Chapter 5 of Revelation: Harp and Bowl

CloudsBy Stephen W. Hiemstra

Do you get excited when you read the Bible?

In May 2013 I had the privilege of attending a prayer service in Charlotte, NC. Normally, I would drive to school on Friday morning, attend Friday evening and all day Saturday, and drive home late Saturday evening so attending a Sunday morning prayer service in Charlotte was a treat for me.

Harp and Bowl Prayer

This prayer service consisted of prayer mixed with music. Some prayer and music was prepared in advance; some was spontaneous. The point was to praise the Lord, to enjoy the His presence, and to linger. This style of worshipful music and prayer is referred to as a Harp and Bowl service (Rev 5:8; also: www.ihopkc.org). The idea apparently originated with King David (Psalm 141:1-2) which perhaps inspired the Apostle Paul’s admonition to pray without ceasing (1 Thes 5:17).

The outbreak of worship is Revelations 5 arises immediately after the fifth verse:

And he [the Lamb] went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who was seated on the throne. And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints (Rev 5:7-8).

Worthy to Open Scroll

The excitement arises because of the scroll which: no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to look into it (Rev 5:3 ESV). This scroll, which previously was treated as an idolatrous object of worship (Deut 5:8), was suddenly now being opened by someone worthy: the Lamb—ironically referred to as the Lion of Judah (Gen 49:9). This passage obviously refers to Jesus Christ.

The interpretation of this chapter accordingly hangs on one word: scroll—what scroll is it? The Greek word for scroll is βιβλίον normally translated as: Bible. So why do many translations read: scroll?

The First Book (Codex)

In the first century, the very first book (called a codex) ever assembled was the New Testament (NT). The church did not agree on the content of the NT until the fourth century. However, many of the books now contained in the NT were already assembled together in the first century, bounded together on leather pages printed front and back—an innovation.

Christian evangelists developed the book format for three important reasons—it was cheap, transportable, and was easily distinguished from the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament—OT) which were traditionally written on multiple scrolls which were neither cheap nor transportable. Consequently, scholars disagree as to whether the Apostle John’s vision referred to the OT (scroll) or the NT (book). The Book of Revelations is one of the last books in NT to have been written so arguments go either way. Theologically, translating βιβλίον as scroll makes sense because John’s point then becomes that the OT is understandable only when viewed through the lens of Christ.

Getting Excited

So in verse 9 we see a party breaking out in heaven: And they sang a new song, saying, Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation (Rev 5:9 ESV).

So if you get excited reading your Bible, consider yourself an angel!

QUESTIONS

  1. Do you have questions from last week? Did any important events happen in your life this week? Do you have any thoughts that you would like to share?
  2. What sort of seals are we talking about here in v 5:1?
  3. What is the image of the Lion of Judah? (Genesis 49:9)
  4. What about the image of the lamb? (Exodus 12:21)
  5. What is the symbolism of the seven horns? What do horns signify? (Daniel 7:7-8)
  6. What is the image of a new song? (Isaiah 42:10; Psalm 40:3)
  7. What about the four living creatures? (Ezekiel 1:5)
  8. What does Amen (ἀμήν) actually mean?

405 ἀμήν
• ἀμήν (LXX occas. for אָמןֵ , usu. transl. by γένοιτο; taken over by Christians; in pap symbol. expressed
by the number 99 [α=1 + μ=40 + η=8 + ν=50; ESchaefer, PIand I 29], but also as ἀμήν [POxy 1058, 5].
Ins: ISyriaW 1918; MvOppenheim-HLucas, ByzZ 14, 1905, p. 34ff, nos. 36, 39, 46, 84)

1. strong affirmation of what is stated
a. as expression of faith let it be so, truly, amen liturgical formula at the end of the liturgy, spoken by the congregation 16:10 p. 137, 19 Ja.; Cyranides p. 124, 18 Ἀμήν· τέλος· ἀμήν· ἀμήν) ἀ. was almost always put at the end of books, but not in the older mss. (and hence v.l.) Mt 28:20; Mk 16:20

Chapter 5 of Revelation: Harp and Bowl

Also see:

Chapter 4 of Revelation: The Times and The Seasons 

Chapter 1: Alpha and Omega 

Christian Spirituality 

Looking Back 

Other ways to engage online:

Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net, Publisher site: http://www.T2Pneuma.com.

Newsletter at: http://bit.ly/2fEPbBK

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Nouwen Describes Leadership Challenges

Henri Nouwen, Temptations of LeadersHenri J.M. Nouwen. 2002. In the Name of Jesus: Reflections on Christian Leadership. New York: Crossroad Publishing Company.[1]

Review by Stephen W. Hiemstra

One professor of mine in seminary described scripture as laconic, meaning that every verse is written with a minimum number of words. We are told only the basics, leaving the rest of the story free to be contextualized—applied to our own situations. The best example of laconic writing in the postmodern world appears in advertising where each word is uttered with a price tag attached. If you say something to the whole world on television during the Super Bowl at the cost of a celebrity’s mansion, what words would you choose?

Introduction

In his book, In the Name of Jesus, Henri Nouwen writes laconically about Christian leadership. Two passages inform Nouwen’s view of leadership more than the many others that he cites. They are the three temptations of Christ in the desert before he starts his ministry (Matthew 4:1-11) and words of the risen Christ to Peter just before the ascension (John 21:15-18) (23).

Nouwen structures his book in three parts around the three temptations. They are to be relevant (turn stones into bread), to be popular (throw yourself off the temple), and to lead rather than to be led (to have authority). He further divides these parts into three sections: the temptation, a question or task, and a discipline. Throughout these discussions, Nouwen weaves his experiences as a priest living with special needs friends from the L’Arche community in Toronto after retiring from an academic career, which took him to Harvard Divinity School (22).

From Relevance to Prayer

Jesus’ first temptation was to be relevant—turn stones into bread (30). Writing about his experience at L’Arche, Nouwen notes his new friends had no interest in his accomplishments or the network of friends that he had. Nouwen writes:

“This experience was and, in many ways, is still the most important experience of my new life, because it forced me to rediscover my true identity. These broken, wounded, and completely unpretentious people forced me to let go of my relevant self—the self that can do things, show things, prove things, build things—and forced me to reclaim that unadorned self in which I am completely vulnerable, open to receive and give love regardless of any accomplishments.” (28)

Who Are You Really?

If you strip away the degrees and the robes, who are you really? As a chaplain intern working an Alzheimer’s unit, Nouwen commitment cut me to the core—he stayed in this environment that I found solace in knowing that I would leave at the end of three months. My love of the patients was clearly conditioned on my departure, his was not. I missed being relevant—finishing my training, moving to new challenges.

Nouwen sees Jesus’ question to Peter—“Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” (John 21:15 ESV)—as being important in understanding the task of the servant leader (36). He writes:

“…the Christian leader of the future is called to be completely irrelevant and to stand in this world with nothing to offer but his or her own vulnerable self.” (30)

By irrelevance, Nouwen means abandoning the “fix-it” mentality that many of us cling to; he clearly does not mean abandoning the ministerial task of pointing the lost and the suffering to Christ (31). He clearly sees the need to develop contemplative prayer as an antidote to the need to be relevant (42-43).

From Popularity to Ministry

Jesus’ second temptation was to do something spectacular to draw attention to himself (53). The Gospel of Matthew records it this way:

“If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written, “‘He will command his angels concerning you,’ and “‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.” (Matt 4:6 ESV)

Jesus responds, saying: “You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.” (Matt 4:7 ESV). In John, he tells Peter: “Feed my sheep” (John 21:17) For Nouwen, the temptation to engage in heroic leadership is blunted by ministering in teams. As a member of the L’Arche community, he always brought along a companion whenever he was asked to speak (58-59). Nouwen furthermore sees a special need for leaders to practice the discipline of confession and forgiveness as an antidote to the propensity to want to be popular (64-65).

From Leading to Being Led

The third temptation of Jesus was to be powerful (75). Nouwen observes that: “It seems easier to be God than to love God, easier to control people than to love people, easier to own life than to love life.” (78) After re-commissioning Peter, Jesus prophesies his death:

“Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.” (John 21:18 ESV)

In this sense, as Christian leaders, we find ourselves led, whether we like it or not. Nouwen sees theological reflection as the primary antidote to the temptation to be powerful (88).

Assessment

Henri Nouwen’s book, In the Name of Jesus, is a short reflection on the nature of Christian leadership. Nouwen sees leadership principles in Jesus’ three temptations. He outlines core leadership principles in terms of polarities—from relevance to prayer, from popularity to ministry, and from leading to being led. This is because polarities have the characteristic of being not problems that can be solved, but of being poles that we move back and forth between. We are repeatedly tempted to be relevant, to be popular, and to lead. It is a struggle to find new ways to pray, to minister, and to be led. In that sense, Nouwen’s work remains fresh and interesting to Christian leaders, regardless of their tenure, position, or experience.

[1] http://www.CrossroadPublishing.com.

Nouwen Describes Leadership Challenges

Also see:

Books, Films, and Ministry

Other ways to engage online:

Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net, Publisher site: http://www.T2Pneuma.com.

Newsletter at: http://bit.ly/2fEPbBK

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Beginning and Ending Prayer

Table SettingBeginning and Ending Prayer

By Stephen W. Hiemstra

Almighty Father,

We praise you for creating us, male and female, in your image, not for our glory, but yours in the beginning (Gen 1:27).

In humility, we confess that we have not always preferred to live in your light or to be good (Gen 1:3-4).

We give thanks that in creating heaven and earth you made your presence abundantly clear (Romans 1:19-20)

and that we might escape perdition through the death and resurrection of your son (1 Cor 15:3-4).

We beg you that we might choose the light and honor your son through the power of your Holy Spirit (John 14:6).

Through Jesus Christ, who is the alpha and the omega, the beginning and the end (Rev 1:8), Amen.

 

Also see:

Prayer for Shalom 

A Place for Authoritative Prayer 

Other ways to engage online:

Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net, Publisher site: http://www.T2Pneuma.com.

Newsletter at: http://bit.ly/2fEPbBK

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Chapters 2-3 of Revelation: Tools in Interpretation

CloudsBy Stephen W. Hiemstra

When you are lost, how do you find your way home? In my training as a boy scout, I learned to read a map and to work with a compass during the day and to follow the stars at night. Revelation is one of those books in the bible that tests your skills in biblical interpretation.

Role of Genre in Interpretation

One form of interpretation starts by asking a simple question: what kind of writing (genre) are we looking at? Possibilities include: narrative (simple stories or history), Gospel, poetry, song, wisdom literature, prophecy, parable, epistle (a letter), law, genealogies, or apocalyptic. We tend to look at each of these a bit differently and particular books of the Bible often have multiple genre. Revelations, for example, contains prophecy, history, narrative, song, poetry, and even law.

Role of Perspective in Interpretation

Another important aspect of interpretation is to ask which perspective on the text to take: the author’s, the scripture itself, and the reader’s.  When you see a commentary talking about the audience or the historical context, this is an attempt to understand the author’s intent in writing. Or when you hear a pastor citing Old Testament (OT) references that explain a New Testament (NT) passage, this is using scripture to interpret scripture. When you hear someone explain what a particular passage means to them, this is using the reader’s perspective. John Calvin used these three principles of interpretation, but added one more of interest to pastors–use of the texts in the original languages–which leads to word studies, issues of grammar, literary criticism, and other questions of syntax.

Role of Interpretation in Church Controversies

Biblical interpretation is a bit technical and boring, but it is important. Many of the controversies of our day in the church have at their root differences over issues of biblical interpretation. For example, when the Apostle John writes prophetically in Revelations is he writing primarily to the seven churches in Asia Minor or is he writing to us? If you answer the seven churches, then you are taking the author’s perspective. If you answer to us, then you are taking the reader’s perspective.

New Covenant in Christ

An obvious interpretative pallet for understanding Revelation is John’s Gospel. What is striking about John’s Gospel is that John seems to suggest that the New Covenant in Christ is not a written document or teachings, but rather the person of Jesus.[1] So when John gives us a vision of the son of man in Revelations 1:13, an allusion to Daniel 7:13, we find ourselves witnessing an image of judgment under the New Covenant. Christ has returned to take stock of those he left behind. What is perhaps shocking is that John sees this judgment[2] starting with the seven churches.

Why are the seven churches the first focus of this heavenly vision of judgment and not the gentiles, especially not the Romans, John’s jailors at Patmos, who were persecuting the church at his point?

Questions for Revelation 2

  1. Do you have questions from last week? Did any important events happen in your life this week? Do you have any thoughts that you would like to share?
  2. Which four churches does John address in this chapter? (vv. 1, 8, 12, 18)
  3. Why does John starts with Ephesus? (Acts 18:9-19:5) Or do we really know?
  4. What are the strong points of the Ephesus church? (vv. 2-3) What are the weak points? (v. 4)
  5. What blessings/curses are attached to the judgment of the Ephesus church? (vv. 5-7)
  6. Who is John addressing in verses 7, 11, 17, and 26-29?
  7. What is the morning star reference about? (v. 28; Matt 2:2, 2 Peter 1:19)
  8. What are the blessings and curses faced by the church at Smyrna? (vv. 8-10)
  9. Read Deuteronomy 4:30. What is prophesied?
  10. Read 1 Samuel 26:22-25 and Matthew 5:44. What is enemy love; what is tribulation?
  11. Who are victorious? What is the second death? (v. 11)
  12. What strong points does John mention in the church of Pergamum? (v. 13)
  13. What weak points afflict the Pergamum church? (vv. 14-16)
  14. What is the sword of the mouth? (v. 16; Rev 1:16, 19:21)
  15. What new name are they to receive? (v. 17)
  16. Who is known from the city of Thyatira? (Acts 16:14)
  17. What strong points are mentioned about the church of Thyatira? (v. 19)
  18. What sins afflict the church of Thyatira? (vv. 20-25)
  19. Read Psalm 2:9. What is the reward for the victorious? (vv. 26-27)
  20. Who is Jezebel and what are Satan’s dark secrets? (vv. 20, 24; 1 Kings 16:30-31)

Questions on Revelation 3

  1. What strong points does John mention about the church at Sardia? (vv. 4-5)
  2. What weak points does he mention? (vv. 1-2)
  3. What metaphor of judgment does John use? (v. 3)
  4. What does it look like to be victorious? (vv. 4-5) What is the metric?
  5. Is this judgment applicable only to the church at Sardia? (vv. 6, 13, 22)
  6. What complaint does John offer about the church of Philadelphia?
  7. What praise does he offer? (vv. 8-10)
  8. What encouragement does John offer Philadelphia? (vv. 8, 10-11)
  9. What open door is John referring to? (v. 8)
  10. How does John describe Christ in verses 14, 19-21.
  11. What complaint does John offer against the church at Laodicea? (vv. 15-18)
  12. How does John’s complaint compare to Paul’s observations in Colossians 2:1-3?
  13. Read Proverbs 10:13 and 13:24. How is Christ’s love expressed? (v. 19)

References

Osborne, Grant R.  2006. The Hermenutical Spiral: A Comprehensive Introduction to Biblical Interpretations. Downers Grove: IVP Academic.

Thompson, John L. 2004. “Calvin as Biblical Interpreter.” Pages 58-73 in The Cambridge Companion to John Calvin. Edited by Donald A. McKim. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Vanhoozer, Kevin H. 1998. Is there Meaning in this Text? Grand Rapids: Zondervan. (Review)

Footnotes

[1] Unlike Matthew or the author of Hebrews, John never uses the word covenant, not even in reference to the last supper (John 13:1-14). And John uses the word commandment consistently to refer to the double-love commandment. For example, John writes: A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another (John 13:34).

[2] When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades” (Rev 1:17-18).

Chapters 2-3 of Revelation: Tools in Interpretation

Also see:

Chapter 1: Alpha and Omega 

Christian Spirituality 

Looking Back 

Other ways to engage online:

Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net, Publisher site: http://www.T2Pneuma.com.

Newsletter at: http://bit.ly/2wVZtbb

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T2Pneuma Releases “Called Along The Way” in Paperback, Kindle, and EPUB (3)

Cover for Called Along the Way
Art by Stephen W. Hiemstra

T2Pneuma Releases “Called Along The Way” 

CONTACT:

Stephen W. Hiemstra, author, T2Pneuma Publishers LLC (T2Pneuma.com), Centreville, VA 703-973-8898 (M), T2Pneuma@gmail.com

 CENTREVILLE, VA, 9/28/2017:

Called Along The Way: A Spiritual Memoir by Stephen W. Hiemstra is now available in both paperback (978-1942199250), Kindle (978-1942199298) on Amazon.com and in EPUB (978-1942199175) on BarnesAndNoble.com or Kobo.com according to T2Pneuma Publishers LLC of Centreville, Virginia. Details available at T2Pneuma.com.

 DISCUSSION:

Called Along the Way describes my faith journey from unbeliever to believer, from cultural Christian to active disciple, from disciple to realization of call, and from seminary to early ministry. Unlike Adam and Eve, my story does not begin the Garden of Eden. If you too have struggled with your faith walk, then my story may offer solace. Even in our baby steps of faith, God promises to walk with us.

Hear the words; Walk the steps; Experience the joy!

Author Stephen W. Hiemstra (MDiv, PhD) is a slave of Christ, husband, father, volunteer pastor, writer, and speaker. He lives with Maryam, his wife of 30+ years, in Centreville, VA and they have three grown children.

Key words:

Christian memoir, faith, discipleship, pastoral call, personal memoir, autobiography, memoir, federal service, education.

******************

What people are saying… 

Have you ever wondered if the church in America is mortally wounded? Is God really dead as the infamous 1966 Time magazine cover reported? This memoir offers evidence to the contrary.

— Aaron Gordon, Pastor

Stephen opens up his life story for us to delve into, investigate, and learn from. It provides an excellent inside view of how God uses every facet of our lives to mold us and to use us for His glory.

— Nohemi Zerbi Chemical Engineer

Stephen’s spiritual journey is interesting because it has taken place along the pathway of enormous changes in America. 

— Jonathan Jenkins, Pastor

Other paperback books by T2Pneuma Publishers LLC include:

  • A Christian Guide to Spirituality
  • Una Guía Cristiana a la Espiritualidad
  • My Travel Through Life
  • Life in Tension

Please mention T2Pneuma.com on social media.

 

 

 

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T2Pneuma Releases “Called Along The Way” in Paperback, Kindle, and EPUB (2)

Cover for Called Along the Way
Art by Stephen W. Hiemstra

T2Pneuma Releases “Called Along The Way” 

CONTACT:

Stephen W. Hiemstra, author, T2Pneuma Publishers LLC (T2Pneuma.com), Centreville, VA 703-973-8898 (M), T2Pneuma@gmail.com

 CENTREVILLE, VA, 9/28/2017:

Called Along The Way: A Spiritual Memoir by Stephen W. Hiemstra is now available in both paperback (978-1942199250), Kindle (978-1942199298) on Amazon.com and in EPUB (978-1942199175) on BarnesAndNoble.com or Kobo.com according to T2Pneuma Publishers LLC of Centreville, Virginia. Details available at T2Pneuma.com.

 DISCUSSION:

Called Along the Way describes my faith journey from unbeliever to believer, from cultural Christian to active disciple, from disciple to realization of call, and from seminary to early ministry. Unlike Adam and Eve, my story does not begin the Garden of Eden. If you too have struggled with your faith walk, then my story may offer solace. Even in our baby steps of faith, God promises to walk with us.

Hear the words; Walk the steps; Experience the joy!

Author Stephen W. Hiemstra (MDiv, PhD) is a slave of Christ, husband, father, volunteer pastor, writer, and speaker. He lives with Maryam, his wife of 30+ years, in Centreville, VA and they have three grown children.

Key words:

Christian memoir, faith, discipleship, pastoral call, personal memoir, autobiography, memoir, federal service, education.

******************

What people are saying… 

Have you ever wondered if the church in America is mortally wounded? Is God really dead as the infamous 1966 Time magazine cover reported? This memoir offers evidence to the contrary.

— Aaron Gordon, Pastor

Stephen opens up his life story for us to delve into, investigate, and learn from. It provides an excellent inside view of how God uses every facet of our lives to mold us and to use us for His glory.

— Nohemi Zerbi Chemical Engineer

Stephen’s spiritual journey is interesting because it has taken place along the pathway of enormous changes in America. 

— Jonathan Jenkins, Pastor

Other paperback books by T2Pneuma Publishers LLC include:

  • A Christian Guide to Spirituality
  • Una Guía Cristiana a la Espiritualidad
  • My Travel Through Life
  • Life in Tension

Please mention T2Pneuma.com on social media.

 

 

 

Continue Reading

T2Pneuma Releases “Called Along The Way” in Paperback, Kindle, and EPUB

T2Pneuma Releases “Called Along The Way” in Paperback, Kindle, and EPUB.

CONTACT: Stephen W. Hiemstra, author, T2Pneuma Publishers LLC (T2Pneuma.com), Centreville, VA 703-973-8898 (M), T2Pneuma@gmail.com

 CENTREVILLE, VA, 9/28/2017: Called Along The Way: A Spiritual Memoir by Stephen W. Hiemstra is now available in both paperback (978-1942199250), Kindle (978-1942199298) on Amazon.com and in EPUB (978-1942199175) on BarnesAndNoble.com or Kobo.com according to T2Pneuma Publishers LLC of Centreville, Virginia. Details available at T2Pneuma.com.

 DISCUSSION:

Called Along the Way describes my faith journey from unbeliever to believer, from cultural Christian to active disciple, from disciple to realization of call, and from seminary to early ministry. Unlike Adam and Eve, my story does not begin the Garden of Eden. If you too have struggled with your faith walk, then my story may offer solace. Even in our baby steps of faith, God promises to walk with us.

Hear the words; Walk the steps; Experience the joy!

Author Stephen W. Hiemstra (MDiv, PhD) is a slave of Christ, husband, father, volunteer pastor, writer, and speaker. He lives with Maryam, his wife of 30+ years, in Centreville, VA and they have three grown children.

Key words: Christian memoir, faith, discipleship, pastoral call, personal memoir, autobiography, memoir, federal service, education.

******************

What people are saying… 

Have you ever wondered if the church in America is mortally wounded? Is God really dead as the infamous 1966 Time magazine cover reported? This memoir offers evidence to the contrary.

— Aaron Gordon, Pastor

Stephen opens up his life story for us to delve into, investigate, and learn from. It provides an excellent inside view of how God uses every facet of our lives to mold us and to use us for His glory.

— Nohemi Zerbi Chemical Engineer

Stephen’s spiritual journey is interesting because it has taken place along the pathway of enormous changes in America. 

— Jonathan Jenkins, Pastor

Other paperback books by T2Pneuma Publishers LLC include:

  • A Christian Guide to Spirituality
  • Una Guía Cristiana a la Espiritualidad
  • My Travel Through Life
  • Life in Tension

Please mention T2Pneuma.com on social media.

 

 

 

Continue Reading

Penn Attracts Readers to Books

Joanna Penn, How to Market a BookPenn Attracts Readers to Books

Joanna Penn. 2017. How to Market a Book. Bath, UK: Curl Up Press.[1]

Review by Stephen W. Hiemstra

One of the banes of postmodern life is that successful professionals must communicate effectively across multiple media. Communication is more important than ever because technology has made all of us more productive. If one 2017 professional can now do the work of a dozen 1960 professionals, then that professional effectively functions as a team, including the team manager. Production, marketing, and sales all need to be done by that one professional. As an economist, I faced this challenge; it has only gotten worse now that I am an author and publisher.

Introduction

Joanna Penn in her new book, How to Market a Book, advises authors on trends in marketing and sales of self-published books. She sees five non-negotiable activities for all book marketing:

  1. Make sure that your book is the best it can be…
  2. Identify your comparison books and authors.
  3. Optimize your book sales page…
  4. …use paid promotions to send readers to your book page.
  5. …set up a professional looking website and an email list sign up. (281-282)

In my experience, each of these activities can keep you busy. During the past year, for example, I spent more than six months working with different webmasters to upgrade my three websites (T2Pneuma.net, T2Pneuma.com, and StephenWHiemstra.net), which is Penn’s item 5. Meanwhile, I spent an equal amount of time moving my titles from exclusively with one printer to be jointly with another printer, Penn item 1. These two activities ostensibly prepared me to be more effective in my promotions, Penn item 4.

Who is Joanna Penn?

Penn is an interesting writer for self-publishers to pay attention to because she is one of the few authors who has succeeded in quitting her day job and living off the proceeds of her writing. Less than five percent (one in twenty) of independent authors sell a thousand books (I have sold about six hundred) which implies that even fewer authors have broken even on their book sales. Most independent authors are supported by a dhealthy or by a spouse. By her own accounts, Penn started seriously writing in 2006 and quit her job in 2011, five years later (7-9). This track record makes Penn a credible source of recommendations for how to succeed in self-publishing.

A Healthy Mindset

Part of Penn’s success arises because of a heathy mindset. She writes: “marketing is sharing what you love with people who will appreciate hearing about it.” (13) This mindset is a form of “attraction marketing” which means that you find out what people want and offer it to them.

Why is this important? Two reasons stand out.

Attraction Marketing

First, when I studied marketing in the 1970s and early 1980s, I was taught “push marketing”. Push marketing means that the firm bought advertising and pushed it out to the reading, listening, and viewing public. Attraction marketing is new and many people have not yet caught on to it. Penn has done her homework which is an important reason for her success.

The Mindset Advantage

Second, Penn mindset comes as a relief for those of us who doubt our own credibility as authors. It is one thing to write a book; it is another to believe that anyone other than your mother would want to read it. This fear of being an unworthy author is pervasive and it prevents many authors from succeeding in their marketing. Penn mindset shows that she believes in herself and does not get in a muddle in reaching out to others who will appreciate her writing.

The Book Launch Thing

Another gem arises when Penn writes that “marketing is more than a book launch” (20). While I have learned to sell books in person and online, my failure to have a great book launch has always bothered me. Penn offers an important piece of background information on this point.

 Traditional Publishers Focus on the Launch

Traditional publishers, who work with retailers to stock and toss books all the time, focus on the book launch because they have limited time and resources to devote to each book. The launch is coordinated with a media campaign and a month later they are on to another book.

For small publishers who have no retail connections, no publicity team, and no media budget cannot easily host a successful launch following this model and probably should not try. Book marketing is more of a marathon than a sprint for the small publisher because resources are tight, relationships need to be built, and learning is an ongoing necessity.

Assessment

Joanna Penn’s How to Market a Book is a useful, readable, and timely book for authors who publish. I found her comments on podcasting and publishing audio books particularly insightful. Perhaps you will too.

[1] http://CurlUpPress.com. www.TheCreativePenn.com. https:/JFPenn.com. @TheCreativePenn.

 

Also see:

Penn Whispers to Professional Speakers 

Books, Films, and Ministry

Other ways to engage online:

Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net, Publisher site: http://www.T2Pneuma.com.

Newsletter at: http://bit.ly/2wVZtbb

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Chapter 1 of Revelation: Alpha and Omega

Clouds

I am the Alpha and the Omega, says the Lord God,
who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty (Rev 1:8).

Chapter 1: Alpha and Omega

By Stephen W. Hiemstra

Revelation is a mysterious book. The metaphorical language in Revelations makes it a difficult book to understand. The question arises whenever an artist paints a picture: what colors does he favor?

Prophecy

The Apostle John is unique when he says that he is speaking prophetically (Rev 1:3). We should not be surprised about this because the New Testament word for prophet is really apostle—the sent one. The confusion arises because we normally define a prophet in the narrow Greek sense of the word as someone who forecasts the future. Hebrew prophets also do this but a Hebrew prophet’s job description is defined covenantally. A prophet is someone who either introduces a covenant (like Moses) or reminds people of their obligations under a divine covenant and the consequences of covenantal disobedience (like Elijah).

The Covenants

Biblical covenants are modeled after ancient treaties. The full description of a covenant contains these parts: A title or preamble, historical prologue, stipulations, deposition and regular reading, witnesses, blessings and curses. If the stipulations (laws articulated in the covenant) are kept, then the covenant provides for blessings. If not (sin under the covenant), then the covenantal curses are evoked. The five major Old Testament covenants are: Adamic/creation covenant (Genesis 1-2), the Noahic/recreation covenant, (Gen 9:1-17), the Abrahamic covenant (Gen 15), the Mosaic covenant (Exod 20-24), and the Davidic covenant (2 Sam 7:1-17).

The Apostle John paints his picture of the future focusing on allusions to two covenants: the Adamic/creation covenant and the Davidic covenant. For example, John writes: To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God (Rev 2:7). This is an obvious reference to Eden in Genesis 2:9. The Davidic covenant is likewise brought to mind every time John mentions words like reign or kingdom or takes images from the Prophet Daniel who likewise evokes many images of kingly power. Revelation evokes an image of an uncreation event as the end-times draw near and we find ourselves in a new relationship with animals and exotic creatures, like angels, and a new kingdom (Isaiah 65:25).

The New Covenant

What about the New Covenant that we have in Christ? Covenantal language is all over the New Testament, but is especially obvious in the book of Matthew. One outline is: preamble (Matt 1:1,21), prologue (Matt 1-3), stipulations (Matt 5:18-20,14:28-29, 17:9, 19:16-21, 22:36-40, and 28:18-20), reminder (Matt 26:26-28), witnesses (Matt 1:1-17, 1:18-2, 3, 3:17,17:5), blessings (Matt 5:3-11), curses (Matt 23:13-30, 26:24).

Can you identify the covenantal language in Revelations that Apostle John uses to outline his version of the new covenant in Christ?

Interesting Resource

Bauckham Writes Theology of Revelation 

Questions

1. Do you have questions from last week? Did any important events happen in your life this week? Do you have any thoughts that you would like to share?
2. What is the purpose of the Book of Revelation? What is the basic theme of chapter 1? (vv. 1, 19)
3. Who is it addressed to and by whom has it been delivered? (vv. 1, 4, 9)
4. How does John describe himself? (vv. 1, 9-11)
5. What is a prophet? What is the point of prophecy? (vv.2-3, 9-11, 19)
6. Who is Jesus Christ? (vv. 5-7, 12-16)
6. What genre(s) does John write in? (vv. 1, 4, 10)
7. Seven churches are named? Who are they? Where are they? (vv. 4, 11)
8. What is the significance of the number seven? (vv. 4, 12, 16, 20)
9. How do you interpret verses 4-6?
10. Read Daniel 7:13. Where else have we seen this verse cited? What is the significance of this reference? (Matt 26:64) (vv. 13-15)
11. Read Zechariah. 12:10. How do you interpret this verse?
12. What is significant about verse 8?
13. Who is writing this epistle? From where is he writing? When? (vv. 9-10)
14. What are the lampstands? What is their purpose? (vv. 12-13, 20)
15. What are the keys? (v. 18)

References

Niehaus, Jeffery. “Covenant and Narrative, God and Time” pages 535-59 of Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society. 53:3, 2010.

 

Also see:

Christian Spirituality 

 Looking Back 

Other ways to engage online:

Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net, Publisher site: http://www.T2Pneuma.com.

Newsletter at: http://bit.ly/2wVZtbb

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Prayer for the Potter

Remembering the Potter by Stephen W. Hiemstra
Art by Stephen W. Hiemstra

Prayer for the Potter

By Stephen W. Hiemstra

Almighty God, Father of our Lord, Spirit of Truth:

Why have you formed me, all-knowing potter, the way that you have? (Jer 18:2-7)

In your creative urge, did you have a special use in mind?

Did you mean me for everyday use, something to hold the baked beans

or maybe a casserole or a tuna salad?

Are my colors plain to all who see me even as I am wholely blind?

Did you mean me for a special holiday, stored away in a special place until the season,

only to be displayed on a particular day, highlighted and remembered and cherished?

Am I brightly colored, festive, memorable even if only for a day?

Thank you, Lord, for veiling your purposes from me.

That I may serve you as you see fit, each and every day.

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

Also see:

Prayer for Healing, Comfort, and Deliverance 

Prayer for Shalom 

A Place for Authoritative Prayer 

Other ways to engage online:

Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net, Publisher site: http://www.T2Pneuma.com.

Newsletter at: http://bit.ly/2wVZtbb

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