Posts Tagged ‘Jesus’

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Son of a Beach

June 5, 2010

Eisenhower's boys stared down death, stormed the beaches at Normandy and ripped Europe - and maybe the world - from the clutches of evil

I’ve spent a good deal of the last two weeks working on publicity campaigns for books on Generals Patton and Eisenhower … so, needless to say I’ve spent a good deal of time thinking and reading about war (the type you fight with guns and explosives, on an actual battlefield, that is …  God knows I spend enough time thinking and talking about spiritual warfare).   So, naturally, my mind went where my mind always goes … to the war going on in my heart and in the hearts of damned near every man walking.

I know, I know … another war analogy?  Really?  Does he think this is original?  Hell, I know it’s not original.  I’ve already done it twice myself.  But, they’re easy, they make a helluva lot of sense and on this particular weekend, 66 years ago, thousands of the bravest men this country (or the world, for that matter) will ever know stared down death, stormed the beaches at Normandy and ripped Europe – and maybe the world – from the clutches of evil.   So, yes … another war analogy.  At least admit that it’s topical.

Anyhow, as I sat working, reading, talking about World War II, I also stewed about things that were at work in my heart.  Things that were going on in my life.  And, as I talked to a colleague, I shared with him what I’ve long known and what I think all of us, as men, know.  Something I’ve written about dozens of times and have been talking about with other men for years.  That we’re at war.

Every moment of every day.

We have lust in our hearts.  We’re disappointed in our jobs and in our spouses and in our kids and in ourselves.  We’re angry that our lives haven’t turned out the way we thought they would.  We idolize possessions and status.  We harbor anger and resentment.  We’re addicted to gambling and alcohol and pornography.   And what we have to realize is, that in every one of those instances and a thousand others, Satan has planted a flag in our hearts … set up camp.  A place from which to operate.  A place from which he executes his plans … commands his troops, if you will.

Our hearts, in case you haven’t figured out where I’m going with this by now (and, surely to God you have … if not, keep that to yourself),  are Normandy.

And our sons storming that beach and willingly shedding their blood, as I

American forces storm Omaha Beach during the World War II D-Day landing in France in a scene from the 1998 film "Saving Private Ryan." (AP Photo/DreamWorks, David James, File)

mentioned earlier and as everyone knows, is what turned the tide … what won the war.  Until then? A hopeless proposition.  Lost.  Like me.  Like you.

Listen, dudes.  It’s like this  – you might think you’re man enough to overcome what it is that’s killing you a little bit inside every day all by yourself.  But, the sooner you realize one thing, the better off you’ll be – you’re not.

In fact, the manliest thing you could do is to own up to that … and just lay it all down.  There’s one Son – and one Son only – who is capable of invading your heart and taking it back for you.  And His blood’s already been shed.

3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. 4 For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, 5 casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself …  2 Corinthians 10:3-5

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Fruitcake: The Greatest Gift of All

December 18, 2009

I sat down recently to write a letter, vouching for the character of someone I love.  Trying as best I could to explain to a complete and total stranger what a wonderful person she is.  And, it was difficult.  Not because she’s not one of the kindest and sweetest people I know, because she is … but because … well, where’s the proof?  What has she done? What are the works, sacrifices, offerings, etc. that would serve as testimonies to the goodness of her heart?

It doesn’t do much good to offer “she just is … trust me, I know her” as an explanation.   This man is looking for proof of her goodness – and a great many people testifying to it is a statement and a bit of proof in and of itself, I suppose.  That said, I hope a sackful the size of Santa’s shows up on this stranger’s doorstep.  He’s a very, very important person in her life right now, after all … and will have a profound impact on her future very, very soon.

In the meantime, all she can hope for is that she’s made a profound enough impact on the lives of enough people that that bag full of letters shows up.  That, within them, are stories and memories that are convincing.  That show more than a lifetime of the best intentions.   And, I think it will.

All of this brought me to this question … what if it was me?  What if I were dependent upon all of those I count as friends and family to write a letter, vouching for my character? Explaining who it is I am?

Would I, in good conscience, even be  able to ask them for one?  Would I really want to know who they thought I was? Would they have to search their souls, calendars or picture books for hours to recall an example of love and/or goodness? Would they be able to fill a page with anything convincing?

And, to take that one step further, if you’re someone who claims to love Christ, have your actions reflected that love?  That commitment? What kind of sacrifices have you made on His behalf, for others? What kind of things have you done that have had a profound impact on the lives of others?

In Christ’s court, a list of works/deeds – proof of your love, if you will – won’t be required.  He knows your heart.

A stranger on the other hand … ? Well, he doesn’t.  And the only tangible proof of its goodness is what its produced … its fruit (or, this being the holiday season, fruitcake, of course).

Would others have any on hand to send along on your behalf?

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Of service and tellers

March 1, 2009

A couple of weeks ago, I was – for the last time – treated horribly by Regions Bank.  I’ll spare you the grizzly details, but suffice it to say, they made a mistake that I was going to have to pay (dearly) for … and they bullymade it abundantly clear that they really could care less.  In calling them, I may as well have been barking at the moon.  (You know that feeling of complete and utter helplessness? That feeling you get when you’re so angry, you can hardly speak?)

I was just a little guy, after all …  so, if I followed through on the threat to close my accounts, who cares – right?  Now, from a business perspective, I wished I’d had the clarity at the time to remind them where their paycheck came from.  I,after all, was the revenue (customers’ money being what they invest, charge interest on, etc. to make their own profit,  obviously)!  They, the employee, were the overhead!

Was this how they’d want to be treated if the shoe were on the other foot?  Did they care if I, as I promised I would, told everyone who’d listen, for years to follow, how awful my experience with Regions Bank was?  The answer was an emphatic ‘no’ on both accounts.

After taking several days to digest it all, I’ve discovered the lesson to be learned here.

To these Regions support personnel, I’m a nobody.  A stranger with no immediate impact on their daily lives.  They can pass me right over and no one will know the better.

Or could they? The truth is, you never, ever know who you’re dealing with.  That, and the fact that it’s just the right thing to do, is one of the many reasons to just … well, treat people right.

I’m a literary publicist.  I work with authors, agents and media.  One of my authors just so happens to be a best-selling business author.  Said author just so happened to be in town last week to discuss ideas for/the contents of his next book.  The subject matter?  Customer service.  I told him of my experience with Regions.  And it’s possible that, in next year’s book – to be seen by untold thousands of potential customers, trade publications for hundreds of different little-guy-stands-up-to-bullyindustries throughout the world, media of every variety, etc. – Regions Bank and the way that customer service representative treated this “nobody”, will be cited as the perfect example of how NOT to treat your customers (how’s that for sweet justice? Striking a blow for the little guy?).   So, when they thought I’d simply hang up the phone and call my brother-in-law or my carpool pal before cooling off and just letting it go … they sold me a bit short.

Now – would this cause Regions Bank to close its doors? Of course not.  Could it cause a couple of hundred people who’d been considering opening an account with them to decide otherwise? Absolutely.  And, a few thousand dollars a month from each of them, over the course of 8,9,10 years … is a very, very substantial sum of money.

To their credit, after I called a senior VP at their headquarters, he returned my call.  He replaced my money.  He even sent a nice letter, apologizing for my troubles.  But, should I have had to call a senior VP at their headquarters to receive service? No.  The bank – which, to me, is represented by my only contact with them, the customer service representatives and tellers – should be empowered to take care of me and should have enthusiastically done so.  They could have, perhaps, made a believer out of me.

panhandlerI think you see where this is going, from a spiritual perspective.  We – as the body of Christ … as the church – have been empowered to take care of  those in need.    We shouldn’t put them off, thinking instead, “let God deal with it … I’d rather not bother.  He, or someone/anyone else, will take care of them.”  “The least of these” shouldn’t have to call headquarters and appeal to the senior VP of the universe for the most basic of needs … to complete the most trivial transactions.

After all, like the bank, He’s provided the means, already – and He’s empowered an army of  “tellers” and customer service representatives, to deliver them.

Bottom line? I came to Regions Bank with a problem … which, an astute business person would have seen, instead, as an opportunity.   They failed miserably to deliver and lost me forever.  We, as Christ-followers, must be more astute business people.  We’ve got to see the problems and troubled people we encounter daily as opportunities.  Opportunities to lend a hand, lift someone up, make someone’s day, give someone hope. We, like anyone in any customer service interaction, never know who we’re dealing with … what kind of trouble they may be in … how close to the edge they may be … how badly, despite their outward appearance or the size of their bank account, they need to know Jesus Christ.  If we handle it better than Regions did, enthusiastically answering the call when it comes in … we just might make a believer of someone.

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