I have finished my book on the subject of Christian growth, and it is heading to the printer. In this blog post I want to share the story of why I wrote the book and also tell a little bit about the content of the book. For those of you who use twitter, you can get daily quotes from the book and information about the book by following @morethanasavior. More Than Just A Savior will be available this Fall.
(The following is an excerpt from the Preface of More Than Just A Savior)
The idea for this book began two and a half years ago as I was preparing to teach a Bible study to a small group of men in our church in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. My topic for the four-week study was to be “Men and Relationships,” and I was going to teach the first week on “A Man’s Relationship With God.”
Having been preaching and teaching for years, I had taught many times on that topic, even to some of those very men. But I began to pray and ask God for a new way to present the same old truth – that we need to walk with God. As I studied, read, and prayed, I kept going back and forth between several angles. Did I want to focus on our sonship? Did I want to base this lesson on the Good Shepherd?
Then a thought occurred to me: “I wonder how many different illustrations or analogies there are for a Christian and his relationship with God?” As I began to count them, suddenly I knew that my angle for the upcoming lessons would be that our relationship with God has multiple angles. I ended up teaching the men an abbreviated version of all ten of the relationships, just highlighting each one briefly and whetting their appetites for future study. A very excited young man approached me after the Bible study and said, “I’ve never heard anything like what you taught tonight. That was so easy to understand. I think I actually get it!” He had been saved for a few years, but just had not caught on to the whole concept of having a real and ongoing relationship with God. A couple of the other men also expressed similar sentiments.
When I got home that night I was meditating further on the lesson, when another thought occurred to me: Several of these relationships lead effortlessly and naturally into various Christian disciplines like church attendance, Bible reading, and prayer. I wondered if all ten of the relationships could be connected to the topics that are generally taught in a new converts class. I went down to my office and got an armload of various discipleship manuals off the shelf and begin comparing tables of contents, making a list of which topics are typically covered with new Christians. Even though the books themselves were different, the topics covered were pretty much the same: assurance, Bible, prayer, church, giving, soulwinning, trials, surrender, service, separation, standards, etc. Like putting together a simple puzzle, in about ten minutes I had seen that there was a very clear and natural connection between these ten relationships and the habits and disciplines that should be a part of every Christian’s life.
I was excited! I called my friend, Rodney Ruppel, and shared my thoughts with him. He caught my excitement right away! The reason we both got excited was because we both were pastoring groups of relatively young believers who wanted to do right but didn’t always see the point of certain activities. For example, in the past I would say, “Now that you are saved, you need to come to church.” And sometimes their honest reply was, “Why?” I felt as if I had made a breakthrough in how I could teach new converts about the Christian life. If they could first be taught about their multifaceted relationship with God, then all of the “do’s-and-don’ts” would fall into place much more naturally.
I immediately began the task of studying and writing about each of the ten relationships in detail. As I finished them I began to share them with some of my family members and friends in the ministry. It was at this time that several people started encouraging me to print this material in English as well as Khmer. One missionary said to me, “I wish I had read this when I was a new Christian." Another missionary said, “I sent your material to my parents in America. They are each discipling a young Christian, and I think it would be a big help to them.” Then another missionary said, “I met a lady on the airplane who was really struggling with some spiritual issues. I talked to her on the flight, and then when I got home I emailed your material to her.”
I used this material in our Sunday School classes at Good News Baptist Church in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, and we saw tremendous growth in many of our people during that time. Several other churches in Cambodia, the US, and even a couple of other countries have also used the material with good results and we are happy to now present this book with the hope that it will be a help to many more.