Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Story Books

Here's a general rule, and I think it's a good one: don't read any book where the author claims that God told him/her to write a book. I've read many of these books and they all have one thing in common: they suck.

There's kind of been a movement of late where people really want to be writers. They want to be authors. They want to write books. And the self-publishing world makes it all too easy to put something out there. And many of these first-time, young authors think it adds credibility to their book if they say that God told them to write it. It's usually tucked somewhere around 2/3 of the way through or near the end in an About this Author or About this Book section, although some will tell you right up front in the introduction and save you the trouble of finding out later. The truth is: this doesn't add credibility to your book. It just makes it all the more disappointing. 

Because the truth is if God told you to write a book, you'd do it to His glory and not yours. You'd put in the extra work to proofread it a dozen times until it's perfect. You'd actually read every word of your own book to make sure it makes sense, that all the words you thought were there are actually there, that there aren't any extra words thrown in. You'd read it for content and understand where your tangents are, where your personal opinion overshadows the word of God you so proudly claim to profess. In short, you'd take more pride in it if you were doing it for Him.

But the truth is that God's not going to ask you to write a book. Ever. There's too much distance here between the product and the people for God to make this a thing. At least, to make this a simple thing.

There are times, particularly in the Old Testament, where God does, indeed, tell His prophets to write this down. But it's more than writing it down; it's also proclaiming it. It's making a copy, then speaking to the people. It's making a script and going by it. It's putting words to paper and tucking them away in the Temple, in just the right spot that the future priest is going to find them, take them to the king, and bring a nation back to Him. It's making a word, yes, but it's also connecting that word to the people.

Most authors today are content to wait for people to connect to them. 

They're waiting for people to find their book and read it. They're giving away copies so that people will see their words. They're even talking, in their books, about directing people to their books instead of engaging people as actual people when they show up! It's all a matter of marketing and a little bit of chance. It's a mess, really.

God's not ever gonna give you a book. He's not. He doesn't work that way. What God gives you is a story. And sometimes, yes, you write that story and you put it in a place where the people can find it. But what's absolutely key is that you proclaim that story, too. That you go out and live it. That you stop bringing it back to your book and instead, bring your book back to the story again and again and again. Whatever book is out there, it's not the end of the story; it's the beginning. It's the place where you start to proclaim God's truth by living it. Not by writing it. By putting it on your person, not putting it on your shelf. 

The best books I read, and the ones by authors with real deal books out there, are the ones these writers are living. It's Shauna Niequist and her recipes around the table. It's Bob Goff's love that does things. It's Josh Graves' feast. It's Brennan Mannings ragamuffins. It's Henri Nouwen's inner voice of love. It's all these stories people are living that they've decided to share with those of us they're not going to meet on the street....but they're still meeting people on the street. And not directing those people back to their books.

To say it another way, it's this: the best books are the ones with stories behind them. Not stories about the books and the ways these books came to be, but stories about the storied. Stories of the Storyteller. Stories of the storytellers. Stories. 

As a general rule, don't read any book that God told someone to write. Read the books with stories that the authors couldn't get away from. That's your best bet. Those are the words that are worth your time.

In case you're looking for a couple of those good books, there's a link at the top of this page....kidding. Kidding. ...Kinda. 

Recess with Jesus and Unfolded Hands are both available on for a reasonable fee. If you can't afford them, contact me. I have Kindle versions I can email you. 

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