What follows is part two of the Ninth Commandment from Chapter 10 of Ten Essential Words. The Ninth Commandment reads, “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.”
We began discussing this Ninth Commandment with the modest example of ordering a cup of coffee. It may have seemed insignificant at the time, but it is in these little daily interactions that our name and our reputation can either gain or lose credibility. We may have lost some sense of the value of a good name – if it is not in a written contract, it usually is not worth anything today. But there are still places where our name has a certain value.
The online garage sale eBay still relies on the value of a name. Each time a seller or buyer engages in a transaction, the other party has an opportunity to rate them. If the person was positive to work with, paid their money on time, or shipped the item in a timely manner, a point is added to that person’s name. A neutral experience nets zero points. A bad experience, such as a delay in shipment or failing to pay results in a point taken away from the person’s name. Each transaction, whether selling a comic book or purchasing a plasma-screen TV, counts the same when it comes to assessing the value of a name. In general, the larger the number, the more trustworthy the person will be. Here is a hint: avoid negative people – literally!
What if we stepped out of the world of eBay and literally had a hologram number hovering above our head in real life? Every conversation and transaction either bumped that number up or pulled it down. Would it change the way you conducted your daily routine? Would it change the content of your conversations? To be people who embrace truth would mean that we would have no fear of that number hovering above our head. It would be visible for the entire world to see that we place a high value on honesty and speaking the truth in love. Truth is, that number is probably more visible to people than we realize.
Consider the ways in which you can fully embrace truth.
I recently had an opportunity to complete a brief interview for my author page on Smashwords. I thought I would share it here as well.
When did you first start writing?
As a pastor, I wrote sermon outlines, but I always felt like there was so much more to explore in any given topic. There was one series I had taught a couple of time, and even after teaching through it more than once, I still had ideas bouncing around in my head on the topic. Then on a trip to Israel with a couple of good friends, one of these friends encouraged me to start writing. I came home and began writing my first book, Ten Essential Words, where I really took a comprehensive look at the Ten Commandments and their relevance for today’s world. I’ve been writing ever since.
Who are your favorite authors?
There are several authors that I love to read for different reasons. Brennan Manning, who recently passed away, has probably influenced me as much as anyone. His writing really reaches deep inside me and brings out emotions and insights that tend to get pushed aside. N.T. Wright and Dallas Willard bring an intellectual approach to the Bible and to faith that I really resonate with. Bruce Feiler‘s books on exploring the actual places and sites of the Old Testament hit close to one of my biggest passions: traveling to places rich with Biblical history.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I had finally finished the manuscript to my first book. Like any unpublished author at the time, I sent several book proposals to publishers. I was investing time and money, getting no where. Meanwhile, I had this manuscript saved on my hard drive, not being read by anyone. I began reading a couple books about how the internet was opening channels up to people that have been traditionally controlled by a handful of big players – be it record labels, publishers, or mainstream media. I realized that I had a choice to continue to play the game of getting the attention of a publisher or to go the indie route and get my ideas out there available to people. It has been both challenging and rewarding.
When you’re not writing, how do you spend your time?
Reading a good book at a coffee shop, most likely. But outside of work and writing, I always have a couple books I am reading my way through. I am always planning my next travel adventure. And when time permits, I enjoy cooking and trying new restaurants. I enjoy food that has been prepared with passion!
What are you working on next?
I am really excited to explore the New Testament letter of Ephesians from the context of the Greco-Roman world of the recipients. Most commentaries tend to either lack depth, avoiding any contextual discussion, or be so deep, dissecting the sentence structure of the original language to an extent that the larger narrative is lost. I wanted to take a letter like Ephesians and really tell the story: who where these people, how would they have heard Paul’s words, why did Paul write what he did, and what did it mean to be a Greek person in the Roman Empire trying to live out the message of Jesus. This past spring, I actually travelled to the archaeological site of Ephesus, so I am really excited to finish this project!