman immediately suspected they were Christians. Why, Vanauken wondered, do so many people think that, when compassion is shown, Christians are the most likely culprits?

 

History provides exceptions, of course. We point to crusades and inquisitions staged in the name of Christ, to TV evangelists who are con men posing as prophets.

Yet, the very act of pointing out lovelessness in the name of Christ suggests a revealing truth: that Jesus was known by his sacrificial love for the world, and he calls his followers to gain the same reputation.

                                           (copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

 

 

Crooning Moon River

Story of the Day for Saturday June 11, 2011

Crooning Moon River

 

                            The Lord your God is in your midst . . . He will quiet you with his love.

                                                                    Zephaniah 3:17

  Someone discovered that cows give more milk when they’re listening to music. So, scientists in Great Britain gathered in barns to play music to a thousand cows. They played fast songs, slow songs, classical and rock – and kept careful records of milk production. When the researchers finished serenading the cows, they reported that the cows’ favorite song was Moon River.

What in the world were they thinking! (The cows, not the scientists). We’re talking Henry Mancini “elevator music,” for Pete’s sake.

 

Yet, despite their backward taste in music, cows have much to teach us about our life with God. My friend, Ruth, recently told me about a farmer in Nebraska who tried to force a hesitant cow into her milking stanchion. The cow panicked and kicked him so hard his leg swelled up to the size of a gigantic, swollen leg.

You can’t force cows to give milk.

 

Don’t get me wrong: fear is a wonderful motivator. It can greatly improve our performance when we’re being chased across the pasture by an angry bull. It can even motivate us to schedule a colonoscopy.

Not only that, but, if you want to get a cow out of your garden (and I speak with some authority on this subject), instilling fear will aid your cause, and, possibly, preserve your row of peas.

But fear has its limitations. You can’t slap a cow on the fanny and force it to give more milk. Instead, you have to calm her. You have to relax her. You have to play slow, schmaltzy “elevator music” to her.

 

If we should decide to hold a picnic on the railroad tracks, God may thunder and bellow – not because he hates us, but because he doesn’t want us to destroy ourselves. But even the almighty, all-powerful God can’t threaten us into loving him.

That’s why Jesus didn’t try to terrify us, but to lay his life down for us.

That is also why (and I hope you’re not easily offended) the Lord is willing to treat us like dairy cows. He wants to calm us down, and quiet us with his love.

 

Last week, I made a disturbing discovery. Three legends of rock music: Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, and Elton John have all . . . give me a moment to say this, for it pains me greatly . . . have all recently performed Moon River in concert.

Playing Henry Mancini to increase milk production is one thing, but crooning Moon River to add cows to your fan base is simply pandering.

                                         (copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

The Best Bad Call

Story of the Day for Thursday June 9, 2011

The Best Bad Call

 

                      If your adversary is hungry, give him something to eat. 

                                                                           Romans 12:20

 

The decision of the umpires was later found to be in error, but I’m so happy that they got it wrong.

 

Central Washington University was hosting Western Oregon University in 2008 in the last game of the season. The winner would earn a spot in the NCAA Tournament in Division II woman’s softball.

Western Oregon sent Sara Tucholsky to the plate. With two runners on base she hit a home run – the first one of her career. She was so jubilant that she forgot to step on first base. Realizing her mistake, she spun around so quickly that she tore her ACL in her knee.  As she lay writhing in pain, her teammates were helpless. If they touched her, that would constitute assisting a base runner and she would be called out.

After conferring on the rules, an umpire told Western Oregon’s head coach, Pam Knox, that a pinch runner could come in for her, but it would be credited as a single, and her home run would be taken away.

 

It broke the coach’s heart to erase the only home run of Sara’s career, but she was clearly unable to tag the bases on her own.

At that moment, however, Mallory Holtman, the star player for the opposing team ran up to an umpire and asked, “Would it be okay if we carried her around and she touched each bag?” The ump shrugged and said there was no rule against it.

So, Holtman, and her teammate, Liz Wallace, gingerly picked her up and started walking her around the bases. When they came to a base, they would gently lower her good leg and tap the base with Sara’s foot.

As the three girls rounded the bases, the crowd gave them all a standing ovation.

This caring act for their opponent ended up costing Mallory and Liz’s team the game – ending their hopes of getting into the tournament. But no one seemed to care.

 

Mallory Holtman viewed Sara Tucholsky as her opponent . . . until she was overcome by compassion for her need.

We are so easily angered by the behavior of our enemies. But what if we focused more on their hurts. Their needs. What if, when we noticed how hungry they were, we gave them some of our food?

 

The NCAA later said the umpire’s ruling was in error. A substitute could have run the bases and Sara would’ve been awarded a home run.

I’m so glad, however, that the umpire got it wrong. Far more important than a correct ruling was what happened to our hearts when two brave women helped their opponent when she was hurting.

                                  (copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

Because of Who He Is

Story of the Day for Monday May 22, 2011


Because of Who He Is

                    No one would hardly give their life for a righteous man, although, for a good man someone might possibly dare to die for them.   But God demonstrates his love for us by this: while we were still sinners, Christ gave his life for us. 

                                                                                Romans 5:7-8

When I was a student at a teacher’s college, I worked as the editor of a small newspaper.  My office was deep in the bowels of the administration building and the basement doors were heavy – as if built to repel an army of invading Cossacks.

Terry (as I’ll call him) had just passed through when he noticed me going toward the door with my arms filled with a load of books and papers.  He outraced me to the door so he could open it for me.

Terry was like that: he responded with remarkable quickness to the needs of others.  I didn’t know it until later, but Terry would volunteer his time each week and go into the inter-city of Chicago to be a Big Brother to kids who had no dad.

One stormy evening I waited on the third floor of the admin building.  We had a student meeting and I was waiting for Terry because I wanted to talk with him.

No Terry.

Later that evening, the Dean of Students walked into the room.  He was visibly shaken and he spoke slowly.  The storm that afternoon, he told us, was so fierce that  twenty foot waves from Lake Michigan hammered the shore, and were even spraying water on the freeway, Lake Shore Drive.

Terry was in the city with his “kids,” who were fascinated by the storm, so Terry decided to walk down to the lake to get a closer look.

Near the shore, they watched a man walk out on a pier.  But a fierce wave rolled in and swept him into the lake.  Warning the boys to stay put he raced onto the pier and took off his coat and held it out – hoping the man could grasp it.

He never got the chance. Another wave crashed over the pier and washed Terry into the waters, while the two boys watched their Big Brother sink beneath the waves and disappear.

As the Dean told us about Terry, we cried, but no one was surprised.  We all knew it was just like Terry to do something like that.

I am White.  Terry was Black. The stranger he tried to save was Hispanic.  Terry never took the time to assess a person’s worth before offering his assistance.  He cared for people because of who he was – not because of who they were.

When God demonstrated his love for us; when Jesus gave his life up for us, he did not first calculate the caliber of our goodness. He died for us – not because of who we are, but because of who he is.

                                                   (copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

Wildness of Love

Story of the Day for Thursday May 19, 2011

Wildness of Love

                In Christ we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accord with the riches of His grace that he showered on us with all wisdom and understanding. 

                                                       Ephesians 1:7-8

In The Christian Reader, a woman wrote about her brother and his bride on their honeymoon.  Late at night they finally got to their fancy hotel’s bridal suite.  The room had only a sofa, a table, and chairs.

Then, discovering the sofa pulled out into a bed, they spent an uncomfortable night on a lumpy mattress with saggy springs.  In the morning, they gave the hotel clerk at the front desk an earful.

The clerk asked, “Did you open the door in your room?”

The door?

He thought it was a closet.  He went back to his room, opened the door, and found a gorgeous bedroom, complete with fruit baskets and chocolates.

He had spent the night with his bride in the entryway!

I really want to laugh at him for being so silly. Unfortunately, I can’t, because I do the same thing.

The apostle Paul describes the riches of grace that God showers down on us.  It is as if God has filled the bridal suite with the wealth of the world. . . and, sometimes, where am I? Making the best of it in the entryway.

God’s love for us is not a limited commodity that he, reluctantly, parcels out in meager doses. Grace is an unending waterfall.  The question is whether we will stand under it or not.

The problem for many of us is that we are half right.  As we honestly take stock of our lives we know that we are guilty of living contrary to the way God wants us to.  And, because we are guilty, we realize we are unworthy of receiving any good gift from the Lord.

So far so good.

But here is where we tend to wander off track: if we are unworthy, then it would seem that God should give us just enough to get by.  Why would God heap truckloads of blessing on people who have been so unfaithful to Him?

But that is exactly what He does!

God is reckless in lavishing his love on undeserving people. You will have learned the wildness of his love when you let him rain it down on you.

                                    (copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)