Tag Archives: truth

Reality is a Stubborn Thing

Story of the Day for Friday July 20, 2012 

Reality is a Stubborn Thing

                     Truth has stumbled in the street.

                                                    Isaiah 59:14

 

 

On January 28, 1986, NASA officials tried to defy reality . . . and failed.

The Challenger space shuttle was scheduled for launch on January 22nd, but the launch had to be postponed until the 23rd, then the 24th, then the 25th, and then the 27th.

Officials at NASA were growing increasingly frustrated with each scratched launch date. They wanted to establish a reputation as a reliable market for scientific and commercial markets, and the frequent postponements weren’t helping their reputation. They had an ambitious launch schedule, and by postponing the Challenger, they would be forced to scuttle launch dates all down the line. President Reagan was preparing his State of the Union address and wanted to feature the Challenger mission – which would be awkward if the shuttle was still sitting on the launch pad. Further, classrooms across the country were tuned into TV to watch Christa McAuliffe, a New Hampshire school teacher, give the first school lesson from space.

 

The controversy before the scheduled launch on January 28th focused on the o-rings in the solid rocket boosters. The rocket is built like cans stacked on top of each other. The explosive gases, reaching temperatures of 5000 degrees Fahrenheit, are sealed between the different rocket stages by o-rings.

Engineers at Morton Thiokol were adamant that the launch must be postponed. The temperatures had dipped to 18 degrees in the night, and, at launch time were still around freezing. Morton Thiokol’s contract with NASA specified that the temperature tolerance of the o-rings extended from 40-90 degrees.

At first the managers at Morton Thiokol sided with their engineers. But NASA was not happy. Under pressure to please their customer the managers finally caved in and gave NASA the green light to launch.

The engineers watched helplessly as the countdown began. They knew the o-rings would not seal. Seventy-three seconds after liftoff, as the Challenger went into its first roll, the o-rings failed, and the space shuttle exploded – killing all seven astronauts.

 

The well-known physicist, Richard Feynman, served on the Rogers Commission investigating the accident. “Reality,” he concluded, “must take precedence over public relations,” adding that “nature cannot be fooled.”

 

It is not only Nature which cannot be fooled, but all truth. Some think that morality can be supplanted by a “new morality” as often as youth update their wardrobe.

Jesus claimed to be the Truth, and his teachings have stood solid against the test of time.  We do well to be receptive to what he says because reality is a stubborn thing.

(copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre 
 

Truth Should Never Go For Walks Alone

Story of the Day for Friday June 29, 2012

Truth Should Never Go For Walks Alone

                    . . . You desire truth in the inner being; deep in the heart you teach me wisdom.

                                 Psalm 51:6

Just because something’s true doesn’t mean it’s good.  For example, you can’t argue with the truthfulness of this statement: “Build a man a fire and you’ll keep him warm for a day; set a man on fire and you’ll keep him warm the rest of his life.”

When I was in college, the poster over my dorm room desk showed a photo of a bloated, warty toad. Below the photo was the maxim:

EAT A LIVE TOAD FIRST THING IN THE MORNING

AND NOTHING WORSE WILL HAPPEN TO YOU FOR THE REST OF THE DAY

The poster amused me because, while it may be true, it’s not advice I intended to follow. Truth should never go for walks alone; it should always be accompanied by wisdom, fairness, common sense, or love.

The University of Houston was in a tight basketball game against UAB when the Houston coach, Tom Penders, suffered a heart attack. He fell to his knees, then collapsed face down on the court.

League rules state that coaches and players on the sideline may not step across the foul line while the ball is in play. However, because part of Penders body slumped across the foul line, officials called him for a technical foul.

Penders suffered from cardiomyopathy, a congenital heart condition, and the medical staff put him on oxygen and carried him off the court on a stretcher. The official originally assumed that Penders was reacting to his call. But when it became obvious that Penders was seriously ill, the three-man officiating crew refused to reverse the call.

The referees were simply following the rules. The rule book never said it was acceptable to cross the foul line if you collapsed with a heart attack. Yet, while the referee adhered to “The Truth,” the conference commissioners, coordinator of officials, and the general public, felt differently. Truth should’ve teamed up with common sense, and the technical foul should’ve been reversed.

The incredible love of Jesus brings us a truth that we can twist to our own harm. Is it true that someone could become a drug lord or engage in insider trader on the stock market and still find forgiveness? Yes! It’s true. We can find forgiveness from any sin.

Since it’s true that all sins can be forgiven, does that mean it’s okay to sin? Utilizing truth in this way is about as brilliant as eating a live toad first thing in the morning.

When King David prayed his famous prayer of confession in Psalm 51, he didn’t just speak of learning what is true; he longed for the deepest kind of truth: the truth that knows God’s heart.

                  (copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre) 

Love and Truth Have Kissed

Story of the Day for Wednesday May 30, 2010

Love and Truth Have Kissed

                The Lord will be the stable foundation for your times, a wealthy storehouse of salvation and wisdom and knowledge. 

                                                                                                               Isaiah 33:6

Tim Stafford wrote an article in Christianity Today about a pastor he knew, Dr. Stephen Bilynskyj. He fills a jar with beans and asks his class to guess how many beans are in the jar. On a big pad of paper he writes down their estimates. Then, next to their estimates he asks them to name their favorite song.

After the two lists are completed, he tells them how many beans are in the jar, and the class checks the list to see whose estimate was the closest. Then Pastor Bilynskyj looks at the list of favorite songs and asks them which song is closest to being right.

The students protest that there isn’t a right answer.

Bilynskj asks them, “When you decide what to believe in terms of your faith, is that more like guessing the number of beans, or more like choosing your favorite song?”

The answer is disturbing – invariably they say that their religious faith is like choosing a favorite song.  They see their faith, in other words, not as something that is actually true, but as their personal preference.

If God truly exists, we should expect to find his fingerprints. As we examine the fundamental components of life, we should see evidence of an Intelligent Designer – systems that can’t be constructed by a mindless combination of chemicals. And we do.

When we read the story of God’s working among his people, we would expect to find archeological evidence for the places and buildings spoken about. And we do.

If God doesn’t really exist, then life is meaningless, and we must have the courage to admit it.  But, isn’t it odd that those who claim there is no God, and no purpose in life,  have a dickens of a time practicing their belief?

AsRavi Zacharias was being driven to a lecture he was giving at Ohio State University, his host drove him past the Wexner Center for the Performing Arts, hailed as the first postmodern building. The outer scaffolding gives a sense of incompleteness. Inside, stairways go nowhere and pillars hang from the ceiling without purpose.

The host told Zacharias that the building was designed to reflect life itself – senseless and incoherent – and the “capriciousness of the rules that organize the built world.”

Ravi asked, “So his argument was that if life has no purpose and design, why should the building have any design?”

His host said, “That is correct.”

“Did he do the same thing with the foundation?”

God is not an illusion – something you believe in just to make you feel good. He is the foundation of reality. He makes the things we long for: love and a restored life, real.

In the God who is really there, Love and Truth have kissed.

(copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

But Truth Won’t Break

Story of the Day for Saturday April 14, 2012

But Truth Won’t Break

                  Because of rebellion . . . truth was flung to the ground.
Daniel 8:12

When Stephen Covey speaks to audiences, he will sometimes ask everyone to close their eyes and point north. Telling them not to move their arms, he asks everyone to open their eyes. The audience discovers it is pointing every which way.

Are they all correct? Is north whatever direction you think it is? Or, is there one direction that points to true north?

Before you answer that, let’s ratchet things up a notch. Suppose you’re driving in an unfamiliar city when your child in the back seat suddenly becomes ill. You shout out your car window at a passing pedestrian, “Where is the nearest hospital?”

“Three blocks north of here.”

If you are unsure of your directions would you ask which way is north? Or, would you conclude it didn’t matter – north is whatever direction you believe it to be?

Now, if it was up to me, I would never discuss mathematics because I’m so bad at it. But, our present circumstances compel me to bring up the topic of pi.

Pi is the ratio of the circumference of the circle to its diameter. And, while most of us can live happy lives without ever learning this fact, I’m told that correctly calculating pi is critical in some areas of life.

The number for pi is often identified as 3.14, but that isn’t true. Pi is an irrational number that keeps going until it disappears over the horizon. (In November, 2005, Chao Lu recited the first 67,890 decimal places of pi from memory.)

All this was not going down well with Edward J. Goodwin. As an amateur mathematician, he offered to the world three ways of calculating pi. The first formula calculated pi as 3.2, while other formulas yielded the numbers 3.23 and 4.

T.I. Record knew a good thing when he saw one. In 1897, as a member of the Indiana House of Representatives, he introduced Bill #246, which changed the number of pi to Goodwin’s suggestions. The bill was sent to the House, where everyone was delighted to make pi a simpler number. Bill #246 was unanimously approved, 67 to 0.

The bill was passed on the Senate. But then a mathematics professor from Purdue, C.A. Waldo, convinced them they were a bunch of loons, and the bill died in committee.

We can fling the truth to the ground, but truth won’t break. If we ignore it, it will break us.

God doesn’t exist because we believe in him. He’s True North, and our opinions about him won’t alter who he is. What matters is that we find, and hold on to, what is true about God, and life in general, rather than trying to invent it.

In Indiana, preserving the true number of pi saved all the architects in the state from banging their heads against walls and mumbling incoherently.
                   (copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre) 

Tying Branches to the Tails of Horses

Story of the Day for Thursday September 29, 2011

Tying Branches to the Tails of Horses

                     . . .that we might no longer be infants, tossed by the waves, and blown around by every wind of teaching and by the craftiness and cunning of men in their deceitful scheming.  

                                                                  Ephesians 4:14

 Do you know what conqueror created the largest contiguous Empire in history? I’ll give you a clue: his empire stretched from the Pacific Ocean to the Adriatic Sea, and included China, Baghdad, and Moscow.

His name was Genghis Khan, and in the 13th century, his Mongol army was unstoppable.

 

He didn’t rely simply on brute force and superior numbers. His army was well-trained, but Genghis Khan was a master of deception.

In 1241, the Hungarians seemed to be strong and willing to fight to the death. Since Ghengis Khan didn’t have the strength to stage a frontal assault, he surrounded the enemy. The Hungarians, however, noticed that they failed to completely surround them. There was a gap in the lines through which they could escape. As soldiers broke ranks to escape from their attackers, they had no idea they were running into the trap. The Mongols created an “escape hatch” so that, once in the open, they could be funneled into a trap where they would be overwhelmed.

In 1258, the Mongols invaded Szechuan with 40,000 but spread rumors that they had 100,000 soldiers. Genghis Khan set up camp and ordered every soldier to light five campfires to create the illusion that they he had an overwhelming opposing army. On the horizon, the Mongols would tie branches to the tails of their horses to stir up dust in order to make it appear to their adversary that a large army of enemy reinforcements was arriving.

When near the Dneiper River, the Mongols were far outnumbered by 80,000 warriors led by Prince Mstitslav of Kiev. The Mongols sent a token force on horseback to attack, but then they turned and retreated. The prince’s cavalry realized the Mongols were few in numbers, and left their defensive position to pursue them. The Mongols retreated to the Kalka River, with their enemy strung out in pursuit. Then, the bulk of the Mongol army waited to ambush the attackers from both sides. The retreating Mongols suddenly spun around and attacked from the front – destroying their adversary.

 

Truth poses no threat to the believer. The Christian community has always welcomed debate with atheists, evolutionists, pro-abortionists – you name it.

But, the Bible urges us to grow up in our faith. Spiritual maturity doesn’t make us more loved by God, but it does make us wiser to the many deceptions and false claims that intimidate those young in the faith.

Genghis Khan could never have accomplished what he did without the cunning to deceive his enemies.

The only way deception can hurt you is to believe it.

                                                    (copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

 

Reality is a Stubborn Thing

Story of the Day for Friday August 5, 2011

Reality is a Stubborn Thing

                     Truth has stumbled in the street. 

                                                                 Isaiah 59:14

 On January 28, 1986, NASA officials tried to defy reality . . . and failed.

The Challenger space shuttle was scheduled for launch on January 22nd, but the launch had to be postponed until the 23rd, then the 24th, then the 25th, and then the 27th.

Officials at NASA were growing increasingly frustrated with each scratched launch date. They wanted to establish a reputation as a reliable market for scientific and commercial markets, and the frequent postponements weren’t helping their reputation. They had an ambitious launch schedule, and by postponing the Challenger, they would be forced to scuttle launch dates all down the line. President Reagan was preparing his State of the Union address and wanted to feature the Challenger mission – which would be awkward if the shuttle was still sitting on the launch pad. Further, classrooms across the country were tuned into TV to watch Christa McAuliffe, a New Hampshire school teacher, give the first school lesson from space.

 

The controversy before the scheduled launch on January 28th focused on the o-rings in the solid rocket boosters. The rocket is built like cans stacked on top of each other. The explosive gases, reaching temperatures of 5000 degrees Fahrenheit, are sealed between the different rocket stages by o-rings.

Engineers at Morton Thiokol were adamant that the launch must be postponed. The temperatures had dipped to 18 degrees in the night, and, at launch time were still around freezing. Morton Thiokol’s contract with NASA specified that the temperature tolerance of the o-rings extended from 40-90 degrees.

At first the managers at Morton Thiokol sided with their engineers. But NASA was not happy. Under pressure to please their customer the managers finally caved in and gave NASA the green light to launch.

The engineers watched helplessly as the countdown began. They knew the o-rings would not seal. Seventy-three seconds after liftoff, as the Challenger went into its first roll, the o-rings failed, and the space shuttle exploded – killing all seven astronauts.

 

The well-known physicist, Richard Feynman, served on the Rogers Commission investigating the accident. “Reality,” he concluded, “must take precedence over public relations,” adding that “nature cannot be fooled.”

 

It is not only Nature which cannot be fooled, but all truth. Some think that morality can be supplanted by a “new morality” as often as youth update their wardrobe.

Jesus claimed to be the Truth, and his teachings have stood solid against the test of time.  We do well to be receptive to what he says because reality is a stubborn thing.

(copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

 

 

Why Faith Doesn’t Create Open Pickup Windows

Story of the Day for Friday July 15, 2011

 

Why Faith Doesn’t Create Open Pickup Windows

 

                They called on the name of Baal from morning until noon, shouting, “O Baal, answer us!” But there was no voice; no one answered.  

                                                              1 Kings 18:26

Different roads can lead us to the same town and many believe that all religions lead to the same God. Our generation has made a breathtaking transition in thinking. In the past, people thought you could be right about what you believed, or you could be wrong. But something wasn’t true because you believed it.

All that has now changed. Today, vast multitudes think that, if you believe something, and believe it sincerely, then it’s true. Why? Because you believe it.

 

Brian Tracy, a leader of the Positive Thinking movement teaches that, if you are on a crowded street looking for an empty parking space, and you believe strongly enough, you will always find that a vacant parking space has been created for you.

In this same vein, we don’t bother so much with asking whether our beliefs in God are true; the only thing that matters is that we have a sincere faith.

 

Last week, I used a cup of cold coffee to disprove this notion.

Early, on a chilly morning in the mountains, I grabbed a cup of coffee and drove down the road to the old Pinkham schoolhouse. The day turned into a scorcher and, by late afternoon, everyone had opened the windows to their vehicles to cool them down.

When it was time to go home, I climbed in my pickup and noticed I hadn’t finished my coffee so I picked up the cup and threw the cold coffee out the window.

THWACK!

I thought the window was open, but it wasn’t. The cup banged against the window and sent a shower of cold coffee my way.

If you ever want to feel really stupid . . .

 

Now, I sincerely believed that the window on my pickup was rolled down. I sincerely believed that I could fling the cold coffee outside and life would be better for my having done so.

Sadly, my faith could not create truth. If faith made things true, I wouldn’t have had sore knuckles and coffee dripping from my face.

 

On Mount Carmel, Elijah challenged the prophets of Baal to a contest. Whoever could pray to their God to miraculously light the sacrifice on the altar would be acknowledged as serving the true God. Back then, everyone agreed that faith was useless unless it was placed in the truth.

In the old days, they wouldn’t scratch their heads and wonder why my faith didn’t create an open window on my pickup; they would be looking at my soppy face and laughing until their stomachs hurt.

                                                  (copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

Led to the Truth

Story of the Day for Tuesday May 31, 2011

Led to the Truth

 

                   Jesus said, “Come, follow me.”  And they left their nets and followed him. 

                                                                         Matthew 4:20

 

Secretary of State, William Seward, negotiated with Russian officials. At four in the morning in March of 1867, he hammered out a treaty.  Russia agreed to sell some of their territory for about 2 pennies an acre.

Many critics were furious.  Horace Greeley, the famous journalist of the day, called the agreement “a dark deed done in the night.”  Soon the purchase was popularly dubbed “Seward’s Folly.”

Seward had just negotiated the purchase of over a half million square miles called Alaska.  The timber had no value – there were abundant forests much closer.  There were few profitable resources in fish and fur.  But Seward had the foresight to see the importance of Alaska from a diplomatic standpoint.  Relations between Russia and Great Britain were tense.  Seward bought Alaska, in part,  to ease international relations.

But here is the point: while Seward had good reasons to buy Alaska, he was totally ignorant of the best reasons: the gold and oil.  Today, Alaska has more natural resources than any other state in the Union, but Seward didn’t know that at the time.

 

When Peter and Andrew left their fishing trade to follow Jesus, they had no idea that his purpose was to be tortured to death as the sacrifice for our sins, and then rise from the dead, so we might have eternal life.   They had been following Jesus for quite some time before Jesus ever explained his true mission, and when he did, the disciples were either confused or upset!  Peter was shocked.  “This shall never happen to you, Lord!”

Wait a minute – if the disciples did not understand that Jesus would die and rise for our salvation until after the resurrection, then why did they follow him?

The disciples did not drop their fishing nets and follow a man they had never seen.  People so crowded the shore to hear this man that Jesus had to commandeer Peter’s boat and push off from shore to teach the multitudes.  Before Peter and the other disciples left everything to follow Jesus, they had already seen his compassion for the sick.  They had already witnessed his mercy to sinners.

 

Just as Seward made a sound decision, but ended up getting far more than he could imagine, so the disciples followed Jesus because he was changing their lives, but found out later that he would save their souls.

God doesn’t dump the whole truckload of Truth on us the minute we believe.

Jesus did not immediately reveal the whole truth of the Gospel to his own disciples.  Gradually and patiently, he led them to that truth.  If you feel guilty because you don’t immediately blurt out the plan of salvation when you first meet a new face, maybe your feelings of guilt are not coming from God.   Maybe, like Jesus, we can begin by demonstrating the compassion and mercy of the kingdom life. . . so that they may long for, and find, its source.

                                                                (copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarr)