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  • Five Questions With Author Tracy Groot

    Posted on September 9, 2013 by Family Christian


    Tracy Groot is the critically acclaimed and Christy Award–winning author of several novels. Her most recent books exemplify her unique style of storytelling—reimagining biblical stories within other historical contexts. Tracy's novels have received starred Booklist and Publishers Weekly reviews and have been called "beautifully written" and "page-turning" by Publishers Weekly and "gripping" with "exquisitely drawn" characters by Library Journal. Tracy and her husband have three boys and together run a coffee shop in Holland, Michigan.

    Tracy has a new book coming out early 2014 titled, The Sentinels of Andersonville. We thought that we would sit down with her and ask her a few questions about life.

    What got you interested in writing about the Civil War era?
    I watched a film when I was a kid called The Andersonville Trial. I was a film buff even then, and one element of the story stayed with me: a man testified that the commandant of Andersonville turned away four wagonloads full of food donated for the starving prisoners. He refused to allow Southern citizens to feed Yankees--even dying ones. The story haunted me. Then, in my twenties, a friend loaned me a book called John Ransom's Andersonville Diary. It was another heartbreaking story that never left me.

    In doing your research, how were you challenged the most?
    I had to get into the mind of a Confederate Southerner. I had to think like one in order to write like one. So to put it into a context I could relate to, I imagined how I would feel if, 10 miles from Hudsonville, Michigan, a prison had been built that housed up to 33,000 Muslim terrorists--and one of my sons had died at the World Trade Center on 9/11. How would I feel about feeding them, if I knew they were starving? Would I do what God told me to, and feed my enemy regardless? Or would I feel that to feed them is to be a traitor to my nation and to my son? And if I was inclined to help, then what would I do if my government actually forbade it?

    Are any of the characters in your books based on your personal life?
    Not any one particular character. I suppose they all have a little bit of me in them, because I have to tap into a lot of Me in order to get to Them. In early development, I tend to give characters recognizable elements from people I know, and then the characters take off with it and become who they are; I've found that real human beings defy getting trapped on paper. They won't stand for it, and fictional characters won't stand for it either. They want to be who they are, not Aunt Helen or my brother Rick. But when I start out with Aunt Helen or Rick, I start from a place where I am familiar with certain personality traits and I can write strongly--then the characters get some feet under them, and take it from there.

    What has God been teaching you lately?
    He's been reminding me that I need to put action to my thinking. G.K. Chesterton said that right thinking is a waste without right action. I believe that's true. Then we'd all just be a bunch of philosophers on a rock. I heard on the radio today that the action people took in the Bible brought about divine response. I've been meditating on this, from Psalm 50:23--"He who offers a sacrifice of thanksgiving honors me, and to him who orders his way aright, will I show the salvation of God." Basically--God helps those who help themselves. It's not enough for me to mentally assent. God wants action, whatever it is. I may not feel like taking action at all. I may not feel like I have faith. But, as I also heard today, "You can be full of faith and no feeling." And this: "You believe by following through on the action proscribed." If I know I need to bite my tongue about something, mental assent does no good unless I bite my tongue. I believe God blesses the most faltering steps, if step out, we do. I believe he even honors and blesses it when I holler, "You know what, God?! I sure as heck don't feel like biting my tongue right now--so if you want me to, then you're gonna have to pull off a miracle--give me the want to." If I can at least tell God how displeased I am about having to obey something, that opens up a line of communication between us--it shows me and it shows God that I know who I need to go to for the hard things, when I just can't pull it off myself. I've also been meditating on a George McDonald quote: "He gave man the power to thwart His will, that when he comes at last to do His will, he may do so in a higher kind and way than otherwise would have been possible to him."

    What is on your "bucket list?
    A few bucket list things: I'd like to visit Norway, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Greenland, Alaska, Australia, New Zealand, and the Scottish Hebrides. Not necessarily in that order. I'd like to be on the NY Times bestseller list. I'd like to have lunch with the entire cast of BBC's Merlin for a cast reunion to talk about old times. (Well--they'll talk about old times; I'll interject pithy comments and take pictures.) Then I'd talk them into a new series, where Arthur comes back. Finally, I'd like to co-star on Alphas, my current favorite sci-fi series; I'd hang out all day with my favorite Alpha, Gary.

    For more information on Tracy, click here.


    This post was posted in Books and was tagged with Featured, Fiction, Tracy Groot

  • Pat Williams on Adoption, Basketball and Living Life with Passion

    Posted on August 27, 2013 by John van der Veen


    Pat Williams is a basketball Hall-of-Famer, currently serving as co-founder and senior vice president of the NBA’s Orlando Magic. As one of America’s top motivational speakers, he has addressed thousands of executives in organizations ranging from Fortune 500 companies and national associations to universities and nonprofits. Clients include AllState, American Express, Citrix, Coca-Cola, Deloitte, Disney, Honeywell, IBM, ING, Lockheed Martin, Nike, Millennium Pharmaceuticals and Tyson Foods to name a few. Pat is also the author of over 80 books, his most recent title being The Difference You Make: Changing Your World Through the Impact of Your Influence.

    Pat and his wife, Ruth, are the parents of 19 children, including 14 adopted from four nations, ranging in age from 26 to 40. For one year, 16 of his children were all teenagers at the same time. Currently, Pat has 12 grandchildren and counting…with twins due in July. Pat and his family have been featured in Sports Illustrated, Readers Digest, Good Housekeeping, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and Focus on the Family as well as all of the major network and cable television news channels.

    I sat down and talked with Pat about his legacy as a father. To find out what motivated this man.  What follows is a candid overflow of his heart. This man is truly living with a passion.

    John: Pat, you certainly have had quite the legacy within both the basketball industry and within the sports community, but then you've also had a legacy over on the adoption side of things as well. Can you share a little bit, before we get in and talk about your book, can you share a little bit about how you and your wife were introduced to the concept of adoption or foster care, and why you as a family have pursued that?

    Pat: For the first 10 years of our marriage, my wife talked non-stop about adopting children that didn't look like us. She talked about almond eyes and I just couldn't fathom it. We had three birth kids and life was good. Finally at the 10-year mark, it became a major issue. Big issue. I realized that I had to take the initiative and get moving on this. Long story short, we learned about two little girls from South Korea who were available. We talked to our children and let them vote.

    John: This was a family process then?

    Pat: Family discussion and a vote. The vote was unanimous, let's do it. What an adventure that was. On September 12, 1983, these two little girls, two and three years old, arrived from Seoul, escorted by a couple of off duty flight attendants. There they were in the Philadelphia airport, handed to us, the new parents of two Korean girls. That launched it. Then I caught the bug. I kept thinking we can take two more. What's four more boys, or two little girls from Romania. At the end of 10 years, we had 14 adopted children. People ask all the time, "Was there a master plan here?" There wasn't. We just kept hearing about these children and felt God saying, "I'll provide." He always did, amazingly. We had enormous food bills and clothing, it was just massive. But to this day, God has always provided what we've needed to get the children raised and educated. I think there's a verse in the book of James. He's very, very big on widows and orphans. God has a special heart and these obviously were orphaned kids that we adopted. That promise is that if you take care of the orphans, God will make sure it works. That's what I've learned. I wish I could tell you that we've got a whole bunch of widow stories, but I don't at this point.

    John: I appreciate your honesty here.

    Pat: Maybe someday.

    John: Someday. Do you think, Pat, that adoption and foster care, the idea of looking at James 1:27 and putting that verse as a stamp on your family, has that influenced the work community that you have been participating in? Have other people within the sports category approached you or they been influenced by that type of methodology?

    Pat: Well, let me just say this, John, when we adopted these children, as years went on, we certainly were not reluctant to do media events. We did many of them, even though the kids were not all that thrilled about it. Nevertheless, we did a great deal of television and newspaper work. My thought was, let’s get the word out and see if we can inspire some other families to get into this whole adoption world. There are millions of kids that need homes, not all of them are available, but there certainly are a bunch of them. That was really the method behind the madness there. We did everything we could to spread the word and inspire other families. From time to time, we will hear from somebody, either with a letter or in person, who said, "We heard about your story, that was the trigger for knowing we needed to go and adopt." They'll talk about their two adopted kids from somewhere in the world. That always makes me feel good, real good actually.

    John: You've inspired, I'm sure, countless others. You have a new book coming out, called Coach Wooden's Greatest Secret. Why don't you just give us some background information about that. What is it about?

    Pat: Coach Wooden was a real hero of mine, as well as for millions of others. He let me into his life in the last decade of his life. I wanted to write a book called, How to be like Coach Wooden. He gave me his blessing, which I was thrilled about it. We did that book. I interviewed about 800 people who knew him or were in his world. That was all encompassing. Then, three years ago I had an idea, which we ended up doing. It was called, Coach Wooden, The Seven Principles That Shaped His Life and Will Change Yours. That goes back when he was in the eighth grade in a little country school in central Indiana. His father gave him a card with a seven-point creed on it. Coach Wooden lived his life by those seven points. That's the meat of that book. This latest book, called Coach Wooden's Greatest Secret, comes from having dinner with him one night years ago. I said to him, "Coach, is there one secret of success, perhaps, that you feel is preeminent, or really most important?” He thought for a minute, and then, in that understated way, said, "The closest I can come," (he wasn’t one to ram anything down your throat), "The closest I can come to one secret of success, is that it’s about a lot of little things done well." That was his little message over dinner that night at the Valley Inn near his home in Encino, California. As we begin thinking, I began to put together all these thoughts about where little things pay off. Little things done well really does make sense, if you do enough of them over a lifetime, it's going to be a pretty successful life. It's a good little reminder, I think, to people to focus on the little things, to do them well, patiently, and in the proper sequence. You really build a good foundation that way.

    John: What would be one of those little things that you have held close and dear to your heart through all these years?

    Pat: I think it would be the way I write books. I save everything, whether it's a story, a little quote, an antidote, or something I read in a book, I’ll mark it. For 30 years or so I've been doing that, just collecting daily something that might be valuable in a book somewhere along the line. If you were to come into my office and the credenza, you know, with the eight drawers that come out, I would think there're probably at least a million cards, which a woman types for me. She takes my material and types it on a card, which is really the research I do for books.

    John: What do you call that filing system?

    Pat: I call it priceless.

    John: [chuckles] Priceless, I love it.

    Pat: If you had ever told me 30 years ago that this would be the result of that accumulation, with no end in sight, but just day-by-day, little by little, I would have been amazed. I've been writing books for 30 years in my head, and these cards make it a reality. There they all are, by category, just capturing one day at a time--a little every day. I think Coach Wooden really has hit it on the head. Successful people just do what is right in front of them, however small; they just get it done. Then John would talk often about making each day your masterpiece. “Make each day your masterpiece.” I think about that a lot. The importance of taking each day—each simple, little day—and maxing it out. Draining the cup dry today. You can't change yesterday and tomorrow. Absolutely, suck the marrow out of the bones today. We can do that.

    John: Coach, as we're sitting here, you're kind of sitting on the edge of your seat, your kind of moving around, you are a passionate man. As I'm just noticing you, you seem like you are full of a passion towards something. What is the one thing you are most passionate about?

    Pat: I think I'm passionate about a number of things. Obviously, my family is a huge passion. I'm passionate about the Orlando Magic basketball team. I'm passionate, always, about the latest book. I'm passionate about my speaking world, my public speaking world. I'm passionate about Jesus. I'm passionate about my Christian walk. It will always be consistent and leave an impact on people. I'm not passionate about golf. I'm not passionate about fishing. I'm not passionate about stamp collecting, I'm passionate about those, maybe five areas of my life, and I stay pretty close to them.

    John: What has God been teaching you lately?

    Pat: That life isn't always the way we plan it. Two and a half years ago, I was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, which I'd never heard of. It's cancer of the bone marrow, actually the blood in the bone marrow. That came out of nowhere. Obviously, it rocked my world and the family's world. I've been dealing with that for the last two and a half years. Responding quiet well to the treatments, which have gone well. I feel good, and am able to keep my full schedule. When an illness like that comes into your world, and you begin to think, "Lord, this is me, your buddy down here. You know, I've got a lot more to do for you, what's the deal here with this?" That was the initial reaction. Then, I realized that God was calling me to another ministry here in the closing years of my life, and it's a ministry to the world of cancer, which is such a huge issue in our country. Huge, one out of two men will deal with it in their lifetime, and one out of three women. Suddenly I'm in a fundraising position. I'm a hospital board member... I'm into things, who would have thought? At least once a day there's a phone call or an email about somebody who's struggling with some form of cancer and needs to talk. Needs a word of encouragement, just to hear that there's hope. I've been called into that world. I never saw that one coming.

    John: Coach, how can we be in prayer for you?

    Pat: Obviously, I covet prayers for my health. For a complete healing. People have prayed so consistently for me. I couldn't begin to thank them all. I'm so grateful. An old ball player, my good friend Bob Boone, who I've know for many, many years, called several months after all this happened and just said, "How are you doing, how are you doing?" I told him, "I'm really responding well; the doctors are pleased. I'm on the road to healing." And Boone, he said to me, "Boy," he said, "This prayer stuff works, doesn't it." That was pretty direct, wasn't it? I appreciate prayers for my health. I also really hope that this next book will impact people. We have so much to learn from the life of John Wooden, who lived till he was 99. He would have been 103 in June. He got close to 100. He was far beyond just a great coach, too, he was the greatest coach of all time. There’s so much wisdom there. So hopefully we're able to capture that in these books that I've done on him. This next one, Coach Wooden's Greatest Secret, is one I’m especially eager to see do well. We also covet prayers for our family, with that many children, 19, and now the grand children, which are coming pretty consistently. We've got 12 grandchildren and two more on the way in July, twin boys. There are a lot of moving parts in the Williams family these days.

    John: I love it.

    Pat: I appreciate that very much John.

    John: Great talking to you.


    This post was posted in Books, Interviews, John van der Veen and was tagged with Featured, Fathers, Adoption, Pat Williams

  • Stephen and Alex Kendrick Dare Couples

    Posted on August 19, 2013 by Family Christian

    A yearlong journey helping couples transform and deepen their marriages, The Love Dare Day by Day, releases in padded hardback Sept. 1. From groundbreaking filmmakers and best-selling authors Stephen and Alex Kendrick, the new release of The Love Dare Day by Day from B&H Publishing Group.

    “You’re about to learn more about yourself and your marriage—some of it encouraging, some convicting,” Alex Kendrick tells readers. “In either case, you gain a new view of where you are with your marriage and with God.”

    The Love Dare Day by Day—A Year of Devotion for Couples joins the international phenomenon of The Love Dare, with nearly 6 million copies sold. In The Love Dare Day by Day, 52 biblically based “dares”—one each week—challenge married partners to unconditional love. Daily devotions amplify each dare’s scriptural base.

    “Our marriages reveal our need to grow and deal with our own issues and selfishness,” Stephen Kendrick said. “But if we are teachable, we can learn the single most important lesson in life—to love. One powerful union, our marriage, invites us to learn to love another imperfect person unconditionally. It’s wonderful, it’s difficult and it’s life-changing.”

    The Love Dare Day by Day features:

    • 365 readings on aspects of genuine love
    • 52 weekly dares to help readers better live out their love in marriage
    • Dozens of prayers spouses can pray for themselves and their partners
    • Questions to spur creative thinking about your marriage
    • More than 100 “Go Deeper” sections for personal Bible study on marriage and love
    • A link to a free online marriage evaluation resource

    The Love Dare Day by Day is for one or both spouses. Each week’s “dare” ranges from focused prayer to specific ways spouses can build each other up. A few examples:

    • “Begin praying this week: ‘Lord, teach me what real love is and make me a loving person.’”
    • “Make a list of positive attributes about your spouse, then choose one each day and thank your spouse for having this characteristic.”
    • “Ask your spouse if you can begin praying together. Use this time to commit your concerns, disagreements and needs before the Lord. Don’t forget to thank Him for His provisions and blessings.”

    Simple? Yes. Easy? Rarely. But practical, doable and potentially life-changing. The Love Dare Day by Day—A Year of Devotions for Couples can lead to new marriages with the same partners.

    Brothers, pastors, filmmakers and authors, Alex and Stephen Kendrick co-wrote the international bestsellers The Love Dare, The Love Dare for Parents and The Resolution for Men. They are among the co-founders of Sherwood Pictures and worked together to write and produce the hit Christian films FLYWHEEL, FACING THE GIANTS, FIREPROOF and COURAGEOUS. Kendrick Brothers Productions is expanding their movie productions with renewed focus on encouraging and equipping the next generation of Christian filmmakers. Alex and Stephen continue to serve on the pastoral staff of Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Ga.


    This post was posted in Books, Movies and was tagged with Featured, Courageous, Marriage, Fireproof, Alex Kendrick, Facing the Giants, Stephen Kendrick, Flywheel

  • John MacArthur's Call to the Church - Beware of Strange Fire

    Posted on August 7, 2013 by John van der Veen

    John MacArthur is the pastor-teacher of Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, California, as well as an author, conference speaker, president of The Master’s College and Seminary, and featured teacher with the Grace to You media ministry.

    In 1969, after graduating from Talbot Theological Seminary, John came to Grace Community Church. The emphasis of his pulpit ministry is the careful study and verse-by-verse exposition of the Bible, with special attention devoted to the historical and grammatical background behind each passage. Under John’s leadership, Grace Community Church's two morning worship services fill the 3,500-seat auditorium to capacity. Several thousand members participate every week in dozens of fellowship groups and training programs, most led by lay leaders and each dedicated to equipping members for ministry on local, national, and international levels.

    John and his wife, Patricia, live in Southern California and have four adult children: Matt, Marcy, Mark, and Melinda. They also enjoy the enthusiastic company of their fifteen grandchildren.

    John is type of author that evokes emotion in the reader. Some try to avoid his books and others can't stop reading them. His prayer would be that emotion would drive one to a specific place - the foot of the cross. Or, simply put, the Gospel of Jesus.

    In his new book, Strange Fire, John lays out a call for the Church to repent of it's "casual" approach to worship. After reading Strange Fire, one can understand that worship is a serious matter. God is to be enjoyed for sure, but in the direction that He gives.

    In our recent conversation, I asked Dr. MacArthur about his new book and what I found is a man still living under conviction. While in his mid 70's, there is a fire that burns in this man. Strange it is not. For it's a passion for the glory of God.

    John, I am curious, when you set out to write a book, who do you write your books for? Are you writing for a particular group of people? Are you writing for your church? Or are you just writing for the evangelical community altogether?

    John M.: Yeah, primarily, I'm writing for the broader evangelical community; in particular, the pastors and leaders and influencers. When I write a book, particularly a political or issue-oriented book, I do that for the benefit of the church: to make a truth clear to the church, to warn the church. So the audience is typically the broader evangelical community with a focus on those in leadership to help them understand the issues and the impact that they're having on the church.

    John: So, would you say that you're writing in response to something that's happening in church culture, or are you kind of thinking, "Hey, maybe this is what could be happening in church culture, so it needs to be addressed…"?

    John M.: You know more often than not, John, I react. I look at my books, or many of them anyway, as kind of a correction, a clarification, some discernment applied to an issue in the church that the church needs to be aware of. That might be more frequently my motivation but not exclusively. There are times when I think the church just needs clarity on a doctrine or an issue, and so I’ll write more from a positive affirmation side. That would be the lesser of the common motive, though, as usually I'm looking at the church feeling concerned about the direction, the lack of understanding or the church's exposure to something that is dangerous--something the church needs to understand more clearly to fulfill its ministry. So, I'm usually coming off of something that I think needs clarity or needs correction.

    John: Before we jump into your new book, "Strange Fire," I'm curious, John, have you ever written anything that you wish you would not have written? Have you ever changed a viewpoint on something that you would have liked to go back and refute?

    John M.: I would say no. I've never written anything that I would like to get back. I think the Lord really prepared me through my training and upbringing with a sound framework of theology so I kind of have the borders pretty much in mind for the truth and sound doctrine. Obviously, I've understood things in a clearer way. There are certain verses I would interpret differently now. There are some details maybe in handling the word of God that I might express differently. There's been a lot of refinement and a lot more clarification, but there's really nothing through the years that I would say would reach the level of "I wish I'd never written that."

    John: So, you have a new book coming out called, "Strange Fire.” I am curious, is this a follow-up to "Charismatic Chaos"?

    John M.: It is definitely in the same category and the same genre. It is addressing the charismatic movement, but it isn't that book. It isn't like that book, "Charismatic Chaos," which by the way is still in print--I just received the final word on the publication of that book in Chinese. So that book has been consistently in print since it first came out. But it addresses the same movement; only it addresses that movement in its current form. The "Charismatic Chaos" book is ... I don't know how many years old, but it's 15 years old or more, and the movement has morphed and changed and gained momentum on a global level. So while the same issue is addressed, which is the charismatic movement, this is a completely independent book that has nothing to do with the prior book. This one addresses the movement in a way that is consistent with its present form and, of course, since the time that I wrote that book, the prosperity gospel has just gone like a wildfire and so that's an element, and there are other elements as well that have changed.

    John: "Charismatic Chaos" was and is a fantastic book, and I have recommended it many times to many of my friends and I'm sure you have seen many comments by people who are being challenged by it. So hopefully we will see the same thing with "Strange Fire" as well.

    John M.: I will say this John, the book through the years has had an amazing ministry in helping people come out of that movement, and I would say that is the manifest impact of that book, letters upon letters, tens of thousands of them through the years coming to our ministry, the people in multiple languages reading that book, and coming out of that movement. This book is directed more at the leaders of that movement, the purveyors of that system, false miracles, false prosperity gospel, misrepresentation of gifts and all of that kind of stuff. This book really goes at the leadership and exposes the movement at that level, as well as its aberrations on a popular level. So, I'm praying that it will be an indictment whereas the "Charismatic Chaos" book was not so much an indictment of the leadership, but that it will also at the same help people to come out of that movement to the truth.

    John: You start "Strange Fire" with a story, the fantastic story of Nadab and Abihu, sons of Aaron. They are both priests, as you know, part of Israel. They, as you clearly point out, understood the teachings of God, were highly regarded, etc., and then the unbelievable happened, they went within this context of worship for them to present a, in a sense, sacrifice to God, and they did it in a wrong manner. God responded by sending fire and consumed both of them, both of these brothers. My question John is, do you think to some extent, the greater evangelical community, or at least maybe the charismatic community is in danger of doing the same thing?

    John M.: I think the charismatic community does the same thing. I think it offers strange fire, that's the point I make. In the ninth chapter in that same context, an offering was given to God appropriately and rightly, and God burned up the offering, and immediately after that, the offering was made inappropriately and God burned up the offers, and what that does tell us is that God feels very strongly, even judgmentally, against false worship. That is, worship which dishonors him; and I think the charismatic movement is filled with that.

    Now, I understand, we're not living in Old Testament times. God doesn't open up the ground and swallow up false prophets. God doesn't send a bear out of the woods to shred young men who mock a prophet. Obviously, God doesn't bring judgment the way he brought judgment in the Old Testament era; but he has the same attitude, and while judgment may not come in a temporal way, it will come, because God feels exactly the same about unacceptable worship. In fact, if you go back to the Ten Commandments, the first commandment and the second commandment are about no other God and how we come to God, how we approach God. The Old Testament is clear that we are to fear God and that we are to worship Him in a way that is consistent with His decree and His will and His commands.

    So, I just think--and it's a sad thing--that these charismatic churches and charismatic groups are full of people who do not understand that they can't play fast and loose with this kind of supposed worship. They can't say the Holy Spirit is doing something He's not doing, or saying something He's not saying. They can't ascribe to God fake miracles or fake revelations and make up things and say that God said them and the Holy Spirit said them.

    This is the most serious kind of conduct, negatively speaking, that any human being can commit. It is to blaspheme God, it’s an affront to God. I say in the introduction of the book that Jesus said the leaders of Israel had attributed the works of the Holy Spirit to Satan, and I draw a parallel, kind of an inverse parallel, that the modern charismatic movement attributes the works of Satan to the Holy Spirit. There are so many things that are obviously not of God at all that are being attributed to the Holy Spirit. This is very, very serious, and that's why the book doesn't hold back because the seriousness of dishonoring approaches to God demands a serious confrontation.

    John: So my mind goes in a couple of different directions here and there based on what you just said. Is God adhering to His forbearance then, as He approaches the Christian community, the charismatic community?

    John M.: Well, first of all, yeah, we have to understand that God is always forbearing, and He doesn't give us what we deserve when we deserve it. We are all alive because of His grace, and God by nature as Savior, even temporally, He withholds his judgment, He is merciful, He is gracious. I think many of these people aren't Christians, they're false teachers, false prophets, charlatans and frauds, and many of the people that follow them are nonbelievers who are deceived and duped, and certainly the Lord withholds judgment on them. Obviously, their judgment is the judgment of eternal condemnation when it does come.

    But even among believers, you know, there are many sins that believers can commit and do commit, and there are many unfaithful believers who don't have the ground open up and swallow them or who aren't struck down by God, although that can happen because we know from the New Testament, there is a sin of the death and there can be a sin in the life of the believer that will cause the Lord to take him home.

    But I think that's correct; I think God is patient even toward his own, and that's one of the functions of pastors. Paul, you remember, said to the church in Acts 20, "I have not ceased for three years to warn you with tears and to warn you that of your own selves perverse men will rise up, will lead you astray and from the outside wolves will come in with deceptive teaching." Paul writes his letters to churches and continually talks about error, and he said to the Galatians, "Having begun in the Spirit, are you perfected in the flesh? Please don't fall into legalism." All of those epistles have warning sections. Thessalonians, you know, warns about misunderstanding the second coming and believing lies. That's just part of ministry.

    So, we would say that while the Lord is forbearing with His own people who truly belong to him, it is the role and duty of pastors and leaders of the church to expose the false teachers, to expose the false doctrine and to preach sound doctrine. In fact, you shouldn't even be a leader in the church unless you are capable of exposing error. According to Paul's standards for leadership, 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1, you have to be able to recognize error, expose it for error, and teach sound doctrine. That's part of being a leader in the church. It's not necessarily popular in this kind of environment where everybody calls for tolerance and acceptance. And nobody has screamed louder for that than the charismatics, because they have to have that in order to succeed. They have gotten what they wanted, but it's true that the Lord is patient, especially with His church. But that raises the importance of those who are leading His church to speak the truth and warn the people.

    John: In the book, you suggest a few questions to help test the authenticity of true works of the Spirit. You ask the readers to ask five questions. One, does it exalt the true Christ? Two, does it oppose worldliness? Three, does it point people to Scripture? Four, does it elevate the truth? And five, does it produce love for God and for others?

    Now, when I am reading those questions, my thought is, to some extent, we could have a pastor or a leader within the charismatic movement, being asked those questions on one side and John MacArthur being asked those questions on one side and both of them and looking at the acts of what's happening in the charismatic movement would answer those questions in the affirmative. Does it exalt the true Christ? They would answer yes. Does it oppose worldliness? They would say yes. How does someone within a Christian community approach then these two conflicting viewpoints and say, "Well, wait a second here, you both can't be right. I hear someone on TV telling me that what they're doing is truly of God, and yet I have MacArthur on one side telling me no, what they're doing is not of God, it's of the devil." How do we reconcile that, John?

    John M.: Those five questions basically came from Jonathan Edwards, and he was using those five things to evaluate the legitimacy or illegitimacy of certain things that were happening in the great awakening, and in every case it all depends on how you define the terms. If I ask the question, "Does it honor Christ?" the guy can say, "Of course, it honors Christ." A Mormon can say Mormonism honors Christ, A Jehovah's Witness can say Jehovah's Witness ministers honor Christ, but that begs a definition of Christ. Who is Christ? And what does honor Christ? That is the compelling issue.

    For example, when Kenneth Copeland says that Jesus on the cross became a sinner, died and went to hell, and was punished for three days, that's heresy. He may ask somebody, do charismatics honor Christ? Does Kenneth Copeland honor Christ? Sure, off the top of their head, they would say, “Yes,” but when you look more deeply, to say that Christ became a sinner and went to hell to pay for sin for three days and then God raised him, that does not honor Christ.

    So, all those questions then have to be defined. The terms in all those questions have to be defined. Before you can answer the question, "Does it honor Christ?" you have to show who Christ is, what Christ has done, and what the Bible says honors Christ, and then see if based upon the biblical definition of honoring Christ, they are honoring Christ; so in every case, a superficial answer, we expect that. We expect them to say, "Oh yeah, this demonstrates love for God, this demonstrates love for others." But upon closer examination, when you compare how the Bible defines those terms and what the charismatics do, it is not hard to answer the question.

    John: So, context defines the meaning here.

    John M.: Context and definition is everything. Sure, you could say to a Muslim, "Do you love God?" and he could say, "Yes," but he better talk about who you're talking about, what God you’re talking about and what you mean by love. So yeah, all those words beg for explanation, and in the book, those questions have a very carefully laid out biblical context in which they have to be answered.

    John: Yeah, they do, they do.

    John, the question was asked once of a TV preacher, "Why do amazing miracles like people being raise from the dead, blind eyes being opened, lame people walking again happen with greater frequency in places like Africa, and not here in the U.S.? So now I'm asking you John, would you agree with that statement, and then how would you answer that question?

    John M.: I would answer it by saying who said that and based on what evidence? I have absolutely never seen any legitimate evidence of anything like that going on anywhere in the world. People being raised from the dead claims, sure. People have made the claim that that has happened, that they have seen that happen, but there is literally no evidence, no genuine evidence for things like that. You have near-death situations where people come near to death and maybe are revived, we would all understand that, but nobody goes to a funeral and raises somebody out of the casket after they have been embalmed.

    So, you know, those kinds of claims are basically meaningless. They’re as meaningless as all of these claims about people going to heaven and seeing Jesus and seeing the Holy Spirit as a blue fog and Jesus riding a rainbow horse. That's why Paul said to the Corinthians, "I was caught up to the third heaven," but it's not profitable to talk about that, because it's not verifiable. They love the unverifiable. They love to make claims that no one can ever substantiate. People have done vast studies trying to track down the supposed miracles of well-known healers and all the evidence has come in through the years that there's just nothing there.

    John: What do you hope happens? I mean you kind of answered this at the beginning, but what do you hope happens as this book launches, as it goes out into the Christian community? Just what do you hope the response is going to be?

    John M.: First, I hope that those people who are sitting in these environments and know something is wrong but have been intimidated, that they have open minds and know this isn't right. That they know they're dying of cancer, they've got heart disease, they're going through a divorce, they're struggling with sin, they're not getting rich, and they're questioning why the guy at the top of the Ponzi scheme pile has a jet and two Mercedes and they can barely exist—or even can't exist. I hope those people who are full of anxiety and doubt will find reason to run and reason to flee the error and see and expose it for what it is.

    Secondly, I hope people will understand the danger of the influences that they're under. When Jesus was denouncing the Pharisees, he said they produce sons of hell. It’s an amazing indictment of those that the populous of Israel felt was representative of God, and what Jesus said is they don't produce sons of heaven, they produce sons of hell. I think it was more on Jesus' mind at the end of his ministry, in the final discussion he had before the cross with the disciples and the populous of Jerusalem that they flee from false teachers because they have such deadly influence. So, I hope people will see the corruption. If you start with Charles Parham from whom the movement came and see that he was arrested for sodomy and you just progress through the scandals of the movement, I hope it exposes the corruption that's at the top of the movement.

    The third thing that I would hope and pray for is that the movement would receive such a blow that it finds it difficult to recruit. And that's asking a lot because it's a big wide world and most of the Christian world doesn't even know I exist, but I would love to have this book slow down the growth and then obviously I would hope that even those that are fully convinced in the movement and fully convinced leaders in the movement, God might see fit to rescue them from it.

    John: We're going to jump off of topic of the book here. The tagline for "Grace to You" is Unleashing God's truth, One Verse at a Time. You have been a proponent for expository preaching, obviously for a long time. I'm curious, do you believe that's the only way to proclaim Scripture?

    John M.: Well, I believe initially the only way to proclaim anything from the Scripture is to interpret it correctly. So let's just say that however the sermon comes out, whether it's a theological sermon, or a sort of exhortational sermon, or an exposition of a given passage, or whether you're dealing with a biblical theme, the end product of what you preach has to come from rightly dividing the word of God. So, it's not that every sermon has to be a sort of word-by-word, verse-by-verse exposition, certainly as tight and as defined maybe as I would do it, but when you say this is what Scripture teaches, you can't truly say that unless you've rightly divided the truth.

    So, even when I preach, say, a message on a theological theme, a biblical theme, a doctrine of Scripture or give an overview, the message at the end of the day has to reflect the Scripture rightly interpreted. So, in that sense, all preaching has to be expositional. Sound theology is the product of accurate exposition. I prefer Bible exposition. I think it's the right way to preach because it's the only way that covers everything, and I don't think God simply gave us big ideas. I think He gave us truth down to the very smallest phrases and words, and if you're going to get the full richness of Scripture, that's the way you're going to get it.

    John: Do you think to some extent by avoiding expository preaching, it has allowed growth for the charismatic movement? I mean, do you think that's why to some extent everything that "Strange Fire," the reason why you wrote that book is because of the fact that expository preaching has not been held in high regard?

    John M.: If expository preaching dominated the church, and if that expository preaching was accurate interpretation of Scripture, the movement couldn't survive. That's absolutely correct. All false doctrine survives in an environment of ignorance or tolerance, and in evangelicalism in our day, you have a lot of ignorance, a lot of people who just think about church growth and whatever, and not about the truth in its detail. And you certainly have the personal kind of movement in Christianity, which conveys the idea, “What does the Bible mean to me?” and whatever I think it means and feel it means, and whatever the Lord shows me it means, that's what it means.

    So you not only have no exposition of Scripture based upon a scientific pattern, but you don't even have Hermeneutics, you don't even have rules for interpretation. If the Lord shows you what this means intuitively, like a pain in your stomach or a notion that pops into your head, now you've got an alien approach to Scripture. So, whether you have the Bible interpreted intuitively or interpreted personally or not interpreted at all, of course then anything and everything flourishes.

    Interested in reading John's new book? Click here for more information.


    This post was posted in Books, Interviews, John van der Veen and was tagged with Featured, Worship, John MacArthur, Kenneth Copeland

  • One On One with Mark Batterson

    Posted on August 1, 2013 by John van der Veen

    Mark Batterson serves as the lead pastor of National Community Church in Washington, D. C. Recognized as “one of America’s 25 most innovative churches,” NCC is one church with seven locations. Mark’s blog and webcast also reach a virtual congregation around the world. He is the author of several bestselling books, including New York Times Bestseller - The Circle Maker and In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day. Mark holds a doctorate degree from Regent University and lives on Capitol Hill with this wife, Lora, and their three children.

    His new book, All In: You Are One Decision Away from a Totally Different Life is available now.  His publisher has this to say about it: "The Gospel costs nothing. You can't earn it or buy it. It can only be received as a free gift compliments of God's grace. It doesn't cost anything, but it demands everything. It demands that we go 'all in,' a term that simply means placing all that you have into God's hands. Pushing it all in. And that's where we get stuck---spiritual no man's land. We're afraid that if we go all in that we might miss out on what this life has to offer. It's not true. The only thing you'll miss out on is everything God has to offer. And the good news is this: if you don't hold out on God, God won't hold out on you. Readers will find Batterson's writing filled with his customary vivid, contemporary illustrations as well as biblical characters like Shamgar and Elisha and Jonathan and . . . Judas. No one has ever sacrificed anything for God. If you always get back more than you gave up, have you sacrificed anything at all? The eternal reward always outweighs the temporal sacrifice. At the end of the day, our greatest regret will be whatever we didn't give back to God. What we didn't push back across the table to Him. Eternity will reveal that holding out is losing out. The message of All In is simple: if Jesus is not Lord of all then Jesus is not Lord at all. It's all or nothing. It's now or never. Kneeling at the foot of cross of Christ and surrendering to His Lordship is a radical act of dethroning yourself and enthroning Christ as King. It's also an act of disowning yourself. Nothing belongs to you. Not even you. Batterson writes, for many years, I thought I was following Jesus. I wasn't. I had invited Jesus to follow me. I call it inverted Christianity. And it's a subtle form of selfishness that masquerades as spirituality. That's when I sold out and bought in. When did we start believing that the gospel is an insurance plan? It's a daring plan. Jesus did not die just to keep us safe. He died to make us dangerous.'"

    That sparked our curiosity, so we emailed Mark to share with us about life.

    1. In your book The Circle Maker, you encouraged believers to pray "big" prayers to God. What is your goal with your new book, All In?

    The Circle Maker was all about the power of a single prayer. One prayer can change anything, change everything. But you can't just pray like it depends on God. You also have to work like it depends on you. You can't just draw the circle. You also have to draw a line in the sand. The most promising thought in All In is this: you are one decision away from a totally different life. I absolutely believe that. All In challenges readers to identify the one decision that will make the biggest difference in their lives. Of course, I believe that starts with the decision to go all in with God. I think many people think they are following Jesus, but the reality is that they've invited Jesus to follow them. They have inverted the gospel. But the true adventure begins when you completely surrender to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. If Jesus is not Lord of all, then you cannot claim Him as Lord at all. It's all or nothing.

    2. What is it like being a pastor in one of the US's most dangerous cities?

    Washington, DC is a tale of two cities. We live less than a mile from the Capitol Building--the symbol of freedom and power. But one mile in the other direction are some crime-ridden communities in desperate need of God's love. We'll actually open a Dream Center in one of those neighborhoods in the next year. We want to show the love of Jesus in practical ways. We feel like the needs around us give us an opportunity to put Matthew 25 into practice--feed the hungry, clothe the poor, house the homeless, adopt the fatherless.

    3. Earlier this year, your church hosted a conference called "City Fathers." Can you tell us a bit about it?

    We live in a culture that celebrates fifteen minutes of fame. I think it's high time we celebrate a lifetime of faithfulness. So we invited five pastors, City Fathers, to share their heart and vision for our city.

    Between the five of them, they had 167 years of pastoral ministry in DC.

    Honestly, the rest of us are reaping the seeds they sowed. I just felt like we needed to sit at their feet for a day and glean wisdom. We also needed to give honor where honor is due! That's what we did. It was a historic day for DC. It didn't just foster unity. It's created synergy.

    4. What is it about the corn-hole game that you love so much?

    When I was a kid, I spent about two hours a day trying to shoot a basketball hoop through the basket. Now that I can't jump like I used to, I guess corn-hole is the old man's version! It stokes the competitive fires. Consider this an open invitation to all challengers!


    This post was posted in Books, John van der Veen and was tagged with Featured, Mark Batterson, Corn-Hole

  • Gavin MacLeod - A Man Changed By Christ

    Posted on July 31, 2013 by John van der Veen



    The remarkable life, career, and faith journey of the star of The Love Boat and The Mary Tyler Moore Show.

    For 16 years, millions of Americans welcomed Gavin MacLeod into their living rooms every Saturday night. This veteran of stage and screen transformed himself from a seasoned character actor into the leading, lovable father-figure of The Love Boat at the height of TV’s boom years.

    For more than 30 years, Gavin MacLeod has served as the global ambassador for Princess Cruises. Speaking to thousands of travelers each year, and signing hundreds of autographs at every port, he stands poised to celebrate his amazing journey with a look back at the golden era of American television.

    The consummate storyteller, Gavin shares his fondest memories of meeting and working with countless stars, such as Cary Grant, Steve McQueen, Gregory Peck, Bette Davis, Frank Sinatra, Ethel Merman, Ella Fitzgerald, Ronald Reagan, Milton Berle, and Fred Astaire.

    At first I was a bit hesitant to interview Gavin. I didn't know where he was coming from, and I didn't know much about his story. I knew that he claimed Christ as his savior, but I didn't know how passionate he was about Christ.

    Now, on the other side of the interview, I am so grateful for meeting this man. A man who has obviously been so changed by Christ.

    John: Gavin, before we begin talking about your new book, which is called This is Your Captain Speaking--obviously a very appropriate title--can you give us the rundown about how you got into Hollywood? How did you become an actor?

    Gavin: This is all in the book, too. Anyway, it started really when I was four years old. If you do it from four to 82, I’ve always said I should be a lot better. I was in kindergarten and I was in a play. I had a lot of cute hair then at that time. It was a Mother’s Day play; I remember it so vividly, John. A Mother’s Day play and I played a little boy who wanted to get something for his mother for Mother’s Day but I didn’t have any money. I didn’t know what to do, so I walked into the forest, where each one of my classmates played a different animal. The last animal was the largest one in the class, he must have been five years old and he was a bear. He said the thing to give your mother was a bear hug.

    I went back through the forest, the play must have taken about ten minutes, I don’t know. Each animal saying I’m going to give my mother a bear hug and I finally got back to the girl playing my mother, I gave her a bear hug. The play was over. Everybody took a bow and I took the last bow and I heard that applause. You talk to many actors my age, it’s kind of a similar thing. The applause made me feel that somebody really liked me. I said I want to do more of that. From that moment on, when I started writing compositions in school it was all about how I wanted to be an actor, how I wanted to spend my life. Then eventually when I got to high school, I quit the football team to go and do a play and they had a contest and I won that contest every year.

    I finally won a scholarship to Ithaca College, and that’s when I was first exposed unbelief (in God). I never realized until I got to college, because I came from a small town called Pleasantville, New York, that anyone ever thought there wasn’t a God. We’re all believers in our community, most of the ones I knew anyway. That opened a whole new world to me of new thinking. I thought, “Gee whiz, what is going on here?” That was the beginning.

    After college, I went to New York and got Radio City Music Hall and made $34 a week. One of my big thrills was taking up Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz in my elevator one night. I was bald, I had lost my hair in college. I saved enough money, I thought, $125, so I could get a hairpiece--because they don’t write parts for young guys with bald heads. I finally went to a place--and it’s a long story; it’s all in the book--but I finally got a second-hand hairpiece for $125. That hairpiece got me my first Broadway play! I wore that hairpiece on and off.

    Anyway, after that, I did four off-Broadway plays. And then I went on the road without my hair. I had to save enough money to get married because I became engaged to a Rockette.

    So I went on the road, saved all that money, got married, and was working at a restaurant in New York City where all the big stars would go. I was the cashier, and that’s where I met Marilyn Monroe. That’s all in the book, too. They were doing a Hatful of Rain, an incredible play with Shelley Winters, Ben Gazzara, Anthony Franciosa, Harry Guardino. It was an Actor’s Studio project and I didn’t belong to the Actor’s Studio at all. Anthony Franciosa was discovered and was going to movies and everybody was moving up. I went to audition opposite all these Actor’s Studio actors and I came back to work. I was at my cashier’s post one night and the producer came in and said, “You got your first Broadway show, kid.”

    I was with the Hatful of Rain in New York and on the road for a year and a half. On the road, when I was in California, I had an offer to do a movie. Playing a drug addict and drug pusher, but I couldn’t do it because I was under contract to the play and I wouldn’t leave the play. That gave me a spurt of encouragement. I said maybe I can do something out there. I finished the whole tour in Boston, got to New York and my wife and I talked about it. I couldn’t get an agent in New York. I was this young guy with a hairpiece which belonged to somebody else years ago. I said, “I think I’ll go to the west coast.“

    We knew one person who knew an agent on the west coast. So we contacted that agent, Lou Irwin, and I flew out and went to Lou Irwin’s office and that’s where I met Ted Knight. If you’ve ever watched the Mary Tyler Moore show, you know who Ted Knight is. I don’t know how old you are, John, so a lot of the stuff I talk about I don’t know if you even know who I’m talking about.

    John: A little bit.

    Gavin: The eventuality was that Ted Knight was one of the best actors of all time. I met him in the office my first day on the west coast. I did a play immediately there and I got attention from that. That was the beginning of my career on the west coast. Eventually, one of the greatest moments I’ve ever had in my life would transpire: I brought my friend Ted Knight to the Lord before he passed. That was one of the greatest moments I have ever had in my life and that’s all in the book too. It’s all because of the business, and if you want to hear how God works, after the Mary Tyler Moore show was over, that ran for seven years.

    My wife and I had a nightclub act. We were going to go do that again and go back in the theater. I got a call from Aaron Spelling to do this thing called the Love Boat. I asked my agent, “Well what do you think about it? Have you read it?” He says, “I’ve read it.” I said, “Well, what do you think?” He says, “Well, I think it sucks. Do you want to read it?” I said, “Sure, I want to read it.” He gave it to me. I read it and said, “I think this can do something.” My wife read it and said “I think this can go, Gavin.” We went and did the Love Boat. Every critic thought it was going to sink like the Titanic. That it was mindless television. They thought it was just a waste of time, but the public loved it! You can see what the cruise industry is today and it’s all because of the Love Boat. You talk to anybody who is in the industry who was there years ago. It’s all because of the push it had from that show.

    John: How many years was the Love Boat on?

    Gavin: Almost ten years. All over the world. The Mary Tyler Moore show was just here and in England, and I saw one in Italy, too, when I was there. The Love Boat was international. Completely international.

    This is the point I wanted to make. I found out later that they had made two pilots of the Love Boat, way before me. With two different captains. They both had their own hair. They both had what you might call leading men kinds of bodies, you know, but it didn’t sell. I think the Lord was waiting for me. He put me in that job and as a result of that job and a result of the happenings in my life since then, and the kinds of movies I have done now like the Secrets of Jonathan Sperry and Timechanger.

    My preoccupation, my reason for living is to bring people to Jesus. He has brought me so much in my life. He has given me way beyond anything I thought. I thought I could maybe do my one Broadway play and maybe do one movie and then go and teach. It just hasn’t worked out that way. I am a very grateful, grateful person. Did I answer your question?

    John: (Laughter) Yes, you did. Absolutely. Gavin, just talking a little bit more about the Love Boat. I’m sure you have 1,001 memories about that time in your life. What is one memory that stands out that you’re really fond of?

    Gavin: When my wife did the first show she had ever done. We had attended a wedding for the actress who played Julie McCoy on the show--the cruise director--was getting married. It was at Bel Air Hotels. My wife’s name’s Patti, and we were sitting behind Aaron Spelling, who was Mr. TV, the giant producer, and his wife, Candy. He turned around and said, “Patti, I’ve got a great part for you next week.” Completely unsolicited. Patti came in and she played opposite Jim Backus, if you’re familiar with him. She was just socko! She was just wonderful on that show.

    I was very protective of her because she had never done anything like that, playing scenes without me before. She was basically a dancer and a singer. When I met her, I said “Oh, you’re so funny and you have such wonderful timing when you tell your stories, let’s see if you can walk and talk at the same time.” That’s what we call it. I took out a play called the Seven Year Itch, where she was like the third lead, she was the wife. She only had three or four smaller scenes. I wanted to see how she’d do and she did really great. I knew she had that aptitude and so, consequently, she just went on and had a wonderful career of her own acting. That first one she did on the Love Boat, where I was so protective of her, that on the last shoot, the last day, the crew came with a big t-shirt, a yellow t-shirt that said “Stage Mother Captain” on it for me.

    John: I love it.

    Gavin: We had a very happy crew.

    John: You guys all got along very well?

    Gavin: Yes. I learned a lot from Mary Tyler Moore. Mary Tyler Moore set the pace. When you’re in the theater, you have to be conscientious, you have to be early. I’ve taught that’s what you have to do. You’re the leader of the pack and how you are behaving is how the rest will pick up on. If you know you’re lines, if you’re on time, if you’re early, if you’re pleasant…

    The great thrill about that, there’s so many different things with the Love Boat, I’m still in awe, is that I was working with some of the people that I wanted to be like when I was a little boy. They would come to my captain’s table. I would have scenes with them like Mary Martin who I saw do South Pacific originally with Pinza in New York City. I was in high school. I just fell in love with her. When she sang “I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Outta My Hair,” I thought she was singing to me. Then 35 years later, I’m holding her in my arms. I said, “Can I tell you something? I’ve been in love with you since I was 16 years old.” She signed a nice picture for me, she’s gone now, too.

    There’s so many different moments. Marion Ross is a good old friend of mine, too. She played Mrs. C on Happy Days, Mrs. Cunningham. Do you remember that?

    John: Yes.

    Gavin: Okay. Well, she and I have been friends. If you read the book you’ll see that we had worked together in 1957 when I first came out here opposite each other. We had been friends and then we did Operation Petticoat together with Cary Grant and Tony Curtis. Did you ever see that movie?

    John: I did not.

    Gavin: You should see that movie. That’s a wonderful movie for the family to see. It’s a comedy and it’s all based on real events that happened to different ships during the second World War. They encapsulated it into one ship for the movie. It’s a wonderful, wonderful, clean, family movie. It broke the record at Radio City Music Hall at that time when it played there.

    John: I wrote it down.

    Gavin: You should see that, John. Honestly, if you have any children ever. It’s just a fabulous movie. I played a little guy called Hunkle in that, the yeoman and there’s a great scene where Tony and I steal a pig, but Marion is in it, too. Marion and I go way back.

    On the Love Boat, like the last couple of years, they said you know we’re thinking about having a permanent love interest for the captain. I said “I think that would be great.” It’d be good for some of the older people out there. They had a list of different stars, big names. I said, “You know who I would like? Marion Ross.” She had just had a run on Happy Days and all, so they said Mrs. C. I said, “Yeah.” I said, “We play very well together.” They hired her. We had two years of working together on that show. When the show ended, we went on the road in a play called Never Too Late and wound up in Cape Cod.

    When I was in Cape Cod, that night, I got a call that Ted had died. His wife communicated with me that she wanted me to do the eulogy. I prayed that the Holy Spirit would just tell me what to say because I know there were going to be a lot of nonbelievers there. It just came out reviewing our friendship and everything and about all the awards you’ve ever received, Ted, nothing was as important as the last time I saw you when you gave your life to Christ. Now you have it all. I’ll always remember you as a little song, a little dance, a little salsa down your pants.

    It’s too bad you don’t know who I’m talking about because if you ever look at the Mary Tyler Moore show, and that’s another show if you have children that you can watch. It’s one of the most brilliantly written comedies ever and it’s very poignant in areas, too. It came about 1970 when Women’s Lib. was really big, so it addressed all that.

    John: We have the full season of the Dick Van Dyke show at home and we’ve certainly enjoyed watching that.

    Gavin: I did one of those. I did the one called “Empress Carlotta’s Necklace.”

    John: I’ll have to play it when I get home from work today.

    Gavin: I was the one, remember Richard Deacon played Mel with the bald head. When he said, “Oh, my cousin’s here.” On the sets in Hollywood, you always have a guy showing up or a woman with a big thing selling jewelry. This is about this guy coming in, Dick and Mary are having an anniversary and he says, “I want you to meet my nephew,” so I show up. It’s a wonderful character part. I think you’ll enjoy it. It’s done in the mid-60’s there and I sell Dick Empress Carlotta’s necklace for like $39.95. He brings it to Mary as a gift, that’s all I’ll tell you then you just have to see the show. It was one of the prizewinning ones. “Empress Carlotta’s Necklace.”

    I did that, and then I was doing another one where I played this little Jewish guy who was in love with Rosemary. She used to order sandwiches and I sent her notes in the middle of the sandwich to read. We were in the middle of the shoot, rehearsing and then we had a weekend off and I came down with appendicitis. I couldn’t do it then and they got another actor. I was in the hospital feeling so sorry for myself because what a wonderful group. You can’t imagine being in the presence of Carl Reiner, Sheldon Leonard--one of the great guys of all time--Danny Thomas and Dick and Mary and Maury and Rosie, you know. Rosie’s pretty long in the teeth right now.

    Anyway, well I’m glad you’re watching that. I did a lot of those things you know. The other thing as far as the Love Boat goes, a highlight with me was when Patti came on. Meeting those big stars, having Marion Ross and the last one we did, we got married and I had my friend Jan Peters from college, he played the minister and married us.

    The other favorite one was when my daughter Jill came aboard, when Vicki came on the show. Aaron Spelling came to me and said, “We’re thinking about you having a daughter.” I said, “How can I have a daughter if I’m not married?” He said, “Remember the episode that we did a long time ago where you were in love with this model?” I said, “Oh yeah.” “And she wanted to marry you?” I said, “Yeah, but she issued an ultimatum. She told me, either you or the sea. I don’t want to marry you and have you be gone all the time.” Some very interesting things going on.

    After much, much trepidation he says, “I have to be on the sea, I have to be on the water.” He said, “From that relationship, you could have produced a child. That child shows up on the boat.” That’s how that whole story started. We had some very interesting stuff with Vicki, this young girl showing up on the boat and how we all realized, and how I realized... It’s very, very interesting stuff. Also, we got a lot of young viewers because there was someone for them to associate with. The Love Boat picked up another few thousand people. It’s interesting to think why that show was so successful.

    There were so many different ingredients, but I think the main thing to me is when a show was all over. My wife and I had an apartment in New York, so I went to the apartment in New York and I had some cleaning, so I brought some cleaning to the cleaning shop that we used to trade in and it was a new young woman there. She said, “Oh man, aren’t you the captain?” I said, “Well, yes I was.” “Well, why did they take that show off?” I said, “Well, someone else bought the network and I guess they thought it was too expensive.” “But you have to go back and tell them to put it back on.” I said, “Why young lady?” She said, “Because that show used to give me something to dream about. There’s nothing on television that gives me anything to dream about.” That’s what it did.

    I represent Princess Cruises, you know John? Ever since the show went off the air. I was in Australia just last year and it was my birthday and I was meeting this huge congregation of Princess employees in Sydney. I said what am I going to tell these people and then I realized what that girl said. I said, “You know, it’s an honor for me to be here in front of all of you. I’m glad you’re taking time out from work with me to celebrate my birthday, but let me celebrate you because you should know, what you are doing with your lives are allowing people to realize their dreams. A lot of people go to work and that doesn’t happen. They don’t have that kind of a job, but you have that job.” I said, “I’ll tell you the truth, as my captain would say, ‘I salute you.’”

    I think that’s a very important ingredient that someone has something to dream about. It’s not a shootout kind of thing, it’s not a negative thing, it’s not these sex things that go on. Cruising does change lives. I’ve seen it happen over and over and over again. I’ve been on so many ships and seen so many people.

    John: Gavin, I had read that you and Patti got divorced and then remarried. Obviously, there’s reconciliation that took place. What brought you guys back together again?

    Gavin: That’s a major theme in my book. I mean that’s one of the major moments in my book. When things started to move with the Love Boat, it got so big, and big, and big and I was the leader and the responsibility I had was enormous. If I wasn’t on the screen, I was all over the country pushing it and doing interviews. It became almost obsessive to me and I didn’t know the Lord at that time. I just put my work before my wife. I said I just don’t have time; I can’t come in after work. I leave when it’s dark; I come home when it’s dark. I’m learning lines. I do a lot of stuff behind the scenes you don’t see when you see the show.

    I very selfishly put myself and my job before my wife and so I’ve got to get a divorce. I have to get out of here. I could just concentrate on all that. I did. For those three years, she had gone to a therapist. When I met her, she introduced me to a new age teaching and that new age teaching was me. I’m first. There’s no such thing as sin. You’re supposed to be happy, not unhappy. Do what you want to do. That’s why having that kind of indoctrination in my head, leaving her was not as dreadful as it really is. It really is, it’s a terrible thing. I was very selfish at that time, but because of that kind of a teaching it sort of falls into place.

    For three years, we didn’t see each other. Three years she went to a psychiatrist in New York and out here all saying I want my husband back and he doesn’t want to be married so you’ve got to carry on. One day she went to some kind of a Buddhist place where they had pictures of a yogi or Gandhi or something and a picture of Jesus and she was sitting there. All she did was pray for me to come back. She wasn’t born again yet. She was praying. This man came up to her who was one of the yogis in a robe and he says, “Is there anything I can do for you?” She says, “My husband, I need him back.” He said, “You know, there are those pictures there on the altar. Jesus is the real thing.” She carried that with her.

    One day, she got a call from Patti, Jerry Lewis’ ex-wife. She told my wife Patti, she says, “Patti, I want to take you some place. I want you to meet some ladies.” We were living at the beach then. Patti Lewis picked her up and took her to a house in Beverly Hills where she went and saw all these ladies sitting there and on the mantle of this big house there were all these Oscars. She says, “Wow, this is really something.” It was Johnny Green’s wife. Johnny Green was one of the major musicians here. He usually conducted the Oscars. He did “Raintree County.” He won all those Oscars for his music.

    These women were there in a prayer circle. Patti says, “I’ve never seen anything like that before.” They introduced her and asked her, “Would you like prayer for anything?” She says, “Yes, I’d like to have my husband back.” One little voice, this good friend of ours who went to be with the Lord two years ago, she said, “If you want your husband back, you can have him back.” They started to pray for me. Patti had never experienced anything like that. That lady’s name was Louise French. She’s with Jesus now.

    The night of that happening, we researched it. The night of this happening, I went to a play with Bernie Kopell and his wife, he played the doctor on the show, in Santa Monica. That’s where Patti was having this. After the play, I said, “I wonder how Patti’s doing?” I hadn’t had that thought before. I drove around where we used to live. I tried to see her. Then I went home. The next morning I prayed to Jesus because my mother had a brain situation. A cyst the size of a baseball in the left brain and they were going to have to operate. That morning, you get the chronology? They prayed for Patti that day, that same day I went to see the play I started to think about her.

    The next morning, I’m in bed and my mom’s operation’s in Palm Springs and I’m in Beverly Hills. I prayed to Jesus that if you give my mother more time I’ll turn my life over to you. I don’t care if I act anymore, but dear Jesus give her more time. After I said that, something told me to call Patti. I didn’t even have her phone number. I called my secretary Judy. I said, “Judy, have you got Patti’s number?” “Why boss?” I said, “I don’t know. I have to call her.” “Why?” “I don’t know. I just know I have to call her.” She gave me the number.

    It was like 7:15 in the morning. I’m usually off to work at a quarter to six, but I had a late call that day. I called her. I said, “This is Gavin.” She said, “Oh, I was just thinking about you.” “Can I see you?” I don’t even know why I’m saying this John, it’s just coming out. I said, “Can I see you?” She said, “Well, yes, but I have to be away. I started a group called LADIES.” I said, “Well, what it is?” She said, “Well, it stands for Life After DIvorce can Eventually be Sane.” All these ladies who’ve been divorced by well-known people, Patti was one of the starters of this group. She says, “We go from city to city as a support team for other people like us. Who’ve been dumped.” I said, “Okay.”

    We made a date for the following Monday. I went down there. I got out of work early. Nobody answered the door. I kept knocking and knocking and knocking. The third time there she is. We hug and she says, “I’m sorry, you’re dinner’s cold. It’s been waiting for three years.” Great line, huh?

    John: Great line.

    Gavin: Then we started talking. She said, “Pat and Shirley Boone have become very good friends of mine and they’ve been a blessing to born again marriages.” Wonderful ministry. They’ve taught me to do some things and this is what I do. Whenever I come in the house now,” (it was an apartment), she said, “Hi honey, I’m home.” She said, “Look, I put my wedding ring back on,” and “Let me go get you something.” She went and she showed me a Bible with my name on it she had made. We just sat down there and we talked and fell asleep and talked and fell asleep. We never did eat that food.

    So much had changed. She had changed so much, it seemed to me. Now, she really had Jesus. She really had committed to Jesus and I said, “Patti, this is what I want. This is what I long for.” She had put on some television and the first one we saw was Kenneth Copeland. He eventually became a very good friend of ours and to Gloria and all. We went up there in Texas a few times to see them.

    Anyway, that was the beginning of our whole getting back together. Then I had to go to work. I started to hear with different ears. I started to see with different things. God started to do a work in me. I didn’t want to hear those dirty jokes anymore. I used to be the leader of all that. I didn’t want to hear those things. The guys weren’t too happy with me, but they tolerated me. I didn’t care because now I was with the Truth. My Lord has forgiven me of my sins.

    I eventually went through a process and I became born-again. Patti and I were both baptized in the water at Church on the Way with Pastor Jack. I will never forget that moment in my life as long as I live. Being baptized in the water and being told nothing before this moment has ever happened. Our sins are washed away.

    John: That story, just is absolutely incredible. There’s two things that I hear going on that just fly in the face of contemporary culture. First of all, you rarely hear of couples that have been divorced being brought back together just in regular contemporary Americana. Secondly, I don’t know if I’ve ever heard that story for anybody who has worked in Hollywood such as both you and Patti have. You both stand as a testimony of God’s grace and reconciliation.

    That story is so fantastic and, honestly, this is my prayer for you, that both of you will continue to share that because it speaks volumes of God’s grace to so many couples that are struggling even right now. This is going to be transcribed into a blog, and so people who are reading this and reading your testimony, Gavin, they’re going to be encouraged by the dramatic effects that God has done through both you and your wife.

    Gavin: That John, that’s exactly to me the purpose of my book. I didn’t care about writing a book about my life. If I can bring one person to Jesus, or if I can bring one couple back together, it will be worth all of the work and all of the energy and everything else that it’s taken to get this book done. That’s the purpose in life. My purpose in life is as an ambassador for Christ. The thing is John, I’ve never won an Oscar, never won an Emmy, never won a Tony. I’ve been given the greatest award anyone could ever receive, that’s eternal life.

    John: Amen, brother.

    Gavin: He’s forgiven me my sins. Born again, I’ve become an ambassador for Christ as John says. The most rewarding role I have ever had. With that comes a lot of responsibility. Someone was looking on a blog the other day and they saw my name. I said, “Patti, look I finally made it. It says Gavin MacLeod, actor and Christian activist.” Wow, Christian activist. That’s like getting a star from the Lord. You know what I mean? Putting it right out there.

    This story, I haven’t even finished how God has blessed us… We used to go to different born-again marriage seminars and give our testimony. Then on Trinity Broadcasting Network, we had a program for seven years called Back on Course. That was our first book, Back on Course. God used us that way. Even just two weeks ago, I got a note from someone. I get notes from people all over the world. This lady was from Trinidad and the husband had left for about six years and he saw our program one night and he contacted her and they got remarried.

    We were on a ship once and our little mailbox, if you’ve been on a ship outside your suite or wherever you are, they have a little mailbox and we found a thing there. Some lady was saying, “My husband and I owe our marriage to you because we were broken, completely broken. We heard your story and he said well, my heavens if God can do it for them, He can do it for me too. We’ve been back together and I just want to thank you for that.”

    When I go on Princess Cruises, sometimes they let me do a Sunday service. I get to do my testimony. The last one, I was coming from the Mediterranean and Adriatic and mostly English people on this ship. I got a wonderful, wonderful note from a woman who said, “I have been a pastor all my life and I decided, okay, now I’ve done it and now I don’t have to do it anymore. Then I heard you this morning, I realized it’s never over. What have I done? I said I don’t want to pastor anymore? I don’t want to speak the Word of God anymore? I don’t want to be a symbol of what God can do for you?” She wrote me this, she says, “I’m going back to the ministry after hearing you.”

    Those kinds of moments really feed into my gratitude so much. You know what I mean? God can take me, this guy that used to drink and I thought I knew Him but I didn’t know Him and all that kind of stuff and use me as an instrument. That’s what He used me as, an instrument. I’m just so grateful. I’m 82 now, but I have such a purposeful life. I want to go and go and go and bring as many people. When I go on the road with my book, I’ll be preaching almost all over the place until they close me down. I want people to know that, what I want to get across, is that He can do this for anybody.

    John: Amen.

    Gavin: My wife is going through a very difficult time now, John. She needs assisted living right now. The devil has attacked her for years and years and years in her mind. Her frontal lobe has decreased 40%. She’s in a place where they kind of help her with medication and things like that now because of this really abnormal depression and anxiety. We know Joyce Meyer says it’s a battlefield of the mind, you know? It’s true. We have everybody we know praying for Patti and her healing.

    John: We are joining you.

    Gavin: Listen, God bless you and your family and all the time you’ve given. It just made this a very important hour for me.

    John: Thank you, Gavin, so much for your time. God bless you, brother.

    Gavin: God bless you, too.

     


    This post was posted in Books, John van der Veen and was tagged with Featured, Joyce Meyer, Pat Boone, Gavin MacLeod, Jack Hayford, Kenneth Copeland

  • Hope Runs in the Middle of Life - Claire Diaz-Ortiz

    Posted on July 25, 2013 by John van der Veen



    Claire Diaz-Ortiz leads social innovation at Twitter, Inc., and is the author of several books, including Twitter for Good: Change the World One Tweet at a Time. Named one of the 100 Most Creative People in Business by Fast Company, she is a frequent international speaker on social media, business, and innovation and writes a popular business blog at www.clairediazortiz.com. She holds an MBA from Oxford University and an MA and BA in anthropology from Stanford University. She is cofounder of Hope Runs, a non-profit organization operating in AIDS orphanages in Kenya. Claire has been called a "mover and shaker" by Mashable, "the woman who got the pope on Twitter" by The Washington Post, a "force for good" by Forbes, and "one of the most generous in social media" by Fast Company. She has been widely written about in such publications as the New York Times, Business Week, The Washington Post, and Forbes.

    I sat down with Claire recently and talked through her amazing life. How she, as it seems to have lived such great stories in such a short time. What unraveled was not just intriguing, but also thrilling. Here is a women who is constantly living out what it means to be a "hearer of God." Or - Claire is a women who hears God. Not in a audible way, but in the still small voice kind of way.

    Her story is filled with passion for the lost and lonely. Her story is filled with hope running wildly through the middle of life.

    John: Claire, I'm wondering, maybe before we talk a little bit about your new book, if you want to just give us a brief history of who you are and what you have done. I think I know what your current job title is, but maybe if you just want to give us a brief overview of where you started and what made you interested in social media, that would be a good place to start.

    Claire: Sure. In 2006, I went on a trip around the world. And the last stop on that trip--it was a yearlong trip--was Kenya, where I went to climb Mount Kenya. Someone had told me that there was a guesthouse near the base of the mountain, so I decided to stay at that guesthouse. It was very cheap. The day I went to the guesthouse, I realized that it was actually on the grounds of an orphanage. When I arrived, the orphanage elders invited me in to have lunch at the orphanage. I went in that day and in the middle of lunch, I was in the restroom and I heard God telling me that I would stay at that orphanage. And so I ended up living at the orphanage for a year. My foster son was a child I met that first day, who ended up coming back with me to the U.S. So this book ...

    John: On that trip?

    Claire: Yeah, we met on that trip.

    John: Oh, you met on that trip, and eventually ...

    Claire: We met on that trip. I stayed, living at the orphanage for a year, and then about nine months or a year after, I came back. We brought him to the U.S.

    John: So, just to clarify. You were going to stay there one day, and you ended up staying a year?

    Claire: Yes. And getting that kid along the way. So, the book, Hope Runs is our story. It's the story of Sammy's life before coming to the orphanage, and my life before coming to the orphanage, and then us meeting that day, living together that year, and then the five years that have happened since then, essentially. During the year I lived at the orphanage, I had a blog that was popular. Because I had this popular blog, I ended up meeting some of the folks that were starting a little weird social media thing called Twitter. And so they said, "Hey, you should try getting on Twitter. We think it could be really cool for you to tweet about things." And so, I started tweeting while I was living at this orphanage in Kenya. Obviously, there weren't a lot of people tweeting about their lives in orphanages in Kenya at the time, so I started to learn very early on how Twitter could be used for non-profit organizations and missionaries. Eventually, then, about a year later, I started working at the company where I still work today.

    John: So to some extent, your career or your life story has two different paths. Because it certainly is philanthropy on the one side, but then it's also this crazy social media world on the other side. How have those collided, or how have they been beneficial for you in your history?

    Claire: Sure. I believe that we need to extend access to more populations on the planet for us to gain the change we are looking for. And I think that Twitter is a great tool for doing that. I think the online world creates a level playing field for lots of populations, different populations around the world. So I like being able to work with non-profit organizations from a cool platform like Twitter.

    John: That's very cool. So, going back then to this trip. You decided to climb Mount Kenya. Was this the first time that you had an encounter with God, or were you kind of on a journey with Him before?

    Claire: Yeah, no, I've always been a Christian. I was raised a Christian but up until that day, I've never heard God so distinctly. I've never heard him saying to me so clearly that something was going to happen, and I had to keep my eyes open for me to know what that was going to be, essentially. You know, that day in the orphanage, I decided to... I said, "I'm not going to climb the mountain. I'm going to do a 72-hour fast and read the Bible. I read lots of books about things like that, bettering yourself and what not.

    John: Yes, I found your list for 2013, I was intrigued…

    Claire: So inside I’m saying, "Okay, I'm going to read the whole Bible, and I'm going to fast while I do it, and then I'm going to come up with my decision on if I'm going to stay in the orphanage for a year." And I like to joke that I fainted somewhere near Leviticus, and they took me to the hospital (literally), because I had actually fainted. They thought I had malaria. But at that point I already decided I was going to live at the orphanage for the year, so it was okay.

    John: So going through the book of Leviticus should convict someone [laughs]…

    Claire: Exactly, exactly. To do anything.

    John: To do anything. That's amazing. What do you say to the person who thinks that maybe, at some point in their life, God has spoken to them but they may have missed that voice or that sign? How does someone kind of look at their life and question whether or not God is speaking to them?

    Claire: It's interesting, because I've often questioned why did I hear God, so distinctly that day, and why haven't I heard him so distinctly since. I've obviously heard God many times in my life, but what happened that day was bigger than anything that's ever happened to me before since. And, I really think a lot of the reason that it happened was that I had a lot of space in my life for it to come in. I was in a moment of searching, I had some time, there was margin in my life, essentially, and that allowed me to hear. I think probably most of us live our lives so busy and so full that we don't allow time to hear. Maybe we have 15 or 20 minutes in the morning of our quiet time or something. But that's not a lot if you're looking for God to really change your life.

    John: That's very interesting and also very convicting. In talking about the margin, Claire, I just have to ask the question, because in social media, we have access to the entire world at our fingertips 24/7. How do you make time, encourage either somebody who's younger or older or getting into or feeling addicted to social media, be it Facebook or Twitter, whatever. How do you plan margin in your life?

    Claire: Well, I think it's funny. Some people have thought I've been kind of heretical to say, does working at Twitter mean that I take the digital Sabbath? But I do. I try to take 24 hours off in every single week. And I think it completely restores me in ways that would never happen if I just stayed online. I mean, it's just so easy for us to get caught up in the fast-paced world we live in. And then in the fast-paced world, if you're spending all your time online, it feels even more fast-paced than ever. So you need to step away eventually and just shut it off and pause and stop.

    John: Have you always been a writer?

    Claire: Yeah. In my head.

    John: Sure. But I mean, you haven't come out with a lot of books, right, but you've probably written...

    Claire: Yeah. Sure.

    John: You know, unpublished or like you said...

    Claire: Right. I wrote a book about Twitter that came out a couple of years ago. And, as I say, I've always been writing in my head or something. I have all the Moleskin journals to prove it.

    John: Well, that's good. Encourage somebody who's on the fence about either foster care or adoption. What signs should they be looking at to either dive in or maybe hold off for that? How do you approach somebody who's considering that?

    Claire: Well, I think it's interesting, because I'm probably overly encouraging of anyone who's considering it. I actually ...

    John: Which is okay.

    Claire: I mean, I want people to be in a stable marriage if they're married, or to be in a stable financial situation, a stable living situation. Those things are important. But, I think that emotional renaissance, or emotional insecurities about the decision to adopt or the decision to foster, will always exist. Just in the same way that many soon-to-be biological parents have insecurities. And I don't think that's ever really going to go away. I don't think a hundred percent of the foster adoptive parents in the world are running around saying, "I can't wait for him or her to get here this second." But I think they all find that love very, very quickly upon meeting your new kid, essentially.

    John: So it's said that expecting parents are never, ever ... Even before they're expecting, they're never ready for a child. Do you think the same is true when they're expecting an adoption or a foster care child?

    Claire: Absolutely. And I think perhaps, even more so. Simply because often times when you're adopting or getting a foster child, you're getting a kid at a different age than day one. And you never quite know what day 1,000 might be for a child. And that comes with its own host of challenges.

    John: What has been the best surprise about Sammy in your life?

    Claire: I think the best surprise about Sammy has been simply the way that when I do little things, I'm amazed by how much Sammy appreciates them. When we were in the process of writing this book, I learned stories I never knew about Sammy. I thought I knew things about him, I thought he knew things particularly about his life in the last seven years since I've known him. But I was learning all these new things and one of them was, the emotion he felt the first time my best friend baked him a cake. Because he'd never... She baked him a cake because we were celebrating. He had graduated and he'd never had a cake baked for him before. And he was just so overcome with joy at this little thing. I hadn't even thought that, I dont' even know ... I guess we had bought cakes for him on past birthdays, past birthdays, I don't even know. And then the fact that the cake had been baked by someone because they cared about him, he was just like, "This is amazing." And he wrote this story in the book, and I just couldn't believe it. I started crying just because I couldn't believe it. I couldn't believe that A) no one had baked him a cake, and B) that I never knew that was important, 'cause I would've baked the cake years earlier, obviously.

    John: What is God teaching you lately?

    Claire: God is teaching me an incredible amount of patience right now.

    John: And how is he doing that?

    Claire: One of the ways .. There are different ways in my life, but one of the ways is in relation to Sammy. You know my parents sometimes say I got kind of the hardest end of parenting 'cause I started this with a teenager.

    John: How old was he when you took ...

    Claire: I met him at 13. He came over at 14 and a half, 15. You know that is a challenge. I think any teenager is a challenge. A parent of a teenager faces challenges and I'm facing all that. So without having had the years to kind of set him up for success in many ways, we are tackling those things. And that's hard.

    About Hope Runs

    Sammy Ikua Gachagua had lost his father to AIDS, his mother to abandonment, and his home to poverty. By age ten, he was living in a shack with seven other children and very little food. He entered Tumaini Children's Home seeing it as a miracle with three meals a day, a bed to sleep in, and clothes on his back.

    When Claire Diaz-Ortiz arrived in Kenya at the end of an around-the-world journey, she decided to stay the night, climb Mt. Kenya, then head back home to Maine. She entered Tumaini Children's Home seeing it as little more than a free place to spend the night before her mountain trek.
    God had other plans.

    Hope Runs
    is the emotional story of an American tourist, a Kenyan orphan, and the day that would change the course of both of their lives forever. It's about what it means to live in the now when the world is falling down around you. It's about what it means to hope for the things you cannot see. Most of all, it's about how God can change your life in the blink of an eye.


    This post was posted in Books, Interviews, John van der Veen and was tagged with Featured, Orphans, Kenya, Claire Diaz-Ortiz

  • One On One with Suzanne Woods Fisher

    Posted on July 18, 2013 by John van der Veen

    Suzanne Woods Fisher is the bestselling author of The Choice, The Waiting, The Search, and A Lancaster County Christmas, as well as nonfiction books about the Amish, including Amish Peace. Her interest in the Anabaptist cultures can be directly traced to her grandfather, W.D. Benedict, who was raised in the Old Order German Baptist Brethren Church in Franklin County, Pennsylvania. Benedict eventually became publisher of Christianity Today magazine. Suzanne is the host of an internet radio show called Amish Wisdom, and her work has appeared in many magazines. She lives in California.

    With Suzanne's signature plot twists combined with gentle Amish romance, she invites readers back to Stoney Ridge for The Letters, the first book in her The Inn at Eagle Hill series, featuring fresh stories of simple pleasures despite the complexity of life.

    Description for the book - Rose Schrock is a plain woman with a simple plan. Determined to find a way to support her family and pay off her late husband's debts, she sets to work to convert the basement of her Amish farmhouse into an inn. While her family, especially her cranky mother-in-law, is unhappy with Rose's big idea, her friend and neighbor, Galen King, supports the decision and he helps with the conversion.

    As Rose finalizes preparations for visitors, she prays. She asks God to bless each guest who stays at the Inn at Eagle Hill. As the first guest arrives and settles in, Rose is surprised to discover that her entire family is the one who receives the blessings, in the most unexpected ways. And she's even more surprised when that guest decides to play matchmaker for Galen King!

    I had a short one on one conversation with Suzanne recently about inspiration and life in general.

    Suzanne, what got you interested in writing about the Amish?

    The answer to that goes back to my grandfather and his siblings. He was raised Old Order German Baptist, a cousin to the Amish, and I grew up with an admiration for my Dunkard relatives. When I was thirteen, my cousin's little boy was passing away because of a genetic metabolic disorder. Watching my cousin and her husband walk through that period in their life with such peace in their hearts, such confidence in the sovereignty of God--well, it made an impact on me. In college, my major was American Studies and I learned more about the Anabaptists. Years later, when an editor from [my publisher] spoke to my agent about a non-fiction book about the Amish, I was ready!

    How have you been encouraged by the people living within an Amish community?

    Sometimes I think people get distracted by the buggies and bonnets and beards and they stop there. They assume the Amish are all about a simple, old-fashioned life. But there's much more to glean from the Amish--their sense of community, their commitment to forgiveness, their belief in the sovereignty of God in all matters. They take Jesus' Sermon on the Mount to heart--and that's what inspires and encourages me.

    Are any of the characters in your books based on your personal life?

    Oh, lots of them! Makes my friends ver-r-r-r-r-r-y nervous.

    What has God been teaching you lately?

    On August 1st, my youngest daughter is moving to China to teach at an international school. This is a terrific career opportunity for her and we had lived in Hong Kong for four years, so I have a comfort zone with living in an Asian city. It's all good! But...there's a part of me that's grieving, too. I worry about the what-if's--will my daughter move back to the San Francisco Bay Area when her contract is up? Will she get hooked on the international teaching life (which is a pretty sweet gig!)? Will she meet that "special someone" overseas and never come home? I've had to keep my palms open, metaphorically, about these worries and trust in God's providence for my daughter's future. I do believe that God has a wonderful plan for my daughter's life (for all my children...and yours, too!). I do believe it...and yet I don't always feel that peace. So that's what God is teaching me this summer--holding on lightly and trusting Him completely.

    What is on your "bucket list?"

    My first thought is to make it on the New York Times bestseller list--but I guess a bucket list isn't really a wish list, is it? On the short list: traveling to visit my daughter in China and seeing parts of Asia that we missed when we lived in Hong Kong. Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos are first on the list! Stay tuned...

    For more from Suzanne, click here.


    This post was posted in Books, John van der Veen and was tagged with Featured, Fiction, Suzanne Woods Fisher

  • New Suspense Fiction from Dee Henderson

    Posted on July 16, 2013 by John van der Veen

    In Unspoken, from bestselling author Dee Henderson, a family legacy brings Charlotte back to Chicago, where a reporter is writing a book about the kidnapping. The cops who worked the case are cooperating with him. Her options are limited: Hope the reporter doesn’t find the full truth, or break her silence about what happened - but her silence is what has protected her family for years.

    Charlotte Graham is at the center of the most famous kidnapping in Chicago history. The task force of FBI and local cops found her two abductors, killed them and rescued her, but it took four very long years. The fact that she was found less than three miles from her home, and had been there the entire time, haunts them. Now, she’s changed her identity, found a profession she loves, and rebuilt her life. But she’s never said a word - to the cops, to her doctors, to family - about those four years.

    Charlotte wants to trust him. She needs to tell him what happened. Because a crime cops thought was solved has only opened another chapter...

    Talk about suspense...

    We asked Dee a few questions regarding her new book, Unspoken.

    Is your new novel Unspoken related to Full Disclosure?

    Unspoken is Charlotte Graham and Bryce Bishop’s love story. Bryce Bishop is a good friend of Paul Falcon, so I took advantage of that fact and brought back Ann and Paul Falcon during the investigation within Unspoken. I like being able to continue on with characters and see the next chapter in their lives.

    Are you constantly creating new plot lines in your head?

    I work on one book at a time, but I’m a slow writer. It’s not uncommon for me to spend three months searching for an idea, writing down scenes until I find a good story spine. Then I spend about five months writing the story, and another three months fixing the story with the help of good editors. I’ll start that process with maybe ten or twelve ideas from my idea box. I write down every idea I have, even if I have to get up in the middle of the night and reach for a notepad. Ideas are like nuggets of gold, some I can use immediately, while others haven’t found a story yet. The ideas are accumulated in a box behind my desk. I think of that box as my security blanket. If I am really stuck, something in that box might generate a place to start.

    Who is your favorite author?

    Francine Rivers has written some beautiful and timeless stories. I like reading Nora Roberts—I love her characters. I’m currently reading all the Robert Parker Spenser novels; the early ones in the series are worth tracking down.

    What inspires you to create your art?

    God designed me to be a storyteller. It’s what I enjoy doing with my time. The hours involved in figuring out a story are a process of discovery. All the work involved is trivial compared to the joy that is that moment in time when story threads come together and I can see a book and how its components fit together. It’s a very unique point and something I look forward to with every novel. I’ll often mention to my mother, “I’ve got the story done. Now I just need to sit and write it down.” The rest of the job is tinkering to find the right words for a scene, to cut out what doesn’t need to be on the page and put down what does need to be there. Compared to every other job I’ve done, writing is the most absorbing and fun. I’m inspired to create stories because I want to write the end, and then tell God—I wrote another story, would you like to read it? And hope God likes it as much as I do. The stories are gifts I can give back to God that I hope He enjoys. And I can create them with only paper and pen, so I’ve been making those gifts for God since I was a little girl.


    This post was posted in Books, Interviews, John van der Veen and was tagged with Featured, Dee Henderson, Francine Rivers

  • Holley Gerth. On a Mission to Inspire Others to Dream.

    Posted on July 8, 2013 by John van der Veen

    Holley Gerth is a bestselling writer, certified life coach, and speaker. She loves connecting with the hearts of women through her blog and books like You're Already Amazing, You're Made for a God-Sized Dream, and Opening the Door to Your God-Sized Dream. She's also cofounder of (in)courage and a partner with DaySpring Cards. Holley lives with her husband, Mark, in the South.

    I sat down with Holley to talk about how she began her career in the card industry and how that lead to encouraging so many people around the world.

    What I found is a lady who is more interested in having a cup of coffee with her followers than anything else. Holley is a passionate woman who is on a mission to point others to Christ.

    John:                Let's just talk a little bit about Holly and where you’ve come from. You're from Arkansas, right? Have you always been a Southern girl? What kind of inspired you to start writing?

    Holly:               Okay. I'm originally from Texas, which is like a whole different country, really.

    John:                It is.

    Holly:               My grandparents had a Christian bookstore when I was growing up in South Texas. I was the little kid with a big stack of books in the back room. I always dreamed about being a writer when I grew up. That's how I got started and began loving words.

    John:                Were there particular authors that you were kind of drawn towards when you were working at the store?

    Holly:               I was too young to work. I was in elementary school. I remember even in fourth grade, I had Kevin Leman's Birth Order Book. I was analyzing all my little friends on the playground. I would just go straight to the adult Christian living section and pull out whatever I could find and just read and read and read.

    John:                That's pretty funny. Does Kevin know or that he inspired you?

    Holly:               I don't think so.

    John:                No? Have you ever met Dr. Leman?

    Holly:               No. I haven't.

    John:                I think he's published by the same company that publishes you, isn't he?

    Holly:               There you go.

    John:                Maybe someday... That's pretty cool.  How did you come to know the Lord?

    Holly:               I was raised in a Christian family with, the grandparents having a Christian bookstore. I grew up learning about faith and Jesus. I remember just one time being in, it was actually in my grandparents' house, and they have a little Gideon Bible, my grandpa is really active in the Gideon's. I remember just kind of flipping through it. For whatever reason, that was the moment for me. I was about seven, I remember praying and just saying, "Okay Jesus, you know, I'm yours." I got baptized the next Sunday and have had ups and downs in my faith, especially when I went off to college. I had a little rebellious streak for a while. I was fortunate to have a family that was always a part of it.

    John:                 After this and being influenced by Dr. Leman and others, is this when you gave writing a shot?

    Holly:               Yes. Where I really got my start writing was at DaySpring Cards, a subsidiary of Hallmark. When I went off to college, just before Christmas break my freshman year, the DaySpring sales rep went to call on my grandma at their store and she said, "I have this granddaughter who wants to be a writer." You know nanas are irresistible, so the DaySpring sales rep, "She can send some things to us." I did that, clueless at 19 years old and all. But they actually did accept my writing samples and I connected with their editorial team and freelanced when I was in college and interned. Then I spent about nine years there as an editorial director.

    John:                That's pretty wild to think about the fact that your cards or what you have written have inspired and encourage probably thousands of people all over the world. That's pretty spectacular. From DaySpring then you kind of transitioned to taking a stab at writing?

    Holly:               Yes, I started a blog around 2008 when all of that was ramping up, and I loved being able to engage with readers in that way. Then a coworker of mine, Stephanie Bryant, and I co-founded the website (in)courage, with an “I” instead of an “E”. We're at DaySpring and DaySpring was like, "I don't know what you crazy girls are doing, but go for it." We were thankful for that, that they let us go ahead and do that as part of our jobs. That took off in ways that we never expected, it was a God thing.

    I always wanted to write books, but it felt like God was saying it's time to take that step at that point. I always thought I'd be at DaySpring and just felt called to transition into something new. My last day at DaySpring was on a Friday and Revell offered me a three-book contract on the following Monday, that I didn't even know was coming. That was a pretty good confirmation.

    John:                That sounds like a God thing. That's pretty awesome. Your first title ... I don't remember the title of your first book.

    Holly:               You're Already Amazing.

    John:                How did it feel transitioning from one avenue to another?

    Holly:               I had also written two smaller devotionals and published those. It was fun to actually do the kind of books that I read growing up, the longer chapter books. I love the team at Revell. Jennifer Lee, my editor, was awesome. There were a lot of times I was scared in the first go around, and she would say, "It's going to be all right Holly, just keep writing." I loved that.

    By that time, I had also got licensed as a counselor, and certified as a life coach. My life was just full of all these different voices of women, whether it was online through my blog, or face-to-face in a counseling office, or in a lot of other ways. I felt like the conversation was already going and so having a book come out of that just kind of felt like the next natural step. It's really just about what all women struggle with and how God's truth sets us free. It was really fun to take all of that and put it into a book.

    John:                When you write a book, do you think about writing for your audience, or do you feel like you're writing because this is what God has told you to write about?

    Holly:               I would say both. I always say I feel like the first reader of whatever I write, because I feel like that's how God speaks to my heart. My job is first to listen and then just listen to my audience also. I always say on my blog that I'd love to have coffee with all my readers. That's what I think of when I'm writing. It's just what would I want to say if this reader was right across from me and being able to listen to what she is saying is really helpful. I feel like my books really are, in a lot of ways, a conversation between my readers and I.

    John:                Do any of your readers try to take you up on that?

    Holly:               Yes. (laughs)

    John:                Have you?

    Holly:               Yes. Last night we did an event at a store. I got to have coffee with a lot of my readers and it was so much fun. Yeah, if I Facebook, "I'm going to be in ____" like we were in Southern California last week and readers were like, "I live there, let's have coffee." Whenever I can, I do because that's what I love the most, just hearing the hearts of women and being able to be a part of their lives in that way.

    John:                That's great.

    Holly:               Yeah. The coffee helps, too.

    John:                Coffee helps too, nothing wrong with that. I think it's very biblical. (Smiles) Your new book is entitled You're Made for a God-Sized Dream. Want to talk a little bit about that? What's behind that?

    Holly.               Yeah. I felt like I got to go on a God-sized dream journey in the whole transition through launching (in)courage and my work at DaySpring, and then getting to write books. I wanted to come alongside other women, who maybe knew what they were called to do, but were just feeling a little scared to step out, and really equip them to make that transition into their dreams. That's what that book is about. A God-Sized Dream isn't really about size at all; it's about what perfectly fits your heart because God created it for you.

    I love saying to women, "You know what, you can be a dreamer wherever you are. If you're called to stay home and raise your kids, awesome. That's a God-sized dream. If you're supposed to move to Africa and do a non-profit, awesome. That's a God-sized dream, too." Just saying, whatever it is that God's asking you to do, go ahead and say yes. I know it's going to be scary and hard, but it's also going to be amazing and full of joy and it's going to change the world. That's just what that book is, coming alongside those women who are just stepping into that dream that God has for them.

    John:                What do you say with you being a licensed counselor, how do you respond to a lady who comes up to you and says, "I feel like God has a dream for me 'here,' but yet I'm stuck 'here.'" What would you say to that person in attempting to fulfill something that they feel that they've been called to, but feel there are barriers there?

    Holly:               They're in a different season. I would say to start with whatever you can do today. Even last night, I talked to the ladies and I said, "You know what? A dream can happen in 15 minutes a day. So, if you're chasing toddlers and you have 15 minutes to sit down and write one page, that's enough." Dreams are always about a process. It's not about the finish line. It's about the journey along the way.

    Really the best part of a God-sized dream is just going on that adventure with Him. You don't have to wait for that. He's always willing to meet you, every single day, wherever you are. You can get up every day and say, "God, I'm going to pursue this dream. Whatever that looks like today, whether it's five minutes or I get to do it full time, because what I really want out of that dream is more of you." I tell them, "You don't have to ever delay. It's not probably going to be everything you'd like to be doing or that you might be doing one day, but there's something that you can do today." It's really just about living fully engaged and awake.

    John:                What is God teaching you right now, Holly?

    Holly:               God is teaching me that He's never going to stop asking me to get outside of my comfort zone.

    John:                What does that look like?

    Holly:               I think just ...

    John:                Can you share?

    Holly:               Yeah. I'm an introvert.

    John:                Really?

    Holly:               Yes.

    John:                I can't tell (jokingly).

    Holly:               On like the Meyers/Briggs, I'm like 90% introvert. I love being with people, but it's outside of my comfort zone a lot of the time. I feel like this journey is just very much about dependence on Jesus. I say the Help me, Jesus” prayer a lot.  "Help me Jesus. Help me Jesus." Every day, I just pray that He would give me words that are perfect for His daughters. "Give us this day, our daily bread," and "He's the Word," and "He's the Bread of life." I just have to continually go back and say, "I got nothing, but I have you and that's enough."

    He continues to expand, books do well and things, and new opportunities arise. I tell women, "The fear never goes away." That's just part of it. That's what keeps us leaning in and saying, "Okay, I can do this with you Jesus, but I could never do it on my own." I think that's a lesson I just keep continuing to learn.

    John:                Do you ever have a down day?

    Holly:               Yes.

    John:                HA! It doesn't sound like you do.

    Holly:               (laughing) Yes. I absolutely have down days, right? Mark as my witness (Her husband Mark is sitting, nodding his head in agreement). Yes. I get overwhelmed. I get scared. I struggle with depression and anxiety. Every once in a while, I just get up and I think,  "Oh, I don't want to do this anymore," or I'm having a really bad day and my life's a mess and I don't know what I'm doing and these people on my blogs seem to think I have it together in some way, and I don't. I try to tell them that, again. I think that's part of it. We all have down days. None of us are perfect. We all have struggles and we're not home yet. That's not going to go away until we're in heaven. I think it's knowing that we can be used by God even in those times when we feel inadequate or we're really depressed or something hard is happening in our lives. That's really comforting to me that He can use us in spite of us. That's a really reassuring thing to know.

    John:                I'm always amazed on how liberal God's grace is towards His children knowing how much He knows about us. Even when we feel that life is going great, He still sees all the crud in our life. He still says, "Yes, you are the one that I have chosen to be my child, my bride." Pretty spectacular. Do you have a favorite Bible passage that you continually go to?

    Holly:               I tend to have one that I focus on for each book. With this book, it's Matthew 19:26, "All things are possible with God." I love that because "with God" means it's a partnership with Him. That verse doesn't mean I can do whatever I want and God will make it happen. It means that if we partner with Him, and we're seeking His purposes for our lives then nothing is impossible for us. That's really reassuring to me that I can just show up and say. "Okay, I'm willing to be used and God will work out the rest and make His purposes happen.

    John:                What are your big goals for the rest of this year?

    Holly:               The rest of this year? I have another book coming out in September, a devotional companion to this book.

    John:                Is that finished yet?

    Holly:               It's Opening The Door to your God-sized Dream, it goes along with the most recent book that's coming out.

    John:                That's great. That's awesome, Holly. I appreciate you coming in here, bringing me coffee and taking the time to chat with us today. I'm excited to see what God has in store for you.

    Holly:               Thank you. I appreciate that.


    This post was posted in Books, Interviews, John van der Veen and was tagged with Featured, Kevin Leman, Holley Gerth, Dayspring

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