Saturday, August 30, 2008

Visit Kathi Macias' web site

It didn't occur to me to include Kathi's web site URL during our interview. Duh!

If you'd like to stop by for a visit, find her here:

Friday, August 29, 2008

Beyond Me - Part 13: Interview with Kathi Macias

Continuing the interview with Kathi Macias, author of the new book Beyond Me: Living a You-First Life in a Me-First World (New Hope, 2008):

Is there anything I didn’t touch on that you’d like to say?

KM: First, thank you for hosting me on this blog tour, Dianne, and for taking the time to come up with such thoughtful questions and insights. I pray your readers will be blessed by what we’ve discussed—but more than that, will buy the book and/or do whatever God directs to help them draw closer to the Father’s heart. For whether Jesus is “at the door,” ready to return, or whether that great event is still years or generations away, it is a fact that our days are numbered and each of us is drawing close to the time when we will pass from this earth into eternity. May we do so wrapped in the righteousness of Jesus and the unconditional love and forgiveness of the Father.

One more question: What’s your next project? Are you working on another book?

KM: My next book releases in February 2009 (six months from now) from the same publisher: New Hope. The title is How Can I Run a Tight Ship When I'm Surrounded By Loose Cannons?

Then there are two more coming right behind Loose Cannons.

My Son, John is a novel about a family that is devastated over the brutal murder of the maternal grandmother, and then is hit again when their 23-year-old son, John, is arrested for her murder (a story of unconditional love). That releases in March 2009, and the publisher is Sheaf House.

Then, in May 2009, I have another nonfiction book releasing called Mothers of the Bible Speak to Mothers Today (also from New Hope).

Thank you, Kathi, for this interview!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

More from Kathi Macias, author of Beyond Me

We're about to wind up this interview with Kathi Macias, author of Beyond Me: Living a You-First Life in a Me-First World, with my last post coming tomorrow. If you'd like to read more from Kathi, here's a link to an article:

And here are links to other blogs who have hosted Kathi this month during her blog tour. If you visit and leave a comment, you might like to include a note directing readers back to this interview:

Aug 4 and
Aug 5
Aug 6
Aug 7
Aug 8
Aug 11
Aug 12
Aug 13
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Aug 15
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Aug 21
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Aug 25
Aug 26
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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Beyond Me - Part 12: Interview with Kathi Macias

Continuing the interview with Kathi Macias, author of the new book Beyond Me: Living a You-First Life in a Me-First World (New Hope, 2008):

On page 176, while talking about the marriage between the Bride—which is the church universal, collectively all Christians—and the Bridegroom—who is Jesus the Christ, you wrote: “And as the return of our Bridegroom draws breathtakingly near, the pace of preparation intensifies.”

What do you see that causes to you believe the return of Jesus Christ is “breathtakingly near”?

KM: Now we get into that exciting but easily misused area of prophecy again. Do I believe we are now closer to the return of Jesus Christ than we were a thousand years ago, or a hundred years ago—or yesterday? Of course I do. In fact, the Scriptures state that very thing, that now “we are closer than when we first believed.” And I can’t help but observe the “signs of the times,” as the Bible calls them, when I see the many things going on around the world. However, I’m a bit uneasy trying to take those occurrences and fit them into sections of Scripture to prove that Jesus is about to return at any moment. Could He? Jesus is God; He can do anything He wants! He can come back today—or not. And He Himself said that “no one knows the day or the hour.” The important thing is that the bride-to-be in the Jewish wedding customs, once she was engaged, spent her time preparing for her bridegroom’s return, never doubting that he would come for her at just the right moment. That should be our focus—anxiously and faithfully preparing for His return and never doubting that He will come “in the fullness of time”—on His time schedule, not ours.

What preparations are intensifying in pace?

KM: God is calling His people to holiness and integrity, to passionate love for Jesus, rather than lukewarm faith that offers lip service and little else. That is the most significant preparation that I see as we prepare for our Bridegroom’s return.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Beyond Me - Part 11: Interview with Kathi Macias

Continuing the interview with Kathi Macias, author of the new book Beyond Me: Living a You-First Life in a Me-First World (New Hope, 2008):

In chapter 9 you tell about the ancient and modern Jewish weddings and the parallels of that picture with the relationship between believers (Christians)—the bride—and Jesus Christ (God)—the groom.

Do you think this picture God has painted is skewed by homosexual marriages and civil unions between two men or two women?

KM: This picture is skewed anytime it deviates from God’s ideal, and homosexual marriages and civil unions between two men or two women would certainly fit into that category. So would marriages between a man and a woman who don’t first honor God and live accordingly, meaning being faithful to one another, honoring and respecting one another, and raising their children to love and serve God and others. When the divorce rate in the church is equal to the divorce rate in the world, it’s obvious we’re falling short in following the model God has given us.

On page 180 you wrote, “Brothers and sisters, it is time to grow up. We’ve got to put aside our childish ways. God’s desire is for us to walk in love for Him, for each other (the church) and for the world. Let’s leave behind the selfishness, the quarrels, the bickering, the pettiness, the unhealthy divisions.”

You write a lot about love. Do you think it is unloving to speak out against such things as homosexuality and abortion? What if standing against such wrong behaviors produces bickering or quarreling within the church?

KM: It is never wrong to proclaim God’s Word on any subject. It IS wrong to voice our opinions as if they were scripture. We therefore need to be careful that we are indeed proclaiming God’s Word (which is absolute truth) rather than offering our opinions (which are worth no more than the atheist’s or ax murderer’s opinions). Will that at times cause bickering and quarreling within the church? Possibly, but only with those who do not believe God’s Word is the final authority on all issues. In that case, we must—lovingly but firmly—take a stand and refuse to compromise.

From the book:

“We are to model a you-first life to a me-first world, loving God first and then giving of ourselves to strengthen our fellow believers and to draw unbelievers to Him” (p. 191).

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Beyond Me - Part 10: Interview with Kathi Macias

Continuing the interview with Kathi Macias, author of the new book Beyond Me: Living a You-First Life in a Me-First World (New Hope, 2008):

In chapter 8 you write about how everything we as individuals own is a gift from God and not something we have earned with our own strength. You wrote “That attitude is dangerous, because we can easily become stingy and judgmental towards others, rationalizing that if they worked as hard as we do, they too could amass the same possessions and conveniences that we have.”

You then, on page 154, quote Joel Belz, founder of World magazine as follows:

“If, on the one hand, we are persuaded deep in our hearts that we have earned
what we have in life, then we tend to expect others to do the same. But if we
know that everything we have in life is a gift, then we are inclined to extend a
giving heart toward others. The tension between these two points of view is hard
for American conservatives to resolve—and perhaps especially so for American
conservatives who are also serious Christians.”
I have to disagree with you here. This sounds to me like very liberal thought trying to disguise itself (and not doing a very good job of it).

American conservatives, many of whom are Christians, are generous people. We (if I may speak for American Christian conservatives) believe in working hard to provide for our families. At the same time, we are fully aware that there are some in our society and world who are not able to provide for themselves, for instance in the cases of physical or mental disabilities. We are more than willing to pitch in to help provide for the needs of such precious people—and we do, in many ways.

However, when people who could provide for themselves don’t, our generosity is presumed upon and it has come to the point of overwhelming good-hearted conservative Americans. For example, countless people have come into our nation illegally and so have to maneuver under the radar for jobs. Our health care system is overwhelmed by people—not only those who are here illegally but others as well—who abuse our hospital emergency rooms because they don’t have jobs when they could (or don’t have them legally) so they don’t have health care through their job benefits.

And yet American Christian conservatives are constantly told we are stingy, we are never generous enough, and we are wrong to want people to obey the law and work to provide for themselves and their families.

I’ll give you room to respond if you wish.

KM: I don’t disagree with you at all that American Christians (and Christians from other countries, for that matter) are often the most generous people in the world. Most charities were started by Christians, and countless good works have been done throughout society and throughout history by those who serve Christ. The danger comes when we begin to believe we own or earned our possessions—when we consider them deserved rather than God-given. The first sign of a hard heart is a lack of gratitude. If we believe everything we have came to us as a result of our own hard work, then what have we to be grateful for? But if we realize that it is only by God’s grace and mercy that we were born in a country that rewards our efforts, it helps keep us in an “attitude of gratitude.”

Does that mean we have to give away everything we have to everyone who asks (or demands)? Of course not. God expects us to be wise stewards and to remember that all we have is His. Therefore we need to seek Him before we disperse the material goods He has entrusted to us. But while we are here on this earth, serving as stewards of God’s blessings, we must learn to hold them with an open hand…and a tender heart.

From the book:

“With all the weaknesses and warts of the church, we still need to be an active part of it” (p. 156).

Monday, August 18, 2008

Beyond Me - Part 9: Interview with Kathi Macias

Continuing the interview with Kathi Macias, author of the new book Beyond Me: Living a You-First Life in a Me-First World (New Hope, 2008):

It seems the focus of your book is really discipleship: discipling the reader to deeper understanding of God’s Word and what God wants from us. True?

KM: Yes, that’s my purpose. Although I would hope that unbelievers would read the book and be called to make that first step of heart commitment to become a born-again believer, the book is actually written to those who are already converts and would like to move on to become mature Christians, disciples who are “disciplined ones,” walking in the footsteps of the Master.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Beyond Me - Part 8: Interview with Kathi Macias

Continuing the interview with Kathi Macias, author of the new book Beyond Me: Living a You-First Life in a Me-First World (New Hope, 2008):

In chapter 7 you talked about the different jobs of the Three Persons of the Godhead: God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit. This was new and interesting to me. Can you briefly recap the differences in the work of God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit?

KM: We hear a lot about the Trinity in Christendom, and indeed cannot truly be called a Christian without accepting that basic tenet of the faith. However, what does that mean? How does a three-in-One God work together and manifest Himself to us?

My first understanding of the Trinity was as a child, sitting in a Lutheran church with some neighbors who had graciously brought me along, and seeing a three-leaf clover on the front of the cloth draping the pulpit. The pastor explained that just as each of the leaves was a distinct and separate leaf, they were all part of the same clover. It was a simple explanation, but it made sense to me.

In Beyond Me I give one of many examples of how the Trinity works together as One. God the Father spoke to His people (Israel) through His servant, Moses, giving them the Torah (later interpreted “Law”) as a guideline for right living and right relationship. God the Son then came and fully/rightly interpreted Torah for the Jewish people, since it had been misinterpreted and misused by some of those who were supposed to understand it and explain it to the common people. Finally, God the Holy Spirit came to enable people to walk according to the full meaning of the Scriptures, given by the Father and accurately lived and modeled by God the Son.

The Trinity always works together as One.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Beyond Me - Part 7: Interview with Kathi Macias

Continuing the interview with Kathi Macias, author of the new book Beyond Me: Living a You-First Life in a Me-First World (New Hope, 2008):

On page 137 you wrote about the children of Israel in the Old Testament: “But they began to presume on His grace and mercy. They forgot that, although they were saved by grace, there is still a law of sowing and reaping that even the sacrificial system does not override.

“And so, despite countless warnings to repent and return to the walk prescribed by God for His chosen people, they continued in sin, walking more and more in the ways of their idolatrous neighbors until they eventually ended up in exile in Babylon.”

I have heard that some leaders in the Presbyterian Church (USA) have actually said that the church should become more like our American society, being more tolerant of others like homosexuals. Do you think there’s a parallel to what happened in ancient Israel as you’ve referred to it here?

KM: The parallel is strong—and frightening. The Great Roman Empire imploded due to moral failure, and I see that possibility looming in our own beloved country. We can only spit in God’s eye and ignore His warnings so long before we can expect judgment to fall. I still pray and seek God’s mercy on our land and ask Him to send that gift of repentance, but I sometimes wonder if perhaps we have gone too far and judgment is imminent. Still, we must continue to pray—and to take a stand for righteousness every chance we get. Though we may be voices crying in the wilderness, cry we must, for countless souls are at stake. The Scriptures are clear that if we don’t warn the lost, then their blood is on our hands.

Do you see any warnings God is sending to the United States of America in our time like He sent to Israel, perhaps similar to the prophets of that time or other warnings?

KM: It would be easy to say that such catastrophic events as 9/11 are warnings from God—and perhaps they are. But I don’t pretend to be a prophet. I am simply a child of God who believes that every word in the Scriptures is true and worth dying for. Years ago I awoke from a sound sleep to hear God whisper to my heart, “Forever my Word has been settled in the heavens; now it is forever settled in your heart.” Despite anything I see going on around me—with or without obvious prophetic overtones—I will live and die based on the inerrant Word of God.

If yes, what is the way back to right living in God’s sight? What would it look like for individuals or our nation to heed the “countless warnings to repent and return to the walk prescribed by God”?

KM: Regardless of whether or not God is warning us as a country through current events, I don’t doubt for a moment that in His love and faithfulness He is calling us as individuals to repent and to commit our lives to His service. What would that look like? It would look like people who are more concerned with studying God’s Word and worshiping Him through obedience to that Word than to pleasing others and being caught up in the things our world thinks are important. It would mean giving of ourselves each time God gives us opportunity, and to do it without thought of reward. It would mean standing for truth even if everyone around us chooses to live a lie—and it means loving unconditionally those who disagree with and persecute us for our stand for righteousness.

From the book:

“As a parent, I did not wait until my children learned to walk to grant them admission into the family. They were mine from the moment of conception, and there was nothing they could do to sever that familial relationship” (p. 137).

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Beyond Me - Part 6: Interview with Kathi Macias

Continuing the interview with Kathi Macias, author of the new book Beyond Me: Living a You-First Life in a Me-First World (New Hope, 2008):

On page 90 you wrote, “A Christian stubbornly resisting the Spirit’s leading is vulnerable to the devil’s attacks and cannot fulfill the greatest commandments of all, the commandments that encompass ‘all the Law and the Prophets’: to love God will all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love our neighbor as ourselves. Such a Christian is in rebellion, and apart from repentance, her heart will continue to grow harder and harder until the voice of God grows too faint to be discerned amidst the deafening noise of countless other voices vying for our attention.”

On my June 30, 2008, blog, I wrote about a “seared conscience,” meaning repeated sin can damage that part of us that is sensitive to sin until it becomes insensitive—we just don’t feel it’s wrong any more. Is that basically what you’re saying here? What does a person need to do to cause his or her hard heart or seared conscience to become sensitive to God once again?

KM: That is absolutely what I’m saying, yes! A hard heart will block out the voice of God. I remember, when I was doing biblical counseling on a church staff some years ago, that I was often told by people who came in to see me that they just couldn’t hear from God. They insisted that they prayed and listened for an answer, but nothing came—thus implying that they weren’t at fault but God was.

In digging a bit deeper we soon discovered that in each of these cases, the person had already decided what he wanted to do (or not do) before praying about the issue and was therefore blocking out God’s answer because they were afraid it might be different from the one they wanted to hear. That’s an example of having a hard heart toward God—thinking that we know better than He what is good for us and therefore want to be in charge of calling the shots and then asking God to bless our decisions. It doesn’t work that way.

As for hardening our hearts and continuing in sin, we ALWAYS know God is warning us early in the process when we are considering sin as a choice, but when we make the choice to move ahead in that sin, we have also chosen to ignore God. With each such choice, our heart grows harder and His voice fades a bit more. It’s a dangerous place to be. If we know someone in that sort of situation, we need to pray for God to send the gift of repentance, even if it means that person’s hard heart must be broken. Better a broken heart on earth than a lost soul in eternity.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Beyond Me - Part 5: Interview with Kathi Macias

Continuing the interview with Kathi Macias, author of the new book Beyond Me: Living a You-First Life in a Me-First World (New Hope, 2008):

On page 74 you write about “the hypocritical religious leaders of Jesus’s day who were spiritually abusing the very people to whom they were supposed to be ministering. For although these religious leaders had good intentions in trying to protect God’s Word and keep the people from breaking His laws and commands, their efforts had instead deteriorated into a form of legalistic religion, a perversion of God’s intentions.”

Do you see us Christians doing this same thing at times today? If yes, in what ways and how can we change to do better? And do you see forms of “spiritual abuse” happening today. If so, where? What does it look like?

KM: Yes, sadly I think we all fall into that at times. The most comprehensive definition of spiritual abuse I ever heard was this: Any time anyone in a position of spiritual authority (whether a pastor or priest, a parent, a Sunday school teacher) uses that position to come OVER someone and add to their burdens, rather than coming UNDERNEATH and helping to relieve those burdens, it is spiritual abuse. Do we do that? Oh, yes, absolutely! And we need to repent of it.

I believe the key to dealing with spiritual abuse is to recognize the true meaning of the word submission, which is “to come underneath in a safe place.” When we realize that, we will more willingly (and joyfully!) submit to God and to others, and we will more readily provide that safe place for those who are to submit to us. That sort of understanding (and commitment to walk accordingly) will revolutionize our relationships.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Beyond Me - Part 4: Interview with Kathi Macias

Continuing the interview with Kathi Macias, author of the new book Beyond Me: Living a You-First Life in a Me-First World (New Hope, 2008):

In chapter 3, “Do Unto Others,” you wrote: “Does Jesus’s command to ‘go and do likewise,’ even among those who have no respect for us or our faith, who may even be openly hostile toward us, rock a few of our boats as well? ...Because that means we have to open our hearts and our hands, even to those who may despise us—the gay activist, the abortionist, the career criminal—and give of ourselves, regardless of the cost. It means it’s not enough to protest against abortion; we need to work for the preservation of life, whether that includes giving of our finances and time to support the local crisis pregnancy center or taking a pregnant woman into our home and possibly even helping to raise her child. It means it’s not enough to condemn the sin of homosexuality in an effort to preserve the sanctity of marriage; we must exhibit unconditional love (not approval) to those trapped in that destructive lifestyle, even if they insult us and refuse our love” (pgs. 66, 67).

You say you are not preaching a “social gospel.” Could you please explain what a “social gospel” is and then tell us what you’re saying that’s different?

KM: Thanks for bringing this up, as it is a crucial distinction. A social gospel believes/preaches that compassion and kindness and acts of benevolence can, in and of themselves, solve social problems—and, if there is life after death, earn the doer of those good deeds some sort of eternal reward. It also intimates that any sort of stand for absolute truth is intolerant and, therefore, not kind or benevolent. The gospel of Jesus Christ—the true gospel—is in direct contrast to that sort of teaching.

The true gospel according to the Scriptures states emphatically that there is indeed absolute truth, and that truth is what God says it is, not what society reasons it should be. The true gospel also states that there is only one way to God the Father, and that is through accepting the blood atonement of His only Son, Jesus Christ. When a person has truly accepted that blood atonement as his own and been born again, then out of gratitude to God he will desire to serve others through acts of kindness and benevolence, but he will never make the mistake of thinking his kind acts are earning him an entrance into heaven.

I’ve heard the term “social justice” a lot in the church over the last couple of years. Do you have an idea of what this means?

KM: I’m not an expert by any means, but I will say this: On the surface it sounds like an excellent concept and one that Christians should be at the forefront of promoting. The problem is that the concept of social justice, though positive in that it implies the need for treating others with dignity and respect, compassion and equality, it also implies that justice can be achieved on this sin-filled planet and meted out by humans hands and by using human means. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Though as Christians I believe we should be the first to show compassion and mercy to those in need and to willingly give out of our own means to help the poor whenever possible, I believe we should do that primarily through our churches and definitely in accordance with scriptural guidelines, remembering that the Bible says that if we don’t work, we don’t eat! The scriptural guideline of helping the poor was never meant to enable laziness or unnecessary dependence on others. The integrity of God’s Word must never be compromised to achieve a manmade perception of justice. For that reason, I believe the term “social justice” could easily become a dangerous tool of the enemy to draw us away from our primary purpose as God’s people to proclaim God’s absolute truth and to call others to repentance and restoration. True social justice can only be achieved within the parameters of scriptural truth and God’s message of Good News to a lost world. If certain aspects of what some consider social justice are not achieved on this earth, we shouldn’t be surprised. Real equity will only be meted out in eternity.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Beyond Me - Part 3: Interview with Kathi Macias

Continuing the interview with Kathi Macias, author of the new book Beyond Me: Living a You-First Life in a Me-First World (New Hope, 2008):

On page 52 you wrote: “I got sidetracked trying to prove my love [for Jesus Christ] by doing right things and not doing wrong things. In the process, I strayed away from my first Love…”

I think many people believe religion and Christianity are all about doing right things and not doing wrong things: If you do enough right and avoid doing enough wrong, you’ll get to heaven, right?

I’d say that appeasing God like this is indeed the point of many religions, but Christianity is different. Would you agree? And if so, how would you explain the difference?

KM: I agree completely. Every other religion/faith on the planet is based on some sort of “works” system (do more good works than evil and hopefully you’ll make it into heaven—whatever/wherever that may be). Even the Jewish faith, which was never meant to be that way, did end up with that sort of bent, at least to some extent.
The Christian faith, on the other hand, says, “I can NEVER do enough good works to earn my way into heaven because Jesus is the picture of God’s standard for entrance into heaven, and that standard is perfection. On my own, I haven’t a chance.” It is at that point of acknowledging our own helplessness to earn or deserve entrance into God’s presence that we throw ourselves on God’s mercy and accept His free gift of forgiveness and restoration, provided by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. But lest we cheapen that gift, we must never forget that apart from it, God could not and would not forgive or accept us. He is a loving God, yes, but He is also righteous, and His righteousness demands the shedding of righteous blood for the remission of sins. Only Jesus qualifies to make that sacrifice—and aren’t we glad He did?

Monday, August 4, 2008

Beyond Me - Part 2: Interview with Kathi Macias

Continuing the interview with Kathi Macias, author of the new book Beyond Me: Living a You-First Life in a Me-First World (New Hope, 2008):

On page 26 you wrote: “Jesus was no stranger to dealing with hard hearts. He never got sidetracked with politics or cultural agendas. He always went straight to the heart of a situation—people’s hearts, because He knew that people’s actions and words reflect their hearts. He understood that dealing with actions and words is nothing more than a temporary fix. For permanent results, He always dealt with hearts, and He dealt with them one at a time.”
You’re not saying it’s wrong to be involved in politics or cultural issues, are you?

KM: Absolutely not. Jesus Himself told us to “render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s.” And though we are first and eternally citizens of heaven, we should also be the best citizens of our temporal country here on earth. How can we be salt and light if we aren’t involved?
The key is to be involved with the right motives. We don’t jump into politics to condemn, but rather to do what we can to lovingly correct—and we do that not as we proclaim our own opinions on right and wrong but rather as we stand for what God says is right. Jesus is the perfect example of how to do it, in that “while WE were still sinners, Christ died for us.” He didn’t excuse or overlook our sin, but He loved us enough to pay the price that we might be forgiven and restored to the Father. Ultimately, that should be our concern and purpose in everything we do—politics or otherwise—to see sinners restored to the Father’s heart.

In this blog I’ve recently been blogging about the leadership in the church, especially mainline denominations placing active homosexuals into leadership positions in the church.
If a person sees wrong behavior taking place—such as a person continuing to practice homosexuality, or the church accepting this behavior in its leaders—how can an individual respond to deal with the heart for permanent change, not just deal with actions and words which are a temporary fix?

KM: This is crucial, as dealing with actions and words are simply chopping off the offending branches. We must deal with the root, and that can only be done through prayer and intercession, as only God can change a heart. In the interim, we continually remember the admonition to “hate the sin but love the sinner,” as God does with us.

Does this also apply to taking time out of our busy schedule to speak up and speak out on issues, whether in politics or the church, to make certain the freedoms of America are protected for the next generation?

KM: If we believe that’s what God has called us to personally, then yes, absolutely. Each of us as believers has been called to the ministry of reconciliation, though that ministry will read out differently in each of us. Some of us are called to evangelize, some to teach, some to lead worship—and some to take a stand politically. So long as we know we are being faithful TODAY (which is all God requires of us) to do what God has called us to do, then we should do it confidently and with all our heart.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Beyond Me - Part 1: Interview with Kathi Macias

Throughout August, I’ll be posting an interview with author Kathi Macias about her new book Beyond Me: Living a You-First Life in a Me-First World (New Hope, 2008). Tune in especially the week of August 11th. I’m hosting her blog tour that week, so we’ll hear from Kathi every day – Monday through Friday. I hope you enjoy this interview!

Why did you want to write this book? What inspired you to write it?

KM: I’ve authored a lot of books over the last couple of decades, but this book is my “book of my heart,” the one I’ve worked on for many years. It has been a real labor of love because it is what God has been teaching me for the thirty-plus years I’ve known Him. And because I tend to learn things the hard way, God had to walk me through the message of this book many times before I finally “got it.” (And, of course, now that I’ve said that, I’ll probably find myself walking through it yet again!)

Of course, the message was hammered home to me many times as I wrote, including the time when I took my then pre-teen granddaughter shopping and the first thing she spotted was a line of cosmetics called “It’s About Me.” I remember thinking, “Wow, we really have our work cut out for us as Christians to counter that prevailing lie in our culture!”

What does it mean to live a you-first life in a me-first world?

KM: It means a lot of things, depending on our circumstances. Primarily it means putting God and others ahead of ourselves—and that’s not something we do naturally or easily. In fact, without God’s Spirit inside us to help and guide and strengthen us, we really can’t live a you-first lifestyle, even though that’s what God requires of us.

For me, coming to grips with a you-first lifestyle happened when, as a writer and speaker accustomed to public ministry, God spoke to my heart and told me, “Somebody has to set up the chairs.” I didn’t want to hear that because I knew it meant I had to spend my time serving others in public ministry, rather than being the one being served as I ministered. However, it was a powerful learning time when I began to walk in obedience to that directive.
Beyond-me living really hit home with me, though, when I was busy “grumbling” about how I wished I could spend my time writing instead of running errands for and caring for my almost 90-year-old mother who lives with us. In the midst of my grumbling, God’s words, “Somebody has to set up the chairs,” came back to me, and I knew God was reminding me that beyond-me living also meant serving people at all levels and circumstances in my life—including and especially those in my own home.

From the book:

“I felt myself relax as I began to understand God’s call to servanthood in my life—my personal call to live a you-first life in a me-first world. It wasn’t just about living selflessly so unbelievers would be drawn to Jesus. It was also about daily laying down my life, giving up the right to plan my days and order my steps, so that I could help others fulfill the needs of their day. It was about choosing to honor the sanctity of life, regardless of the personal costs, rather than selfishly guarding the quality and convenience of my life at the expense of others” (p. 24).