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John Calvin puts forward a very simple reason why love is the greatest gift: “Because faith and hope are our own: love is diffused among others.” In other words, faith and hope benefit the possessor, but love always benefits another. In John 13:34–35 Jesus says, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Love always requires an “other” as an object; love cannot remain within itself, and that is part of what makes love the greatest gift.
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The Law of Transformative Embrace: What We Receive From Those Who Have Nothing to Give But Their Story

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Takeaways from a powerful interaction with an unexpected individual.

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In 1874, Harry Houdini was born as Erich Weiss. Houdini was an aviator, a film star, and a profound marketing genius, but ultimately he was an expert on the human psyche, able to manipulate people’s perceptions and their experience of reality for the purposes of entertainment.

Houdini was the son of an Hungarian Rabbi who settled his family in Appleton, WI. I recently spoke at an event near Appleton and between my messages I wandered down to a beautiful urban park named after the famed Harry Houdini. Houdini Park is a street corner park set amidst historic buildings and churches. There, you will find a wall inscribed with one of Houdini’s most memorable quotes: “What the eyes see and the ears hear, the mind believes.” This statement summed up his understanding of misdirection, and with this singular principle, he could manipulate people’s perceptions and shape their experiences.

This black slab wall with this thought-provoking quote was a sad backdrop, however, for my encounter with a homeless man named Lance. As I sunk into a low high-back porch chair amidst lush green grass and gorgeous trees, I noticed the park’s activities. There were energetic youth skateboarding and playing lawn games. There were couples holding hands and families eating ice cream and taking pictures.

By everything I saw with my eyes and heard with my ears, it was a gorgeous summer night.

In the center of the park, however, was a very stereotypical homeless man yelling into the air, waving at imaginary people, and glaring at anyone who would make eye contact. Now, I know that we are supposed to look past such people and pretend we don’t hear them—to see only what we choose to see—the trees, the couples, ...

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