On May 7, 1945, Germany learned that Raymond Jones of Seaboard, North Carolina, would turn 18 the next day and enlist in the U.S. Army. Rather than face THAT, Germany signed an unconditional surrender at Allied headquarters in Reims, France, to take effect the following day, ending the European conflict of World War II – and sparing my father from having to open a big old can of U.S. whoop &*^# on’em.
One thing about Mom, you always knew what she was thinking—whether you wanted to know or not. You also knew you were loved.
A few years ago Mom was on her way to the hairdresser when another driver ran a stop sign and smashed into her Buick. Mom got out, inspected the damage, and exchanged insurance information with the other driver. While waiting for the police to arrive, Mom popped the trunk and motioned the other woman to the trunk.
“My son’s a writer,” Mom announced, “and I’ve got some of his books. Do you want a copy?” I wasn’t at the crash site, but knowing Mom, I imagine the inflection in her voice was more like: “You do want a copy of my son’s book, right?” I’m almost certain of this because the woman bought one copy of my pirate novel. I bet the woman doesn’t even have kids.
But that was Mom–always hawking my books and asking me how my writing was going. She worried constantly I wouldn’t make enough as a writer to support my family. I kept telling her our daily provision is God’s business; mine was to be obedient and write stories that reflect His truths.
In 2012 I lost my biggest fan and best salesperson.
The last thing Mom told me was, “I’m not as young as I used to be, Son. You need to come see me once in a while.”
I will, Mom. One of these days we’ll be together, again.
If you’re blessed enough to still have your mom around, give her a hug and whisper, “Love you, Mom.” Trust me, it’s the best and cheapest gift there is.
Love you, Mom.
What makes a character compelling? Simple. Something happens to them. Even if you despise your (_____), you enjoy telling others about his failures. “Did you hear what happened to my ex? He got busted for…” We love to loath, meddle in the affairs of others, and watch them fail. Our participation in their lives expands our world, which explains part of what fuels reality TV.
• Reveal heart
• Face obstacles
• Pick paths
• Make a discovery
• Reveal a secret
Characters Conquer Mountains
For your characters to be likable they should be witty, charming, wise, friendly, empathetic, authentic, encouraging, secure, or vulnerable. If your lead is perfect she’s boring, so give her both redeeming qualities and flaws so the reader can relate.
Give Your Lead Goals
• What does she want?
• What is she willing to do to reach her goal?
• What WILL she do to reach that goal?
• What is she willing to sacrifice?
• What happens if the she fails?
• Is your Lead larger than life?
(Does he lay in the middle of highway, hang from a Ferris wheel, and rebuild an old house for the girl he loves?)
Want, Need, Motivation
If the reader questions why a character reacts in a certain way, then you’ve lost credibility. There are two reasons your characters act “out of character.”
1. There is no clear motivation for the character to perform the action.
2. The motivation provided isn’t sufficiently developed.
That’s the start of character development. Question: Is your character such that others cheer for you?
So the warden put Joseph in charge of all those held in the prison, and he was made responsible for all that was done there.” Genesis 39:22 (NIV)
In his thirties he led an e-business technology team from a start-up company to its public stock offering. The firm made a splash in the press, sold out, and went looking for a new and younger manager.
Unemployed, he founded a new business. The job took him to Asia where he met with top executives in the semi-conductor industry. Modeling the successful strategy of his previous job, he positioned the firm to go public. But days before their announcement, the global economy burped; investors pulled back, the firm floundered. For years he watched as one angel investor after another waltzed by his office, but none came bearing good news and gifts. The firm folded.
In order to pay the bills, he began restoring homes, adding decks, and refinishing rooms. Of course, business thrived. He hired additional help, rebuilt his savings, and discovered he enjoyed working with his hands, going to bed tired, and waking up in better shape than the day before. He dropped pounds and added muscle, plus a few more clients. Over coffee one morning, a customer commented on his leadership skills. “Would you like to have a job with an office, benefits, and stock options?” his friend asked.
“Only if it presents a challenge.”
Of course it would.
He accepted a job at the customer’s firm and soon his unit led the company in growth, profits, and efficiency. The CEO offered him a promotion, one as head of a new division with increased responsibility and income. Then, on the eve of the announcement, he was diagnosed with bone cancer. The firm fired him.
Joseph also suffered betrayal, mistreatment, and misfortune. Told by God that he would become a grand leader, Joseph struggled with the mantle of greatness. “Listen to the dream I had,” said Joseph. “I had another dream… No one is greater in this house than I am…When all goes well with you, remember me… show me kindness… mention me… I have done nothing to deserve being put in a pit.” Joseph’s arrogant attitude bred jealousy and resentment, leading others to forget and forsake him.
God has made each of us responsible for someone and some thing. Whether we’re serving time in prison, serving soup to the homeless, or serving on the board of a Fortune 500 company, our attitude toward others reflects our heart for God’s work.
When my friend arrived home that final evening, he hugged his wife, held her hand, and prayed for God to see them through the crisis—just as they’d done in times past. I have no doubt he’ll rise again from pit to prominence. That’s what men of God do.
Even when we feel imprisoned, we don’t have to yield to despair. God’s promises, power, and protection will set us free if we trust, work, and wait upon Him.
On APRIL 26, 2019, after a 9 year battle with cancer, God welcomed Big EZ home. I have no doubt Ernie heard the words, “Good job, buddy. You did it!”
(the post above first appeared in the book My Father’s Business.)
Did God really say we would get a new body after we died?
Yes … yes he did.
Actually it is the Apostle Paul who writes, “I declare to you, brothers and sisters, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. … For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: ‘Death has been swallowed up in victory.'” 1 Corinthians 15: 50-54
So we get a new body. One that endures, last forever, doesn’t die, rot, or decay. Your new body will be timeless, ageless, and indestructible. That’s the good news.
Bad new is, if you get tossed into the Lake of Fire you will be stuck in a body that is fireproof and never burns up. Which means there will be no end to the pain of the flames.
“In Hades, where he was in torment, the rich man looked up and saw far away …” Luke 16: 23–25 “The lake of fire is the second death.” Revelation 20:14. “Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt.” Daniel 12:1–2.
Some claim there is no hell. But by some counts Jesus spoke about hell in 60 or so verses. So even Jesus acknowledged that hell is a real place and that’s important to know as you prepare for your future.
But whether you go to heaven or hell you get a new body. So there is that to look forward to.
Did God really say I will be judged based on how I judge others?
Yes … yes he did.
Here is what Jesus said, “For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” Matthew 7:2
The seeds of hypocrisy are planted in judgement. This is but one reason we should be slow to judge. The sin we see in others may (and often is) the sin others see in us.
Later Jesus said that when we pray we should say, “Father, forgive us our trespasses, as we also forgive those who trespass against us.”
The key word here is judge. Which is to conclude, decide, determine a matter. When we pass judgement we are saying, “This is the end of the matter. There will be no further consideration or appeal.” In other words, our verdict and sentencing is final.
But we are not the judge. God is.“We will all stand before God’s judgment seat.” Romans 14:12.
Jesus said, “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector. Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”
In this instance bound in heaven is to agree with God that the individuals behavior is sinful. That’s all, nothing more. As jury, we have found the individual guilty of a sin. It is up to the Judge to render punishment.
This difference may seem slight but it is important. Juries declare guilt, but the judge is the one who has the final say in court. We can never say, “You are going to hell.” because we do not know where an individual will end up. That’s for God to decide.
Our job is to reach, teach, and guide, not judge. Leave that task to the one who wrote the laws.
Did God really say I should write off bad loans?
Yes … yes he did.
What God said is this: “If you lend money to one of my people among you who is needy, do not treat it like a business deal; charge no interest.” (Exodus 22:25;) He also said: “At the end of every seven years you must cancel debts.” (Deuteronomy 15:1). Jesus says, “Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.” (Matthew 5:42). And, “Love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.” (Luke 6:35)
Obviously, if you lend all your money to those who hate you and get nothing in return you’ll go broke — unless God steps in and blesses you.
The overriding principle is this: if someone ask you for a loan and you feel God calling you to lend them the money, treat the loan as a gift. If they repay, great. If not God will reward you. Either way you come out ahead.