Unlike most writers, I did not set out to write a book. In fact, I had finished half of it before I realized what was taking shape. This book started as a pastoral project, directed toward a need I sensed in my own congregation. Let me tell you how it took shape.
As 2010 approached, I sensed the Lord leading me to challenge my congregation to read through the Bible in a year. I researched different reading plans. I looked for something that would challenge Christians who read the Bible regularly, yet be accessible to Christians unfamiliar with the Bible. The reading plan, included in this book, that offered selections each day from the Old Testament, New Testament, Psalms, and Proverbs seemed to offer the diversity I sought.
After selecting the reading plan, I looked for resources to assist the members of my congregation who accepted the challenge to read through the Bible in a year. From personal experience and observation, I knew that most approached Bible reading for information rather than transformation. I wanted my congregation to move beyond simply reading the word of God and experience the joy of living out the word of God. The search for application based resources yielded little fruit.
Disappointed in the meager results of my search, I decided that I might be able to provide something for my congregation. So, the last week of December in 2009, I started writing application oriented questions for publication in our church bulletin. Throughout 2010, I continued writing these questions for the upcoming week’s Bible reading. Those questions provided the foundation for What Now?
Interestingly enough, the project almost died an early death. About three months into writing these application questions, I started wondering if anyone utilized them. I had invested several hours on these questions each week and this fear suddenly crept over me. I wondered if the copies sat unused on the church’s welcome desk each week. I didn’t see piles of them in the pews on Sunday morning but perhaps the custodian disposed of them before I arrived on Monday to save my fragile ego.
I asked around to test my theory. I spoke to the Wednesday night Bible study and prayer group. This group prayed fervently and studied feverishly. I knew they would give an honest reply. When I confessed my doubts about the usefulness of these application questions, they adamantly reassured me that members used the questions. The couple that headed up our welcome ministry pointed out that when the questions didn’t make it to the welcome desk, people asked about them. (Some even asked passionately!) This encouraged me to continue and saved the project.
The project almost died a second time when God provided an unexpected call in my life. Midway through 2010, the Lord led me to transition from pastoral to academic ministry. The day I announced to my congregation that I was leaving to teach at Anderson University, the first question that several church members asked was, Will you still provide the questions for us? By this point, I was already committed, so I pledged to finish what I had started.
Somewhere around the middle of the year, just before I transitioned to educational ministry, a thought occurred to me. If the people in my church appreciated and utilized a resource like this one, perhaps other followers of Christ could benefit from this material as well. Having done the research prior, I knew that no such resource existed. So, I took the idea to a publisher.
After a slow and meandering journey, I discovered that the most likely publisher for this project was not interested. At this point, the project almost died a third time. But, in the midst of rejection, I discovered Jeff Kusner at Koozzz Publishing. Jeff, the operator of the site oneyearbibleonline.com, was new to publishing and expressed enthusiasm for this project the first time I inquired through email. We discussed different means to get the resource in the hands of Bible readers. After considering a number of options, we determined that a print copy with space for journaling would be the best along with the major e-reader formats. That decision led to the product “What Now?”.
So, What Now? comes to you as a simple project, born from pastoral ministry and designed for practical application. James 1:22 reminds us, Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. In order to obey this admonition, we must recognize the awe-inspiring power of God’s Word. Hebrews 4:12 reveals, For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
I challenge you to let the Word do its work in your life. I hope and pray that What Now? opens your soul and spirit to the Word of God, enabling the Surgeon’s scalpel to rearrange your life according to His desire.