Knowing Who We Are, is as Important for Organizations as it is for Individuals

Figure Out What Your Organizations DNA is and Be True to it

DNA is three letters that get thrown around a lot these days. It is something that is commonly gathered at crime scenes and often it is used in solving those crimes. It’s also used to look back and find out who your family is.

DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) is the hereditary material in humans and almost all other organisms and is different and specific to each one.

One definition of DNA is, the fundamental and distinctive characteristics or qualities of someone or something, especially when regarded as unchangeable –

“Quality is a part of this company’s DNA” or “men just don’t get shopping – it’s not in their DNA”

Being unchangeable is a good thing if you are being true to who you were made to be.

You may or may not be aware of the issues currently taking place in the United Methodist Church. Currently there is some disagreement about who the church is meant to be. The church is dealing with some differences of doctrinal and theological principles.

These kinds of divisions are nothing new. They are as old as mankind itself.

The church of which I’m a member is a small country church with a big heart. I grew up in this church and have never had any reason to find another. It’s a foundational part of who I am…a part of my DNA.

Our local church has been working through the process of deciding who we’ll be, but we first need to remember who we are.

Realizing who we are can be hard when we don’t know anything different. It’s hard to compare two things when you don’t even know what one of them is.

So, all we can do is look back and remember who we are.

We have a very loving, caring and giving history.

Here is a long list of things that have been made possible by or done through this church.

  • Missionaries to other countries sent and/or supported by the church
  • Mission trips by members of the congregation to over thirty different countries
  • Mission trips to work on remodeling and/or repairing people’s homes when they couldn’t
  • Disaster response teams sent to areas of tornado damage, flooding, hurricanes and fires.
  • Helping people in the community by building handicap ramps
  • Supporting and sponsoring community events
  • Supporting food banks and clothing supply services
  • Ringing of the bells for the Salvation Army
  • Giving to families in need through the Christmas Angel Tree program
  • Providing transportation to doctors for people when needed
  • Providing a facility large enough to allow for community events to be held
  • Gathering and preparing flood buckets for United Methodist Committee on Relief

This is just a small portion of what this little country church with a big heart has been able to do over the years.

As great as these things are, if they’re done for the wrong reasons they’re done in vain.

As Christians, we’ve been called to be the hands and feet of Christ in the world. Just like our DNA can be traced back to our ancestors…as Christians we should be able to trace our DNA back to Christ’s.

Being true to Christ’s DNA is what we as individuals and as a church are called to do.

How Do You Measure Success in Your Life?

Things Almost Always Look Better from the Outside Looking In

As we go through life, most of us try to present the best version of ourselves to the outside world. We want to look like we have it all together, whether we do or not. This is not to say that we shouldn’t try to be our best. We just need to be careful why we’re doing it.

We live in a very materialistic world. We see people and think, “Wow, if I just had their life, things would be easy.”

When looking at other people’s lives, most of the time, we only see what they want us to. They try to keep the ugly parts hidden.

In the rat race to succeed, we often forget who we are and whose we are.

Here’s a story about someone who forgot. (Excerpt from the book Uh-Oh by Robert Fulghum)

There’s a man in my neighborhood. He’s always in a hurry—and always late. I’m not exactly sure just what he does for a living, but it seems to involve buying and selling something downtown. He’s a businessman. His choice of appropriate transportation for his coming and going is a brand-new Range Rover, a vehicle built by the British for high adventure. It is equally capable in steep canyons, quicksand, and blizzard conditions. It can outrun a lion and take a rhino charge head-on. This vehicle is equipped with a winch, a gun rack, and a CB radio, as well as an impressive stereo system, two cellular phones, a fax machine, and a coffee maker in the glove compartment.

Mostly my neighbor takes his Range Rover as far as downtown. So far it has faced the dangers of the underground parking ramps of the First National Bank, and the hostile natives at a car wash. As for animal encounters, rumor is he backed over either a cat or a squirrel. Maybe both.

Daily I see my neighbor rushing out of his house, burdened with the impediments of high adventure. Carrying golf bag, gym bag, lunch bag, raincoat, umbrella, coffee cup, a sack of garbage for the dumpster, and his briefcase. On the day I shall describe, he has two little pieces of bloody toilet paper stuck to his chin from a hasty encounter with his razor, and a knitted brow from a hasty encounter with his wife. So far, it has not been a good morning.

About the briefcase. It is made of the purest, unblemished belting leather, a quarter of an inch thick. The best part of the hides of four carefully selected cows, who gave their lives that he might carry this talisman of success. Solid-brass hardware, combination lock, lined with watered silk, and his name embossed in gold. By itself, empty, the briefcase weighs maybe ten pounds. Twenty pounds full. A heavy item in every sense of the word.

So it’s a Tuesday morning around seven o’clock on a fine day in June. A neighbor lady and I hit the street headed for work about the same time. She’s a social worker for the Episcopal Church and drives an eight-year-old Ford Just-Get-Me-There-and-Back-Please-God sedan. And I drive a 1952 GMC two-ton Go-Ahead-and-Hit-Me panel truck.

At the same time, the owner of the Range Rover rushes up. His life is leveraged to the max these days, and his mind is in three continents at once. Time is of the essence. He is in no mood to make small talk. He grunts at us as he loads his lorry for the expedition downtown, leaps into the front seat, and cranks the mighty engine in the spirit of a holder of a pole position at Indy.

Uh-oh—he has left his coffee cup and briefcase on the roof of the Range Rover, and there they remain as he rolls away.

To the rescue comes the nice lady social worker for the Episcopal Church in her old Ford. She chases after him, urgently honking her horn, which he ignores because he is already on his cellular phone talking to London. As a pin affects a swollen balloon, so does her unceasing honking affect his existential circumstance. He throws the phone to the floor of the car, leans out the window, and displays the middle finger of his left hand to the lady. But the lady is focused on her rescue mission and honks on while waving him to stop.

I, in the meantime, driving close behind as a kind of third float in this little parade, likewise try to get his attention. Mine is an “aaaoooogaah” horn salvaged out of an old Model A. The combination of “HONK, HONK, HONK” and “AAAOOOOGAAH, AAAOOOOGAAH, AAAOOOOGAAH” is too much. He jams on his brakes, flings open the door, and tries to get out—without first unlatching his seat belt.

At the same moment, his morning cup of coffee slides off the roof, bounces across the hood, and smashes into the street.

Followed by his brassbound briefcase, which crashes onto the hood, scrapes across the paint with a fingernails-on-blackboard screech, and flops into the street on top of the broken coffee cup.

The dear lady, mission accomplished, coasts slowly around the scene of the accident, smiles, waves, sings out “Have a nice day!” to her neighbor dangling from the car in the clutches of his seat belt.

Fulghum, Robert. Uh-Oh (pp. 155-159). Random House Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

We don’t know this man’s back story. What was going on in his life. What kind of stress he was under that morning. What we do know is that in pursuit of his “successful dream life”, things weren’t very successful that morning.

Often people who seem to have everything feel that they are failures.

It is easy to get caught up in the material world of chasing the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, forgetting where our focus should be.

God doesn’t want us to be failures. He wants us to be successful!

Success will come if we are focused on the right things.

Someone who would not have been considered a success by worldly standards was John the Baptist. Here’s a man living in the wilderness dressed in camel’s hair preaching and baptizing. But John was focused on the right thing. In John 1:28-34 we read that, John saw the Spirit come down from heaven like a dove and rest on Jesus. This sounds pretty successful to me.

It’s easy to get sidetracked and focused on the wrong things. This is made clear to us in Matthew 16:24-26. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what good will it do a person if he gains the whole world, but forfeits his soul? Or what will a person give in exchange for his soul?

The price for the wrong kind of success is very expensive.

Making money and having things is not bad. The key to unlocking success is what you focus on. Who are you focused on…yourself or God? How are you living your life? How do you measure success?

Measure it the same way God does and live your successful dream life.

Epiphany is More Than Just a Day on the Christian Calendar

It’s About Seeing What’s Going on Around Us and Doing Something Good with It

The word Epiphany comes from the Greek work epipháneia that means manifestation or appearance. It’s the celebration of the awareness of the physical manifestation of Jesus. It commemorates the Magi coming to visit Him after His birth. It also celebrates the beginning of Jesus’ ministry through His baptism by John.

Traditionally the date for Epiphany is twelve days after Christmas on January 6th. There are a lot of variations of dates and celebrations for Epiphany around the world. But one thing is consistent when it comes to Epiphany…it’s based in the Christian belief that God came to earth as a man.

Epiphany is not as “big of a deal” as Christmas but is every bit as important.

Another use of the word Epiphany is a moment in life when a person experiences a new revelation or a new perspective on something that jolts them out of their current state. Most people have at least one these experiences.

This moment of realization, when a person sees reality in a new light, is called an epiphany.

Here are some examples of normal people epiphanies that had extraordinary results –

First – There was a young man name Ole in Milwaukee, Wisconsin who was smitten by a pretty young girl named Bess. Ole wanted so much to impress Bess that he invited her and some friends to a beautiful spot on the other side of Okauchee Lake for a picnic. When they had finished the meal and were cutting the pie for dessert Bess said that it was too bad that they didn’t have ice cream.

Ole responded by getting in the rowboat and going back across the lake to get some ice cream. The problem was that by the time he got back across the lake, the ice cream had melted. This was a good laugh for everyone but Ole.

After rowing across that lake Ole Evinrude had an epiphany and built the first practical and reliable outboard boat motor.

Second – A young boy named Benny and his brother were being raised in Detroit by a struggling single mother. Benny was having a difficult time in school and was falling behind. He was angry and began lashing out, even once trying to stab a friend.

Their mother was determined to do something about this. She limited their time watching television and required them to read and write book reports on two library books per week. She would grade these reports even though she could barely read herself. Benny began to excel in school, went to college and then to medical school.

After seeing the sacrifices his mother was willing to make Ben Carson had an epiphany and turned his life around.

He became a neurosurgeon that separated conjoined twins, who had been joined at the back of the head.

Third – 1927 was a pivotal year for Richard. His daughter had died in 1922 just before her 4th birthday. Richard dwelt on this and blamed himself for the poor living conditions. Then in 1927 he lost his job. They had no savings and the birth of their new daughter in 1927 added to the financial challenges. Richard drank heavily and reflected upon the solution to his family’s struggles on long walks around Chicago. During the autumn of 1927, he contemplated suicide by drowning in Lake Michigan, so that his family could benefit from a life insurance payment

Then on one of these walks Richard experienced a profound incident which would provide direction and purpose for his life. A voice spoke directly to him, and declared:

“… You think the truth. You do not have the right to eliminate yourself. You do not belong to you. You belong to the Universe. Your significance will remain forever obscure to you, but you may assume that you are fulfilling your role if you apply yourself to converting your experiences to the highest advantage of others.”

After his epiphany Richard Buckminster Fuller resolved to think independently and went on to become an architect, systems theorist, designer and inventor.

He developed numerous inventions with 28 US patents and architectural designs including the geodesic dome.

These three men could have chosen to ignore or overlooked their epiphanies, but they didn’t.

We need to remember what the Christian holiday Epiphany is and celebrate it all year long.

We all have or will experience epiphanies.

The question is what will you do with yours?

How Will You Live This New Year? It’s a Choice You Will Make

Don’t Live Your Life in a “Leftover World”

There was a comic strip cartoon of a man and his wife in a new car show room. There was a year-end sale taking place. The husband was sitting in a chair looking a little tired and grumpy. Above him on the wall hangs a sign that says, “Leftover model”.

Do you feel like a leftover model as we end 2022 and begin 2023?

As we look back on this past year, we can focus on all the negative. This can make us feel like a leftover model. Or we can choose to look forward to the opportunities and possibilities of this new year.

It’s normal to have things left undone at the end of the year. The thing to remember is that we are the ones who choose what we wanted to get done. We get to choose what we will put on the “to do list” in this coming year as well.

We often read mystery books in our book club. Like all stories, they have a beginning and an end. What makes some better than others is what happens in the middle.

Life is like this. It has a beginning and an end. It’s the story we write in the middle that makes the difference.

Here is The Dash, a poem written by Linda Ellis, that speaks to this point.

I read of a man who stood to speak
at the funeral of a friend
He referred to the dates on the tombstone
from the beginning…to the end.

He noted that first came the date of birth
and spoke the following date with tears,
but he said what mattered most of all
was the dash between those years.

For that dash represents all the time
that they spent alive on earth.
And now only those who loved them
know what that little line is worth.

For it matters not, how much we own —
the cars…the house…the cash.
What matters is how we live and love
and how we spend our dash.

So, think about this long and hard.
Are there things you’d like to change?
For you never know how much time is left
that can still be rearranged.

If we could just slow down enough
to consider what’s true and real,
and always try to understand
the way other people feel.

And be less quick to anger
and show appreciation more,
and love the people in our lives
like we’ve never loved before.

If we treat each other with respect
and more often wear a smile,
remembering this special dash
might only last a little while.

So, when your eulogy is being read
with your life’s actions to rehash,
would you be proud of the things they say
about how you spent YOUR dash?

As the new year begins, a lot of people will be taking down their Christmas decorations and moving on to the next thing. We shouldn’t be in such a rush to leave Christmas behind. Christmas is the celebration of God coming to us as a human.

Jesus is called Emmanuel. Translated, this means God with us. He is not only with us for a few weeks at Christmas time. He is with us all year long.

Don’t live your life like it’s a leftover but be intentional and choose to live it to the fullest.

Remember to write your story well and include Jesus in it every day.

Write a great story in 2023!

Let’s Remember to Celebrate This Christmas Gift All Year Long

Babies are One of the Biggest Little Gifts There Are

“A child is born to us, a son is given to us, and authority will be on his shoulders. He will be named, Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6 CEB version.

This sounds like a lot of gifts in a little baby doesn’t it.

Anyone who has held a newborn has experienced the wonder of this new little human. I remember when my first son was born. When I held his head in the palm of my hand, his feet came to the inside of my elbow. It was mind blowing how God had given me this present.

We have seen how language is always changing. A medical example of this is that in some places now babies are called “obstetric products”. I’m sorry, but I don’t think this is going to work for me. I don’t think a baby is something that has been manufactured or refined by a doctor’s office.

Babies are little human miracles. They are gifts from God. Babies are amazing.

This is especially true for the baby born in the manger of Bethlehem.

Christmas has come and gone for another year. It’s easy to get caught up in the season and then we move on to the next big thing once all the presents have been unwrapped. After all, there’s a life to live and we’ve got to get back to it.

Just like any Christmas gift, if we don’t use it, it’s no good to us.

The Baby Jesus is the same. If we don’t use Him, He is no good to us.

In times when we are down or sad, a child’s hug can make us feel better. It helps us to put things in the proper perspective.

When Winston Churchill came to America asking for help with the war, it was Christmas time. He was extremely busy meeting with people. He was staying in the White House and, at the same time, the daughter of one of the President’s advisors was staying there.

It was Christmas and after Winston had gone to his room, he was missing his family. He asked the staff if they could bring the little girl to his room. They did; he gave her a hug and sent her back. It was the closest thing he had to his own granddaughter.

A child’s hug can work miracles.

God sent His Son to earth as a baby. This baby is the biggest Christmas gift we’ll ever get. But it won’t be any good to us if we don’t unwrap it and use it.

There is a Charlie Brown story where he breaks his piggy bank to find he has $9.11 to do his Christmas shopping. Lucy tells him that it’s not enough. He says he will spend it all. She told him they wouldn’t be very expensive gifts. Charlie replied, “They are if they cost you everything you have”.

This is what God did for us.

Remember the gift God has given us and its cost.

The true value of gifts is not about how many dollars it costs. It’s about the joy that comes from using it.

We Know That Being Too Comfortable and Complacent is a Recipe for Disaster

So why is it That We Continually Do It When We Know Better?

Comfort and complacency seem easier in the moment. “I can sit here and build my own little world just the way I want.” The problem is this kind of world isn’t real. It’s just a way of avoiding the discomfort of the real world.

We convince ourselves that our story is a good story, and maybe it is. But often, it’s just fantasy. Don’t get me wrong, I love fantasy. But fantasy isn’t real.

The “here and now” kind of easy isn’t so easy later, and it usually comes with consequences.

The Scripture used in the sermon this past Sunday was Matthew 1:18-25. This passage talks about Jesus being born as a baby to a young couple just preparing to start their life together. This was not what the Jewish people expected for Jesus’ coming. They were looking for a powerful ruler to swoop in and be their hero.

Pastor Lee said that if he had been in charge of Jesus’ coming, it would have been different. It would have involved loud explosions, bright flashes of light and maybe even some erupting volcanoes. It would have been a grand production…

It was the coming of the Savior of the world after all!

We’ve all heard the story of Jesus being born in a manger in Bethlehem to this young unknow couple. We’ve heard it over and over, probably a thousand times.

It isn’t a very dramatic entrance, and this is where our complacency begins to creep in.

It’s a little like the man who loved to play chess and got an electronic chess game for Christmas. He played and played with this game, constantly losing…and nobody likes losing, especially to a machine.

One day he got so mad that he threw the game across the room and accused it of cheating.

Later he said that the game hadn’t cheated. It had just made a small unexpected winning move early and the man had missed it.

This is what God did when he sent Jesus as a baby. It was a small, unexpected move and a lot of people missed it then and continue to miss it now.

If we allow comfort and complacency to enter our lives when it comes to Jesus and the Bible…we are setting ourselves up for disaster.

Don’t get comfortable in the routines of life, wanting things to just stay the way they are. This is where complacency sets in, and we close ourselves off to the small miracles that have a big impact.

We May Think Our Plans Are the Best, But Are They Really?

We Need to Be Careful About Being Too Set in Those Plans

We all deal with doubt. Sometimes it’s doubt in ourselves. Sometimes it’s doubt in others. Or maybe its doubt in God.

This is understandable. We’ve all been sure about something only to be disappointed. This leads to doubt.

In Pastor Lee’s message this week, he pointed out John the Baptist’s doubt in Jesus being who He said He was. In Matthew 11:2-11, while in prison, John heard about the things Jesus was doing. He sent his followers to Jesus to ask Him, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?”

This was John, Jesus’ cousin. The same John that “lept inside his mother womb” when Mary entered the room pregnant with Jesus. Even John had doubts.

The Scripture goes on to confirm that Jesus is who He says He is.

People expected Jesus to be some world leader who would come in and take over. They were expecting one thing and God’s plan was different.

The key to overcoming doubt, is to not give up when things don’t go as we planned. This is hard. We think we have everything all figured out. Surprise!

When we limit ourselves to our humanness, we are setting ourselves up for disappointment. God’s plans are big and we need to align our plans with His.

Our plans may not be God’s plans.

We’re sure that if we just keep on pushing, we’ll achieve what we want. This is only going to happen if it is also God’s plan. We need to persist but be sure to check to see if this is what God’s plans are. If we’ve done this, then…

We need to persist without exception.

“Great leaders – great achievers – are rarely realistic by other people’s standards. Somehow, these successful people, often considered strange, pick their way through life ignoring or not hearing negative expectations and emotions. Consequently, they accomplish one great thing after another, never having heard that something cannot be done. God may have been waiting centuries for someone ignorant enough of the impossible to do that very thing!”

Andy Andrews, The Traveler’s Gift

God’s timetable is not our timetable.

We tend to want things and we want them now. This is another part of thinking we know better than God. There is a balance between knowing when to push forward and when it’s not time yet. If we can find that balance, we will live a less stressed life.

This past weekend I saw the movie Father Stu, which is based on the true story of a boxer, Stuart Long, who became a Catholic priest. Stuart had a difficult life growing up and after giving up boxing he went to California to pursue an acting career.

While working in a grocery store, he meets a woman named Carmen. He falls for her and falls for her hard. To the point that he joins the church as one of her requirements to date. His plan is to win her at all costs and it begins to work.

After Stu lands an acting role on an infomercial, he faces discouragement and goes to a bar one night where a mysterious man advises him not to drive home. Stu ignores the advice and drives drunk on a motorcycle, crashing into a car he’s thrown off the motorcycle and then run over by another car.

Severely injured, he drifts in and out of consciousness and has a vision of the Virgin Mary, who tells him that he cannot die in vain. This leads Stu to “change his plans” and to become a priest.

This story is a great example of how God’s plans can be different than ours.

Align your plans with God’s earlier rather than later. It reduces the chance for doubt.

Life is Crazy Busy, and it Only Gets Worse Around Christmas

The Real Question is…What Are You Going to do About it?

Most of us have too much going on in our normal daily lives, with work, family, personal task, etc. You know…life. This only ramps up around the holidays.

Why do things get so crazy busy at this time of the year?

There are several reasons for this. Most of the things we do are important, some not as much. I know our family starts holiday activities before Thanksgiving and continues through New Year. This can make things a little crazy.

This includes things like family gatherings for Thanksgiving, decorating for Christmas, Church events, etc. As families grow and kids marry, there are multiple activities that need to be organized. Other family members’ schedules affect our schedules. It’s a little like a game of holiday musical chairs.

Decorating, gift shopping, baking, gift wrapping, gathering to open gifts, traveling to the next family gathering and on and on. It’s easy to get caught up in the process and forget the reason for the season.

The key to holiday crazy is to be clear on what the most important thing is and to enjoy the crazy season.

Baby Jesus is the small center of sanity in the insanity of Christmas. Jesus is the ultimate gift and we need to remember that.

John the Baptist knew what the most important thing was. He makes this clear in his conversation with the Pharisees and Sadducees in Matthew 3:1-12. He explains the importance of not just going through motions, but knowing who Jesus is and changing your heart and lives accordingly.

He explains the importance of repenting. Repenting is more than just feeling regret for something you’ve done.

Repenting requires change.

We’ve all experienced our GPS telling us we need to turn around. Granted, our GPS isn’t right 100% of the time, but we as humans think we know better and too often just keep on driving, even though we’re going the wrong direction.

Pastor Lee told us a story that makes this point. He was going to a town that he was sure was one place when, in reality, it was not. After listening to his GPS telling him to turn around for two hours, he realized the GPS was right. This cost him a lot of unnecessary time and heartache.

We all tend to do things like this in life as well. We think we know what’s best and we ignore God telling us to turn around. 

In this crazy Christmas season, embrace the busy, enjoy the season and listen to your life GPS (God’s Positioning System) for direction.

Not Being Awake at the Right Time, May Mean Missing Something Important

Pulling Our Head Out of the Sand Helps Us to Stay Awake

We’ve all been so tired that we can’t stay awake one minute more. This appears to be the case for a man at Super Bowl LIV. Sporting News editor Karisa Maxwell captured footage of the sleeping man from her spot in the stands at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Fla., during the first quarter.

The man is shown sitting in a seat with his head leaning back against a wall, legs crossed, eyes closed and mouth open. Several football fans can be seen standing up to watch the game in front of him, but he seems unconcerned with the showdown between the San Francisco 49ers and the Kansas City Chiefs.

Granted, sleeping through the Super Bowl is not life threatening, but the average ticket price for this game was $6400. That’s a pretty expensive nap.

I would hate to pay the price for something like that and then sleep through it.

Life is like this. It has a pretty expensive ticket price and too often we sleep through it.

There was a point in my life when I was asleep and got a wakeup call.

When a scaffold plank broke and I fell, it got my attention. After the accident, I gave some serious thought to my life and how I had been just “going through the motions”. It was more like I was sleep walking than living my purpose.

We need to get actively involved in our lives and not wait to be hit upside the head. It’s much better to figure out what our purpose is before something like this happens.

We have the power to choose if we will go through life asleep or awake.

In Matthew 24:36-44, we’re told the risk if we choose to sleep through life. If we live nonchalantly with our head in the sand, one day we will wake up too late and miss the boat.

I believe that God has a plan for our lives and the time we need to accomplish our purpose. In Psalm 139:16, is says that our days have been determined before we are even born. Only God knows that number.

Finding our purpose requires us to get and stay connected to God through studying His blueprint (Bible) for our lives and talking with Him (praying) regularly. Paying attention to the needs around us and doing something about them. Taking the opportunity to share His plan with those around us through our words and actions.

Our responsibility is to wake up, find our purpose and live each of our days to the fullest.

Your life is more important than a Super Bowl…don’t sleep through it.

It’s a Lot Easier to Say Something Than It Is to Do It

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

We’ve all heard this phrase, “Actions speak louder than words.” It’s a pretty common saying.

It is believed to have originated during the English Civil War. John Pym, an English parliamentarian, coined the expression in 1628. He said, “A word spoken in season is like an Apple of Gold set in Pictures of Silver, and actions are more precious than words.”

It’s easy to say things but harder to do them. Words can just roll right off our tongues before we take time to think about what we’re saying. This is especially true when we want to do everything for everybody. I call this a servant’s heart. I know because I have one.

When we do the things that we say we will, we are showing where our hearts really are.

The thing to remember is that we have control over both what we say and what we do.

We can change what we say and do. We don’t have to accept the status quo. We can write our own story.

In China, if they don’t like the way a movie ends…they change it.

In the final scene of the movie Fight Club. the star stands with his girlfriend, as they watch explosives blow up a cluster of skyscrapers — all part of what was presented to the audience as a plan to destroy consumerism by erasing bank and debt records.

That amount of anarchy — and the government’s inability to stop it — doesn’t appear to have passed muster with China’s notoriously strict censorship rules though.

In the version available in China, the entire scene featuring the explosions has been cut out. Instead, it has been replaced with a caption explaining to audiences that the authorities arrived just in time to save the day.

“Through a clue received by the police, they rapidly figured out the whole plan and arrested all criminals, successfully preventing the bomb from exploding,” the caption reads. “After the trial, Tyler was sent to [a] lunatic asylum receiving psychological treatment. He was discharged from the hospital in 2012.”

We have the power to change how our story ends.

We can decide if our actions or words will speak the loudest. As long as we are still alive, we can write our story.

In Luke 23:33-43, we see an example of rewriting the end of a story. As Jesus hung on the cross there were two criminals hanging there with Him. One of them insulted Him by saying, “Aren’t you the Christ? Save yourself and us!”

The other criminal responded harshly to the first, “Don’t you fear God, seeing that you’ve also been sentenced to die? We are rightly condemned, for we are receiving the appropriate sentence for what we did. But this man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”

Jesus replied, “I assure you that today you will be with me in paradise.”

Both criminals wrote their own stories by the choices they made in that instance.

Jesus’ actions spoke loudly. The criminal’s choices spoke loudly. Our choices speak loudly.

Our actions are more important than what we say. We shouldn’t stop at our words. We can bring our words to life through our actions. We can write the ending to our story.

Choose your words and actions wisely and write the ending to the story that God wants for you.