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The Power of a Name

Paul Harvey was one of radio’s most famous personalities, known primarily for his radio segments titled “The Rest of the Story,” in which he weaves fascinating tales, waiting until the last moment to reveal the identities of the story’s main character. For example, he once told the story of sixteen-year-old Michael, a basketball player who collided with an opponent during a game and wound up biting off and swallowing the tip of his own tongue. Harvey went on to tell how Michael was also a budding young singer whose voice was forever altered by the incident. In fact, even Michael himself assumed his singing days were over. But (according to Harvey) that fateful event gave Michael a raspy tone and style that would eventually make him a star and a legend.

So, who was this young man? Well, that’s a good question. But perhaps a better question is, does it really matter? After all, the story itself should be sufficient inspiration for never giving up, overcoming tragedy, yada yada yada. But it doesn’t work like that, does it? What if I gave you more details? For example, this incident is visually connected to a cultural icon for which Michael is famous. Still no clue? Well, the man’s full name: Michael Phillip Jagger, otherwise recognized as the lead singer for the Rolling Stones. (Now the big lips and tongue make more sense, right?)

Surprised? I sure was. Harvey got me every time with those hidden identities. And at the end of each segment when he finally reveals the name—BAM!—I’m blown away. That’s the power of a name.

Why is it so critical for us to know the name of a person? How is it that someone’s history and character can be so inextricably tied to something as simple as a name? More importantly, how does this insight relate to prayer?


12 Steps to Health

Step 1 ... Adjust your attitude! The way you think about yourself and your ability to get healthy
is critical to your success (or failure). Think about it.

Step 2 ... Go ahead and indulge in a little chocolate, just make sure it's dark chocolate.
The benefits are truly amazing.

Step 3 ... learn to eat better and stay away from the S.A.D. American Diet!
Now that I'm "caught up," I'll blog one of these each month. All you have to do is make your focus for the entire month the one simple step featured, and within a year, you'll be living healthier and feeling better than ever!


The True Cost of Discipleship

On February 4, 1906, in Breslau, Germany, Dietrich became number six of eight children born to Karl and Paula Bonhoeffer. Karl was a professor of psychiatry and neurology. Paula was a university graduate who home-schooled Dietrich while he was young. A brilliant student, Dietrich went on to become the only  Bonhoeffer ever to pursue a career in theology.

If you are a student of history, you may recognize that Dietrich lived during the rise of Hitler. As a Christian, it may seem obvious that the ethics of the Nazis and their anti-Semitism were offensive to a student of the Bible such as Dietrich. More importantly, his outspoken demeanor got him banned from teaching at the University of Berlin, so he created an underground seminary. And when the German church proved less than enthusiastic in its stand against Nazism, Dietrich helped create the Confessing Church to fight against Hitler’s Third Reich. Eventually,  Dietrich became recognized as an active force of protest against the Nazi regime.

By the 1930s, Nazi power and philosophy were in high gear, and the holocaust began as Hitler’s “final solution” against the problem of “Jewish infestation.” In an effort to thwart Hitler’s efforts, Dietrich joined a military intelligence organization and began feeding information to the resistance. By 1943,  Dietrich’s anti-Nazi resistance landed him in Tegel prison, cell 92, where he began to live out his famous words: “When Christ calls a man, He bids him come and die” (Cost of Discipleship).

On April 9, 1945, Dietrich Bonhoeffer was stripped and hanged for his fight against Hitler and Nazi Germany in the name of Christ. More than most, he understood the true Cost of Discipleship.
  • What do you suppose it would have been like living and working under Hitler’s Nazi Germany?
  • Apparently, Bonhoeffer’s “outspoken demeanor got him banned from teaching” . . . and eventually imprisoned and even hanged. Has your desire to speak out ever got you in trouble
  • Do you think the actions of Bonhoeffer were brave, stupid, or both? Why?
  • Obviously, none of us have been martyred for our faith. And while that would be the ultimate sacrifice, certainly there are many other types of sacrifice that we can make. So, what would you say you’ve personally learned about the Cost of Discipleship?


St. Patrick, Bold Faith

On the Eve of Easter (and during the Celtic feast of Bealtaine), 432, the High King Loaghaire prepared to kindle the “new fire” on top of a hill at Tara, the ancient capital of Ireland. All fires had to be extinguished as the High King lit the “first fire,” from which all others would then be lit. The Druids would then take these fires to their homes. But on this night of the Druid New Year, another first fire, ignited by the Holy Spirit himself, had already been lit in the heart of a man named Patrick. As such, Patrick couldn’t bear to stand back and watch this festival take place without opposition.

So Patrick built a fire of his own on the hill of Slane opposite the hill of Tara. The Druids complained to Loaghaire that the fire, lighted in defiance of his royal edict, would blaze forever unless they extinguished it that very night. Nine chariots were sent against the saint. But Patrick’s fire seemed to have magical powers and the kings’ men were unable to prevail against the power of this holy fire.

The next day, Loaghaire invited Saint Patrick to Tara, intending to ambush and kill him along the way. Patrick accepted the invitation. Along the path, he and eight young clerics began reciting the Breastplate Prayer (a.k.a., the “Deer’s Cry”). As the soldiers readied the ambush, a cloak of darkness fell over the men causing the soldiers to see only eight deer and a fawn going past them. Even the Druid wizards had warned the king that the posterity of this man would remain until doomsday, because he was the herald of the Prince of Peace. In the end, Loaghaire was forced to concede that Patrick’s God was more powerful than the gods of the Druids. From that time on, the influence of Saint Patrick spread until all of Ireland had heard the message of Easter, thanks to the courage and anointing of this remarkable disciple of Jesus Christ.

Today, a statue of St. Patrick sits atop Tara, an area once dedicated to the ancient pagan kings, while ruins of a 1512 "friary church" sit atop Slane. Each serves as a monument to the fire that "would blaze forever" throughout the Emerald Isle.

Patrick's boldness at Slane would eventually inspire an Irish folk song simply called Slane. Nearly two centuries later, the saintly poet Dallán Forgaill would pen the words to Rop tú mo Baile, which translated means Be Thou My Vision. Both the poem and the folk song were destined to meet, and today we have one more reason to be inspired by the life of St Patrick every time we sing this beloved and ancient hymn.

As we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day and the Easter season, “May your blessings outnumber the Shamrocks and may the strength of Three be in your journey.”