It will be in vain for me to stock my library, . . . if I neglect the culture of myself; for books, and agencies, and systems, are only remotely the instruments of my holy calling; my own spirit, soul, and body, are my nearest machinery for sacred service; my spiritual faculties, and my inner life, are my battle axe and weapons of war.

Lectures to My Students by Charles Spurgeon (Baker), 2

Unbroken & the Power of Story

I just finished watching the movie Unbroken and was reminded of to power of story.  Before seeing the movie I had heard mixed reviews.  I heard great praise for the book and less for the movie.  Since seeing the movie trailer and wanted to see it.

A friend had given me the book and to be honest, I started it but failed to finish it.  I also have the audio book that is a total of 14 hrs.  I have listened to several hours, but have not finished it either.  Some of the criticism I have heard, is that the movie leaves Louis Zamperini’s faith out of the movie and his faith and what happened after the Billy Graham Crusade was the most significant part of the his life and healing.

After watching, faith was a major theme throughout the movie.  Faith seemed to be the thread that head it together.  Faith in God was a major theme in the movie, yet perhaps understated.  I left the movie, inspired and wanting the hear the rest of the story.  I had heard Zamperini’s life was changed at a Billy Graham Crusade.  Though the movie does not give specific details, it highlights that Louis gave his life to God and went back to Japan and offered forgiveness.

UNBROKEN is the story of Louis Zamperini, but it is more than that.  It is a story of faith, perseverance, and the human spirit.  It is about the struggle of life & death, good & evil, survival, the will to succeed, war & peace, the sovereignty of God and forgiveness.  Stories have the power to open up the mind, touch the heart and inspire us.

Below are more links to stories and interviews with Louis Zamperini 

As I think about the incredible story of Louis Zamperini, it has made me reflect on the power of story and storytelling.

We must think about how we tell a story.  A story can be true, yet one chooses to include some details and exclude others.


There are reasons for telling a story and various questions come into play when choosing how to tell it.

Some of them are:

  • Who is the audience?
  • How long do I have to tell the story?
  • What is the purpose of telling the story?
  • What is the point of the story?
  • What is the scope of the story?
  • Who’s perspective should I tell the story from?

These questions are key to identifying how a story is told.  Some story analysis is done intentionally and others happen naturally without even realizing it.  When telling a story, we also must ask based on our analysis questions above:  What  details, facts, emotions, pictures, dialogue, characters, do I include when telling this story?

You can’t include everything and you can’t say it all.

What you include and exclude is important, so be intentional.

As a communicator storytelling is more complex that you think.

So, Let’s do it well!

What’s Your Calling? (Part 4)

As you explore your calling, How is God speaking to you?

Where does God’s Purpose and your Passion come together?

Is there a difference between being called to be a fisher of men and one who feeds sheep?

A focused metaphor will help clarify your calling.

What is the metaphor of your call?

What’s Your Calling? (Part 3)

Our Passion + God’s Purposes= Calling

  • Are there times when it seems like life beats your calling out of you?
  • What do you do to refocus on what is most important?
  • Where are you at now. . . where do you need to be?

Today, take some time to reflect.  Ask God to clarify your call and bring together His purpose and your passion again!!!

What’s Your Calling? (Part 2)

What quotes come to mind when you think about calling? In the book entitled The Call, Os Guinness writes, “Calling is the key to tracing the storyline of our lives and unriddling the meaning of our existence in a chaotic world.”

  • How does understanding one’s call from God bring clarity in a normally confusing life?

Frederick Buechner put it this way, “The place God calls you is the place where your deep gladness and the worlds deep hunger meet.”

  • Where is the place where your passion and God’s purposes meet?

Think about it.  You were made for it.  Find you sweet spot and lean into it.

  • Have you ever felt like you were made for something more?

Listen for the Call!


Best Year Ever for your Preaching

Best year everThe year has just started and chances are you have given up on some New Year’s resolutions. You have looked back and said, “January is over already?”

If someone were to tell you, “This year is going to be your best preaching year ever.”

  • What would have to change in the way you Plan, Prepare, and Preach for this to be TRUE? 

PLAN: How you decide what you are going to preach?

Pray for guidance as to what your congregation needs to hear and that God will form you as you plan to form them.

PREPARE:  How much time do you set aside for your sermon prep?

Have you tried anything new?  Is there something you could do differently to help with your preparation?

Read a new book on preaching or Bible study this year and implement something new in your sermon prep.

This year you could work with your peers or a preaching team as you prepare and encourage each other.

Take more time, if you have been working week to week, work out a few weeks and see how ideas flow as they marinate over the weeks before you preach.  This helps me to add more creativity and insight in my preaching.

PREACH:  When was the last time you got real feedback after your sermon?   Good football teams watch game films and are honest about the strengths and weaknesses of the game.  In the Army we do AARs or After Action Reviews.

How could you do a better job of sermon self-evaluation?

Ask for help.  Watch your sermon and be honest about what you see.  Check out Sermon Coach.

Make this year, the best preaching year ever for you!

What will you do?  Your congregation will be glad you did!

It Worked For Me by Colin Powell

it worked for me audio Colin Powell spoke at the Willow Creek Leadership Summit this year and after hearing him speak, I picked up his book and accompanying audio version. Listening to It Worked For Me: In Life and Leadership read by the author felt like I was sitting down with with Colin Powell talking about life over a cup of coffee.   The book starts with Powell’s 13 Rules and then moves through various personal reflective stories that teach, encourage, and inspire one to be a better leader.  Powell tells his formational stories in a humble, lighthearted way that entertains yet mentors one to be a better person and leader.

As a military leader, anyone of the forty-four chapters are worth the price of the book and the time it takes to go through it.  This book will stretch and encourage you to become a better leader.  If you have not reflected on Powell’s 13 rules they are worth thinking about.  Check out the video below as he explains the importance of rule #1 and #13.

The book is divided into 6 parts.

Part 1:  The Rules Powell discusses his 13 rules, how they came to be and a story or antidote associated each.

Part 2: Know Yourself, Be Yourself is autobiographical as Powell reflects on his life and personal experiences.

Part 3: Take Care of the Troops is about how leaders must care for their followers and set a positive example.

Part 4:  Fast Times in the Digital World is reflections of technology and media in government.  There is a very helpful chapter on doing new interviews.

Part 5:  Getting to 150 Percent Powell highlights principles of working with a team and the need for rest and perspective.

Part 6:  Reflections Powell concludes by discussing some events that are well known, some mistakes that he has made, things he would do different and various misc. encouraging stories.

 Check Colin Powell’s It Worked For Me out today.  You will be glad you did!

  • After you read the 13 rules which one stood out to you?
  • What are somethings you have learned from Colin Powell from this book or from other things you have heard or read?

David and Goliath: Malcom Gladwell

dgI just fished listening to the book,  David and Goliath:  Underdogs Misfits, and the art of Battling Giants  by Malcolm Gladwell.  I saw the his TED talk on the theme of  the book and was intrigued by the unique look at a familiar story.  So I downloaded the book from Audible and began to listen to and from work, commuting.  It captured my imagination.  I have read several of Gladwell’s books so I knew it would be good, but this one was surprising in the way I personality connected with the book.  Gladwell has a way of telling stories that connect.  He shares so many details and turns the angle on a story to show you something from a different perspective.  He has a way to open your mind to new understanding and inspire you in some way.

I was struck by one of the final chapters as he explained a clear contrast of law, justice, and payback verses the idea of grace and forgiveness.  Gladwell contrasted two riveting stories of parents who’s daughters were murdered and the different approach to dealing with grief and continuing in live.  The different perspectives each family took and how that effected healing was fascinating.

This book is a must read and has provoked and challenged my thinking.  It pushes the reader to rethink the notions that one has and begin to look at life and situations from a different angle.  Gladwell will compel you to look at a situation in a clearer more focused way.

Check out David and Goliath:  Underdogs, Misfits and the Art of Battling Giants today you won’t be disappointed!

  • Have you read the book or seen the TED Talk?
  • What did you think about them?
  • What was your favorite story or idea that was raised?


I saw this clip and it caused me to pause and reflect.  In an interview on CBS, Actor Mandy Patinkin who played Inigo Montoya shares reflections on the classic movie The Princess Bride.  He says that his favorite and the most potent line in the film is not the one you have memorized and maybe even said, “My name is Inigo Montoya, you killed my father prepare to die!” but toward the end of the movie when he says,

“I have been in the revenge business so long, now that it is over,

I do not know what to do with the rest of my life.”

  • Read the line again out loud and then reflect on it.

The truth is the we have all been hurt,but how many of us have let the wound control and direct our lives?

Maybe it is about time we got out of the revenge business and begin to figure out what to do with the rest of our lives.  

Take time to read these scriptures below (click on them and they verses will come up)

  • Matthew 18:15-35
  • Romans 12:9-21
  • Deut 32:35
  • Proverbs 25:21-22

Do you have a favorite Bible passage that talks about revenge and forgiveness?

How about a favorite line from The Princess Bride?

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.  -Romans 12:21

Do not pray for easy lives. Pray to be stronger men. Do not pray for tasks equal to your powers. Pray for powers equal to your tasks. Then the doing of your work shall be no miracle, but you shall be the miracle.

Phillips Brooks