Steve Bremner http://stevebremner.com Author, Podcaster & Missionary to Peru Fri, 17 Apr 2015 03:34:55 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.1.1 Join Steve Bremner, author, blogger and missionary to Peru as he interviews authors, bloggers and missionaries who'll challenge, encourage and strengthen you to burn for Jesus and increase your faith. Steve Bremner clean Steve Bremner steve.bremner@gmail.com steve.bremner@gmail.com (Steve Bremner) Fire Press Productions Kicking Christians out of the upper room to spread the fire Steve Bremner http://stevebremner.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/black-1024-x-1024.png http://stevebremner.com TV-G Chorrillos, Peru Pretty often Growing in Prayer by Mike Bickle | Book Review http://stevebremner.com/2015/04/growing-in-prayer-by-mike-bickle-book-review/ http://stevebremner.com/2015/04/growing-in-prayer-by-mike-bickle-book-review/#comments Fri, 17 Apr 2015 03:34:55 +0000 http://stevebremner.com/?p=15677 Photo credit: http://www.ihopkc.org/onething/growing-prayer/

Photo credit: http://www.ihopkc.org/onething/growing-prayer/

I don’t need to discipline myself to make out with my wife, so why do I have such a difficult time spending time in intimate prayer with the heavenly Father who delights in me?

This is an honest question I ask myself from time to time whenever I realize I’ve drifted from consistent or frequent prayer and devotion.

In discipleship and helping new Christians grow, I find myself often telling people that prayer should be a delight and not a chore. More often than not, prayer is often something believers know that we they should be “doing” but often need help to see it modelled.

I have read several books of Mike Bickle’s over the years, such as Growing in the Prophetic, The Pleasures of Loving God, and in 2010 I was given a copy of what would be my favourite of his to date: After God’s Own Heart: The Key to Knowing and Living God’s Passionate Love for You.

Depending on the circles you travel flow in, you may have a fond opinion of the International House of Prayer or if you do a Google search you might come across apologetics sites that paint him as a cult leader akin to Joseph Smith. Either way, I’ve appreciated much of what I’ve learned from Bickle over the years and have loved his Song of Solomon teachings.

His eschatology, not so much.

But at any rate, I recently lent my wife’s Spanish copy of After God’s Own Heart to our disciple, and afterward he decided to go on prolonged fasts. I remember the book had a similar impact on me back in the days when I first read it, so when I saw recently that Mike had written yet another book in a similar vein on prayer, I thought it couldn’t hurt to give it a read.

I do believe this is one of Mike’s most important books. If somebody were to ask me if I could recommend a book on prayer there are many that come to mind, I will now tell people to buy this book, but also read Dave Roberson’s FREE book The Walk of the Spirit, The Walk of Power: The Vital Role of Praying in Tongues. Mike condenses so much of the wisdom he has gained over the years of personal devotional prayer, intercessory prayer and leading prayer meetings into one book. If you get yourself settled on the role of praying in tongues, these two books can get you off to a great dedicated lifestyle.

Mike divides this book into 5 sections, and then with several appendices,  and I only really take issue with the last section which focuses on “prayer in the last days”.

What I benefited from the most was the breakdown of many different types  and principles of prayer, like basic things such as scheduling time to do so, and creating lists. As a result, I’ve copied the template he provides in the book for how to pray for family members, how to make lists, and in Evernote have begun incorporating Biblical prayers into a folder, and now I use my tablet a lot to help direct and guide me in my personal times of devotional prayer, as well as intercessional prayers. I don’t know why I was so nervous of writing things down in a journal or Evernote before as though that would stifle the flow of the Holy Spirit guiding me spontaneously before, but I’ve found the opposite to be true. It has been a tremendous help.

The book also looks at historical and biblical models of prayer and what God is doing around the world today with a converging prayer and missions movement. However, Mike doesn’t necessarily seem to realize that just because many people have done something a certain way throughout history, doesn’t always give credence to the idea that it is the way something should always be done.

If you want to pray more, if you want to see your relationship with God go to a different level of depth read a chapter then try it out. 

Get a copy of Growing in Prayer: A Real Life Guid to Talking to God on Amazon.

Sharables


“People of prayer should be the most energized in love” – Mike Bickle
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The Seven Lies of Living Cross Culturally | The Culture Blend http://stevebremner.com/2015/04/the-seven-lies-of-living-cross-culturally-the-culture-blend/ http://stevebremner.com/2015/04/the-seven-lies-of-living-cross-culturally-the-culture-blend/#comments Wed, 15 Apr 2015 20:07:31 +0000 http://stevebremner.com/?p=15699 Rural signboard - Forward - Backward

Photo Credit: The Culture Blend

 

I just read this article over at The Culture Blend,

People who live cross-culturally, for any significant portion of their lives, are often duped.

When we first choose to live as foreigners we are prime for the suckering.  We are wide eyed and overflowing with enthusiasm.  We soak up everything that Lonely Planet, Rosetta Stone and Wikipedia have to offer about our soon to be new home.  In our zeal we are prone to misgauging our own proficiency.

We are pumped . . . and ready . . . and oh so naive.

Set for swindling.

There are seven great deceptions and most of us fall for at least five. I have personally tested them all.  You know . . . for research.  I lay them out now NOT for the sake of  those who are packing up their lives and getting ready to go.  That would be like telling newlyweds that marriage is hard.

They just tilt their head and grin at you as if you’re the cute one . . .  “yeah, we know it’s hard for everyone else but we’re sooooo in love . . . and it will never, ever be hard for us. ”

You’re sweet and I would never steal this time from you.  Proceed.

But for those of you coming down from the honeymoon (and possibly even some of you veterans) . . . here are seven deceptions which you may or may not have noticed just yet.

To read the rest of the article, The Seven Lies of Living Cross Culturally by Jerry Jones.

____________________________________________

My personal thoughts on this post?

Right on the money!

Especially number five, which was  The “Single Answer” Lie. That’s where when we get an answer and we believe we understand it. Soon we “know” everything and consider ourselves experts. 

However, when we have answers we stop asking questions which can be a fatal flaw for expats, especially missionaries. There is always more to it than we realize.

I wince when I go back and read some of my “life-in-another-culture-as-a-missionary” blog posts from my first year here, where I explain how things work to those of you who have never come to Peru and probably will never set foot here, so how will you know I’m wrong? But I’m sure other expats or English speaking Peruvians groaned when they read those posts.

I like Jerry’s example,

Imagine describing the climate of North America as frigid because you spent Christmas day in Northern Canada.  Check out Guatemala in July before you share your expertise.

Now when I see Facebook posts or blog articles of more recent visitors to Peru, whether short-termers or interns, I realize I must purge my archives of all my “let-me-tell-you-about-the-culture-of-Peru” posts from my first years here.

I cringe when I read some of what I wrote.

As a North American who comes from a time-oriented culture such as Canada, I could get annoyed and find it disrespectful that Peruvians, who are far more event-oriented than I’m used to (even after 6 years),  don’t seem to value punctuality as much as I want them to.

But I err when I take it personal.

We joke in our ministry that if something is starting at 7pm, are we talking Peruvian time or Gringo time? But sometimes I get a little convicted making a joke like that.

In a culture that doesn’t necessarily value punctuality the same way I do, they may not even be showing up late due to a lack of respect or anything I’m inclined to interpret it as. It could just be a matter of “that’s the way it is.”

Now the question is, how am I going to handle it?

Let it eat my lunch?

Throw a fit and look down on them?

Much of how we process cross-culture living depends on expectations and perceptions. I’ve learned repeatedly that what I consider “integrity”, Peruvians view in me as pain in the butt.

Different expectations.

What “Inviting” Means to a Peruvian

Back in 2008 when I came here on my six week scouting trip, the new Indiana Jones movie had just come out. The other Canadian missionary I was staying with, Dean Milley, and his Peruvian friend Rolando had indicated they wouldn’t mind seeing it with me, and so we invited people to come see it with us. Tickets back then were about 11 soles (or $3.50 US) and a bunch of us went.

When I say a bunch I mean like ten of us. Dean told me that I’d have to pay for the tickets for the youth who had come, because in this culture, inviting someone doesn’t just mean you ask them to come, and then discuss beforehand whether you’re footing the bill or splitting the costs. In Peru it always means you are paying for whatever you’re inviting someone to.  It’s common for people to say “can you invite me to have some of your coffee” for example.

After the movie was over, we all headed back to someone’s apartment, and I happened to see Dean take some money out of his wallet and give it to the two youth who had seen the movie with us and come along with us to the apartment. When they left, Dean told me that it was my responsibility to pay for their way home if I was inviting them to something, such as the cinema, because like I was told, I had invited them. At this hour it was now too late and too dangerous for them to take a bus to where they lived, and they’d have to take a taxi, which not only was unaffordable for them, but was my responsibility as the inviter.

This didn’t break my bank, obviously, but I felt so silly for not having known that or been aware of it beforehand.

“Give me Back What I Gave You as a Gift, Pretty Please? I Need it Now”

In the last few years of married life, I’ve also encountered situations where people have decided they were entitled to possessions of ours that months or even years prior they had given us. Since naturally I process life out loud — to my wife or on the internet in my blog — I sometimes take to Facebook and “vent” about these situations when they come up.

This is not a reflection of Peruvian culture, please don’t read what I’m saying that way. But I had never really had these experiences happen to me with the frequency of which they started happening to me when I moved to Los Cedros at the end of 2011.

A number of weeks ago, we had a neighbor who was moving out of her apartment come and ask us for the second time to give her “her” couch back. The first time she said we misunderstood and it was never a gift but a loan, and she sold it (so she claimed). Lili stood her ground and reminded this neighbor of the conditions in which we accepted it, and that there never was any talk of needing to give it back down the road. Then this more recent occasion, this family were now moving somewhere and wanted the couch to be ready and on our front lawn the very next morning.

We politely told her she could find six movers to come and lower it out of our apartment herself, but otherwise, we had no intention of lifting a finger to help her. Maybe not even be here.

I know you would have handled it differently, helped lower the couch, and not only that, but open your wallet and give her a thousand dollars cash and tell her to buy another couch as well and offer to pray for any of her needs to be met.  At least that’s what various pontificators on Facebook have told me I should do whenever I post these kinds of stories.

Anyway, we never saw her again.

The night this development unravelled for the final time, I posted on Facebook about it again, asking for prayer for my patience as I hate how it seems a lot of people to think the Bible verse about turning the other cheek means Christians are just supposed to be soft push overs and, and lay down and get walked over.

The Famous Pineapple Story

A friend named Mark posted a video to the famous “Pineapple Story” by Otto Koning, missionary to New Guinea. I watched the whole thing (and you should too, it’s worth your 55 minutes of time). Otto and his wife lived for years with fear of the enemy on the mission field. With such a funny sense of humor (“I would be a such a great missionary if it weren’t for you people.”) he shares how God showed them the victory in Christ:

These people kept stealing his pineapples.

For years and years.

Finally at one point someone explained to him that in that culture, anything you do with your own hands, such as planting an orchard or a vineyard, belongs to you, thereby entitling you to the fruit of your labors, so to speak.

So even though this pineapple farm was his property, the people who helped him plant it were entitled to it in their mind because they had worked on it. This revelation brought a lot of freedom to these missionaries in their understanding of what was going on.

He had assumed that for years and years, they were stealing from him (and from watching the rest of the video and hearing the rest of his experiences, they sound like they were).

Now, I don’t know what I would do differently if I were in their shoes. I know many keyboard theologians and hypothetical overseas missionaries would have handled it much better, of course, because I always get told so. But sometimes the only way to move forward in these situations is not to take a right or wrong approach to a situation, but just accept it is what it is and various cultures operate differently.

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The God Who Answers By Fire http://stevebremner.com/2015/04/the-god-who-answers-by-fire/ http://stevebremner.com/2015/04/the-god-who-answers-by-fire/#comments Tue, 14 Apr 2015 03:20:52 +0000 http://stevebremner.com/?p=15675 307350454_34c4573f2a_o (1)

The first time the Lord revealed Himself to Moses was in a burning bush. He could have done His appearing in any form He wanted to, but chose this method — a fire.

Likewise, when the Lord chose to come down and meet the people of Israel for the first time after departing from Egypt, he showed up as thunder, lightning and a thick cloud with a very loud trumpet blast. All of the few million men and women who heard it trembled (see Exodus 19:16-24).

The mountain itself did not speak, but the voice in the midst of the fire did.

It is interesting that at significant times when God showed Himself to people, He showed up in appearance of fire. To Moses in the bush, to the people of Israel on Mount Sinai as a mountain of fire, and the believers in the upper room in Acts 2 tongues of fire on their heads.

Our God is a consuming fire (Heb 12:29, Deut 4:24). It’s one of His many characteristics.

We continue reflecting on the consuming fire of God’s presence in this week’s episode.

If you have the Stitcher Radio app on your smartphone, click the “listen later” button below and save this show for later.

Don’t forget to check out Benjamin Nelson’s book I mentioned in the show, Encounters With Jesus.

Check out our new Fire on Your Head iPhone app.

Before I let you go I need to ask you a quick favour. Please jump over to iTunes or Stitcher and give this show a rating, a review, leave a comment. It would mean a lot to me and help people find us! So please jump over to iTunes when you get a chance. Thank you so much, and look forward to talking to you in the next episode of Fire On Your Head.

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http://stevebremner.com/2015/04/the-god-who-answers-by-fire/feed/ 0 The first time the Lord revealed Himself to Moses was in a burning bush. He could have done His appearing in any form He wanted to, but chose this method -- a fire. Likewise, when the Lord chose to come down and meet the people of Israel for the first... (http://stevebremner.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/307350454_34c4573f2a_o-1.jpg) The first time the Lord revealed Himself to Moses was in a burning bush. He could have done His appearing in any form He wanted to, but chose this method -- a fire. Likewise, when the Lord chose to come down and meet the people of Israel for the first time after departing from Egypt, he showed up as thunder, lightning and a thick cloud with a very loud trumpet blast. All of the few million men and women who heard it trembled (see Exodus 19:16-24). The mountain itself did not speak, but the voice in the midst of the fire did. It is interesting that at significant times when God showed Himself to people, He showed up in appearance of fire. To Moses in the bush, to the people of Israel on Mount Sinai as a mountain of fire, and the believers in the upper room in Acts 2 tongues of fire on their heads. Our God is a consuming fire (Heb 12:29, Deut 4:24). It's one of His many characteristics. We continue reflecting on the consuming fire of God's presence in this week's episode. If you have the Stitcher Radio (http://stitcher.com/podcast/fire-on-your-head) app on your smartphone, click the “listen later” button below and save this show for later. Don't forget to check out Benjamin Nelson's book I mentioned in the show, Encounters With Jesus (http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00V0I2OCS/?tag=fionyohepo-20). Check out our new Fire on Your Head iPhone app (https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/fire-on-your-head/id964550560?ls=1&mt=8). Before I let you go I need to ask you a quick favour. Please jump over to iTunes or Stitcher and give this show a rating, a review, leave a comment. It would mean a lot to me and help people find us! So please jump over to iTunes when you get a chance. Thank you so much, and look forward to talking to you in the next episode of Fire On Your Head. Steve Bremner clean 35:23
We Have Signed a Contract With a Publisher http://stevebremner.com/2015/04/we-have-signed-a-contract-with-a-publisher/ http://stevebremner.com/2015/04/we-have-signed-a-contract-with-a-publisher/#comments Tue, 07 Apr 2015 21:09:22 +0000 http://stevebremner.com/?p=15641 DI_Logo-Number2

As some of you may have seen on social media, or heard on the podcast, we have signed a contract with Destiny Image Publishers who will be re-launching 9 Lies People Believe About Speaking in Tongues!

We invite you to celebrate this step with us and continue reading for what this all means.

The Detailed Backdrop

Back in November, a Facebook friend of mine wrote to let me know he had gotten a job as an acquisitions editor for Destiny Image, and had shown my book to his boss and she loved it. Then began the process of the book going through different channels in their company to see if they’d still think it was a low financial risk to publish.

I honestly dragged my feet a bit at first, and then when I finally decided to go for it, I didn’t hear back from them for a few months. It turns out they gave it the green light and my friend contacted me again in early February, and to be honest, after I had forgotten about it and assumed it wasn’t going to be happening.

You may wonder why I would have even taken my jolly time to answer a traditional publisher about publishing a project I’ve written, if it’s not every author’s dream to be published.

Many authors and pastors have told me that they had to offer their manuscript to 15-20 publishers before one would do it (and in some cases have never found a publisher). And here I suddenly had one come to ME asking for the rights to my book without having shopped it around, and I was taking my sweet time…

“Steve, are you mental?”

I hesitated because I’ve believed to date that my platform is quite small for such a large-scale launch, and despite what many people believe, publishers don’t automatically promote a book or make it sell. The author does a lot of that.

Plus, there are quite a number of traditional Christian publishers who ask the author to pay for half of the cost of printing. We’re talking tens of thousands of dollars, which Lili and I as missionaries clearly don’t have, as you may have noticed if you’ve been following our Go Fund Me campaign and how we’re trying to raise money to travel.

So my first response to my friend was “thanks for thinking of me, but we’ll have to pass on this” before I found out this would not require us to pay half of the printing costs.

So, before making a final decision, and since I don’t yet have a literary agent to help me with things like this, I discussed it with several different seasoned ministers and former teachers of mine who’ve worked with DI and/or other publishers, as well as our financial partners. All our supporters we talked to were excited for us.

Some author friends of mine have boxes of books in their basements and it took years to get out of debt after having published their title and mis-calculated how successful their book would be. Now, admittedly I wouldn’t be immune to believing my book would be a bigger success than it might be ultimately be, because, as an author, your book is your baby and you have a biased view of your own work.

Anyway, I literally heard 50/50 good and bad opinions from those I sought advice from. A few advised me that I should continue self-publishing and just make an effort to grow my platform. Others said “Steve, don’t be stupid! Give them your book if they want to publish it!” (OK, you got me, that last one was SJ Hill).

When we found out publishing the book would be of no monetary cost to us, other than paying a heavily discounted price on each copy of the book we order for ourselves, Lili and I felt no reason not to go for it and have peace this is the best thing we could do at this point.

We want to THANK YOU for helping us build this platform with my blog and podcast, as well as ask for your continued prayers for Lili and I on the mission field, as this new development will very likely open long-term future doors for us and increase our online platform significantly as people discover this book. It will also help to be a tool for drawing attention to the work we do as disciple-making missionaries in Peru.

A lot of “lucky” things fell into place at the right time for this to come about and we see the hand of God in it, and we couldn’t have done it, and won’t be able to keep doing it without your help and encouragement.

I’m a relative nobody, so my name on the cover won’t be the selling point of this book, but word of mouth and good endorsements will. Right now, about 98% of the sales of my self-published version of 9 Lies come from the Kindle version, and the only place people can order the paperback is from Amazon. Destiny Image will be able to distribute this book into bookstores who I couldn’t reach on my own as a self-published author.

We want to clarify that Lili and I won’t “make a living” on the sales of this book, but it could help lead to publishing more, and in the years to come help supplement our support levels over time. Many people think authors make a lot of money if they’ve written a book, and that couldn’t be any further from the truth unless you’re Stephen King or Bill Johnson or someone with a huge following.

As a result, this is the biggest reason we didn’t make any effort to announce this news until now: we didn’t want to confuse people into thinking we didn’t STILL need help raising money for our itinerating trip to North America later this year, or that we didn’t still want to invite new partners onto our support team. Nor were we given an advance for the book, which few authors actually receive from publishers, and we won’t receive any royalties until quite a ways down the road after the book has been released.

I admit to having been a little nervous of having supporters think we didn’t still need support because of the myth that authors make a lot of money or something.

Again, we extend a BIG thank you for helping us spread word about what we do, both online and offline on the mission field. If you want to help us reach more people through our ministry in the meantime until the book comes out, feel free to share our Facebook page’s content, articles of ours or podcast episodes. We wouldn’t have shown up under Destiny Image’s radar if not for your help, and for that we are truly grateful!

Blessings and fire on your head,

Steve

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Encounters With Jesus | Book Review http://stevebremner.com/2015/03/encounters-with-jesus-book-review/ http://stevebremner.com/2015/03/encounters-with-jesus-book-review/#comments Wed, 25 Mar 2015 15:49:06 +0000 http://stevebremner.com/?p=15410 encounters-with-jesus-full-cover

The following post is an expanded version of of my Amazon review of the book Encounters with Jesus: Forty Days In The Life Of Jesus Through The Eyes of Those He Touched by Benjamin Nelson.

I’ve been acquainted with Benjamin online for a while now. He’s always been an encourager and champion of my books and podcast, so when he contacted me asking if I’d be willing to look at his book, I couldn’t resist, as I felt it was the least I could do to show some appreciation for him.

You may think this is a flagrant contradiction to my previous post on doing review swaps with other authors, except there was no review swapping involved.

I was genuinely interested in reading Ben’s book. Plus, I have never read a blog post on his site Another Red Letter Day that I didn’t find enjoyable. So I knew this would be a good read.

And I wasn’t wrong.

I contacted him privately with a few concerns I had as I read what he told me was a later draft of the book, and I believe these have been taken care so they don’t affect my review. In fact, it’s difficult to think of any faults with this book, and that’s a good thing for me!

First off, this book is different in a very good way. I’m so used to being sent theological books or memoirs so this was a breath of fresh air to read. He admits at the outset that he has taken some literary and creative liberty in some of the details of the lives of those who share their short stories, and I didn’t find any of the liberties he took to be contradictory to Scripture in anyway, as we hardly know the backstory of many of the characters in these Gospel accounts. Nit picky theologians might have a problem with that, but understanding the purpose of the book, that kind of thing is unimportant to me as I read.

Ben’s attempts to make each of these individuals more relatable than just the few sentences or paragraphs that mention them in the original Gospel accounts is highly welcomed. In fact, I admit to sometimes feeling very familiar with certain stories and parables, and having something like Ben’s book to give us a completely different — or at least another — perspective helps fill in some spaces and rejuvenate my perspective on these original accounts.

Second, the writing style is not over anybody’s head. This is not academic book but a series of short stories. Nobody will have a difficult time reading this. You are brought into the character’s inner monologues and personal thoughts quite often.

You feel like you’re in their shoes as you read.

Third, in relation to the writing style, none of the stories/chapters are very long. You can read each one in short bursts. This made it very easy to read many of them at a time and read the book rather speedily, as I also was engaged with the characters and seeing how Jesus touched each of them in some way. When I would finish one chapter, I’d think “well, I have a few more minutes, I guess I can read another”. I love books that do that for me.

I highly encourage you to grab a copy of this book, and follow Ben’s blog (his Song of Solomon posts are my favourite).

If you find my review on Amazon helpful, please hit “yes”. This will help both Benjamin and myself.

Note: my link to the book does contain my affiliate link code, and if you buy it I’ll receive a tiny commission.

Blessings!

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Should Creflo Dollar Have His Expensive Private Jet? | Podcast http://stevebremner.com/2015/03/should-creflo-dollar-have-his-expensive-private-jet-podcast/ http://stevebremner.com/2015/03/should-creflo-dollar-have-his-expensive-private-jet-podcast/#comments Sat, 21 Mar 2015 02:25:24 +0000 http://stevebremner.com/?p=15402 airbus-luxury

This week I recorded a spontaneous time of sharing my heart with you guys. Since the internet is all abuzz with the fact Creflo Dollar asked the body of Christ to help him buy a $65 million private jet for his ministry, I have mixed reaction.

Since this was the type of thing that would take me way too long to sit down and write, and I don’t have the time, I figured a podcast would be the best way to do that.

So why does this missionary in a third world country think people need to leave Creflo alone? Or at least examine ourselves as to why we’re irked about his request?

Listen and find out. This was one of the most vulnerable podcasts I’ve ever recorded.

If you have the Stitcher Radio app on your smartphone, click the “listen later” button below and save this show for later.

Click here if you’d like to know how to subscribe to our podcast.

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Lili and I have a campaign on GoFundMe.com to help raise money for our travel expenses later this year. Please visit this link if you’d like to partner with us to help us visit our family and be a blessing to other ministries and churches in North America later this year.

Like The Fire On Your Head Podcast on Facebook

 

Before I let you go I need to ask you a quick favour. Please jump over to iTunes or Stitcher and give this show a rating, a review, leave a comment. It would mean a lot to me and help people find us! So please jump over to iTunes when you get a chance … thank you so much, and look forward to talking to you in the next episode of Fire On Your Head.

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http://stevebremner.com/2015/03/should-creflo-dollar-have-his-expensive-private-jet-podcast/feed/ 0 This week I recorded a spontaneous time of sharing my heart with you guys. Since the internet is all abuzz with the fact Creflo Dollar asked the body of Christ to help him buy a $65 million private jet for his ministry, I have mixed reaction. - (http://stevebremner.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/airbus-luxury.jpg) This week I recorded a spontaneous time of sharing my heart with you guys. Since the internet is all abuzz with the fact Creflo Dollar asked the body of Christ to help him buy a $65 million private jet for his ministry, I have mixed reaction. Since this was the type of thing that would take me way too long to sit down and write, and I don't have the time, I figured a podcast would be the best way to do that. So why does this missionary in a third world country think people need to leave Creflo alone? Or at least examine ourselves as to why we're irked about his request? Listen and find out. This was one of the most vulnerable podcasts I've ever recorded. If you have the Stitcher Radio (http://stitcher.com/podcast/fire-on-your-head) app on your smartphone, click the “listen later” button below and save this show for later. Click here (http://stevebremner.com/subscribe-to-podcast/) if you’d like to know how to subscribe to our podcast. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Lili and I have a campaign on GoFundMe.com to help raise money for our travel expenses later this year. Please visit this link (http://www.gofundme.com/bremnertrip2015) if you’d like to partner with us to help us visit our family and be a blessing to other ministries and churches in North America later this year. (https://funds.gofundme.com/css/3.0_donate/navy/widget.png) Like The Fire On Your Head Podcast on Facebook   Before I let you go I need to ask you a quick favour. Please jump over to iTunes or Stitcher and give this show a rating, a review, leave a comment. It would mean a lot to me and help people find us! So please jump over to iTunes when you get a chance … thank you so much, and look forward to talking to you in the next episode of Fire On Your Head. Steve Bremner clean 36:04
Why I refuse to do “review swaps” with other indie authors http://stevebremner.com/2015/03/why-i-refuse-to-do-review-swaps-with-other-indie-authors/ http://stevebremner.com/2015/03/why-i-refuse-to-do-review-swaps-with-other-indie-authors/#comments Mon, 16 Mar 2015 03:22:20 +0000 http://stevebremner.com/?p=15343 Review swaps

For those who don’t know, when you self-publish a book, you get approached by a lot of other self-published authors who offer to scratch your back if you’ll scratch theirs by reading and reviewing each other’s books. Especially if you’re in any publishing or writing groups on Facebook or Google+, but especially Facebook for some reason.

Or maybe you’re reading this and you’re the one who approaches other authors to do review swaps.

Sounds like a harmless way of getting reviews for your book when you’re hardly yet known, right?

Here’s the thing: if you ever download a book with a crappy cover and horrible typos and spelling mistakes on every page swipe, and maybe even the writing style or story itself is just garbage (but that’s still subjective, so I’ll just focus on the former) but yet it the “book” has like thirty-five 5 star reviews and not a single negative one, chances are the reviews are from “author review swaps”.

This can be problematic, as I’ll show you in a moment, since authors have a vested interest in showing off how their book is well-liked by those who read it. But the average consumer who stumble across the book might not have any way of knowing all these glowing reviews are from other authors trying to help each other out.

I can’t tell you how often I read poorly edited self-published books. Maybe you do too. I’ve finally started giving up and telling people “nope, I’m not reviewing this unless you want me to give it two or three stars and be mad at me. Please get it edited first before I put my review online”. Poorly edited books show up on various blogs as the number one reason indie authors aren’t taken seriously.

Often times the authors who have approached me in the past would get offended with me and feel I’m not living up to my end of the bargain, in which cases I don’t care if they go and delete the review they originally gave me for my book.

I just refuse to reward horribly written books with glowing 5 star reviews as a ‘favour’.



I refuse to reward horribly written books with glowing 5 star reviews as a ‘favor’.
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And you should too.

Check out these snapshots of reviews for a book on Amazon. It is from a book I was approached to do a review about a couple of years ago, and in good conscience I couldn’t for very similar reasons as these two people noted — the book was absolute crap but yet has nearly 200 five-star glowing reviews.

But check out what a couple of customers said after trying to read the book:

(Click the screenshots below for a larger image)

1 star review 2

 

And

1 star review

These two reviews come from the same book and highlight a few of the problems with review swapping:

  • They underscore the integrity of the author and question the credibility of the content of the book itself. Let’s face it, people don’t just judge a book by its cover anymore. They judge it by the reviews on Amazon as well.
  • These reviews underscore flaws in Amazon and their review system, as well as the type of books that are self-published on Amazon, Let’s face it, even though the stigma of self-publishing is largely disappearing, it’s shenanigans like this that keep many people from taking indie authors as seriously as traditionally published authors.
  • And like my point above, it only takes a few bad apples to spoil the bunch. If the only self-pub ebooks some readers choose to read are poorly written and edited even worse, do you think they’ll take a chance on other self-published authors after that? Didn’t think so. As a result, even the excellent books by indie authors can be judged harshly without being given a chance.
  • In my experience and observation, most of these reviews are really vague, and one never knows if the other author truly read the book or just skimmed it. I’ve seen reviews that were so non-specific, it could have applied to any book. Now I realize some people who do read a book and rate can also say very little or just indicate that they liked it. But when you click on their name on Amazon you can see all the reviews they’ve given and get an idea for their sincerity and genuineness. When I write a review, I like to give examples of what I liked or cite quotes or just be specific of what I liked. This is hard to do if I’m doing a review swap and find that I don’t actually like what I’ve read.

There are also other problems with review swapping I can think of:

  • You’re obligated to be positive, or at least you feel that way. Once you agree to do a review swap, you need to follow through. Your word as an author and as a person is on the line. The obligation can be a gigantic burden if you happen to discover the book you’re supposed to review is absolute garbage and not worth the glowing review the other author may be expecting of you.
  • What are you supposed to write when you think it sucks and your tribe will too if they check your Amazon reviews and buy things you “recommend?” If the book is riddled with errors and is absolutely horrible, your first reaction is probably going to be frustration. What if you tell the truth about this book, and that author retaliates when they review yours?
  • Your integrity will be questioned. If you decide to show mercy where it’s not really deserved, and you sugar coat your review skipping over all the misspellings and editing errors you found in that book you agreed to review you create other future problems. If they read a book based on the fact that you gave it 4 or 5 stars and it turns out to be terrible, do you know who looks bad? It’s not the author who wrote the book — but you. You’re the one who looks like you are paid to review books or review them as favours. People will think your reviews aren’t truthful, and maybe other things you write (such as your books) aren’t truthful, either.
  • If they post their review before you post yours, it’s tempting to let it influence what kind of review you give them. If you are a fast reader and get yours up first, you won’t have to consider their opinion of your own work when you write it regarding the book wasn’t really a masterpiece worthy of honest 5-star reviews, the other authors can see your honesty and respond in kind.
  • If you’re a self-published author the only thing you have to legitimize yourself, is not reviews, as so many believe, but your reputation and evidence of integrity. Review swaps actually compromise that.
  • Why force yourself to read something you don’t like in your free time? This is for me the number one problem. I love to read and have over 300 books on my “To Read List” and I know I can’t possibly get around to reading each one, and yet I’m postponing that by offering to read crap I truly don’t want to read…

There’s mixed opinion about all this on the internet, I realize. Some indie authors swear by review swaps, others admit to having done them but swear never to do them again.

If you have been following me and trust me, and you are thinking of self publishing (if Steve can do it anybody can do it!), then take stock in some remarks like this I’ve seen other people make and couldn’t have said it better:

I mean I wish I hadn’t done it, that I had made it through the publication of my first book without falling for all the rhetoric about reviews being the only way a self-published author can succeed and they, therefore, must do anything to gain them. I wish I had been better, that I had understood that my credibility was at stake and just stood proudly by the quality of my work to garner readers. It’s not faultless, but doesn’t need bolstering either. I wish that I hadn’t listened to all those pulpiteers, who claim that a good book could never be enough. Sadie Forsythe, ADDRESSING A PAST TRANSGRESSION AND WHY I’LL FORGIVE A NEW INDIE AUTHOR A REVIEW SWAP OR TWO 

I’ve learned from my mistakes

Photo Credit: Tim RT via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Tim RT via Compfight cc

Disclaimer: I’ve only done a few review swaps, and on other occasions naturally reviewed books of friends, but without feeling obligated to just because a few of them had reviewed mine first. We never discussed it, it just happened that way.

When I published my first Kindle book, 6 Lies People Believe About Divine Healing, I had various proofreaders go over it for me and asked up front if they’d be willing to also leave a review of it on Amazon the week I published it. Roughly 15-20% of those who read it followed through, resulting in about 15 reviews that were up when I hit the ground running quite hard. And thanks to my tribe, we reached number one in Pentecostal books the weekend it released. This obviously felt great, but I had to work hard during the weeks following.

The next month I did a free promotion with the book, and simultaneously launched my next book Increase Your Faith also free.

In these two books I had a notification at the front that invited people to an email address to help notify me of typos or errors that got overlooked. I was quite embarrassed at first by how many emails I received at first, especially in the faith book, which although edited, didn’t have the same plethora of proof readers before launch that 6 Lies did.

The type of errors people caught were embarrassing to me. Often times the mistakes were the result of me correcting things my editor suggested, and it made some sentences really wonky or added extra words by accident. And the one book of mine that I never had edited but put online, has sold very poorly so far. 

Touché.

I’ve since learned my lesson and now it’s my policy that NO book of mine goes on Amazon without an editor (I literally thank God for you, Roy Farias!), and then after having fixed the mistakes in my last major book, and making corrections, nearly 20 proof-readers went over it to make sure I caught everything. Thanks to much more thoroughness than the previous releases, in the year since its release only ONE person has caught a typo in 9 Lies People Believe About Speaking in Tongues that made it through to Amazon. I’m proud of that, and I think months of editing beforehand is worth it. [Side note: I am also proud that the only 1 star review that book has gotten to date is from someone who admits to not having even READ the book, which I encourage other indie authors to count on happening with their books, especially if they are non-fiction.]

Indie Authors, PLEASE Invest in an Editor — It’s For Your Own Good!

However, I constantly download — or in some cases of wasted money, buy books that CLEARLY were written by people who think readers will pay money to read basically a pro-longed blog. Or that their readers are idiots and will buy anything. I have approached some authors privately and have even offered to show them things I’ve been catching in their books because I think other than the editing, the content is stellar. Out of the dozen or so I’ve written to, only one took me up on my offer.

Well you might supposedly have a “good eye”, but you can’t see your own blind spots. Let someone ELSE edit it for you! And by golly don’t be so foolish as to turn down someone’s FREE work when they’re offering to edit it for you. But if you’re aiming for mediocrity, by all means ignore any FREE help you’re offered. Go ahead and reinforce the negative stereotypes self-publishing has because you think your work is good enough to throw on Amazon without a proofreader or editor.

Sad but true: many independent authors simply believe that their work does not need to be edited. They are too close to their work to make the critical structural and grammatical changes that might make the material more succinct. I can’t emphasize it enough: every writer benefits from a good editor.

I have tried to read books that:

  • never apostrophized possessive pronouns.
  • began sentences without capitalizing the first letter
  • ended sentences without periods
  • unnecessarily capitalized random words in the middle of their sentences
  • had poor grammar
  • read like they were copied and pasted out of Google translate or a content spinner

…and yet these same authors I mention have ONLY five-star reviews and NO complaints, making me wonder if they paid for positive reviews or did review swaps. Some online entrepreneurs who don’t have any expertise in writing but only in knowing how to make money, outsource their books on Craigslist, put their name on the “report” the they hired someone to write, and then leverage their mailing list or customers and get reviews from people who’d never criticize their work if it deserved it, hence gaming the system further. 

And encouraging other authors who see what looks like a lot of results, and think they should do the same. Including Christian authors.

The problem is many of these marketers who recommend some of these methods are selling boatloads of their books not because they’ve got a lot of good reviews for their book, but because they’re marketers and have swindled a lot of people into buying their book. 

I’m not a grammar nazi when reviewing books (unless they’re absolutely horrible) but as an author, I know the tricks and ways people rank their books well with dubious methods, but I have learned to resist the temptation. Maybe you don’t need me to tell you what you already know because you’ve already felt swindled after reading some of these cheap reports “books” I’m talking about.

Now, if you want to throw content on your blog and not worry about it, that’s fine. I try editing my content carefully, but I still find mistakes or have them pointed out to me. But with a book, you want people to pay money to read it. In that case, put the effort into making it worth buying.

That All Said, Are Review Swaps Ethical For Christians?

I constantly tell my mailing list or Facebook pages that when I’m asking for their “best candid review” it means they are allowed to hate it but it would be beneficial to me as a writer if they explain why they hated it. I’d rather have honest reviews all over the spectrum because it helps me improve as a writer, but obviously I go away hoping they’ll like it.

If they rate it 5 stars, it is great when they explain why they liked it that much. Constructive praise is as helpful as constructive criticism.

But you don’t have a large platform or a blog you can ask readers? Try friends on social media or family members. Sure, they might be tempted to only give you a glowing review as well, but there’s more likelihood they will be more honest in their review or talk to you privately than other authors who just want you to give them a 5 star review in return for your book.

I had paragraphs and paragraphs of feedback from proofreaders, telling me ways I come across like I contradict myself or how one point undermines another I made. Some suggested re-ordering my chapters. All advice I basically adhered to, and helped make the book more excellent than if I just threw it on Amazon and asked for reviews.

The other reason I am done with review swaps is because they have a way of excellence-proofing your work.

Like another indie author says at Self-publishing Advice,

To begin with, it’s clear that many of us feel badly for other independent authors who may not have produced gems (in our opinion) or even particularly competent work. Though everyone advises you to read good examples of writing in order to learn, I find that being able to see where something went wrong from a not-so-great writer is also valuable, helping me avoid pitfalls I might not otherwise have noticed.

Many of the folks in the discussion mentioned that if they couldn’t say something good about a book (and give it 3-5 Amazon stars), they would prefer to just pass over it in silence, not wanting (I suppose) to break someone else’s rice bowl.

I do sympathize with this point of view and do the same for what I consider to be “forgivable” offences, the small formatting, editing, plot hole issues that fall into the “there but for the grace of God go I” categories. I don’t see any need to dwell on much of that in the form of reviews destined to be read primarily by readers.

But when I come across books where the author doesn’t even try, where there are gaping plot problems, historical bloopers, and a general air of “it’s good enough for my dumb readers,” then I object both as a reader and as another independent writer. So this time I wrote a 2-star review detailing the issues, for the benefit of other readers.



Review swaps with other authors are a way of excellence-proofing our work. Agree or disagree?
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You will attract trolls who negatively review your book no matter what — even if they’ve never read it but already think they disagree with the topic or hate that you’re writing about it. You need to hold your chin up and make your face flinty. If all you do is review swaps and get 5 star reviews, you insulate yourself from the criticism that could help you improve as a writer.

That being said, it doesn’t mean I won’t review manuscripts for friends and acquaintances. But I’m increasingly weary of reading anything unsolicited. If you want me to proofread a manuscript of yours or review it, PLEASE tell me ahead of time what stage of the draft it’s in (ie if it’s been edited yet or not). So many people have helped me in that stage, that I’m more happy to pay it forward and do the same where appropriate and time permits.

But if I see the words “review swap” in your message, I’ll just delete it. It’s code for “nobody reviews my book after reading it, therefore this will be the only way I can get 5 star review for it

I’ve had way too many crappy books sent my way that have never gotten good reviews from actual readers. I can’t in good conscience add another fake five-star to your book’s Amazon page if it doesn’t truly deserve it.

Let’s face it, review swaps aren’t for more 1 or 2 star reviews, are they?


Can you think of a best seller where people said “Good book, but it needed an editor”?
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The Mr Miyagi School of Supernatural Rest | Podcast http://stevebremner.com/2015/03/the-mr-miyagi-school-of-supernatural-rest-podcast/ http://stevebremner.com/2015/03/the-mr-miyagi-school-of-supernatural-rest-podcast/#comments Wed, 11 Mar 2015 00:37:45 +0000 http://stevebremner.com/?p=15310 miyagi

 

Jeremy_MangerchineThis week we had Jeremy Mangerchine back on the podcast, and we discussed his newest book, The Quitter’s Manual: Finding Rest in a World Gone Busy. The last time I talked with Jeremy on the podcast we discussed hearing the voice of God and tapping into the member of the Trinity who lives within us.

This week we go further and talk about “tapping into rest”, and having the peace that surpasses understanding and tapping into the source of divine power (Jesus Christ).

It’s all about discovering rest and abiding in The Vine!

Visit our guest’s website at JeremyMangerchine.com.

And don’t forget to check out the article he referred to in our discussion: What Mr. Miyagi Would Have You Know About Rest

B4dsJOQCIAILz8WGet Jeremy’s books on Amazon:

   

If you have the Stitcher Radio app on your smartphone, click the “listen later” button below and save this show for later.

Click here if you’d like to know how to subscribe to our podcast.

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Lili and I have a campaign on GoFundMe.com to help raise money for our travel expenses later this year. Please visit this link if you’d like to partner with us to help us visit our family and be a blessing to other ministries and churches in North America later this year.

Like The Fire On Your Head Podcast on Facebook

 

Before I let you go I need to ask you a quick favour. Please jump over to iTunes or Stitcher and give this show a rating, a review, leave a comment. It would mean a lot to me and help people find us! So please jump over to iTunes when you get a chance … thank you so much, and look forward to talking to you in the next episode of Fire On Your Head.

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http://stevebremner.com/2015/03/the-mr-miyagi-school-of-supernatural-rest-podcast/feed/ 0   - This week we had Jeremy Mangerchine back on the podcast, and we discussed his newest book, The Quitter’s Manual: Finding Rest in a World Gone Busy. The last time I talked with Jeremy on the podcast we discussed hearing the voice of God and tapping... (http://stevebremner.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/miyagi.jpg)   (http://stevebremner.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/Jeremy_Mangerchine-150x150.png)This week we had Jeremy Mangerchine back on the podcast, and we discussed his newest book, The Quitter’s Manual: Finding Rest in a World Gone Busy. The last time I talked with Jeremy on the podcast we discussed hearing the voice of God (http://stevebremner.com/2014/08/how-to-hear-gods-voice-with-ease-podcast-with-jeremy-mangerchine/) and tapping into the member of the Trinity who lives within us. This week we go further and talk about "tapping into rest", and having the peace that surpasses understanding and tapping into the source of divine power (Jesus Christ). It's all about discovering rest and abiding in The Vine! Visit our guest's website at JeremyMangerchine.com (http://jeremymangerchine.com/). And don’t forget to check out the article he referred to in our discussion: What Mr. Miyagi Would Have You Know About Rest (http://stevebremner.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/B4dsJOQCIAILz8W.jpg)Get Jeremy's books on Amazon:     If you have the Stitcher Radio (http://stitcher.com/podcast/fire-on-your-head) app on your smartphone, click the “listen later” button below and save this show for later. Click here (http://stevebremner.com/subscribe-to-podcast/) if you’d like to know how to subscribe to our podcast. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Lili and I have a campaign on GoFundMe.com to help raise money for our travel expenses later this year. Please visit this link (http://www.gofundme.com/bremnertrip2015) if you’d like to partner with us to help us visit our family and be a blessing to other ministries and churches in North America later this year. (https://funds.gofundme.com/css/3.0_donate/navy/widget.png) Like The Fire On Your Head Podcast on Facebook   Before I let you go I need to ask you a quick favour. Please jump over to iTunes or Stitcher and give this show a rating, a review, leave a comment. It would mean a lot to me and help people find us! So please jump over to iTunes when you get a chance … thank you so much, and look forward to talking to you in the next episode of Fire On Your Head. Steve Bremner clean 55:19
When Is It OK To Oppose Church Leadership? http://stevebremner.com/2015/03/when-is-it-ok-to-oppose-church-leadership/ http://stevebremner.com/2015/03/when-is-it-ok-to-oppose-church-leadership/#comments Tue, 10 Mar 2015 13:53:47 +0000 http://stevebremner.com/?p=15280 authority 0011

“Never have I seen a nation so honoring and proud of the role of President and yet so dishonoring and undermining of the President himself as the United States.”

That is how Anna Burgess’s most recent blog post began in which she proceeded to talk about how we should respond to leaders we disagree with. Her post was not particularly about the POTUS, but that’s how it began and she goes on to share her personal experiences under church leadership as well as things she’s been confronted with as a leader in her own life and ministry in recent years since.

Full disclosure: I’m in ministry with Anna and her husband Mark, and have been under their leadership going on four years soon, and yes I oftentimes disagree with them — and they with me, I’m sure! But oftentimes I have to admire the flack they are able to take from unappreciative individuals for whom they have bent over backwards to accommodate. And they keep blessing people.

I say that to say I get to see things she may have been referring to her post, and know that she’s walking the walk and not just talking the talk in the things she wrote.

See how the rest of her blog introduction continued:

I find it easy to understand how non-Christians can passionately, openly, disagree with and undermine political leaders, but I find it bewildering to see how quick Christians can be to pick out any reason to disrespect the leaders in a high and mighty, ‘told you he was no good’ attitude.  Then I realized it is so ingrained in many American circles, even Christian ones, that many people do not even realize that it is wrong.

Then I realized the plank in my own eye and that I might not have a problem dishonouring political figures, but it was not so long ago that I have struggled to respect and honour other people in leadership over me and how the body of Christ struggles so much to be honoring to one another.

On one of my Facebook fan pages where I shared the link to the post, it seems that the very notion of showing respect to the current president seemed to have struck a nerve with someone who insisted the current President is not worth showing honour. Nevermind what the Bible says about showing honour to our leaders. Though I wouldn’t normally defend President Obama, I felt compelled to offer a comment that I’ve since decided to rework and meditate on for the following blog post.

I know a lot of Christians, American or not, who stubbornly find Scriptural backing for their own lack of respect towards they feel justified in not respecting or forgiving.

I’m also preaching to myself with these words.

I know how I just worded the above is pretty blunt, but let’s face it: In Scripture we have no excuse whatsoever for not showing respect and honour to one another, including leaders, whether in church or in the government.

Like when Jesus says “whenever you did it unto one of the least of these, you did it unto me“. (Matthew 25:40, 45).

If you believe someone is not worth honouring, you won’t do honour them, obviously.

Moses went before Pharaoh and was used by God in his generation to set an entire nation of captives free to go form their own land. Moses’ confrontation was done exactly as God directed him to, not out of frustration and bipartisan politics and certainly not a “we’re-going-to-hell-in-a-hand-basket-anyway” worldview (see my last post on Schizophrenic Eschatology).

I personally think Moses showed Pharaoh honour while confronting him concerning a great evil.

What about King David, who on a few occasions had opportunity to kill his predecessor King Saul, who was actively trying to kill him? He said he refused to lay a hand on God’s anointed. Yet, in due time, God lifted David up to the throne after many years.

What about the prophet Daniel?

Daniel knew that Nebuchadnezzar and Babylon were God’s instruments of judgment against Israel for their disobedience under the Mosaic covenant, but Daniel treated him with respect and submitted. He stood for truth and righteousness and refused to worship any idol but God, but his honour for the king gave him a place of influence. Daniel had an influential role in government under four different wicked kings!

One can disagree with political leaders and still show respect and honour. In fact, in the Old Testament it appears that when people did they often time had a much better outcome and influence for it than when we simply bash them and show un-Christlike attitude often-times in the process.


They shall know us by how well we criticize those we disagree with? Or by our love?
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But what about in the New Testament when Paul wrote that we’re to obey our leaders? Some historians estimate that 1/3 of the early church were martyred during the era Nero was emperor. They were being put on posts and set on fire to light stadiums while the masses were entertained.

And yet Paul told believers they were to submit to authority, including their corrupt politicians. Do we suddenly not need to obey these parts of Scripture anymore? Do we know something Paul didn’t?

I’m sorry, but the condition of America today and many other nations in the Western world, bad as they may have gotten, are still very little like it was for the early church submitting to their leaders in first century Rome was. There’s still quite a ways to go before they’re killing Christians and chopping their heads off for entertainment in many of our comfortable Western nations.

But What About Following Abusive Church Leadership?

obey

I have hardly touched this particular subject on my blog in a while (like two or three years) because on the few occasions I’ve recorded podcasts that dealt with it (like here and here), people have accused me of being hung up on authority, or being a rebel who had a chip on my shoulder and just couldn’t submit to leadership.

But I will say the same thing about church leaders as politicians.

However, my understanding of church “leaders” and “authority” is definitely not the same understanding as many charismatics hold to. The apostle/prophet/pastor/teacher/whatever name your church uses is not some kind of pope who requires blind submission because of their title and role.

Again, you can honour, respect and even submit to people you disagree with, but this comes from a place of character and fruit of the Holy Spirit on your part, and not automatically due to the title the person carries. So-called apostles use the toilet just like you do. They are not anything more special than the rest of the Body, and I praise God that many people are awakening to some abusive leadership in the Church that we’ve tolerated in the name of “honouring one another”.

But my emphasis is on how we should behave and how we personally are to show honour and respect where it’s due. I like how Anna put it in her post:

It is difficult to honour and uphold leaders, especially human ones!  And the way to find out whether we really honour and uphold them is to check our attitudes when they do something we disagree with.  It is easy to love and honour and respect others when they are doing things we like, but maturity is what shines through when they do things we don’t like or understand.  Will we still honour, love (which is a verb, not a feeling) and respect them in our heart as well as our actions when their actions offend us? Will we choose to let the offense go and honour them anyway? Will we presume the best about their intentions? Can we love and respect the person without necessarily loving and respecting their decisions when it comes to sinful practices?

And later,

But should we even love, respect and honour leaders we don’t agree with? According to the Bible, YES! There are no conditions put on who we love, on who we respect or who we honour.  In fact Romans 12:10 tells us we should love one another with brotherly affection and we should outdo one another in showing honour! There is no conditional clause. Romans 13:7 tells us that we should honour and respect all those to whom respect and honour is owed – it does not mean that those who don’t deserve it shouldn’t get it.  How do we know? Because in that same verse we are told to pay taxes and revenues to whom it is owed – not because we agree with whether or not we should pay our taxes, but because that is what God is asking us to do!

In the past, I’ve discussed these very issues on episodes of Fire On Your Head with Dr. Stephen Crosby & SJ Hill, coming from the angle where leaders need to honour the flock, not boss them around. But on the other side of the coin, we’re ALL to submit to one another — and I’m not talking about submission in the 50 Shades of Grey way either!. Showing preference to one another, not demanding others do as we wish for our agendas and goals.

It’s one thing to not hold to the exact same point of view or interpretation of Scripture on say (insert random nuanced doctrine here that nobody holds a monopoly on), versus doing what your pastor says when he starts handing out cyanide-laced Kool-Aid telling everybody to drink it if they want to be closer to God real soon. In the case of the latter, you can totally buck authority when they’re trying to supersede the authority of Scripture or tell you to do something unbiblical.

Crosby says in a fairly recent blog post of his, A Culture of Honor? Legitimate or Controlling, You Decide:

Many who proclaim themselves as apostles and prophets (as well as the other Eph. 4 gifts) demand they be treated with honor, as an alleged way of teaching people to learn respect in a culture of honor. This self-acclaimed honor usually accrues in perks, favors, privileges, mandatory use of honorific titles and such to the one demanding the honor. In extreme cases it crosses the line into cultic veneration from unquestioning subordinates. This is contrary to both the spirit and letter of the New Testament, as well as the Spirit of Christ. There is no place for it in the church.

There is a balance and discernment required in knowing when you can buck authority, but hopefully you know the difference between spiritual slavery and mere difference of opinion.

I think Dr Crosby says it best when he continues to say later the same post,

If you are relating to someone who is demanding honor from you, you immediately need to have a frank conversation or make a change in your associations.  If you want to freely give honor to someone due to the individual’s Christ-likeness and slave-like service to yourself, the Body, and the world, it is yours to give and theirs to receive!

Amen.

Let’s show honour to whom honour is due.

P.S. The Canadian way of spelling it is honour with a U, and in all my citations I left it the way the original authors spelled it.

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What Do You Mean by “Revival Fire?” | Podcast http://stevebremner.com/2015/03/what-do-you-mean-by-revival-fire-podcast/ http://stevebremner.com/2015/03/what-do-you-mean-by-revival-fire-podcast/#comments Fri, 06 Mar 2015 15:05:46 +0000 http://stevebremner.com/?p=15296  

lfire

This week I took advantage of an opening when a scheduled interview had to cancel at the last-minute, but I think it’s a God thing because I’ve been wanting to share on the podcast these thoughts on the fire of God and spreading a revival all over the earth.

Either repentance will pave the way for revival, or revival will bring to the surface that sin which may be hidden from others’ sight. One cannot see revival without a pure heart, and in the midst of the fire, the dross will come to the surface.

Are you ready?

If you have the Stitcher Radio app on your smart phone, click the “listen later” button below and save this show for later.

Click here if you’d like to know how to subscribe to our podcast.

 

Before I let you go I need to ask you a quick favour. Please jump over to iTunes or Stitcher and give this show a rating, a review, leave a comment. It would mean a lot to me and help people find us! So please jump over to iTunes when you get a chance. Thank you so much, and look forward to talking to you in the next episode of Fire On Your Head.

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http://stevebremner.com/2015/03/what-do-you-mean-by-revival-fire-podcast/feed/ 0   - This week I took advantage of an opening when a scheduled interview had to cancel at the last-minute, but I think it's a God thing because I've been wanting to share on the podcast these thoughts on the fire of God and spreading a revival all ...   (http://stevebremner.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/lfire.jpg) This week I took advantage of an opening when a scheduled interview had to cancel at the last-minute, but I think it's a God thing because I've been wanting to share on the podcast these thoughts on the fire of God and spreading a revival all over the earth. Either repentance will pave the way for revival, or revival will bring to the surface that sin which may be hidden from others’ sight. One cannot see revival without a pure heart, and in the midst of the fire, the dross will come to the surface. Are you ready? If you have the Stitcher Radio (http://stitcher.com/podcast/fire-on-your-head) app on your smart phone, click the “listen later” button below and save this show for later. Click here (http://stevebremner.com/subscribe-to-podcast/) if you’d like to know how to subscribe to our podcast.   Before I let you go I need to ask you a quick favour. Please jump over to iTunes or Stitcher and give this show a rating, a review, leave a comment. It would mean a lot to me and help people find us! So please jump over to iTunes when you get a chance. Thank you so much, and look forward to talking to you in the next episode of Fire On Your Head. Steve Bremner clean 33:32
Schizophrenic Eschatology http://stevebremner.com/2015/03/schizophrenic-eschatology/ http://stevebremner.com/2015/03/schizophrenic-eschatology/#comments Thu, 05 Mar 2015 13:27:30 +0000 http://stevebremner.com/?p=15266
 Photo Credit: sBety via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: sBety via Compfight cc

If you believed it would be 500 years before Jesus returned instead of that He may return any minute, would that affect the way you live your day-to-day life?

I know for many reading this the answer would be no.

But unfortunately I know many more believers for whom it would make a world of difference.


If Jesus took 500 years to return, how would that knowledge affect your day-to-day life?
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I was thinking about a comment I read by someone on one of my Facebook pages recently that basically justified why they won’t obey Scripture when it says we’re to show honour to our leaders, specifically political ones and especially when we disagree with them. The commenter was convinced this particular politician is an instrument of evil for the end-times.

The inevitable fruit of such a belief is that when we believe someone is way past redemption, we won’t believe or act as though they CAN be redeemed, so why pray for them? And if you’re refusing to pray for them, you’ll certainly not honour them either!

Likewise, it got me thinking further: if we believe a certain way about the world around us and/or its demise, we’ll believe and act accordingly. If we believe everything has to get worse, and better yet — that it will all go down hill before WE ourselves die, then what motive do we have to plan ahead and leave an inheritance for our grand children’s grand children?

If we believe we’re in the last of the last days, and that Jesus will come in 5 years instead of say 500, we will live and act accordingly and “let it” get worse by our inaction and watching the sky awaiting Jesus’ return. Even people who believe in a post-tribulation rapture can still live with a mentality that everything has to get worse with the only difference from their pre-trib counterparts is that the Church will be here for that worsening.

If it does all get worse, does that mean it’s acceptable to not do anything about the evil in the generation around us?

Unfortunately, it usually does…

If abolitionists had believed they were in the last days’ generation, and therefore why bother doing anything about slavery in their generation? I’m glad they did something!

Harmon

What IF we’re going to be around a while?

How will that impact your view of stewardship of, say, the earth around us, to use just one example?

I’ve mentioned before that my parents, who are of retirement age, are friends with some Christians who used to tell them back in the 1980s to not worry about investing in mutual funds or plan for their retirement because Jesus was coming back soon and they wouldn’t be on the earth long enough to retire, anyway. I don’t know what happened to all of these individuals over the years but I do personally know a few who have no savings and I know of one in particular who went to community college in their late fifties to get an education for the first time in their life so as to get a better job and live more comfortably.

I may have a biased view against rapture teaching because I’ve seen first-hand people my parents’ age who have lived their lives for decades with an “any minute now” mentality toward’s Christ’s return, and when one thinks that way, you don’t plan far ahead. And they didn’t.

Now I’m not saying we’re not supposed to be ready in case He does come sooner rather than later, but not with our heads in the sand. Plan ahead and if He comes back sooner, you’re still ready.

Whenever I participate in discussions or arguments about the end times whether online or in person, I’m always told the timing of Christ’s return (with regards to before or after the period of tribulation a lot of evangelicalism believes has to happen first) doesn’t matter or that it’s a side issue.

But frankly how one believes about last days/ end times clearly DOES matter.

We could be trying to bring the Kingdom of Heaven TO the earth and the lives of all those around us, or we could stick our heads in the sand and wait to go to heaven.

These two world views are as far apart as one can get.

If We’re To Be a People Of Hope, How Come We’re So Hopeless About The End Times?

Years ago I saw a skit on This Hour Has 22 Minutes, a long-running Canadian mock news show that was making fun of a well-known weekly Bible prophecy show by an elderly couple who read the latest world events as though they were a news broadcast and find a way that it all ties in to their interpretation of Bible prophecy. I used to follow them in 1990s myself until they plainly got Y2K wrong and never publicly admitted it but kept on plugging away.

In the skit, the wife would read a piece of news to her husband, just like in the real show they were parodying, and the husband would spout off a Bible passage that it related to although in the sketch this was done with more vitriol to mock Christianity. Then the wife would rejoice about all the destruction and death that will be soon coming on the earth.

Oh praise Jesus for all the destruction that will be coming on the earth to destroy millions of wicked heathen, because that means our Lord’s return is near! Hallelujah!

That quote, as best I remember it is from the sketch, not the show, but it’s very close to how we sound to the world around us when we hold to such escapism theology.

Boy will suck to be you if you don’t accept him into your heart before the rapture! But Jesus loves you!

Do We REALLY Stand With Israel?

I’ll wind up this post with the following observation.

A number of months ago when the new Left Behind movie came out, I posted a link to Jonathan Welton’s website for his book Raptureless, and almost immediately a friend private messaged me and told me “don’t let people know you’re an amillennialist.

I wrote back and asked why not? His reply was “because amillennialism is very anti-semitic”.

I didn’t bother arguing that old canary (and nevermind whether I confirmed or denied being an amillennialist), but such a blanket statement shocked me a little.

If anything, can’t a case can be made that pre-rapturism/everything gets worse comes across as anti-semitic as well? I’m sure those who hold to that view would say differently. But who is calling who an anti-semite, anyway?

I don’t want to get into it too much here because I realize I’m in a minority view on this, but hear me out: I’m deeply concerned about all the “standing with Israel” I see Christians do online — from the safety of their keyboards and smartphones, by the way —  and regarding this week’s speech by Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu. Let’s face it, if one holds to any of the variations of futurism, including but not limited to pre-tribulation rapturism, then do you truly stand with Israel? Or do you stand with them only to the point that they are all gathered in their land so end time prophecies can be fulfilled and the Church is on the first train out of here, leaving them to suffer alone under all the expected trouble that will fall on God’s people during a period of tribulation?

Photo credit: Reddit

Photo credit: This Reddit Thread

Post-tribulation doesn’t get off the hook too much either, but at least its adherents believe they’ll be here during a period of tribulation, and if it comes to the Jews it will also come to the Christians as well.

No friend, it’s not necessarily victorious eschatology or optimistic end-times views that are anti-semitic any more than a view that only wants what’s best for Israel because of what’s best for oneself so all the chess pieces can be in place to pave the way for your own escape. And then all the nations of the world can gather and dog pile on Israel in the last days and try wiping them out.

That’s all for now. I may follow-up more on this if I get some reaction to anything that needs clarifying.

In the meantime, check out this brilliant interview with Harold Eberle, author of the book Victorious Eschatology on a new podcast I discovered named Renaissance Church Podcast. My takeaway: it’s a victorious eschatological worldview that provokes change in culture, not a doom and gloom expectation.

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Do New Testament prophets need to be 100% correct? http://stevebremner.com/2015/02/does-a-new-testament-prophet-need-to-be-100-correct/ http://stevebremner.com/2015/02/does-a-new-testament-prophet-need-to-be-100-correct/#comments Wed, 25 Feb 2015 13:17:00 +0000 http://stevebremner.com/?p=15233 wave

This week we have a cross-generational chat with our friend who goes by the name Nor’west or Northwest Prophetic on social media.

On this week’s show you’ll enjoy learning about a man who’s pastored several times in the past and has an interesting calling and perspective on the Northwest region of the United States.

Topics we started off with today today:

  • The ‘dones’, are many of them gravitating towards house churches because they’re rebelling against institution or unable to submit to authority? Or is it something else completely?
  • Can we see similarities between the “Jesus people movement” during the 70s and the modern day millennials who are disinterested in “institutional” church?
  • I shared my observation that many of my more recent podcast fans are decades older than I am. Where is the younger generation?
  • Also, the “done with church” crowd doesn’t fit one specific demographic, but are a wide variety of different ages and classes in Western society.

Regarding the prophetic, we pick NWP’s brain about:

  • Do prophecies have multiple fulfillments, like “repeats”?
  • Do some people confuse what God is speaking to them personally with prophetic words they think are for the Body of Christ at large?
  • Is it possible to prophesy our own frustration or opinions in God’s name concerning a region or a culture?
  • The Apostle Paul’s source of revelation and “locating the ear to our spirit” — if we all have the same access to hearing the voice of God, then how come the Lord seems to say a variety of different things to people?
  • We discuss how do we process it when credible well-known prophetic leaders have conflicting prophetic words? Is one person right and the other wrong? Or are both hearing pieces of a puzzle that compliment the other’s?
  • Does the Bible truly say anywhere that a real prophet must have a 100% track record?

Other Tweetable Nuggets from NWP:


Prophetic ministry is not primarily about prophecy but relationship with God @NWProphetic
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Find out where the current is flowing, and get in it! @NWProphetic
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If you have the Stitcher Radio app on your smartphone, click the “listen later” button below and save this show for later.

Related reading material:

Was Jonah a False Prophet?
Was Isaiah a False Prophet? by Steve Bremner

NorthWest’s recommended reading:

Understanding the Whole Bible, by Dr. Jonathan Welton

Also don’t forget to check out the site NorthWestProphetic.com and Pilgrimgram.com.

Download our new Fire On Your Head app and receive notifications of contests and how to be one 10 people who can receive a FREE digital copy of 9 Lies People Believe About Speaking in Tongues when we send an exclusive notification with a download link before Feb 28th.

——————————————————————————

Lili and I have a campaign on GoFundMe.com to help raise money for our travel expenses later this year. Please visit this link if you’d like to partner with us to help us visit our family and be a blessing to other ministries and churches in North America later this year.

Like The Fire On Your Head Podcast on Facebook

 

Before I let you go I need to ask you a quick favour. Please jump over to iTunes or Stitcher and give this show a rating, a review, leave a comment. It would mean a lot to me and help people find us! So please jump over to iTunes when you get a chance … thank you so much, and look forward to talking to you in the next episode of Fire On Your Head.

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http://stevebremner.com/2015/02/does-a-new-testament-prophet-need-to-be-100-correct/feed/ 1 And other questions we ask Northwest Prophetic (http://stevebremner.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/wave.jpg) This week we have a cross-generational chat with our friend who goes by the name Nor'west or Northwest Prophetic (https://www.facebook.com/northwestprophetic) on social media. On this week's show you’ll enjoy learning about a man who’s pastored several times in the past and has an interesting calling and perspective on the Northwest region of the United States. Topics we started off with today today: * The ‘dones’, are many of them gravitating towards house churches because they’re rebelling against institution or unable to submit to authority? Or is it something else completely? * Can we see similarities between the “Jesus people movement” during the 70s and the modern day millennials who are disinterested in “institutional” church? * I shared my observation that many of my more recent podcast fans are decades older than I am. Where is the younger generation? * Also, the “done with church" crowd doesn’t fit one specific demographic, but are a wide variety of different ages and classes in Western society. Regarding the prophetic, we pick NWP's brain about: * Do prophecies have multiple fulfillments, like “repeats”? * Do some people confuse what God is speaking to them personally with prophetic words they think are for the Body of Christ at large? * Is it possible to prophesy our own frustration or opinions in God’s name concerning a region or a culture? * The Apostle Paul’s source of revelation and “locating the ear to our spirit” -- if we all have the same access to hearing the voice of God, then how come the Lord seems to say a variety of different things to people? * We discuss how do we process it when credible well-known prophetic leaders have conflicting prophetic words? Is one person right and the other wrong? Or are both hearing pieces of a puzzle that compliment the other’s? * Does the Bible truly say anywhere that a real prophet must have a 100% track record? Other Tweetable Nuggets from NWP: [Tweet "Prophetic ministry is not primarily about prophecy but relationship with God @NWProphetic"] [Tweet "Find out where the current is flowing, and get in it! @NWProphetic"] If you have the Stitcher Radio (http://stitcher.com/podcast/fire-on-your-head) app on your smartphone, click the “listen later” button below and save this show for later. Related reading material: Was Jonah a False Prophet? (http://stevebremner.com/2012/07/was-jonah-a-false-prophet/) Was Isaiah a False Prophet? (http://stevebremner.com/2006/12/was-isaiah-a-false-prophet/) by Steve Bremner NorthWest's recommended reading: Understanding the Whole Bible (http://amzn.to/1DOnegK), by Dr. Jonathan Welton Also don't forget to check out the site NorthWestProphetic.com (http://www.northwestprophetic.com/) and Pilgrimgram.com (http://www.pilgrimgram.com/). Download our new Fire On Your Head app (http://www.fireonyourhead.org/2015/02/24/does-a-new-testament-prophet-need-to-be-100-correct/fireonyourhead.mobapp.at) and receive notifications of contests and how to be one 10 people who can receive a FREE digital copy of 9 Lies People Believe About Speaking in Tongues (http://amzn.to/1kjyRS8) when we send an exclusive notification with a download link before Feb 28th. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Lili and I have a campaign on GoFundMe.com to help raise money for our travel expenses later this year. Please visit this link (http://www.gofundme.com/bremnertrip2015) if you’d like to partner with us to help us visit our family and be a blessing to other ministries and churches in North America later this year. (https://funds.gofundme.com/css/3.0_donate/navy/widget.png) Like The Fire On Your Head Podcast on Facebook   Before I let you go I need to ask you a quick favour. Please jump over to iTunes or Stitcher and give this show a rating, a review, leave a comment. Northwest Prophetic & Steve Bremner clean 1:19:45