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Should I Write a Book? 10 Responses

Posted on by Philip Nation in Writing | Leave a comment

DeathtoStock_Medium6Over the last decade, I have done work at varying degrees in the publishing world. It began as editing a book for a friend while I was in the midst of church planting. (Because bills have to be paid.) Then, I was invited to coauthor a book. From there, I wrote a Bible study and was recruited to do editorial work full-time at LifeWay. Fast-forward a few years to the present and I’ve had my hands in all sorts of publishing work. My work has ranged from concept phase to completion both for the projects of others and my own. Currently, I am in the final stages of a book to be published in March of 2016.

With this as the background, it is why I do not carry business cards. Why? Because some days it feels like everyone I meet in passing, connect with through social media, or sit next to on a plane has a book idea. Some are clever. Most are in their formative stage. A few contain insights we all need. The majority will likely never see the light of day because writing is difficult and navigating the publishing industry is odd. But with the advent of electronic publishing, much is changing. Now anyone can get published at any time.

So I want to pose the question that I hear people ask in the first-person: “Should I write a book?”

If you have a nugget of an idea or thousands of words already recorded, here are a few answers to consider.

#1: Yes if you sense a clear calling from God that the message is important.
No if you are trying to seize an opportunity to simply become well-known and make a lot of money.

#2: Yes if you are dedicated to the long process it takes to write and publish.
No if your discipline is going to fail you.

#3: Yes if you have a new insight on an established topic.
No if you have are simply restating what others have already said.

#4: Yes if you have a fresh image to cast on a necessary topic.
No if you simply want to teach the same idea in the same way as others have published it.

#5: Yes if the topic is underserved and you sense a cultural need for it to be addressed.
No if you look at booksellers and see a flood of other books covering the topic.

#6: Yes if you are willing to do the hard work of promoting the published work.
No if you are expecting a publishing company to do all of the promotion.

#7: Yes if it is a topic that you wish to continually address through multiple media outlets.
No if you are going to write the manuscript and move on quickly to another idea.

#8: Yes if it is going to be helpful for the development of people.
No if it is only going to be helpful to you.

#9: Yes if you have a passion that will not go away about the subject.
No if it is just a passing thought.

#10: Yes if it is your “life message” that consumes you.
No it if is a passing fancy on which you simply want to capitalize.

Writing a book of any size is a difficult and should be a serious endeavor. I do not mean that it cannot be fun. Much of the writing process is quite enjoyable for me. However, writing is a skill that must be developed as you do it. I believer that plenty of people have a great book idea inside of their hearts. I love to read books that are born from personal passion that leads to transformation in the reader. If you have a calling that you cannot escape, then write. Find a way to publish. Bring the message to us that we need to hear.

Orphan Care: A Sermon Recap

Posted on by Philip Nation in Sermons | Leave a comment

The problem faced by orphans and disadvantaged children is great. Consider these statistics.

In America:

  • Over 120,000 orphans. Another 400,000 children live without permanent families. (HHS; AFCARS)
  • Common for children in foster care to age out, leaving them with little financial or emotional support. 27,000 children age out of the system every year. (AFCARS)
  • Almost 25% of youth aging out did not have a high school diploma or GED. (University of Chicago)

Worldwide stats:

  • Estimated that 153 million children worldwide, ranging from infants to teenagers, have lost one or both parents. (UNICEF)
  • 1 billion children suffer from at least one form of severe deprivation of basic needs such as water, food, and sanitation (SOS)
  • 67 million children do not go to school. (UNESCO)
  • 22 million children are refugees or internally displaced in home country; forced to flee their homes due to violence or natural disaster. (UNHCR)


  1. God’s warning against injustice toward the fatherless.

Isaiah 10:1-2 — “Woe to those enacting crooked statutes and writing oppressive laws to keep the poor from getting a fair trial and to deprive the afflicted among my people of justice so that widows can be their splint and they can plunder the fatherless.”

God doesn’t just consider an inconvenience to care for orphans. He offers a dire warning against taking advantage of them. A world that is filled with children forced into labor, sweat shops, and enduring abuse is deserving of a divine curse. The “woe” offered by God is not to be taken lightly. He issues a divine decree for calamity and curse from the throne of heaven against those who take advantage of the fatherless. Orphans are not to be used by man but they are the people through which God is demonstrating His grace in this broken world.


  1. God gives a clear call to the church about orphans.

James 1:27 – “Pure and undefiled religion before our God and Father is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself unstained by the world.”

The word “religion” has a bad reputation. It is now the en vogue statement to say: “I’m not religious. I’m spiritual.” It is normally a rebellion against real or perceived abuses by the institutions of religion. God has a much better definition for religion; it is not institutional but relational. In Psalms, we are told that God is the “helper of the fatherless” (10:14) and the “father of the fatherless” (68:5). We are not to treat the orphan like a cute kid that dances a jig, sings a song, and is just waiting on Daddy Warbucks to arrive. There are no Annie characters waiting around. Orphans are those children deprived of parental care for their spiritual, emotional, and physical well-being. The church—portrayed consistently as a family in the Bible—can and must heed God’s call to care for the orphans of this world.


  1. Care for the helpless is connected to the giving nature of God’s people.

Deuteronomy 14:29 – “Then the Levite, who has no portion or inheritance among you, the foreigner, the fatherless, and the widow within your gates may come, eat, and be satisfied. And the Lord your God will bless you in all the work of your hands that you do.”

Deuteronomy 14 deals with the tithing practice of God’s people. It is a clear reminder that as we give to the work of God, it is not for the purpose of hoarding our resources. No church should operate as a self-consumed center to entertain the saints. Rather we give toward the ministries of our churches so that the congregation can collectively care for those in need. A generous church better reflects our generous God.


  1. Care of orphans on the earth reflects the eternal adoption we have received.

The temporary plight of orphans on the earth points to our eternal need for the caring Heavenly Father. Taking in an orphan, further reflects the reality of the adoption we receive from God into His family. We read of His care for us consistently in the Bible. In John 14:18, Jesus said that he would not leave us as orphans but send the Holy Spirit to the believers. Paul wrote in Galatians 4:6-7, “And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba, Father!’ So you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.” Then, in Ephesians 1:5, Paul wrote, “He predestined us to be adopted through Jesus Christ for Himself, according to His favor and will.” It was the very will of God that not just brings us by the skin of our teeth into His kingdom but all the way into His family as adopted children. As we care for orphans, we do what is right in the eyes of God and put on display an image of what He does for us.


  1. Take action

As all of this deeply matters to God, we must take action. Here are five things that we can do.

  • Be fully pro-life. Our concern for children must not be summed up with posts on Facebook, picketing on sidewalks, voting for our favorite candidate. We should create a culture of care for the unborn and sustaining ministry to children in desperate need.
  • Defend them from harm. Believers have influence in the community and should step in to advocate for just circumstances for children. By virtue of our citizenship and financial advantage in the world, we can do much more on the international stage as well.
  • Feed them, clothe them, & share resources with them. As we do to the least (weakest) of these, we have done it unto Christ.
  • Serve as a foster parent
  • Adopt

We are an outpost of hope in a world of despair.




America stats ( http://www.sos-usa.org/our-impact/childrens-statistics#sthash.i4WeHiXN.dpuf )

Worldwide stats ( http://www.sos-usa.org/our-impact/childrens-statistics#sthash.i4WeHiXN.dpuf )


One Sentence Book Reviews: September 2015 Edition

Posted on by Philip Nation in Books | Leave a comment

innovationsdirtylittlesecretEach month, I am offering up one-sentence reviews of the books I am reading this year. I hope you find them helpful.

Innovation’s Dirty Little Secret: Why Serial Innovators Succeed Where Others Fail by Larry Osborne – Great wisdom from a veteran leader who has found a code-cracking formula for managing forward-thinking change.

HCSB Journaling Bible – The beautiful format for this new Bible from B&H (my company) is excellent for tracking your thoughts, prayers, and what you are learning from the Lord.

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clark – Written in an older British literary style, this book reminds me to hold literature to a high standard. In 100 years, it will be considered a classic piece of literature.

Contagious: Why Things Catch On by Jonah Berger – Combining solid research and expert analysis, Berger explains how an idea or product becomes a viral idea; or, as he calls it, a social contagion. Great learning for church leaders.


7 Reasons Why We All Need a Bible Reading Plan

Posted on by Philip Nation in Bible, Spiritual Disciplines | Leave a comment

Bible crawling scriptEngagement with the Bible is the number one factor that determines spiritual growth for believers. I know that to be the case because we studied it. In the Transformational Discipleship project, LifeWay Research discovered that engaging with the Scriptures continues to be the number one factor for our growth. In an article on the subject, they wrote:

When asked how often they personally (not as part of a church worship service) read the Bible, a similar number respond “Every Day” (19 percent) as respond “Rarely/Never” (18 percent). A quarter indicate they read the Bible a few times a week. Fourteen percent say they read the Bible “Once a Week” and another 22 percent say “Once a Month” or “A Few Times a Month.”

Did you catch that? Only 19% of Protestants attending church report that they read the Bible daily. We must seek a better way.

To do so, we all need a strategy for studying the Bible. I believe that there are numerous methods of studying the Bible with simple reading being one such way. Other study methods include memorization, public reading in worship, group study, and the list can go on. But, for the moment, let’s focus on a few ideas for simple Bible reading.

  1. You need a plan for accountability. Without a plan, we are prone to wander, forget, and/or not hold ourselves accountable. It should have leeway for how God is working in your life but regular reading of the Bible needs to be a priority. A plan will help out.
  2. The plan must be for delight, and not duty. Our plan should be a helpful guide that points us to Christ. The plan is not an end to itself that becomes a burden. After all, we are seeking the Christ who grants freedom, not the false gods that only hand out legalism.
  3. It should stretch your reach. We all have familiar places that we often visit in the pages of scripture. Without a plan, it is normal to reread those books of the Bible. A plan will guide you to read the unfamiliar parts of the Bible.
  4. Give you the whole counsel of God. Continuing the above thought, some reading plans will carry you through the whole Bible. As we believe the Bible is God’s self-revelation to us, we need all of it. Even the passages that are difficult to understand. As God’s Word is His infallible revelation to us, we need to consume all of it.
  5. Plans can vary your reading for seasons of life. If you are in a season where God is calling you into a new mission, perhaps a reading of Acts or the Old Testament prophets is needed. But, if your stage of life is filled with grief, then time in the Psalms will ease your soul. A Bible reading plan focuses you on how God works in a specific season of life.
  6. We all need accountability. Whether it is a printed out reading plan or a notification that pops up on your smart phone, we need reminders. They prompt us in our priorities when every day will hold at least 3,741 distractions.
  7. Study plans come in all shapes and sizes. I do not think there is a one-size-fits-all plan that works. At times, an entire church will engage in a Bible reading plan and it is healthy to do so. But, as we are all different, we need different plans. You can read the entire Bible in a year if you read three chapters a day. You can read the whole Bible in three months if you read 13 chapters per day. Proverbs can be read in a 31-day month by reading one chapter each day. The four Gospels contain 89 chapters and can easily be read in a month’s time with three chapters a day. The Bible can be read in order of books, by types of books, in chronological order, or in a myriad of other ways.

Ultimately, we discipline ourselves to read the Bible because it is the great Sword of the Spirit (Ephesians 6:17) that God uses to reveal Himself and conform us to the image of Christ. Reading it is the spiritual endeavor to know Him, seek His ways, and understand ourselves better. It is a primary habit for our holiness.



One Gospel and Only One – Galatians 1:1-10

Posted on by Philip Nation in Bible study | Leave a comment

Cross NailsGalatians can be summed up with a simple statement: Jesus is our freedom. With so many offers by the world to give us the freedom we desire, it is necessary for us to look back to Paul’s encouragement to the church in Galatia for a reminder of our freedom. The Galatian church heard the gospel clearly (as we have) but was far too quick in tossing it aside for other false truths (as we are given to do as well). In the first ten verses of his letter to the Galatians, Paul laid out these three principles.

I. Paul proclaimed a specific Savior. (verses 1-2)

The church has a particular message. It is Jesus. We have many choices among those people and things that claim the power to change our lives. If I have to choose a team, and I do, I’m going with the One who got up out of His grave. As a play on what others have said, Jesus + nothing = everything. We do not need any other substitute saviors in our lives. Charles Spurgeon once said, If Christ is not all to you He is nothing to you. He will never go into partnership as part Saviour of men. If He be something He must be everything, and if He be not everything [to you,] He is nothing to you.” Everything we do must be anchored around the Who whom we proclaim. It is the greatest cause and effect equation for life.

II. The Savior achieved specific results. (verse 3-5)

The gospel is more than a sterile set of rules. It is the rescue mission that we desperately need. In the gospel, we are both sanctified in real-time & saved for eternity. Rather than seeking the world’s approval, we are now set out on the rescue plan by the Savior. Rather than retreating from the powers that stand against the church, we hold on to the countercultural person of Jesus in His plan for rescuing the lost.  The gospel did not, does not, and will not make any sense to the world.  It is countercultural to love those who are different, broken, hurting, and can do nothing to repay you. It is countercultural to say that the world is beautiful in its variations but broken where people place their hope. The world defines success as amassing power, hoarding possessions, and stacking up achievements. The gospel deems your life successful when you die to self, give all you have to the poor, and work for the good of another. We are to share the words of freedom with those who are enslaved to death; even when they think they live freely. The specific results of the gospel alive in us is to be salt and life to those who are dying in their sin.

III. False gospels have a specific price. (verses 6-10)

Paul warned that there were dangers to trusting in a false gospel. First, it means that you turn from God Himself. The early believers were exchanging the New Covenant life for the Old Covenant law. They traded in Jesus and followed Moses again. Embracing a false gospel is toxic to your relationship with God. Secondly, it means that you receive a curse when you preach a false gospel. Paul’s passion for the true gospel made him figuratively breathe fire about a false one. We should have the same passion. God’s curse means that someone (or something) is set aside exclusively for God’s wrath for it to be utterly consumed. In it, there is no hope.

But trusting in the true gospel allows you to be a slave to Christ. It is where our freedom is found. Each day, we need to wake up and identify what is seeking to draw our gaze away from the Lord. Answer the question: What tempts me away from Jesus and His gospel? Presence at religious events and in the lives of the needy is good but God does not give anyone a pass for just showing up. Love is the great result of the gospel but love without biblical truth is a tolerance for sin. Serving others is a response to Christ serving us but cannot substitute for telling others about the grace of Christ offered through faith and repentance. We proclaim presence, love, and service as results of the gospel but they should never be substitutes for it.

Jesus alone has the power to transform a soul. The gospel does not need an adjective, modifier, subtraction, or addition. It is perfectly sufficient to grant us freedom.


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