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And There Was Great Rejoicing…

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Yesterday afternoon I put the finishing touches on my book and sent it off to the publisher, one day ahead of my April 1 deadline. I had assumed that I would feel a great sense of relief after doing this but was surprised to find that my reaction was one of fear, wondering whether what I sent was in any way good enough or worthy of being published. This is probably pride rearing its ugly head. Thankfully I had little time for such worries as Aileen had asked a bunch of our friends over to celebrate. We had a good evening together before going our separate ways in order to watch the hockey game (it was, after all, a Saturday night near the end of the season).

This book has been the fruit of many years of study followed by nearly a year of writing. The book comes at a time that spiritual discernment is rarely emphasized in the church but also at a time that there seems to be a revival of interest in the subject matter. Unfortunately, very few books on this topic have been written and most of the ones that have are no longer in print. It has been a thrill to work with Crossway to attempt to fill this void.

I also sent the manuscript to potential endorsers, many of whom are among my modern day heroes of the faith. I am honored that these people would consider reading the manuscript and hope they prove willing and able to provide endorsements for it. There is something both humbling and terrifying about sending the unedited manuscript to these people!

Here is a short summary of the book:

The Discipline of Discernment turns to the Bible to seek what God teaches on the subject of spiritual discernment, a term I define as the skill of understanding and applying God’s Word with the purpose of separating truth from error and right from wrong. Written for the general reader and in a way that is suitable for a wide audience, the book teaches people to think biblically so they might act biblically. It provides a call for discernment, teaching the importance of this discipline in guarding the deposit God has entrusted to us. It leads the reader from the challenges they will face as discerning Christians to the Bible’s pattern for discernment, focusing on 1 Thessalonians 5:21-22 which reads “Test everything; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil.” It teaches what the Bible says about discernment in the context of the truth of God and the will of God, warns of the potential dangers that befall those who emphasize discernment and discusses discernment in the context of spiritual gifts. It is thorough, while not exhaustive, and seeks always to focus on the Word of God.

The ten chapters fall in this order:

  1. A Call to Discernment
  2. The Challenge of Discernment
  3. Defining Discernment
  4. The Heart of Discernment
  5. Truth and Discernment
  6. The Will and Discernment
  7. The Gift of Discernment
  8. The Dangers of Discernment
  9. Developing Discernment
  10. The Practice of Discernment

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While I have been working on the book under the title of The Discipline of Discernment, I expect that it will soon have a new and better title. While this one does summarize the book’s contents, I’m not sure that it is the best choice from a marketing and thematic perspective.

I expect to receive the manuscript from my editor in seven or eight weeks. It will no doubt be covered in copious amounts of red ink. I will have a short period of time to make the necessary changes and corrections and, as I understand it, the publisher will then have the book typeset and I will then receive the proofs and make any final adjustments. After that we work out final details and it gets prepared for printing. At some point the publisher will work on cover art and page design. In the meantime, I will work on preparing a study guide. To this point I have written study questions but will attempt to write a more thorough expository-style guide that will be suitable for individual or group use.

The book is tentatively scheduled for release in January of 2008.

I’d like to thank those of you who read this site as in some ways it almost feels that this has been a community project. Without the interest in that web site this book would not have come about. I have enjoyed getting to know many of you either face-to-face or through email. I am indebted to you for your support, your input and your prayers. As you no doubt realized, there were several occasions that I used you as a testing ground for my ideas. I know this book is better because of your feedback. I hope it serves you and the wider church very well. I’d ask that you continue to pray for the book as the writing and editing process continues.


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