To Infomercial or Not To Infomercial

IMG_2513Launching a new book and then disappearing from the internet for a week is not generally considered a good idea, but that is what I have done. It was a timing thing and couldn’t be helped. It was also very important. Now I’m back, and I’d like to tell you a little about my new devotional journal In All Thy Ways.

The other day I was joking with a friend about whether or not I should “go all infomercial” with the journal. The question came out of the process of writing the book description. Writing a book description can sometimes seem harder than writing the book itself. How do you tell what the book is about without giving too much, or too little, away? And how do you do it in a 100 words or less? In the process of trying to write the description, I decided I would do a little investigating. I wanted to know how other authors describe their devotional journals. So, I did the most logical thing I could do—a web search.

I went to Amazon.com and entered the search term “devotional journal”. It brought up 1,254 results. Obviously, I didn’t read the descriptions for all of them, especially since it was midnight, but I did read through 251 of them. As I went through the results, something became very clear to me: I was about to publish something that was just about as close to being “one of a kind” as you can get. The journals I was seeing were all topical: The leadership journal, the gratefulness journal, the insecurity journal, a journal about faith, a journal about hope, a journal about God’s promises, a journal for teens, for children, for men, for women, for pregnancies; the list goes on. There is nothing wrong with a topical journal. In fact, I would have bought a couple of them on the spot if I could have. But I saw a disturbing trend. Fewer than five of the 251 journals that I looked at were designed to take you through the process of personally gleaning something from your own Bible reading. The others all offered up a pre-cooked meal.

This was my infomercial moment. I could just see it: A heavy set, balding guy with a beard and a big grin steps out and says, “We’ve compared 251 journals and none of them offer what this journal offers!” I hate infomercials, so I quickly switched that guy off in my head. The instant I did, another picture came to mind: A gaunt, hollow-eyed Christian in blue-grey prison garb, standing alone in the rain in the middle of a muddy, Siberian prison camp. With that image came two questions: What if he had always been spiritually spoon-fed? How would he survive? My heart ached. What emptiness that would bring!

We live in a frozen dinner and microwave society: Push a button—get dinner. It’s convenient, but it isn’t the healthiest lifestyle. Sometimes we tend to approach our spiritual lives in the same way: Read a devotional, pray the prayer at the end and go on with our day. It’s satisfying for the moment, but doesn’t always stick with us.

The other problem with microwavable devotions—we don’t learn how to cook for ourselves.

Here’s a question: What if you suddenly found yourself all alone in a new place with no microwave and no frozen dinners, only fresh products, and you didn’t know how to cook? The first few days, or even weeks, could be a little stressful…And you could get a little hungry.

Now ask yourself this: What if you found yourself in a place with no spiritual fellowship, no teachers, no preachers, no devotional journals—just you and your Bible—and you didn’t know how to study on your own? What a sad day that would be.

You may be saying, “That could never happen. I have nothing to worry about.” But I wonder how many of the men and women who have been imprisoned for their faith over the centuries, or have moved to a place where there was no church, never thought it would happen. We have no guarantee that we will always have access to a spiritual buffet. God wants us to grow, to move from milk to meat. We won’t do that if we’re always depending on others to feed us. It’s important to learn to study God’s Word for ourselves, to meditate on it, and to apply it to our lives.

In All Thy Ways gives you that chance. It offers eight weeks of devotional pages, which are designed to assist you in your personal study. By the time you’ve gone through the process that many times, you should be well on your way to doing it on your own.

I first designed this journal in 2003, by that point I had been in Russia for nearly eight years. Over those years, I had led Bible studies, taught Bible lessons, had my own quiet times morning and evening, in which I had faithfully spent time digging into God’s Word as deeply as I could. I knew how to study the Bible. But I was also at a point of exhaustion. I needed something new, and I needed something relatively simple that would bring focus to my quiet times. This is what God sent my way. I look forward to sharing more about it with you in the days to come. It was an enormous blessing to me, and I hope it will be to you as well.

Wondering how that book description turned out? You can check it out here! 🙂

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