The Hammer, the File, and the Furnace

It was the enraptured Rutherford who said in the midst of very painful trials and heartaches: Praise God for the hammer, the file, and the furnace! Let’s think about that. The hammer is a useful and handy instrument. It is an essential and helpful tool, if nails are ever to be driven into place. Each blow forces them to bite deeper as the hammer’s head pounds and pounds.

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Persistence, Part One

Persistence pays. It’s a costly investment, no question about it. But the dividends are so much greater than the original outlay that you’ll almost forget the price. And if the final benefits are really significant, you’ll wonder why you ever hesitated to begin with. A primary reason we are tempted to give up is other people . . . you know, the less than 20 percent whose major role in life is to encourage others to toss in the towel.

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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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