The Story: Last fall, I spoke at a retreat for Pittsburgh Theological Seminary’s Evangelical Student Fellowship. The topic I chose to speak about was Truth. Evangelicals like truth, and they like to defend it when they feel that truth is under attack. I took a slightly different approach: The Gospel of John says that Jesus is Truth. And if Truth is a person, then Truth is more than an abstract idea to be defended. Taking it a step further, in John 3:21, Jesus says that one who “practices the Truth comes to the Light”. If Jesus is Truth, and if in Christ we’re called to become more and more Christlike, then we’re called to act truthfully, do the truth, practice the truth. With this in mind, my talks for the retreat became a call to seek truthfulness and integrity in our personal lives and our ministries. The talks seemed to be well received. I started thinking that maybe this idea of practicing the truth deserved more attention.
Then this spring, I attended the Festival of Faith & Writing at Calvin College. I knew ahead of time that publishers there would be open to receiving book proposals, so I started putting together a book proposal for Practicing the Truth. I wasn’t able to complete the proposal in time for the Festival, but after encouraging conversations with several people there, I returned home, finished the proposal and sent it in to an editor I had met. A few weeks went by. Then I got an email. They wanted a second sample chapter. This was getting exciting. I wrote the second sample chapter and sent it in. A couple more weeks went by, and then I got an email from an editor saying that my ideas didn’t fit within the genre of that particular line of books (understandable) and that my platform wasn’t yet developed enough (i.e. my name isn’t famous enough to sell books, also understandable). That was a bit discouraging. But I am encouraged that my proposal was seriously considered. And the amount of positive feedback I’ve received in talking to others about this project over the past couple months far outweighs one rejection. So, I’m going to keep writing . . .
The Idea: I’m working with this title in mind: Practicing the Truth: The Spiritual Discipline of Living Truthfully. For more on the ideas and structure of the book, read the Practicing the Truth page on this blog. The general goal of the book will be to present dedication to truth and integrity as a spiritual discipline which conforms us to the likeness of Christ, who is Truth. I think that when Christians practice such dedication to truth, we’ll see powerful transformation in our relationships, our spiritual lives, our mental health, and our ministries.
Moving Forward: (1) At the advice of a close friend, I’m going to keep on writing, but do so with the congregation I pastor in mind. If these ideas are of value, they’ll be of value to the community I find myself in right now. And if this is a book which calls us to greater openness, honesty, and authenticity, then the process of writing it should be marked by those characteristics. So starting in August or September, I’ll roll out one chapter per month. Those from Upper Room who’ve expressed interest are invited to read the chapter, and then gather as a group with me for an evening of conversation about the ideas presented in that month’s chapter. I pray that God will use this to make us even more into a community of honesty, authenticity, and integrity. I also think this will make it a better book. Friends from Upper Room, if you want to be involved in reading the chapters as they come out and discussing them, just let me know. (2) I’ll also keep blogging about topics or illustrations which are relevant to the content of the book. Posts which are related in one way or another to the theme of the book will show up under the category “Practicing the Truth.” Keep checking back to see where this project is going. (3) I may submit my proposal to other publishers. We’ll see what happens. For right now, though, the priority will be on writing for my congregation. If the Lord wills that this will be used to bless a broader audience, then let the Lord’s will be done. If the Lord wants only the people of Upper Room to grow in truthfulness as a result of this writing, the let the Lord’s will be done.
Thank you, friends, for joining me on this journey towards the One who is Truth!