Temptation

May I remind you of four of the more powerful perils that can level even the mightiest? They are fortune, fame, power, and pleasure. Each works overtime to win a hearing, to gain a foothold, to woo us in. Whether subliminal, subtle, strong, or supreme, these messages search for chinks in our armor as they appeal to our natural appetites.

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For Controlling Our Words

See how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell. (James 3:5-6) Our Father, our tongues are far too often wicked and out of control! We have breached confidences that were meant to be held in trust.

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Resentment

Leo Held was a paragon of respectability. He was a middle-aged, hard-working lab technician who had worked at the same Pennsylvania paper mill for nineteen years. Having been a Boy Scout leader, an affectionate father, a member of the local fire brigade, and a regular church-goer, he was admired as a model in his community. Until . . .

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Comparison

If I may select a well-known phrase from the cobwebs of the fourteenth century and wipe away the dust to garner your attention, it is: COMPARISONS ARE ODIOUS. Odious . . . disgusting, detestable. If you want to be a miserable mortal, then compare. You compare when you place someone beside someone else for the purpose of emphasizing the differences or showing the likenesses. This applies to places and things as well as people.

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A Rare and Remarkable Virtue

Perhaps you’ve uttered the American’s Prayer at some anxious moment recently: Lord, give me patience . . . and I want it right now! This rare and remarkable virtue is within the and-so-forth section in Galatians chapter 5. You know how we quote that passage . . . “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, and-so-forth.” That lazy habit has caused a very important series of virtues to become forgotten.

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Rumors

Abraham Lincoln’s coffin was pried open twice. The first occasion was in 1887, twenty-two long years after his assassination. Why? You may be surprised to know it was not to determine if he had died of a bullet fired from John Wilkes Booth’s derringer. Then why? Because a rumor was sweeping the country that his coffin was empty.

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Dialogues of the Deaf

It is impossible to overemphasize the immense need humans have to be really listened to, to be taken seriously, to be understood. No one can develop freely in this world and find a full life without feeling understood by at least one other person . . . . Listen to the conversations of our world, between nations as well as those between couples.

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Pursuing Worthy Trophies

HE WAS BRILLIANT. Clearly a child prodigy, the pride of Salzburg, a performer par excellence. One of the most brilliant and gifted composers of all time left earth at the young age of thirty-five. The man lived most of his life in abject poverty. He died in complete obscurity! His official name was Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Amadeus Theophilus Mozart. With a handle like that, he had to be famous.

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Careful, Don’t Stumble

NOTHING DAMAGES OUR DIGNITY LIKE STUMBLING! I have seen people dressed to the hilt stumble and fall flat on their faces as they were walking to church. I’ve done it myself, hoping no one was watching. I’ve watched a sure and winning touchdown by a running back foiled by a stumble. I’ve watched brides and grooms stumble in unison . . . shoppers stumble in stores . . .

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Are You Listening?

HOW OFTEN HAVE YOU HEARD someone say, “Are you listening to me?” Let’s be honest: in a culture awash in cell phones, social media, and other addictive technologies, we’re losing the fine art of listening. I don’t mean just hearing. Not simply smiling and nodding while somebody’s mouth is moving. Not merely staying quiet until it’s “your turn” to chime in. All of us are good at that game.

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