Tag Archives: talents

It’s Time to Cut Anchor

Story of the Day for Monday August 27, 2012 

It’s Time to Cut Anchor

 

 

                I have been in danger from rivers…danger from robbers… In danger…danger…danger… 

                                                            2 Corinthians 11:26

 

No one ever accused me of being prudent, which is slightly disappointing, because it is, after all, a virtue. Prudence is just a starchy term for common sense.

Prudence used to mean, for example, that, if you go for a hike in the wilderness, you should take a sharp knife, dry matches, and a good crossword puzzle (in case you get lost for a few days.) Today, we view prudence as never daring to lace up our hiking boots.  Might get lost.  Might sprain an ankle.  Might become grizzly bear poop. Better to be prudent, make a frig run, and plop in front of the TV.

 

There is a huge difference between common sense: avoiding senseless danger, and timidity: fearing all possibility of danger. Have you noticed how we, as a culture, have developed a heightened concern for safety? Nothing wrong with that, in itself, I guess.  But something is wrong.  We are becoming so fearful of danger that we are afraid to live.

Where is a ship the safest? In port. But, John A. Shedd put it well, “A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are for.” God never advises us to be foolhardy, but he doesn’t want us to spend our lives docked to the pier.  We are meant to sail into open waters, and both enjoy the gentle breezes . . . and brave the raging storms.

The apostle Paul was prudent.  In Damascus, he knew when it was time to get out of Dodge and slip over the city wall at night. But, Paul also had the careless habit of preaching about Jesus and starting riots. He knew the danger, but took risks anyway.

 

A young shepherd boy, armed only with a slingshot, once marched up to the fearsome warrior, Goliath. Suddenly, the young boy’s mother rushed frantically onto the battlefield, screaming, “David!  David! What are you doing! How many times have I told you not to fight giants without your safety helmet!”

Look, I’m not opposed to safety helmets. But haven’t you noticed that past ages possessed a valiant spirit that is lacking in our present day?

The patriarchs left the security of home – without itinerary, GPS, or even life insurance. Moses, Elijah, Esther, Jeremiah. Can you name anyone who did great things in God’s name, but chose personal security over danger?

 

Jesus told a story about a man who gave out various amounts of money, then left town. Apparently, those who put the money to work took some risks, because the one who did not later admitted to his master, “I was afraid, so I hid your money in the ground.  See, here it is.”  And there it was, safe and sound. But the point Jesus makes is that God does not entrust us life or talents so that we can “play it safe.”   I don’t think Jesus wants us simply to exist. To just survive.

Don’t be afraid of dying — you have to die to go to heaven.  Be afraid, instead, of not living. God calls us to live with the wind in our face – to cut anchor and sail for the horizon.

(copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

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) 

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)