An update on The Black Swan Effect

I am excited! Two years of work, plus decades of background study, are nearly done. The Black Swan Effect is undergoing its final edits before going to the printers later this month.

You readers of my blog have been my inspiration. I was totally amazed when I shifted the emphasis of this blog to include writing about women in the Kingdom, that my readership doubled almost overnight. Your comments have inspired me and caused me to do further research. When I’ve felt discouraged, one of you has always written something that’s lifted my spirits and made me think, “Yes, it is all worth it.” Thank you to everyone.

Here’s the latest:

The Black Swan Effect website is up and running. It has interesting information about the book and its authors, plus a sample chapter. You can see it here.

We are pretty much reliant on word of mouth when it comes to the marketing of the book. It would be wonderful if you would help us spread the word. Let your friends know its becoming available soon. There are a number of things practical things you can do too.

  • We have a Facebook page . It would help us if you would “like” the page and then invite your friends to like it too.
  • You can follow us on Twitter.
  • If any of you have blogs, I’d love you to blog about the book. I’ll willingly do an interview for you, or give you some other materials about it. Of course, a (favorable ;-) ) book review on your blog would be great too.
I’ll keep you posted…

A woman of faith: Elisabeth Elliot

I’m currently on vacation with Tony–staying in a house on a deserted beach in Eleuthera (Bahamas). This article about Elisabeth Elliot is a repost.

Our deserted pink-sand beach

“The fact that I am a woman does not make me a different kind of christian,But the fact that I am a christian does make me a different kind of woman.” Elisabeth Elliot

Elisabeth’s parents were missionaries in Belgium, which is where she was born, but they returned to the States when she was just a few months old, and she was brought up near Philadelphia.

Elisabeth went to Wheaton College where she studied classical Greek in the knowledge that this would help her translate the Bible into the languages of unreached people groups. She met her first husband, Jim, while she was there. Following college she went to Ecuador to work with the  Quichua Indians. A year later, Jim also came to work with the  Quichua. Jim and Elisabeth were married in Quito in 1953.

Jim had always had a heart for unreached people groups. The Aucus, a fierce tribe who killed everyone who came into contact with them, were  not too far away. Jim and four others determined to reach them and so made a trip into their territory in 1956. They made friendly contact with three of the tribe members but then all of them were speared to death. As Jim said, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”

Left alone with a 10 month old daughter, Elisabeth Elliot continued work with the Quichua tribe. Then God led her to two Auca women who were living amongst the Quichua, whom she invited to live with her. They stayed for a whole year, and taught her and fellow missionary, Rachel Saint, the Huao language spoken by the Aucas. One of the two Auca ladies was the key to Elisabeth being able to live and work with the Aucas, the people who had killed her husband. She spent two years with them with her three-year-old daughter, Valerie, and Rachel. She then returned to her work with the Quichuas, finally going back to the States in 1963.

Since then she has led a very productive life, speaking and writing. She became an adjunct professor at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and was one of the stylistic consultants for the New International Version of the Bible. She also remarried, and now works with her current husband. She is one of the most influential Christian women of our day.

Photo credit:www.elisabethelliot.org

How Moses is a foreshadowing of Christ to women

Someone recently pointed out an interesting passage to me. I think there are some good lessons to learn from it.

When Moses arrived in Midian, he sat down beside a well. Now the priest of Midian had seven daughters who came as usual to draw water and fill the water troughs for their father’s flocks. But some other shepherds came and chased them away. So Moses jumped up and rescued the girls from the shepherds. Then he drew water for their flocks. When the girls returned to Reuel, their father, he asked, “Why are you back so soon today?” “An Egyptian rescued us from the shepherds,” they answered. “And then he drew water for us and watered our flocks.” (Exodus 2:16-19 NLT)

Reuel, who we see from Exodus 18 was also called Jethro, later gave his daughter, Zipporah, to be Moses’ wife.

Here are several points:

  • Women as well as men were shepherds in Moses’ time.
  • Their father, Jethro, was the one who assigned them this task
  • These seven young women cared for their father’s flocks, bringing them regularly to get water
  • Other shepherds, not wild animals, made their task much more difficult by chasing them away from the well. (Was this because they were women?) One has the impression from Reuel’s comments when they arrive home that this was a daily occurrence. How sad!
  • Moses, who is a type and foreshadowing of Christ, rescued the women from the other shepherds and helped them with their flocks by drawing water for them
  • By Exodus 3, Moses is looking after those same flocks. It’s while he’s doing this that he sees the burning bush
What  can we learn from this?

Photo Credit: Tambako the Jaguar via Compfight cc

If the world were a village…

You think you have it tough? I recently came across these figures on a site that encourages people to pray for various countries in the world. (Visit the site--it’s well worth the time.) All of us are aware of some of the injustice around the world, but these figures brought it home to me…

Picture the world as a village of 100 people.

  • Six people (all U.S citizens) own 58% of the wealth
  • 74 people own 39% of the wealth
  • 20 people own the other 2% of the wealth. If you have a bank account (with any amount) you are among the richest 30 people
  • 18 people struggle to live on $1 USD per day
  • 53 people struggle to live on $2 USD per day
  • 20 people are undernourished
  • 15 are overweight
  • One dies of starvation
  • 20 people have no clean drinking water
  • 56 people have no access to sanitation
  • 80 live in substandard housing
  • One person has AIDS
  • One has a university degree
  • Seven people have computers
  • 67 are illiterate
  • 48 people cannot speak freely of their religious faith

Of the 6.5 billion people in the world, 2 billion have never heard the Gospel.

In the light of this, how should we then live?

 Photo Credit: Great Beyond via Compfight cc

The Black Swan Effect is on facebook

It’s a long story, but despite offers from publishers, the Lord has led us clearly to self-publish our book, The Black Swan Effect.  Part of the reason ties up with finances. When we were in the process of making our final decision, from two different sources the Lord spoke to us.

“It’s all about the money.”

Since we’ve always planned to give any proceeds away, we’d never even considered the financial implications. But when we did the math, we discovered that we’d be able to give away about five times as much money if we self publish.

However, one of the side effects of this decision is that we are now responsible for all the marketing.There will be no money to give away without books selling, however one publishes.  And actually, especially in the current climate, even with traditional publishers, the author is the one primarily responsible for marketing. We know we are totally dependent on the Holy Spirit for The Black Swan Effect to have any kind of impact, but there are tools out there that we can use.

So we have become active in social media. And it would be great to have your help.

The Black Swan Effect has now gone live on Facebook! You can view posts about The Black Swan Effect on Facebook here.

It would help us if you would click through and “like” the page. How about inviting some of your friends to like the page too? Then join the conversation.

We’ve also just started a Twitter account. Our Twitter name is @blackswanbook. Again, follow us on Twitter and help us to spread the word.

My blog readers are the best!! I’m so grateful to each and every one of you for reading my posts, for commenting, for offering support and encouragement. (Much to my shock, I recently discovered simplychurch in a list of the top 100 Christian blogs–Crazy! And I know I have you all to thank.)

Thank you for your help with getting the word out about the book too!

When God is silent

When Tony and I moved here to the States in 1987, probably the toughest part of our lives so far at a spiritual level kicked in. Why? God became silent. He stopped talking to us.

Back in the UK, nearly everything had gone well. It was relatively easy to know what God was saying. In fact, when he spoke to us about moving to Texas, his leading was so clear that we sold our house and moved here, knowing no one. We felt a bit like Abraham, but were confident he would continue to lead us clearly.

And then silence.

Nothing. Nada

No clear direction.

It wasn’t so much the little things. It was that clear sense of direction, knowing we were following him, in the center of his will, that was missing.

To start with, we confessed every sin, real or imaginary, that we could think of. After all, we reasoned, sin separates us from God.

Still nothing.

We tried everything. We had faith, we prayed against the enemy.

Then I got angry with God. How could he bring us here and then drop us? Needless to say that didn’t work either.

Finally, I came to the place where I realized my total dependence on him. If God chose to leave me on the shelf and never to use me again, that was his prerogative. He is the potter, I’m mere clay in his hands.

A number of things died at that point–any desire for limelight, any sense of entitlement, any hankering to be anything beyond ordinary.

It was then, after nine years of God’s kind of seminary on the backside of the desert, his training in the school of wilderness experience, that, God, in his mercy, started speaking again.

 Photo Credit: Vu Bui via Compfight cc

Covering and control

Only too often, I come across this kind of sad story of spiritual control:

“I committed some “offense”  (usually not a sin but something that went against the church’s “rules”), and the pastor /church excommunicated me. No one else in the church is allowed to talk to me. My old friends avoid me in the grocery store. The ones it hurts most are my kids, who just don’t understand….”

As far as I’m concerned this is control and abuse. It’s an application of the “heresy” of covering.

Control takes other forms too. Like baptism.  Only someone who is ordained can baptize. Show me that in the Bible! Or communion. It takes a special sacred person to give communion.

Often it’s applied specifically to women. Women can’t baptize. Where’s that in the Great Commission?

Give me a break!

 

 

 

Feet and forks, knees and mouth

As a former physician, I still maintain an interest in health. I recently read an article (I think it was probably by or about Dr. David Katz who is an authority on preventive medicine), stating we can reduce our lifetime risk of all chronic diseases by 80 percent with our feet, forks and fingers. That is, if we will exercise, eat right and not smoke.

What would be the equivalent of feet and forks in terms of seeing the moves of God that we long for? Just as with disease prevention, doesn’t it come down to the basics? How about knees and mouth? That is, prayer and telling our stories and Jesus’ story?

Feet and forks really only work if we take are intentional about using them. We have to make an effort to exercise, a decision to eat right. Just as preventive medicine only works if lifestyle choices become ongoing habits, I suspect that one-off prayers and witnessing occasionally, while good in themselves, will not produce the results we long for. However, a lifestyle composed of prayer, and deliberately going out of our way to share our faith with others will produce more fruit than just sitting around and hoping it will happen.

What do you think?

 

 

 

Making disciples

As part of my study on Disciple Making Movements, I’ve been reading through the gospels to see how Jesus approached making disciples.

Jesus invited people to become his disciples. In Mark 2:14, Jesus said to Levi (Matthew), “Follow me and be my disciple.” He didn’t tell him, “Follow me and when you’ve learned enough, you can be my disciple.” Too often, we make discipleship a teacher/learner process, whereas Jesus regarded anyone who followed (and obeyed) him as a disciple, right from the get go.

Our friend, Molong, in the Philippines has a very simple pattern of making disciples. He’ll say to someone, “You’re my friend and you believe in me, would you like to become a disciple?” Then he tells them about following Jesus. When they say “yes,” he baptizes them, and teaches them how to do the same for their friends. He now has disciples down to the 14th generation. If you follow him on facebook, you’ll come across posts like ” XXX (second generation) says they are going to baptize seven people today.” There are around 600 new believers who have become disciples in this way. Their “follow-up” consists of  living life together–not under the same roof, but as an everyday occurrence.

Within evangelicalism, one-on-one is a preferred method of discipleship . I have no doubt as to its effectiveness (wish someone had been there to disciple me as a young believer). However, recently I’ve been questioning this.

There were only two occasions I can find in the gospels where Jesus had a conversation with one of the disciples alone. One was with Peter over the paying of taxes (go and catch a fish) and the other, also with Peter, was about forgiving people seventy times seven times. As far as I can see, every other interaction that is recorded involves a group of them–of at least two or three.

There was one occasion where it specifically states Jesus was alone for a conversation with someone–the woman at the well. And we assume (although it doesn’t say so) that he was alone with Nicodemus in John 3.

Other than that, once he had chosen the twelve, Jesus worked with groups–groups of his disciples, the crowds, challenged groups of Pharisees and Sadducees. Other conversations where it appears he was talking to individuals, if you examine the context, were all within a group situation.

What can we learn from this?

Photo Credit: Travis S. via Compfight cc

The Black Swan Effect: prayer needed

The Black Swan Effect: A response to gender hierarchy in the church is due out at the beginning of April.

Unless the Holy Spirit takes and uses this book, it will not accomplish anything of significance.  We can do all the marketing and promoting we want, but if God doesn’t take a hand in things, it will, at best, be an interesting read for some people. But it will not have the impact we long for.

Tackling the topic of women in the church also potentially paints a target on our backs.

Prayer is the answer.

Would some of you be willing to pray with us for this book? I’m going to send out weekly (or so) updates until after the launch so you’ll be aware of how things are going.

You can sign up for prayer updates here.

 

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