Thank you to all the wonderful folks who inquired about my first ever book "Two Minute Warning....Handbook of Effective Christianity for the 4th Quarter of Life". It is always intriguing when someone you know quite well does a project like this, or a music cd or even a short movie! I am blessed to be a part of your lives, my dear friends! I wish to explain more of the story behind this book, some of which is in the opening chapters of the book.
I first seriously began writing children's stories while living in Hartford, Connecticut in the early 1990's right around the time Vicki and I had our first child - Bernie III. At that time, we were teaching about 20 beautiful children at Immanuel Congregational Church (directly opposite Mark Twain's house were he actually wrote Huck Finn etc. on Farmington Avenue). I had a puppet show starring a talking wolf head named Woffie and a short fat clam, with no name!
We were so blessed by these children, it shaped our lives!! This church is the opposite of what we believe then AND now! It is part of the United Church of Christ, the most liberal mainline church in America and the only one to sanction "gay marriage". We went there for about three years for two reasons - it was around the corner and secondly, we could not find an Evangelical church anywhere within moderate driving distance in 1990. The sermons we heard were shocking....mainly anti-military; anti-Ronald Reagan etc...even pro-abortion! From the pulpit!! So when we were offered a chance to teach church school DURING the service we jumped at it!
The first thing we noticed was these kids had no clue who Jesus is/was/is...or as Jesus said "before Abraham was, I AM!!" We had the privilege over almost all of those three years to teach the same kids about Him and His Word! We saw lives transformed, even at that age! I wish I could see some of those kids now to see how their lives turned out. Most of them were from elitist latchkey homes, or the inner city. This put a fire in me to write a book....but about what?
Over the past 14 plus years, I had many starts and frustrating stops. I began to wonder if I would ever realize my lifelong dream to write a book. I grew up the son of a school principal and government education officer who refused to have a TV in the house! Therefore I discovered the love of books from an early age. By the age of 10, I had already read biographies on Beethoven, Dickens etc. In my twenties, I would read one book per week...any book. If it was on a shelf and it was NOT a Harlequin romance, I read it!haha
But here I was all through the corrupt 1990's, across the bridge to the 21st century. I could teach 20 kids in a century old church basement or adults in a Springfield, Il. Sunday School class, but could not write or even read a book past the first couple of chapters!
This all changed on September 7, 2001! Dr. Joe White, a man I had never heard of before that night, walked out of the thundering darkness in the Conseco Fieldhouse. This was at Promise Keepers in Indianapolis and he was carrying a huge telephone pole across the ground floor, up to the stage. He proceeded to hue a Cross out of that huge log and nail it together with foot long nails. All the while he narrated a story of what a Roman crossbuilder may have seen while he prepared this execution device for a Nazarene preacher named Jesus!
Every nail Joe pounded, every swing of the hammer, bore into the very depth of my soul. It was me pounding those nails into Jesus. I could not bear it much longer. Joe made an invitation after he had prayed the Martyr's prayer and the great testimony by Pastor Shadrach Meschach Lockeridge! Joe was talking directly to me! I wrote down my sins on a piece of paper, came off the bleachers into the game and Joe nailed my paper full of sins to the Cross. It was the first and only altar call I ever answered. Tomorrow's post will describe my face to "FACE" actual Encounter with the Living Christ at 3am CDT on Monday August 16, 1988, but this was my first face to face with myself, broken in front of the Cross.
This is what Jesus was waiting on! This changed everything, my dear friends! Next, in June 2002 at the Southern Baptist Convention, Dr. James Merritt was the outgoing SBC president. His farewell message was based on 2 Timothy 4: 7 (KJV) "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith".
That sermon pointed out the urgency of my remaining years and what this verse really means. I resolved to do something about it. All the while, the Lord was preparing me. Right about that time, Dr. Jerry Falwell wrote a nice piece in the Liberty Journal on 4th Quarter ministry...which really clicked something in me! Then my brother in Christ, the former head of the Springfield Fellowship of Christian Athletes and former Atlanta Falcon linebacker Bryan Mckenzie, brought something called Men's Fraternity to us in Springfield!
We jumped right into "the Great Adventure". Dr. Robert Lewis (http://www.mensfraternity.org/) is the creator and teacher of Mens Fraternity. This teaching propelled me into the Greatest Adventure I have ever had in my life! In fact when I met Dr. Lewis last year in Greensboro, North Carolina, at the 2006 Southern Baptist Convention, he took one look at me and said "you're living the Great Adventure, aren't you!!!" Yes, sir!
For many years, I collected a massive folder of clippings and research. It was so huge, you could not miss it on my bookshelf! I had no idea what my book could even be about. Then last September 2006 I sat down to write finally. Guess what? The folder was nowhere to be found!! In almost one entire year, we still have not found it! I began to write on Fourth Quarter Christians, midlife Crisis and other things together with my testimony. Then for the next four months, I had the biggest writer's block ever! But the Lord was still working!!
I had sought out my hero, Dr. Joe White! After sending him the two totally unedited chapters, he endorsed the book!! This was the Hand of God again. First the missing folder, now Joe White, the same man responsible for me standing on the playing field right now! Some people's heroes are politicians, movie stars or musicians. My heroes are sold out, submitted, solid, servants of the Savior Jesus Christ....like Joe White!! He has become a real friend and brother in Christ!
In the meantime, I had a publisher, lost a publisher, got a book contract from PublishAmerica, refused a contract from PublishAmerica and then decided to selfpublish with the largest Christian publishers in the entire world - Xulon Press! God finally got a hold of the entire book in January 2007. Three people, including my wife, independently confronted me and told me to write the book or drop it!! I sat down to fulfill my dream.
From snowstormy days in February and the next ten weeks, I sat in front of this computer, driven, with eyes wide open....and I mean open! I was up writing as He poured His Spirit and the words out of me sometimes until 3am to 5am, several times weekly...only to have to go to work at 7am! The insights from Scripture He gave me, I still read and marvel at! Not at just the Scripture and the teaching out of it, but just the fact He would use me! ME! A nobody, a non-seminary trained little guy just muddling through life....1 Corinthians 1:27 (KJV) says "But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty".
After a month of rereading and vetting by my dear brother at work, John Woolridge and myself, I submitted the manuscript. Even now, I can still find a few typos or missed grammatical errors, none of which affects any of the content, praise God!! But the Mighty Hand of the Lord is undeniable in this! He allowed many people to respond to my outreach for input in His book. Dr. Steve Farrar allowed me to ask him five questions and let me use his books as reference. Joni Eraeckson Tada and Friends allowed me unbelievable access to their president, Doug Mazza, the former CEO of Hyundai NA. I got to meet, via email, a retired professor from St Louis, who is an expert on Existentialism. We are totally opposites in faith, but got along great! The chapter on Legacy led me to a long distance relation of President Abraham Lincoln! Now you see why I said God wrote this book! He just used me!
Over the next few weeks, I will post various overviews of themes discussed in the 312 pages of the book (in total). You will see how entirely comprehensive the Holy Ghost allowed me to make this discourse and why it is called a Handbook! Thank you again for allowing me to tell this amazing story and the continuing Great Adventure which I am still living in! Like all adventures, we experience severe bad weather, valleys, snakes and ambushes.....but He who is in me, is greater than he who is in the world!! AMEN!!
So why did I write this book? Well, I did so that anyone who wants to, can come on in and join in this - the biggest and most joyful adventure ever - Life with Christ!!