A Book: Introduction

“Before I shaped you in the womb,
    I knew all about you.
Before you saw the light of day,
    I had holy plans for you:
A prophet to the nations—
    that’s what I had in mind for you.” – Jeremiah 1:5 MSG

“Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out;
    you formed me in my mother’s womb.
I thank you, High God—you’re breathtaking!
    Body and soul, I am marvelously made!
    I worship in adoration—what a creation!
You know me inside and out,
    you know every bone in my body;
You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit,
    how I was sculpted from nothing into something.
Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth;
    all the stages of my life were spread out before you,
The days of my life all prepared
    before I’d even lived one day.” – Psalm 139:13-16 MSG

“But you are the ones chosen by God, chosen for the high calling of priestly work, chosen to be a holy people, God’s instruments to do his work and speak out for him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference he made for you—from nothing to something, from rejected to accepted.” – 1 Peter 2:9-10

The noise of the over-sized box fans was overwhelmed by “We Exalt Thee” being played over the loudspeakers by the worship band. Monday had been a night for re-dedication, Tuesday for Baptism in the Holy Spirit, but tonight. . . Wednesday night was focused on calling, on service, on what we, as 11 and 12-year-olds, would “do” for God. I felt a strong urge, stronger than I had ever felt, to go forward to that physical place at the front of the meeting hall of both sacrifice and commitment. It wasn’t the speaker’s influence but rather something very external turned incredibly internal. In that moment I felt a gentle, yet powerful nudge by my loving Father to be one of the first, lead by example, and approach the six-foot-tall stage in that open camp pavilion – full intentions unknown.

Unlike the previous two nights, there were no counselors urging, helping, encouraging, praying. It was just me and God. . . But now that I think about it there might have been camp counselors, pastors, priests, popes there! I simply do not remember. All I know is that in that time, in that hot Georgia, mid-June, summer-camp night when all I seemingly cared about was our cabin winning the team award for the week, I was simply rocked by God. And it only took five quiet and simple words – “You work for me now” – none of them more than four letters; the Speaker more powerful than the spoken. Even as I sit here and type those unassuming words, I become emotional. They have taken on so many different facets over the years, but it all started at that Assemblies of God camp in Forsyth, GA almost 30 years ago.

The following is not written this as a success or failure story, but rather as a continuing journey through life one experience at a time. In my life, I haven’t been overtly successful. I have had successes, but I have also had terrible failures. What matters is those five words. That is the litmus test for everything that I do. It seems really simple – it seemed really simple at the time. It seemed as though, when that 12 year old boy heard God speaking, the path was set – a path of lifetime dedication in the local church to a profession of pastor.

A Book: Preface

What you are about to read (over the next several months) is completely unfinished. There is a purpose for it to be this way – representing who and what I am. It is also very difficult to classify what I am about the journey I am about to embark on. It is hopefully (you will see why I say hopefully in a minute instead of being definitive) a continuing, evolutionary approach that will prove useful in some method and also provide a value to both the author and reader.

This thing I am about to introduce you to – let’s just call it A Book for right now – will be approached a bit differently. Instead of writing a manuscript and then editing the manuscript and then publishing the final work and then updating it to a second publishing (blah, blah, blah), it will be creating using an iterative (or “Agile”) approach. What this means is:

  • Every chapter will be released as it is completed.
  • Every chapter release will be scripted, edited (sort of, and hopefully), and formatted before hitting my blog.
  • Each chapter will be building on the previous and will be “mostly” complete; adding to the book over the next months or year.
  • I might go back and make slight changes to the wording or grammar or even structure, but will not change the message and intent (this is called refactoring).
  • Each chapter will be called an increment.
  • It will not be perfect, but I hope it will be valuable.
  • At any time I could write a conclusion and just be done. I want to make sure this is helping someone. I do not want to write a book just to say I wrote a book.

This is an experiment for me and will be a very open and, sometimes, vulnerable process.  There are multiple reasons for writing this and multiple possible outcomes based on multiple variables.  If you hate A Book, feel free to “change the channel,” per se.  If you like what you are reading and it provides some help or value to you, please let me know.  And finally, if you believe that you can help me make this better, I long for your feedback!

Some may ask why I am writing this book, this set of ideas, this blog-gone-crazy.  Throughout my life I have found that others might have gone through situations that help me.  They probably overcame/succeeded in a completely different way than what I what have done.  Or maybe they didn’t succeed (that can be helpful to know about too)!  The point is that their experience in the very attempt was and is extremely valuable.  I think my life represents this idea as I have had my number of successes and failures alike.  My hope for this work is that someone might either benefit from my failures or my successes, but in the least, know where and Who to find the answers.

All that being said – let’s just jump right into it, shall we?