Anytime you write a book that gets national attention, people contact you. Sometimes those who’ve read the book and are impacted by it send you an encouraging note or even a small gift. A very nice cattle rancher from New Mexico sent me a CD he’s recorded. He’s a cowboy singer and had a song about the Flood. I appreciated his kind gesture and music. Another man sent me a copy of a book he had written and self-published. I really enjoy feedback from my work. It’s nice to know that what I do with my life makes a difference in people’s lives.
Then there are those who write me with not so nice things to say. One man wrote to inform me that I had no idea who Jesus was and that he hoped me and my “followers” would burn in hell (but what do you really think!). He hadn’t actually read the book, but rather stumbled on an online article/interview. I usually don’t respond to hate mail, but this guy needed some special love, so I wrote him back, and included an excerpt from AS IT WAS IN THE DAYS OF NOAH that contradicted what he thought was true about God’s truth (and me).
There are also religious people who occasionally write to me or post comments on my Official Facebook Page. Sometimes they just want to point out what they see as a minor “mistake” in the book, but a few have taken the opportunity to let me know how wrong I am about the end times and Jesus coming back. Some have quirky views about the last days, and of course, theirs is the only “correct” interpretation. While I acknowledge in my book that there are other viewpoints held by sincere believers, mine didn’t come to me just because it made me “feel good”. A few of these guys try and hair me into the boxing ring to debate minutia about the end times. Again, most of these guys haven’t actually read the book, but rather collect their info from sound bytes or online articles. But either way, I’m not interested, nor do I have the time to waste, arguing with all the Post-tribulationists or A-millenialists out there. It’s not my job to correct the world.
But this doesn’t mean I don’t ever need correcting, or even an occasional rebuke. In fact, I received one last week that I’ll share with you. BTW, raw, anonymous criticism is generally useless, and you should file it in the “water off a duck’s back” category. The internet is crawling of mean-spirited trolls who get some kind of self-righteous buzz from drive-by verbal stonings. It’s the nature of the internet, and you shouldn’t get drown into it (maybe that’s why they call it the worldwide “web”) It’s just verbal noise pollution. So ignore. On the other hand, you constructive criticism is beneficial if it comes from those who genuinely know you and care about you.
Case in point: I have a friend in another state. He’s a businessman who is a dedicated Christian. He loves Jesus. He’s also a smart guy. I also like him. We laugh a lot together. The other day he said something to me that moved me (and rebuked me). The conversation went something like this:
Him: Hey Jeff, can I give you some constructive advice?
Me: Sure, fire away.
Him: As I’ve watched you and gotten to know you, I’ve come to believe that God has placed you as a very special spokesman for this generation. You are God’s man for the hour, and He is using you greatly. But your problem is that you need to embrace that. You are just too self-deprecating and overly humble. I think you need to accept God’s big role for you, and move forward with more confidence and faith. Stop asking God for merely the little things or the “next step”. He’s a big God who is honored when we launch out and ask for huge things in His Name. Things that are “God-sized”. So quit with the “golly-gee, I’m so humble” routine and step up to the throne in confidence.
Those are precisely the kinds of things you need somebody ELSE to say to you. And his words struck a chord in my heart (they also stung a bit! – see Proverbs 27:6). But he was right. I do think about myself too much, and in the wrong way. Humility doesn’t mean you’re unimportant. It just means seeing yourself as God does, and submitting to Him. I needed to be reminded that when I ask big, it’s not really for me (though I do benefit, and there’s nothing wrong with that). So I took his words to heart. It was “iron sharpening iron”.
Me: Thanks, brother. I needed someone to say that.
After our conversation, I immediately sat down to write out some goals – big things on my heart I desired God to do for His glory and my good. I ask for “Noah” to break into the Top 100 Best Selling Books in America, and it happened. I ask for the book to reach the #1 Best Sellers spot in Prophecy, and it did. I wrote down that I wanted to appear on a certain show with a massive viewing audience, and within the hour my phone rang. It was that show’s producer calling to ask me to be on the show!
God’s not showcased by lame prayer requests. He wants to do stuff in our lives that display His power and glory.
I still struggle a bit with “self-promotion”. But I’m getting better, thanks to a gentle rebuke and someone who believed in me and really wanted to help.