Remembering Names, Part Two

Okay . . . there you stand, getting introduced to someone. How are you going to remember the person’s name? Well, you’re already of the mind-set that this meeting and the person are very important. You remember that from yesterday, right? Okay, so now zero in first on one major thing—the name, nothing else, for a few seconds. Ignore all distractions and peripheral activity. Listen for one thing, the name. That is your goal, after all.

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Operational Arrival

MERRY CHRISTMAS! Lost in the wonder of it all, I believe a little child upon my knee would whisper simple words of advice up close to my ear. Let’s slow down. The special joy of Christmas is spending extra hours with folks you love. That takes time. Rather than talking about how much we’d like to make it happen, why not slow down and do it?

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The First Christmas Eve

IN 1818, a roving band of actors was performing in towns throughout the Austrian Alps. Their performance on a starry December night in Oberndorf bei Salzburg, Austria, impacted local pastor Joseph Mohr as the words of the Christ story remained in his heart. On his walk home, Mohr traveled up a longer path home, which took him up a hill overlooking the village.

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Determination

When Jesus tells us to “seek first the kingdom of God,” the very word “seek” implies a strong-minded pursuit. J. B. Phillips paraphrases the idea with “set your heart on.” The Amplified Bible says, “Aim at and strive after.” The Greek text of Matthew’s Gospel states a continual command: “Keep on continually seeking . . . .” The thought is determination, which I define as “deciding to hang tough, regardless.”

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Stop Fussing . . . and Focus Instead

Mary . . . sat before the Master, hanging on every word he said. But Martha was pulled away by all she had to do in the kitchen. Later, she stepped in, interrupting them. “Master, don’t you care that my sister has abandoned the kitchen to me? Tell her to lend me a hand.” The Master said, “Martha, dear Martha, you’re fussing far too much and getting yourself worked up over nothing.

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Hope beyond Failure

Just as he was speaking, the rooster crowed. The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him: “Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times.” And [Peter] went outside and wept bitterly. (Luke 22:60–62 NIV)

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Songless Saints

I was on a scriptural safari. Prowling through the Ephesian letter, I was tracking an elusive, totally unrelated verse when God’s sharp sword flashed, suddenly slicing me to the core . . . speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord. (Ephesians 5:19)

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Self-Praise

“Self-praise,” says an ancient adage, “smells bad.” In other words, it stinks up the works. Regardless of how we prepare it, garnish it with little extras, slice and serve it up on our finest silver piece, the odor remains. No amount of seasoning can eliminate the offensive smell. Unlike a good wife, age only makes it worse. It is much like the poisoned rat in the wall—if it isn’t removed the stench becomes increasingly unbearable.

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Modeling God’s Message

Hosea started a scandal in the parsonage. Why? Hold onto your hat—he married a prostitute. Talk about gossip! His name became a byword for “fool.” Respect for him dropped to zero. His reputation was suddenly null and void. “Small wonder he is listed first among the minor prophets,” some sneer . . . “He must have been some kind of a nut.”

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The Broken Wing

It is quite probable that someone reading my words this moment is fighting an inner battle with a ghost from the past. The skeleton in one of yesterday’s closets is beginning to rattle louder and louder. Putting adhesive tape around the closet and moving the bureau in front of the door does little to muffle the clattering bones. You wonder, possibly, “Who knows?” You think, probably, “I’ve had it . . . can’t win . . . party’s over.”

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