Zach Sewell: Brother’s Incarceration Inspired Collection of Stories About Biblical Prisoners

From time to time in this space, WestBow Press publishes articles written by our authors in which they share some aspect of their self-publishing journeys. The following are the words of Zach Sewell; author of  “Prisoners in the Bible” To begin your self-publishing journey, get your free WestBow Press publishing guide today!

On December 23rd, 2008, a judge ordered one of my three older brothers to serve a prison sentence of up to five years. It was cruel timing for my family. Christmas Day, which was usually a happy occasion, was hollow. The pain and anxiety were so fresh for all of us that we could not bring ourselves to celebrate. We drove around a well-known neighborhood and looked at beautiful Christmas lights, but it was a painful drive, filled with fears and thoughts that we didn’t want to speak.

As weeks and months passed, we all went through the process of grieving. Equal to the grief I was feeling for my brother was the anguish I had for my parents. I hated that they had to experience having a child in prison. Nobody wants that for their parents.

SewellcoverA couple months in, my mother-in-law sent a letter to my brother in prison. In it, she talked about Joseph’s prison experience in Genesis. She shared with me what she had written. Her letter made me start thinking about other people in the Bible who were in prison. People who talk about a lot like Daniel and Paul jumped to mind, but then in the digging I came across more obscure people as well.

I knew prison is a prevalent theme in Scripture, but I didn’t realize how prevalent prison and experiences related to it were in the Bible. Beyond stories, there are expressions of God’s concern for people in prison, such as in Psalm 107:10-16. That chapter shows God’s heart not just for people who were in prison because of righteous reasons, but for people who had really messed up. That principle is true for people in the Bible, too. We have stories of people who were in prison because of their devotion to God, and people who were in prison because they made really bad decisions. In both types of situations, God worked powerfully.

The various prison stories in Scripture show how God can work in unique situations and in a unique way in each story. For some people, God brings them out of prison and for others He keeps them there. Paul experienced both ends of that spectrum during two separate incarcerations.

What stood out to me most in my research was that each biblical prison story has elements that people who are incarcerated today can relate to.

I spent three years writing Prisoners in the Bible. Lots of people have shared it with their loved ones who are in prison. It’s also been a good tool for prison Bible studies. Hearing from inmates who have read the book and have described how meaningful it has been in their walk with God has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.

Even though the book is written specifically for people who are incarcerated, the messages within the stories of the biblical prisoners have implications for all of us and can challenge each of us to strengthen our dependence on God in tough situations.

WestBow Press authors who’d like to share a 350-600 word experience related to the self-publishing of their books, are invited to do so by sending a message through the WestBow Press Facebook page, by tweeting us @WestBowPress, or by emailing kgray@ westbowpress.com.  We may not be able to use every story, but we will read and consider them. WestBow Press reserves the right to edit stories for content, grammar and punctuation accuracy; as well as for space. 


Karen D. Wood: Neurotherapist’s Book of Prayers for Different Parts of the Brain

From time to time in this space, WestBow Press publishes articles written by our authors in which they share some aspect of their self-publishing journeys. The following are the words of Karen D. Wood; a licensed clinical social worker, and author of “Brain Prayers.” To begin your self-publishing journey, get your free WestBow Press publishing guide today!

It basically happened in a matter of days. I was reading a book on different parts of the brain, and it had one line prayers in each chapter. I appreciated the idea, but the prayers did not relate to the wonderful brain part of the chapter.

As a neurotherapist teaching clients about the brain, I would often pray for their brains. So, I wondered. They would ask me to write the prayers out. What would a book look like with prayers for specific parts of the brain. Who could write it?

Karen D. Wood, L.C.S.W.; is a neurotherapist and “brain trainer.”

Just a few days later, driving down an oak shadowed, curvy country road, the idea was clear in minutes. Ten parts of the brain, with three pages on each, so it could be read as a thirty day devotional. Full of colored pictures and information, in boxes for quicker reading (for us ADHD readers!). For someone with a minute or an hour. And prayers. On the left side of the page for the reader to pray for their own brain modeled after the Lord’s Prayer.

It is familiar, when brain parts might not be. After all the amygdala, hippocampus and corpus callosum are not in the Bible! On the right side of the page, a prayer to pray for another’s brain. Wow! What a great idea! So many are hungry for information on the brain, yet it just isn’t very available at a level most can understand.

But, wait. Who would write it? I remember driving down that curvy road, laughing at the thought of writing a book. Not me. Not an author! Rather, a therapist passionate about the amazing brain and how it could heal. But, by the end of the curvy road, I was the author. I was overwhelmed to tears by the very thought of the task, but I knew the format idea was a clear gift that day.

I started researching brain images, and was drawn to one, which became the color scheme. I started finding information, writing the prayers, and designing what the pages might look like, to present the idea to a publisher. After searching for a publisher, I chose WestBow Press for its publishing , and was encouraged by my first contact there to develop the graphics I had started.

Wood CoverWhat? I was planning on handing that project to a graphic artist. And yet, I began the long journey of learning about copyrighted images, and getting rights to publish images. It often seemed to be such a daunting process, as the first draft was lost on a stolen computer. I went to a cabin in the mountains for a week to recreate the whole concept. Two months later, that second draft was delayed as I healed from a crushed back. The final edits were done from the hospital bed in my family room. But, soon came the moment of opening the boxes of full color books as they arrived. Friends, family, and clients started ordering more to give as gifts.

Now I have the joy of hearing how the book Brain Prayers is being used by clinicians and clients, grammas and their grandchildren. Recently I was sent a video of a pastor’s wife in Ghana learning about the concepts of the brain and praying for it. Other editions are now being drafted.

-WBP-

WestBow Press authors who’d like to share a 350-600 word experience related to the self-publishing of their books, are invited to do so by sending a message through the WestBow Press Facebook page, by tweeting us @WestBowPress, or by emailing kgray@ westbowpress.com.  We may not be able to use every story, but we will read and consider them. WestBow Press reserves the right to edit stories for content, grammar and punctuation accuracy; as well as for space.


Pastor Tommy Mann: A Sunday Sermon Leads to a Book

From time to time in this space, WestBow Press publishes articles written by our authors in which they share some aspect of their self-publishing journeys. The following are the words of Pastor Tommy Mann; associate pastor at Philippi Baptist Church in Union, South Carolina, and author of  “Where Did Jesus Go?
To begin your self-publishing journey, get your free WestBow Press publishing guide today!

Where was the soul of Jesus between Good Friday and Easter Sunday?

Tommy Mann is associate pastor at Philippi Baptist Church in S.C.

Tommy Mann is associate pastor at Philippi Baptist Church in S.C.

I had always assumed Jesus’ body remained in the grave, but where was His soul? I became curiousabout this when I was preaching through Ephesians and I came to 4:8-9, which says,

When He ascended on high He led a host of captives, and He gave gifts to men.”(In saying, ‘He ascended,’ what does it mean but that He had also descended into the lower regions, the earth?)”

As I began to read commentaries and ask people for their opinion on these verses I found no agreement: some said Jesus went to hell; some said He went to heaven; some said He went up; some said He went down; some said He went nowhere, and on and on.

I dedicated a significant amount of time in researching my question, “Where was the soul of Jesus between Good Friday and Easter Sunday?” I prayed that the Holy Spirit would lead me into truth, as Jesus promised in John 16:13, and I began to seriously study this matter. My professors had always taught us to let Scripture interpret Scripture, meaning that Bible verses should always be compared to other verses to find either harmony or disagreement.

This process led me to take each opinion I could find, and see how it lined up with Scripture. For example, the opinion that Jesus’ soul remained in the tomb is not consistent with the verse that said He preached to the spirits in Hades (1 Peter 3:19); the belief that Jesus went up to heaven does not line up with Jesus’ statement to Mary Magdalene that He had not been to the Father (John 20:17). One by one I began to eliminate theories that I found to be unbiblical, and I was left with one option. When I reached my conclusion I preached a message I called Where Did Jesus Go?

MannbookFor months following that Sunday evening sermon I was flooded with calls and messages with follow up questions. I realized there was too much information to cram into one message, and it was then I decided to write the book.

This was a fairly easy book to write because most of the work had already been done during sermon preparation. The book explores the options on the table, and rules out the ones that don’t line up with Scripture. When the manuscript was finished I began to search online for self-publishing options; I was attracted to WestBow because it is a division of Thomas Nelson, the leader in Christian book publishing. Everyone from the acquisitions team, editors, cover designers, and marketing consultants have been fantastic.

Where Did Jesus Go? not only addresses the question of where Jesus spent the time preceding the Resurrection, it also gives an in depth look at:

Heaven, Paradise, and New Jerusalem;

Hell, Hades, and the Lake of Fire;

Gahenna, Tartarus, and Purgatory.

I am grateful to WestBow Press for giving me the opportunity to turn this message into a book, and I hope it can help readers learn more about this important time in Jesus’ earthly ministry.

WestBow Press authors who’d like to share a 350-600 word experience related to the self-publishing of their books, are invited to do so by sending a message through the WestBow Press Facebook page, by tweeting us @WestBowPress, or by emailing kgray@ westbowpress.com.  We may not be able to use every story, but we will read and consider them. WestBow Press reserves the right to edit stories for content, grammar and punctuation accuracy; as well as for space.


Annie Clark: Young Author Offers Encouragement for Overcoming Obstacles

From time to time in this space, WestBow Press publishes articles written by our authors in which they share some aspect of their self-publishing journeys. The following are the words of an exceptional young lady named Annie Clark, who recently released “Write/Right Where I Am.”
To begin your self-publishing journey, get your free WestBow Press publishing guide today! 

AnnieTrophyGoogle Annie Clark’s name and you will find that she is published author, a pianist, a basketball player and the recipient of national awards for her exquisite penmanship. Now consider that Annie’s accomplished all of this by the age of 11; and that she was born without hands and her story becomes truly exceptional.

Annie was adopted by Tom and Mary Ellen Clark of McKeesport, Pennsylvania when she was just 2 ½ years old; one of seven Chinese children – all with disabilities or special needs – the couple has brought into their home.

The exceptional story about the Clarks, whom their pediatrician refers to as “the nicest family on the planet,” was well known in the Pittsburgh area. After seven-year old Annie won the first of her national penmanship awards, media across the country including Good Morning America, People Magazine and The Glenn Beck Show took notice of this inspiring young lady. Her “I can do it,” attitude is the focus of her debut book released through WestBow earlier this spring.

Annie at a recent book signing.

Annie at a recent book signing.planet,” was well known around the Pittsburgh area. After seven-year old Annie won the first of her national penmanship awards, media across the country including Good Morning America, People Magazine and The Glenn Beck Show took notice of this inspiring young lady. Her “I can do it,” attitude is the focus of her debut book released through WestBow earlier this spring.

Quoting Annie: I wrote Write/Right Where I Am because I felt inspired to. I wanted to 

tell people to persevere. It is very hard to keep persevering! Especially when you are frustrated! This book is about my experience and how I persevered through some challenges that I wanted to share with you. It took me two years to finish my book.  My first two book signings were great because I got to meet new people and talk to my friends that went to my book signing. Also I loved the book signings because I had fun!

Annie’s book, Write/Right Where I Am is available in paperback and e-book formats through the WestBow Press bookstore, Amazon and other major online book retailers. To learn more, visit Annie’s website www.writewhereiam.com.

WestBow Press authors who’d like to share a 350-600 word experience related to the self-publishing of their books, are invited to do so by sending a message through the WestBow Press Facebook page, by tweeting us @WestBowPress, or by emailing kgray@ westbowpress.com.  We may not be able to use every story, but we will read and consider them. WestBow Press reserves the right to edit stories for content, grammar and punctuation; as well as for space. 


Darrin Gray: Beyond the Jersey

The Indianapolis Colts kicked off their 2015 NFL season August 1, with the opening of training camp in Anderson, Indiana. For 12 seasons, from 1999-2010, punter Hunter Smith, participated in this annual right of summer. Upon retiring, Smith moved onto other ventures, including co-authoring “The Jersey Effect: Beyond the World Championship with his friend and business associate Darrin Gray.
Gray contributed the following guest post about his and Smith’s WestBow Press self-publishing journey.
To get started on your self-publishing journey, get your  
free WestBow Press publishing guide today!

Darrin Gray and former NFL punter Hunter Smith, co-authors of "The Jersey Effect."

Darrin Gray and former NFL punter Hunter Smith, co-authors of “The Jersey Effect.”

I have a unique window into the NFL by virtue of my day-to-day involvement with All Pro Dad, Family First’s national non-profit fatherhood program founded by former NFL coach Tony Dungy. I have the privilege of interacting regularly with NFL athletes, coaches, and alumni that serve as spokesmen for All Pro Dad, and I’m blessed to have conducted programs with over half of the NFL teams.

A few years ago I co-authored a book with my good friend, former Indianapolis Colts and Washington Redskins punter, Hunter Smith. At the time Hunter was a well respected NFL veteran, but upon retiring from football, he embarked on new journeys. Now he’s a published author, lead singer of The Hunter Smith Band and a fantastic public speaker.

TheJerseyEffectWe wanted to tell Hunter’s story and to share how pro sports is shaping American culture. We called it “The Jersey Effect: Beyond the World Championship.” I think our provocative title increased peoples’ curiosity, and along with Hunter’s status as a former NFL player, helped to create some buzz. Adding to the buzz, Hunter lined up a bunch of his Super Bowl XLVI champion teammates to help us in promoting the book, and invited Coach Dungy to write the Foreword which appears in the book.

Writing the book was a team effort. I had the honor to work with Hunter and several of his former  teammates along with Ken Turner and Stephen Copeland. Writing became a process of discovery, organized loosely around a simple question: ‘What motivates some athletes to use their pro platform in sports, and their jersey, to make a positive impact both on and off the field?’

We had a ball writing the book and we learned a lot about ourselves as we looked into the hearts and minds of men who had reached the pinnacle of their profession – Super Bowl success.

These men had won a prestigious earthly prize, but they faced battles along the way. God had given them a chance to make a positive difference in the world with their jersey, but sometimes they struggled to balance their good intentions with the same obstacles we all face: pride, materialism, distractions, and their own character flaws. We worked hard to tell the honest stories of champions who desired to reflect glory back to God by using their “jersey” and the platform God had given them, through their athletic gifts, to make a positive difference in the world.

Gray speaking to an audience at the Indianapolis Colts training center.

Gray speaking to an audience at the Indianapolis Colts training center.

Self-publishing proved to be a great solution for us, because we were working with a tight deadline Our goal was to complete the book so that it would be ready to promote on the famed Radio Row at Super Bowl XLVI, which was held in Indianapolis in February 2012.

We chose to release it as an E-book first and then about 100 days later, we released the print version. WestBow Press helped us get it into bookstores, and made it available for purchase through all the major book distribution channels across America and around the world.

To date, we’ve sold thousands of copies, and continue to be amazed by the number of people that share with us that they read the book, and how it has reshaped their thinking about sports. Hunter and I remain busy supporting the book and its message. Not a week goes by that one or both of us, aren’t speaking about “The Jersey Effect,” signing copies or teaching lessons from the book.

Together we are still helping Americans to keep sports in proper perspective and to understand how to properly align their love of sports with God’s heart,

WestBow Press authors who’d like to share a 350-600 word experience related to the self-publishing of their books, are invited to do so by sending a message through the WestBow Press Facebook page, by tweeting us@WestBowPress, or by emailing kgray@ westbowpress.com.  We may not be able to use every story, but we will read and consider them. WestBow Press reserves the right to edit stories for content, grammar and punctuation accuracy; as well as for space.

 


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