The Value of Slow Starts

How would you feel if you were told that you’d be interviewed on live TV? Some of you would be excited, but most of us would start freaking out.

Earlier this week, as I sat down on set of “Focus Today,” the host said “Get ready for the fastest twelve minutes of your life.” Quick mic check, some adjustments on my chair, and we were off and running. Twelve minutes later, I agreed – that went really fast.

Watch the interview here – begins at 25:45

But it was also a lot easier than I thought it would be. Instead of being a nervous wreck, I slept well the night before and genuinely enjoyed my time on the air. In fact, it was easier than my call-in radio interviews because we were interacting face to face. And it feels like this local-TV interview, helped prepare me for future interviews.

This is important for me to remember because I hate slow starts. I want to go straight to the BIG THING. I feel silly admitting this to you, but I had fantasies of Radically Normal exploding out of the gates. So far, nothing is going as fast as I want it to. But perhaps God is moving things at the perfect pace. When I think about it, his timing has always been perfect, even if his plan makes more sense in hindsight than in the moment.

Playing our part

That is not to say that God just wants us to sit on our hands and wait for him to make the pieces fall into place. I’ve been actively pursuing every opportunity I can because I know he expects me to play my part.

This is how I see it: Back in Mount Vernon, someone had put up over 100 posters for a certain lost dog. On one hand, there was nothing the owners could do to make that dog come home. Not even 100,000 posters would guarantee success. Yet, without those posters, the chances of their collarless dog being returned dropped to nearly zero. They had to do their part, but the final outcome was not in their hands.

Likewise, Marilyn and I knew I wouldn’t be able to get radio and TV interviews without some help (I’d already tried). So we decided to hire a publicist, Don Otis of Veritas Communications, for an eight-month contract. While this isn’t cheap, we believe it was vital in order to reach a national audience with the message of Radically Normal. So far he has gotten me about dozen interviews (some of them nationally syndicated) and more come every week.

There is a part that you can play…

But it’s not enough to say that we do our part and God does his. We are also dependent on one another. Many of you have already helped us find speaking opportunities and places to stay. Others have prayed for us and helped us with the book launch. Now I want to ask you to prayerfully consider helping us with the cost of our publicist. The total cost will be about $2,750 over the next eight months.

Marilyn and I believe that many in the church need to be freed from the guilt of obsessive Christianity. We believe in it so much that we’ve decided to drive around the country for a year and spend some of our limited resources to hire a publicist. We’d be very grateful if you could add even more generosity to what you’ve already done.

All you need to do is visit our GoFundMe page: http://www.gofundme.com/radicallynormal. Here you’ll be able to make a contribution via credit card as well as view the “thank you gifts” we are offering. And please repost the page to your friends on Facebook too!

To the glory of God and the joy and the saints!

Josh Signature, Blue

Asking for Prayer (It’s a good thing)

Hi friends!

God has brought an amazing opportunity: Logos Bible Software will be offering free downloads of my book to Logos and Vyrso users and they’re including it in their “Monthly Freebie” email (join that email list here), which goes out to over half a million readers. On top of all that, they’ve offered to feature me as their “Author of the Month.” Wow.

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So why am I excited to give out so many free copies of my book?

I once told a friend that I wish I could give my book to every pastor in America because that would be the best way to get its message to the people in the pews. Most Logos users are in the ministry, so this basically allows me to do just that, but without cost to me.

That said, can you please be in prayer for all this? Pray that everything work like it’s supposed to, that lots of pastors download my book and that they read it!

I’ll keep you posted on how it works out.

[May it all be] To the glory of God and the joy of the saints!

Josh Signature, Blue

The Book I’ve Waited Two Years to Read

I am a big fan of Dorothy Sayers’ Lord Peter Wimsey novels.  There are few better ways to spend a weekend than following His Lordship around 1920’s London as he solves some murder or another. Aside from the pleasure of the stories and characters, part of delight is knowing how limited the supply is; the last Wimsey story was published in 1939.

Over two years ago, I bought a story I hadn’t read yet, Unnatural Death, but between pastoring, Starbucks, and writing Radically Normal, I didn’t have any time for “fun” reading. I promised myself then that once Radically Normal was done, I would read Unnatural Death. Since then, I have found a little more time for reading, but I still have left that book untouched, saving it as a reward for my labors.

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It is hard for me to believe that in three week, I will finally be able to read it. We are in the homestretch and it won’t be much longer at all. A little sooner than planned, in fact. In order to have more time to pursue endorsements, my editor and I decided to move my deadline forward to November 18th.

Things are still on schedule. I have several readers finishing up my early version and I just finished the appendices last week. This week, I will begin the second to last round of edits. Don’t ask how many rounds there have been, because I have lost count. Of course, my work won’t be done once I send in my the manuscript. Then it will be time to take off my “author” hat and put on my “marketer” hat. But first, I’ll have a book to read.

Wishing you a merry Radically Normal Christmas!

I am convinced that one of the most important ways to have a Biblical, God-honoring Christmas is to have a lot of fun. [1]

Really. Stick with me for while I explain.

On one hand, it is normal (as in “the ‘normal’ tendency to undervalue God”) for Christmas to be all about celebrating: Food, drink, presents, more drinks, and a staggering credit card to show for it.

On the other hand, it is radical (as in the “‘radical” tendency to undervalue this life”) to make Christmas only about Jesus. Am I the only Christian who gets nervous every time I hear someone say “Let’s put Christ back in Christmas”? I worry that “they” won’t be happy until Christmas is nothing but Christ.

In contrast to that, it is radically normal for Christmas to so thoroughly intertwine celebration and Jesus that we don’t know where one ends and the other begins. Nor do we care.

Buried in all of the OT laws about what not to eat and how to deal with mildew in your house are instructions on how to have a great party. For instance:

And Nehemiah, who was the governor, and Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, “This day is holy to the LORD your God; do not mourn or weep.” For all the people wept as they heard the words of the Law. Then he said to them, “Go your way. Eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions to anyone who has nothing ready, for this day is holy to our Lord. And do not be grieved, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.” (Nehemiah 8:9-10 ESV)

“This is holy day,” God says, “so have a great time! Have some prime rib, break out the port!” This theme is repeated again and again: Festival after festival, holy day after holy day, are filled with celebration. We have 10 legal holiday and 4 non-legal ones; Israel had 28. It makes one wonder, why does God command so many parties?

First, who doesn’t want their kids to have fun? The best part of parenting is not making them do their chores or disciplining them. It is when those things are done and we get to play with them or watch them play with each other.

Second, the festivals were designed to associate joy with God. Because joy comes from God, happiness, in its own right, is God-honoring and has the power to draw us to God. This is how I see it: God knows that we cannot fathom the eternal joy of himself, so he gives us earthly joy not as a substitute, but as sample. A good Christmas celebration will be a good sample of joy in God.

Sadly, most people think that God is dull and Satan fun, but a good radically normal Christmas will dispel that notion.

It is a damnable heresy that removes tangible joy from our faith. In our day and age, Satan has led more people astray with this nonsense than better defended doctrines. If people don’t find it in God and his channels, they will go elsewhere.

There is a lot more to be said about this subject (in fact I will be preaching about it on Sunday), but I say all this wish you a truly merry Christmas!

 


[1] This is an abbreviated version of my Christmas sermon: http://bit.ly/tgmv181

Book update

Has it really been a month since my last post? My goal is bi-weekly, but life happens, doesn’t it?

In this case, life has included being a pastor, making a lot of lattes, enjoying being husband and father more than I ever have, AND working on Radically Normal (I have dropped “The” and “Christian” from the title, made it too long). I am just about done preaching through the main ideas of the book , which has forced me to keep the material more practical than theoretical.

You can read or listen to the sermons on my church’s website: www.tgcconline.com.

Along with that, I have been working on a book proposal and learning about the industry. Turns out, publishers and agents don’t really want to be sent completed manuscripts, they want a proposal, which provides them with the gist of the book as well as some sample chapters.

So here is the current plan: I am taking two weeks of vacation (from the church, not Starbucks) at the end of the year to complete the book proposal, then I will start looking for an agent. At the same time, I will also work on building my “platform,” getting my name out there in the internet world.

If you have any connections or suggestions in this process, I am all ears!

Josh