I say I believe in God, that I believe in Jesus His son. I say that I believe so much that I would give my life for what I believe in, but do I really?
I ran across this video by Francis Chan and it made me really think. Do I truly believe, or are the words, “I believe” the answer I give myself so I don’t have to ask myself the hard questions? And if I do believe, what evidence is there in my life? If I took my “belief” out of my life, would there be a difference? Would anyone be able to tell?
If the answer is no, then I have some decisions to make.
I’m writing a novel, and in doing so, I have read and absorbed a great amount of advice on writing. One topic that comes up frequently in writing forums is, “I have a great idea, but it’s not original. It’s like Stephen King meets Nicholas Sparks.”
Okay, maybe not that last part exactly, but you get the idea.
Let me set you free, there is no such thing as a completely new or original idea. Most innovations are improvements on something that already exists. In the example above, the novel isn’t a copy of King or of Sparks, it’s a marriage of the two. The author found something he liked about both styles and genres and combined them to make it his own. When this is done, it can be a train wreck, or it can be the next Harry Potter. What made this series so popular wasn’t the base idea, which is simply a coming of age story, but how British author J. K. Rowling delivered it.
And that is how our world is made beautiful, by people finding something beautiful and making it their own by adding a little bit of their personality and style.
Here is an incredible example I found, and the inspiration for this post. It’s solo cellist Kevin Olusola adding his own flavor to the song Julie-O and making it his own. Enjoy!
This past fall we took the kids to Washington D.C. and one of the highlights was going to the Martin Luther King Jr. memorial. It was incredible. What greatness he possessed, and it’s a reminder that we too have the potential to impact the world. For that, he is one of my heroes.
Here is the end of his final speech. I pray my life exhibits the same passion.
My kids have been testy and stubborn lately, and I just feel like I’m riding them constantly. Whether it’s their chores, their school work, or just getting along, they want to do it in their time, on their terms.
They get it from me, I know it. Anyhow, I found this poem today, and it really encouraged me. It’s by Denis Waitley, a personal success guy:
Take a Moment
Take a moment to listen today
to what your children are trying to say,
Listen to them, whatever you do
or they won’t be there to listen to you.
Listen to their problems, listen to their needs
Praise their smallest triumphs, praise their littlest deeds;
Tolerate their chatter, amplify their laughter,
Find out what’s the matter, find out what they’re after.
If we tell our children all the bad in them we see,
They’ll grow up exactly how we hoped they’d never be;
But if we tell our children we’re so proud to wear their name,
They’ll grow up believing that they’re winners in the game.
So tell them that you love them every single night;
And though you scold them make sure you hold them
and tell them they’re all right, “Good night, happy dreams,
Tomorrow’s looking bright.”
Take a moment to listen today to what
your children are trying to say
Listen to them whatever you do, and
They’ll be there to listen to you.
If this meant something to you today, please share this on your facebook page.
My hands clasped tightly to the rails. “One step at a time,” I repeated under my breath. It seemed that with every step up, the laughter and splashing faded just a little more. It took me weeks to get this far, all the way to the top, and now I had not only to make it to the end, but to jump. If I were lucky, maybe I would slip and fall in.
The pool was a favorite hang-out, especially in the summer months under the sweltering Georgia sun. I wasn’t that great at swimming, seeing that our previous years were in Alaska and you just don’t get that excited for a dip in a cool pool when the outside temperature is -20F and your older sister tells you that your hair will “instantly freeze and break off the moment you walk outside with wet hair.” To my friends, jumping off the high board was no big deal. They jumped, dove, and flipped off it effortlessly.
Me? Not a chance. To me it was no play thing to assist in my joyful entry into the pool, but a pirate’s plank by which I would be forced at the end of a cutlass to walk off, and take my last gasping breath before being consumed by a bottomless sea.
Many times I climbed the ladder almost to the top, only to back down from this tower of doom. But I had to jump, the other kids had so much fun doing it, and I wanted in on the party. I’m not afraid of heights, never had been. It was the jump. It was the fact that my feet would have to leave anything solid, even if only for a brief moment. I would be out of control, completely at the mercy of the laws of physics and gravity.
I did finally scooch my way to the end of that board, only to stare at the water. The kid behind me yelled, “Jump in already!” and in turning to tell him to shut up, I lost my balance and fell off the end. After my body smacked the water, I thrashed my way back to the top, made my way to the side, and almost ran to the end of the line to do it again. You couldn’t keep me off it for the rest of the day.
I ran into this scenario again recently. See, I like to write, and I dabble a lot. I write on this blog, and I write short stories, but what I really want to do is write novels. Not 300 words, or even 3,000, but full on 80-115,000 word novels. Several years ago I had a great idea, even outlined it, met with a great friend who has published 5 novels and he loved the idea too. I’ve done everything but sit my butt in the chair and write it.
That is, until January 5th, 2012. That day, I started Chapter 1. It took me five long years to take that first jump and plunge into something that’s much bigger than I am. And my feet are off the ground, and I don’t know where I’ll land, but I do know one thing. I love it, and now that I have started writing it, I can’t stop!
The horrible thing about dreams and passions is that when you don’t pursue them, they haunt you and when you get to be an adult, there isn’t always someone behind you yelling, “Jump in already!” So let me be that person.
JUMP IN ALREADY!
Whatever it is that you dream of doing, that you can’t stop yourself from thinking about, just do it. Don’t waste years like I have, thinking of all the reasons it won’t work, just jump in. Once you do, I’m sure we won’t be able to keep you out of the water.
I love movies with huge open field battles. You know, like The Patriot, 300, and Lord of the Rings. It’s good versus bad times ten thousand. One side lines up on a hilltop facing the opposition who line up on the other, both waiting with weapons in hand, hearts pounding in unison so loud it shames even thunder. The commanders each raise their battle cries and it’s a full on run to trade blows. Blood and sweat mix as each gives everything he has not only to survive, but to conquer.
The musical score begins to slow as the battle fades into a few skirmishes until none are left standing save the victors, and the bad guys are turning tail and running for their mommies.
Here is the moment when the heroes, chests heaving from exhaustion, survey the battlefield. Tears of joy and sorrow fall.
Amidst the fallen enemies are their fathers, their brothers, their sons. Many lie dead, others maimed, but in the midst of their anguish is victory! Their losses are not in vain. For at least that day, evil is vanquished and the air carries the bittersweet taste of freedom.
Sometimes I look around the church and I see pain, sickness, and brokenness. I ask, “Why God? Are these not your people, your children?”
He answers, “Yes, they are. We wage a war against the incredible foes of the flesh and the devil, and many are wounded and crushed in the battle. But be comforted, because after their pain, after their sorrow, even after their loss there is victory. It has not been in vain. Though it may not be their lot to hold high the Banner of the Prince of Peace on the field of victory, their legacy is that they have made the way for those after them. They have shown that the cause is worthy and the price of their lives a bargain.”
So be encouraged, “This is what the LORD says to you: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s. (2 Chronicles 20:15)”
“For Such a Time as This” by Pastor Kirk Gilchrist is a book about renewal and revival, and this message is clear from the very beginning: the cover. At the top, before the title, in all-caps, are the words, “FORWARD BY TED HAGGARD.” Wow, what a gutsy choice as at this point some will unfortunately put this book down. For me it shows that Pastor Kirk Gilchrist believes in this message and is not going to avoid tough topics or fail to speak what is on his heart for fear of offending the reader. Bravo!
In “For Such a Time as This,” Gilchrist takes the reader through the history of his own rural church, which has grown from 30-50 in attendance to over 400. He relays to pastors that no matter the size or location of their church, God’s plan is for their Church to prosper and grow.
Gilchrist tackles some common issues that churches face and calls them out for what they are, excuses to be stagnant and defeated. His own church is in a county of northern New York (the Thousand Island region) known for economic depression, his own town having only 92 homes. God taught him to look past these indicators and see the greater vision of a prosperous church: not only financially viable, but prospering in the community by taking part in improving their surroundings, and impacting individual lives in their county.
The foundation is love, and the house is built by action. Some say that these are the worst of times for the church, but Gilchrist paints a portrait of a harvest ripe for the picking; that revival is not at some unforeseen point in the future, but that revival is now.
The writing style is direct, as though you were reading a transcript of Gilchirst’s preaching. The first few chapters where he delves into the history of his church felt like a bit too much, but it pays off later in the book when he explains the steps and processes God led the church through and relates them to those experiences.
I recommend “For Such a Time as This” as a tool for encouragement and a starting point to taking the Gospel of God’s love for all outside the four walls of the church.
Disclosures: I am a member of Kirk Gilchrist’s New Life Christian Church, and was given a copy of “For Such a Time as This” for review, free of charge. These opinions were given with all effort to be objective without regard to him being my pastor. A positive review was not required.