Tag Archives: Paul

Are You Primed For This?

Story of the Day for Friday September 14, 2012

Are You Primed For This?

 

                  Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is virtuous or praiseworthy – dwell on such things.

                                                                                                                             Philippians 4:8

 

 

When I finish watching a movie with British actors, I fell like talking in a British accent. I don’t think it’s an especially good idea, but I naturally do it until the effect of the movie wears off or my family tells me I’m driving them crazy.

 

We’ve always known it, but recently researchers have demonstrated that much of our behavior is influenced – not by what we choose, but by what we’re exposed to.

Yale professor, Dr. John A. Bargh, has devised a scrambled-sentence test. The task is to take the following five-word lists and make an intelligible four-word sentence from each line.  Why don’t you give it a try?

 

him was worried she always

from are Florida oranges temperature

ball the throw toss silently

shoes give replace old the

he observes occasionally people watches

he will sweat lonely they

sky the seamless gray is

should now withdraw forgetful we

us bingo sing play let

sunlight makes temperature wrinkle raisins

 

The subjects who take this test assume the goal is to unscramble a sentence as quickly as possible, but it’s not. Dr. Bargh is actually timing the participants to see how fast they walk. Those who take this test walk out of the building slower than when they came in.

Do you know why? Scattered in the sentences are a few words that suggest old age: “Florida,” “old,” “lonely,” “gray,” “forgetful,” “bingo,” and “wrinkles.” Believe it or not, these innocuous suggestions of old age cause the subjects to walk slower afterward.

This priming (as it’s called) has been used to influence a person’s patience or rudeness, and – get this – they never realize their attitudes have been influenced.

 

We like to think our actions are influenced solely by our values and beliefs, but they’re not; our behavior is also influenced by what we’re exposed to.

That is why the apostle Paul tells us to focus our thoughts on noble things. And keep in mind that Paul is writing this from prison. You don’t have to be in a good place to center your thoughts on what is good.

If you’re still dubious about all this, you can research Dr. Bargh’s work for yourself. But maybe it would just be easier to watch a movie with British actors.

(copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre) 

 

“Pass the Bread, Fred”

Story of the Day for Labor Day 2012….September 3rd 

 

“Pass the Bread, Fred”

 

                  Get rid of all . . . hypocrisy . . .

                                                      1 Peter 2:1

 

 

Dr. Foerster’s patient was fully conscious as the German neurosurgeon performed brain surgery to remove a tumor. As Dr. Foerster touched one region of the brain, however, his patient erupted in compulsive pun making. The patient was unable to control his wild word associations.

Arthur Koestler, who mentioned this incident in his book, The Act of Creation, calls Foerster’s Syndrome the inability to refrain from making puns.

I mention this because my college roommate was a jovial guy, but it was obvious that he got dropped on his head when he was a child, because he had Foerster’s Syndrome in a big way. He didn’t learn and retell the puns of others; he was the sole originator and distributor of endless groaners.

Once, one of the college administrators told him bluntly that punning was the lowest form of humor, but this indirect plea for mercy didn’t dampen my roommate’s enthusiasm for punning in the slightest.

 

Paul, from Elkhart, Indiana, once wrote in to Reader’s Digest about a family dinner. His parents, Fred and Adah, invited Paul and his three siblings for a Sunday meal.

Everyone, except for Adah, was in a silly mood and began rhyming their requests.

“Please pass the meat, Pete.”

“May I have a potatah, Adah?”

“I’d give the moon for a spoon.”

After a while, Adah had heard enough. “Stop this nonsense right now!” she shouted. “It’s Sunday, and I would like to enjoy my dinner with some good conversation, not all this silly chatter.”

Then, in a huff, she snapped, “Pass the bread, Fred.”

 

The most annoying aspect of criticizing others is when I find myself dropping into the same kind of behavior. When I criticize people for being late for appointments, I will soon find that I’m late for an appointment.  Lately, I confided to my wife that I thought someone was a gossip. I took a minute before I realized that I was gossiping about someone else who gossips.

 

Now that I’ve recognized my unfortunate habit of acting like a hypocrite, it has, somewhat, tempered my judgmentalism toward others.

The next step Jesus wants me to learn is to be calmer about others – even if I’m never guilty of doing what they do. After all, others have some vices I don’t. For example, I relish the fact that I’ve mustard the strength to resist the impulse to ketchup to my old roommate in the punning department. I just don’t have the hot dog personality he has.

(I can hear my old roommate now, saying, “Marty, let me be frank with you – you’re not very punny!”)

(copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

Second Nature

Story of the Day for Friday May 18, 2012

Second Nature

 

                   Train yourself to be godly. 

                                                              1 Timothy 4:7

How quickly can you say your ABCs? If you’ve got a nimble tongue you can recite the entire alphabet in about four seconds. Try it; I’m in no hurry.

Okay, very good. Now, try reciting the alphabet again — and make sure you time yourself –but this time start with Z and go backwards to A.

Hmmm . . . not quite as impressive.

 

Let’s try something else. Few things are easier than buttoning a shirt. You’ve done it hundreds of thousands of times. So, with your hands folded on your lap, imagine exactly how you button your shirt.

It’s harder than you think. Do you use your middle fingers? What do your thumbs do? What does your left hand do? What are the last fingers to touch the button?

 

Malcom Gladwell stared at Vic Braden in disbelief. “What do you mean? That’s crazy!” Gladwell could hardly believe what Braden, a famous tennis coach, had just told him. Braden interviewed some of the best tennis players in the world, such as Andre Aggasi, Pete Sampras, Chris Evert, and Jimmy Conners, and would hold long conversations with them about their game.

For over thirty years Braden talked to the best tennis players in the world, “I can honestly say that there is nothing to be learned about tennis,” Braden confided to Gladwell, “from talking to top tennis players about tennis.”

Braden, for example, would ask the tennis greats, “How do you hit a topspin forehand?” Every one of them told him that, at the moment of impact, they would roll their wrists. Braden then filmed these tennis players in top tournaments and discovered that not one of them roll their wrists at the moment of impact. They only roll their wrists after the ball is gone as part of their follow-through.

When the best tennis players in the world hit a topspin forehand, it’s as natural and unconscious as saying your ABCs or buttoning a shirt.

 

I’m quite conscious about my spirituality. I know when I’m generous or when I’m (trying to be) patient. You know why? I’m still on my learner’s permit and following Jesus has yet to become second nature. My wife, on the other hand, doesn’t think of herself as generous or patient. That’s because she is. It’s second nature to her.

 

The apostle Paul wrote to his young protégé, Timothy, and told him that learning the life of godliness was like an athlete going into training.

The odd thing about godliness is that the more we train, the less we have to consciously think about what we’re doing.

It becomes second nature.

                                                         (copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

Looking For Ping Pong Balls

Story of the Day for Saturday March 31, 2012

Looking For Ping Pong Balls

                                 And Paul replied, “I didn’t know, brothers, that he was the high priest.” 

                                           Acts 23:5

 

An elderly man, living just south of town, had an apple tree in his front yard which stood temptingly close to the road. The apple tree provided the man with far more fruit than he could use, so he generously allowed others to pick what they wanted.

One evening, a carload of youth pulled up in front of his house and raced over to the apple tree looking down in the grass. The old man instantly realized they were looking to see if any apples had fallen into the highway ditch — since any fruit falling on the right-of-way of the road was fair game.

The old man wanted the kids to know that they were more than welcome to come into his yard and pick all the apples they wanted, so he hollered from his porch, “Looking for some apples?”

One of the kids shouted back, “No, we’re looking for ping-pong balls!”

The old man looked at them with a hurt expression. Why did they have to respond to his generosity with such a sarcastic comment?

 

That same evening, I was busy orchestrating the annual scavenger hunt for our church’s youth group. I would hide objects all over town and hand each team a sheet of clues on how to find them. The kids would pile into cars and each team would try to find the most objects. Everyone had to be back in the church parking lot in an hour or they were disqualified. The group that found the most objects was declared the winner.

Just south of town was a large billboard and I hid one of the objects at its base and wrote clues about how to find it. The billboard stood by the side of the road — right next to an apple tree. And the objects I was hiding this year for the scavenger hunt were . . . ping-pong balls.

 

We can hurt others because we’re trying to hurt others. But how often have hurt feelings been the result of a misunderstanding?

 

When the apostle Paul returned to Jerusalem his enemies recognized him and had him arrested. As he stood on trial before the court, he announced he had been dutiful to God, and for that comment the high priest ordered Paul to be struck in the mouth.

This infuriated Paul and he shouted some insulting things at the one who gave the order.

Those present were horrified. “How dare you revile God’s high priest!”

Immediately, Paul apologized. He didn’t know it was the high priest. True, he felt he had been wronged, but he knew the Bible taught you should never insult the your leaders.

 

Misunderstandings are, sad to say, unavoidable. Even looking for a ping-pong ball has the potential to cause hurt feelings. But they can be minimized when we learn to either apologize or forgive all hurts we cause or receive.

Even the disrespectful insults from snotty-nosed kids who try to steal our apples.

                               (copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

It’s Not Too Late, You Know

Story of the Day for Friday February 17, 2012

It’s Not Too Late, You Know

                                  For I am the least of the apostles and am not worthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. . . and his grace to me was not in vain – I worked harder than all of them. . . 

                                                               1 Corinthians 15:9-10

How do you handle regret?  Many are haunted by ugly sins from their past, and their guilt clings to them like a bad smell.  Others choose to punish themselves by drowning their regret with booze or engaging in other self-destructive behavior.   And then their response to their regret only fills them with more regret.

Regret can cripple you.  But if you will let God bring his grace into your life, your past failures can become the platform for a reinvigorated life.

 

In 1821, a brilliant lawyer defended a Maryland slaveholder.  One of the owner’s slaves, Charity Butler, escaped to freedom.  But the slave owner’s attorney, Thaddeus Stevens, convinced the court to have her returned to bondage.

Afterward, Stevens was disgusted with himself.  He could have wallowed in regret, but instead, chose a better way.  He became transformed into a passionate defender of slaves.

Thaddeus Stevens authored the 14th amendment to the Constitution, which granted all citizens (meaning former slaves) equal protection under the law.  He also fathered the 15th amendment, which gave freed slaves the right to vote.   Even many northern abolitionists still segregated blacks – banning them from public schools, colleges, libraries, theaters, and restaurants.  Stevens addressed black friends as equals, and brought them into social occasions as equals.

Although Stevens died in 1868, it wasn’t until 2002 that archeologists discovered that his house in Lancaster, Pennsylvania housed secret hiding places for fugitive slaves.

Thaddeus Stevens, the man who once condemned a runaway slave to a life of misery, used his past mistake to transform his future.  He used his shameful act as a springboard to a courageous life given to defending those he once suppressed.

Once, a fanatical Jew zealously worked to imprison and murder followers of Jesus of Nazareth.  How would you expect the Lord to handle such a violent persecutor of his people?  Easy – he made him a leader of the very people he once oppressed.  Paul could openly discuss his past, but he did not drown in regret.  He was inundated by the cleansing grace of Jesus.   Now, he could passionately work for the growth of the church he once tried to destroy.

 

It’s not too late, you know.

                                                          (copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

Looking in the Right Place

Happy Thanksgiving!

Story of the Day for Thursday November 24, 2011

Looking in the Right Place

           I have learned to be content – no matter what happens.  I know what it’s like to live in humble circumstances, and what it’s like to have abundance. In any and every situation: whether well fed or hungry, whether living in prosperity or poverty, I have learned the secret of contentment.  I have strength for anything through Him who empowers me.

Philippians 4:11-13   

             Whenever we are highly motivated to do something, like building a garage or ridding our lawn of dandelions, we can usually achieve our goal.  Yet, when it comes to far higher goals, like happiness and contentment, we are often pretty much clueless.    What do you need to be content?  The knee-jerk response is “more money.”  We would be embarrassed to admit it to anyone, but there is a part of us that believes this.  (Even though research on this subject consistently reports that the wealthiest Americans, as a class, are the most unhappy, we still believe it.)

            My family used to live in an old mansion (built in the late 1800s by a lumber baron).  It had five fireplaces, stained-glass windows along one of the upstairs steps.  The third floor was built to house the butlers and maids.  The dining room was built in a half-circle with a cathedral ceiling.  My daughter counted the rooms one day.  Twenty-eight. 

            Did this enormous house bring us pleasure and enjoyment?  Absolutely! 

            But then, when we moved to Montana, we lived way up a mountain in a one-room cabin with a barrel stove for heat and pack rats annoyed by our intrusion.  And you know what?  We enjoyed that old cabin just as much as our mansion. 

 

            Just as we believe that wealth is the secret to contentment, so we often hear people say, “As long as you have your health, that’s all that matters.” 

            Great.  So what happens if you lose your health?  As counterintuitive as it may sound, people who lose their health often report surprisingly high levels of well-being.  Did you know that, among quadriplegics (those paralyzed from the neck down), only 16% of them consider their happiness to be below average?  The overwhelming majority consider their well-being to be higher than average! 

 

            The apostle Paul is talking about finding the secret to contentment.  He has known wealth and poverty.   As he writes these words, he is in prison.   What has he found that gives him such a remarkable sense of joy in such a dire situation? 

            Paul is not controlled by circumstances.  No matter what his situation in life, he’s on an adventure.   He can sincerely enjoy the pleasures in life but he is not dependent on any circumstance in order to be content.  He knows that he is in the hands of his wise and caring Lord.  He knows that in every situation he can find power from Jesus to love others and know that his life has purpose and challenge. 

            If you are still seeking contentment, make sure you’re looking for it in the right place.

                                             (copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

Pressing On When Your Knees Shake

Story of the Day for Tuesday July 26, 2011

Pressing On When Your Knees Shake

                       I came to you in weakness and in fear and in a lot of trembling. 

                                                                     1 Corinthians 2:3

We tend to think of courage as the absence of fear.   Those who face danger without fear are not courageous, but stupid.

An old man once took some young men fishing on one of the Great Lakes.  The old man kept looking off to the west and frowning.  After a while he told them that he was going to head the boat back because a storm was heading their way.

One young man said, “We don’t need to go back now.  We’re not afraid.”

The old man shot back, “You’re too ignorant to be afraid.”

 

The apostle Paul was a man of great courage.  Despite much opposition and persecution, he was undaunted in his mission.  He had the dubious habit of speaking about Jesus and starting riots, and getting into a lot of trouble.

Paul was bold, but not fearless.  Although he was called to proclaim the Good News of Jesus in many places, he appears to be a good debater, but not an exceptional speaker.  He mentions his lack of eloquence, and admits he came to the people in the city of Corinth with “fear and a lot of trembling.”

 

We don’t think of people who are shaking in fear as courageous, do we?  One of Napoleon’s commanders, Marshall Ney, would tremble so violently before battle that he had trouble mounting a horse. Yet, Napoleon repeatedly referred to Ney as the bravest man he ever knew.  Ney was scared, but he never let that stop him.  Once, before battle, he shouted, “Shake away, knees!  You would shake worse than that if you knew where I am going to take you.”

 

Maria Schell was a German actress who began her career with stage fright. When she was seventeen, “I came to the theater on the eve of the opening,” she recalled, “and I saw my name being posted in big letters.”

Suddenly, she was overwhelmed with a sinking feeling, as she realized she was expected to be, in her words, “very, very good.” Maria felt paralyzed.

On opening night she told her mother she had a fever and wanted to stay home in bed. Her mother would have nothing of it. Maria said she never forgot her mother’s counsel: “If you cannot be good, then you must have the courage to be bad.”

 

The Lord did not call Paul to be an eloquent speaker; he called him to be faithful – to boldly speak about Jesus – even he if wasn’t good.  Sometimes, we have to do the right thing, even if we’re not very good at it.

Courage is not about eliminating your fears.  It’s about pressing on when your knees shake.  Eddie Rickenbacker, the World War II flying ace said it well, “Courage is doing what you’re afraid to do.  There can be no courage unless you’re scared.”

                                         (copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre

Thy Will Be Done

Story of the Day for Friday July 1, 2011

Thy Will Be Done

 

                   I want you to know, brothers, that those things that happened against me have advanced the good news. .  

                                                                     Philippians 1:12

 

In his book, The Wild Blue, Stephen Ambrose tells the story of a bombing raid during World War II. George McGovern was flying the Dakota Queen over Amstetten, Austria. McGovern’s bombardier, Cooper, tried to drop the bombs, but they got stuck. Cooper worked to free the bombs, but by the time they fell, they had flown over the river and missed their target. When the men returned to base, they were told at the debriefing that their bombs had dropped on an allied prisoner of war camp.

McGovern and Cooper were devastated.

 

Life doesn’t work out the way we want it to. The Lord’s Prayer is one of the most difficult prayers to pray because we plead with our heavenly Father that His will would be done – when what we really want is for life to turn out the way we want it to.

Why does the Lord let so many bad things happen to us? Why does the Lord let so many bad things happen through us?

Good question.

 

Steve Brown was invited to speak at a missions conference for young people. Just before he spoke, the leader told him there were a lot of kids who weren’t Christians, and asked if he could present the gospel to them.

Without time to prepare, Steve presented God’s plan of salvation. No response. In his book, If Jesus Has Come, Steve says he left the auditorium that night in shame.

Steve tried to reassure himself that these things happen. No big deal. But it was a big deal. Every time he heard the name of the town where he had botched his presentation, he winced.

Five years later, a young man approached him. “Mr. Brown, you don’t know me, but a few years ago I was at a missions conference where you spoke.” Steve groaned inwardly. “The night you spoke I received Christ, and now I’m a student in seminary and I’m going to be a pastor, and I just wanted to thank you.” He told Steve he had a recording of his presentation and shares it with others. “I can’t tell you how God has used your words.”

 

Paul was thrown into prison, but wrote that God was even using his incarceration to advance the gospel. Even when things don’t work the way we’d like them to, God is still at work.

And, before I forget, after Cooper had botched the bombing run, he was haunted by the memory of it. After the war he enrolled at Texas A&M and met an Army Air Forces officer. It turned out the man was a POW at the camp that Cooper accidentally bombed. The former prisoner explained that one of the bombs hit the fence, and in the confusion, several of the Americans managed to escape to freedom.

                                          (copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)