For the past month I’ve been a part of a social experiment initiated by one of my favorite bloggers & authors, Jon Acuff. The basis of the experiment was to gather a collective of folks that want to punch fear in the face and take a risk.
I welcomed the challenge & began the journey of writing my first book. My specific risk was outlining the creative work that I desire to write.
The working title for my book is Continue reading “I’m Writing A Book…”
I aspire to be Donald Miller, Carlos Whittaker, and Pete Wilson. If there was some insane way for these guys to collaboratively produce a child — I would want to be that strangely conceived offspring.
I read their tweets, look at their Instagram photos, and gobble-up everything on their blogs… and 3 things happen.
I applaud the things in which are taking place that just seem so radical & revolutionary in their lives.
I dream about everything I hope will transpire in my life one day.
Then I begin to find myself depressed & defeated as I face the facts regarding elements of failure & folly in my life.
Continue reading “The Conflict With Comparing Yourself”
With Holy Week approaching, it’s interesting to see churches’ plans unfold as their marketing strategies are distributed via social media and it got me thinking…
Are the ‘over the top’ services that our churches rollout really the most effective means of evangelism for those visiting on Easter, as well as Christmas for that matter?
I always grew up going to a church that would execute some extraordinary programs around the 2 biggest Christian holidays of the year. Whether it was renting out the local high school’s auditorium or producing an amazing musical theatre production, or assembling a 60-person choir [of which I reluctantly admit that I sang in as an awkward 14 year-old] …all of these things would go off without a hitch & seem to be a great success. As newlyweds, my wife & I played the roles of Mary and Joseph in an all-kid (except for us two young lovers) reenactment of baby Jesus’ birth. Even a few years back, as a church planter with just a handful of folks attending our gathering, we made a point to elevate our game when it came to our first Easter in South Africa.
The thought looming in all of our heads as we prepare for Easter is the spike in attendance. You’re lying if you’re unwilling to admit that it at least crosses your mind a time or two. There’s a pressure that builds with the fact that we’ll see a lot of folks for the first time since Santa came rushing through your town around baby Jesus’ b-day a few months ago — and it’s likely that you won’t see them again for another 8-9 months or so…
I think there’s this voice in the back of our heads doing its best job to convince us that if we can execute the most epic church service in the history of man, then maybe our bi-annual visitors will make the pilgrimage back to our pews the following week. The reality is they might wander back into your midst 7 days later OR they feel they’ve fulfilled their religious duty for the time being and will see ya again when chestnuts are roasting on an open fire.
But let’s say that they DO return. Will they even recognize the establishment they visited just one week prior? After your congregation has returned to its regular scheduled programming and everything that you’ve been planning for months has been executed & now torn down — how do you retain your guests? Chances are that the folks who were once strangers on Easter and now searching for a home within the context of your church gatherings didn’t come back expecting all the bells & whistles you included in your community Easter egg hunt or intergalactic resurrection light show.
Most likely it’s the warm smile from that person greeting them in the parking lot or the helpful hand assisting them with getting their kids checked into class or the authenticity leaking from the preacher that brought them back wanting more — that and the overarching radical work of God’s Spirit within their hearts. It’s those things we should excel at on a weekly basis that stand out to folks. Our snazzy productions are cool, but it’s the simple things in ministry that we can sometimes take for granted ultimately making the biggest impact on the people that pass thru the foyer these next couple weeks.
So in the midst of the chaos that ensues with all the moving parts of our services, don’t forget to smile or take a moment to lend a helping hand to someone that looks a tad bit lost — they’ll remember that way more than our crazy Easter antics.
Over the years, I’ve learned a lot from my mentor & friend — Jerry Rainey — about responsibility, love, and embracing change. In the last couple years, he’s published 2 novels. I recently interviewed him about his book, writing habits, and faith…
What personal experience do you have with Alzheimer’s?
My wife, Rikki, and I own & operate a professional fiduciary business called Cornerstone Service. As fiduciaries, we are appointed by the court to manage people and/or their estates. With 90+ cases all over Oregon, and having been in this business for 12 years, we have had many cases that are directly the result of someone diagnosed with and suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease. that was what prompted me to write on this topic. We see people everyday who suffer with it, and have to deal with either their personal care issues or dysfunctional family/people who try to take advantage of them.
What does your writing routine consist of these days?
I typically have an idea and then mill it in my head for a few weeks. Then I create an outline, basic plot with key elements, and start developing the story line with characterization. Once I have the basics down, which now takes about two months, I start writing. My last book, The Memory Project, took four months to create (beginning to end), and two draft reviews with corrections. Overall, it went very well. I have started my next novel on a completely different subject and plot.
What is the most challenging aspect with regards to writing a book?
Accepting that it may never get any farther than my friends and acquaintances. I love to write, and I have to get this “thing” that is in my head on paper. I actually enjoy reading my books after they are published. I can’t believe I wrote them.
Though you might not be considered a “Christian author”, its evident that you’re a Christian and that bleeds through your narrative. How would you explain your approach to conveying your faith in your literature, as well as your day-to-day life?
Well, that is a HUGE question. In my writing, I have a point and a purpose in every book. In The Memory Project, the point was to show that God will never leave us or abandon us — even if we are in a terrible situation. Alice heard that it was Easter, reassuring her of her faith, and bringing her peace in the midst of a storm. The purpose was to entertain, but to also show that we must have faith in all things. We may not know why something is happening, and we don’t need to. That has happened to me in so many situations I look back and go, “Duh! Now I see why.”
My Christian walk is simple to me. I am a willing servant, weak but always striving. I try not to judge and always be encouraging. I make difficult decisions, but I always try to do so with love. I am not vengeful, try to be forgiving, and believe in redemption. It is easier when I know where I have come from, what I was involved with, and where God has me now. By all rights, I should have died long ago, but instead have been redeemed and restored. My actions are a testimony of his love, and I take the opportunities to share when I can.
Your first book was written 20 years ago. It was a non-fiction piece regarding healthy personal finance habits. Have you thought about writing another non-fiction book?
Nope. I like fiction. I’m entertained writing and researching the topics thus far.
You can also read about my review of Rainey’s latest novel, The Memory Project, here.