After almost year of pitching, revising, getting rejected, and pitching again I’ve finally found a publisher for my first book!!
I am incredibly excited to announce that I have recently signed a publishing agreement with CLC Publications!!
It’s been a long and winding road to get here, and there’s still a lot of work left to be done, but I am thrilled, grateful, and, honestly, relieved to have this milestone behind me.
I owe a huge debt of thanks to my agent, Blair Jacobson (and all the other wonderful people at D.C. Jacobson), for being willing to take a chance on random youth pastor from Tennessee and then relentlessly “knocking on publisher’s doors” until we finally found a publishing house.
Likewise, I am also incredibly grateful for David Almack (and everyone else at CLC Publications) who was also willing to take a chance on a first time author. I can’t wait to get to work with you guys!
And, of course, I would not have even gotten anywhere without the support of friends and family (not least of all my wonderful, supporting, and ever patient wife, Kim) who have been there to read, critique, and support me as I’ve begun to get my writing career off the ground. You have no idea how much I appreciate and love you all.
Ok, no more Oscar speech.
As for the book itself, it’s about reimagining what it means to be holy.
I grew up in a tradition in which the call to holiness was incredibly important. Unfortunately, for many of us in that tradition, and perhaps your tradition as well, holiness came to be defined by legalism and the things we don’t do.
As I read the gospels, however, I encounter a Jesus with a very different understanding of holiness, one which is not defined exclusively by separation and exclusion, but by how we incarnate the redemptive love and grace of God to a lost and dying world.
If you haven’t seen it already, this video that I posted last week is very much a jumping off point for the book.
If all goes to plan and I get the manuscript completed by this fall, then the book should be published sometime next spring.
In the meantime, I’ll be doing A LOT of writing and rewriting.
Of course, I’ll be keeping you updated about the progress of the book, especially as it comes closer to publishing time and there are more concrete details in place. So if you haven’t already, make sure you subscribe to the blog, follow me on Twitter, or become a fan on Facebook….or better yet, do all three!
After all, without your support of the blog I wouldn’t have the all important “platform” necessary to get published. So, THANK YOU for every Facebook share, tweet, comment, and page visit over the past 2 years! I literally wouldn’t be here without your help!
Until next spring, I will covet your prayers, support, and feedback as the book progresses and I try to balance writing a book with writing papers for school.
Well, we may have a new candidate for worst church sign of all time.
Now, for full disclosure, I’m not a big fan of abortion. However, I’ve gotta think there are better ways to “take a stand” than irrational, unsubstantiated, and, let’s just be honest, completely insane church signs.
I’m sure this will come as a shock, but, according to the local news, community members around this church aren’t big fans of the sign.
Seriously. It’s like the greatest thing ever in the history of mankind.
But, there is no hyperbole intended when I say A Faith Not Worth Fighting For edited by Tripp York and Justin Bronson Barringer is one of the most personally challenging books I have ever read.
The book is a collection of essays on Christian pacifism written by such notable Christian thinkers as Stanley Hauerwas, Thomas Long, Greg Boyd, and Shane Claiborne. While the names of the essayists certainly caught my eye (along with the provocative title), what really grabbed my interest initially was the intentionality and specificity of the book.
Often times, theology books get stuck in the world of the abstract, never really dealing with the practical issues at hand, or worse they intentionally avoid those specific issues altogether.
A Faith Not Worth Fighting For, however, tackles the criticisms and practical implications of Christian pacifism head on. With chapter titles like “What About The Protection Of Third-Party Innocents?”, “What Would You Do If Someone Were Attacking A Loved One?”, and “What About Hitler?” this book cuts right to the chase, right to heart of the issue and the questions those of us who are not pacifists are always asking our pacifists brothers and sisters.
As someone who has always been a pretty firm believe in just war theory, I really appreciated the directness of this approach. These are the very questions that have always kept me from fully embracing Christian pacifism (the authors of this book make a clear distinction between Christian and non-Christian pacifism).
The authors of each essay are bold, honest, and open about their own struggles with pacifism, noting in particular the awkward tension that comes about when you are a pacifist, but your family and friends serve in the military. Whether you agree with their position or not, the direct, raw honesty of the writers gives their arguments a level of credibility that I don’t think would have existed if this book had simply been an exercise in the theoretical.
It was this openness and honesty about their own struggle with pacifism that challenged me to let my just war guard down and allow myself to really listen to what the authors had to say. And what they had to say was pretty simple: “Are you willing to take all of Jesus’ commands seriously?” and ultimately “Do you really believe in the resurrection?”
It is those two questions that seem to be the foundation which ties the book together and it is those two questions that have seriously challenged me to reexamine my long held just war position.
If I really claim to be a disciple of Jesus, how can I ignore the commands to literally, not figuratively, “turn the other cheek” and “love my enemies”?
Likewise, why do I feel the need to use violence as a means to avoid death if, because of the resurrection of Jesus, death is not the final answer?
As the authors in this book note, how we answer those questions will always look a little different and will certainly never been easy. If there was any point in the book that left me wanting more it was here. While there were many alternative approaches to violence described, and while I fully concur with the book’s premise that Christian pacifism will always look different in different situations, given the direct approach of the book I would like to have seen, for example, more concrete alternatives for the eternal elephant in the pacifist room, ie. how someone like Bonhoeffer or the Allies should have reacted to Hitler and the Nazi death camps.
That, however, stems from my own lack of imagination and not the credibility of the case for Christian pacifism which is made in the book, a case I’m not sure I have much argument against anymore.
In the end, the questions asked in A Faith Not Worth Fighting For are tough questions that I will, no doubt, continue to ask myself for years to come. If you take the time to give this book a read, and you really need to, I think you will find yourself just as challenged. Not just by the authors, but by the words of the rabbi from Nazareth we claim is our “Lord.”
A word of thanks in order to the good people at Wipf & Stock for sending me over a copy of A Faith Not Worth Fighting For and make sure you stay tuned next week for an interview with the co-editor of the book, Tripp York!
So, if the people behind Jesus Camp are looking to make a sequel, I think we may have found their source material.
Introducing Signs & Wonders Camp. It’s brought to you by the people at the other IHOP. You know, the International House of Prayer.
Like any other church camp, this camp is full of frivolity, fun, games, and worship, but unlike most other children’s camps this one has an additional, shall we say “non-traditional”, element.
Campers will learn how to perform miracles.
As I watched this video for the first time, I thought for the first couple of minutes “Seems like a pretty generic, evangelical children’s camp.”
Then around the 2:00 min mark, things took a turn for the, um, interesting.
Apparently, after teaching the elementary school children how to perform miracles, the camp then brings in sick people from the community around the camp and has the children test out their new found healing powers on the strangers.
Now, I’m not saying that God can’t or doesn’t perform miracles. Of course God can do the miraculous and I think that God does indeed continue to perform the miraculous in all sorts of ways.
However, apart from the fact that I find the idea of turning a children’s camp into a training and proving ground for the “miraculous”, this sort of thing bothers me for several reasons.
For starters, it frustrates me to no end that whenever I cast my doubt on the miraculous claims I hear about cancer being cured or the crippled rediscovering the ability to walk after being touched by a traveling snake oil salesmen evangelist, I am then accused of “doubting” or “limiting” God.
My suspicion of people like Benny Hinn or even those behind this camp stems not from a lack of faith in God, but a serious lack of faith in those claiming to be able to perform the miraculous. Too often, they have been exposed as charlatans, taking advantage of and exploiting those in need for their own gain. Certainly there are those, perhaps like the people behind this camp, that aren’t exploiting the needy. But that doesn’t lessen my suspicions.
Furthermore, emotions and perception are powerful things. Sugar pills can heal if the people taking them believe they are actual medicine. Likewise, when emotions run high in a religious setting, our perception of what is happening can be easily and powerfully skewed. So, if I doubt, it is man that I doubt, not God.
Secondly, there is a fundamental problem in the premise of this camp and the contemporary Pentecostal approach to spritiual gifts.
The gifts of the Spirit are just that.
They are given to some and therefore by definition they cannot be taught, let alone be doled out with the price of admission at church camp.
Whatever spiritual gifts we are given can and should be developed, but there seems to this mentality among those behind camps like this that real Christianity or living a full Christian life requires a believer to demonstrate, not just spiritual gifts in general, but a handful of specific spiritual gifts, namely healing and tongue speaking.
That simply is not the case and, in fact, is something Paul himself would have been very much opposed to.
In the few places (and you can count them on one hand) that the apostle does speak about these sorts of miraculous gifts, he does does with great caution and trepidation, making sure to point out that all of us are given different gifts, none of us should strive to perform gifts we have not been given, and the greatest gift of the Spirit are not miracles or “secret prayer languages” (a notion found nowhere in scripture). The greatest gift of the Spirit is love and that gift doesn’t require paying admission to a training camp.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the contemporary charismatic movement too often, but certainly now always, puts the emphasis of the gospel in the wrong place.
Jesus did come, nor did he give us his Spirit, so that we could perform magic tricks.
Jesus came so that all of creation could be saved, redeemed, and reclaimed for the kingdom of God. Our participation in this divine drama is not found primarily in the expression of charismatic gifts. It’s found in our willingness to be God’s hands and feet in the world, through whom the love, grace, forgiveness, and compassion of Jesus are incarnated to a lost and dying world.
That is where the real miracles take place.
Not in the highly orchestrated confines of a “revival” service, but in the unexpected, everyday moments of life when we have the chance to transform lives in very much the same way that Jesus transformed ours.
If for you speaking in tongues and the laying on of hands are a critical part of that life, then fine. But as you do those things, please remember these words from Paul,
“If I speak in the tonguesof men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecyand can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faiththat can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing….But where there are prophecies,they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.For we know in part and we prophesy in part,but when completeness comes,what is in part disappears.When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhoodbehind me.For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face.Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”