Monday, May 24, 2010

Book Bums Tues. Night

Being a first-time author, I have very little experience on the "press" side of things. I did an interview in Pittsburgh a few days ago with the Cornerstone TV Network that will air this coming Friday.  My publicist has booked three local book signings in the Cincinnati area. Those are much more scary than TV and radio interviews. I have to think most authors are introverts. Book signings are very...intimate.

That said, I'd love to have a few friendly faces drop by for the first one tomorrow (Tuesday) night. You don't have to buy a book...just hang out with me and help me make uncomfortable small talk with strangers. It's at a newer coffee shop in West Chester called Book Bums. I'll be doing some readings and book give-a-ways between 6pm-8pm. The address is 8992 Cincinnati Dayton Road in West Chester, OH.

I'll also be at Joseph Beth Booksellers (Rookwood) and Barnes & Noble (West Chester) in June. I should say that it has been very cool how much local bookstores have supported Between Two Kingdoms. Books-a-Million, Barnes & Noble and Joseph Beth are all carrying it locally.

I'm also teaching this weekend for my friends at Eastside Christian Church in Milford. Feel free to drop by if you live way over there on the other side of the world. (You Vineyard-ites aren't going to want to miss the final weekend of the PRAY series this weekend though. I'm very excited about what it could mean for our future...)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Sin, The Cross and The Basileia of God

My apologies for falling a little behind on my commentary on After You Believe: Why Christian Character Matters. Since a total of zero of you seemed to notice, I have assumed you guys aren't waiting with bated breath for a prompt weekly update. I'm reading more books at the same time these days - it's the revolutionary wonder of having an e-reader. Now I read like I watch TV shows on my DVR - a little here, a little there and never the same one back to back. That to say, I am finding I need to be in a certain mindset to properly enjoy this book. I finished chapter 4, The Kingdom People and the People Prepared, yesterday on my flight. Here are my thoughts:

My ultimate buzz words are "Kingdom" and "story." Those words make my heart race. So this chapter heading was very appealing to me...

Again, Wright seems to restate his theme for the book in this chapter:

Referencing the purpose behind the Sermon on the Mount he says, "God's future is arriving in the present, in the person and work of Jesus, and you can practice, right now, the habits of life which will find their goal in the coming future." Wright has done in the first half of this book what I had hoped he would do: He has linked individual virtue/morality with the true and central message of Jesus - the coming of the "basileia" of God - the word we translate "Kingdom" that unfortunately (in a textual sense) means something bigger and broader than how we normally use that word in the English language.

We are being formed now for life in the God's Basileia because we have been and will be given authority from God. We need to be trusted to become worthy priests and rulers.

The theology of the Cross in this chapter is particularly useful.  Wright simply says, "there is no demarcation between Jesus's kingdom-announcement and his approaching death." Or again, "...the main purpose for his death and resurrection was to establish the kingdom he had already begun to inaugurate." I line up with Wright here - a position that has drawn him into several controversies around the doctrines of justification and propitiation. Wright (in his other writings) doesn't deny those doctrines, but puts them in secondary position behind the Basileia message. The cross, then, isn't primarily about your individual sins being forgiven. It is primarily about Jesus receiving and bringing the Kingdom through the way of death and resurrection...thereby making a way for your individual salvation within the reality of God's present and coming reign. And setting a pattern for your rebirth - death and resurrection. In short, neither the Cross nor the Kingdom are about you. They are about God.

Or he puts it this way...using both of my magic words:

"Kingdom and cross belong together. The whole story is the whole story. And it is within that whole story, not within some truncated version, that Jesus's call to a new-creation kind of virtue makes the sense which it does."

In this context then, sin is still a major problem. It becomes the disease of humanity which must be dealt with swiftly in order for the Basileia to come. And here we get to the part of the gospel that is nearly impossible for North American evangelicals like me to understand - that the gospel isn't about dealing with your sin so that you go to heaven when you die. The gospel is about Jesus dealing with our sin so that he can deliver to us (as God's rulers and priests) a new heaven to a new earth.

Friday, May 14, 2010

God of Mirth

We discussed childlike faith last night at my small group. Through the magic powers of technology, I downloaded Chesterton's Orthodoxy on my Kindle during the prayer time so that I could read this quote:

A child kicks its legs rhythmically through excess, not absence, of life. Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, "Do it again"; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough... It is possible that God says every morning, "Do it again," to the sun; and every evening, "Do it again," to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike: it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.

Chesteron was a huge influencer on me through my years of intense seeking. It was after reading Orthodoxy for the first time that I started writing what became Between Two Kingdoms - not with the idea of publishing a book someday, but with the hope of more fully understanding this God of Mirth. I think often as I pray that perhaps God is eternally younger than me. He has not been aged or weathered by sin. He can be wise, ancient and eternal while also full of the life, vitality and the joy of a child. 

Perhaps one of the reasons that Jesus says we must receive the Kingdom as a child is because it is the only way to recognize the true nature of the eternally young Father.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010


Between Two KingdomsIt has been a few months since my book, Between Two Kingdoms, was released. I didn’t want my blog to turn into an ongoing commercial for the book, so I have tried to remain largely silent about it here on Rebel Pilgrim, but I thought a short update might be appropriate…

As of today, Standard Publishing has provided free book club/small group discussion questions for B2K. They can be downloaded from their website at One of my hopes for B2K is that it will promote fresh discussions about life in the Kingdom of God. If you are part of a book club or a small group/house church looking for something different, check out the link and let me know how it goes.

The book has gone into second print, which I can only assume is a good sign. (They assure me they printed more than ten the first go around.) It is hard to say what “success” is for a creative project like this. I think all artists, musicians, filmmakers, writers, etc. really want one main thing – for people to be able to find and enjoy their work.  I am glad that many people who otherwise would not have known this story have found it. I’ve stumbled upon twenty reviews or so online and most are extremely positive. Again, I’m not sure that means anything per se, but it is nice. If you’d like to see some recent reviews, there are a few posted on the official B2K blog at

I also have some press to do in the coming months for the book. I’ll be interviewed on May 20th in Pittsburgh for the Cornerstone Cable Network. We also have some local book signings lined up:

I’ll post/tweet more details as they firm up in the weeks to come.

Ultimately, I’m most excited to say that I’ve received several dozen emails from friends and strangers who have been challenged or comforted by Between Two Kingdoms. I think the message of Jesus and his Kingdom is slipping into the minds and hearts of the readers. That’s all that matters to me. I’m very pleased.