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Mark Keown on Rhema June 15, 2011

Posted by Andrew Killick (Publishing Manager) in 2. Author Interviews, Mark Keown, What's God Up To On Planet Earth?.
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Mark Keown (author of What’s God Up To On Planet Earth) appeared on Rhema yesterday – a really excellent interview with James Totton. You can listen to the interview (in four parts) here. You can ‘like’ Mark Keown’s book on this Facebook page. And for more info about the book and to purchase copies, here.

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A few questions with: Mark Keown March 18, 2011

Posted by Andrew Killick (Publishing Manager) in 2. Author Interviews, 4. Castle Distributed Books, Mark Keown, What's God Up To On Planet Earth?.
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Last year, Castle was involved with the publishing of an excellent book that outlines the Christian faith, called What’s God Up To On Planet Earth? The book is written by Mark Keown, a lecturer at Laidlaw College. Recently Mark’s book was picked up American publishing house Wipf & Stock. We chatted to Mark about his background, his book, and about the Christchurch earthquake…

Tell us your story…

I was bought up in a non-Christian home. I had no real God-consciousness until I was 13 when I met Christ at a school group in the Cook Islands. I made a commitment to Jesus but didn’t become a fully committed believer until 24. I was a school teacher at the time and began to share my faith wherever and whenever I could. I married Emma and we set out on ministry, which has included just about everything you can do in a NZ church! This included leading Presbyterian and Baptist churches. I remained passionate about the gospel and evangelism throughout, hence this book on the gospel. I am now lecturer in  NT at Laidlaw College, having joined the staff about 5 ½ years ago.

What’s the most rewarding thing about working at Laidlaw?

There’s nothing I enjoy more than studying the Scriptures and talking about them. I am paid to do  this, and love it. I love asking and trying to answer hard questions. I love discovering the social and historical setting for the Bible, it brings it alive. I love the people who stimulate my thinking every day.

How did you come to write What’s God Up To On Planet Earth?

The book is inspired by engaging in evangelism and thinking about the gospel. I wanted to work out how to tell the story effectively and clearly in today’s world. I came across the ‘five R’s’ of the gospel (Relationship, Rupture, Restoration, Return and Response) and thought this was a great framework for the gospel. I wanted to write something more substantial than a tract, without strong dogmatic positions on some things (e.g. the return of Christ), that I could give to family and friends. I had learnt the power of sharing the gospel in written form when I wrote a letter to my sister with the gospel in it, not knowing she only had a short time to live. Because of the letter she gave her life to Jesus and died in relationship with him. The book is a letter to the world in the hope that some will be saved.

In a nutshell, what’s the message of the book?

God is love and created humanity because he wanted to walk in eternal relationship with free beings forever. So he created us free to live forever with him. He gave us this world to enjoy, to build, to care for, and we are all created for love. The whole thing is corrupted but God is restoring the world. We are invited to join him in his great project of restoration, if we believe in Jesus.

What’s the most rewarding aspect of having the book out there?

There is nothing more exciting than hearing that the book is changing lives. I gave a copy to an elderly Greek ex-opera singer in Kavala Greece on my trip there last year. He wrote to me a few months later saying, ‘I do believe I have become a Christ.’ His way of saying that he had given his life to Jesus! A guy in my church is now reading it for the third time because he loves it so much. His brother is in some serious trouble in life and he has just given him a copy hoping he will read it and that his life will be changed. Today a student asked for a couple of copies because he gives them away to people as they are baptised. I am so thrilled when I hear such stories.

Christianity has to have an application in the real world, so how does the message of your book apply, say, to the situation that Christchurch has faced with the earthquake there?

I think it helps us understand why such things happen. Chapter 2 ‘Rupture’ speaks of a world created very good that has gone wrong. The Fall was not just where humans fell, but death and destruction entered God’s glorious world. As a result, such events continue to happen and will go on. The book helps us to find the solution, which is Jesus. Jesus is working for the restoration of every person and the whole world. We are to join in this. On one level the books tells us how to find the security that if something like this hits us, God is still with us and loves us and we will be ok. It also tells us how to be involved in helping in such situations. We can help build cities that can withstand such terrible events. When these events happen, we can be there to love and give hope. We can be the ones who are out there leading the healing of the city, helping rebuild it and the people’s lives. The message is that God is with us in the midst of suffering.

For more info or to purchase a copy of What’s God Up To On Planet Earth? visit the Castle website here.