As I said in the title of this post, "YES, I have friends." Surprise, huh? I have a few friends who are more than aspiring artists but they are actually jumping into the deep end of the pool and risking sharing their art, perspectives, passions, and spirit with the world. Last year, our friend Deanna wrote a book based upon her reflections on the Fruit of the Spirit. That book was filled with personal antedotes of how God works in a life…how daily experiences have consequence and how the Spirit molds a life through what seems to some as the mundane! Besides being a great book, Deanna took the risk of revealing much of herself and her family by sharing with the world through her writing. That was not only praise worthy but courageous.
Then a couple of colleagues at Azusa Pacific University took a BIG BITE on the scriputres in their book, What Christians believe about the Bible. Don and Keith give an approachable overview of how to read, interpret and "trust" the applicability of the bible's truth to life. Although originally written with a more "academic" setting in mind, I found the book very readable and "recommend" worthy.
Now, I have other friends who are prolific authors…I would count Scot McKnight as a friend though we have not spent considerable time together, I communicate with him regularly via email, Twitter and Facebook. Scot's blog and books are great. Jesus Creed, The Blue Parakeet and King Jesus Gospel are all just "tastes" of Scot's ability to embrace mystery, power and transformational nature of the Bible and the Gospel of the Kingdom.
I have other great friends who are authors, speakers, teachers and mentors – Jim Burns and Alan Hirsch are among those select people who have been very influential in how God is moving in relationships and in Mission. Jim, I've know for years…he has been a friend, co-worker, traveling buddy as well as small group brother. His influence on radio, teaching and literature on kids and families is more than impressive…it is praise worthy as well. Alan, I've talked to him and emailed him regulary. He has steered me in great directions and has, informally through his writings and speaking, greatly influenced my thinking ecclesiastically and missionally. I've never met him face to face…but I would regard him as a friend. Others? NT Wright, Richard Rohr, James Dunn, Lance Ford, Peter Enns, Brennan Manning, Ortberg, Luther, Lewis…all "Friends" who continue to speak into my life.
But I have a NEW friend who is venturing into the glorious risk of revealing her heart and passion for Jesus in and through literature. If you have NEVER written anything (even a blog) every time you move your fingers over a keyboard with the intention of "publishing" your thoughts and opening your spirit to the world it is a HUGE risk. It involves courage, nerve and sometimes what I would call, "emotional naivete", meaning, that you simply don't know how people are going to respond to what your have written yet you take the risk in laying out your life for all to see. That's not for the faint in heart. Trust me, I've been encouraged, blasted, condemeneded, affirmed, and humbled in how people have responded to what I've written. I've even lost a couple of opportunities for jobs because people were able to track my intellectual and spiritual "musings" on line. I say it again, writing is NOT for the faint in heart. There is a part of each writer that I know that is more frightened than excited. Even so, when somebody has something to say…with the world of publishing changing so rapidly that an individual can release their literary efforts to the world without having to run the gauntlet of the publishing world and its restrictions…when somebody has something to say it is, again, praise worthy.
Kirsten Carlson is a friend of mine. She is intelligent and gifted. She wanted to write a book…in fact, she wants to write many in the future. She's been told good things and rotten things about what is on her heart in terms of writing. But she has what it takes to do what needs to be done in being faithful to the message that God has given to an open and willing "spokesperson"…she has the guts to get it out for people to enjoy, absorb, and critque. I read her upcoming book in its formative stages and enjoyed and was challenged by it. I'll look forward to reading it once it is in its published form simply because I want to own a part of what my friends are putting out to the world. Every person of faith that dares to share their "word" from the Holy Spirit joins the lineage of prophets and teachers throughout history who have been admired and ridiculed, heeded and ignored, listened to and persecuted. All a person with a "word" can do is get it out. That's the call of the Lord in situations like Kirsten is embracing. I admire that and look forward to how God will honor that risk. So, take a peek at her new website. The book is coming out soon. Check that out too! Yep, I do have friends and, yep, every one of them is doing work in and for God's Kingdom!