First Draft of the Preface
If you had no clue about my book writing venture, READ THIS FIRST
I am not a “trophy of God’s grace.”
I do not have an “exciting” testimony.
Well, actually, I am and I do!
But so do you if you are a follower of Jesus!
For over four decades I was constantly told I should write a book.
I resisted for the first twenty or so years because I knew in order to be publish I’d have to write 20 chapters of my pre-salvation life and a chapter at most about conversion and growth.
When self-publishing came, I still avoided writing because of the time factor.
Until the proverbial straw broke my back of resistance (more on that later).
So you are about to embark on a look back…not for the glorification of sin, not for the entertainment of sin (because, after all, sin is fun); but – prayerfully – for example, for encouragement, for edification.
But if you picked this up hoping for sordid details of my experiences in crime, Vietnam, drugs etc you will be disappointed. Those things don’t exist anymore, and I need to be careful not to rehearse and rehash that, ah, stuff.
I’ll tell the truth about my 26 years as a child of the devil (if that phrasing offends you, it comes from Jesus); but the ride will be brief.
We’ll slow down tremendously as I share how the Lord Jesus captured my heart without human help.
You will learn a bit about my first years in Christ as a guest of the state of Oregon. You’ll meet a lost-as-an-easter-egg chaplain, and a black inmate who put his hand around my shoulder and discipled me…though neither of us would have used that word.
You’ll meet a couple who read a story in a newspaper which led them to write to a man known as 36403…and I’ll explain why that gesture revolutionized my life.
Stick with the book and read of some amazing “coincidences” that directed me to a now non-existent Bible school shortly after parole.
Then we’ll speed up and observe the reality that God “opens doors that no man can shut, and shuts doors that no man can open.”
How did I get to do hundreds of school assemblies? Host a radio call-in show..Me? How many others have spent – when you add up the weeks – over four years bragging on Jesus in the context of summer camps?
In all this you’ll meet my bride and our four children – two the old-fashioned way and two adopted. You may hear the echo of laughter as well as the residue of tears. An unwelcome guest – seasonal depression – shows up.
We’ll slow again as we take a curve into observations – positive and negative – garnered over four-plus-decades of what is called “vocational ministry.” What’s it like to preach in hundreds of churches? To interim-pastor four churches and to help birth another?
Once I made the decision to try this, my prayer has been and continues to be that when you are done with the book you don’t think, “Wow, this dude had a crazy life” or “God sure gave Jack a bunch of ways to minister” or somesuch.
My prayer is that throughout the reading, at the end, and in the days, weeks, months and years following you will think “Wow…God and God alone is awesome!”