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Wednesday, September 24, 2014
John Avery and The Name Quest
Meeting new authors is one of the many joys of blogging for me. Being able to help those authors discover new readers is a special treat. Because of this, I enjoy telling you about a vast array of new books in various genres.
An insightful journey through all the biblical names of God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit. Beginning in Babel and ending with a burning Babylon, "The Name Quest" explains the significance that the different names for God have for an everyday relationship with God and for spiritual growth. The names of God are like a rainbow--each name expresses part of the spectrum of the character and attributes of God. Along the way, the author tenderly answers tough questions: *Which of the Hebrew names of God is His personal name--Yahweh or Jehovah? *What does it mean to pray in Jesus’ name? *How can we relate to the Holy God and the Judge? *Why is a God of love called the “Jealous God”? *What does it mean to call Jesus the Messiah? "The Name Quest" mentions all the names of God in the Bible while explaining their significance in ordinary language. The author weaves together fifteen years of Bible study research with plentiful illustrations and humorous anecdotes. These include lessons learned as a pastor on a Caribbean island. A visit to a Welsh hill farm introduces a chapter about the Good Shepherd. The story of a Hungarian political prisoner illustrates the meaning of Immanuel (or is it Emmanuel?) A rescue from the slopes of an active volcano helps explain salvation and the meaning of Jesus’ Hebrew name Yeshua. Even the clever advertisement on a packet of potato chips offers a lesson about how to grow in faith in God. Unlike chasing rainbows, the spiritual journey has an end. "The Name Quest" is a road map for every Christian’s spiritual journey and it points to the destination--being formed into the image of Jesus Christ.
Please join me now in welcoming John as he answers questions about his writing and his book. Welcome, John.
What is the main message of THE NAME QUEST and what is the greatest lesson you want readers to learn from it?
John: As the subtitle says, this book helps people to grow in faith and in relationship with God through an exploration of the Character behind the names. It also deals with the bigger subject of our eternal destiny—being formed into the image of Jesus as His children.
John: While I was pastoring a church in the US Virgin Islands I preached a series of messages about the names of God. Through my research, I learned a lot of new lessons about the meaning of the names of God. I also realized that there is a much bigger theme running through the names. Explaining them one by one is fine, but God is a personality, too dynamic and integrated to dissect. I wanted to write a book that would go beyond providing information to strengthening people’s relationship with God and building their faith in Him.
The Bible cleverly avoids cataloguing the names of God. God wants authentic relationship with us, not just intellectual head knowledge.
You grew up in England and have lived in Israel, Africa, the Caribbean, and the USA. How did your experiences of different cultures influence THE NAME QUEST?
John: I spent six months in Israel. That immersed me in the geography and history of the lands of the Bible. I was able to draw on that experience in my writing.
Living in other countries always results in stories. We learn new things, experience new things, and make silly cultural mistakes. Those experiences were the source of several anecdotes in the book. I think that living in other cultures always forces us to look at our own culture in a new way. It forced me to ask how many of my Christian beliefs were really biblical as opposed to British (or western).
John: Laying solid academic foundations for the book was important to me but I did not want the book to become stodgy and dry. One challenge in writing the book was to give the reader a grasp of the complex expectations that the Jewish people had for a messiah in Jesus’ time. Many of Jesus’ names are messianic and I didn’t want to suffocate readers in history lessons. Instead I took representative events of the time and turned them into short newspaper clippings as though they had been written at the time. With some clever graphics, those news clippings are now part of the text for a few pages of the book.
For those who want the Hebrew or Greek words behind the English names of God, I broke up the text with helpful sidebars and provided an index. I tried to keep the main text as light as possible while remaining true to the Scriptures and the meanings of the original language. I even managed to include a clever cartoon.
There is something in THE NAME QUEST for all Christians. In the course of our church services, we sing hundreds of worship songs that mention His names, yet we rarely reflect much on those names. Certainly, anyone who knows their Bible will enjoy seeing how the theme of God’s names flows right through the Bible; almost every book is referenced. New believers will benefit because throughout the book there are insights on how to grow in relationship with God and I included plenty of illustrations and humorous anecdotes. The theme that runs through the book is a key for every Christian life. Readers will continue to find hidden gems.
Encyclopedias provide detailed information but tend to be dry reading that is unappealing to most readers. Selective studies are easier to read, but can be shallow and limited in their scope. THE NAME QUEST mentions all the names of God in the Bible but explains them in ordinary language.
What were the biggest challenges that you faced in writing THE NAME QUEST?
John: Aside from the fact that I had to learn American English!
Writing the introduction was tough. I knew that I could not write it until I had completed the bulk of the chapters. I needed to figure out exactly what the book was about and how it was unique in its field. That sounds strange, but it took the help of two professional editors to focus on exactly what needed to be said and what did not. I’m so glad that I took their advice.
How have you grown through writing the book?
John: THE NAME QUEST began as a writing hobby. I had no plans to publish it until I realized the bigger theme and the lack of any other book like it. I learned that I was part of something greater that God was doing, and that built my faith. He has put people in my path who were able to catapult me to a new level. When I decided on pursuing publishing, it was always with a view to being self-published. Then, out of the blue, Morgan James Publishing took an interest and offered me a contract. Whatever the final sales numbers look like, I know that God is behind the project and that THE NAME QUEST is meant to help people grow in faith and in relationship with Him.
John: I will continue to update my website as a resource about all the biblical names of God. It iswww.NamesForGod.net
My immediate goal is to develop a small group study based on THE NAME QUEST but guiding people through some of the deeper issues that the subject raises. I am also planning a series of teachings ranging in length from a single sermon through short seminars to week long teachings suitable for discipleship programs and Bible courses.
John, thanks for joining us today and sharing the background on how this book came to be. The research and the fact you had to learn American English is fascinating.
Now for a bit of background on John.
John Avery is a trained teacher with over thirty years of experience as a Bible teaching pastor, small group leader, and missionary. He has lived in England, Israel, Africa, and the Caribbean, ministering with Youth With A Mission (YWAM) and local churches.
John and his wife, Janet, now make their home in Oregon. John likes to hike, snowshoe, and cross country ski. He writes a regular Bible devotional on www.BibleMaturity.com and maintains a comprehensive resource for all the names of God at www.NamesForGod.net.
Thanks so much for stopping by today during John’s visit. I hope we’ve sparked your interest a bit. Do you like branching out into other genres when you read? Do you know any of the answers to the questions in the description?
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Hi, I'm Mason Canyon and I love reading and that is why I do reviews. I post them here, as well as several other sites such as Goodreads, Amazon and Barnes & Noble. If you are an author who would like for me to review your book or you would like to guest blog here, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org These reviews are done for the love of a good book, not for monetary rewards.