After 23 years of editing, what made you decide that you had to write a book?
I feel like we've talked an awful lot about blessings in this day and age, and talk about prayer directed to God and God answering. And I certainly think that God answers prayer and that he does bless us. But there are many of us who haven't received blessings that we pray for, or many of us that are running through hard times. What about those people? What about those of us who look at ourselves like a failure?
The New Testament served up that answer in the person of Barnabas, who appears in the book of Acts. His claim to fame is that he took two guys that nobody else wanted a piece of and he put them back up on their feet. The first one was the apostle Paul. The other was John Mark.
But as you point out in your book, his role is a bit at odds with "the man who would be king" view of blessing. You say that the real issue is whether we're going to pray to be a blessing or to be blessed. How did we get so, well, would you call it off track the way we've put such a focus on the idea of us being blessed and seeking a direct blessing from God?
I think we live in a day and age in which everything is instant. Asking God for an immediate answer to some prayer is pretty natural. But after September 11, a lot of us looked at ourselves and asked, Should we be focused inward like this? On what we can get? Or should we look outward on what we can give?1