Save A Prayer: Author Paul W. Meier Chats To Nick Wale

Paul W. Meier sat down with me for a second interview. (Please see the first interview here.) This one was as fascinating as the first– we really wanted to expand our conversation and I really want you to know how great this guy is. I discovered that not only was he an excellent writer, he is also a great human being and a very forward thinking and compassionate guy. I present Paul W. Meier to you again and I hope you are all listening for that voice in your gut—that’s the voice you need to hear.

9731_1113087992897_3503908_n (1)

Q) Hi again, Paul! So tell me what did you think of the last interview?

A) Great! It went places I never expected.

Q) That’s the way with me! So let’s talk about you as a person. What do you like to do for recreation?

A) I’m just now trying to find that out. In the last year, I’ve been working on getting four books out. Two were 80% written before the year started, and then two shorter books I put together during the year. Now that I’ve gotten those out of the way, I think I’ll have some time to go fishing – that’s my recreation. My wife and I are also catching up on some movies. We hadn’t seen any new ones in a long time, so they’re still new to us.

Q) How does it feel to have written four books? That’s an achievement in itself.

A) It’s a relief to get them done. I wanted to have several available so that my blogging and other activities might be more useful. The best part is that I learned more than anyone about the stuff I was writing as I wrote them.

Q) How about your congregation? Have they been supportive?

A) Very much so. They are an incredibly loving and generous group of people. It helps that the research I do for my sermons is much of what I include in my books, so the two activities go hand in hand.

Q) Tell me– how are the books doing? Are you reaching a strong audience?

A) I’ve had a good two weeks since the release of my new book. I’ve done some specific marketing for them because Lent begins on Feb. 13 and two of them will make good devotional books for the season – Praying the Gospels with Martin Luther and O Taste and See. I put together a plan on how to use each of them that can be downloaded from my website for free.

Q) I received an interesting question through my Contact Me page that the writer requested be passed onto you. Does God hear every prayer?

A) Of course. According to the New Testament, we are temples of the living God. God dwells within us. How else would God be able to know our heart? We just forget to look for God within…that’s usually where many of the answers to our prayers lie anyway.

Q) How would someone without any religious education find God within?

A) The same way the Himalayan masters find the Source that Christians call God. The same way people who have never been able to read have found God through the centuries– meditation, prayer, spending time in the quiet. Remember that religious education is simply that, teaching about what someone else thinks about God. You still have to choose whether you agree with them or not. Not enough people think they have permission to think for themselves.

Q) It’s interesting that you mention people following rather than thinking. Have you always had the ability to think for yourself? Or have you learnt that quality?

A) I trusted what others told me for fifty years. That’s when I began the practice of centering prayer and it changed my whole theology and life. It did lead me into spiritual leadership in the Christian faith because I had to start where I was. I think that’s how the Spirit teaches us and moves us along at the pace we are willing and able to hear. Writing my first two books was all about my learning who God is and giving myself permission to disagree where religion didn’t make sense.

Q) So what didn’t make sense to you about religion?

A) The question I always had was this: Why does Jesus’ Father not look much like the God of the Old Testament? They don’t have the same characteristics or personality. Jesus said God doesn’t kill people because of their bad actions. Is that a loving God? The New Testament says God is love, God is light – in Him there is no darkness at all. This is the good news!

Christianity has blended the Judaic faith with the New Testament revelation of God and God has a split personality.

Let me quickly say that I am not putting down the Judaic faith. There are many faithful Jews who have become kind, generous people because of their beliefs.

Q) For British readers I’ve got to ask this– What’s the difference between the Church of England (C of E) and Lutheranism?

A) That’s a broad question, and my only real contact with a group I assume to be related to the C of E (however remotely) is the Episcopal Church in the States. The Lutheran church has many more divisions than the C of E and Episcopal groupings. The similarities between us might best be found in the liturgical aspect of worship, with C of E being more “high” church than most Lutheran congregations are today. Liturgy is a treasure for all of us.

On the other side of the coin, I think Lutherans feel a little more freedom to depart from doing everything the same way. You can walk into three Lutheran churches and experience three completely different kinds of worship service. Theologically, most Lutherans “say” they believe we are saved by the grace of God, but in actuality, if you don’t think the same way, you may be suspect.

You might also take note that this is my opinion, and there are some who will disagree with my assessment.

Q) I’m actually fascinated because growing up C of E I was never really exposed to anyone who was Lutheran. It’s a huge learning curve for me. So what is the Lutheran stance on things like rock music, drugs, etc? Is it frowned upon as it is by the C of E community?

A) I’d say that if it’s legal by the standards of the state, who make laws that are hopefully built upon the desire to promote peace, harmony, and justice among large groups of people, then it might be done in moderation and without harm to self or another. Again, this is my dancing on the head of a pin. Let’s just call it the opinion of one Lutheran. Rock music – okay. Drugs – not legal.

Q) You strike me as a very fair, honest and just guy. I’m sure you’re well respected in your community. Do you find people coming to you for guidance and help often?

A) I minister in a relatively small congregation– 75-80 people in worship each week. I’m in a rural, non-farming community in the Bible Belt. It’s surprising to me that not many people in this area know what a Lutheran is either! The Germans and Scandinavians who immigrated to the states settled further north. So I help whoever God brings to me. Maybe that’s why I feel the need to write, to reach a wider audience.

Q) I had a lot of people ask me, “Who is that guy?” They just instantly liked you. I think you are touching a lot of people out there. How does that feel?

A) Anytime someone says you have helped them, it fills that space within you that wants to feel valued, appreciated, and put on this earth to fulfil a need. It’s like the beatitude: Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness – for they will be filled. We always come away satisfied when we do the right thing that brings peace and hope to others.

Q) Yes, well you certainly helped me a lot. I was grateful for your support when my fiancée went home. It’s a trying time, but I talk to God as much as I can. Have you ever had an experience with an angel?

A) My definition of an angel is “a messenger from God.” I’ve encountered many messengers from God on my journey. Somewhere in the psalms it says a man might make his plans, but God guides his footsteps. I think that means go the direction you think you’re supposed to go until the light shines on another path or a door opens that just makes sense. And most of all, be open to appreciating the moment in which you are in.

  1. O Taste and See: Discovering God Through Imaginative Meditations is available now!
  2. Praying the Gospels with Martin Luther: Finding Freedom in Love
  3. In Living Color: The Lords Prayer
  4. In Living Color: The Beatitudes

Don’t forget to visit Paul’s website, Praying the Gospels and his Facebook Author Page!

otasteprayinggospels

in-living-color-lords-prayer-paul-w-meier-paperback-cover-artbeatitudes

“The Burning Bush Is Your Friend!” Author David Alvin says Howdy!

David Alvin is a forward thinking guy. He’s a risk taker with the faith to know all will be good. David is also author of many books, most notably, “The Burning Bush is Your Friend” and also happens to be a guy I can now call my own friend. We have spoken on many subjects– books, music and David Frost. What did we talk about for this interview? Keep reading to take a look!

David Alvin

Q) Hi, David. Tell me about yourself– who is David Alvin?

A) I knew you’d ask this first (I HAVE read your other interviews!) I would say David Alvin is what Winston Churchill said about Russia: “A riddle wrapped inside a mystery inside an enigma.”

Nah, not really, I’m a servant of my Lord God, an acceptor of Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord (the term “Christian” I use hesitantly for that term appears three times in the New Testament, and two of those times its derogatory), the husband of Martha, the dad to Sarah and Jeffrey, the small business owner whose business is getting bigger every day, and a creator of words upon paper that make sense! Most of the time.

Q) What’s your business? How do you feel about running your own business? Are you a man who believes in enterprise?

A) I’ll give you these answers separately:

1) My wife and I started a Shaklee business of our own — it’s a fifty-five year old health and wellness company specializing in inch loss/weight management products, environmentally friendly cleaning products, comprehensive multivitamins, and natural beauty enhancers — last March. We’re not making near what we want to make, but doing quite well. Hey, who couldn’t stand being healthier? For more information check out our business website.

I feel running my own business — it’s good that I can’t get fired from it, for one thing, but I’ve also got a lot of help locally and an excellent support system — gives me more of a sense of purpose, sometimes makes me feel more alive, that this is something I can leave to my kids and my wife should God forbid something happen to me. You may consider my view of the man of the house being the provider a bit … um, old-fashioned, but I believe I have to be the one who doesn’t give up — at my writing, in my home life, anything.

Do I believe in enterprise? I would think that’s self-evident, but how’s this: I believe in striking out on your own and being willing to take your lumps is essential to making any achievement of yours work. I’m sure you can relate to that, too, and we can both guarantee the person doesn’t live who’s never practiced enterprise to its ultimate potential!

Q) Well said, David. So can you tell me, how your faith has guided your path in life?

A) I would say my faith has helped me most by giving me a purpose beyond myself. Certainly if I didn’t have it I would have never driven up from Florida where I grew up to remain with Martha (a two-and-a-half day drive in Summer 2002) just two years after I met her online and a year after we’d met in North Dakota and I got taken aback, “She’s THE ONE!”

I was not — at least I don’t believe I was — a thief and murderer growing up, but when I was about fifteen it came across to me, “What’s the point of life?” It’s not that I didn’t believe in God and didn’t, um, go through the motions of church attendance and being an all-around “good kid” (maybe I was TOO good; I didn’t go on any dates through high school though I did ask, and I had it explained politely by one young lady that going out with me would have felt like going out with her dad).

Faith made me/makes me a risk-taker. And taking a risk makes me a better child of God, husband, father, employee, business builder, and creative artist.

Q) Your faith allows you to take risks? Can you give me an example of this?

A) Seriously?

Q) Yes, perhaps the very first risk you took?

A) Ok, ok, I’m going to go with one that was more something I had to do rather than what I wanted to do … when I was five years old and living in Illinois where I was born, I was diagnosed with a tumor. Thank God it was a benign one, or we would not be having this conversation, but the surgery I had for the tumor was in the pre-radiation therapy days (late ‘70s), the doctor had to go in and attach what’s called a shunt to the back of my head and drain the fluid from the tumor out of my head and into an incision by my stomach.

Prior to that, I remember doing well in Kindergarten (my reading was so good that I got to go to the first grade class at my elementary school for a while and read with them) but not outstanding, at least academically.

When I moved to Florida and started school there in First Grade, oh man, did I blaze a trail! Sometimes I acted smarter than I was, but I could just pick up concepts and words faster and place them in context better. I recall I heard the word “clone” on a TV show one weekend in fall of ’78 and the next week in class we had to name words rhyming with (or was it ending in) O-N-E.

I came out with the word “clone” and the teacher was saying it wasn’t a word. I imagine it wasn’t used greatly in the late ‘70s, but I politely argued it was, and explained myself to the teacher and the guidance counselor in the room, and … I don’t know, I got the impression then you could learn AND teach as well!

Made me want to be a teacher for a long time, and in a way I still am.

Q) You have a very inspirational story there David. So let’s focus on your writing. How does David Alvin like to write?

A) How do I like to write? Usually, as it occurs to me. The idea of writing for a living didn’t really occur to me until I started to read a Janet Scarborough novel in my high school days and stopped myself in the middle of chapter three and said, “I could WRITE a better book than that!”

So I started … and got to a chapter and a half of a story tentatively titled “Suicide Progeny” as well as a few others my freshman English teacher was really impressed with. Then I put ’em aside, and university happened. Life happened. Work happened, and then gone were the nineties.

Come the turn of the century, I’d moved up to be with Martha in North Dakota and came across the older stories I’d written and found myself with a bit of time to ask, “What happened next, then what happened next, then what happened next?” incorporating some characters I’d created in high school and the few chapters became twenty-eight and that became my first novel Progeny.

That led to an idea for the second novel “Legacy” (a sequel to Progeny published in 2006) and a sequel to THAT (“Victory,” to be released soon). Then I discovered National Novel Writing Month.

Q) I know you are quite prolific. How many books do you currently have in print?

A) As of now, I’ve published nine books via self-publication — five novels, three Bible studies, and one book-length poem.

Fiction:

Nonfiction:

Poetry:

Q) Tell me more about your novels. What are they about? Where are they set? Are they connected? Do they stand alone?

A) The novels are mostly set in a world (Progeny, Legacy, Litany) where the heroic age was the day before yesterday and certain villains and powers have taken advantage of that.

The Carbonari Players my first NaNoWriMo novel was a pure fantasy, a murder mystery set in the afterlife, if you can believe that.

The Book of Numbers is a novel set during the time of the Biblical book of Numbers with Moses, Aaron, and the like fighting to set the children of Israel up in the Promised Land — that may be the novel I’m most proud of, because I wanted to tell the story it’s often hard to get even if you study your Bible, to make my readers realize it’s pretty exciting.

Q) You mentioned your non-fiction work, The Burning Bush wants to be your Friend: A Study of Exodus. Can you tell me more about that one?

A) The Burning Bush is a chapter-by-chapter Bible study about the book of Exodus, when not only does Moses discover who he is — he’s the one who sees the burning bush — but the children of Israel are reminded who they are. Originally, this was a series of blogs I wrote in 2009 and I didn’t want some “random” accident to make them disappear.

burning bush

Q) Of all your works, which is your personal favourite?

A) Depends on what time of day you ask me! *laughs*

Seriously, The Book of Numbers is my favorite novel; Litany is my favorite story (I wrote that from a first person point of view); and The Chariot of Israel (a study of the Old Testament’s book of Two Kings) is my favorite Bible study — so far at least.

Among those three, The Book of Numbers because it’s a retelling of a great story a lot of people don’t remember.

I use the capline on the back cover:

“The story everybody knows. The story nobody knows.”

Q) Where do you find the inspiration to write?

A) I keep my eyes open, really — no lightning bolt from the skies needs to hit me! If I hear something incorrectly or an especial title or a direct quote from somebody hits me — well it does, and sometimes it’ll be a year or two before I expand on it in a story or within my novel (I’ve got journals going back more than twenty years). Additionally, I have all kinds of writings I’ve accumulated which drives Martha crazy sometimes, but I’ve gotten it more manageable.

Q) What are your personal thoughts on self-publishing?

A) I feel it’s the only way you will get noticed most times. Traditional publishing requires you to know somebody who knows somebody and/or be willing to outlay major cash, and maybe end up with a lot of copies of your own book to sell …

I used to think it was my goal to be a “list” author, but now it’s not.

Q) What is your goal now, then?

A) My goal is just to write — of course, I don’t mind ending up one day on the New York Times bestseller list or some such thing — and express myself, and maybe have a few people see something in my work that encourages them to write their own.

Q) Do you ever find people writing to you asking your advice on their own writing?

A) Sometimes … or I find myself giving advice when someone wants to write or checking over someone’s work. For someone just starting out, I just say write not to impress anybody or be fearful of offending somebody, but write because you’ve got something to say.

Q) For the editing and proofreading stages of making a book happen– do you use professionals?

A) No, I don’t right now … unless you consider me one. *laughs*

Q) What’s your opinion of bloggers who get paid to do interviews?

A) Provided you know the fee up front and you, the interviewee, are satisfied with the finished product, it certainly works!

Q) David, what is next for you? Another book? Another poem? Tell me what’s going on inside your head.

A) Another novel. I wrote it for NaNoWriMo a few years ago, but various issues kept me from getting in live. I’m also considering an upcoming movie likely to resurrect interest in the Land of Oz that might have been a blessing in disguise. It’s called “Refugees From the Emerald City. There’s also my third hero-based novel, “Victory” that I want to finish and bring out but something’s missing with it at the moment.

Q) How many books do you have sketched out in your mind?

A) Maybe five or six that come to mind right now … and childrens’ books … and another two Bible studies at least.

Q) If you could give any advice to a young writer, what would it be?

A) Start.

Don’t worry about being right, don’t worry about being accurate, don’t worry about being interesting — these are all things that can be worked on — just start.

Q) Thank you for this wonderful interview, David.

A) Thanks, Nick.

I hope you all enjoyed my words with David! Check out his entry on my Hot Books page here!

Follow That Voice- Nick Wale Interviews Lutheran Minister and Author Paul W. Meier

When I meet people along the path of life, I sometimes wonder why different people choose different paths. Paul W. Meier is a man who has intrigued me for a time and when I saw a post about his latest offering on the almighty Facebook, I felt I should go ahead and contact him. A few hours later, we had a series of interviews set up. Today, Mr. Meier gave me one of the most revealing interviews I have ever had the pleasure of undertaking. Paul set me at ease straight away and I knew he would be with me on this one. The interview that follows makes me proud to be doing what I am doing. I am keeping the faith.

Paul W. Meier

Q) So are you ready for your first interview with me?

A) Nick – I’m ready if you are! I’m just interested in what you found interesting about my books that led you to contact me.

Q) Well, I’m a guy who loves religious discussion and, if I can fit that into my work, then I will. I think your books sound interesting and I followed my hunch.

A) Then we have a lot to talk about.

Q) I’ve learned to just follow the voice that says “Do it!”

A) Follow that voice!

Q) Why did you choose to write books?

A) I wrote my books because I felt like I had something to share with the world. If I didn’t think so, I wouldn’t have been able to push through the work it takes to make it happen.

Q) So you write to fulfill a creative need inside of you?

A) I write to let something out of me that I can’t keep to myself. It’s like when a light goes on that gets you excited, you’ve got to share it with someone. Since I write non-fiction, mostly about religious topics, I discover new ways of looking at things. Do you ever have those “ah ha!” moments?

Q) Yes, I do a lot, especially when I interview. Tell me about your writing process. How do you write? Do you like music on in the background? Silence? How does Paul W. Meier write?

A) The early morning is the quietest time for me. I like to get up at 4:30 a.m., put the coffee on, and spend twenty minutes in “centering prayer.” This is simply a practice of clearing the mind, which is not always an easy thing. But it gets me ready to write. Then I get my coffee and start writing for a couple of hours before I get ready to go to work.

Q) You are a Lutheran minster am I right? Tell me how you found your faith and became a minister– was there a moment when you knew you had to?

A) Yes, my father and both grandfathers were Lutheran ministers. But at the age of thirteen, I was sure I didn’t want to have any preacher’s kids, nor did I want to go to Africa to be a missionary. So I taught high school for eight years, sold medical equipment for fourteen years, and then felt “the calling” to enter the ministry. I went to seminary when I was 49 and I’ve been at a rural church for ten years now. To be specific about the “calling,” I was reading the Bible in morning meditation when that happened. The good news is that I didn’t have to go to Africa – I’m serving in the town where my wife and I took our first vacations. I think if I was destined to go to Africa, God would have made that a compelling thing.
in-living-color-lords-prayer-paul-w-meier-paperback-cover-art

Q) What did the “calling” feel like? Did you just know instinctively that you had to be a minister?

A) At the time I’d say I was an extremely practical, moderately conservative, and “realistic” Christian thinker, so I didn’t expect any supernatural revelations. But when the words of a verse in Luke 4 seemed to raise up off the page and speak directly to me, I had to take a deep breath and let the tears run down my cheeks. I had never said anything to my wife about feeling like I was inclined to become a minister, even though I’d been teaching adult Sunday School. That night I said, “I’ve got something I need to tell you.” She didn’t give me time to finish. She said, “You’re going to be a preacher, aren’t you?”

The verse that hit me, I’ve discovered, has spoken to others, too. Jesus reads part of Isaiah in the synagogue, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor.”

Q) If you had ignored your calling, do you think God would have just drawn you in?

A) I think if we don’t follow the path that opens the way to discovering all that God created us to be, another path will present itself. Although, it took three “calls” to actually get me moving. After the first message, I said, “BUT… I’ve been working on a new business for nine months, do you want me to throw all that hard work away?” The next day, another verse of the Bible came up that said, “No soldier gets involved in civilian affairs, he only wants to please his commanding officer.” That was pretty clear. But I said, “Okay, I hear you…BUT…just to make sure, I’ll wait for you to tell me again.” Three months later, another verse hit me – “the Son does only what the Father does.” So I gave up and started seminary thirty days later and became a Lutheran pastor like my father. In some ways, I think listening for the “call” is learning how to listen to the inner voice within us.

Q) Do you believe we all have a calling?

A) Yes, and I think that calling changes as we journey in life. I seem to be drawn to the practice of using the imagination to become the person I’m supposed to be. In my late twenties, I wrote my first book. The title alone would have made it a blockbuster: “The One Minute Diet.” The premise was that if you could imagine yourself trim and beautiful for one minute several times a day (maybe at mealtime), you would develop the motivation for doing what was necessary to bring your vision to completion. I never submitted it to anyone, however.

When I discovered Ignatius of Loyola’s method of using the imagination to experience the stories in the Bible, I did it, and it changed my religion. That’s why I wrote the book that I’ve released this week.

Q) What stopped you from having that diet book published? I think it sounds like a great book to have out there.

A) Lack of confidence, lack of a credible background in diet or weight control, no platform, and needing to support a family.

Q) Have your beliefs strengthened your confidence in yourself?

A) Let’s say that I think what I’ve learned and accepted as truth has strengthened my confidence in the absolute goodness of God. And with this as a foundation, what can anyone do to shake the secure feeling that all will be well, no matter what we go through in life? It makes life more exciting and freeing.

Q) Do you believe God can help you achieve any goal?

Not if I’m the one deciding what I want to achieve. I spent a lot of early years setting goals for what I thought would make me happy and content. I achieved some of them, but only wanted more. I missed a lot of goals (I tend to set BIG goals), and was disappointed. Happiness is found when you trust the path will open to what you’re created to do. You just have to work hard and do the best you can right where you are without allowing others tell you what will make you happy.

I would also like to mention my newest book O Taste and See: Discovering God Through Imaginative Meditations is at a reduced price Tuesday through Friday this week on Amazon.
Q) Thank you for this wonderful first interview, Paul. It’s been a pleasure having these first few words with you. Could you pray for me please? My wife-to-be is returning to the States and I am feeling really bad about it. I don’t want her to go– but she has to.

A) I’d be honored to pray for both of you. Be the best long distance fiancé you can be, and God will bless your journey in ways you never imagined.

Q) Thank you Paul–I’ve got to go to London with her and then come back home. In some ways I don’t know how I will manage it. I don’t like being away from her– I guess I’m meant to be married.

A) Safe travels to you both. Trust in the goodness of God.

Have you ever felt that warm feeling inside of you? The one where you know everything will be just fine? I had that feeling when I talked to Paul W. Meier. I felt as though all my troubles were sliding away, and I was free from all pain and anguish. I hope you feel that way, too.

Paul

O Taste and See: Discovering God Through Imaginative Meditations is available now!

Check out these other great books by Paul W. Meier:

Praying the Gospels with Martin Luther: Finding Freedom in Love

In Living Color: The Lords Prayer

In Living Color: The Beatitudes