I Hate To Read…Well, Then, Here’s A Book

Published on January 25, 2010 by CT in Blog, Stories

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I am a man of habit. If I could eat the same thing every day for the rest of my life, I probably would.  In fact, in some ways, I do.  Which is why I have become a regular at this one Subway over the past few months.

I travel each week for work, and the company I’m consulting for right now is in the great state of Connecticut.  And nearly every night after work, I stop by the local Subway on my way back to the hotel.  There seem to be two primary crews I see while I’m there—one is fairly button-downed and business-like, and the other, while still professional, is much more casual in their interactions with customers.

It’s this latter crew I’ve gotten to know a little bit over time.  There’s one young man in college and another girl who’s finishing her senior year of high school, and they both seem to have a good time while they’re at work.  This Subway is giving away free books as part of a state-wide literacy program—you buy a sandwich and get a book—which works out great because I love books.  I think it’s supposed to be a child-literacy program, but many of the books have been there for weeks, so I just keep digging through their box of books each night I go there.

Two weeks ago, I asked this girl if she ever took any of these books.  She said, “No way.  I hate to read.”  As I am a brand-new author, that caught my attention.  “What do you mean you hate to read?  Books are great.  I actually just wrote a book.”  “Really?” she asked.  “What about?”  “Well, it’s a book about my Christian faith.  It’s actually pretty fun.  If I bring you a copy, will you read it?”  “Sure,” she said.

So I’m giving her a book this week.  And my hope and prayer is that it will introduce her to a God she may not know.

This post is a request for you to pray for this girl—that God would open her heart to the truth of His gospel and that she would see Jesus as the greatest satisfaction to her every need.  Please pray, and share, and tweet, and do anything you can to gather a community of people who will pray her into the Kingdom.

I’ll keep you posted.  After all, I have a feeling I’m going to be eating there a lot.

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I’m Feeling Sentimental

Published on January 21, 2010 by CT in Blog, Thoughts

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The goal of this blog is to proclaim Jesus as the greatest satisfaction to every human need by pointing to His superior worth over anything else life can offer.  I try to write every post with this in mind, and it tends to lead to posts that are sometimes serious, sometimes reflective, sometimes uplifting–but typically Christ-centered.

This post is for fun.  Because I think Jesus likes fun too.  I’m feeling sentimental as I look at the Smilebox my wife, Anna, created for our 2009 Christmas card.  Maybe it’s the music, maybe it’s my wife’s beauty, maybe it’s the fact that I’ve settled back in the grind of work and life after Christmas break with family and feel a sense of longing as these memories come flooding back.

I don’t know if you’re the sentimental type too, but there’s just something powerful about pausing to meditate on the best parts of life.  So much of our lives goes by quickly–pages turn one after another, full of pressing calls or TV shows or spreadsheets or deadlines.  This is why we take pictures–to remember the sentences or paragraphs in our lives that truly mean something to us.  After all, no one takes pictures of their spreadsheets.

I’ve always associated sentimentality with the past, but I see no reason we cannot feel these deep kinds of emotions about the future.  There’s one scene in particular that creates this same sense of longing within me, but it goes a bit deeper.  It makes me think all the parts of my life that are meaningful, the paragraphs that bring a hint of tears to my eyes, are meant to echo this final scene.

Pause with me for a moment, and grow sentimental:

“Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month.  The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.  No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him.  They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads.  And night will be no more.  They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever” (Rev 22:1-5).

I guess this post was about Jesus after all.  But also fun.

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Unseen Fruit of Obedience

Published on January 18, 2010 by CT in Blog, Stories

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This is Part 2 of the Unseen Fruit of Obedience Series (Part 1 was titled “Go Tell Him I Love Him”)

I woke up as the hurricane struck right outside my window. It was 4am, and the wind howled like a pack of a thousand wolves.  I was awake almost instantly, wondering if the walls would hold or if they would give way to the ferocity outside my window.

I guess I should clarify.  It wasn’t hurricane season, and I was in my bed in Northern Virginia, and we don’t get hurricanes here at all.  So I guess it wasn’t really a hurricane.  But it was the hurricane equivalent for a land-locked area in the dead of winter.  I suppose I could just call it strong wind.

So there I was, with the strong wind threatening to knock down our walls, and I found myself in one of those situations where I felt like God was speaking to me.  The previous night, my mom and Anna and I had gone to see The Blind Side, the story of a wealthy, white family taking in a young, black man who was in need.  It was a beautiful story; when we left the theater, both Anna and I were on the lookout for someone to adopt—we were that moved.  So at 4am, it seemed as if God was asking me to get up, get in the car, and go for a drive.

I’m overly sensitive to prayer right now.  I’ve been reading Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster, in which he talks about the spiritual disciplines with a depth I do not know, and I’m thinking he’s either on to something with this book or he’s a nutter.  I lay there in bed, with an image of the little neighborhood market from the previous story in my mind.  I decided to just go for it, believing God was capable of sending me back to bed if He wanted.

As I left our apartment complex, I began thinking I might be crazy.  What was I doing out here?  It’s 4am; nobody’s awake but me.  But I drove anyway, got to the market, and found no one.  I walked around the entire building—still no one.  So I got back in the car.  Another store in the area came to mind, so I drove there.  Still no one.

I began thinking this was all a mistake, that I’m hearing things in my head that aren’t from God.  I began to question whether or not I could even hear from Him at all.  I suppose crazy people don’t get up at 4am to go look for someone to take in or share the gospel with, so maybe that means God was in this after all, but then again, maybe they do.

I don’t want to have an Unseen Fruit of Obedience series.  In one sense, obedience with no visible payoff tends to cast doubt in my mind the next time I think I hear a command to obey.  But in another sense, I feel a peace that God is working in my life and that He’s doing a thousand things I cannot see.  My job is to keep obeying.

This story actually ended with disobedience.  As I drove back to my house, I went by the neighborhood market once more, and I saw a Papa John’s delivery truck in the parking lot, and it seemed God told me to go over and ask the delivery man if there was some reason God would have sent me to him that night.  After 10 minutes of sitting there, I bailed.

Maybe things would have been different if I obeyed.  Maybe not.  But I learned two things that night.  First, God has compassion for those in need.  The blistering winds that night made me think of all the people in our city and in the world who need a place to stay, and I feel impotent to help them, but I don’t want to ignore the question I posed to God as I sat in my car:  “What can I do?”  Second, God produces fruit I sometimes cannot see when I obey.  How do I know this?  I don’t—but I believe it all the same.  “Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me, you can do nothing” (John 15:5).

I want to abide in Christ, so that I might bear much fruit for His glory and my joy, whether it’s fruit I get to taste and see or it’s fruit that God is producing in ways I’ll never know about.  God grant me the grace to live this kind of life, even if it’s at 4am.

Question:  How do you react when you obey God and see no immediate payoff?

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Live With Haiti In Your Heart

Published on January 14, 2010 by CT in Blog, Thoughts

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Haiti saddens me.  It saddens me in part because so many have lost so much.  It also saddens me because I care so little.

I don’t say this flippantly.  I say this because it’s the reaction I have right now.  It’s not something I’m proud of; it’s simply what’s going on at this moment in my head and in my heart.  Perhaps it’s because I don’t have a personal connection with anyone in Haiti.  Perhaps it’s because I don’t have the kind of compassion I know I should have.

But this news does do something deep inside me.  It affirms a gnawing feeling that there’s so much more to life and faith than what I know today.  Today, I care about getting to bed late because I went to a UConn game with co-workers.  Today, I care about wondering how many people are buying my new book.  Today, I care about myself when there are others who need me to care about them.

Seeing suffering awakens me from the slumber of my ignorance, reminds me of my own self-centeredness, and plunges my theology into the deep water of reality.  Is God sovereign, even as the earth heaves and fires are kindled?  Is He good, even as the last cries of the dead drift quietly into the silence?

We know the rain falls on the just and the unjust.  We know the Lord brings disaster on cities.  We know He brings healing to the nations.  We know He permits Satan to wreak havoc on His people.  We know He restrains the devil.  We know Jesus weeps over the lost.  We know that some are born into suffering so that God might be glorified.  There’s deep theology here, an ocean of questions and answers that flow in and through one another and leave us in one of two places:  wondering where God is in the midst of suffering, or wondering at the mystery of this God who works all things, including suffering, for good according to His purposes.

I spent my lunch hour in a cemetery today.  I don’t mean to be morbid, but it’s good to go to the place of the dead to be reminded that emails and deadlines and Twitter and phone calls aren’t quite as important as they seem throughout the day.  It’s a good place to be when wondering at the mystery of this God who works all things, including earthquakes in Haiti, for good according to His purposes.  And it’s a good place to go when thinking about what we’re supposed to do next.  So:

Give if God moves you to do so.

Pray with zeal that the glory of God would shine brightly in the midst of this tragedy.

Weep for those whose tears are dried by despair.

Go if God sends you.

But perhaps most of all, live with Haiti in your heart.  In a week, when the blogs and news cycles die down a bit, or in a month, when our lives consume us once more with other things, or in a year, when most of us will have long forgotten the day the earth broke under Haiti, another disaster will strike, and we will be awakened once more to the realization that we care far too much about the trivial and far too little about the eternal.  We’ll be reminded that the bones of dead men testify that our lives are but a vapor.  In that day, we will remember that living with Haiti in our hearts means living with a longing for the One who will bring renewal and restoration to a planet and a people who desperately need both.

My desire is that we give, and pray, and weep, and go, but that most of all we go to the Vine for comfort and hope and joy, even in the midst of great loss.  When buildings fall and lives are ended, we need the earth-shattering, wound-healing, voice of the Son of God who says, “Behold, I make all things new.”

Lord Jesus, make Haiti new, a land where Gospel seeds are planted and Godly fruit grows into an abundant harvest.  And make us new, each and every day of our lives, so that we will abide in You, for Your glory and our joy.

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Publisher’s Weekly Reviews Crave

Published on January 11, 2010 by CT in Blog, News

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Publisher's Weekly Reviews Crave

One of the things I’m getting used to in publishing is the concept of reviews.  It’s strange to put such personal thoughts down on paper and then have professionals tell me what is worthwhile and what is lacking in what I’ve written.  I know it’s part of the business, and I realize my thoughts are in a book on store shelves rather than in my personal journal, but it’s strange nonetheless.

More than strange, I’m finding it’s both a blessing and a danger.  It’s a blessing because these kinds of reviews can serve to promote the message of this book—that Jesus is the only true satisfaction to the deepest cravings of our soul.  And I think that is a message worth sharing to as many people as will hear it.  But it’s a danger as well because I can begin to believe that writing is about me.  I can soak in the praise and defend myself against the criticisms, and I can far too easily fall into a season of making much of myself, when the reason I write is to make much of Jesus.

Publisher’s Weekly recently reviewed Crave in its November 2009 issue.  They are the standard in the industry, and from what I hear, they can be fairly hard on books, and they don’t often review first-time, unknown authors.  My publisher was very excited with this review, and I’m grateful PW took the time to go through the book.  The parts that aren’t as positive as others sting a little, but mostly because they’re accurate.

Here is the review:

Crave: Wanting So Much More of God Chris Tomlinson. Harvest House, $13.99 paper (256p) ISBN 978-0-7369-2693-5

This first book by Tomlinson, a management consultant, is a perfect fit for the booming spirituality market, particularly for enthusiastic, evangelical 20- and 30-something audiences. He begins his personal musings with a simple thesis: it is too easy to become a “comfortable Christian” and we must always search for ways to express our active devotion to God and Jesus Christ. This premise is not particularly innovative, but his writing style is straightforward and personally honest. The author acknowledges his own struggles with pride while retelling, often with humor, his only-too-human attempts to reach lofty spiritual goals such as charity and purity. Every chapter opens with vivid and iconic imagery—a spoon, a bit of floss, a pager—tangible symbols throughout the book for more abstract ideas like obedience, joy, and comfort. In sum, the product is endearing and inspiring, especially appealing to young, male evangelicals. One chapter specifically devoted to the intersection of his spirituality and military service will also draw the interest of Christian men and women in the armed forces. Tomlinson’s debut leaves room for future development while it meets the expectations of readers and the genre as a whole; he is worth watching. (Jan. 1)

If the concept of the book strikes a chord with you, you can find it at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Borders, or at many of your local Christian bookstores.  It should be on shelves within the week!

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Crave Giveaway

Published on January 8, 2010 by CT in Blog, News

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Edit:  the contest ended Feb 1 and books were mailed out to the 50 winners.  Sorry if you missed it!  Maybe you’d be into getting what you pay for (see below).

If you believe you get what you pay for, you should go to Amazon to get a copy of Crave: Wanting So Much More of God.  However, if you’re into free stuff, then this is the post for you.

I wrote a guest post today on Mike Hyatt’s blog entitled “7 Ways to Build Your Online Platform From Scratch,” and the traffic to my site increased almost tenfold in just a few hours.  I should probably add an 8th way to build your online platform:  write for Mike Hyatt’s blog.

I didn’t tell my publisher about the guest post in advance–I just didn’t think about it and wasn’t sure that many people would stop by.  (Note to writers:  don’t be like me; coordinate with your full team whenever you’re doing something like this).  They were really excited about the whole thing and thought this would be a great chance to reward you, the readers, for stopping by.  So they’ve generously offered up 50 copies of the book for me to give away for free!

To register for the drawing, just drop your info into the fields below, check the box, and click “Submit.”  On Feb 1, we’ll randomly select 50 names from the entries collected and send the book out to you straight away.  If you are my mom, you’re not qualified for the drawing.  And if you aren’t one of the 50 chosen peeps, my apologies; maybe you can become one of those people who get what they pay for.

Happy registering!

ct

P.S. I have Harvest House Publishers’ assurance that they won’t use your info for purposes other than this giveaway.

First Name

Last Name

Email

Address

City

State

ZIP code

I accept the terms and conditions of the giveaway. *

*Official Rules for the Crave Giveaway

NO PURCHASE, ENTRY FEE, DONATION, OR PAYMENT NECESSARY. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED.

ELIGIBILITY: The giveaway is open to all residents of the continental United States (excluding Puerto Rico) over the age of 18. The following persons and their dependents are not eligible to enter or win: employees of Harvest House Publishers or their affiliates, subsidiaries, advertising and promotion agencies, and the immediate families (spouse, parents, siblings, and children) of each of the above.

HOW TO ENTER: The giveaway is open from 1PM on Friday, January 8, 2010 thru Monday, February 1, 2010 at 1PM (Pacific Time). While the giveaway is posted on CraveSomethingMore.org, you can enter by filling out the entry form above.

HOW TO WIN: Total number of eligible entries received determines odds of winning. One entry per home address. From all eligible entries received, CraveSomethingMore.org will randomly select fifty (50) winners to receive one (1) copy of the book Crave (Approximate retail value: $14.00).

LIMITATIONS OF LIABILITY/RESERVED RIGHTS: Neither the Sponsor, nor the parent, subsidiary or affiliate companies, nor the promotional agencies shall have any obligation or responsibility with regard to (i) entries that contain inaccurate information or do not comply with these rules, (ii) entries, prize claims or notifications that are lost, late, incomplete, illegible, unintelligible, damaged or otherwise not received by the intended recipient, in whole or in part, due to computer or technical error of any kind, (iii) telephone, electronic, hardware, software, network, Internet or computer malfunctions, failures or difficulties, or (iv) any damages or losses of any kind caused by any prize or resulting from acceptance, possession or use of any prize. The Sponsor, in its sole discretion, reserves the right to disqualify any person tampering with the entry process or the operation of the Web Site or otherwise violating these rules. The Sponsor further reserves the right to cancel, terminate or modify the Sweepstakes if the Sweepstakes cannot be completed as planned because of infection by computer virus, bugs, tampering, unauthorized intervention or technical failures of any sort.

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7 Reasons To Not Care About Blog Traffic

Published on January 8, 2010 by CT in Blog, Thoughts

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Bloggers care about traffic.  I think that’s just the way it is.  If you’re an artist, you care about people seeing your art.  If you’re a photographer, you care about people seeing your photos.  If you’re a writer, you care about people reading what you write.

I suppose I shouldn’t speak for every person who blogs; I can only open the human experience for one person—me—examine what I find, observe others around me, and make inferences about what they may be experiencing as well.  And what I find when I open my human experience is that I care about traffic.

As I consider why this is so, I find there are a few reasons, but the core need I seem to be trying to fill is the one for validation—I want to know that what I’m writing, and who I am, is deemed worthy by others.  The more others there are, the more validated I feel.  When my site traffic goes up, I feel as if what I am doing is more consequential than when it’s down.

There are plenty of strategies to increase your blog traffic, and I assume many of them work.  I remember reading a post about 250,000 people showing up at this one blog over a 24-hour period.  The post was crafted as a case study in response to a reader request, and it was very well written.  But when I finished reading, I noticed two competing thoughts.  The first was this:  That’s amazing; how can I get this kind of traffic one day? The second was this:  Who cares?  What’s the lasting value of getting a quarter of a million people on your site?  Money, fame, more readers—at the end of the day, none of these will satisfy.

I don’t mean to pretend to be a purist here, saying “produce great content, and they will come,” while casting the medium for the message as unimportant.  I suspect this kind of thought comes more from a place of jealousy than purity.  I even think promoting your blog or whatever you may do with your time is worthwhile; after all, if you have a message worth sharing, you might as well share it with all your might.

What I’m really getting at is the heart behind these desires.  I find that if I look to numbers to validate who I am and what I do, I will never be satisfied.  It’s the drug that leaves me hanging, and I need more of a buzz the next time around.  But if I write out of a place of obedience, from a position of faith that longs to see the fruit of hearts, both my own and those of others, transformed into Christ-likeness, I have the opportunity to find great satisfaction in who I am and what I do—not because of who I am and what I do, but because of the faithfulness of the One who produces the fruit in the first place.

I think this is the crux of the matter:  we shouldn’t be in the business of trying to quantify spiritual fruit.  We’re tempted to do so—how many people attend our church, how many books we’ve sold, how many people we’ve led to Christ, how many people read our blogs, how many Facebook friends we have—but we fall into the trap of trying to call these things “fruit.”  We can, and should, seek to bear “much fruit and so prove to be [Jesus’] disciples…[so the] Father [will be] glorified” (John 15:8).  But bearing much fruit and quantifying what we believe to be “fruit” are two different things entirely.

All of this is meant to be written as a confession.  I am not discussing anything here that I am not guilty of myself, and you may find these do not apply to you.  So enough soapboxing—here are 7 reasons to not care about blog traffic:

  1. It reinforces fruit-by-numbers theology.  I tend to measure my fruit in writing by the size of my readership.  Jesus taught another way—to abide in Him, because apart from Him, we can do nothing.  He taught us that abiding in Him would lead us to bear much fruit to the glory of His Father.  He didn’t teach us to measure how much “much” is.
  2. It feeds an impulse to focus on self.  The times I focus most on this kind of “fruit” are the times I am thinking a lot about myself—how I can best position myself, how I can become a more well-known voice.  Thoughts like these cause strivings not meant for us, and they lead to a dependence on self rather than a dependence on God for effective ministry.
  3. It strengthens the temptation to compare ourselves to others.  No matter how high my traffic may go, it pales in comparison to other bloggers I know.  The temptation to compare is overwhelming, and traffic stats can be the kindling to this destructive fire.
  4. It tends to define fruit as something other than how God defines fruit.  This is like fruit-by-numbers, but it goes a little deeper.  The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control—not rising blog stats.  I confuse this kind of fruit with the metrics-based kind far too often.
  5. It focuses on the fruit rather than the obedience.  I think there’s a delicate balance here.  I’m not sure we are to ignore fruit altogether; I think Jesus would have us seek to bear “much fruit” for God’s glory.  But the core focus of the obedience of abiding should be in the abiding.  The abiding comes first—then the fruit.
  6. It’s neither sowing nor reaping—it’s counting the harvest.  Jesus told us to pray for God to send more workers into the harvest.  Workers at harvest don’t simply count the harvest; they actually harvest.  When I go through my blog stats, I’m not harvesting anything—I’m just counting.
  7. It can be used to emphasize the glory of man rather than the glory of God.  When my stats are going through the roof, I’m not often making much of God in my spirit.  I’m typically feeling pretty good about myself.  God-glorifying blogging honors God in the writing, in the praying for readers, and in the conversations that follow.

Question:  What has your experience been like—the same as mine, or something different?

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There Must Be More Than This

Published on January 7, 2010 by CT in Blog, Prayers

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There Must Be More Than This

A prayer when wondering if there is more to life and faith than this…

God, there must be more than this, right?

I can remember when the days were days,
And the weeks were weeks, one after another,
And the months and years were months and years;
Times that passed slowly,
Slow enough to plan, and anticipate, and savor,
But now they blend into one long passing life.

And here I find myself at the mercy of time,
Knowing my life is but a vapor,
Feeling my one chance slowly slipping away
And wanting so much more than this;
Not for my sake, or so I suppose,
But for the sake of your Kingdom.

I know well the parable of the talents,
And not wanting to be the last servant,
I have spent my gifts in service to you,
Always seeking to earn out my reward,
To find myself before you to hear,
“Well done, good and faithful servant.”

It is these words I have sought,
But God, I now know it is the words I seek
And not the speaker.
I desire the affirmation,
Not the acceptance.
You promise that in Your presence is the fullness of joy,
And it is this joy I lack, because it’s Your presence I avoid.
I would rather study You than know You,
Or serve You than be in Your presence.
This, my God, is my sin.

You bid me come and join You,
To remain in You as a branch in a vine.
I will go to You, the Great Satisfier of my soul,
That I may have the joy You have promised,
And You may have the glory You deserve.

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It’s Here

Published on January 4, 2010 by CT in Blog, News

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This week marks the release of my first book, Crave: Wanting So Much More of God.  This is an exciting time for me, because the hours of writing and editing and dreaming are now neatly bound into a book I am holding in my hands.  It’s been 4 years in the making—3 full rewrites based on 3 rounds of feedback from 15 friends, family, and professional editors—and it’s exhilarating, and relieving, to finally have it all complete.

Jan 1, 2010 has been a date that has been looming in my mind for some time.  I thought it was going to be the date my life changed.  Perhaps this would be the first step in a new career, or the beginning of a ministry, or validation that I have something worth saying.  Of course, all this means that I need the message of this book more than anyone.

The heart of Crave is that our longings for love, acceptance, and purpose are deep and real things we all deal with throughout our lives.  And we seek to satisfy these longings with something—like money, or sex, or relationships, or work—or even career, ministry, or validation.  But there’s only One who can satisfy these cravings, and He’s the one who made them in the first place.  In fact, He made them so we’d seek Him out as the Great Satisfier, so that we would spend our lives making much of Him rather than focusing on ourselves.

So you can see how this is a message that needs to take root again in my own heart and mind.  Jan 1, 2010 has come and gone, and my life isn’t all that different.  Even if my career does change because of this new journey into writing, I will still search in vain for satisfaction so long as I look to anything other than Jesus.

One of the fun things about writing a book is that you get to dedicate it to someone.  I decided to dedicate this first book to Jesus, not because He needs to read what I’ve written, but because I have written it so He might be treasured more and more by anyone who reads it.  That’s my hope for you as well—that you would find Him to be the greatest satisfaction to your soul’s deepest cravings.

Crave: Wanting So Much More of God is now available online at Amazon (the site indicates the book will ship in 2-3 weeks; I think the books will ship sooner than that).  You can also find the book online at Barnes and Noble, Borders, or at many of your local Christian bookstores.  It should be on shelves within a week or two!

Here are what some folks who’ve read the book are saying about it:

“In this creative blend of autobiography and devotional, Chris Tomlinson paints for us a Christ who satisfies our cravings for himself.  An inspiring work from a gifted and anointed writer.”
–Christian George, Author of Godology and Sex, Sushi, and Salvation

“Chris Tomlinson addresses the noblest and most necessary question in the most disarming style…How do we satisfy our hunger for God?  No mortal can answer the question with finality.  But this book takes us a long way in the right direction.”
–Ronnie Stevens, Pastor, Danube International, Hungary

“Chris Tomlinson possesses a skill rare in Christian writing today:  a clean, clear, powerful perspective.  Crave is deftly written, with a sneaky comedic sense, but what sets Chris apart is his heart.  He’d never say it himself, but he has a lot to teach, and we have a lot to learn.”
–Jordan Green, Editor-in-Chief, Burnside Writers Collective

“An honest exploration of doubts, fears, missteps and victories from an authentic, ‘not-yet-arrived’ follower of Christ.”
–Rev. Joseph Pensak, RUF

“I love how Crave challenges cultural and comfortable Christianity, both in how we internally experience the reality of Christ and externally express the gospel to the world around us.”
–David Robbins, Campus Crusade for Christ

“Crave is an engrossing read that not only had me laughing out loud but also thinking about my own personal beliefs, even from an athiest’s perspective.”
–Andy Wang, Friend and Athiest

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Top Ten Posts of the Year

Published on December 31, 2009 by CT in Blog, News

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OK, so we’ve only been cranking for 3 months here at Crave Something More, but all the cool kids are doing Top Ten Posts of the Year, so let’s go for it.

Here they are in order:

  1. Tiger…And The Prowling Lion
  2. Dear Kayli Anneke
  3. You Don’t Want To Read This
  4. My Dog Has a Cone:  Thoughts on Suffering
  5. Tomorrow’s Phantom
  6. The Multiple Means to Joy: Spurgeon on Suffering
  7. See a Need, Meet a Need?
  8. How to Not Waste Time Blogging
  9. A Jew, a Muslim, an Agnostic, and Pizza
  10. Go Tell Him I Love Him

My hope is that Jesus has been proclaimed as the greatest satisfaction to every human need by pointing to His superior worth over anything else life can offer.  And I’ve enjoyed the conversations I’ve had with many of you in the process.

I look forward to many more times of delighting in Jesus in 2010 with you all…

ct

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Free Chapter Download and Video: Joy

Published on December 28, 2009 by CT in Blog, News

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Free Chapter Download and Video - Joy

Welcome to the last of the Crave chapter downloads.  Next week, you can get the book (I wish I could give it to you in full here).

I used to think joy was the goal of the Christian life.  You know how we often hear that we’re supposed to count it all joy when we encounter trials and be joyful to the Lord in all things.  And we should do those things—Jesus means for our joy to be full.

There’s even this stunning promise in the Bible that’s raises the stakes in joy seeking:  “In [God’s] presence there is fullness of joy” (Psalm 16:11).  King David knew this well; simply being with God was the best way to satisfy the deepest longings of his soul.

As we’ve been going along in these chapters, we’ve been starting to dig deeper into the heart of our cravings.  And I’m seeing that one of our deepest cravings is this desire for joy.  So one of the things this chapter talks about is that our cravings acts as signs that lead us to Jesus.  Joy is one sign along this road:  but it’s not the end of the road.  The end of the road is Jesus.  When we value joy over Jesus, we value the benefit of being with Him rather than valuing Him.

If you find within yourself a deep craving for joy, I think you’ll enjoy this chapter.  You can go to the downloads page for more information, or you can download the chapter and watch the chapter video below.

Books are best experienced by the writer and the reader in community, so I would love to hear your thoughts about what you’ve read in this chapter.  You can share any comments or stories in the comments section below.  You can also send this chapter to friends or family using the email, Facebook, Twitter, and other icons at the end of this post.

May God grant us the grace to find our greatest joy in His presence.

Seeking For The Source of Our Joy With You,

ct

*We had a little technical issue with including my normal commentary, so these two lovely ladies are carrying the load for this week.

Joy (from Crave: Wanting So Much More of God) from Chris Tomlinson on Vimeo.

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Happy Birthday King Jesus

Published on December 25, 2009 by CT in Blog, Poetry

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Happy Birthday Jesus

A meditation in poem on Luke 2:1-20

It’s strange we gather together on these days
To remember our moment of entering in,
And mark our place against the tide of time
That has been rising and falling
For countless ages before us.

A tide which will one day see the day
When we leave this world and go on.
Both days that are not of our choosing,
But days we face nevertheless,
Some with fear, others with longing, all with finality.

What a wonder then that the Maker of these tides
Would enter in as well, marking His own day of birth,
Beginning His march towards death,
Stepping with the seconds as they beat in rhythm
With the pounding of the tide on shore.

And thinking back to His first day, and the moment before,
He, standing in eternity, hand upon the door
That led into the dimness of our world,
And entering in Himself, wailing as the light and the air
Touched His eyes and skin for the first time.

Words cannot retell the mystery of that day,
When divinity met with humanity in an embrace
That none can understand or explain,
But only marvel at the deed, and say with the host,
“Glory to God in the highest!”

It must have been strange for Him to lie
That first night in a bed made of straw,
And as He turned His head to the side,
Sharp corners lightly pricked His brow,
Telling of the crown He would wear His last day;

The day His birth would be mourned
As a day that should never have been;
This life that was so full of promise,
Seems wasted on a Roman cross,
Because we did not understand.

But now we know, Good King,
Why you entered in that first day,
To become like us, and live, and die,
In our place, sinless as you were, but as our sin,
So we could become like you.

And we remember the gifts of the Magi,
Brought to prepare you for life and death,
But I am not as wise as they, and I have no gift
Suitable for a King who owns the world and all within it,
So I give myself, feeble, weak, half-hearted, but glad.

Happy Birthday, King Jesus!

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Free Chapter Download and Video: Hunger

Published on December 21, 2009 by CT in Blog, News

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Hunger

When’s the last time you were hungry? It may have been a few hours ago.  Or maybe you’re hungry right now.  So what are you going to do about it?  I imagine you’re going to feed yourself.  Then you won’t be hungry anymore.  Easy.

We talk about having a hunger for God, seeking to satisfy our deepest cravings with more of Him.  And hunger is a good proxy for this kind of desire because it’s so tangible—we all know exactly what it feels like to hunger for something.  But hungering after God isn’t the same as hungering after food.  It’s not quite as easy to be satisfied.

So hunger brings us close to the heart of our cravings but not all the way there.  It puts the notes on the page, but it doesn’t play them.  In our hunger, we hear deeper sounds within us, longing for more of anything that will satisfy.  We take in bread to satisfy our physical hunger, but we wonder how to take in the Bread of Life to satisfy our spiritual hunger.

This week’s chapter is titled “Hunger,” and in some respects, it’s the heart of the book. There’s a lot going on in this chapter, so bring your brain, but bring your heart as well.  Recognizing our hunger is one thing; feeling that hunger, and knowing what will satisfy it is something else entirely.

If you’ve ever hungered for more of God, I think you might enjoy this chapter.  You can go to the downloads page for more information, or you can download the chapter and watch the chapter video below.

Books are best experienced by the writer and the reader in community, so I would love to hear your thoughts about what you’ve read in this chapter.  You can share any comments or stories in the comments section below.  You can also send this chapter to friends or family using the email, Facebook, Twitter, and other icons at the end of this post.

May God grant us the grace to hunger for Him alone so we might be satisfied.

Hungering For More of God With You,

ct

Hunger (from Crave: Wanting So Much More From God) from Chris Tomlinson on Vimeo.

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How To Not Waste Time Blogging

Published on December 15, 2009 by CT in Blog, Thoughts

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How To Not Waste Time Blogging

Do you ever wonder if blogging is a waste of time? Despair Inc. has the following encouragement for you:  “Never before have so many people with so little to say said so much to so few.”

If you blog, here’s the number one reason you have wondered if it’s worth it:  the numbers.  You may tell people, “I blog for myself,” or “I don’t care how many people read my blog; if I encourage one person, it’s worth it.”  And that may be true for you.  But it wouldn’t be for me; I’m not that magnanimous.  I want the traffic.

Actually, do you ever wonder if any creative outlets—journaling, painting, drawing, writing, singing, playing—are a waste of time?  Blogging is easy to pick on, but Despair Inc. could speak into just about any part of our lives with daggers of truth.

We all have the same currency in life:  our time.

And we all have the same goal:  to make a statement to the world about what we value most.

Some of us have more currency and more passion than others.  You may get 20 years to say what you want to say about what you see as most valuable, whether it’s God, or family, or money, or power, or popularity, or ingenuity, or discovery, or despair, or meaninglessness.  And you may say it and live it with more vigor than someone who has 100 years.  But no matter how much time each of us has, we all have the same opportunity to relentlessly proclaim to the world what we believe matters most.

When I blog, or write, or tweet, or do anything to express myself, I try to keep in mind the lesson I learned from John Piper.  When his son Abraham asked his community what he should tell to a roomful of Christian bloggers, his dad wrote the following:

Tell them that it takes relentless intentionality to keep a Christ-exalting blog from become a clever blog. The temptation to entertain is almost irresistible.

I know this temptation well.  I am a man full of sin you don’t know about, a heart darkened by prideful desires you would curse if you could see them.  But in spite of this sin, I’ve decided to spend my time proclaiming that Jesus is the most valuable treasure any of us could have in this life.

This is how I have decided to not waste time blogging.

I aim to do this in the spirit of Paul, who writes, “Whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Cor 10:31).  Or that of Peter:  “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another…by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ” (1 Pet 4:10-11).  Or Jesus Himself:  “Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Mt 5:16).

As for you, I wonder why you blog, or paint, or write, or draw, or play.  We both know that not every post needs to cite Jesus in order to glorify Him, nor does every painting need to reflect His visage for His Father to be glorified.  There are a thousand ways we can point the world to Christ, and not all of them are obvious on the surface.  And we both probably realize the heart behind what we do does so much to determine the value of what we do.  Which is what Jesus and Paul and Peter were talking about in the first place.

So if all things exist for Christ (Col 1:16), then should not our hearts, and our time, and our posts?

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