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My Hopes for The Dirty Campaign

Special note: Sign up at this link to get your free copy of The Dirty Campaign, which will be released on Aug 27th to current subscribers. 

The Campaign Cover Draft 4

I’m just over two weeks from launching The Dirty Campaign. Can you believe it? I’m very excited about this story, which puts the reader in the middle of Sunset, Kansas during the 2018 election cycle.

I have several hopes for this novelette. Some of those hopes are for my writing career and some are for my ministry. Let’s start with the ministry desires.

  1.  I hope I can help people make good political decisions this coming cycle. I can’t know all of your reasons for voting the way you do, and the opposite is obviously true, but I believe I can help you focus your energy on the overall picture through the characters in my story. Each of them has a reason for voting the way they do, just like each of us does, and I hope that by presenting that, I can help you make good decisions in November.
  2. I hope I can help Christians realize that they represent God when they talk about their election choices. One of the minor characters in the book makes things worse because he forgets that he’s an ambassador for Christ instead of a bullhorn for conservative values. We have to be better and I hope we can all use his example to fuel a correct posture toward others.
  3. I hope I can help unbelievers see that politics isn’t a black and white issue, that there are many nuances that we struggle with just as much as they do. I have a lot of friends who are unbelievers. Some are more hostile than others (just like believers can be), and I hope that they can see, should they decide to read this story, that we are multifaceted just as they are.

The Dirty Campaign was written with a couple of career hopes, and I’m going to be upfront in the hopes that you won’t judge me as I do.

  1.  Entertain you. Fiction exists to entertain. Yes, it teaches, encourages, enlightens, convicts, and all the rest, but it exists to entertain. I hope you are entertained by The Dirty Campaign.
  2. Build a subscriber base. Part of offering the story for free in the beginning is to build a subscriber base. I’m very confident that the Sunset series will stick around for a long time, and I want people on board who will be interested in receiving information about the story for years to come! With Facebook, Amazon, Google, and other major social media players changing algorithms, email remains the best way for people to receive updates about the series.
  3. Create fans. My biggest career hope for this story is that it successfully introduces you to the main characters of Sunset and that you fall in love with them. Not my writing, not my tone or style, but with my characters. I want you to love them as much as I love them. This is the first big step in that process.

I would love for you to partner with me on this project, first by downloading and signing up for the Sunset newsletter, and by sharing it with your contacts. I’ll share more about that in a future post.

To get on the list now, sign up here. Your free link for the story will be in your in box the last week of August! You can unsubscribe at any time.

The Dirty Campaign Cover Reveal

Time is flying by the summer. Before long, the upheaval of the mid-term elections will be upon us! It’ll be the only thing Twitter and Facebook will focus on, not to mention the pundits on your television.

But how does it affect small towns across America? That’s the question The Dirty Campaign seeks to answer. I can’t wait to share the novelette with you! Wow! I’m excited!

Ok, it’s coming in September. Are you ready to see the book cover? Scroll down!

The Campaign Cover Draft 4

What do you think? Let me know in the comments! Subscribe here for updates on the story and to find out when you can download it for free!

Announcing: The Dirty Campaign

IMG_2207Raul Sanchez pastors the 3rd Street Baptist Church in Sunset, Kansas. Senator Jonathan Moreland, a conservative who has served multiple terms in Washington D.C., has a particularly prickly problem. Talking to Pastor Sanchez seems like the perfect thing to do…

Until it all blows up, threatening to hurt Raul’s standing in the town and the Senator’s reelection bid. Will Raul and his friends find a way through it? Or is it too late? Will Sunset recover? Most importantly…is there a chance for the gospel message to shine through?

The Dirty Campaign: Political Intrigue in Sunset, releases in September! A few advance copies are available now. Email (dan@navychristian.org) for details!

Sign up here to learn more about Sunset and learn about the release of The Dirty Campaign and other Sunset works!

My Multisite Church Problem

This post is a companion piece for an article I wrote for Evangelical Free Church of America. You can read it here.

I thought they were all egotistical megalomaniacs bent on making Outreach’s 100 fastest growing churches list, to be quite honest. I didn’t think there could be any way that a pastor at a multisite church could possibly be interested in spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Surely they had to water down the gospel in order to have more than one site!

This became a problem for me in 2017. When my family moved back to San Diego to take a new position in the Navy, I tried to focus on churches that only had one location. I was bound and determined to avoid multisite churches like the plague.c56772_dd97dfecd68f4d7aa4d67d22dc37278f

One by one, the churches we visited just didn’t seem to quite fit. While checking around, I did begrudgingly go to two multisite churches in my neighborhood. One of these visits was to Legacy Church in Tierrasanta. Much to my dismay, both of them were very good.

I went back to other single-site churches, hoping that one of them would be our match. They weren’t. Instead, the multisite churches were great, meaning that they preached the true gospel. I started to change my thinking on the issue. Could multisite churches be more than just ego boosts for their pastors?

As I learned more about Legacy Church, I came to realize that the pastor usually travels from the first location to the second location and back to cover all three services. In many ways, Legacy Church was emulating the Methodist circuit riders of old. Instead of covering miles of a frontier or a set of rural communities, however, Legacy covers La Mesa, CA and the Tierrasanta neighborhood of San Diego.

Then I thought: “This is not how I thought multisite churches worked. I wonder if there are other models as well.”

That thought officially launched my research into multisite churches, followed quickly by a query to the editor of EFCA Today, Diane McDougal. She ok’d the project on the understanding that final approval would come after it was complete. I began my research with Dr. Larry Osborne of North Coast Church in San Diego. Dr. Osborne was great to work with, as was his administrative assistant, Amanda Hoffman. She worked out a schedule that met both Dr. Osborne’s needs and mine as the writer. Our talk lasted about a half hour.

First question: What is the Gospel? I figured…hey, if they weren’t about the gospel, then I’d know my research could end. The gospel is the most important thing, as far as I can tell, so I started my questions with that.

He answered with I Corinthians 15, which encompasses the death, burial, and resurrection. When I asked him why he started there, he replied, “I figured that what the apostle Paul describes as his gospel is good enough for me as a working description.”

Ok, so far so good. Turns out one of the site pastors for North Coast also had a solid definition. Jay Foulk, who oversees the San Marcos/Escondido campus, said the gospel was, “the good news that through Jesus Christ’s life, death and resurrection, we can be saved from our sins through faith in Him.”

Wow. So maybe this is not only, not bad, but maybe good. My shell was beginning to crack. I still didn’t want to go full bore, but around this time, Alicia and I were regularly attending a multisite church (Legacy), so I figured I needed to get to the bottom of it soon.

I reached out to Nathan Miller, who oversees the site pastors for Christ Community Church in the Kansas City metro area. Nathan was likewise easy to talk to and a gracious subject. As we talked about the definition for the gospel, he added, “No matter what we’re preaching, we ask, ‘How do we get to Jesus?’”

Whereas North Coast Church utilizes a single preacher each week who preaches to all locations via video, Christ Community Church utilizes a model wherein each site’s pastor preaches each week on an agreed topic with agreed-upon points. They meet each week to talk about the upcoming sermon in order to provide a consistent gospel message. In both models, local worship leaders provide the musical leadership to their respective sites.

The rest of the interviews went very well. I was more than satisfied by the answers given. By the time I had finished my first draft of the article, I had become comfortable with joining Legacy Church.

We are now a part of Legacy’s Tierrasanta campus, growing as a family under the leadership of Curt, Todd, Troy, and the rest. And I’ve come to learn just how impacting multisite churches can be in the multiple communities they serve in. I’m probably not ready to go to a service where the only interaction I have with the pastor is on a video screen, but I am comfortable with the model we have at Legacy, and I’m comfortable with telling people about North Coast Church (for my San Diego friends who aren’t in my neighborhood). For those I know in Kansas City, I highly recommend Christ Community Church as well.

As a final note, I turned in my final draft to the new editor, Abby Farson Pratt, at 750 words. Diane liked the articles tight and economic. Abby, while appreciating tight writing, also wanted to explore the issue more, giving me a set of questions she wanted answered for the next draft. I went back to the pastors I had worked with on the project and, ever gracious, they answered the new round of questions. I turned in the new article at approximately 1200 words. That just goes to show that it’s vital to know what your editor wants when he or she wants it.

I would love your thoughts…and as always, you can sign up to receive updates on my social commentary by going HERE.

Christians can’t give up on North Korea

The summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean dictator is off, as in, not going to happen. Well, maybe it will. Trump seemed to leave the door open in a recent news conference. North Korea’s official response seemed to leave the idea of a summit on the table as well. Unfortunately, no one knows for certain, except maybe some diplomats in SecState Pompeo’s department. Obviously, you and I are not privy to that information.

It’s easy to get discouraged as a Christian when it seems like everything is headed back to status quo. If you’re a regular reader of mine, you know I’m interested in this situation (I actually wrote about this as early as late 2010). I believe that a peace accord and normalization of relations between Washington and Pyongyang would produce fruit in the kingdom. In fact, I believe that a well-executed summit, and its subsequent deals, could mean a world-wide outpouring of the Spirit.

North Korea, in being one of the absolute worst places in the world to be a Christian, is a linchpin in future kingdom growth. I don’t mean kinda-Christians either. I mean actual believers in Jesus Christ who live for God through the Holy Spirit every day. I mean the kind of Christians that I could only hope to be. The kind we find in many persecuted countries around the world. Back to the point: If North Korea accepts terms, even some of them, and the United States accepts that we’ll have to give in on some measures, then we might just see the kind of real growth that would spur the next revival in the world.

I believe this like I believe that David killed Goliath with a small rock. I believe it like I believe that Noah built a big boat and outlasted a flood. I believe it like I believe Jesus Christ rose again on the third day.

My hope is that you believe it too. If you don’t, please think it over.

We cannot give up on the idea of peace between the Koreas, even if it never leads to reunification. I understand that it’s not all Trump’s fault that the summit was called off. I understand that it isn’t all Kim’s fault that it was called off. Both are to blame and neither are to blame. This is a game that has been played for over 60 years.

That shouldn’t stop us from praying for North Korea, or the freedom of her oppressed people. It shouldn’t stop us from having empathy for the downtrodden. We have to break through the idea that North Korea is the enemy and focus on the fact that North Korea has millions of people who have never heard the gospel.

Pray for North Korea and for peace between Pyongyang and Washington. And then pray that our mission agencies have a plan for getting more evangelistic efforts into the country and that they enact them.

Please read a little about efforts to reach those in North Korea with the gospel by going to this great article in the Atlantic.

I would love your thoughts…and as always, you can sign up to receive updates on my social commentary by going HERE.

Praying for the North Korean Summit

I’ll be honest, I want a peace deal with North Korea. I think it’s in our best interest as a country and I think it’s definitely in the best interest for the gospel moving forward in the North. As an American, I’m not at all for giving in to Kim Jong Un. But I am for praying that peace actually happens.

Sometimes it’s difficult to separate my feelings for America and my feelings for the gospel of Jesus Christ. I don’t know if you have that problem, but I do. Sometimes I equate the two, sadly, and I have to remember that the two are not the same. The gospel should always trump loyalty to my country.

In this case, however, what is good for the gospel is good for the country. An agreement between the United States and North Korea would signal the eventual end to the saber rattling that distracts American service men and women, provides some stability in that region of the world, and would encourage the North to join the region’s trading partners. While I suspect that they would never become the former foe-turned-trading-friend like Japan or Germany, I do believe we could at least get to an Iran type situation. Yes, still rattling sabers and making threats, but not a belief that all-out war may break out at some point.

It would also allow America the opportunity to press upon the North the importance of religious freedom. Even if this never got more real than what happens in China, I believe that it would be good for the gospel message. Christianity could stop looking like an American religion to the leaders in the North, which would hopefully equal less persecution and more freedom of expression for Christians and would-be Christians in that country.

Do I think that either of these things is a sure bet? Not at all! We have a very self-assured leader in America who is honestly liable to say anything at any time, and often that equals saying the very thing that upsets a particular partner (in this case, the North). We are facing a leader who believes that he is an equal because of his nuclear arsenal (an inaccurate and inflated belief). This understanding doesn’t even account for the fact that an accord between the North and America wouldn’t automatically equal freedom of religion.

So we pray. We pray for the very reason that this is still a long-shot. We pray because we’ve been down this road before, and North Korea balked when it last had a chance to do the right thing. We pray because this would be another way for the Lord to get the glory (as long as we evangelicals don’t give the glory to Trump if it’s successful). We pray because the gospel is more important than any national barrier; the salvation of souls more important than any patriotic position.

Some ways to pray:

  1. Pray that the summit will happen, and that it will be successful. Both of those things are far from guaranteed as of this writing.
  2. Pray for an official end to hostilities on the Korean peninsula.
  3. Pray for people on both sides of the table. Pray that their egos are softened, and their hearts open to change.
  4. Pray for Christians currently living in North Korea. Pray for an end to their suffering and for freedom for them to live as Christians in the open.
  5. Pray for a revival in both North Korea and America.

If you pray for one thing each day this week, then by Saturday morning, you’ll have prayed solidly for North Korea all week! Join me in this effort, and we will all see great things happen.

I would love your thoughts…and as always, you can sign up to receive updates on my social commentary by going HERE.

First Fiction Credit

The Gem CoverI’m so excited, and grateful, that my first fiction piece just appeared in The Gem, a take home paper for adults in the CoG denomination. Finding a place for short stories in the Christian market is difficult at best, so I’m grateful that my story, “The Roofer,” found a home in only two tries.

From my cover letter that sold the story: The Roofer,” is about a Christian businessman helping a homeless man after prompting by the Holy Spirit. The story will inspire The Gem readers to listen to those nudges from the Holy Spirit that we all get, but sometimes ignore. The message of this story is, “Stop ignoring the Spirit!”

If you have the April 8 issue of The Gem, take a look at “The Roofer!”