KISSING– A Crucial Component of Christian Publishing

no kissing

Before your mind travels to the gutter, let me tell you that this post is not about kissing in the traditional sense. It’s about publishing and what to do after your book has emerged from the printing press–when the hard work of writing it has ended and the even harder work of promoting it has begun. What? Did you think you could sit back, relax, and watch your book sales rise without work? Sorry to burst your bubble, my friend, but that ain’t happenin’–not in the indie publishing world anyway. So the tip I will share with you today is essential, especially for the Christian writer. It is summed up in this acronym… KISS–Keep It Spiritual Sweetie!

Now, what do I mean by keeping it spiritual? If you are a Christian writer, your content will already be based on spiritual principles (let’s hope so anyway). But I’m talking about ways in which your content will reach the masses. So beyond the book’s spiritual content there are spiritual things you can do to spread the Good News of Christ and at the same time experience publishing success. Here’s what I did and am doing to “keep it spiritual” in my publishing journey.

1. Dedicate the book. My launch party and book signing wasn’t an ordinary book launch and signing. It was a ceremony, so to speak. I had the food, the music, and the books, but I also had prayer, a theme scripture, and an occasion read because I wanted everyone in attendance to know that this was both a celebration for what God had done in my life and an official send off of my book baby into the world to be used by God to bless lives. Most importantly, I used this moment to have my book baby dedicated back unto the Lord, much like new parents do with their children. The Biblical figure, Hannah, also did this when she bore Samuel.

They first butchered the bull, then brought the child to Eli. Hannah said, “Excuse me, sir. Would you believe that I’m the very woman who was standing before you at this very spot, praying to God? I prayed for this child, and God gave me what I asked for. And now I have dedicated him to God. He’s dedicated to God for life. Then and there, they worshiped God.           (1 Samuel 1:25-26 Message)

Like Hannah, I prayed that God would help me write this book, and He gave me what I asked for. Dedicating it back to Him was just the right and spiritual thing to do. I did this by asking my Pastor and Elect Lady (Pastor’s wife) to say a special prayer over the book for its success at the launch party. As he prayed he held it in His hands. I believe that the prayers and the anointed touch of the man and woman of God have hugely impacted the success of my book. Instead of it being just another interesting read, it is actually changing mindsets and thus changing lives. That’s not because of me. It’s because of the anointing, and I don’t want anything I do to be void of God’s anointing. It makes all the difference in Heaven and on Earth.

2. Pray that God would touch the hearts of potential buyers. I’m not the best salesman there is. Sometimes it’s challenging to talk to people about a product in a way that will convince them to buy it. Add to the equation that it is your own product, and you’ve got an even bigger challenge because it’s almost like selling yourself. I admit that the ability to sell yourself is a good quality to have, but what has compensated for my lack of skills in that area is prayer. My prayer is that God would draw the buyers and supporters in and that the book would sell itself without any gimmicks. Although I have tried to use free giveaways to appeal to my audience, I’ve learned that if someone is going to invest in a meaningful product they will do it despite any additional add-ons because it’s in their heart to do so. How do I know that the Lord has the ability to influence the heart’s of men and women? Because He said so in His Word.

The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will. (Proverbs 21:1 KJV)

After all, it’s not about me as the messenger, it’s about the message, so whomever needs to hear it will hear it in God’s time and in His way.

3. Trust Him to provide opportunities. 

For promotion cometh neither from the east, nor from the west, nor from the south. But God is the judge: he putteth down one, and setteth up another. (Psalms 75:6 KJV)

Remembering that promotion comes from above has helped me to put things in the proper perspective. Being in business for yourself requires a lot of commitment and time. Time that in some cases I do not have with all of the other responsibilities on my plate like my job, ministry work, and my family. To keep from neglecting those responsibilities, I have to trust God to provide opportunities for me to promote my book. I could pursue each and every opportunity that I can find, but it would be at the cost of something else really important in many instances. If God is responsible for your promotion, then you don’t have to worry. He will NOT disappoint or fall short on His job. He will make every opportunity that you do take advantage of benefit you far more than the ones you pursue on your own while neglecting your other obligations in the process. Yeah, that means you may have to turn some events down when there’s a scheduling conflict in favor of things that are higher in priority, but this is a sign of your trust in God’s ability to put you in the right path, at the right time, with the right people. God’s opportunities are always golden opportunities!

Purposed Prayer (In Honor of Veteran’s Day)

So too the [Holy] Spirit comes to our aid and bears us up in our weakness; for we do not know what prayer to offer nor how to offer it worthily as we ought, but the Spirit Himself goes to meet our supplication and pleads in our behalf with unspeakable yearnings and groaning too deep for utterance.  And He Who searches the hearts of men knows what is in the mind of the [Holy] Spirit [what His intent is], because the Spirit intercedes and pleads [before God] in behalf of the saints according to and in harmony with God’s will.  Romans 8: 26-27 (Amplified)

There is no way I’m getting up tonight.

It was 3 a.m.—the witching hour, according to some.  It was also time for me to get up and pray as had been my routine for the past week.  I had been led to get out of bed and find a secluded spot in our quarters at this hour to spend time with God, and it was becoming a routine.

This particular night though, an arresting sense of disease kept me still in my cot.  I scanned the room, not seeing anyone unusual.  My two roommates appeared to be in their cots.  No one was stirring.  All was quiet.   But the thick red haze lingered.  Lying there, I could feel fear sucking out my courage.   I blinked to make sure I wasn’t dreaming, but the thick red haze remained.

My heart raced…it had nothing to do with nerves, although I wished it had been.  Something this sinister could only be a work of satan himself.

Only he could be responsible for the red cloud filling the room; the burning smell of sulfur that slapped me in the face.  If I hadn’t been awake before, I knew I was now.  I lied there stock still in my cot underneath sheer mosquito netting, which was now for me a safe haven, trying to make sense of what was happening around me.

I was in the same room with the same people, but it seemed like there was a different presence there—an evil one.

So I began to pray intensely.   Like my courage, words escaped me.  I remembered what I had been taught about a function of the Holy Spirit—when we don’t know what to pray for, the Spirit will intercede for us.  I let Him do His thing.  It was a blessing to be filled at that moment.  I prayed and prayed right there on my back until I could feel my courage come pouring back into me and an extraordinary peace surround me.  Sleep soon came, and so did the morning.

The next day, I didn’t mention the previous evening’s strange happenings because I didn’t think anyone would understand.  What was I really going to say?  “The devil was in here last night.”  Heck, I didn’t even know how to explain what had happened.

Later that evening, as my roommates and I sat around talking, a revelation hit me.

“The weirdest thing happened last night,” said Sgt. Toth, one of my roommates.  “Somebody was in our room.”

“In our room?”  I asked, fearing the unknown.

Who knows what his intention may have been:  to steal something from us, rape one of us, or maybe even kill one of us.  Whatever it was though, thankfully, God did not allow it to happen.

“He was standing over me, and I was in such a deep sleep that I just swung my arm at him,” she said.  “When I realized someone was actually there I grabbed my flashlight to see him.  That’s when he ran.”  She chased him out of the building, but could not catch him.

My mouth dropped in disbelief.  It was the same night I sensed the demonic presence, but I was completely oblivious to everything else she recounted.  I must have drifted back into a deep sleep after praying.  It was all so confusing and bizarre and unexplainable because I had never encountered the spiritual world in that way before.  Ironically, I never got up to pray again not because I was afraid, but because I no longer felt compelled.

After sharing that incident with a few people they helped me to see that those nights of intense prayer leading up to that night was preparation and protection for what was to come.  The Lord needed someone to stand in the gap and pray on all of our behalf, and I was the one chosen for the job.  Who knows what satan would have done had I not been obedient to the Lord leading me to pray for covering for everybody in the building and possibly even everyone at Camp Anaconda?  At the time I didn’t know what I was praying for, but I’m glad I was sensitive to the voice of my spirit.

And I am even gladder I didn’t get up that night.

Has something similar ever happened to you?  Has the Holy Spirit used you to intercede for a future situation?

Written in 2009 to recount an event that took place during my year-long deployment to Iraq back in 2003.

Want It, Need It, Gotta Have It

Study

The other day while praying for a friend of mine, I was led to pray that she get so close to God that she become addicted to Him.  As soon as the words came out of my mouth I knew that I needed the same thing for myself.  “Help me to be addicted to your Word, Lord,” I prayed.  I want to need it, desire it, and do all I can to get it every day no matter what.  I think it’s an addiction that all Christians should have.

My desire to become addicted led me to Job 23:12.  It says, “…I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary food.”  Job points out that food is necessary for our survival, but the Word of God is, let’s say, SUPER necessary.  He also uses an interesting word to express his treatment of the Word–esteem.  I looked this word up and found out that to esteem something means to hide, hoard or reserve it.  Job was apparently taking in so much Word that he had built up a Word stash.  You weren’t going to find him suffering from Word withdrawal.  He had plenty to sustain him through the trials of life (he had a lot of those), and he kept his supply coming daily.  Talk about an addict.  Job set the bar high with this one.  How many of us can honestly say that we are that committed to the study of God’s Word?  That we treasure it more than the food we eat?  I know I can’t.  If I did, I would make sure that I partake of it as often as I partake of natural food, if not more–breakfast, lunch, and dinner and snacks in between–EVERY DAY like clockwork.  I do love God’s Word or maybe it’s more accurate to say that I have a healthy respect for it.  I get excited when I hear it, I can talk about it to others, and I even live it in most cases.  But do I really give it the respect that it deserves?  My prayer for myself and for you is that we will become addicted to the Word and STAY addicted.  So, besides praying for this total dependency on the Word, what is my part in ensuring that this becomes a reality daily?  I think a mind change is in order first.  I must see spiritual food differently.

I like to eat just as much as the next person, but my perspective on eating has changed a bit since I’ve been striving to lower my cholesterol and lose some excess fat around my mid section. What I’ve learned about a weight trainer’s diet is that it’s important to eat for fuel so that our muscles can grow.  That goes totally against what the food industry, the media, and every doughnut shop around me promote, which is to eat for pleasure.  I’ve found that healthy eating is not always a pleasurable experience because I cannot indulge in any and everything that tastes good, if it is not good for me.  It is easy to get bored with clean eating, and our flesh would have us to believe the same thing about the daily study of God’s Word.

While reading the Word of God is not always a pleasurable experience to our flesh, it is indeed spiritual fuel to help you function to your fullest God-ordained potential.  We need it to build ourselves up spiritually.  So no matter how dry or routine your study sessions may have been in the past, it can be a very fulfilling experience.  He rewards those who diligently seek him (Hebrews 11:6)  So don’t give up.  Once you’ve tapped into revelation and have seen the results of quality time spent with Him, you won’t ever want to stop.  I know because I have been there before.  I just need to return to that place FAST.

I think it also goes back to being consistent.  I know in my heart of hearts that if I can spend an hour in the gym 4 to 5 days a week, then surely I can spend time each day in the Word.  I know which is more important, but it’s just like my Pastor says, the proof is not in what you know, it’s in what you do with what you know that matters.  My goal is to manage my distractions and prioritize my day to make God’s Word a priority, not just on Sunday morning or Wednesday night, but everyday.

If that isn’t motivation enough, think about this.  The enemy sure doesn’t want us to get to this point because he knows the outcome of a life filled with the Word–victory, blessings, good success, peace, and prosperity.  Yes, the Word of God is a powerful substance that can hook you if you let it.  But don’t worry.  This addiction will never lead to an overdose because you can’t ever get too much of it.

I’d like to hear your thoughts.  If you have already established a daily appointment with God and His Word, what is it like for you?  If not, what is your goal to establish this in your life?