The Lengthy Process of Writing a Book

typewriter-801921_1920

Five years ago I felt like God asked me to write a book. It wasn’t something I’d ever planned on doing, but I was up for the challenge. Or so I thought. I had no idea how long of a process this would be, how many disappointments I would face, how discouraged I would get, or how much my book would change over the years.

If you’ve followed my blog for any length of time, you will know that I used to post about it often. Lately, not so much…

Originally I wanted to write the story of how I found the real Jesus (or rather how He found me) in the midst of cultic, legalistic Christianity. I was heartbroken over the many people who grew up like me, but chose to reject God.

I’m honestly glad that first book didn’t get written, because there was a prideful ring to it…kind of like, “I survived and still love Jesus. What’s your problem?” Blech!

My book changed genres over the years from Memoir to Christian Living to Cultural Commentary. I went to multiple writers conferences and even worked with a few agents unofficially. My finished book proposal still told my story, but wove it together with similar lies I saw in normal Western Christianity. It was a better book, but I still didn’t love it.

writing-828911_1920

Then I got broken. About two years ago my husband and I began going through some excruciating conflict at the church where he was a youth pastor. He ended up being asked to resign and we walked away from people and a ministry that we loved dearly. I’d never experienced pain like that…not even growing up in my cult. It nearly destroyed us. But God never lost control.

Broken myself, I began to read other people’s stories of being broken by Christianity. I was willing to hear from them, even when I didn’t agree with their conclusions. The more I read, and talked, and processed, the more I realized that the enemy wasn’t just legalism. People were being burned by normal churches and ministries just as much as they were by ultra-conservative ones. I began to see patterns emerge.

Behavior based, religious Christianity is what destroys people. The unconditional love of God gets replaced with lists of acceptable actions. People feel shame and condemnation when they fail. Hearts are ignored. The real Jesus is missing along with His scandalous grace and unconditional love. Legalistic Christianity, like I experienced in my teens, is just a piece of a bigger issue.

Church people across denominational lines hold little god-boxes filled with tradition, religious practices, and our ideas of God. We work religiously to appease these gods-in-a-box. But the real God, powerful, incomprehensible, and definitively not boxed-sized, gets forgotten.

boxes-1834406_1920 (1)

God PUT my husband and I in our current church. There’s no other way to explain it. We landed there broken and hurting, and we met Jesus. I didn’t know churches like this existed. Real people, being real about themselves, and living fully in the grace and love of a real God. We weren’t condemned, or pushed to have answers, or even encouraged to get it together. We were just accepted brokenness and all. The Jesus I encountered blew my mind! And it made me think…

What if God isn’t who we think He is? What if He is much closer and much more real that we can imagine? What if all He really wants is our hearts? What if He wants us to flourish with abundant life?

If my heart longs for this kind of God, then I know that other people are longing for Him too! With this in mind, I began to rewrite my book. I’m still sharing my story, but I’m asking a lot more questions. I’m inviting my readers to join me on a quest so that we can search together for the real Jesus.

I love this new book of mine! I’ve never felt like that before.

coffee-692560_1920.jpg

Typically I’m a very temperamental writer. But I can literally be having the most terrible day, and sit down at a coffee shop with my book, read where I left off, and start excitedly writing again. I’ve cried over each chapter.

Why am I telling you all of this? Because I’m going back to a local writers conference in a couple of weekends. There will be agents and editors to meet with again, and I will have my new book proposal. And then…who knows? I’ve been at this place many times before, and nothings happened. But that’s okay! Here we go again. πŸ™‚

And I need your help!

  • First by praying. Please pray for me as I finished tweeking my proposal and one page (mini proposal). Pray as I go to the conference that God will guide my steps and interactions.
  • And secondly by sharing. Publishers want platform…which means numbers on social media and such. I’ve come a long way since the beginning, but still have a large distance to go. You can help in a couple of ways.
    1. Share one of my blog posts that you enjoy and ask your friends to check out my blog.
    2. Like my Facebook writer page and share it with your friends.
    3. Invite your friends to like my Facebook writer page.
    4. Sign up for my email list (there is a link on my home page).

Thanks!! πŸ™‚

Ultimately, I don’t really care if now is the time for this book to be published or not. I know that God is totally in control and that His timing is perfect. I’m excited about where I am at right now with Jesus…working through things and sorting out the junk. I’m loving sharing what I discover with you. It’s a great place to be!

Name

Christian Religion is Not Enough

23517460_1930154350638006_7202778407811339848_n

I just finished a book called,Β Unveiling Grace, by Lynn K. Wilder. It’s the true story of a family finding their way out of Mormonism and into a relationship with the real Jesus. Amazingly, Lynn and her husband were converts to Mormonism as adults even though they were exposed to Christianity as children. Their story proves the burden on my heart.

Christian religion is not enough. Attending church or Sunday school is not enough. Living a “good life” is not enough.

I’m afraid the corporate American church is horribly broken.

I’ve met a lot of people lately that agree with me. People who have left, and people who have stayed. Frustrated, bitter, cynical, hurting people. It’s not okay that so many people have been damaged by an institution that is supposed to be the body of Christ!

The world, is lost…broken…dying. Have you listened to the news lately? It’s terrifying. And we, people Jesus asked to be salt and light, don’t seem to have the real answers.

salt-1073252_1920 (1)

The answer isn’t in bigger, fancier, more awesome mega churches with hip pastors, talented worship bands, fog machines, relcaimed wood stages, or trendy coffee bars.

The solution will never be found in sticking to the “old time religion,” the KJV Bible version, and whatever other standards and rules we want to impose on people.

The answer is not to focus on social justice issues. People can have equality, clean water, and physical freedom, but still spend their eternity separated from God.

The solution is not moralism. Yelling about abortion, the LGBTQ+ movement, or pornography does not show God’s love and grace. There are many very moral people who have never met Jesus.

The answer is not to become culturally relevant by discarding passages of the Bible that don’t fit with our ideology. Human reasoning and intellect is not the ultimate source of truth.

So, what is the answer? What is the solution to the brokenness within the church and within our own hearts?

“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few” Matthew 7:13-14.

Growing up, I thought this verse was talking about worldly, sinful people waltzing down the wide road of death. While good, moral, spiritual people stuck to the hard, narrow road of life. But who was Jesus talking to here? Very spiritual people who had been given the word of God. An ethnic group called “God’s chosen ones.”Β  Men who had memorized the first five books of the Bible by the time they were twelve. Yeah…

So, what is this narrow gate? This hard way? Maybe it’s not a what…maybe it’s a WHO.

“Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me‘” John 14:6.

It’s Jesus, you guys. It’s always been Jesus, and it will always be Jesus.

Jesus is the only solution to the brokenness in the church. Have you met Him? Do you know Him?

True Christianity is not a moral code, or a Sunday service, or an ideology.

  • It’s an encounter with a man who is also God.
  • It’s a door into healing and restoration of our most broken parts.
  • It’s a lifestyle because we have been changed from the inside out.

I’m afraid that there are a lot of people who sit in church on Sunday, and do their “good Christian” things, but have never met Jesus.

We can slap on some spiritual paint, add some emotional glitter, and think we are good. But, without the real Jesus, we have NOTHING.

Jesus isn’t just part of Christianity. Jesus IS Christianity.

Do you really KNOW Jesus? Do you believe that you can?

rain-20242_1920

If your version of Jesus is boring and mundane…if thinking about him makes you say, “meh,” then you haven’t met the real Jesus. If the grace of salvation seems unimpressive and dull…if you “already know everything” about it, then maybe you need to question if you really understand.

Where do you start? Have an honest look into your own heart. What does Christianity mean to you? And then seek to know Jesus. Read the gospels with childlike curiosity. Who was/is He? The answer will transform your life.

 

Name

A Rant About Christianity (and Jesus)

ID-100152073

I read a young man’s deconversion story today, and it broke me. Yup, you read that right, his deconversion, as in the story of how he decided that God wasn’t real and walked away from his beliefs. I’ve felt a lot of emotions since this morning…frustration, anger, sorrow.

Do you Β want to know why he walked away and chose to stop believing? A lot of it came down to the fact that when his life fell apart, the Christians he knew had plenty of judgement and quick answers, but not a lot of love. And the people who took him in, and loved him, and cared for him, and accepted him, were agnostics.

There is so much going through my head right now…

What would Jesus have done if this young man came to him? Would He have judged him and told him that he was being punished? Would He have given him pat answers and expected him to get back up on his feet? Nope. Β I’m pretty sure He would have held him and cried. And maybe Jesus would have talked about how much He hates the mess this broken world is in, and how He can’t wait to fix it. And probably Jesus wouldn’t have said much at all…He would have just been there.

Christianity is broken, peoples; the church is broken. Millennials are walking away from their beliefs every day and I honestly can’t say I blame them.

They are tired of empty tradition, and rules, and religion.

They are sick of condemnation, and judgement, and hypocrites.

So they leave.

Big, fancy church buildings with talented bands, dynamic speakers, and smoke machines can’t keep them either. Because Millennials see past all that. It looks like fake, and Millennials hate fake. They want honesty, authenticity, genuineness…

I sat at Starbucks today with my peppermint hot cocoa, trying not to cry in public, and jotted down thoughts, as fast as they came. Here are some of them…

How Did We Get Here? Maybe too many years of tradition, doing what has always been done. Maybe not enough people who actually know what the Bible says for themselves, so they are easily swayed by teachers/preachers. (That’s what happened with my family and Bill Gothard.) Maybe getting caught up in looking and being different (standards) instead of being caught up with the One who will make us different. Maybe fixating on building a large following (mega-church) instead of fixating on Jesus. I don’t know…I think there are a lot of reasons that Christianity is what it is today. But, there is hope! Because the church is made up of individual people, and if those people begin to love, get to know, and follow Jesus, the church can change! It will change because Jesus will change us!

What Do We Do Now?

  • Examine our hearts. Start with salvation…are we trusting in Jesus and His death alone to save us, or are we trusting in our works, our prayer, that moment we went forward, the time we raised our hand…where is your trust? Where is your faith? (John 3:16-18)
  • Get to know Jesus. Read the Bible for ourselves, not because it makes us more spiritual or to get more brownie points with God, but because we want to know who this God is and who we are as His children. Pray! Not a dry monologue, but a sincere conversation. It might be awkward at first, but it becomes amazing! Coming right to God, as His child, is one of our special privileges. πŸ™‚
  • Honestly, everything else will naturally flow out of these first things. We will be loving, grace filled people because we will see God’s amazing grace and love towards us. We will have joy because we will have experienced God’s Presence. Etc.
  • Jesus will work on us and help us to let go of selfishness, sin, and addictions. Not because we have to in order to earn something from Him, but because He loves us and wants us to be free.

It’s happening. I believe it. God is changing His people and His church. More and more people are finding a real relationship with Jesus instead of a dead religion. Jefferson BethkeΒ (I put a link to his site on his name) is a great example, with his books “Jesus>Religion” and “It’s Not What You Think”. People want what he has to say. They are hungry for more, as his large following evidences.

What Do I Want?Β More than anything else, I just want the real Jesus to be known! I want people to find a genuine, satisfying, incredible relationship with Him. I want people who called themselves Christians to become obsessed with Jesus in a whole new way. I want Christians to be known for their love. I want them to love sinners and skeptics and haters in a way that makes people think they are crazy. Because that’s how much Jesus loves us. I want people to find freedom, joy, and abundant life because of Jesus.

Thanks for reading my rant!Β I’d love to hear some of your thoughts.