New Hope Publishers is discounting my books on Kindle for the entire month of July. They are only $2.99. Here are the links:
New Hope Publishers is discounting my books on Kindle for the entire month of July. They are only $2.99. Here are the links:
I’m always excited to meet new authors, especially new authors who are pastors, and especially new authors, who are pastors, who publish with my friends at New Hope, who has published all my books. I was asked a few months ago to consider endorsing a book by Dr. Tony Merida, entitled, Orphanology, to be released in 2011. I read through the draft and came away very impressed and inspired. It is a thorough handbook on the theology and practice of adoption. For anyone needing a comprehensive biblical and practical book on orphan care and adoption, this will be your book.
Dr. Merida is a Teaching Pastor at Temple Baptist Church in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, a dual-campus church of about 3,500 active members. He is also an adjunct professor at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.
I liked the book so much, I asked Dr. Merida to stop by and answer a few questions. He graciously agreed and so here is Dr. Merida and The Friday Five:
1) You wrote the book, Faithful Preaching. Why do you think preaching, what some considered an old-fashioned mode of communication, is still relevant today?
My beliefs about preaching are driven more from theological convictions than cultural assessments. If you listen to many today, they will argue that people won’t listen to preaching (especially long preaching) and that we need to move to more dialogue or more video-driven methods. While I believe that there are places for dialogue (small groups) and a place for video-media tools, we shouldn’t throw preaching out because of what we perceive people want or need based upon the winds of ever-changing culture. Instead, I believe we must take our cue from God’s Word. If we believe it to be the inspired Word of God, then why would we want to do anything other than what it says about preaching? I’m not referring to the form of preaching, but the essence of preaching; that is, standing up, opening a Bible, reading it, explaining it and applying it to people’s lives in a way that they can understand it. Why wouldn’t we do this?
I’ve been given a timeless charge to “preach the Word.” The spoken Word and the written Word have been God’s chosen means of revealing Christ to the world. In fact, God was the first preacher. He spoke creation into existence. He could have done it other ways, but he didn’t. He then created mankind in his image, with the ability to (among other things) talk. He then called Abraham to himself. He then used the prophets to speak to people. They were creative, and spoke the timely words necessary. When Christ came to earth, like the prophet John the Baptist, he came preaching repentance. As Jesus commissioned his disciples, he urged them to teachand proclaim the Gospel. At Pentecost, Peter preached a really good sermon about Jesus and thousands were saved. Later Paul urges Timothy to “preach the Word” and reminds us that “faith comes by hearing and hearing from the word of Christ.” Paul also tells Timothy in corporate worship that someone should read the Scriptures and then exhort the hearers about these things. We could go on. When Christ returns he is called “the Word of God.” Therefore, preaching is built on a biblical-theological framework. If one starts from the Bible, I think they’ll be led to preach God’s Word faithfully. Is preaching old-fashioned? Yes. But not “1960’s old fashioned.” It’s as old as creation. And until Christ returns, preaching will continue to be relevant. We need to improve at it, to be sure, but folks shouldn’t dismiss it because they see poor examples of it.
2) It seems to me that there is a movement back toward substantive, solid preaching and teaching, even expository. Why is that?
This is related to question 1. I think that where you find a group of people affirming the inspiration and truthfulness of Scripture, you will find a group of people doing substantive preaching. You show your beliefs about the Bible, your real beliefs, by what you practice. Guys who are not teaching the Bible must think that there are other better ways to see lives changed. Besides this, I think some of the more popular younger evangelicals are doing Word-driven preaching, thereby setting an example for others. And I think another reason is probably due to the fact that the slick, seeker, market-driven church has left people wanting more.
3) You have a project coming out with New Hope entitled Orphanology. I had the privilege of reviewing the manuscript and was glad to give it an endorsement. How did this project come about?
Basically, I was preaching on the doctrine of adoption everywhere, and New Hope approached me about writing a book on adoption/orphan care. I thought that this would be a good idea in light of the fact that every time I spoke on the subject I received a gazillion questions about things like: ‘How do you pay for it?’ ‘How do you do orphan ministry in the local church?’ ‘How do you do orphan hosting ministry?’ I wanted to write a book that provide both a theological rational for adoption and orphan are as well as some practical answers to these common questions. With the help of Rick Morton, I think we’ve given a good effort and I hope it helps those interested in these things. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed writing it, and trying to live it with my five adopted children.
4) Adoption has always been a sort of personal choice/decision made by individual couples, but you seem to think it should be a church-wide calling. Why is that?
Adoption and orphan care is a biblical issue. If you want to obey the Bible, you better care for orphans – in some capacity. Not everyone will or should adopt, but some can and should. Others may support in other ways. Caring for orphans was a practice that continued after James wrote verse 1:27, as well. From historical documents, we read how people didn’t value human life (like today), and it was the Christians who cared for unwanted children. They received great attention for such sacrificial care. They believed, as we should, that anyone created in the image of God should be valued. So, I believe it to be a church-wide calling like other callings such as stewardship, evangelism, care for the poor, etc. because it’s a biblical issue.
5) What advice would you give to a couple who is thinking and praying about pursuing adoption?
I would tell them to begin by spending time reading the Scriptures and praying about the matter. I would encourage them to look at God’s concern for the fatherless throughout the Bible in general, and to take detailed look at the doctrine of adoption in particular. During the search phase, they may also begin reading literature on adoption and talking to adoptive parents. Once a decision is made, they would need to select a country in which to adopt. After deciding on this, they can then choose an adoption agency with which to work. From there, it’s a great adventure, one that should be bathed in prayer for God’s strength and wisdom because orphan care is warfare. They should expect opposition and struggle from every side, but God’s grace is sufficient for their weakness.
In 2005-2006, I had the privilege of volunteering to help a congressional candidate, Dave McSweeney, run for Congress here in Illinois’ 8th district. What emerged from that race was more than a campaign. I became great friends with both Dave and his wife, Margaret. And today I have the privilege of interviewing Margaret McSweeney. Margaret has a heart of compassion and a gift for connecting people. In fact, she was the one who encouraged me to send my first manuscript to her friend, Andrea Mullins, from New Hope Publishers.
Margaret is an accomplished author and speaker. She has written A Mother’s Heart Knows , Go Back and Be Happy, and is the editor of The Pearl Girls Book She writes for a variety of newspapers and publications and has interviewed notables such as Wolfgang Puck and Thomas Kinkade.
Margaret is the founder and director of an organization called Pearl Girls. Pearl Girls is a remarkable effort that brings together well-known woman from across the country to share their stories and raise money for charities. Margaret serves with several charitable organizations and sits on the board of WINGS, which provides hope to victims of domestic violence.
Margaret is also the host of an Internet Radio Show called Kitchen Chat, where she interviews well-known authors, writers, and celebrities. Margaret and her husband Dave live in the Chicago area with their two daughters.
In 2005, I had this crazy idea for a devotional book for teens, based on the lives of teens in the Bible. I was an unknown writer, with only a very short list of published articles. At the time, I was volunteering to help my good friend Margaret McSweeney and her husband David, with their congressional campaign. Margaret is a writer herself. And while we were standing in line at a parade, she asked me if I had sent a proposal to Andrea Mullins of New Hope Publishers. I didn’t know Andrea and I didn’t know New Hope. Well, six months later, I had a voice message on my cell from Andrea. She was interested in my book. After I picked myself up off the floor, I called her and since that time, New Hope has been my publisher. I’ll be forever grateful for her taking a chance on me and helping to develop my writing talent.
I have found Andrea to be a wonderful friend, someone who is deeply passionate about sharing the gospel around the world. Andrea is the publisher/director of New Hope Publishers and the President of Worldcrafts. She is the author of several books herself and has a Doctor of Ministry Degree in Transformational Leadership from Bakke University. Andrea is a sought after speaker for women’s ministry events.
Kathi Macias is a great friend and a fellow New Hope author. She is a prolific author, having written nearly 30 books and ghost-written numerous others. She has taught and coached writers at conferences around the country is an in-demand public speaker at women’s conferences.
My wife is actually reading How to Keep a Tight Ship When You’re Surrounded by Loose Cannons, which she says has already provided her with a lot of laughs and much inspiration for raising our three children.
1) You’ve been writing and speaking for a long time–what first stirred in your heart the passion to put words on paper?
I can’t remember a time when I didn’t want to write. I was reading before I started kindergarten and just seemed to have an ongoing love affair with words. When my husband, Al, (then boyfriend) and I were walking home from school one day in junior high I announced to him that I was going to be a writer some day. He often comments that I’m probably the only person he knows who knew what I wanted to be when I grew up—and did it!
2) You’ve helped New Hope Publishers launch their first fiction line. You guys are doing something a bit different with it. What exactly is “missional fiction?”
“Missional fiction,” or “fiction with a mission,” is just that: fictional stories based on true stories of those whose lives are dedicated to fulfilling the Great Commission and going into all the world to preach the gospel and make disciples. The stories are based not only on foreign missionaries but also on nationals, all of whom are challenged at some point in their faith—possibly even to the point of laying down their lives. Ultimately, though, we hope to challenge readers to move into that same level of faith. Of course, not all the series that will be included in this “fiction with a mission” line will be about missionaries, but all will have a greater mission of educating and challenging readers to a deeper level of faith and a more vibrant love-relationship with the Father.
3) No Greater Love weaves a story of romance into the epic story of Nelson Mandela, apartheid, and South Africa. What drew you to this story?
This story was originally birthed in my heart more than twenty years ago, as I watched the violence and upheaval in South Africa, preceding the release of Nelson Mandela from prison and the downfall of Apartheid. I couldn’t help but wonder how it was affecting believers in that country and how it might eventually affect us in other countries as well. The nugget of an idea—an interracial, forbidden romance—sparked the story, though it sat on the back burner for many years before I sensed God releasing me to move forward with it. By that time my vision for the story had grown to include believers in other countries around the world—hence, the Extreme Devotion series of four books, rather than a stand-alone book as I had originally anticipated. (God’s plans and timing are always so much better than our own!)
4) More Than Conquerors is set in the violence of Mexico’s drug wars. This is an especially relevant given the increasing attention given to what is happening there. What surprised you the most about what is going on there?
Not only does More than Conquerors delve into the violence of the Mexican drug wars, but it encompasses the superstition of the Mayan culture in the Southern portions of Mexico as well—San Juan Chamula in Chiapas State in particular. We hear so much about the illegal immigration problem in our country, about the violence of the drug wars spilling over across the border, and also the human trafficking that is interwoven with so much of these problems. But we seldom hear of the extreme devotion of those in Mexico who love and serve God under some very harsh and dangerous conditions, and who treasure family second only to their relationship to Christ. That’s the part of Mexico I wanted to bring to life in More than Conquerors.
5) If you could give one piece of advice to young, emerging, writers, what would that be?
Spend time with God, discovering and developing your own calling and passion for ministry, and then let that focus birth the words and stories you write. It’s too easy to jump on someone else’s bandwagon, only to discover it’s already full and straining at the seams. You don’t need to adopt someone else’s vision; God has one tailor-made just for you. Seek Him first—and He will be faithful to reveal it to you. And then be patient until He moves you forward in the fullness of His time.