Welcome, Tom. What would you like for our readers to know about you personally?
The one thing I would like your readers to know about me is that God takes the unlikely and unremarkable and uncertain, loves on them and, over time, creates a message in them through the events of their life and then uses that to ministers to others. For me and
Tell us about your family.
Nancy and I have been married over 45 years and, from the beginning, had a heart for God and for the things of God. But for the first eight, we were on life support. Then God stepped in with a specific word that began the transformation. We have two children who are walking with the Lord, six grandchildren and some life-long friends.
Have you written other nonfiction books?
This is the first book that I have written. I have written in the past for myself because I found that the Lord seems to speak or clarify my thoughts as I write. And when I preach, I also write and re-write the sermons. This book really had the same feel as that.
Do you have any other books in the works right now?
I am working on a book about Abraham. It hit me a couple years ago that God declared him righteous about 10 years after he committed his life to the Lord. It messed with my evangelical mind where we are declared righteous when we put our faith in Christ.
Abraham’s righteousness was not about him believing in God, but believing what God said about him. Abraham did not believe who God said he was (that is the father of many nations) until God brought him out under the stars. At that point, Abraham went on a journey of becoming and this journey had specific stages. These are the same stages each of his and God’s children go through. These stages can be summed up in three words—faith, hope, and love.
Abraham finally believed what God said about him and then spent years hoping against hope that he might become. Finally, on Moriah, this was fulfilled in him because Abraham was willing to freely give back to God what He had given him. Abraham didn’t need externals to know who he was or who God was.
This is what God desires for each of his children and is the path that I have seen God take me on. First to know both that you are the loved son or daughter of God and you were created with specificity. Then to know the process. We need both to recognize the why of you and the how.
Much to my wife’s consternation, the only hobby I have is her. Saying that, we enjoy going out for coffee together, spending time with the kids and grandkids and developing friendships.
What is Ephesians and All that Jazz. Riffing with Paul.
Jazz is a paraphrase of Ephesians. It takes small sections of Ephesians and tries to express Paul’s heart in ways that might resonate with the readers.
Why did you write Jazz?
I began writing Jazz to explore what I believed about God. The thought of publishing never crossed my mind because I never thought I would finish it. But as I wrote, it drew me in and caused me to see God in a delightfully different and engaging way and, in light of seeing God, I began seeing myself in a new way as well. I have published this because, I think, Jazz can create a wonderment in others as well.
What do you want the reader to take away from the book?
My greatest hope for those who read Jazz is not that they come away with answers per se but to come away with questions that will lead them into their own encounter with God. I invite the readers, in the intro, to journey with me as I explore my own soul and try to grasp the Wind. But, as they read my journey, I hope they would be encouraged to start their own.
Is there anything else you’d like to tell my readers about you or your book?
In the title, Jazz is called a transliteration. There are three terms used in translation. The first is translation which is what we all know where there is a one to one correlation between the word in the original language and the one you are translating it it. For example, charis is grace. Agape is love. A paraphrase will take the basic thoughts and take liberty with the text in order to paint pictures that help the reader understand the thoughts better. In the truest sense, what I have done is produce a paraphrase.
A transliteration, however, knows that there is not a word in your language that approximates the word or concept in the language you are trying to translate so you must create a new word and attach meaning to it to be able to communicate it. There are many words in the Christian jargon that have definitions but no meaning. Words and concepts, like righteousness, the Trinitarian God, being filled with the Spirit, and others, can cause one’s eyes to glaze over. The Holy Spirit needs to creates new words in our internal dictionary before they can come alive in you and before you can begin to understand and walk in them.
Please give us the first page or two from the book.
You can find larger sections on Amazon but here is the intro:
Jazz is the best way I can describe what I have written. Jazz is a uniquely American art form and, in its purest form, is improvisation. It takes basic chord structures and then riffs or expresses notes that are imagined, not written.
Jazz is highly subjective and invites the audience to take a journey with the musician as he explores his own soul. At times, it is brilliant. At other times, not so much. Jazz occasionally is not safe. But it is always authentic.
In the first century, Paul was a jazz musician. The good news he proclaimed was uniquely his. He even called the message he preached, “my gospel.” What he heard from God was distilled in his own soul before he communicated it to those who were to hear the wonderful love of God.
While Paul was unique in the breadth and depth of the revelation he received, he is not unique in how God transmits His message. Though God can and does sovereignly reveal His Son without human agency, His plan has always been to infect others with someone who has been infected with God.
Paul also talks about two ways to communicate the message. One is by the letter and the other, by the spirit. In musical terms, the letter would be reading from a score and the spirit would be playing jazz. Both require a firm understanding of music theory and an effortless expertise.
While both produce music, however, one is born from within while the other echoes the past and others. John the Baptist, when asked who he was, said that he was a unique voice and not an echo, even though the prophets of old could be heard resounding through him.
Paul said that the Christ he proclaimed was the Christ who was revealed “in” him. The Word that had become Flesh, became flesh once again in Paul. His life and writings were but an outworking of this.
And that Word, in part, has become flesh in me. This work is the result of many years of God changing my thoughts about Him, about myself and about life, and then ultimately changing me. Most of these thoughts I have carried with me for years.
But there were moments when I was writing, that an idea dropped into my mind which had never occurred to me, nor had I heard, before. These thoughts are either brilliant or borderline heretical. It felt at those moments as if I was attached to a tether which was being stretched beyond its tolerances. And I let it.
You might sense this as well because jazz at times can have a disrupting effect on one’s assumptions and create cognitive dissonance. Jazz can bring unanticipated moments for everyone. But these are the moments when you just might encounter God. Moses did when he stopped to gaze at the incongruent scene of a bush being consumed by fire, yet not burning out. It was in that moment that Moses experienced God in a new way.
With jazz, it is difficult to have the music pause so you can think about what you just heard; but with this, you can. It might be best read in bite-sized chunks so you can consider and pray about the thoughts which might bring a different perspective.
I am asking you to join me in my journey as I try to express the heart and mind of Paul through mine. You will experience some “aha” moments which will create fresh thoughts in you. You also will scratch your head at times (which is equally my hope).
But if you let Him, you will sense the breath of God blowing on you through these pages and find a desire grow in you both to know the God you could never have imagined and the you He imagined before the worlds began. And hopefully at the end, you will find the courage to begin riffing yourself because you too were created to be a jazz musician.
Where on the Internet can the readers find you?
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCjAvSMLUIAImJXbH8J5-hrw?view_as=subscriber is my youtube channel.
firstname.lastname@example.org is my email address
Thank you, Tom, For sharing this book with my blog readers and me. I know it will touch and change lives.
Readers, here are links to the book.
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