Posts Tagged ‘tell a better story’

I have to admit I was skeptical that this would be the last Star Wars movie, and while I have serious hopes that there will be more stories to come (The Yoda movie for example!) if they were going to end a story arc, this was the way to do it. I loved this movie. It is a thing of beauty that actually gives closure. The first film came out when I was in Jr. High, and I am now 56 years old. That a franchise could have this kind of staying power and a rabid fan base is truly a testament to how amazing this story really is.

Now I will admit, to give you much here without giving a ton of spoilers is difficult, so I’d like to go at it a different way. I took my son along with me to the movie. He is not really a Star Wars fan and hadn’t been to any of the other movies. I was a little concerned that he wouldn’t get it, but in the midst of really beautifully bringing the series to a close, they also build a complete story, that even someone who wasn’t all that familiar with the franchise could follow and really enjoy. This is a testament to great story telling. This “final” installment still managed to have a beginning, a middle and an ending—truly an in tact story.

As a nearly life-long fan, I loved how they closed the arc and completed the circle. I realize I may not be the best movie critic in the world, but I love a story where the good guys win, but there is one thing I love even more—a story of redemption. This may be the best part for me of the whole thing. I’d love to tell you more but that would give away an amazing ending. This is a five star (out of five) movie. This is a fantasztic example of how to tell a story. See it!

One of the privileges that artists have, is the ability to tell stories that touch hearts and sometimes even change lives. It’s pretty rare that, that can happen in two minutes and it’s extremely rare in commercials. That being said, Chick Fil-A has done it here. Not only do they make the best chicken sandwich, but here they made a two minute film that is both blessing and challenging, in the midst of the hustle and bustle of the season this is exactly what I need to remember. My guess is you might too. They mention their own brand for three seconds of the two minute clip, but it’s enough. It’s “my pleasure” to share this amazing little piece of storytelling with you. This is a “commercial” from a company that clearly cares more about their customers than their bottom line and it is a prime example of the kind of storytelling that makes a difference.

Enjoy. Then go and tell a better story.

Leave it to Andy Andrews to be able to take a made up childhood pool game and turn it into a way to success that has helped companies reach stellar heights, by doing what seems counterintuitive and yet ends up making so much sense. Sometimes the way up is down and the way to outpace your competition is to do what others aren’t doing, competing at a level where no one else is playing. While this is largely a business book, in typical Andy Andrews style, there is a larger principle that works every time it’s tried in every aspect of life. This guy is a walking wisdom generator, and I love all his stuff. Check this one out.

So last night I was painting. I had create the piece for my next paint party at church. I got something I’m really happy with, by the way. I also did an experimental sketch portrait of Jesus. I got this sort of out there idea for a series of paintings and a big presentation, but first, I needed to do this sketch. I also saw some art that inspired me to try some new techniques and color ideas, so I was experimenting. I decided while I was painting I would listen to some movies on my Kindle fire. The first was Walt Before Mickey, the story of Walt Disney’s early years, and no surprises here, I loved it. I’ve long been an admirer of Mr. Disney’s work and this was a great story. Really inspirational. I wish I’d watched it last.

Instead I watched Founder, which is the story of Ray A Kroc, “founder” of McDonald’s. I’m trying to lost some weight and abstain from fast food, and this movie will help. If even a tenth of what this movie said was true, it could keep me out of McDonald’s for a very long time. The guy basically stole everything from two guys he met in California who were the true founders of McDonald’s. Every innovation, every idea, everything right down to their name. I mean the McDonald brothers basically invented fast food, and he took it all from them basically with no qualms at all. Again I have to keep in mind, Hollywood never lets the facts get in the way of a good story, and I should probably give Kroc the benefit of the doubt, but this thing really hit me and it led me to a pretty obvious conclusion. The way we live matters. The story our lives tell matters. Oh, Kroc became a very wealthy man, and his company has done some real good in the world, but at what cost. Someone very wise said something about winning the world and long your soul. I won’t speak the condition of Kroc’s actual soul, that’s up to his Maker, but he (at least as this movie portrays him) surely lost touch with his moral soul.

And that brings me to the other thing I’ve been dealing with lately. I saw this video of a young “comedian” (to be a comedian, you should actually be funny, hence the quotes) that’s making it’s way around the “inter-webs.” She was speaking at the White House Correspondent’s dinner. Now I know that thing is a roast, and I tried to give her the benefit of the doubt, but it was just an awful, profanity laced diatribe, crude and vulgar and oh yes, not at all funny. Today I saw one of these hysterical memes saying the Republicans want her to be punished. I’ve learned a long time ago that if you want to gin up controversy where there is none, all you have to do is make a preposterous meme and post it to Facebook. About three quarters of the world will fall for it hook line and sinker. I for the record do not agree that she should be punished. The First Amendment is a two edged sword, step on someone else’s free speech and sooner or later they’ll come for yours. I don’t think she should be punished, or censored or anything of the kind. Instead, I will simply remember, public figures live and die on attention, and so I will do the one thing that always works. I will turn her off.

See the thing is, if I don’t like your story, there are a million other stories I can plug into and if enough people take that tactic, you have a choice, change your story or fade into oblivion. The story we live, for better or worse, matters. Live a better story.

I just read a fantastic little book by church researcher, Thom Rainer, called I Will. The book is meant as a call to action to church members. Specifically it challenges us on nine major topics, such as, worship, study, growth, evangelism, etc. In typical Rainer fashion, the book is challenging, helping church members to see what it means to faithfully serve Christ. I am thinking of starting a new small group at my church. This book is a strong contender for our first study text.

<a href=”; target=”_blank”><img border=”0″ src=”//″ ></a><img src=”; width=”1″ height=”1″ border=”0″ alt=”” style=”border:none !important; margin:0px !important;” />Okay, okay, okay, I know this is children’s book, so why do I love it so much. I’ll tell you why. Because it’s brilliant and it’s a wonderful representation of a drum I have been beating for 20 years. I first found this book in a gift shop while I was on vacation this past summer. I read it standing by the shelf (not that hard it’s a children’s book, after all) and had tears in my eyes when I was done.

It’s about a little child and his anthropomorphized idea. It shares all the struggles we have with our ideas, the pain of rejection and the joy we feel when we immerse ourselves in bringing our ideas to life. What do you do with an idea? Well that would be a spoiler, but suffice it to say, it’s what I have been saying all along. I loved this book. Author Kobi Yamada did a great job of bringing this concept to its essence so that anyone can understand it and illustrator Mae Besom captures the spirit of this book fantastically.

Lastly I love that this book was written for children, but the truth is children don’t need it. Children already dream and create. The real and lasting impact of this book will be fond in two ways. First that the children will hold onto it when the world begins to tell them they are too old to dream, and second that people reading this book to their children,grandchildren etc. will grasp the concept and begin to feed their ideas again.

I have so much more to say, but by now my review is probably longer than the book so I will end with three words, read this book!

This is the kind of book that will make a grown man cry. How do I know? Because I’m a grown man another were quite a few times when the tears came. This is an excellent memoir about what happens when a person really sees someone else and doesn’t walk on by. Jim Bradford was in a little fast food restaurant getting a cup of coffee, when he saw a young boy sitting by himself listening to the radio. He had braces on his legs, from cerebral palsy and was blind. Jim approached the boy and an amazing friendship was born. Together the unlikely pair had amazing adventures that expanded each of their worlds.

This is the kind of book I love. It shows that sometimes if you want to see a miracle, you’ve got to take the time to be the miracle. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and pray that the lessons I learned from it will change my life and the lives of everyone who takes the time to read it. You really can make difference in this world. Jim Bradford and H.K. Derryberry both prove it. This one is a must read.

I just finished Mike Dellosso’s second book in the Jed Patrick series, Kill Devil and it is every bit the page turner that the first book, Centralia, was, and even more. This is a great work of fiction that keeps the reader hooked to the very end. The story follows Jed Patrick, a soldier whose memory and history has been erased. In Kill Devil, Jed continues to regain memories, but his past is coming back to haunt him. It seems like the world is against him, in a conspiracy that reaches to the highest levels of government. There is no place to run and no place to hide as he races against time, trying to survive. It is also a story of recovering and growing faith. This is a very good book.

I only have one word of caution for the reader. Kill Devil is a true sequel. While it probably could stand alone, I highly recommend reading the first book in the series, Centralia, before reading Kill Devil. Reading the books in order will help the reader to understand a complex storyline a lot better and enjoy it a lot more. This is a definite five star book that any fan of thrillers will love—another top notch effort by Mike Dellosso! This guy is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors. If you haven’t read any of Mike’s books yet, pick one up today.

prayerofprotectionThe date was May 15, 2004. It was a day I’d like to forget but I doubt that will ever happen. It was the day I had a heart attack. It was a mild one, a wake-up call really, and I now know God used it to do a work in my life, but on that day I was terrified. As I laid in the ICU, my mother-in-law came to see me and read me Psalm 91. While I am sure I had read it several times before, it never hit home like it did on that day of fear and trembling. There is such tremendous hope in this passage of Scripture.

Fast forward to today. I just finished reading the book, The Prayer of Protection by Joseph Prince. I have to admit, I only read this book because it was offered to me by his publishing company for free so that I could review it here. It’s not that I had anything against Pastor Prince, I had just never heard of him and I have a lot of books. I am extremely grateful for that email because this was a really good book and I will no doubt look up more of his books in the future.

In The Prayer of Protection, Prince breaks down Psalm 91 verse by verse and offers this Psalm as a prayer for God’s protection. This book is a head scratcher in the best sense of the word. I have to admit I struggled at times because it almost seemed to easy. Pastor Prince simply believes that we can pray this Psalm against the plans of the enemy over our lives. At first I really wanted to debate this. After all, I’ve seen bad things happen to people who love the Lord and so, I’m sure, have you. What made me scratch my head though was thinking, “Why am I pushing back against this?” What if I prayed this prayer in faith and took God at His Word. After all, that would be what I would instruct others to do. What if God wants to bless us with even more protection, and we need only to take Him seriously and trust in Jesus who paid the price for us? t the very least this book got me thinking more about praying God’s Word over my life and the lives of the people I love. After all, I use this passage often to give people peace and comfort in the tough times of their life. Maybe God means it for more. It is at the very least worthy of consideration.

Prince peppers the book with personal testimonies from people who have experienced God’s protection in the various ways described in the pages of the book. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and it got me to really consider “the prayer offered in faith” as James tells us. The book made me challenge the way I look at prayer and I am happy for the challenge. I will be committing Psalm 91 to emory in the weeks ahead. That challenge alone was worth the time it took to read the book. It’s a good read.

I have had a wonderful week ministering to the folks at Greenmount Church of the Brethren in Harrisonburg, VA this week and this morning I am hitting the road for home which is always great, because as much as I love my ministry I do miss my family and the folks at home. The result is a short post this morning. I happened to jump over to Facebook quick before I pack the computer for the journey home. I’m FB friends with Steve Wiggins, the lead singer of the band Big Tent Revival. He posted a picture that someone had wrote him in on an absentee ballot for president. When I saw it, I thought about what is probably my favorite song from them. It’s called Two Sets of Joneses. This is the epitome of telling a better story, and a real reminder for all of us. Jesus needs to be the center of our lives. If He is, we will be able to tell (and live) a better story.