Sunday, October 24, 2010

Example, Education, or Expire?

Today in Sunday School we studied I Peter 2:21-25. The teacher enacted a graphic portrayal of "getting in someone's face" in order to get them to revile. First he had to find out if anybody knew what the word "revile" meant since we don't use it too much anymore. Here's a thesaurus synonym I like - to attack with words.

Peter, an eyewitness to the trials of Jesus, said Jesus never reviled anyone. Even though our teacher only made an example, I could see in his eyes (and he confessed along with yours truly and others in the class) that he has reviled folks many times when they got in his face. But Jesus never did.

What are we supposed to do with that information? The KJV states that Jesus' actions are an example for us. What exactly does that mean - example? First a little background:

God says that in a very real way we were crucified with Christ, nevertheless we live (Galatians 2:20). What is the extent of that crucifixion? Does it include the events leading up to it? We know for sure it includes the cross and the resurrection. But what about when the Pharisees, the Sadducess, Romans, and others got in His face? They spit on Him, slapped Him, punched Him, ripped His beard, mocked Him, scourged Him, stripped Him naked. He did nothing just like a lamb led before its shearers.

Is this merely an example for us? Or perhaps it is just for our education.

I think it was written to us for our expiration. Only a man dead to himself can do this. Only a man full of the Spirit cannot revile. Only a man completely at one with God is capable. Jesus did not behave this way because He learned it by example or because someone taught it to Him in Hebrew school. Neither will be even come close to such godly behavior by mere example or education. Quite frankly I am no more motivated, willing, or able to withhold attacking someone with my words simply because of this lesson.

So it is with any Bible truth. We can't keep 617 laws. We can't obey even ten commandments. Even two commandments are too much. But with Jesus all things are possible. As we abide with Him as one with God, He obeys perfectly through us. Thereby we keep the whole law, obey all the commandments, and love God with our whole hearts.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

My First Book

Sometimes folks wonder what my first published book was. Or they wonder where the name of my website originated. Biblical Quality was my first book. In a previous professional life I was a Quality Manager. As a Christian, I put the two together. Each chapter of the book discusses a Biblical principle in light of business practice. At its core, Biblical Quality is an evangelical book. At first, it was a “how to” book. But then I realized that the Bible is not a “how to” book and therefore I should not use it as such. While it still is a book of principles, the truths only become evident in character as one submits to the Lord Jesus Christ.

That all sounds wonderful doesn’t it? Except when you read the book. Ten years ago I was so excited to finish writing the manuscript, find an inexpensive self-publisher, and certain of a huge market eager to fork out $10.95, that the raw manuscript went right to print. I never edited the work except to remove the conversion typos that happen when a file is pdf’d from MS Word. Fifteen years had gone by since I had looked at a grammar book. The Chicago Manual of Style Christmas present sat on the shelf unused. In other words, this book was a raw disaster. The content was great. The concept was market worthy. Naturally, many books of the same genre came out around the same time. While they sold from the shelves of Waldenbooks, Barnes & Noble, and Borders, Biblical Quality languished online at

I learned a lot about writing since then and managed to sell a few articles. My next book project is nearly complete through its fifth editing round. I went to some writer’s conferences, attended classes, took notes, tweaked words, and read a lot of books on the craft. I especially paid attention to the teachers who knew what they were talking about. They are published – broadly. Not only can they write good books, they also can teach how to write good books. God put in my path such author/teachers as Cecil Murphey and Donald Maass. Working with them in person is great. Working from their written materials is hard work. Such is the “normal” life of an author.

If you are so inclined, then tap into some of their great “how to” books to help you along the way with your craft.

Cec has a great blog and website at

Donald has three fantastic books that I recommend: The Fire in Fiction, Writing the Breakout Novel, and Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook. Keep up to date with him at

I also recommend, on the business side, getting to know Rachelle Gardner of WordServe Literary Agency. She is an avid blogger on all things literary. I strongly recommend that the Christian writer follow her advice, be a regular reader on her site, and also contribute comments to her for some worthwhile feedback. She’s at

Back in May I sat on a panel at a writer’s conference. The leader asked anyone who had ever self-published to share their experience. When I did it back in 2000, I was one of the first. XLibris was one of the first reputable online self-publishing houses. I still highly recommend their services for those who choose to go this route. The lessons learned above I shared again at the conference. The takeaway question was, “Would you do it again?” Not the next time. While I learned a lot from the experience, I care not to repeat those mistakes and I desire a mainstream publisher simply to provide that little extra edge of time and service which I do not have right now. I want to learn more from the agent/editor/publisher relationship. None of that exists in the self-publishing realm. You’re on your own all the way.

I sold maybe twenty copies of Biblical Quality and I doubt I will sell any more. One day perhaps I will re-write the book and get it published. In the meantime, I am learning how to and putting Biblical quality into my other works.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

What is Christian Mythology?

Someone at church asked me today about the progress of my book, Christian Mythology. Then they wanted to know what it is all about. For those of readers who are also authors, you know that part of a book proposal is the Competition. What recent books on the shelves are like your proposed book? Here's my competition list along with their links so you can check them out. Most of them have free previews.

When I first started writing the book, there wasn't much competition. This concerned me because I wondered if this massive burden God put upon me was mine alone. But soon it was clear that God was working in the hearts of other authors with the same message;

Spencer, Michael, Mere Churchianity, Waterbrook Press, 2010

Sweet, Leonard; Viola, Frank, Jesus Manifesto: Restoring the Supremacy and Sovereignty of Jesus Christ, Thomas Nelson, 2010

Platt, David, Radical: Taking Back Your Faith From the American Dream, Multnomah Books, 2010

Mr. Viola has many other titles around the theme as well. These are all thought-provoking works. What sets mine apart from the competition is this mind-bending question:

What if we all stopped going to church? What if we stopped doing all the "churchy" things we are so familiar with, the traditions, the feel-good experiences, and instead, we started being the Church? What if started by doing and being exclusively those things explicitly found in the Bible? Nothing else? What would be different about us, our churches, and our reputations in the eyes of the world? Would we be more like Jesus?

Christian Mythology examines some of the thoughts, teachings, and beliefs in our American Christian culture and holds them up to Biblical authority. The three verses that God put on my heart for this book are:

Ephesians 5:25-27 - "Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish." Is this how Jesus will find us at any moment?

Romans 6:11 - "Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord." Do we continually transact this before God and literally believe it?

I Corinthians 15:34a - "Awake to righteousness, and sin not."

God woke me up seven years ago and put this message on my heart and keyboard. He did the same for many others too. Are you awake? Do you hear what the Spirit of God is saying to the Church today? His message to the last seven churches was, "Repent, repent, repent." Shall we do likewise?

Monday, October 4, 2010

Take This Test

What is your definition of worship? Come up with a simple one or two word definition. Got it? Now, get out your Bible and let's play a little Bible MadLibs. Every place you see the word worship in the following verses (KJV), insert your definition instead. Does the verse still make sense? Send your comments and then we'll discuss the results in my next post.

Matthew 2:1-2
Matthew 2:8

Okay, these first two were simple and there's a good chance your definition sounded pretty good. Carry on.

Matthew 4:8-10

Hmmm. Maybe not so good? How about these?

John 4:19-24

Does your definition now sound absurd perhaps? This is not a trick test. Each of the preceding verses uses the same word worship in the original language and in the same context.

Now post those comments. What questions or comments has this little test provoked about your thoughts on worship? Has your world suddenly turned upside down? Or did you fit right in? Are you wondering what worship really is if you feel like your definition flunked? If you feel like you passed, have you encouraged someone today to obey God's command as Jesus spoke it in Matthew 4? God bless you. See you soon with some interesting feedback.