Today we have a treat. I am featuring a interview with author Ava Semerau. Here is little bit about Ava:
Her experiences in those places have given her a unique and distinctive perspective on living a worthy life, loving one another and Christian success through pleasing God
Semerau has been a professional writer for more than two decades. She currently lives in Texas and Australia with her husband and four children.
She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or via her Web site at http://www.avasemerau.com
Welcome Ava today to my humble little blog :)
Q: Hi Ava, and thanks for sitting down with me today! Tell us a little about how you came up with the idea for your latest book, And God Was Pleased
A: First off, thanks for letting me join your blog for the day and talk about And God Was Pleased. The book came about as a result of my own search for a better definition of success. As a practicing Christian, I’d grown uneasy with the definition the world put out there – you know, the three-car garage, money in the bank scenario. It seemed hollow and unfulfilling, and I knew God had something else in mind for His people. I started reading the Bible specifically seeking a Godly definition and found it in, among other places, Colossians 1:10-12 which defines success as living a life worthy of God and pleasing Him in all ways.
Q:The book outline 17 principles for achieving that success. Where did those principles come from and what are they?
A: The principles are all found in the Bible and are repeated in various ways and through various examples and incidents. I didn’t start out looking for a specific number of principles, these 17 just sort of jumped out as being foundational to creating Christian success. Those principles include; Know the goodness of God, Walk by Faith, Train for Godliness, Do something bold, Pray ceaselessly, Be kind, Think praiseworthy thoughts, Prove all things, Pay more careful attention, Live with care, Be transformed and renewed, Go the extra mile, Let your light shine, Learn from adversity, Put your treasure where your heart is, Share the work and Sharpen one another.
Q: In talking about the principle you call Walk by Faith, you use a story about your husband and tin doors to highlight the importance of hearing the message. It’s a cute little story, by the way. Is it true and what do you mean when you write, “We use past experience and expectations to decode messages rather than seeking new meaning.”
A: (Laughs) Yes, it is a true story and one I love telling on my Texas husband! He insists I’m the one with the accent, but we all know better. I think the story clearly illustrates what can happen when we stick to what we know or expect in interpreting new information. We assume something means one thing, and don’t bother looking at other options. This happens all the time and it can happen when we’re seeking God’s will. We can be so convinced our way is the right way, that we fail to heed the signs that God has other plans in mind. He says one thing and we hear something totally different. Listening to the message is definitely something we have to be careful about.
Q: Throughout the book, you seem to be reminding Christians to be more attentive and accurate in their thinking. Why is that and what are the principles involved?
A: There’s no doubt that what we think about influences who we are, how we act and react and ultimately how pleasing we are to God. As Christians, I say we need to live by the Carpenter’s rule: measure twice, cut once; thinking carefully before we act, making sure our action will measure up to God’s expectations.
Three principles directly address the connection between what we think and how we behave, including Prove all things, Pay more careful attention and Live with care.
Prove all things reminds us to think clearly and accurately, and to weigh everything against the balance of God’s words. Pay more careful attention reminds us to know what God requires of us; and Live with care reminds us to use what we know to avoid doing the things that displease God and concentrate instead on doing the things that please Him.
Q: Many of the stories you share in And God Was Pleased are from your years in Saudi Arabia, including a time when you say, “God wanted me to love my neighbor. But at that moment and in that place, it just seemed too much to ask.” Tell us a little about that experience.
A: That was really an ah-ha moment in my Christian journey, and I talk about it in the chapter about Sharpening One Another. The principle is based on Proverbs 27:17 - As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend and that’s just what happened in that instance. A good friend sat down with me and walked me through Scripture, challenging my recent thoughts and actions toward my Muslim neighbors. His insistence, patience and candor allowed me to see that my behaviors were unpleasing to God and needed to be changed. I truly believe that frank talk between believers is a basic ingredient in creating Christian success, and it’s something we can all do for others and for ourselves.
Q: Each chapter ends with the same verse. What is it and why the repetition?
A: The verse is one of my favorites and comes from James 1:22, Do not merely listen to the word and so deceive yourself; Do what it says. Being a successful Christian isn’t about knowing what God wants as much as about living the life He wants us to live. And that’s only possible if we act, if we do what God says. I really wanted And God Was Pleased to provide practical encouragement and to offer actionable ways of pleasing God more. Every chapter ends with five specific things we can do to live by the principle described.
Q: What’s next for Ava Semerau?
A: My current project is an entire book devoted to the ideas of James 1:22. The book explores doing what it says through the lives of real people, and offers additional suggestions on how we can live to please God more. I’ve also been working on a book about my years in Saudi Arabia and how God used that experience to shape my beliefs and faith. Both will be out by the end of 2008.
I'll also be doing some book signings in Minnesota, Illinois and Texas during December.
Q: That’s all the time we have today, Ava. Thanks again for visiting with me. But before we go, how can readers learn more about you and your latest book, And God Was Pleased
And God Was Pleasedis available at bookstores around the world and online at Amazon It’s also available at Amazon in the new Kindle format.
So that you can get a better idea of how this book can impact your life, Ava will take over the blog today and tell us a bit more about the book.
Seasoned with Salt by Ava Semerau
How many kinds of salt do you have in your pantry?
I checked the other day, and I have six – probably five more than I need! I have table salt (with and without added iodine), coarse salt, grinder salt, sea salt and even grey salt.
You could say I got hooked on salt a few years ago when a friend gifted me a fancy salt grinder. The gift came with a small bag of chunky coarse salt. As the saying goes, I tried it and I liked it!
It wasn’t long and another friend gave me a bag of sparkling white sea salt for my new grinder.
And then one day at the local market, I found a bag of funny-looking grey salt and had to try it, as well. Grey salt looks like sea salt only dirtier and tastes more bitter. It’s an acquired taste, I guess.
I like salt a lot. Probably too much, but I love what it does to food. It takes away the bitterness of an eggplant and adds to the sweetness of a melon. It brings out the flavor of pork chops and turns even a bland hard-boiled egg into something spectacular.
Salt just brings out the best in things.
That’s probably one of the reasons Paul referred to salt when he was telling the Colossians how to behave around non-believers.
Season your conversations with salt, he told them. Remove the bitterness, enhance the sweetness. Give the things you say more tang, more texture. Turn the average into the unforgettable!
In other words, bring out the best in others – and for others.
Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. (Colossians 4:5-6 NIV)
Be kind, Paul reminds us.
Lift others up instead of running them down. Let your words reflect Christ in your life.
Show consistency between what you believe and who you are, and follow the advice of James 1:22: Don't let the word of God go in one ear and out the other. Do what it says.
Act on what you know to be pleasing to God and, as my favorite recipes all say, salt to taste.
Paul’s advice to “season with salt” hits equally hard on two different Biblical principles, Be Kind and Think More Praiseworthy Thoughts.
Be Kind tells us: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you. (Ephesians 4:32 KJV). Be Kind is exemplified in the Beatitudes, and it reminds us to treat others the way we want to be treated.
Thinking Praiseworthy Thoughts encourages us: Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.(Philippians 4:8 ). Thinking Praiseworthy thoughts is all about staying positive – in the things we think and say, and the things we pay attention to.
These two principles together help us to keep a positive mental attitude toward others as well as ourselves, and form the basis of a God-pleasing life.
For more information on these principles, as well as the other 15 Biblical principles for creating Christian success, pick up a copy of book And God Was Pleased by Ava Semerau. The book is available online at amazon.com in both paperback and Kindle versions, and is also available at fine booksellers around the globe. To learn more about Ava Semerau, visit her site at http://www.avasemerau.com/, or simply send her an email.