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A reader asked me how much money I make by selling books, so I answered her–I make nothing. Actually, I’m losing money by writing books.

“How is that so?” she asked.

Because I self-published my books.

“Why do you do it then?”

Because there’s more to life than making money. I wholeheartedly believe in the messages of Made To Pray and One-Minute Devotions On Prayer. I believe God made each of us to uniquely connect by finding our best prayer types. And I believe God’s presence refreshes us and it needn’t take hours, in fact can take but a minute.

I believe in these messages so strongly that I’d rather get them out to you than sit around waiting for an official publishing committee and its process. Would I turn that down should it come up? No, but I’m not about to sit on my hands, sit on my message.

MTP-OMDevo BundleMockUp

So yes, I write books and I’m losing money. No big deal because I’m banking on the fact that God will bear fruit in your life by these books and that’s far bigger a reward than any book payout.

It’s your last day to guarantee shipping of “One-Minute Devotions On Prayer” or “Made To Pray” before Christmas at the online store.

 

Top 10 Posts of 2013

Chris Heinz —  January 27, 2014 — Leave a comment

I had planned to post this blog a few weeks ago, but sometimes things don’t go as planned. So here it is now. Better late than never.

It was an honor to be read by all 50 states, and by more than 140 countries, with the top ten being: US, Nigeria, Canada, United Kingdom, Philippines, Australia, India, Japan, South Africa, and Singapore.

To think a guy in central PA with some thoughts and a website can be read by people in all sorts of places, and perhaps touch them for the better, and maybe bring them closer to God or remind them they’re not alone or plant some seeds that flower in their souls, is, although the Internet is old hat, pretty incredible to me. I’m grateful for this canvas.

Here are the top ten posts of 2013. By top ten, I mean most viewed. I’ve also commented when something stuck out to me.

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When You Pray…

Chris Heinz —  January 21, 2014 — Leave a comment

GodgetsYou

How I Got A Book Deal

Chris Heinz —  July 23, 2012 — 29 Comments

cs heinz - perseverance

Today I signed a book deal with a publisher.

I might be the most surprised of all. I had planned to publish it myself, but I didn’t see this coming. But not for lack of trying.

Two years ago I attended the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writer’s Conference to pitch my book to publishers and agents. That conference went better than I could have imagined: I won the writing contest, publishers beamed, and the agent of a best-selling author liked my book so much he was fast-tracking my request to represent me.

Publishing was going to be easy. I went back home and waited for the good news.

But it didn’t come. The agent turned me down. The publishers turned me down. It wasn’t the tune I had heard at the conference. But it was okay. I felt like God said to keep going.

So I continued to think and pray. I continued to read books on writing by people like Stephen King, Ann Lamott, Donald Miller, Annie Dillard. And I continued to write.

Then six months later I tried again for an agent. Agents can present your book to say, 20 publishers at once. Without an agent, you’re presenting to them one at a time at conferences or through online services. And agents negotiate the contract on your behalf.

So I emailed a number of agents to introduce myself and my book. They said no. Except for one. He gave me some suggestions. I rewrote two chapters.

He emailed back with an agent agreement and Les Stobbe became my agent.

I prepared a book proposal, perfected two sample chapters, and Les sent them out to publishers. We began to hear back. They were nice about it but there was a catch:

We like your stuff, but you’re not famous.
If you were writing on another topic, we’d say yes.
It’s a good idea, but the world doesn’t need another book on prayer.

And finally there was no one else to say yes.

I thought about writing on something else. I toyed with other topics. Maybe the world didn’t need another book on prayer. But as I thought and dreamed, only one topic beat within my heart—prayer.

You know you’re in love with a topic when it seems like that singular topic is the answer to life’s ills and man’s discontent and God’s plans, and should you not write on that topic, the world would be full of less color and less song. You know you need to write on that topic. God is willing you to.

It’s here you need to dig down deep and persevere. Hebrews 10.36 says, “You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.”

I wonder how many promises we don’t receive because we give up. The path is too steep, the twists unexpected, the journey too long. We give up when all along God wants us to keep going.

cs heinz running

But we’re short sighted, weak in the knees, light hearted. We don’t like discomfort or being turned down or the unknown. So we stick to paths whose ends we can see. Then we wonder where the adventure is.

But let me tell you, I’m glad getting a book deal has taken two years.

The message has improved, I’ve gotten wiser, and I’m filled with more faith. I’m a better writer, I’m more equipped for what’s ahead, and I really love this book because I have fought for it.

Isn’t this what the world needs more of—people who will fight for what God has called them to do? Because if they don’t, who will?

And during the two years, God brought encouragers and guides to help me. Along the way, I met David Kopp, editor of the New York Times best seller Radical and contributor to the international best seller The Prayer of Jabez. David became my writing mentor.

My writing prayer team kept praying for me. Readers of my weekly email kept emailing with proof of fruit.

So I kept going.

I went back to work on the book. I reshaped it, restructured content, told different stories. I wrote a new proposal and sent it to Les, and Les sent it out. The response was the same:

No one knows your name.
When no one knows your name, they’ll pick a book by someone they know, not you.
They won’t pick up your book, especially because it’s on prayer.

It was the same old. And eventually there was no one left to say yes.

But God said to keep going.

Really God, are you serious? They said no one knows my name. They said I should write on something else. They all said no.

I emailed my prayer team about these rejections. Our spiritual daughter Simone Alex replied: “I’m to encourage you that what you are viewing as rejection is really the Lord’s “ACCEPTION,” because His expectations of what He has for you regarding your BOOKS is WAY HIGHER than you can ever ask or think.”

From there, God spoke to me further. All the publishers had said no, but God was saying yes. He said He knows my name and when He knows your name, it doesn’t matter if nobody else does. He said to write on what makes my heart sing. He said where your heartbeats chime in time with God’s, pour your treasure there. My first book had to be on prayer.

So I kept going. I made plans to finish the book in the fall and publish it myself.

Then one day I heard from a publisher named Marti Statler. We had met at the writer’s conference two years ago when this whole publishing thing began. Marti’s publishing house wasn’t a fit with my book then, but she signed up to receive my weekly emails, and for two years Marti has been reading them.

But things were different now. She had started a new publishing house and wanted to publish my book. The world needs your book, Marti told me.

So Les contacted them and they emailed a contract and Pure Word Partners became my publisher. And get this—the manuscript is due on October 20, my birthday. If you follow my writing, you’ll agree that God’s at it again!

The book will be published in 2013.

cs heinz - pure word partners

How did I get a book deal? Through perseverance.

When I started the process I didn’t know how long it would take or where it would lead me. I just knew God was calling me to do it.

Sometimes what we see as failure or rejection isn’t that all. It’s preparation. Or not the right time. Or a test of the heart. It’s God’s acceptance.

But if you hold fast and stick with that holy calling no matter the bends or bruises it brings and walk with the encouragers, helpers, and guides God is putting beside you, then in the right time God will make good on His promise. And when it comes, He won’t be surprised at all (even though you might be).

Thank you to everyone who has prayed for me, encouraged me, and read my stuff. Although it feels the journey is over, the adventure is really just begun.

For updates on the book, you can subscribe to my email newsletter or go to www.MadetoPray.com.

world trade center memorial

Last week I visited the 9/11 Memorial.

After walking through security like I was boarding a plane, I entered the courtyard. I arrived in a group, but broke off on my own. I felt I should walk this memorial alone.

Two great pools of water sat in the courtyard. Water poured down one level, creating soft walls. Then it poured down a second level and into a hole, the bottom unseen. Each pool is where the buildings belonged, those buildings now crumbled and gone.

Around each pool is a low bronze wall, on which is inscribed the names of people killed on 9/11. Victims of New York City, the Pentagon, and Shanksville are on the wall.

I walked the memorial, running my fingers over the names. Then I noticed something written. Written was a woman’s name killed on 9/11, and attached to her name were the words, “and her unborn child.”

Oh, the horror. My eyes widened. Then I noticed them again. And a third time. Many more times. My heart dropped.

I was in New York City for a workshop on Story. We were considering the elements of story that made movies great. We were hoping to learn something with which to live out our own stories with intention and courage. But these unborn children didn’t get much of a story; they ended barely after they began. It isn’t fair to die in your mother’s womb.

Sadness overtook me. I leaned into this thick moment at the memorial. What hope could I find?

Then, as afternoon turned to evening, and the New York sky prepared for sunset, I could see light. Yellow brightness burst from behind the letters, lighting up the names. You couldn’t see the light in the daytime, but only in the dark. There at the memorial I saw these unborn children lit up, and my heart turned to thanksgiving.

I felt grateful that these unborn children were counted worthy to be named.

For this memorial to be created, name upon name would be engraved on the bronze. And to create name upon name, it would be letter by letter inscribed one-at-a-time. Do you get this? You would pay by the letter to name these unborn children. But someone did, gloriously paid for each letter. These children mattered, as all children do.

So I decided to create my own memorial. I committed to live out my story in full. Because they didn’t get to. Because I can.

greek salad

Sometimes to say things, you have to tell a story.

The other night Colette and I were talking about our most recent date night. When was it, we wondered. I found on the calendar in big letters, “Date Night.” It was September 3. But then we tried to remember what we did. We couldn’t. What does that say about our date nights? Am I really that boring and forgettable?

But then the memory appeared. We went out to eat (what else would we do?).

“I got it,” I said. “We went to Bella Sicilia.”

“Bella Sicilia, what’s that?”

“You know, that Italian place.”

“Sorry, it’s not ringing a bell.”

“It’s the restaurant in Centre Hall,” I said.

“There’s a restaurant in Centre Hall?”

We weren’t getting anywhere. I changed tacks. “The place with the Greek salad but no Greek dressing.” Immediately she shot back, “Yes, Bella Sicilia!”

Ah, Story. Story is why Colette remembered our forgettable date night. You see, Colette ordered a Greek salad. The waitress asked what kind of dressing Colette wanted. Colette answered, “Greek.”

The waitress explained they didn’t have Greek dressing. Colette’s eyebrows dropped. But they did have French, Thousand Island, and Italian. Colette asked what dressing is most like Greek, you know, because it’s a Greek salad. She settled for Italian.

To dislodge this date from Colette’s memory, which was already cluttered with grocery lists, kids’ schedules, and fantasies in which she owns a horse, all I had to do was tell the story. And not even the whole story, just the story in a one-liner.

So what did we do on our date night? We ate at the place with the Greek salad but no Greek dressing.

John Eldredge opens his book on Story, which is called Epic, with a quote from Lord of the Rings. Sam asks, “I wonder what sort of tale we’ve fallen into?” It’s the same question that Forest Gump asked his Mama when he asked about his destiny. 

It’s the same question we have at key points in our lives, when we’re aware there’s more out there. There’s more than books and exams, diapers and sneezes, sales calls and quotas. There’s more we’re called to do, something that’s trying to find us. Sometimes moments from the past come together and we see how they’re connected; we called them chance, but we see they’re not.

The shards of glass form a perfect mirror, and we can see at last.

There are three ways to live by Story. In the first, we set out to write our own story. We hope to fall upon it by chance. We storm the mountain and descend the valley, and run to the ends of the earth. We stow away on ships and hitch a ride in the sky, and drink of the dew of the ground. We go wherever we want, trying to prove the story we wish to tell. It exhausts us.

In the second, we copy another person’s story. We find a tale we prefer, and write it into our life. We go where the other characters go, fight their enemies. We embark on their quests and try to rescue their captives. We imitate their gifts. But this destroys us.

And in the third, we live the story that was already written for us. This approach supposes a Storyteller and a story that already stands. Our task is not to write the story, but to discover it, and live it with grace and valor. We might still troll the lines of the ocean and fly the puffs of the sky. We might still dig into the soil and scale the icy heights. But it won’t be a story we’re trying to find; it’ll be a story we’re trying to follow.

There’s a difference. In the first two, we’re the storyteller. In the third, we’re the character who is being told.

Psalm 139.16 says, “All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”

I happen to believe the latter. We’re the character being told. Our task is not creating the story, but rather discovering the story that already exists, and living that story all the days of our life.

How do we discover our story? By looking at how we were made. We let the design in us speak to us, and lead us to our story. By studying these signs, we are told our story, the Storyteller making himself known.

Sometimes to say things, you have to tell a story.

Why We Love Good Stories

Chris Heinz —  September 9, 2011 — Leave a comment

open book

Lately I’ve been thinking about Story.

Forest Gump asked, “What’s my destiny, Mama?” At the heart of this question is story. In other words, what’s my story, Mama?

I think it’s a question we all have. What’s my story?

It’s why we are drawn to stories like Forest Gump, the boy with the crooked spine and low IQ who ends up playing college football and meeting Presidents.

We know we are average folk, but we long to be part of good stories.

It’s why we adore the Pevensie children—Peter, Edmund, Susan, and Lucy—who are kids from Finchley. To escape the war, they go on holiday at a relative’s house, and end up kings and queens of Narnia. Really? They’re just kids from Finchley.

It’s why we stay up late to read or watch Frodo Baggins, a hobbit of big feet and short frame. He dreams of lazying around the Shire until he gets possession of the Ring, which must be thrown into the fires of Mount Doom.

We imagine ourselves with the powers of Superman because we’re more like Clark Kent. Or as Atreyu on his white horse instead of Sebastian with his wonder bread.

It’s why I love Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking, about Joan’s battle back to reality after losing her husband. Death has visited her home, and she must return to the land of the living after John is ripped from her side. It’s a heart wrenching fight.

And why Kate Braestrup’s similar journey in, Here If You Need Me is such a vivid tale. She sojourns through mourning in order to be whole again. It’s beautiful, a great story.

God of course is the ultimate story teller, and whenever the four elements are present in a story, the authors are taking a cue from Him.

By the four elements I mean the Four, the basic building blocks of the world’s story, which is our story:

1. Creation
2. Fall
3. Redemption
4. Restoration

Great stories show a character who exists, that is, was created. And usually there is a hint of heroism in how he was made, something that endears us to him. We see a glimpse of the man he might become, and it fills us with hope. This is creation.

“God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.” (Genesis 1.31)

Then something happens through a character flaw, maybe a rash temper, or something done to him, an unfair abuse, and he is thrust to a realm almost beyond hope. There is darkness and light seems gone. We don’t see how it will work out. This is the fall.

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3.23)

But somehow the light dawns, and although at first it’s a little, it comes on stronger eventually. Usually with the help of others, he overcomes his flaw or abuse, almost to the point of death. In the process, he gets saved and perhaps saves others. This is redemption.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3.16)

And finally, his initial promise is restored. Only it is magnified. He returns to who or where he was in the beginning, only now he is better off. He might always bear the wounds of the fall, but now he has passed through redemption, and is made new. Hope shines bright again, the man takes his place.

“If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (1 Corinthians 5.17)

These are the four elements of a good story, and they’re the Four of a God story. They were His to start.

Which is why we can’t ask Mama what our story is. Mama didn’t write it; God did. If we believe that God is the author of life, then only by studying His design of things, of us, can we learn what our story is.

There are lots of clues to let us in on our story. For example, gender, personality, strengths, gifts, discontent, pains. We can look at how we are made, see the intentionality behind it, and let the design direct us.

Wise ones will do this, who are driven to know their story. And once they know their story, they can take part as the character ought to, to free the captives, to speak the message, to protect the weak, for instance.

They will at once know the part they’re supposed to play, and won’t waste time wondering. They’ll act. And in so doing, they’ll find themselves in the story of a lifetime. Not watching, not reading, living. They’ll be living the great story they dreamed about.

What’s your story? Open your eyes and see.

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beaver

Why prophecy? God has other means to communicate. He can paint a message in the sky, speak through your gerbil, line up pebbles in the road. Why should God use humans to deliver His messages? I mean, humans aren’t the most reliable creatures. We slip and fall, we seek our own ambitions. Why doesn’t God do it Himself?

Several years ago I’m in a worship service in a house. We’re sitting around a circle singing. I look across and see a man I’ve never met before. He’s about 40.

All of a sudden I get the feeling that God wants to speak to me. It’s like the clouds are parting for some brilliant light to shine through. I ready myself. What bit of heaven is He going to reveal?

I close my eyes and what do I see? A beaver. A furry woodland creature with buck teeth, brown matted fur, and a spatula-like tail. He’s chubby. I chuckle and open my eyes. Silly Chris. I refocus and whisper, “God, I’m listening. Let’s try this again.”

I close my eyes and continue to worship the LORD. The sensation returns—warmth of spirit, feeling of home, God near. I feel the familiar urge that God wants to speak. I plant myself there. A picture comes into focus. It’s the beaver again.

But this time I ask God what it means. He shows me more. I ask Him what that means. He shows me more again. It goes on like this until I feel a release, like our business is done, like the water spicket has been turned off. A lot has happened, but only a few minutes have passed.

The songs end and it’s time to greet each other. I walk across the circle and introduce myself to this stranger. I feel embarrassed to tell him what I saw, but I want to be faithful. I remember the stranger who spoke to me and it turned my life around. Maybe this will do the same.

I say, “Sir, my name is Chris. I believe God spoke to me for you.”

He says, “Really? I’d like to hear it.”

I tell him about the beaver and the rest of it. His eyes widen and his mouth curves open. I wonder if he has buck teeth. No, stay on track. I discard that thought and keep talking. Finally I’m done and say, “So what do you think about that?”

He says, “That’s a good word,” and goes on to explain that he’s an architect. He builds things for a living. Beavers build things too, I think. But the beaver is not so much about his job as it is about his family. This man has been spending too much time at work and his family is suffering. He has a wife and six kids, and he’s not the husband and father he wants to be.

“God’s been speaking to me about building more into my family,” he says. “But I haven’t listened.”

Here are ten reasons God uses prophecy today.

1. Prophecy gets our attention.
Breaking the buzz of the fluorescent lights overhead, God’s voice thunders and wakes us from our stupor. Suddenly God has our attention. We didn’t know how to listen. Or we were just plain busy. But God crashes through the humming of our thumbing on the desk. He has much to say. So much in fact, that He can’t wait for us to tune our ears. He reaches out to messengers so we’ll hear.

2. Prophecy builds the Body of Christ.
The Church is a collection of many members, a Body. The Holy Spirit has given different gifts to each member. Only when each member functions in his or her gifts can the Body function as a whole. This is to say, we need each other for the complete set. Prophecy is one of these gifts. So when it’s absent, the Body is malformed. When it’s present, the Body has its part.

3. Prophecy removes the lone cowboy mentality.
The Church is a Body, and there is no room for lone cowboys. No man has every gift of the Spirit and no woman the complete wisdom of God. No man has experienced all God has to offer, no woman has God in her pocket. We’re in this together, fellow sojourners on the dusty road to glory. If we try to stand alone, we shut off means of God’s voice. But prophecy reminds us we don’t have it all and we need each other. 

4. Prophecy confirms God’s Word.
A prophetic message should not contradict the Bible. If it does, I doubt the veracity of the prophetic word. Instead, prophecy is meant to confirm God’s word. God has more to say than is contained in the Bible. He might want you to start a petting zoo, but nowhere in the Bible does God tell you to start a petting zoo. So he speaks it extra-biblically, and then you pray. You realize it’s biblical to create a place for kids to enjoy what God has made. You bring in some llamas to start.

5. Prophecy proves God is alive and involved.
Some say God is dead, a fabrication of man to feel better about himself. Others say He exists but stepped away, a clockmaker who wound up his clock and let it tick. But prophecy proves that God is alive and involved, the Four Act Story told throughout time. He spoke the world into existence (creation). He pronounced judgment when it sinned (fall). He sent the divine message into the world, who is Jesus (redemption). He said He makes all things new (restoration). Weaving these four acts together is the God who communicates. He speaks these acts into our days.

6. Prophecy trains us in intercession.
When God shares a word for someone else, the first question is, “What now?” Sometimes the next step is to share it. But sometimes the next step is to pray it. In this way, prophecy trains us in intercession. We begin with no clue what to pray, but then God speaks, and suddenly we’ve been given the will of God. We begin to pray what was revealed, and we find we are praying God’s heart.

7. Prophecy causes us to examine our motives.
The Bible says that love trumps prophecy. Not only is love superior to any spiritual gift, it is also the foundation for moving in spiritual gifts. So is humility. The object is to serve. It’s not to show how spiritual we are or that we’re God’s best friend.  Prophecy causes us to examine our motives. Do we manufacture a word from God to gain favor with the recipient? Do we share instead of pray to impress others? Are we trying to prove our usefulness to the Body?

8. Prophecy partners us with God.
God is all-powerful, but He chooses to partner with humanity. This is one of the mind-defying principles of God. God accomplishes His will through the obedience of creation. Problem is, we’re not always obedient. Whether by defiance or ignorance, we prefer our own ways. God knows this, but He partners with us anyway. Prophecy follows the principle of partnership.

9. Prophecy deepens our intimacy with God.
When God speaks, either directly or through someone else, it deepens the relationship. This is another principle of God. He desires a close relationship. When I have been the messenger or the recipient, it reminds me that I’m on God’s mind. He’s not too busy to think about me or his schedule too crowded to make time. I’m on God’s heart and He wants me to know it. And further, He has great plans and is working them out.

10. Prophecy is practicing God’s presence.
Expecting God to speak is part of practicing God’s presence. To practice God’s presence is to walk deliberately with God. It’s to go through our day aware of God. It’s to make choices that honor God. It’s to do our best not to offend Him, lest he flee. Whether in the church lobby or at a churro stand, in private time or the public square, God’s voice comes calling. And when it does, God is near.

No wonder God is so insistent upon using prophecy. It’s a means of relationship. It’s a means of building the Body. It’s a means of accomplishing His plans. Several times in the Bible God says to be eager to prophesy. So let’s be eager like a beaver.

Welcome Video

Chris Heinz —  August 24, 2011 — Leave a comment

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