My new book, Bless-ed! Fifty-Two Weekly Blessings You Have as a Believer and How to Help Your Lost Friends Find Theirs will soon be available on Amazon here. I have advanced copies if you are interested. I will send you a copy for $10 (which includes shipping). Here’s the Introduction to Bless-ed:
Bless-ed! 52 Weekly Blessings You Have As A Believer — and How to Help Your Lost Friends Find Theirs
Introduction: I’m from “down South.” I was taught to be nice to people, to ask them how they are, to address them with “yes, sir” and “no, sir” and “yes, ma’m” and “no, ma’m.” I’m slowly realizing that most men don’t care about the yes-sir’s and the no-sir’s and most ladies get mad because they think those expressions imply that they look as old as their gray-haired mothers.
We have a number of Southern sayings which I sometimes use, such as, “Bless your heart!” and “He’s so precious!” and “Ya’ll come by and see us sometime.” To be quite honest, those expressions are sometimes insincere. We once in a while use the words “Bless your heart” more like a curse than a blessing. “He’s so precious” can mean he’s a few fries short of a Happy Meal, and, if they show up uninvited to our home we wonder why they are there (even though we gave them a clear invitation with the expression “Ya’ll come by and see us sometime.”).
By the way, I get a little upset when I hear someone say about a situation, “It just went South really quickly!” They’re using my geographical location (my home) as a term of disaster and catastrophe. Why not say something like “it just went North” or “it went West”? Is it just because we lost the Civil War?
I occasionally see someone wearing a T-shirt that says “Too Blessed to Be Stressed!” I’m glad they’re coping with life, and that their clothing helps
them do so, but I wonder what they mean exactly. What does it mean to be “blessed”?
A Word about the Title: And while I think about it, I need to explain how I’ve written this book’s title. You see, there are two ways to pronounce this word “blessed.” There’s the one syllable way (“blessed”). For example, someone might respond to the question “How you doin’?” with “I’m blessed.” There’s also the two syllable way (“bless-ed”). For example, my Roman Catholic friends speak of the “Bless-ed Mary.” It’s this two syllable way of using the term “blessed” that I would like to emphasize in this book: “Bless-ed.” Two syllables. It just sounds more spiritual, more holy, and more, well, desirable.
So, I would ask that the title be read in the two-syllable way “Bless-ed! . . .” Some might think we are trying to bless someone named “Ed,” but that’s certainly not the case. One can easily see that the “-ed” isn’t capitalized, right? And we’re really not talking about Ed, but about my friend Mike.
My Motivation: You need to know a bit of why I’ve written this book. The central character in this book is my friend “Mike” (not his real name. You can tell that by the quote marks which I’ll use just this once).
I came to know Mike as a result of one of my trips from South Carolina to New Jersey to speak in a church. This church invited me to come for ten days to speak on two successive Sundays and to meet with their leadership team to work together.
I am an avid tennis player. Notice — I did not say a good one. But I went to a local tennis club in NJ and met a really good player in his 80s (I turned 72 in February). Mike has played in national tournaments and he and I got together to play tennis each time I made the trek to NJ.
Mike was kind enough to take the short survey I used in my Unlike Jesus book1 about people who are “still on their way” to faith. With his permission I included his response to my questions in my book — and my response to his response. I have prayed for my friend Mike’s salvation almost every day without fail. You need to know that I try to be very careful in witnessing to those I know will be long-term or even lifelong friends.
On a recent visit to NJ, Mike arranged for me to play tennis with a few of his friends and I began praying for an opportunity to share the gospel with him afterwards. I felt that he was a bit offended by my referring to him (without using his name, of course) in my book as “lost” and “unsaved.”
We chatted briefly on the last day I could get together with him. I apologized to him for offending him with my language of “lost” and “unsaved” (without denying the truth of his condition before God) and he said, “Well, you’re certainly entitled to your opinion, Larry! Don’t worry about me. I’m fine!” But if the Bible is true, he could not be more wrong.
I was also able to say to him that the Lord is the answer to his loneliness (his wife passed away two years ago). And that was it. I’ll keep in touch with him and pray for him each day.
But this friendship got me thinking about what I have as a believer and what my unsaved friends don’t have. I am certainly not gloating in what I enjoy as a follower of Jesus. But Mike has me pondering the blessings I have as a Christian.
So this book has two purposes: (1) I want to become more aware of some of the blessings I have as a believer and (2) I want to become more intentional in helping Mike find those same blessings for himself.
The Structure of This Book: This book has 52 short chapters. The reader may read one chapter each Monday or read the whole book at once. Each chapter will discuss a blessing that the believer in Jesus enjoys — or should enjoy. Relevant biblical passages will be recommended for study during the particular week. We will also suggest some solid Christian books that will be helpful as well as some activities for the week.
But we will also talk about how someone like the Mike in your life doesn’t enjoy that blessing — and what you can do about it. We will offer specific action steps you can take to help your Mike, especially emphasizing how you can pray for God the Holy Spirit to speak to his or her heart.
But let me ask an incredibly important question: Got a Mike in your life? Are you aware of the many blessings, starting with salvation, that your Mike doesn’t enjoy? But, before we begin our look at that list, let’s think about the blessings that Mike does have!