How to Write a “Christian” Bestseller

Counting down the top five ways to make sure your book is a “Christian” bestseller.

5.  Write about your trip to Heaven.
Note:  Bonus “cutie” points for having your blonde-haired rosy-cheeked little kid take the trip instead of you.  This is almost fool-proof.  Seriously.  Who is going to dare to stand side-by-side with a darling little boy and even insinuate that this might not be true??!

4. Write about your trip to Hell.
Note:  No bonus “cutie” points for sending your kid, instead of you, on this one.

3. Put the words “Purpose Driven” in the title.
Note: It doesn’t really matter what the book is about… these words are gold!

2. Give operating instructions on the vending-machine God, detailing the proper incantations in order to receive health, wealth and happiness.
Note: Bonus points for blaming “lack of faith” for any spells that don’t work.  The ensuing self-imposed guilt feelings will probably also reduce your risk of lawsuit.

1. Completely re-define the nature of God, and salvation, and Heaven and Hell; but do it in a work of fiction so that no one can say you are poisoning the minds of unsuspecting Christians with false doctrine.  
Note: For bonus cross-cultural and femaninst points, make sure you portray God as a black woman.

Follow these and you’ll quickly be on your way to a successful “Christian” writing career!

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Ultimate Questions

ultimatequestionsI spent some time this morning recording myself going through the booklet, Ultimate Questions, by John Blanchard.  (Sorry for the rather poor sound quality… that’s what you get for using the built in camera and mike! )  I have a dear friend who was expressing some interest in Christianity a couple of weeks ago, and I sent her one of these.  Our church gives them out to people who have questions or show an interest in knowing more.  I highly recommend it.  It’s an excellent introduction that hits all the high points and is only 30 pages long.

I split the 12 questions from the book into 5 short videos. You can chain through them all by watching for the “Next Video” button near the end of each.

Video 1

  • 1. “Is anyone there?” (Is there a God?)
  • 2. “Is God speaking?” (The reliablity of the Bible as the Word of God.)

Video 2

  • 3. “What is God like?” (The nature of God.)

Video 3

  • 4. “Who am I?” (Human creation and nature.)
  • 5. “What went wrong?” (The fall of mankind into sin.)
  • 6. “Is sin serious?” (What does it mean to say that I, personally, am a sinner?)

Video 4

  • 7. “Where do I go from here?” (The eternal prison called “Hell.”)
  • 8. “Can Religion help?” (Hint: nope.)
  • 9. “Is there an answer?” (Hint: YES!)

Video 5

  • 10. “Why the cross?” (What happened when Jesus died on the cross and rose again?)
  • 11. “How can I be saved?” (Answer: repentance from sin, and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ … simple, and yet impossibly hard.)
  • 12. “Which way now?” (What to do after you’ve been saved.)

(These are the individual links:
youtu.be/U-VX5NhIDMo
youtu.be/3JDBVZnaWIw
youtu.be/OeCLyJtdfb0
youtu.be/YKaBv-4R_ag
youtu.be/Stj76nYH9IE)

Counterfeits

50 counterfit 1Take a look at this picture.  Which is the real $50 bill, and how do you know?

When you think about a simple question like this it become obvious that the only way you know the true from the false is through familiarity.  No one who has ever looked at a real $50 bill could ever be tricked into thinking that Monopoly money was the real thing.

The same is true with Christianity. The only thing that will keep you from being taken in by something that, on the surface, might seem “similar” to Christianity–such as Mormonism, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Roman Catholicism, and liberal so-called “denominations” that have thrown the Bible out the window–is a deep familiarity with the Bible.

You cannot spot the fake till you know what the REAL should look like.

Have you been fooled into thinking something is Christianity when it’s not, or that someone was a Christian when they aren’t? A friend recently shared some music with me by an artist who claimed to have had a “religious” experience.  Curious, I went all over the internet to learn more.  In talking about her experience, she was using the name “Jesus” and the word “protestant,” so it was easy to see how that could lead someone down the path of thinking she might be a Christian.  But it didn’t take much digging at all to find that this artist approves of and promotes homosexuality.

It is only because I am familiar with the Bible’s teaching on homosexuality that I know that those who engage in it, or give their approval to those who engage in it, are not Christians, but remain enemies of God.  Here’s the text:

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them…

For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error

Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them...

We know that the judgment of God rightly falls on those who practice such things. Do you suppose, O man—you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself—that you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.

Romans 1:18-19, 26-27, 32; 2:2-5

50 counterfit 2God’s word gives us a clear view of the signs we will see in those who do not belong to Him.  We can use this as a point by point comparison that will save us from being fooled by counterfeits of Christianity:

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality,  nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 

1 Corinthians 6:9-10

God’s word also gives those of us who claim to be Christians a command to “examine” ourselves to see whether or not we are in the faith (2 Corinthians 13:5).  The book of First John tells us, near it’s end, that it has a very important purpose in the midst of God’s word:

I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life.

1 John 5:13

As you read through the book of First John, you will find many tests that you can apply to yourself to see whether or not you are genuinely a Christian.  Todd Friel preaches an amazing sermon on this very thing that you can listen to for free.  I hope that you will actually listen to it more than once and look inside your own heart to see if you are the real thing, or a piece of paper Monopoly money… because if you are false, you may fool everyone around you, but you cannot fool God.

The scariest passage in the Bible, without a doubt, is the one painted by Jesus of the Day of Judgment. He says there will be a great crowd of people who sincerely believe they are Christians. They will say to Him “Lord, Lord…” But He will reply, “Depart from me, I never knew you, you workers of lawlessness,” (Matthew 7:22-23).

Make a “New Year’s Resolution” to read one of the gospels this month… you can do it.  Try the book of Mark.  If you can’t find your dusty Bible anywhere, then listen to it online. Just follow this link and then click on the little “speaker” button to listen to the first chapter.

Become familiar with the REAL so that you can’t be deceived.

“Becoming a Christian” versus “Becoming a Republican”

This article has nothing to do with politics… so if that’s why you came, you might as well leave.

No.  This has to do with how one goes about becoming a genuine Christian.

Over the past ten years or so I have seen SO MANY people —  whom I LOVE — who have claimed for years to be Christians — seemingly change their minds and go into perpetual lifestyles that are contrary to the Bible.  Some of them have made public proclamations that they no longer believe in God/the Bible/Jesus/ etc.  Some still mentally agree with the principles, but they are just not living them out in their lives.  One still goes to church and yet lives another life outside church.  One in particular has gone completely into atheism, and is very angry at all the false claims she feels Christianity made to her.  Several have just slipped into apathy.  Several have committed adultery on their spouses.  Several have now divorced their spouses.  A very large number are now living in sexual relationship with someone they are not married to.  Some have children out of wedlock.

Now, some of you who are reading this may be familiar with the subject of “false conversion.”  (If not, you can listen to a brilliant message about it here:http://www.livingwaters.com/learn/trueandfalse.htm.)  However, when I have tried to explain this concept to some of my friends, I have been met with everything from blank stares to outright denial that anyone could be a false convert.

Very recently it struck me why this is.  Many people view the process of “becoming a Christian” as very similar to that of “becoming a Republican.”

Here are the steps:

1.  Learn what Republicans believe.
2.  Agree with the tenants of Republicanism (whatever those might be?).
3.  Mark your voting registration card “Republican.”
4.  Start proclaiming yourself to be a Republican.
5.  Live as a Republican.

Ok… Maybe I missed a few steps in there.  Like, you might have to start watching Fox News religiously, or maybe you have to like Rush Limbaugh… or chant “drill, baby, drill”… or whatever.  The point is, that if you do those things, you can consider yourself a Republican.

Here are the steps that many think make you a Christian:

1.  Learn what Christians believe.
2.  Agree with the tenants of Christianity.  (Jesus was God.  He died for sinners on the cross.  Bad is bad.  Good is good.)
3.  Go through a ceremony.  (In some circles you repeat a prayer, in others you couple that with baptism… etc.)
4.  Start proclaiming yourself to be a Christian.
5.  Live as a Christian.

And just like the other, I may have missed a few steps in there.  Like, you might have to put a fish bumper sticker on your car, or maybe you have to listen only to Christian radio stations… or wear a WDJD wrist band… or go out evangelizing every Friday night… or whatever.  The point is, that if you do those things, you can consider yourself a Christian.

Right?  That’s how it’s done… isn’t it?

This is why the subject of “false conversion” absolutely makes NO SENSE to this one girlfriend of mine.  All these people we know did all those steps, and by definition that made them Christians.  Right?  Right?  Right?  …No.  Because that is not AT ALL how one becomes a Christian.

Perhaps I’ve gone too far in saying that.  You do  need to learn what Christians believe, and obviously you need to agree with that.  However mental knowledge and accent cannot save you, me, or anyone else.  One of these friends who committed adultery on his spouse was an ordained minister who had many years of Bible College under his belt.  Believe me, he has plenty of Bible knowledge… Oh yeah… he’s got a big fat head full of Bible knowledge… and ZERO understanding of genuine salvation.  James tells us that even the demons BELIEVE… and shudder.

Becoming a Christian is nothing like becoming a Republican because is is not about mentally agreeing with a set of facts or morality codes.  It is about a miraculous work that is done from start to finish by God alone.

When someone is genuinely saved, God, Himself, takes the bitter, sin-darkened, vile, hard, crusty, lifeless heart (or “soul” if you will) out of a person.  And in it’s place He inserts a brand new, sparkling, living heart.  The dead shell now takes its first gasping breath and comes to life.  New eyes open for the first time to peer out of that face… new ears listen… a new mouth speaks.  New.  New.  New.  New life.  New birth.  The old has gone, the new has come.  This was not done by a human being’s weak, puny brain mentally choosing one lifestyle philosophy over another.  This was done by God, and it is MIRACULOUS.

This is part of the reason I don’t like bringing unbelievers to church.  I’m afraid they might LIKE it.  I’m desperately afraid they might enjoy the teaching, be entertained by the music, learn to love the people, and begin to change their lives to match this new, beautiful, lifestyle philosophy.  …And then die and go to Hell forever.

Imagine this cruel trick.  You invite ten friends over to try a new, knock-your-socks-off, candy.  To nine of them, you give a shiny red jawbreaker that is the absolute best thing they’ve ever put in their mouths.  But to one of them, you give a shiny red marble.  They all put it in their mouths.  Nine people are raving about how wonderful this is.  One person is wondering why he is not having the same experience.  Maybe, as in The Emperor’s New Clothes, the one person will feel peer pressure enough to nod his head in agreement with the exclamations of the nine.  Maybe the one will go along with it, learning to say the same things as the others. Maybe he will think that he just needs to lick it more, or wait a little longer, or bite it … or … or …

One girl I knew in college spit that tasteless marble out and screamed in anger that she was tired of being tricked and she wasn’t going to play this idiotic game anymore!  A few of the others I have known and loved have spit the marble out and kept it in a safe place nearby.  It’s kind of become a treasured relic — a magic they know was supposed to work… but never seemed to work for them.

In the same way there are literally thousands and thousands of people in the churches of the world, who have agreed mentally with the philosophy of Christianity.  They have gone through the required ceremony.  They are now proclaiming themselves to be Christians.  And for many of them they will perhaps go their whole lives with that marble in their mouth, trying to say all the things they think they are supposed to say, but knowing nothing of the miraculous re-birth… never really tasting salvation.

I am desperate for those I love to know that you don’t become a Christian the same way you become a Republican.  Christianity is not a moral lifestyle philosophy that one adopts or agrees with.  It is something else.  It is a transformation not done by human minds or wills, but by God.

Cry out to God to change you!  See your sin for what it is!  Tell him you are dead and need HIS LIFE to be poured into your veins!  Repent in tears!  Beg Jesus to cover your filth with his precious blood, cleansing you forever, making you the adopted child of God!  Beg God to save you… and don’t stop begging till you KNOW He has given you the REBIRTH of your soul.  Don’t stop until you KNOW you have been changed into a new creation with new desires.

For more information on salvation please go to:

http://www.needGod.com/