Thursday, November 13, 2008

How to Get Going: Journal Your Way

“I want to write a book. How do I get started?”

My answer rarely varies: “Start writing.”

It’s impossible to get a book written simply by saying you want to write one.

“But, Stanley, I’m not a writer!”

Guess what? None of the books we’ve published at Vision Publishing other than my own were done by writers. All were amateurs who had never written anything approaching a book before.

Several, however, were by women who were wise enough to keep a journal during an important episode in their lives. (Men generally are much less likely to journal.)

Alice C. Hamilton was sixty-six years old when she began a mission to pray in every state capitol in the nation. The idea came to her while taking part in a monthly prayer session in the fall of 1995. Later, as she walked to her car, she heard a voice say, “You can do it. You can pray for one hour at each capitol in every state of the union and plead the blood over that state and its political leaders.”

She knew immediately who was speaking to her. It was the Holy Spirit.

Four months after she heard the voice she boarded a flight from Los Angeles to Houston, on her way to her first destination – Austin, Texas. She visited nine other capitols before returning home thirty days later.

Alice made four other treks, a second covering ten states, a third covering twelve, a fourth covering seventeen (including Washington D.C.), and the fifth covering two, Alaska and Hawaii. Six months after her first trip, she left Honolulu, having prayed in the last capitol.

Mission accomplished!

In most places she had recorded dates and times, memories of plane or taxi rides, lines of conversations, the weather, the scenery, descriptions of the capitols, what she did in each capitol, Bible verses that seemed relevant to the issues she faced at the time, meals, etc.

Sure, words were misspelled, the grammar was often incorrect, sentences were fragmented, and information was patchy in places. Still, though she didn’t know it, she was writing a book, and a good one at that.

Traveling Mercies: My Personal Prayer Journey to the 50 State Capitols was published in August, 2008. (Vision Publishing, ISBN 978-0-9762730-5-9, $8.99.)

It is an inspiring work that finally saw light of print eleven years after her journey – or journal – began. Alice is now seventy-seven years old. See her review under the month of September.


Julie Landry took a much more melancholy road to publishing success. It clearly was not a road she would have chosen.

Her book concerned the death of her husband, Allen Landry. Allen was an assistant pastor at Crenshaw Christian Center, the mega-church founded in Los Angeles by Pastor Frederick K.C. Price.

During the final months of Allen’s life, with cancer brutally sapping every ounce of his strength, Julie began keeping a journal. She would cheerfully attend to her husband’s needs during the day, but at night she would cry herself to sleep. Her notes are a record of her desperate plight over the prospect of losing her husband of thirty-four years, information about his treatments, his faith, his strength, their son’s strength, and his last moments as life ebbed away.

Like Alice, Julie’s journal was crucial to the formation of her book. Although both journals were far from being publishable on their own, they formed an excellent basis on which to start.

And that’s where an editor comes in.

I did several interviews with both authors, restructured the material, and fleshed out the details. Without their notes the task of editing would have been almost too difficult.

Julie’s book, published in October, 2008, is titled In Sickness and in Health: How to Keep Going When Death Interrupts Life (Vision Publishing, ISBN 978-0-9762730-6-6, $9.99). See a review under the month of October.

It is a wonderful resource, and includes fifteen lessons for overcoming grief.
To be continued.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Short, Happy Life of a Beloved Pastor

Anyone who ever hung around Allen Landry knew he loved to have a good time. A fun guy, he could easily be the life of the party. He loved people, he loved dancing, and he loved to laugh.

There was something else he loved – the Word of God.

Allen Landry was an assistant pastor at Crenshaw Christian Center up until his death last October.

But, apparently, there was something lurking in Allen’s body that he wasn’t aware of. Right up until the time of his diagnosis in 2005 he didn’t know he was dying.

His wife, Julie Landry, recounts his life – and death – in her book, In Sickness and in Health: How to Keep Going When Death Interrupts Life (Vision Publishing, $9.99, EAN 978-0-9762730-6-6). The book can be ordered at your favorite bookstore.

Allen began experiencing intense back pain while on assignment as pastor at Crenshaw Christian Center East, the New York version of the huge Los Angeles church founded by Dr. Frederick K.C. Price.

Nothing seemed to give him relief.

Months later, having transferred back home to Los Angeles, he sought advice from his doctor. A blood test indicated the problem was his prostate. Then, a biopsy confirmed that a bigger problem was cancer.

Worse, the exam indicated the cancer was Stage 4, the highest level. Doctors gave Allen no hope that either chemotherapy or radiation would help. Instead, they projected that he had only six to eight months to live.

Julie writes:

“…When we were alone, we discussed the findings …. I told Allen he could not die on me. In fact, I made him promise that he was not going to die, and then I just ‘blew it.’ I broke down right there. Panic and fear began to take over, and Allen had to keep reassuring me that he was going to be all right. I spent the night in the hospital with him, but it was the worst night of my life. I got no sleep at all. I heard every breath Allen took, fearful that each one might be his last. I kept thinking he was going to die right there.”

Allen was determined to fight the condition, using the Word of God and natural remedies. He tried to continue his duties as pastor, but because of the pain he was forced to give up working after about two months.

Julie admits to having been thoroughly spoiled during their almost thirty-five years of marriage. “I was a kept woman, and I loved it,” she writes.

Allen was romantic, confident, thoughtful, giving, and a good provider. The couple proved to be an excellent complement to each other. He offered strong encouragement in whatever pursuits Julie undertook, even when she tried to learn belly-dancing.

He offered the same encouragement to their son, Aaron, an aspiring professional golfer. To further support Aaron, Allen had taken up the game himself. That way father and son could spend more time together.

No longer awash in Allen’s constant loving attention because of his illness, Julie instead became his caregiver. Eventually, Allen could do nothing for himself. Julie describes the transition she was forced to make, reminding herself often that no matter how hard the task of care-taking became, Allen would have done as much for her.

In Sickness and in Health is a touching tribute to a loving husband, but its core may be the fifteen lessons Julie shares with readers to help them through their own grief at the loss of a loved one. She also shares important information about the prostate, which will be helpful both to wives and their husbands.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Traveling Mercies: A Mission to Pray

Some people like the strong, silent types.

I confess that I do, too.

I love the Clint Eastwood movies, especially the old spaghetti westerns. But it’s as Harry Callahan in the Dirty Harry series that Eastwood garnered his most enduring early fame.

Remember the classic line from his movie Sudden Impact? “Go ahead, make my day.” Callahan said it while aiming his .44 Magnum at a robber’s head.

Alice Hamilton is also a strong, silent type.

But Alice wouldn’t harm a flea – unless, of course, it jumped on her. She doesn’t carry a .44 Magnum. She carries something much more explosive. She carries the Holy Bible.

Alice is also a prayer warrior, which means she’s armed and doubly dangerous.

Like Eastwood, she speaks in quiet, measured tones. She’s not demonstrative, and she wouldn’t stand out in any crowd, unless it was a crowd of young folk.

You see, Alice is 77 years old.

Alice has traveled far and wide, carrying the gospel. She’s been to Africa three times, once to Nigeria and twice to Namibia where she worked with Christine Benson, her friend who was a missionary there. During one trip to Namibia, she visited South Africa, and toured the cities of Capetown, Durban, East London, and Johannesburg.

Alice is not a pastor; nor is she an evangelist, teacher, apostle or prophet. She’s one of those often unnoticed people in the pews at Crenshaw Christian Center. Alice is a servant, out to do the will of God. Her role is to seek and save those who are lost.

In September 1995, while interceding at Carson Prayer, a small prayer group that meets once a month at the community center in Carson, California, an idea struck her: Why not visit every capital city in the United States and pray in the state capitol? Alice, a single lady who retired in 1992, never let her mind dwell on the difficulties of her new assignment. She gave little more than passing consideration to the weather, the logistics, or the financing of her mission. She would finance it from her life savings.

In fact, Alice was a little tickled that the Lord had entrusted her with such an important assignment. Where she could she would stay with friends, relatives or acquaintances and contacts. At least that was her intention.

But who would she stay with in Montana, or North and South Dakota? Who would put her up in Alaska or Hawaii? How about Wyoming, or Iowa, or New Jersey, or most of the other states?

Get the picture?

“I am totally relying on the Holy Spirit to give me contacts and directions,” Alice said at the time. Even on her Africa journeys, people asked her if she was afraid. “Why go?” they would ask.

“I told them if the Lord is sending me – and I know He is – then He is well able to take care of me,” Alice replied.

But fifty states?

What of the hours of travel? What of the cold and snow? What of night landings in nearly deserted airports, and flagging cabs with her heavy luggage? What of too many McDonald’s meals and not enough hours of sleep? What if she got sick, hurt, or lonely in some god-forsaken place? Who would she talk to, or how would she communicate in these days before the cell phone became a part of everyone’s dress code?

Alice only smiled.

She would pay from her life savings. She would travel with her three companions – the Father God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. What was the big deal?

On January 20, 1996, Alice, armed with $10,000 worth of Continental airline coupons, took off on the first leg of her journey. She hit Austin, Texas; Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Jackson, Mississippi; Little Rock, Arkansas; Nashville, Tennessee; Atlanta, Georgia; Montgomery, Alabama; Tallahassee, Florida; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, and Denver, Colorado, before heading back to Los Angeles on February 21 for a rest. She had been gone thirty-one days and had covered ten states!

Only forty more to go.

But before that first leg was over, she had been given two valuable pieces of advice that allowed her to cut the length of the next four legs by more than half. I’ll tease you by not revealing what they were. She had also begun keeping a journal, thinking that one day she would write a book of her experiences.

Some would have called the mission off right there. “I’ve done enough, Lord,” they would say. Not Alice. No halfway job for her. She would see the whole thing through – no matter what.

Her second leg began on March 17 with Phoenix, Arizona. From there she moved on to Santa Fe, New Mexico; Salt Lake City, Utah; Cheyenne, Wyoming; Boise, Idaho; Helena, Montana; Olympia, Washington; Salem, Oregon; Sacramento, California, and Carson City, Nevada. The trip ended on March 25, a mere eight days later! Thank God for advice she had gotten on the first leg!

Topeka, Kansas, was the first stop on her third leg, which began April 10. From there she went to Jefferson City, Missouri; Lincoln, Nebraska; Des Moines, Iowa; Pierre, South Dakota; Bismarck, North Dakota; Madison, Wisconsin; St. Paul, Minnesota; Springfield, Illinois; Lansing, Michigan; Indianapolis, Indiana, and Columbus, Ohio. She returned home on April 22, twelve days later.

In some of her earlier trips, Alice had, on occasion, visited two capitols in one day. On her East Coast swing during the fourth leg of her trip, she would visit four in one day! She began on May 10 with Frankfort, Kentucky, and then on to Columbia, South Carolina; Raleigh, North Carolina; Richmond, Virginia; Charleston, West Virginia; Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; Washington, D.C.; Albany, New York; Montpelier, Vermont; Concord, New Hampshire; Hartford, Connecticut; Boston Massachusetts, Providence, Rhode Island; Augusta, Maine; Dover, Delaware, Trenton, New Jersey, and Annapolis, Maryland. She ended on May 19, 1996, having covered 17 capitols, if you include Washington, D.C.!

Alice began her fifth leg by flying to Juneau, Alaska, on June 12, and back to Los Angeles on the thirteenth. However, rather than leave the airport, she immediately caught a flight to Honolulu, Hawaii, arriving there the next day. After praying in the last capitol, she was ready to return home.

Alice Hamilton completed her mission on June 14, 1996, flying back home from Honolulu, Hawaii, her last stop. She had prayed at all fifty state capitols, pled the blood of Jesus over them, and anointed them with oil. Along the way, she led many people to salvation in Christ, and the infilling with the Holy Spirit.

Don’t take my word for it. Read all about this remarkable woman in her wonderful book entitled Traveling Mercies: My Personal Prayer Journey to the 50 State Capitols (Vision Publishing, $8.99, ISBN: 978-0-9762730-5-5). It will soon be available online.

It is in the book that you will discover the two tips that allowed Alice to cut her travel time by more than half.

Traveling Mercies takes you from Alice’s early days in DeBerry, Texas, and through her search for the Holy Spirit. She recounts her three trips to Africa and, of course, you’ll meet the interesting people she met during her trek through the States.

Don’t ever underestimate the strong, silent type.

Their actions speak louder than they do.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Bradbury Lends Name to Library Battle

I cheated.

I never read Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451.

Like most people, I saw the film, starring Oskar Werner and Julie Christie, when it was released in the mid-’60s.

But I did read The Martian Chronicles. I don’t remember being impressed with the collection of stories about man’s attempt to colonize Mars and Martians, though it was one of Bradbury’s most famous works.

But I admit I have never been that keen on science fiction.

Bradbury spoke to a group of Long Beach library supporters recently, one day after they had won a battle to keep the city’s main library from closing due to budget cuts. A day earlier the city had voted to halt a proposal to shutter the facility. Instead, it was considering a cost-cutting plan to close the library only on Sundays and Mondays.

The Los Angeles Times referred to the 133,000-square-foot downtown structure as the second largest civic library in Los Angeles County.

Big book facilities have been struggling recently in Long Beach. In August I wrote an article about the closing of the huge downtown bookstore, Acres of Books. (See Acres of Books: May It Rest in Peace) At one time Acres of Books housed more than a million volumes. But it had struggled in recent years against the tide of online booksellers and the big bookstore chains. And, of course, it offered none of the genteel amenities that the chain stores offer.

Bradbury was there to mourn its demise, too.

Some people believe that library closings and the concentration of bookstore ownership portend a future when government will control what we’re able to read. This is exactly the kind of social criticism that Fahrenheit 451 dealt with. The movie is centered around government censorship and the burning of books.

The 88-year-old Bradbury sat in a wheelchair on stage in the library’s main auditorium and offered his help in any future struggles to keep the library open. After Fahrenheit 451 was released in 1953, he has enjoyed a well-deserved reputation as a defender of books and libraries.

Tremendously prolific, Bradbury has written hundreds of novels, short stories, screenplays, radio dramas, plays, poems, essays, and lectures. He has been a consultant to such major events and productions as the United States Pavilion at the 1964 New York World’s Fair and has contributed to Disney’s Spaceship Earth at EPCOT and the Orbitron at the Disneyland parks in Anaheim and Paris.

We're indebted to a real book lover.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Black Women Are Getting a Bad Rap

There are several things I wish someone – not me – would write a book about. I realize that you’d have to be part minister and part shrink to deal with such quirks in the American psyche, but it would be a fascinating study. From time to time I will be blogging about issues that irk me. Here’s the first one – rap music.

Why do so many young females support this music? Mainstream rap, more than any other musical genre I know, denigrates women? It is especially hard on black women, but many of them still revel in it. They make excuses for it like a female victim trying to justify a beating by her lover. “It was my fault,” she says in his defense. “I made him mad.” Women who suffer such physical brutality often wind up in hospitals, broken and beaten, one step closer to the death that may eventually prove to be inevitable. But how about the beating young female listeners are getting? How does it affect their self-esteem? Many of them still flock to rap music concerts as if they just can’t wait for their next round of abuse.

Still, it is unfair to generalize about rap, as if it were all the same. It’s not. Such singers as Common, Nas, Lupe Fiasco, and Talib Kweli, to name four, are so-called conscious rappers that support and uplift women, and are serious commentators on the social conditions they see in life daily. My son Brian, who has done a lot of studying of the rap phenomenon, believes the fact that we hear so much of the negative and offensive in rap is really a function of who controls the media. The most outrageous and sensational artists get the bulk of air play while the truly artistic are confined to off hours and listener-supported stations.
I’d like to tack one other question on to the one about rap.

Why do so many women support horror films? I guarantee you that you’ll see far more women than men brutalized in these films. Most often they are white, young, and nubile. Often they are nude, or partially so. Always they wind up as a beautiful heap in a pool of blood. Isn’t this exactly the kind of film they should stay away from? Isn’t this exactly the kind of film that incites young men who prey on women sexually? I have always felt that a large body of women – not the majority, of course – are fascinated by the dark side of men. They like to dance with death as it were a handsome leading man.

But the truth is all too clear. Too many women in this society as well as others are treated like trash, disposable human beings. Many come from broken homes and bad families. Some times they are prostitutes, other times they are addicts, and many times they are just young innocents who made a horrible misstep and became easy victims. They are beaten, raped, brutalized, used up, killed, and cast off. Mainstream rap music is just one other instance of the brutalizing treatment they get. It celebrates their vulnerability and their gullibility. It weaves cheap rhymes about them as sex objects.

And all the while silly women dance suggestively in the background.

Tell a friend about me –

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Family History at Its Roots

I’m sure most of my blog readers will remember Alex Haley, the author of two outstanding books in black literature – The Autobiography of Malcolm X and Roots.

I met Haley in late 1981, not too long after the delirious success of Roots.

I, along with several other members of the family, was returning from visiting my grandmother in Little Rock, Arkansas. She had just turned 100, and we had been there to celebrate her birthday.

It was such a great time. The following are a couple of paragraphs from a piece I wrote for the Los Angeles Times in late 1981:

It was grandmother’s 100 birthday. We descended on her house in Little Rock, Ark., like swarms of bargain hunters at a post-Christmas sale, covering every inch of space and eating everything that resembled victuals. Several of us overflowed into a local motel, but we managed to get most of our meals at Grandmother’s.

We tramped in and out of the house like foreign tourists, each with his camera or tape recorder. When we weren’t snapping pictures, or rolling tape or film, we gathered around Grandmother to plumb her mind for information on the family and the old days, a la “Roots.” We found no long-lost ancestor; what we found was Mary Elizabeth Williford, our own delightful heroine.

Actually, I had visited Grandmother several times before to record her memories of the past. I had no idea what I would eventually do with the information, but I knew I didn’t want her to die without leaving a record of all the history she had lived through.

She was born in Oak Ridge, La., on November 18, 1881, the granddaughter of ex-slaves. When her grandparents were set free, they were given 40 acres and a mule by the government, she said. The family later acquired 180 acres, but finally abandoned the property due to frequent flooding.

After the birthday celebration, we were on our way back home to Los Angeles but had to lay over for about an hour at the Dallas-Fort Worth Airport. While most of the family sat in waiting the area, my cousin Howard and I decided to browse the gift shop.

“Guess who just walked in?” Howard asked me.

I looked up as Alex Haley strode toward us. Who more than the author of Roots would appreciate the visit we’d just had with our 100-year-old grandmother, and the memories she had shared?

I told him about her and all the fun we’d had during the visit.

“That must have been a wonderful occasion,” he said

It was, Alex, and you capped it off perfectly.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Family Fare: List of Recommended Movies

To those of you who don’t venture out to movies often for fear of being assaulted with too much sex and violence, I offer my short list of fine family films.

My wife and I rarely go to movies these days, and we sometimes go long stretches without renting them. I don’t think I saw any of the films on my list at the theater. Generally, we wait until they are available on DVD. None of these recommended movies was released this year, and one or two of them may be five or more years old. Still, I think you might find two or three that will suit your fancy.

I don’t want to give the impression that we don’t occasionally rent other types of movies. We saw The Last King of Scotland, which was wonderful, but there is much violence in it. It’s definitely not a family film. We also liked The Great Debaters, and I would like to recommend it, but there is a quite unnecessary seduction scene. There is no nudity, but the scene seems absolutely gratuitous. So it doesn’t make my list.

I have seen Rush Hour I and Rush Hour II, and loved them both. But they are laced with obscenities, and definitely not to be listed.

On the other hand, if your household is like mine, your teenagers have already seen many of the movies I would not include. In fact, the ones I’ve left off they would consider tame.

Now the question many of you might have is this: Is this blog about books or movies? Well, we’re about books, and many movies start out as books. On the other hand, I’d just like to promote some good films. So here they are:

• At the top of my list I would probably place Amazing Grace, which is based on the life of British abolitionist William Wilberforce. Wilberforce was a major factor in ending the slave trade in Britain. Wonderfully directed and acted, it has several interesting subtexts to it.

• Another excellent movie is Radio. You will absolutely love Cuba Gooding Jr. in this role. I thought he deserved an Oscar, but I’m not sure he was even nominated. He plays a mentally challenged youth who inspires his high school football team.

The Ultimate Gift feels like a low-budget HBO-type movie. It’s not explicitly Christian but it carries a wonderful message. The acting is superb, but with James Garner, how can you go wrong?

Beyond the Gates deals with the genocide in Rwanda. Its violent depictions are more implied than shown. The movie is about godly people standing up to the forces of evil in effort to help their fellow man. It will be a little heavy for children, and maybe some adults, but it’s worth it.

Hotel Rwanda offers the same subject and theme as Beyond the Gates, but most viewers will be glued to their seats during the presentations. Don Cheadle is exceptional, as are the actors in Beyond the Gates.

God Grew Tired of Us is really not a movie, but rather a moving documentary about a group of young Christian refugees from the Sudan who get a chance to leave the concentration camp and experience life in the United States. I wish we could say the same for those left in Darfur.

• For lighter fare, I enjoyed The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, from C.S. Lewis’ book series, The Chronicles of Narnia. There are Christian themes, particularly in the rising from the dead of the character Aslan. With several child actors, it’s something the little ones will enjoy.

Akeelah and the Bee has been around for quite awhile, and many of you might have seen it on television. This movie should resonate strongly with black families since the story is so uplifting and most of the characters are black. If you like Angela Bassett and Laurence Fishburne, you’ll love this.

• If you haven’t seen Facing the Giants, then you must rent it. It’s another low-budget movie, but it has a big impact. It’s about how a decision to honor God turns a down-and-out high school football coach’s life around, and inspires his team. You don’t have to love sports to love this movie.

• I recommend Yesterday with some hesitation because it’s really an adult movie. But it is a very well done and very touching film about a young South African mother who, though she is dying of AIDS, is determined to see her daughter enter school. Some youngsters will be moved.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Acres of Books: May It Rest in Peace

Another bookstore has died.

Long Beach residents and many customers far beyond the city’s limits are mourning the loss of an old friend, one that has been around more than seventy-four years.

The deceased is Acres of Books, founded by Bertrand Smith in 1934. The giant bookstore was aptly named. Before the arrival of massive chains such as Borders and Barnes & Noble, Acres of Books was a one of the largest book emporiums anywhere. It once boasted more than a million volumes.

In this era of trendy stores that offers coffee, pastries, other edibles and drinkables, along with spacious reading sections, Acres of Books may have signed its own death warrant. The huge, stuffy building had no air conditioning, no computer filing system, no place to sit, and no Starbucks on the premise.

How could it compete?

The Smith family business simply offered stack upon cluttered stacks of books. Not genteel enough for today’s fancy readers.

As with most independents, Acres was no match for the online booksellers with their fast delivery and downloadable books. Long Beach redevelopment provided a way out for the family.

Owners Phil and Jackie Smith sold the building to the city for $2.8 million. They plan to retire and travel, the Los Angeles Times reported Sunday.

The Smiths said nothing about reading.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

My Coffee, My Kindle, and Me sells books, but a device it is hawking now might eliminate the use of all but a few in the future.

For readers looking to create more space in their homes, this may be an answer.

“Look, Mom, no bookshelves!”

Amazon Kindle is a wireless, portable reading device that gives instant access to more than 140,000 books, blogs, newspapers, and magazines, according to Amazon, which markets everything from electronics to general merchandise.

Readers can access a virtual library of reading material whether they are in bed, on a train, or lazing at the beach.

Just think of a book and it appears – for a charge.

The device itself costs $359.00.

The company recently announced that a number of large Christian publishers “have committed to making the majority of their catalogs of books available to Kindle owners by the end of 2008.”

These publishers include Strang Communications, Thomas Nelson, Tyndale, Erdmans, Zondervan, and others.

Kindle was introduced in November, with 90,000 titles available.

More are being added every day, the company says.

“Kindle books are available for wireless download in less than 60 seconds, and the New York Times best sellers and new releases are $9.99 or less on Kindle, unless marked otherwise,” the company says.

For those addicted to the New York Times or the Wall Street Journal before they roll out in the morning – simply get up, grab your coffee, and scan them on Kindle.

For more information on the device, visit

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Fruitfulness: A Principle for a Successful Life

It’s a big thing when an author extracts a new principle from God’s Word, even if it is only new because we have never seen it as a principle before.

Edward A. Smith’s book, Fruitfulness: Seven Secrets to Getting More Out of Life (Vision Publishing, $8.99, ISBN: 978-0-9762730-3-5) uncovers such a principle. The book can be purchased soon through Amazon, Borders, Barnes & Noble, and other major online booksellers.

Smith is founding pastor of ZOE Christian Fellowship of Whittier.

He deserves a salute.

Unfurl the flag!

Strike up the band!

Shout the glory!

What Smith has uncovered could greatly impact the body of Christ.

It’s the principle of bearing fruit and multiplying.

Oh, I know. You’ve heard the term “be fruitful and multiply” before. But consider this:

Every living thing in Creation has the same mandate: Be fruitful and multiply.

With God, this is not an option. He expects fruitfulness from whatever He created. Every time God told the earth to bring forth something it did

Genesis 1:12:
And the earth brought forth grass, and the herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good.

“God established that everything in the earth must be fruitful.” Smith writes. “Notice, the earth that He created did what He told it to do; that is, create after its kind and bear fruit. When the creation did that, He called it good. Now ‘good ground’ by definition is ground that bears fruit. God called his creation good because it bore fruit.”

But guess what?

God also commanded fruitfulness of Adam and Eve.
And, of course, you and me.

“You don’t have an option as to whether or not to bear fruit,” Smith tells us. “Evidently, the fruit you produced last year is not enough. It may have been enough for last year, but it does not satisfy your responsibility to bear fruit this year.”

As an example, let’s say you have an apple tree that has continually brought forth apples year after year. It’s being fruitful; it’s being productive. But multiplying is another stage, and it goes far beyond simply being fruitful. If you want to multiply you have to produce more trees.

To multiply you take seed from one tree and plant others. In fact, plant an orchard. If your one tree produces ten baskets of apples a year, consider what a hundred or a thousand trees can produce.

It seems so simple, so obvious. But if most people look at their lives they can identify a lack of productivity, a lack of fruitfulness.

Smith believes that in today’s world people have learned to accept the lack of productivity as being okay. But God says it’s not okay. It’s going against the way we’re designed.

Smith explains another problem as well. Many people see God’s principles as techniques rather than truths.

“If you see scripture as a truth, you will apply it in every area of your life,” he writes. “Conversely, if you view it as a technique you only use it in the area in which you learned it.

“In college I studied physics and structural engineering. I learned principles from these disciplines while applying them to various structures such as a hospital building. If I view what I learned as a technique then I will think that all I can build with the knowledge of physics and structural engineering are hospitals. I won’t know that I can also build a church or a skyscraper.”

It’s the same with the principle of sowing and reaping, according to Smith. Most people apply the principle of sowing and reaping to the financial arena, but fail to see its application to other areas of life such as marriage. Many men and women keep constant watch over their investments in real estate, stocks, and bonds, but they have no idea why their marriages, which they routinely ignore, are failing.

In marriage, as in so many other areas of life, you have to give what you want in return, Smith says.

He reminds us of another critical oversight Christians often make. Our lives work best when they are connected to the power source. As John 15:3-4, 7 says:

Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.
Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.
…If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.

There is no question that many people succeed outside of Christ, but what kind of success is it? Does it endure? Does it engender peace, joy? Or does it cause, worry and ulcers?
Smith continues:

“One of the reasons God requires us to be fruitful and multiply is to effectively have dominion and expand His purpose and glory throughout the earth. In Genesis 1:26, God said, Let us make man in our image…”

“God wants us to be like Him, to follow His pattern. God has authority over the whole universe, but he delegated dominion on the earth to man. We are to multiply and expand God’s influence throughout the earth, not just the local community or city.”

So here are Smith’s seven secrets?
· Fruitfulness is a principle, not a technique
· Fruitfulness is a part of your purpose
· Stay connected to the source
· Give what you want to get in return
· Multiplying is the highest level of fruitfulness
· Multiplying is duplicating your success
· Your harvest is in your seed

“There is a direct connection between being fulfilled and satisfied in your life and bearing fruit,” Smith writes. “People who are fruitful in their lives are happier people. They’re getting results and they’re pleased with themselves. They’re bearing fruit. They’re doing what they were born to do.”

Something about reading Fruitfulness: Seven Secrets to Getting More Out of Life puts a spur in your side. It’s impossible to read this book without both seeing your failing and being inspired by how much more God wants to do your life.

The great thing about God is He never counts you out. As long as there’s breath in your body, you have a chance to be fruitful.

And multiply.

Monday, July 28, 2008

The Making of an Apostle

Thousands in Los Angeles and perhaps millions around the world witnessed a remarkable event last week.

No, it wasn’t an eclipse of the sun; nor did parts of California flake off into the Pacific.

But it might have been just as significant.

What, you ask, did we witness?

It was the Apostle’s Affirmation Service of Dr. Frederick K.C. Price at Crenshaw Christian Center.

The service was the culmination of the annual Fellowship of Inner-City Word of Faith Ministries convention. Dr. Price is the founder and president of the organization, familiarly known as FICWFM, which ended on July 25th.

My guess is that about 7,000 people were in attendance, thousands more watched it over the Internet and, perhaps, millions more over the Word Channel, which we were told was broadcasting the event live.

If you don’t know Dr. Price from his Ever Increasing Faith television broadcast, the next questions might well be, Do you live on this planet? Or are you a Christian?

I had never seen such a thing before.

I had never seen Dr. Price involved in such pomp

It was different. It was well done, and it stopped well short of being overblown.

Before the Apostle-Designate (Dr. Price) appeared, several things preceded him.

There was the first procession, consisting of flags, young candle-lighters, Knights of the Kingdom (male pastors), the Bible-bearer, the Cross-bearer, the Torch-bearers, and the Crozier-bearer.

A second procession consisted of deacons, ministers, elders, visiting clergy, visiting prelates, the Apostolic Honor Guard, members of FICWFM, and the FICWFM board.

Next, came the Episcopal Cross-bearer, the Acolytes with the Apostle’s Appointment, the Apostle-Designate, the Co-consecrators, the chaplain to the Presiding Bishop, and the Chief Consecrator.

The Apostle-Designate wore a beautiful Roman cassock and was presented with a Bible, a tippet (a symbol of the preaching scarf), and a ring (a symbol of authority). He was also given a crozier (a staff as a symbol of the Shepherd’s office).

It was by turns joyous and moving.

My, what a fine picture-book it would make!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Book on the Inside of You

It’s amazing but true.

Many people who spend time reading books or watching programs about the lives of others actually have more interesting lives themselves.

We’ve all run into people who have lived through great adventures.

It can be an immigrant who entered a new country in some novel or dangerous way, a soldier who barely survived a ferocious battle, a mother who almost died in childbirth – twice, a father who raised several children after his wife’s departure.

How about the lessons of living with a disability, or living with someone who has a disability?

Even if you find your own life uninspiring, how about those of your ancestors, like your pioneer great-grandparents – or even your grandparents or parents? What about the history of the business your family founded?

I’ve often thought that some day I might write something humorous about my dog, whose greatest joy as pup was chewing up my socks, or maybe a series of children’s books, or a novel based on some of my own experiences.

Obviously, such ideas only get you started, but if you work on regularly fleshing them out you’ll be surprised at how quickly you can put muscle on the bones.

Evangelist Myles Munroe, founder of Bahamas Faith International Ministries in Nassau, Bahamas, is a prolific book writer, dealing often with the subjects of leadership and purpose. Somewhere in one of his books he remarked about a graveyard and the hundreds of people who had died without birthing the dream within them.

There are many people who have not given birth to the books within them.

The shame in all this is that they often delight in debased creations from Hollywood, but can’t see their own true-to-life experiences as anything out of the ordinary.

Someone once said within every person is at least one great book – their own life story.

One of the most involving books I have had the pleasure of publishing was by a woman whose husband and five-year-old son were run over by a hit-and-run drunken driver. Dad and son were bicycling home from a neighborhood convenience store when they were hit from behind.

Though the impact threw the dad over the car, he was not too seriously injured. But the child was crushed under one of the wheels. Paramedics prepared to put his corpse into a body bag, but then discovered a pulse.

God had miraculously intervened, and little Ryan Eubank was offered a reprieve from death. Author Donna Eubank chronicles her (and her husband Roger’s) long, arduous struggle to keep the flicker of their son’s life from being extinguished, first by Satan and then by a medical establishment that had little faith in his survival. Along the way, they discovered how God had miraculously put people in place to aid in their son’s recovery.

For the Love of Ryan: Why Heaven Had to Wait (Vision Publishing, $13.99, 0965178390) is one of the most inspirational books I’ve ever encountered. Somewhere along the line I will publish the review, but even today I cannot read the book without getting emotional. (You can order it on, or any of the online booksellers.)

God had to keep nudging Donna to write it, but she wasn’t able to handle the task until years after the accident. Still, the book didn’t happen until the Eubanks received a prophecy from their pastor.

The point is this: There is something inside you worthy of being written about.

You may have to dig down deep to bring it out, but it will be well worth the effort.

Even if you never find anyone to publish what you discover, just think of how much you’ll learn about yourself along the way.

Then, once you’ve learn the knack of self-discovery, it’ll be time to start another one.

Stanley O. Williford

Monday, July 21, 2008

The Hunters: Ministers to the Sick

If you’re convinced that God wants to use you to heal the sick, then get To Heal the Sick by Charles and Frances Hunter (Hunter Books, 215 pages, 0917726405).

If you’re not convinced that God wants to use you to heal the sick, get the book anyway, and any doubts you have will fly away.

In fact, God wants every Christian to minister to the sick and hurting.

I’ve read other books that chronicled outstanding healings and books that explained the Scriptures in a deeper way. But I’ve never read a simpler, more satisfying, more exciting how-to book on the subject of healing.

And guess what?

This book was published in 1983!

You see, Charles and Francis aren’t exactly spiritual spring chickens. They’ve been clucking around on the planet for more than eighty years.

They’ve also been teaching how to heal the sick for a long time. In chapter 2 of To Heal the Sick they write:

“We are in the very end of this age, and there is an urgency in the entire body of Christ to prepare the world for the soon-coming return of Jesus!

“We must reach every kindred and every tribe and every tongue with the supernatural.

“How can this be done? By believing that the supernatural can be taught! We feel in our spirits that the masses of ordinary people around the world will suddenly arise to the supernatural move of the Holy Spirit and will be healing the sick, casting out devils, and presenting a living, vital Jesus to the multitudes.

“This will not be limited to the ordained ministers of the gospel, but will include the multitudes. God has anointed us and directed us to present the simple ways of healing the sick that He has been teaching us for the past few years. They have worked for us and multiplied thousands have been healed. We have taught others how to heal the sick and cast out devils, and it has worked for them. And it will for you.”

Sections of the book are written by Frances, and other sections are written by Charles. Isn’t it typical that Frances wrote more than Charles?

Kudos to the women!

“It seems to me that the simplest way to heal the sick is by the laying on of hands,” writes Frances, while also allowing that the Bible mentions many other ways of healing.

She also admits that she and Charles experiment sometimes, exploring new avenues of healing.

The Hunter book is a case study in healing. I cannot begin to chronicle a representative sampling here. Obviously, the great majority their healing are unknown even to the Hunters because many who receive healing don't report it. But over their many years in ministry the Hunters have more than enough recorded.

“One of the most unique miracles that I remember happened as I was coming down an aisle of a church,” she writes. “God impressed me to reach out and touch the top of a woman’s head. This woman had cancer of the tongue. That one little touch, releasing the power of God, caused her to be totally healed of cancer and her tongue was completely restored!”

Just in case you are confused, we need to clear up one point: sickness comes from the devil, not God. God does not send sickness to His children to “teach them something.” He gets no glory from sickness, though He does get glory from seeing His children well.

Acts 10:38 tells, How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him.

Healing is clearly what God wants for His people. As for who can be used to heal the sick, Charles answers by asking this question:

“Have you ever turned a light switch on or off?
“If you have, you are smart enough to heal the sick.”

Charles sees the believers’ hands as the light switch, situated between them and the power generator, which is the Holy Spirit. “The person needing healing is the light bulb.
“Now, it is entirely up to you whether you turn the switch on or off,” he writes.

Charles suggests that believers stand as close as possible to the person being healed, “because the power actually flows from all parts of your spirit, through all parts of your body, into the person near you.”

Sometimes, he says, a demonic spirit is the source of disease.

“In the case of scoliosis, you need to command a spirit to come out (incurable disease), and then command the bones of the spine to straighten. Even though the spirit comes out, the back doesn’t necessarily straighten until the command is given, so if you don’t do both, the spine could remain crooked.”

Frances relates a case in Florida when she was relatively new to the healing ministry and was asked to stop by a sick woman’s home to pray. The woman was lying on a mattress on the floor, almost too weak to move.

“Would you do just one thing for me?” the woman asked.
“Certainly, I will do whatever you want,” Frances said.
“Would you stand right over here?” she asked. Frances said “her voice was so weak, and she began to inch across the mattress until she got to the very edge. Then she said, “Would you come real close to me?”
Frances said, “Sure,” noting that the woman had not asked her to pray.
“Would you get a little closer?” the woman asked again.
“I kept getting a little closer, but I didn’t understand what she wanted. Suddenly, she looked at me with the most beautiful faith I have ever seen in the eyes of any grown person. She said, ‘If I could just touch the hem of your garment, I KNOW that I would be made whole.’
“…She reached out and touched the hem of the skirt I was wearing, and when she did she was instantly made whole by the power of God!”

Fourteen years later when Frances was back in Florida she saw the woman again. There was “no recurrence of the horrible cancer that was causing her to hemorrhage to death,” she writes.

Charles relates an occasion when he ministered to a man who had suffered a stroke.

“The man had been paralyzed down his right side for three years; his leg was stiff as a board and he could not bend his knee at all; his right arm was totally incapable of moving and had been drawn up against his waist with the fist so tightly closed that his hand was white from lack of circulation.”

Charles says God spoke three words to him: “Spirit of death.” He then commanded the spirit of death to come out of the man in the name of Jesus. Then he told the man to say, “Jesus, I love you.”

The man repeated the words, though they were not very distinct. But his wife got excited because previously he had not been able to speak.

Charles then took the man’s immobile arm and began to bend it. It was stiff at first, but it became more limber as he continued bending it. Soon the man could move it by himself. Charles did the same thing with his leg. He also began opening the man’s fist and bending his fingers back and forth.

Charles writes, “Within about five minutes, he was able to lift his arm and walk, bending his leg without help. Within four days he had almost completely recovered.”

The Hunters believe that a healing Jesus is the Jesus much of the world is waiting to see.

I think they are right.

The Hunters’ books and tapes can be ordered from:
City of Light
201 McClellan Road
Kingwood, Texas 77339

Stanley O. Williford

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Christian Books: The Money Is There

I’m sure my figures are low, but according certain online sources, Rick Warren’s The Purpose Driven Life has sold about 30 million copies. Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkin’s Left Behind series of 16 books cashed in on more than 65 million volumes. And Joel Osteen’s Your Best Life Now: 7 Steps to Living at Your Full Potential, as of March 2006, had scored more than 3 million copies. Other associated works, such as journals, daily devotionals and study guides, made their profits soar even higher.

My point is this: writing books can be a very prosperous profession.

An indication of how popular Christian books and authors have become can be seen in the fact that many of the biggest sellers are published by subsidiaries of major secular companies. Osteen’s book was published by Warner Faith, a division of the Time Warner Book Group. His second book went to Free Press, a division of Simon & Schuster.

Although Warren’s book was published by Zondervan, a Christian publisher, the company was bought in 1978 by HarperCollins, a large secular publisher. The LaHaye and Jenkins’ books were published by Tyndale House, a Christian publisher.

The Free Press reportedly paid Osteen several millions – some indicate more than $10 million – to woo him away from Warner Faith. Osteen’s profits on Your Best Life Now are believed to have exceeded $10 million on just the $20 hardcover version, which doesn’t include his likely income from other related books and journals.

Most of these authors have given away large portions of their fortunes. Warren reportedly donates 90% of his income. Osteen reportedly gave up his 2006 annual church salary of $200,000. And LaHaye has given millions to Christian and conservative causes he believes in.

Of course, there are many other best-selling Christian books and authors. We'll discuss many of them in the future.

While the three best-selling authors we've mentioned have racked up mind-blowing numbers in sales, all of them together do not begin to touch the estimated 5 to 6 billions books sold by perhaps the best-selling author of all time – the Father God. That’s billion with a “B.”

If you haven’t guessed by now, this blog is about books – Christian books. We’ll deal with classics as well as contemporary books; books that teach and preach as well as books that entertain. And we’ll occasionally throw in some other information that we feel you should know.
Check us out often.

Stanley O. Williford

Next: Review of Charles & Frances Hunter's To Heal the Sick.