Friends, Iâ€™m so thrilled to have my friend, award-winning author Lori Roeleveld, back at The Christian Writer’s Den. This time she’s sharing her new book, Jesus and the Beanstalk: Overcoming Your Giants and Living a Fruitful Life. Lori and I met at Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference many years ago and it has been a joy to watch her career skyrocket. Now sit back and enjoy another entertaining interview with Lori Roeleveld . . . if you dare!
And don’t forget to leave a comment for Lori and you’ll be in the drawing for a free book! Be sure to come back next week to see if you’re the winner. Now let’s get started!
Lori, your book opens with the line, â€śWe live in a land populated by giants.â€ť Tell us what you mean.
Godâ€™s Word tells us there are persistent forces of evil at work in the world. This translates into giant problems of every type that we battle individually, as a church, and as a society. Giants are challenges that leave us feeling small and inadequate. We all face them but biblically, itâ€™s always been the people who believed God over the giants who triumph.
How does the Jack and the Beanstalk fairytale relate to 2 Peter 1:1-10?
People who donâ€™t share our faith often think Christians have traded in everything of worth for a handful of useless beans, much as Jackâ€™s mother felt about his trade. When we view our faith through their eyes, it can affect our attitude toward our own faith. In the fairytale, Jack clung to the beanstalk and discovered his giant-killing potential. As Christians cling to the vine that is Jesus, we, too, discover that we are giant-killers. 2 Peter 1:1-10 lists eight qualities that the world sees as boring (and probably useless) but Peter tells us having these qualities in increasing measure will â€śkeep us from being ineffective and unfruitful in our knowledge of Jesus Christ.â€ť I donâ€™t know about you but that makes me want to plant those beans in my life and prepare for spiritual growth!
Is that why you call those qualities the â€śeight boring beans of our faith?â€ť
Thatâ€™s right. Of course, theyâ€™re not boring but in the eyes of those who donâ€™t share our faith, they can appear to be. Itâ€™s unpopular these days to talk about the value of faith, virtue, knowledge, self-control, steadfastness, godliness, brotherly affection, and love, but Peter promises these hold important keys to effective living. Itâ€™s been exciting for me to unpack these qualities and explore how cultivating them, within a relationship with Jesus, increases our ability to defeat countless giants.
You talk a lot about how God loves our smallness and works through it. What do you mean?
One key to facing giants is understanding that God revels in using small people, places, tribes, and churches because through them, He reveals even more of His glory. Isnâ€™t that the point? Not to draw attention to great men, women, tribes, and nations but to draw attention to the Creator God and His plan of redemption.
Where do you get your passion for small churches or people who feel small?
I grew up in a small town in the smallest state, Hope Valley, Rhode Island. There was nothing I wanted more than to be on the adventure with Jesus and I figured it had to be happening somewhere much bigger. What Heâ€™s spent a lifetime teaching me is that small places, churches, or ministries can have great impact when people in them obey Jesus.
How have you seen this play out in your life?
Since 2008, Iâ€™ve written a blog that for years had a faithful but small following. Still, posts Iâ€™ve written have had an impact on writers with larger audiences such as Ann Voskamp and Jim Rubart. Twice Iâ€™ve had posts go viral. One has been viewed more than 1.5 million times. In 2015, one week after the murder of nine Christians in Charleston, South Carolina, I was able to mobilize over one thousand believers on three continents to pray for their families, all from my small corner of the world. By my daily numbers, Iâ€™m a small-time blogger but God can use me to have a bigger impact than I can even imagine.
In Jesus and the Beanstalk, you tackle the subject of spiritual growth. What do you think are the challenges involved in discussing growing up as a Christian?
When discussing spiritual growth, we have to make frequent callbacks to the truth that weâ€™re all saved by grace and not by works. That being said, God expects us to mature in our faith just as parents expect their children to grow up. We sometime hesitate to discuss spiritual growth because it can lead to comparisons or to a sense that some Christians are â€śaheadâ€ť of others. I address these challenges in Jesus and the Beanstalk and suggest an approach that helps churches and individuals navigate those challenges.
Jesus and the Beanstalk has a unique structure. Can you talk about that?
I wrote the book for individual readers but wanted it to be easy to study in small groups, too. The chapters are short and all have a closing section that includes questions I call â€śSmall Steps toward Slaying Giants.â€ť The first eight chapters explore spiritual growth using Jack and the Beanstalk and 2 Peter 1:1-10. The last eight chapters explore each of the eight qualities that Peter promises will make us effective and fruitful. Those are designed to meditate on one quality a week using five daily readings, one day with suggestions for ways to practice that quality, and one day with no assignment to allow for a day of rest.
Your chapter titles are intriguing: Jurassic Jesus, Why God Loves Empty Prayers, and Thou Shalt Pray like Sheldon Cooper.
Iâ€™ve been a Christian since I was a child and am a serious student of Scripture. I also came of age in the seventies and grew up watching sitcoms and late night TV so my quirky perspective comes through in the titles and in the humor of this book. Iâ€™ve wrapped my love of the Lord, my passion for His church, and my desire to inspire spiritual growth in an unconventional package. I like putting a fresh perspective on ancient truth.
That leads us to your tagline. Youâ€™re known as the â€śDisturber of Hobbits.â€ť What is a hobbit and why do you want to disturb them?
Hobbits are the primary characters in Tolkiensâ€™ Lord of the Ring series. They are creatures who love home, routine, comforts, and meals on time. Adventures are suspect to hobbits because they â€śmake one late for dinner.â€ť I can relate to that. I like to be comfortable and safe. Jesus adventures upset my applecart in that respect but Iâ€™ve come to love being on the adventure with Him despite my hobbit tendencies. My passion is to invite and incite other comfortable Christians into the Jesus adventure.
Thank you, Lori. I always look forward to reading your books! Friends, that does it for another great interview. Be sure to leave a message and come back next week to see if you’re the winner of Lori’s book!
Bio: Lori Stanley Roeleveld is a disturber of hobbits who enjoys making comfortable Christians late for dinner. Sheâ€™s authored an unsettling blog since 2009; a pursuit that eventually resulted in her first book, Running from a Crazy Man (and other adventures traveling with Jesus). Since then, two more books have been released: The Red Pen Redemption and her latest, Jesus and the Beanstalk. Her blog, LoriRoeleveld.com, was voted Top 100 Christian Blogs by RedeemingGod.com and has enjoyed over 1.5 million views. Lori lives in Hope Valley, RI.Though she has degrees in Psychology and Biblical Studies, Lori learned the most important things from studying her Bible in lifeâ€™s trenches. Youâ€™ll find her at her website www.LoriRoeleveld.com. If not, know sheâ€™s off somewhere slaying dragons. Not available for childrenâ€™s parties.