In Part 1 of this post I gave a bit of my background leading up to the writing of my book, God Gives More Grace. It certainly has been a long, and winding road. In this post, I hope to share a bit of the process of writing the book itself. In the final part I will explain how I connected with my publisher (Regular Baptist Press), and how God answered a very specific prayer!
The origins of my book can be traced back to 2005, when I started preaching a series of messages through the book of James to the teens at Lighthouse Baptist Church. The series consisted of 32 messages and took over a year to finish. When we came to James 4:5-10, I remember being struck by the simplicity and importance of this single text in regard to the grace of God. Just this past week I looked back at my sermon notes from this passage, and found that what I preached to the teens at Lighthouse Baptist Church in Sunday School over a decade ago has the same exact layout and divisions as my 200+ page book. The simplicity, yet depth of Scripture always amazes me.
The study in James 4 left a lasting impact upon my life and ministry. I found that I would often direct people to this passage when helping them deal with various issues and struggles in life. Inevitably, whenever I would counsel an individual or couple, sooner or later we made our way to this passage. When we think about the struggles we face in life, it is the grace of God we need most. So, this text and God’s grace was constantly on my heart and mind.
As I progressed through my graduate studies, first completing a Master of Arts in 2012, and then beginning work on my doctoral studies, I was well aware of the dissertation project that loomed on the horizon. When I began thinking about what subject I wanted to invest endless hours of study on, the passage from James 4 on God’s grace was the very first one to come to mind. To my surprise, when I presented this topic to my advisor in the doctoral program, he accepted it without any modifications. That is a miracle in and of itself!
So, as I was nearing the completion of my course work for the doctor of ministry degree through Clarks Summit University, I began work on my dissertation in earnest. During the end of 2015, and throughout much of 2016 I spent countless hours writing my dissertation. Sometimes I would write during the day; sometimes inspiration would strike in the middle of the night. But, by October 2016 I held a completed manuscript in my hands. I turned the document into my “first reader” on my dissertation committee who read through the manuscript and made corrections and offered suggestions. By March 2017 (just two months before graduation), I sat in a room on the campus of Clarks Summit University prepared to spend the next 3 hours defending my dissertation.
At the end of my defense, Dr. Gardoski and Dr. Slusser asked me to make a couple of modifications to the text, but said I had passed through with flying colors. During my defense, I wanted to find out what they really thought about the manuscript. I asked, “So, what do you think about my dissertation?” They both agreed, “Its good.” But I wanted to make sure I was getting their honest opinion. I asked, “So, what do you REALLY think about my dissertation? Do you think it is publish worthy?” And they both said that they felt like I had a good writing style, and that the work would be a valuable resource for the church. In the meeting, Dr. Gardoski passed along the contact information of a fellow Clarks Summit University student who worked at Regular Baptist Press. This of course would come into play almost a year later. To find out more about that, stay tuned for Part 3!