Tuesday, July 20, 2010

A new site for this book!

Now that Christ Formed in You is making its way to the printer, head on over to this new site where we offer 22 excerpts from the book and a special bargain on pre-release pricing.


Friday, June 11, 2010

Editing is complete. What next?

If you've visited this blog in the last month, you probably noticed that we've now completed the editing process of Christ Formed in You. Turning in the final manuscript to Shepherd Press last month was another milestone moment.

Here's a portion of the e-mail that Rick Irvin, the production manager for this project, sent:

It is great to see this. Not just from a business sense of getting part of a job done, but knowing that worthwhile work has been completed; challenges were met and God provided ways to open up his word. Just a quick glance shows that God has truly blessed all of us with the type of work I have wanted. As I drive people crazy with saying, "it's all about content and communication," and in this book God has provided both.

So, what's next? Well, securing endorsements, copy editing, typesetting and design, compiling both a Scripture and general index, marketing, and a target release date of October 1, 2010!


Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Evolution of One Section

Now that we're near the end of the editing, I find it encouraging to look back over the evolution of this book and see how far it has come. I thought it might be interesting to look at one section in its different stages of development. This is a section from Chapter Eight, "Growing in Grace: Vivification."

The Outline (8/26/2008)

Be Ravished by Mercy
Offer Your Body for the Worship of God
Don’t be conformed
Be Transformed Through Renewing the Mind
To the heart, through the mind
Realize the good, perfect, acceptable will of God

As you can see, this is a very schematic outline of Romans 12:1-2, the passage this section of the chapter is based on. The single words in the subheadings (Surrender, Edwards, Wesley, etc.) were cues for themes to develop or quotations and illustrations to use.


Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Big Picture

Here's an ugly, informative, 95 percent final Table of Contents of the entire book, down to the subhead level. Click on the image to see the whole thing.


Saturday, March 20, 2010

Ten Ways to Kill Sin

In a previous post, Kevin talked about the need to sometimes adjust the order of subsections in a chapter. We've done this in multiple chapters, often running through two, three, or four ideas before landing on a final flow of thought. One of the benefits of (1) having a good editor and (2) having a lengthy amount of time for editing, is the gradual increase of clarity in structure and flow of thought. And, of course, the better the structure enhances the content, the better readers will be served.

Chapter seven, which was the chapter under consideration in Kevin's previous post, has gone through multiple revisions. Here is a partial (and slightly edited) e-mail exchange between Kevin and I, followed by the latest (and probably final) ordering of subsections in the book, with a brief preview of each.


Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Something close to the final Introduction

Have you ever been in a situation where you know your destination but can’t find your way? It happens to me with almost predictable regularity. In fact, I’ve been lost in nearly every big city I’ve ever visited. Just ask my wife. In these moments of dislocation and disorientation, we need two things for our journey to be a success: a map and someone to show us where we are in relation to our final destination. When you come right down to it, then, I suppose we usually need a third thing as well. Especially men. When our journey has been reduced to an ineffective mix of hunches and guesswork, we need to admit we could use some help!

Following Jesus is also a journey, and one with a clear, inspiring destination. According to Scripture, our destination is to be conformed to the image of Christ (Romans 8:29). To be holy. Most Christians realize this and desire it. But we often feel disoriented in the midst of our journey. Though we know where we should be going, it can seem like we’ve lost our way.

A primary reason for this disorientation is simply that becoming more like Jesus—a process theologians often call “sanctification”—takes a lifetime, and life gets complicated. As the years unfold it can become unclear how sanctification really works, and how it fits with other elements of Christian life and thought. For anyone who takes faith seriously, honest, important questions will eventually arise.

• How do my current struggles with sin affect my standing with God?
• What practical steps must I take to deal with sin and nurture spiritual growth?
• What should I expect as I pursue change?
• How do I measure progress?
• And how do other aspects of my life – my longings for happiness, my personal disciplines and habits, my sufferings and trials, and my relationships with other people – fit into all this?

Dangers, Toils, and Snares

This journey towards holiness is further complicated by what the well-known hymn “Amazing Grace” describes as “many dangers, toils, and snares.” It is both terribly sad and undeniably true that a fair number of these perils have emerged from within Christianity itself.


Thursday, February 11, 2010

A unified vision of gospel-centered spirituality

One of the things Brian wants to accomplish in this book is a synthesis of several approaches to spirituality that are usually not found together: So, the gospel (chapters 2-5), the application of the gospel in the pursuit of holiness (chapters 6-8), Christian hedonism as motivation (chapter 9), and means (disciplines, community, suffering, chapters 10-12).

What he hopes will be distinctive in this book is combing these approaches together into one unified vision of gospel-centered spirituality. The idea is that in reading this book, you can get a clear picture of the goal (think, John Ortberg or J. I. Packer), the means of the gospel (think, Jerry Bridges or C. J. Mahaney), the application in mortification and spiritual growth (think, Kris Lundgaard), the motivation (think, John Piper), and the means of disciplines and community (think, John Ortberg or Don Whitney), plus suffering (think, Jerry Bridges and others).

I think that goal is clearly reflected at last in this, the latest and probably the final Table of Contents.

Christ Formed in You
The Power of the Gospel for Personal Change

Part I: The Foundations of Personal Change
1. Restoring God’s Broken Image: The Goal
2. The Key to Transformation: The Gospel
3. The Curse is Canceled: Justification
4. The Cure Has Begun: The Heart
5. Closing the Gap: Sanctification

Part II: The Path of Personal Change
6. Captivated by Beauty: Holiness
7. The Killing of Sin: Mortification
8. Growing in Grace: Vivification
9. The Quest for Joy: Motivation

Part III: The Means of Personal Change
10. Training in the Spirit: Disciplines
11. The Refiner’s Fire: Suffering
12. Life Together: Community


Monday, January 25, 2010

Excerpts from Current Draft of Chapter 10, on Spiritual Disciplines

From his home the man had an unobstructed view of the new construction site. The work had started out normally enough. A commercial building of some kind, it seemed. But after the workers had leveled the ground and poured the foundation, something odd took place. With the help of various machines, a rectangular silver box was maneuvered into the center of the slab. It was the size of a large living room, and taller than any of the men. In the days that followed, as the crew began to frame the building and add drywall, the huge, glistening box was gradually hidden from view. Still curious, the man decided to walk over and ask what it was.

The building, he learned, was to be a bank, and the great silver box was its vault. So important to the bank was this vault, so central to everything the bank did and stood for, that the building was being constructed around it. The vault lay at the heart of the bank, defining its purpose, giving it value, and making it distinct from every other building in the area.

Discipleship is meant to resemble the construction process this man was witnessing. For it is through the practice of the spiritual disciplines that we are enabled to build our lives around Jesus. He is the treasure and great reward hidden in our hearts. By him we possess, deep within us, the sure and certain hope of eternal, unfading riches.


Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Two Benefits of Editing

There are many reasons to edit a book and many benefits result from the editing process. But, speaking from an author's perspective, here are two benefits that stand out to me.

First, an editor's critical eye helps the author clarify and simplify his train of thought. This is where (again, from my perspective) Kevin has helped me the most. He has discovered places where I dropped a train of thought, raised expectations for the reader that I failed to fulfill, made a leap in logic, or was too subtle or fuzzy or foggy to be understood. And he's helped me cut out cumbersome passages that do not advance the argument of the book. As a result, the manuscript is now both shorter (!), but also leaner, more streamlined.

Second, the editing process has helped me refine my writing style. This is the benefit of multiple rewrites (some of the chapters have been through three or four revisions!). Of course, the primary goal in the revision has been to clarify and simplify, but the net effect has also been an improvement in style. At this point in writing I know almost all of what I want to say. The content is there. Revising the text has thus provided an opportunity to not only work on clarity, but also look closely at how I'm saying what I want to say.

Editing a book is like simultaneously doing structural remodels in a house and changing the color scheme and decor. Removing a wall here and there and adding some windows for better light cause the house feel more spacious. Putting on a fresh coat of paint and ridding the place of dated art make the house feel more classy.

In both ways - and I'm sure in others, as well - the manuscript is taking on a much better shape.


Monday, January 11, 2010

Titling Goes to Another Level

Well, it's been quite a while since this blog has been updated. With respect to the previous post, the overall approach to chapter titles has been overhauled once again; this is very typical and usually very helpful. This e-mail Brian sent me on January 5 (slightly edited) summarizes the state of our thinking.


Part I: The Foundations for Transformation [Or Spiritual Formation]
1. Restoring God’s Broken Image: The Goal
2. The Key to Transformation: The Gospel
3. The Curse is Canceled: Justification
4. The Cure Has Begun: The Heart
5. Closing the Gap: Sanctification

Part II: The Path of Transformation [Or Spiritual Formation]
6. Captivated by Beauty: Holiness
7. The Killing of Sin: Mortification
8. Growing in Grace: Vivification  (or Transformation)
9. The Quest for Joy: Motivation

Part III: The Means of Transformation [Or Spiritual Formation]
10. Training in the Spirit: Disciplines
11. The Refiner’s Fire: Suffering
12. Life Together: Community

Or [Using the same chapter titles]

Part I: Foundations
Part II: Building Blocks
Part III: Tools

I also think it would be nice if we could somehow build some congruency between the overall structure (and titling) of the various parts and the subtitle and introduction. If we use “roadmap” in the subtitle, then mixing the metaphors and using foundation/building blocks/tools might not work. So, we could change the subtitle to something like, “A Blueprint for Your Spiritual Growth.” Or we could choose section titles that go with the “roadmap” metaphor – maybe: Part I: Starting with the Gospel, Part III: Pressing On to Holiness; Part III: Helps for the Journey, or Helps Along the Way.

So, [Once again using the same chapter titles]

Introduction: A Roadmap for Your Spiritual Journey
Part I: Starting with the Gospel
Part II: Pressing on to Holiness
Part III: Helps for the Journey, or Helps Along the Way 

So, those are some more ideas to throw in the mix!

BTW, I’m working on chapters 8 and 10 (and maybe 9) today. Hope to have something to you by the end of the day.



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