Describe the writing process you and your brother Mike used for your book, When Worlds Collide: Stepping Up and Standing Out in an Anti-God Culture.
Throughout the writing process Mike was in North Carolina, and I was in South Carolina. We would take each chapter and topic we were passionate about. We both have very different personalities and perspectives, which made a more rounded book.
How did you organize the chapters and personal content (memories)?
We basically assembled ideas from the website we were writing for. We thought how can we put this message into a framework? So we printed off all the devotionals and spread out over the kitchen table. We asked ourselves where has God led us and what lessons has He been teaching us? Then we organized them into themes, which came very naturally. The content divided pretty easily in these themes and other topics.
Did the 1932 book When Worlds Collide by Philip Wylie and Edwin Balmer reflect the themes that arose from your memories or did this book help originate the ideas?
It was a bit of both. We wanted to get this idea across of two different worlds colliding, but also how many people did not believe in Jesus. People are skeptical, so it was a challenge trying to get that idea across and look at how are we preparing ourselves.
Describe the “cave-ins,” cave dwellers,” and “colliders.”
The cave-ins surrender and greet a world without God, while cave dwellers hide and try to live in peace as refuges. The colliders fight back and stand out/up for a God-centered life. We found more responses in one of these three types as we wrote – the struggle to break free as a cave dweller and being intentional to get out of the cave. People are often defined by making same decision more and more. It’s almost like our default. It is hard to be careful with every decision, but we also found in different areas we can be either of the three responses and we have to be authentic.
The book contains several in-sets and “Culture Clip” references. The Culture Clip example on The Dark Knight about how Harvey Dent (a.k.a. Two Face) revealed an evil character that was possibly there all along and only exposed later touches on your authentic point where tough circumstances really reveal the masks people wear and who they are underneath.
People can be taught religion, but unless they grow in a relationship with Jesus, it can be easy to toss that relationship aside for something new. An intimate relationship is not something to toss aside when facing opposition.
How did you shape these in-sets and special excerpts?
They came naturally. We did some research. We read some different books on the subject. Our hope was to be very practical and down to earth. This is the culture we collided with. It varies with different mediums and people. We want to make elements real and genuine for readers as we process various entertainment and literature. We all need to be processing this colliding media.
Could you share some personal stories of how God gets people engaged with the world? How far do you go in that challenge in the book?
A lot of people had stories where they grew up knowing God then changed their lives, but eventually came back to God. It was as if they met Jesus for the first time. For years, they did what they thought was right. Be a good person. Believe in God. They didn’t get the relationship part…the joy of it and looking forward to challenges instead of feeling guilty about past issues. In one case, someone felt guilty whenever they did not read their Bible one hour a day. We want them to break free from that pressure to find an overwhelming joy even though God may lead us to places that are hard or scary. Jesus went to hard places and endured. If following Him does not scare you, then probably not hearing him right. He will never leave or forsake us.
I think of John 17 here. It’s hard to reach a world we don’t understand. We cannot be experts in what we believe, but then completely oblivious to what the world believes. It’s not good when we cannot even get to hello with another person. When Jesus came most people thought he would create a Christian empire and kept waiting for that, but that’s not what He came to do. He engaged the existing empires and turned them on their head. People go out of their way to avoid conflict, but there is so much more God can do. Whatever little thing He gives us, we should not be content to a half job. Go all in and do the job He wants us to do.
How do you address people who view the Christian life as something boring or constricting?
We saw many people blame the world for leading people astray, but we can’t just look at sin and evil. We cannot blame the world. We have no control over that. We must concentrate on what we do have control over – how can someone walk away because they were not satisfied. In talking with youth leaders we find people who did not see a joy filled life instead they saw more rules. The message of freedom through Jesus becomes message of bondage. Jesus says I am joy. When people don’t experience that joy then they cannot really be connected with Him. When people see that joy then they will be forced to evaluate the boring Christian life belief.
How do you address people all around you hate what you stand for?
I live in San Francisco right now. This town very secular. Very liberal. Not many standing up for God. Jesus made a great stand. He addressed them directly, but was never a jerk to them. Just because people are getting mad at you does not mean you are wrong. There actually might be a problem if people are not mocking or making comments because Jesus says as they persecute me, they will persecute you. They might not understand me or make fun of what I say, but at least they’re thinking about it. They are really trying to process it. If those challenges ever stop then I really need to evaluate my life.
How do you address the spiritual conditions like apathy, anger, and fear that envelope so many people?
We hope the book is encouraging, not a finger pointing book. We want to remind people how awesome is the God we serve. I am currently training in seminary to be a pastor. Growing up I could never thought I could do this. My dad sat me down and explained that I was really thinking that God cannot do this. Something as small as that taught me there was more to life than just cowering in fear.
Was writing the book a natural progression among your school work and youth ministry?
It was very special; especially with our family heritage. It almost came up unexpectedly. Mike and I had a weekly devotional on a website, which got us thinking much more about how God was giving us opportunities to share more thoughts. We were introduced to publisher and saw a chance to really impact people. They contacted us and we were faithful in each step. It was a pleasing, humbling, and exciting experience.
Talk about you family heritage, particularly your father Richard, oldest son of your grandfather Henry who both wrote the book Spiritual Leadership.
My brother and I never had any church rules forced on us by my parents. Instead they modeled a faith that was so vibrant that a relationship with Jesus was something we wanted and we took the initiative on our own to develop that relationship. It’s been very good. I probably put some pressure on myself. A lot of people don’t get to see what an ordinary life they lead. Their amazingly faithful living to God made me think how much more I could be experiencing. If anyone has made it, it should be my grandfather, but he feels like he has just scratched surface.