Loved by Strangers

 A testimony of brokenness, healing, growth, and ministry

In evangelicalism, we have a bit of a weird tradition. Someone will share a testimony, the story of God's grace in their life, which goes into gory detail about their sinful and messed-up life prior to their encounter with Jesus, with greater and greater drama up to and through their conversion, and then pretty much finish up with, "And then I lived happily ever after."

But those of us who live the Christian life know that it's not a "happily ever after" story, and it's wrong to give people the impression that the most interesting and compelling part of their lives is the BC—Before Christ—part. Our conversion is only the beginning of a process where God is continually healing, restoring, shaping, and working through us.

My wife Cecile's memoir Loved by Strangers is a better kind of testimony. She candidly discusses her early life without Jesus, from childhood abuse, drug use, and glamour, to divorce, alcohol abuse, and the loss of everything. But she also describes how God's grace brought her to salvation, sobriety, love and remarriage, growth, the peaks and valleys of the Christian walk, and ministry to others.
All along the way,
her inspiring story offers hope that, no matter where your personal journey has brought you, you can regain joy and purpose through the mercy and power of Jesus.


Marriage, Family, and the Image of God

How God wants to bless our closest relationships and use them to make us more Christlike

In Marriage, Family, and the Image of God, I follow Jesus’ lead by going back to the creation account in Genesis to discover core truths about how and why God made marriage and parenthood the way he did. I draw upon personal experiences with my wife and children, upon general insights I have gained over 25 years of marriage and family life, and upon careful examination of relevant biblical passages. I show how our marriages and families can best be enhanced by allowing God to use them to help conform us to the image of his Son, to reflect God's image better and better throughout our lives.

From Chapter One, “In the Beginning”: “My relationship with Cecile led me to Jesus’ teaching on marriage. Jesus’ teaching led me to the Genesis account of how man and woman were made in the first place. And the Genesis account led me to recognize that marriage, family, sexuality, and the image of God were all interwoven in the plan of God for us from the very beginning. Even in Christian circles, we usually deal with these things separately—there are books on marriage, books on parenthood, books on sex, and theological studies on the image of God—but God created them all as parts of one thing. My hope is to bring them back together again. Even though this book is divided into sections that will deal with these topics in turn, we need to be reminded constantly that they are facets of a single reality that was created by God in the beginning.”

Marriage, Family, and the Image of God is now available for the Apple universe on iTunes, as well as in ePub format at Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, and other online retailers. It's also available for Kindle on Amazon, and as a paperback at CreateSpace, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other retailers.


What's Wrong with Outreach

Reexamining Evangelism, Discipleship, and the Purpose of Christian Life

Book Cover Image
The evangelical church has been trying to accomplish outreach for decades. It has organized evangelistic crusades, taught evangelism strategies, run homeless shelters, food pantries, and soup kitchens, put on concerts, sporting events, and movies to draw in unchurched people, done special service projects and outreach events, handed out bottles of water at public gatherings and conducted reverse confessionals.

All of this has been done with minimal success.

In What's Wrong with Outreach, I reexamine what the Bible actually has to say about outreach and evangelism, in the larger context of what the Christian life is supposed to be about and how the body of Christ is supposed to function. What does the Great Commission really entail? How did the church go about its remarkable expansion in the book of Acts? What do the epistles tell us about the duties of ordinary believers regarding outreach? What really is our ultimate goal as believers? What part do spiritual gifts play? What is the relationship between evangelism and discipleship? Why did the early church, and churches under persecution, grow so much more rapidly than churches that are more established and free to reach out? How can we rediscover what part outreach has to play in the larger scheme of what the overall Christian life is supposed to be?

I argue that we need to get rid of a message of guilt and shame, in which outreach is something foreign to our normal lives, something we need to "get out of our comfort zones" to engage in, and instead show how the Great Commission encompasses much more than we might have thought, and in which each person plays a role perfectly suited to his or her gifts, talents, and interests. I show how the church tends to unwittingly sabotage its own outreach efforts, and how a focus on discipleship and gifts can help us recover natural and enjoyable ways of making disciples.

Are you burned out by ever-new evangelism strategies, outreach methods, and emotional arm-twisting? Are you burdened by a load of obligation to do things that just don't seem to work for you? Are you a pastor, frustrated by a lack of growth in your congregation? Then What's Wrong with Outreach is for you.

Available for Kindle at Amazon, for Apple readers at iTunes, for Nook and other ePub readers at Barnes & Noble and Kobo, and in any ebook format at Smashwords. Print edition available at my CreateSpace Page and also at Amazon.