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Stories have inherent power to transform lives, and the most powerful are those about transformed lives.

Heroes serve an important function in our lives. Whom we pick displays, and determines, what we value in our lives and who (the type of person) we’d like to become.

Although some of us may never write a book, we are all composing our own personal, nonfiction story. It’s the story of our lives. Others read our story when they witness how we live. At that point, we all become teachers, knowingly and willingly or not. As our story develops, it’s merged into a larger story – God’s story.

If beauty is only skin deep, then so is ugly.

The keen realization was that she had the power to forgive; subsequently, she found that forgiveness is for the victim as well as the perpetrator.

As my stories are recited and read, their past becomes part of our present, and just maybe a sticky-point will slip its way into our future.

Character is exercising personal responsibility when no one is watching, when it costs or hurts us to do so, when we may have to act entirely alone, and when it benefits others – even our enemies – more than self.

Inspiration begets inspiration.

We are responsible for what we hear. When it’s embraced, truth does set us free. So, when confronted with the truth, we first apply it and then we share it. When we share, we become a teacher. We pay it forward, knowing it helped us and that it will likewise help others.

A good book or instructor provides useful or interesting information, but a great book or instructor forever changes the lives of readers and students for the better.

Our “flaws” will either fall into the changeable or the unchangeable.  If it’s in the latter, we must strive to accept it. If it’s in the former, then we have the alternative to strive instead to remove, exchange, or modify it.

All of us have a unique purpose in life, and all of us are gifted, just differently gifted. It’s not an argument about whether it’s fair or unfair to have been given one, five, or ten talents; it’s about what we have done with our talents.

Whether our dissatisfactions are real or perceived, changeable or unchangeable, they all originated from the same single source: comparison. Any time that we compare ourselves with another, we will either feel inferior (not as good as) and envious, or superior (better than) and prideful. Both are losing responses.

It’s okay to grow, stretch, try new things, and change locations, but not at the cost of the good things we already have. We are only truly poor when we are dissatisfied with what we have at the moment.

We all have riches – gifts, people, blessings, possibilities, talents, and helpers – right where we already are. If we don’t realize this, it’s probably because we either didn’t recognize them or we just didn’t look very hard for them.

Avoid changes for the wrong purposes, such as greed, running from a problem, or dissatisfaction. When change is right or best, proceed – after prayerful consideration – in faith. Neither an attitude for nor against change is correct in every situation. We must be like the tribe of Issachar, who read the times and knew what to do for their families and their country.

All of us have wounds and scars on the inside and outside but these don’t have to define us or prevent us from fulfilling our destinies.

What’s acceptable to a culture changes with time and with location; what is true does not. The truth is able to withstand the foibles and fads of today’s atmosphere of popularity. Don’t look to peers as a source on what is the right thing to do; instead, find some wise, mature counselors.

We are reminded to be generous in giving for none of us has anything in life of real value that we have not been given ourselves.

The investments that we make in others are the best ones because they are life-changing and thus pay lasting dividends to the giver and to the recipient. There are only three things we can take beyond the grave; I call them the everlasting three: integrity (sometimes called a good name or reputation), faith, and relationships.

Change is not the problem per se. The problem is whether we update our thinking on the issue to reflect the change or whether we hold firm regardless. The danger is in the latter, not the former. Just because we sincerely believe something does not make it true; it just may mean we are sincerely wrong.

We may never again confuse a round earth with a flat one, but there are still plenty of other scientific myths we accept as facts.

The future is not a seamless extension of the past. We can’t predict tomorrow based on what happened yesterday. Today must be viewed and lived on its own merits and opportunities.

Seeming advantages can actually be disadvantages, and seeming disadvantages can be advantages.

We often start out rough around the edges and flawed. With time, we develop into fairly good knockoff imitation copies as we observe our peers, choose good heroes, and mature. With persistence and passion, however, we finally become excellent, quality originals (having acquired good character) that no one else is exactly like. Most importantly, at the conclusion, we are able to finish well.

We have every opportunity to finish well despite any and all earlier stumbles, false starts, sins, upsets, and failures. F. Scott Fitzgerald said there are no second chances in life; God says he was wrong.

Our lives are full of unavoidable choices that we must make. Good and evil are consistently set before us. The choices we make determine the kind of person we become.

Practices are not right just because they are approved, accepted, or tolerated. They are only right if they are God-ordained and support His purposes. Other people, our personal physical and financial needs and wants, and a corrupt world all naturally tend to cause our actions to default toward the unprincipled, but we can promote righteous character by making the difficult choices.

Reagan the lifeguard first saved America from going under. Reagan the cowboy then utilized that newfound personal and national strength to rescue much of the captive world from its long peril. He became known as the man who won the Cold War.

The measure of a man’s influence can be seen in the ferocity and tenaciousness of his enemies – those who will commit any lie in an attempt to defraud. They fabricate and tell untruths because they know there’s no negative truth available to use for their false purposes.

America may yet experience another “rendezvous with destiny”, but to qualify, we will need another Josiah-like (II Kings 22 & 23) president to lead the necessary values revival, one such as we were granted in Ronald Reagan.

The real heroes of the church – yea, of the world – have always been its martyrs, whose uncompromised stories are a testimony of eternal principles lived on behalf of God and mankind.

Each held firmly to their shared belief that it is the fundamental duty of government, as ordained by God, to uphold laws for the well-being of its citizens; if it does not do so, then it has no claim on the compliance of its citizens. Each backed up this belief with active outreaches to those oppressed by corrupt authority.

People try to assign moral equivalency to capital punishment by saying, for example, that if you oppose abortion, then you must oppose the death penalty; otherwise you’re not consistently pro-life and thus are hypocritical. Don’t accept that false position and negative label, and do not back away from these two issues. They are not the same. The distinctions are clear, simple, and significant.

It’s upsetting that there’s an element in America who will always take advantage of the goodness, freedoms, and privileges we collectively enjoy and openly extend to others, and to know that they will eventually misuse these against us, abusing them to our hurt.

Liberal enabling is America’s current failed – but politically correct – methodology; it’s a permissive attitude toward sinful lifestyles that masquerades as an excessive appreciation for, and application of, liberty and charity. What it really is at its most fundamental level is as a refusal to honor the covenant that our country’s Founders established with God, and left unchecked, it will continue to destroy our nation from the inside out.

Ever wonder how the United States and Israel became such close allies? There are many good and sound historical reasons, but one of the earliest is Haym Salomon’s legacy. It was a precursor to the bond that has held for over two centuries between the United States and the Jewish people and, more recently, since 1948, between our country and the modern State of Israel.

The study…conclusively determined that…close family relationships, spiritual practices, and community-wide societal support gave a healthier general lifestyle overall…. inasmuch as we can make small restitution in these areas of community, we will pay ourselves dividends in health and happiness.

If we had more spiritually well-grounded pastoral leaders working in the so-called roles of community organizers or community activists, they could at least point the socio/racial/ethnic groups in the proper direction – and act as much-needed good examples – as opposed to the puffed-up reverends and galvanizing mullahs who deliberately cause self-serving division, instead of committing their lives to truly helping their people; they are the wolves who devour the sheep.

If we want to know someone better, we need to know their traits, their nature, their character. To have a closer relationship with Jesus, we need to know as many of His names, titles, and character inferences as is possible. He has chosen to reveal much of His nature to us that we may come to know Him best.

We’re encouraged to choose well from what is set before us. Is He Savior and Lord? Who do You say Jesus is?

Any bad behavior is now defined as a disease, with the perpetrator thought of as a helpless or blameless victim devoid of any personal moral responsibility. These bad behaviors have been given impressive-sounding names.

Every lax and easy attribution of victimhood status cheapens the genuineness of those who are truly society’s deserving and suffering members.

Many assumed and presumed victims are simply victims of their own bad choices or are plainly defrauding society…Other pretenders claim victim status based on any number of factors, as it were by playing the race card, gender card, religion card, sexual preference card, and so forth, on into an eternity of minority/diversity statuses, each with their own claims for incumbent special privileges and supposedly violated civil rights.

Without good examples at the top, the challenge to live right is made all the more difficult and unattractive for everyone below.

Everyone has equal access to wealth’s outcomes, such as roads, services, military protection, and schools; and therefore, everyone has equal opportunity to convert those outcomes into something productive.

We should not accept as the real thing the veneer used as a cover or a disguise; the truth is always available, but like the pearl of great price, it must be industriously sought.

Handouts, set-asides, restitution payments, and reverse discrimination practices have done nothing for the poor, for immigrants, or for minorities, save making them more dependent.

Identity-politics, with its over-creation of hyphenated minorities and special-interest groups, has done nothing for our sorely needed national integration and harmony, and it has, in reality, brought about overall cultural annihilation in the names of multiculturalism and diversity.

Being dependent is not a condition; it is a choice. They are not the same thing. Greed often arrives disguised as need.

Misdirected institutional provisioning and attendant individual gratification have together served to collectively mask God as our Savior and Provider. Worldly government largesse is substituted for His proper place and our proper role.

Generosity is a virtue, but being generous with other people’s money is not a virtue; it’s simply false and Pharisaically pretentious.

Everyone should have skin in the game as it helps assure their active participation and interest in – as well as appreciation for – the outcomes related to our common good.

Replacing God with government does not change His role in our lives, even if the lie that God and government are interchangeable providences has slowly gained wide and popular acceptance. When something becomes too popular, that’s a certain indication that a sanity check is overdue, and that swinging the pendulum back toward the center is necessary.

Liberal thinking is: see the problem, throw money at it; still see the problem, throw more money at it. If there is a problem, it must be because conservatives are preventing them from throwing enough money at it. Factually, the money often becomes part of the problem.

It grossly distorts Jesus’ purpose to claim, in essence, that He was a Robin Hood-like historical figure who advocated that His disciples take from the rich and give to the poor, making Him an income redistributor.

The true Christian way is, indeed, to care for the poor and needy, both spiritually and physically, by letting God work His purposes through us as we agree with Him and yield to Him – including our purses and wallets.

Capitalism is not Christianity, but it is built upon the biblical principles of labor, production, initiative, and creativity. These are God’s ways, as is demonstrated throughout Genesis, where we see the dignity and value of work. Capitalism does best in a nation adhering to Christian principles.

Capitalism, founded in Christianity, is why America is the greatest land of opportunity in all of history, why peoples the world over are still coming here century after century, and why they rarely go back with their earnings after succeeding here.

Employment is a negotiated, contractual bond – some would even say covenant – between the employer and the employee with each party having its own set of responsibilities under the agreement and within their relationship.

We need more four-letter words. No, not that kind; we don’t need any more angry, violent, rap-like language. The best practices for individuals to acquire character-driven personality and its incumbent success: pray, work, read (i.e. study), give, save, love, rest (i.e. Sabbath), and live (i.e. be active and enjoy life). Without my saying another word in their defense, these eight words quietly speak volumes for themselves. Yes, they remain universally effective, just as they’ve been for millennia. Truth does not change with the times.

For America to recover her corporate character, I suggest a re-emphasis on the four capital Cs that successfully underpinned the country since its inception: Christianity, Capitalism, Constitutionalism, and Conservatism. An express combination of these four elements combined to form America’s greatness of character.

It would be wise for conservatives to cease being defensive…and instead offer assertive, well-articulated narratives, and even better still to go on the offensive. Too often evil is labeled as good, and good as evil.

Americans and America are due for some pruning if there is any hope of saving our roots.

Life really is an interplay of good versus evil, light versus dark, truth versus error. It may be that simple. Black and white are readily discernible. Gray happens when we start confusing them and mixing them.

America is once again Lincoln’s house divided against itself.

America was never a Christian nation, but it was undeniably and verifiably a nation founded on the Bible and Christian principles, fathered by men who soundly endorsed both, and whose tenets were practiced or respected by a majority of the population.

It should not be any wonder that a small island of sanity has prospered via tuition-based private, parochial, and Christian schools; these have been established in the presence of free education and succeeded well despite them, with many politicians and public school teachers preferring to place their own children in these as superior alternatives to the ubiquitous government-union schools premised on situational ethics and relativism.

Choice and character are continuously close companions in life; throughout Storyteller, I will consistently draw parallels about their relationship.

History is the continuing tale of our lives; that is, who we are. As important as they are, it’s more than just factual times, movements, and locations. Most of my generation had history introduced to us as “His Story” – alluding to its overarching scale and infinite purpose. Today, history is taught in a mushy, touchy-feely way that subjectively promotes ever-changing, politically-correct popular pet issues over an eternal narrative of truth and fact.

Occupying an antiquated position in the digital age, storytelling is rarely employed today, but when offered in the right setting, it is still appreciated. In the not-too-distant past, it was the most prevalent method of values education and of communicating history, traditions, and beliefs.

I was blindsided a bit was in discovering that life experience alone was an insufficient supplement. I had to also better understand the nature of character and incorporate it as a fundamental teaching element.

No matter the age, background, or gender of the students, they all recognizably enjoyed hearing an inspirational story about positive human character – even better if the story was true, included a hero, and had ready-application for their lives.

Stories proved to uncover an unmet demand, regardless of the listening audience.

The many positive reactions weren’t due to the power of my undistinguished voice or modest physical presence, but rather to the combination of empathy, inspiration, and eternal truth in which good stories are centered.

I tell my stories by heart, which is ordinarily taken to mean from memory, and while this is true for my telling, I also intend it to mean that my heart is vested in the stories as well.

I sought good ideas from quality sources, and then reflected on them at length in order to glean core values that were enduring and applicable.

Too many people settle on unwholesome role models as their personal heroes while they simultaneously lack discriminating mentors.

Positive character is on the decline and rarely formally practiced, taught, or upheld as a behavioral model.

People of all ages love true stories – even more so if they’re also entertaining. Well-constructed stories have the power to guide and motivate where other approaches fail and are only modestly successful or enduring.

Within a skillfully crafted, well-presented story, a substantial amount of teaching can be presented – and presented in a manner more certain to be solidly embraced and remembered.

A good story is an open door to opportunities. Sometimes the story does not just encapsulate or deliver the message; at times, the story is the message, by which I mean it is deliberately left open to multiple personal interpretations and practical take-aways.

How does information become easy to remember? Move it out of the realm of pure facts such as names, events, and dates. Those are the kinds of things we encounter – and don’t like – in a final exam. Transform the message into a song, poem, or story.

The people I admired most, and those who had the greatest past and current influence on me, were prominent storytellers. It was their ability to create and to share a worthy story that contributed substantially to their becoming figures of great renown and monumental worldwide influence.

The Bible contains a wealth of true stories, as well as a handful of fictional illustrations. It contains over five hundred stories. Overall, by percentages, it’s a mix of 75 percent stories, 15 percent poetry, and only 10 percent unadorned teaching principles.

The reader will find each protagonist to be a worthy hero. This gripping collection of true stories regales their legacies of sound character and wise counsel because it has the potential to be of great benefit to today’s generations.

These stories represent a fair amount of scribbling in the dark on notepaper stored next to my bed. I’ve observed that what comes to a mind awakened from sleep in the quiet of the night has real clarity. I intended for my stories to contain sufficient truth to inoculate them against fading.

My book is precisely the product proposed by John Steinbeck, because the stories herein flow naturally out of my experiences, especially those as a teacher and instructor engaged in a variety of venues; but, they also flow simply from my journey of self-discovery I garnered the stories over a long period of time and then shared them orally for a decade. Beyond rough outline form, this marks the first time they’ve been fully committed to writing, permitted to crawl in one by one, and then combined to form a book.

The allure and grip of a story isn’t found in its grammar, facts, composition, length, format, language, or style; it’s in the measured revelation of truths that are too cosmic or too personal to be ignored.

The protagonists selected may be flawed socially, physically, or even mentally. This is all the more reason for us to relate to them and to cheer their ultimate triumphs. Despite handicaps of any nature, they’ve all displayed admirable and exemplary humane responses when faced with difficult circumstances and entrenched opposition. Many have moved contrary to the drifting ideology of the public at large, choosing instead to hold fast to unchanging values. This juncture of internal strength and moral conviction, when coupled with compatible actions or results, is a virtue summarized herein as character.

The concept of a hero, as well as the parallel concept of having personal heroes, is regarded by many as out of fashion today (comic-book superheroes notwithstanding). Its origins are indeed ancient. Attempts by modern society to replace hero with hollow-sounding nouns like star and superstar, celebrity, diva, legend, champion, demigod, icon, master, ace, or idol are often phony and frequently devoid of meaningful substance.

America has a near worship of athletes. All immoral and imprudent behavior is accepted, overlooked, or forgiven simply because they can handle a ball of some shape in a superior fashion. Think about the truth of that fact; then consider its incongruity. Should they really be admired, much less given a free pass to do nearly anything?

Success does not equal heroism. Affectionate and popular nicknames do not create a hero. Record-breaking paychecks do not create a hero. Being photogenic or constantly in front of the cameras does not make someone a hero. The true heroes are almost never celebrated, or even known and identified. The true heroes faithfully operate outside of the spotlight in realms of denial and persecution for the good of others, often dying as a result of their contributions.

Although some of us may never write a book, we are all composing our own personal, nonfiction story. It’s the story of our lives. Others read our story when they witness how we live. At that point, we all become teachers, knowingly and willingly or not. As our story develops, it’s merged into a larger story – God’s story.

I have some suggestions to help each of our personal stories, written or not, to be good ones. I may not have the track perfectly aligned, but I know I’m close and I think it’s worth sharing. I don’t say that with a cavalier attitude because it took slow, old me a lifetime to even get this close.

Sometimes you require dreams, prophecies, or visions when you’re far off course in order to jerk your chain and re-center you. If you’re walking closely with God on a daily basis, the more spiritually extreme actions aren’t required to get your attention. It’s probably a good sign if you aren’t moving from one spiritual goose-bump experience to another.

By the grace of God, it’s easier to write a successful personal story in America today than it has been throughout previous centuries and in any other countries.

God encourages us to rest one designated day each week; adopt this practice and do so without guilt, as it leads to productivity, creativity, and clarity of thought the other six days.

I understand there are times when life preparations or our occupations are not fun. We have to guard against confusing worthwhile with We aren’t able to select or to know our story’s ending, but we can strive to stay in the race and to finish well no matter the mistakes and regrets along the way.

Sometimes we are offered a do-over; sometimes we aren’t. What we can control is whether we squander the time and opportunity we’re allotted or whether we add to our burden through bad choices.

We are exhorted to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling. Applying that statement broadly to the entire course of our lives, I think it simply means we have been assigned a uniquely personal mission, one that is only ours. In pursuit, we’ll have to keep checking with our Great Author and Planner to make the necessary adjustments to our story until we finish and hear Him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant; enter into the rest that is prepared for you.”

Progressive educators, for nearly a century, have specifically targeted traditional stories – filled with their backward morals and values – for elimination in favor of replacement by a preponderance of politically correct nonsense taught in a classroom rife with modern methods like student-centered environment, collaborative (team) learning, whole language reading, and metacognition (“knowing without knowing”).

Most welfare programs no longer place much responsibility on their recipients and thus exacerbate the erosion of their moral and civic laxities. The authentic American Dream is not the one that aims to grow into a dependency on government.

A good story is an open door for opportunities.

There is no such spiritual condition as fair; it’s not a biblical word or concept. There’s justice, as in receiving what we deserve; and there’s mercy, as in receiving what we don’t deserve.

I’ve purposed to select stories incorporating truth that reads better than good fiction.

Evil and good are frequently found in juxtaposition. Times of great evil produce men and women of great renown.

Proponents of P.C. speech use it to facilitate change, and subsequently intend to permanently secure the resulting change by acting as though it were, indeed, always the superior and natural order of life. Hypotheses and untruths are promoted as facts until they erroneously become accepted as facts.

Two sure signs of a weak concept or program are: first, if its existence or acceptance cannot withstand any competition; and second, if it’s dependent on the protection mustered by a rigid P.C. code encircling it like a thick fortress wall.

Politically correct concepts are riddled with contradictions, the only consistency being their lack of logic.

Everything in God’s economy is based on truth; so it should be with the nonfiction writer’s product as well.

The mass media and educational institutions in particular promulgate a destructive pretense that old and conservative are bad, and new and liberal are good.

Christianity is based on a long-standing covenant relationship, as is the origin and the purpose of America (and Israel). Blessings follow adherence, and curses follow abandonment of established covenants – especially those sealed by blood.

No defense need be made for the fact that the Scriptures have endured since before the dawn of history, or to further note or prove they have served humanity well.

Without good examples at the top, the challenge to live right is made all the more difficult and unattractive for everyone below.

Politically correct language pretends an empathy with freedom of speech while really denying it, thus practicing censorship equating to totalitarianism and Orwellian double-speak. The primary intentions and outcomes of such speech are indoctrination and subjugation.

It’s worth remembering that sports are games and/or personal careers, not life-and-death ministry to advance God’s kingdom. A ball game that was won or lost today cannot compare with someone who was saved, set free, healed, or released from bondage.