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Inside this week’s issue

Heavy topics
• When plans don’t succeed
• The plight of Palestinian Christians
• Church growth in tough times
• Breaking habits before they break you
• The weight adventure

Light touch
• “Writing with Humor” at Taylor University
• Five next big things in church
• How to be creative
• A bear of a bookcase
• Best late-night lines of the week

When plans don’t succeed

A show of hands, please. How many of you have claimed this biblical promise?

Commit to the Lord whatever you do,
and your plans will succeed
(Proverbs 16:3).

It’s a promise that if we’re “totally committed” to God, our plans will succeed, right?! Well, not if you look at the Hebrew word translated by the New International Version as “succeed.”

Kuwn can be translated “to be firm, be stable, be established; be enduring; to be directed aright, be fixed aright, be steadfast (moral sense); to prepare, be ready.”

Success—particularly in the worldly sense of fame and fortune—is not implied. You can be firm, stable, morally steadfast and still not “succeed.” Last year was disastrous for me as far as worldly success: three books going out of print, cancer, losing a big contract because of “radiation retardation,” huge medical bills and all five lottery tickets I received as a Christmas gag gift being losers. Sigh. But I think my “purpose” (to communicate the gospel of Christ in as effective and creative manner as possible with as many as possible) remained “firm, stable and morally steadfast.”

And, if all your plans are succeeding, you’re not being innovative. The president of Honda Motors claims its research and development department’s failure rate is 90 percent! (See “How to be creative” below.)

So, all our plans are not promised to “succeed.” I’m launching a new venture today, so this post is personal. (There’s a growing need to have an accrediting organization for Christian literary agents—a lot of posers and piranhas out there—so I’ve created CLeAR: Christian Literary Agent Registry. You can visit the BETA site. Thanks for your prayers! I’m currently recruiting members, then the site goes live February 1.)

And be very careful to “correctly handle the Word of God” (2 Timothy 2:15). That often means checking the original language rather than depending on translations.

If you’re not experiencing success . . .
The rest of the Bible story (There’s a lot of “failure” in Scripture!)

If you’re wondering what a Hebrew/Greek word means . . .
Interlinear Study Bible from StudyLight.org
What does the Bible really say?
What was Paul thinking when He wrote 2 Timothy 2:12?

Update: Wednesday January 14 The launch of ClearAgents.org nearly went “Challenger.” Thanks for praying that it will attain orbit soon.

The plight of Palestinian Christians

Missions Network News reports, “The Baptist church in Gaza was located right across the street from a police station that was targeted by the Israelis for bombing. The church is now destroyed, with its windows blown out as well as other damage.” So, please don’t paint this conflict as God’s people (Israelites) against His enemies (Palestinians). Most modern Israelis are atheists and there are between 40,000 and 90,000 Christians living in Palestinian terrorities.
Details from Mission Network News
Know your Palestinian players

Church growth in tough times

Prison Fellowship’s Mark Earley has an interesting U.S. history lesson on now tough economic times lead to church growth. (Curiously, the 9/11 terrorist attacks produced only a short-lived blip in U.S. church attendance.)
Mark Earley’s Breakpoint commentary

Breaking habits before they break you

If you’re having trouble giving up smoking—or Free Cell—here are some tips I learned in Journalism 101. And speaking of habits . . .

The weight adventure

Inspired by The Biggest Loser, my daughter and I are competing with a group of Facebook friends to shed some weight, so to be accountable, I’ll be posting my results each week. This week—sound of scale beeping, dramatic pause—1 pound. (That’s pretty remarkable since my plan to rid the house of junk food was to eat half a dozen chocolate chip cookies and a bag of Doritos.)

Writing with Humor at Taylor University

I’ll be teaching a course on “Writing with Humor” at Taylor University Fort Wayne Saturdays February 14, March 14, April 18 and May 9. Click for syllabus; call 800.233.3922 for details and registration. And, speaking of humor . . .

Five next big things in church

The mysterious Url Scaramanga over at “Out of Ur” predicts five “next big things in church.” Hilarious unless ministerial lemmings actually put these things into practice—which I predict many will.
• Click for Out of Ur

How to be creative

Hugh MacLeod has 38 great tips on being creative. (Well, actually 36 great tips and one or two that are a bit bizarre. Warning: occasional crude language!)
Click here

A bear of a bookcase

Photo from MadeInDesign.com.uk

And speaking of creative, is this not the most creative bookcase you’ve ever seen? It does have a bear of a price (over $3,000 US dollars), but I’m tempted to buy a few sheets of plywood and attempt to make one myself.

Best late-night lines of the week

Jay Leno
• Congress says they’re looking into the Bernie Madoff scandal. So the guy who made $50 billion disappear, is being investigated by the people who made $750 billion disappear.
• In an interview with The Washington Times, Vice President Dick Cheney said he is not a big fan of rap music. I was stunned by that. He gets driven around in a limo; he’s surrounded by bodyguards; he shot a guy in the face . . . he is a rap star!

Conan O’Brien
• On Inauguration Day, Obama will be riding in a brand new presidential limousine made by General Motors. The parade route is only five miles long, so GM says that Obama should only have to stop for gas twice.

Final touches

Thought for the week
It seems to us that the most important work in the world is the work which is visible, which we can see: building a house, plowing the land, feeding cattle, gathering fruits; and that the work which is invisible, the work done by our soul, is not important. But our invisible work at the improvement of our soul is the most important work in the world, and all other visible kinds of work are useful only when we do this major work. Leo Tolstoy
• Click for more encouraging quips and quotes.

More light touches
Church humor from Rev.
The Dredge Report (Humor page)
Top ten lists

Have a great week—no matter if you succeed or fail! (And come back next Monday for more “heavy topics with a light touch.”)

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