We Are Left Sitting on the Edge of Our Seats with a Good Cliffhanger

We’re Eager to Know What’s Going to Happen Next

cliffhanger is a plot used in fiction which features a precarious or difficult dilemma or a shocking revelation at the end of an episode. A cliffhanger is hoped to incentivize the audience to return to see how the characters resolve the dilemma.

Cliffhangers became prominent with the serial publication of narrative fiction, pioneered by Charles Dickens. Printed episodically in magazines, Dickens’s cliffhangers triggered desperation in his readers. This was evident in the anticipation of those waiting for the next installment of Dickens’ The Old Curiosity Shop. A story about a thirteen-year-old orphan named Nell Trent, living with her grandfather.

In 1841, Dickens fans rioted on the dock of New York Harbor, as they waited for a British ship carrying the next installment, screaming, “Is little Nell dead?”

Dickens’ installment format and cliffhangers would typically culminate at a point in the plot that created reader anticipation and thus reader demand.

The popularity of Dickens’s serial publications saw the cliffhanger become a staple part of the “sensation serials” by the 1860s. The DNA of Dickens’s busy, episodic storytelling, delivered in installments and rife with cliffhangers and diversions, is traceable in everything.

The apostles were living out a cliffhanger in Act 1:6-14. They ask Jesus. “Are You now going to give Israel its own king again?”

He answered them, “You don’t need to know the time of those events that only the Father controls.” After Jesus had said this and while they were watching, He was taken up into a cloud.

Can you say cliffhanger?

They were wanting to know what was going to happen next, and Jesus left them standing there wondering. Then two men dressed in white clothes were suddenly standing there beside them. They asked, “Why are standing here looking up into the sky? Jesus has been taken to heaven. He will come back the same way.”

You know the apostles were sitting on the edge of their seats wondering when, how, why.

Cliffhangers in fictional stories can be exciting and stressful, but ultimately, we know that they are just a story. The writer of the story can keep us guessing and anticipating what’s going to happen next. The author can take us where they want us to go.

In our real-life story, cliffhanger levels of excitement and stress are ramped up. There are real trials and consequences in this story. This unknown can be pretty scary. We just want to know what’s going to happen next and that everything is going to be alright.

Sure, our life stories have drama and cliffhangers, but the Author will write a good story if we just let Him. In verse 8 Jesus tells the apostles, “The Holy Spirt will come upon you and give you power.”

We have the power to choose who writes our story. Let God write your story.

If we will let God write our stories, then the cliffhangers become a driving force to move forward to the next episode of our lives.

Enjoy your cliffhanger!

Why is it That Some People Can’t Stop Pre-telling the End of the Story?

It Would be Helpful if Those People Had a Spoiler Alert Alarm

It’s fun when reading a book or watching a movie and we’re trying to figure out what’s going to happen. It’s like solving a puzzle or riddle and makes our creative brain go to work. Part of the thrill of those kinds of stories is in trying to figure it out before you get to the end.

It puts a real damper on the fun of figuring it out when someone who knows the ending spoils it.

One young man had such a friend. This friend was notorious about spoiling the ending of movies. One day when the friend had spoiled another movie ending, the young man had had enough. The young man came up with a plan to get even.

He knew the friend loved jigsaw puzzles and he was always bragging about finishing them. So, the young man got a puzzle for his friend and before giving it to him, he took some of the key pieces out that were critical to the finished picture. 

One day, when the young man was at the friend’s house, the friend said, “You know that puzzle you gave me, some pieces were missing. I looked everywhere for them. I don’t know where they went. They are a key part of what the picture is supposed to be. I sure would like to see the finished picture.

The young man reached into his pocket and pulled out a plastic bag with the puzzle pieces in it…they had been cut up into little, tiny scraps.

Sometimes it’s good to know how the story is going to end.

Here’s where I’ll give you a SPOILER ALERT.

In Matthew 17:1-9 Jesus takes Peter, James, and John up on the mountain and tells them how the story’s going to end. God comes to them in a cloud and tells them, “This is my Son and I’m pleased with Him. Listen to what He says.” Before God dropped in, Jesus’ appearance changed, He began shinning like the sun and His clothes become as white as light. Then Moses and Elijah show up and start talking with Him. These two represent the law and the profits being fulfilled in Jesus.

This story ends with a promise of eternal life.

One good series of books that tell a great story of the battle of good and evil and keeps us reading to the end is the Harry Potter series.

Back in 1999, when J.K. Rowling was in the middle of writing The Goblet of Fire, the author received a letter. It came from Anne Kidder, the family friend of 9-year-old Natalie McDonald who was dying of leukemia.

The books “had been her respite from the hell of leukemia,” Kidder told Maclean’s, a Canadian magazine, in 2000. “And because I’m the sort of person who thinks there must be something I can do, I badgered Rowling’s publishers in London, sending them a letter and an e-mail and a fax for her.”

Rowling herself responded to Natalie with a “beautiful” email that revealed secrets from the book and talked about which characters she liked best. Sadly, it was too late — Natalie died the day before the email was sent.

Natalie’s mother, Valerie, and Rowling kept in touch. The following year, Natalie’s family traveled to Britain to meet Rowling. It was on that trip when Valerie was reading The Goblet of Fire to her other daughters on the subway when she discovered an incredible gesture from Rowling: a passage in the book contained Natalie’s name. As a Gryffindor, no less, the house “where dwell the brave at heart, their daring, nerve and chivalry.”

It’s sad that Natalie wasn’t able to read the rest of the Harry Potter books. Sometimes, here on earth, no matter how bad we want it, some stories don’t end the way we want them to.

J.K. Rowling did something remarkable for this young fan who was dying. Natalie McDonald was the only real person ever named in any of the Harry Potter novels. As the author of an unfinished story, Rowling was able to change it.

As long as we’re still alive we can rewrite our eternal stories.

This is why it’s important for us to tell people about Jesus’s story and how it ends. It’s okay if we’re a spoiler when it comes to this story.

So…What is it That Your Company Does?

The Importance of Telling Your Companies Story and Telling it Well

We’ve all been asked the question…you know the one. “So…What is it you do for a living?” This is one of the most frequently asked questions when people meet someone new.

A simple answer of I’m a contractor, a painter or an electrician doesn’t cover it anymore. The business world has become so diverse in the different types of things being done. As an entrepreneur or solopreneur giving a clear and precise answer this question can be tough.

A cookie cutter answer doesn’t cut it anymore.

Over the past few weeks, we’ve worked on getting clear on our mission and the characteristics and actions needed to accomplish it. We’ve been using the Business Made Simple process for this.

This week we’ll use the things we learned, making a story that will clearly explain what it is we do in an exciting and interesting way. It won’t be the typical boring history of when the company was founded by my grandfather in 1929….

This story will be focused on our dreams and the future, not the past.

When asked, “What is it that your company does?”, we tell this story:

Construction companies struggle with a lack of business knowledge and construction customers don’t know what to expect.

Lack of knowledge and understanding leads to out of control, unprofitable businesses requiring too much time for too little profit and customers paying more than estimated for less than expected. This results in overwhelm, burnout, unhappy dissatisfied customers, lawsuits and termination of businesses.

We help both achieve their dreams, by providing businesses with systems, processes and training while educating and guiding customers through the construction process.

This leads to happy satisfied customers who become raving fans and profitable less overwhelmed companies separating themselves from their competition.

With the right tools and knowledge, construction companies and customers can build the businesses, construction projects and lives of their dreams.

If we will live out our story everyday in everything we do, we’ll accomplish our mission and…

Bridge the gap between construction companies and customers.

We can choose to live in a boring mundane world, void of purpose and vision…or we can discover our passion and purpose and write the story of our dreams.

It’s up to us.

Knowing the End of One Story in the Beginning Is A Good Thing

How You Read Other Stories Is A Personal Preference

There are two differing opinions of how to read a book. Some people start by reading the last chapter first to see how the story ends. Others will start at the beginning and not read the end until…well the end. Whichever way you want to read is fine except for one specific story.

There is one story that you should know how it ends when it begins.

Knowing how the story in the Bible ends is critical to our own story and how it will end. We are all living our own stories surrounded by other stories in the middle of a bigger story. These stories are being written continuously every minute of every day.

We can write our story however we want, it’s up to us.

The important thing to remember is the importance of choosing to write it rather than letting someone else write it for us. Pastor Lee referred to two different stories in his message Sunday.

The first you are probably familiar with; it’s the story of Rip Van Winkle. In this story, written by Washington Irving and published in 1819, Rip Van Winkle falls asleep in the Catskill Mountains. When he wakes up 20 years later, he has slept through the American Revolution.

After he goes back to town everything has changed. His wife is dead, his kids are grown, the country now has a President rather than a King. Nothing is as it was when he went to sleep.

Too much of the time we sleep through life and let it happen to us.

The other story that he told was less popular. It’s a story about a Mexican priest, Sergio Gutierrez Benitez, who supported an orphanage for 23 years as the masked professional wrestler, “Friar Storm”. The La Casa Hogar orphanage became home to 270 children. Father Benitez chose to write his story, taking an active role and changing other people’s stories at the same time.

We can let life happen to us, or we can choose the life we want to happen.

Too often when we choose to write our own story, we forget to check with the Author of all stories to see if we are following His outline. Too often we don’t listen before we think or speak. We assume we have everything figured out and just start blabbering. This isn’t the best way to write a story.

Just like Peter, in Matthew 17:1-5 when he was on the mountain with Jesus. While he, James, and John were standing there Jesus became white as light and Moses and Elijah appeared. Then Peter began talking and making suggestions to Jesus without listening. While he was talking, God spoke and said, “This is my Son…Listen to Him!”

We need to be quiet and listen.

We have control over how our story is going to be written. Listen to God, study your life’s outline and right a good story.