Monday, November 16, 2015

Out on the Wire (Book review)

I pleased to give you my book review of Out on the Wire: The Storytelling Secrets of the New Masters of Radio.

If I was as talented as Jessica Abel perhaps I could write this review as a comic book or graphic novel. Alas, I must stay with the typed word.

Abel takes us behind the scenes behind some of the best radio show creations. There she guides the reader through a series of interviews where the experts teach the reader how to tell a story well.

This is what got me interested in the book. I am a story-teller. I want to learn how to do that well. Stories change the world!

What's so cool is that in the process of writing (and re-writing her book (7 times!!)) she ends up teaching herself (by reading what she wrote) how to write this comic book.

I'll admit, at times--especially early-on--I was confused. Some of it was getting use to her pace and style. Some of it might have been her flashback to an earlier work (I'm still a little confused). But press on because there's good stuff in this comic!

I enjoyed getting to know the creators to some of these radio programs. It made me want to go and listen to them. I plan to check out these podcasts soon.

Abel walks her tightrope teaching us about pursuing ideas that really interest you, finding your voice, setting up solid story structure, finding the right sound(s), and the edit, of course.

All in all I learned a lot and was entertained along the way. I felt like I was learning right alongside of Abel.

For that, I am grateful.

  • More Info
  • Author Bio
  • On Amazon here

  • Note: While I was given this book for free to review (Blogging for Books), the thoughts are my own and were not influenced by that fact.

    Wednesday, November 11, 2015

    Faithful AND Fruitful

    “When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father.

    You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name.”
    John 15:8, 16 NLT

    I've heard preachers and individuals say from time to time, when they're not as fruitful as they would like to be, that it's OK because we're just called to be faithful. 

    I want to challenge that here with these two verses. While there will be times when we are faithful but not fruitful, I do not believe this should be our pattern. According to these verses we're called and chosen to be fruitful. That makes fruitfulness pretty important in my eyes.

    Tuesday, October 27, 2015

    Be Attractive

    “For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.””
    Luke 14:11 NIV

    Jesus knows our tendency--my tendency for sure-- to think more of ourselves than we should. 

    This isn't because we aren't as good as we think we are (even though it's often the case) but because this is an arrogant place to be. It disregards our sinful motives and tendencies. It tends to disregard our need for God.

    In this story, Jesus is calling out those who were angling for the most prestigious seat at the table. They cared way too much what other people thought about them. Jesus shows them that this is a pursuit fraught with potential shame and humiliation. For when someone more honored shows up, the host will ask you to move down. And there will be times when the only remaining seat is the least honorable seat.  Jesus points us to a better way.

    Start at the bottom. Place yourself in the least and last seat. This doesn't mean that you don't deserve more honor. It doesn't mean that you shouldn't be sitting closer to the most honorable seat. Jesus is simply saying don't seek that out. Let it be a gift. Don't make your life pursuit be what others think of you. Those rewards are empty anyway. Instead, use the opportunity to allow others to be in the spotlight. 

    This is freeing! No pressure to impress. Just enjoy being with people God has graced you to be with. 

    What's ironic is that people will actually end up thinking more of you when you live this way. People are drawn to humility and repelled by arrogance. 

    This attraction shouldn't surprise us. Those are qualities that come from Christ. People are drawn to Christ when he's visible in us. Shouldn't our aim be to display his glory anyway?

    What is God saying to you today?

    What are you going to do about it?

    "Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you." Romans 12:3 NIV84

    Thursday, October 08, 2015

    An Emerging Pattern

    Just say the words "Planned Parenthood" or "abortion" and most people have a visceral reaction no matter which side of this debate you're on. Passions run high on this issue. Which is why I always hesitate to write or share anything about it online. 

    Sometimes, I am a coward.

    I believe courage is doing the right thing, motivated by love, even when you are afraid. 

    So this is me trying to live courageously on this issue.

    I don't think we realize how young ladies get find themselves in a Planned Parenthood clinic. According to Kristan Hawkins, there is a common pattern emerging. I quote it here to inform you.

    Planned Parenthood’s create-a-customer business model is vicious, and it’s trapping our generation into their money-making scheme. Here’s how they do it: STEP #1: First, they go to our middle and high schools and offer to teach sex education classes. In those classes, they tell the young girl that abstinence is impossible and to come to Planned Parenthood for help that won’t require going to her parents. STEP #2: Then Planned Parenthood prescribes her birth control that they know is carcinogenic and won’t prevent sexually-transmitted diseases. After she gets her heart broken, she will come back for a STD or HIV test, perhaps STD treatment, and more birth control. This cycle will start again with every new partner she has. STEP #3: Finally, when the birth control fails, she will return to Planned Parenthood, whom she has visited for years, for a positive pregnancy test and they will sell her an abortion.

    While I have trouble understanding how a women's right to choose is more important than a baby's choice to live, I truly believe that some of those who defend abortion themselves truly believe they are pursuing a noble cause. I'm not against people here. I'm for people! 

    What I'm against are bad ideas. I'm against taking innocent life. And since I believe that abortion is taking an innocent life, I cannot in good conscience continue to stay silent on this issue. 

    So my aim going forward is to courageously (doing the right thing, motivated by love, even when you're afraid) speak out against this bad idea. It's bad for the child. It's bad for the woman carrying the child. It's much worse than having the child and giving the child up for adoption would be. 

    I am praying for, giving to, and serving those who find themselves in a situation where carrying a child to birth is a great burden. I am also praying that more will put their baby ahead of their inconvenience when deciding on this issue. 

    What is God saying to you?
    What are you going to do about it?

    Add your name to the "Don't Fund Planned Parenthood" bus http://buff.ly/1L29bqK

    Wednesday, October 07, 2015

    Do You Need A Doctor?

    “On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.””
    Mark 2:17 NIV

    This verse is Jesus' response to the Pharisees' question, "Why does (Jesus) eat with tax collectors and sinners?"

    Jesus tells his disciples why through this analogy of a doctor and a sick person because there is a parallel between our physical and spiritual condition.

    When we are sick, and the cure is beyond our knowledge or expertise to treat, we eventually call a doctor. 

    We hate going to the doctor. Not only because of the cost but because we are saying we don't know what to do. That's humbling. Because of our need, we humble ourselves and go see the doctor. 

    Even those who are too proud or stubborn to go see the doctor still need a doctor. Their pride just keeps them from going.

    It is the same way with our spiritual condition.

    Sin is our disease. Treating the symptoms is a hopeless cause. Medicating ourselves with sex, materialism, alcohol, accolades or popularity. There is only one cure. The blood of Jesus.

    We need a blood transfusion from Jesus himself. It's his blood that washes away sin. His blood is the antidote to the virus of sin.

    By God's grace, some come to realize that they are sick from sin. They are sick beyond their ability to get well. They have no hope apart from someone giving them blood that cleanses theirs. 

    So they humble themselves and go see a 'doctor'. Someone who can help them find healing and wholeness. True doctors take them to the Great Physician Jesus who takes away the sins of the world. He heals us by cleansing us from our sin and filling us with his Spirit. 

    Who are the "righteous" Jesus refers to? Those who are proud and don't think they need healing. They have no hope of healing apart from humbling themselves and admitting they need help. But they won't receive--because they don't believe--the transfusion that will save their life.

    The key is we must humble ourselves and 'go to the doctor'--Jesus. 

    Are you sick? Yes, apart from Christ, you are.

    Do you see your disease? Do you see your need for a blood transfusion?

    Go to the Great Physician and holy blood donor Jesus Christ and ask him to heal you from sin and death. He is able!

    What is God saying to you right now?

    What are you going to do about it?

    Monday, October 05, 2015

    How Many Blessings Have I Missed?

    “Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.” When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink. When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!””
    Luke 5:5-8 NIV

    Simon's response to Jesus asking him to put out his nets in deep water one more time is interesting.  I suspect he's thinking at least one of two things.

    He could be thinking, "Lord, I'm exhausted. There aren't any fish out there. I know--I've been up all night. I just want to go home and crash. But to save face in front of this crowd, and because I respect you, Lord, I'll do it." 

    Of course, Jesus doesn't mind asking him to go out one more time because he knows he's about to bless Peter and many others with a huge catch.

    Peter could be thinking, "Lord, I'm happy to do what you ask. Your teaching is amazing and I've really been blessed by it this morning. So I'm going to honor you by doing what you ask. However, let me temper your expectations. I believe you mean well and want us to get a good catch--Lord knows we need it! Just don't be surprised if we don't catch anything (which is what I'm expecting). Poor naive Jesus. He knows nothing about fishing."

    Again, Jesus isn't worried about his expectations. In fact, there's probably a twinkle in his eyes over what's about to happen.

    So what?

    I think for me there are a few takeaways.

    First, the Lord Jesus wants to bless me. It's his nature to bless people--especially his people. He delights in doing it.

    Second, his blessing often comes attached to obedience. Jesus asks me to do something and then to teach me to trust him more ties the blessing to my trusting and obeying him. Positive reinforcement is very effective.

    Third, blessing may seem unlikely when we feel God's nudge to act in faith. As a result, I am often tempted to not believe and, as a result, not act in obedience. 

    This means I miss out on the blessing God has for me. If Peter says he won't go out and walks away, either no one gets the blessing or someone else does. 

    I wonder how many blessings I've walked away from.

    God is a good God. We can trust him.
    God is a great God. He is able.
    God is worthy of all my worship and life.

    What is God saying to you today?
    What are you going to do about it?