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A Famine of Literacy – Episode 054

Here at Off the Grid News we talk a lot about food famines, but what about a different kind of nourishment that we all need—those things that feed our hearts, souls, and minds? A wise man once said, “You will truly be the same today as you will be five years from now, except for two things…

…the people you meet and the books you read.”

We all know the old saying we have for computers… garbage in, garbage out.

Well, it’s the same way with our minds. The things that we expose ourselves to, whether in the written word or the visual world, have an effect on who and what we become.

Off The Grid Radio
Ep 054
Released: June 24, 2011

Brian: Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Off the Grid News – the radio version of offthegridnews.com. I’m Brian Brawdy, as always here with Mr. Bill Heid. Bill, we talk a lot about one of my favorite sayings and I drop it in whenever I can – that an hour across the table from a wise man, or a wise woman, is worth a year’s study in books. But what if you can’t find that wise man? What if that particular wise man that you need to learn from – or the wise woman – isn’t around? How cool would it be if you had a book written by that wise man that would allow you to catch up? Almost like thumbnails or little crib notes of some of the brightest minds that have ever lived. That’s why I’m excited about today’s show.

Bill: It’s really a good thing. Brian, I can tell you I was lucky enough to have a father that taught me when I was very young, that we become what we think about most of the time. I know that sounds like a simple thing. It took me just seconds to say that, but it’s transforming, it’s culture building, it’s character building because – who’s said that over time? Marcus Aurelius said “our life is what our thoughts make of it.” Christ said “as you believe so shall it be done unto you.” To control our mind by listening to good things or reading good books, I think, is the epitome of a strong, vibrant culture and intelligent discussion. Remember last time, or not too long ago, we talked to Ted Nugent. Ted said “raise your voice.” Ted’s a little bit of a protester and that’s OK because Ted does a lot of things to substantiate himself. He’s got charities and he does all these things. Ted says “raise your voice,” because he understands this idea of neutrality – there’s no neutrality, you’re either for me or against me. He said you’re either for God’s kingdom or you’re against it. He’s a line drawer. But what if you raise your voice, Brian, and what if you’ve got nothing to say because you’ve never read any good books? Forgive my crassness but what if you’re just stupid?

Brian: I smiled at Jeremy when you said that. I go “that’s why Bill is the more philosophical one.” For me it’s like “crap in, crap out.” You put crap in your mind, and then you go “here’s my opinion …” You pick some magazine it isn’t worth your time to read but now that becomes your opinion. So you’re absolutely right – what if the stuff that you put in isn’t all that great?

Bill: And the Bible is full of that kind of wisdom. Today we’re going to be talking to somebody who’s done an amazing job of bringing materials to families that help facilitate the things we’re talking about – help build character. If you want to introduce him, we’ll get right into it.

Brian: Absolutely. And I loved one of his quotes – before I give you the name and his website and the like. He says, here’s his quote “for the past 33 years, I’ve learned that ‘you will truly be the same today as you will be five years from now, except for two things … the people that you meet and the books that you read.” It’s almost taking what you said before – William James – what you focus on you make real. But what our guest is saying today, it’s not only what you focused on in the past, but you want to make a powerful change in your life over the next half a decade, over the next five years, do so by thinking about the people that you will meet and the books that you will read. Ladies and gentlemen, today it is a pleasure to have with us Mr. Mark Hamby from Lamplighter Publishing – it’s lamplighterpublishing.com. He has a great story to tell and some great books as well. Ladies and gentlemen, say hello to Mr. Mark Hamby. Mark, how are you sir?

Mark: Brian and Bill, great to be here this morning. I don’t think in my 32 years of ministry I’ve ever heard an introduction like you guys just gave. That was amazing.

Brian: Like I said, Bill’s a little more philosophical, a little nicer guy than I am. But I meant that, Mark – you put crap in, you get crap out. It’s terribly important what you read and what you study. That’s why I was fired up to meet you. Honest to goodness, I get a chance to travel with Bill in quite a few places recently. Coming back from Mexico City and he’s got this little brown book. It’s a really nice looking book – it’s got gold flaked in the title. I see him referencing it, right up to meetings – he never reads it in our actually business meetings, but he’ll be reading it before, he’ll be reading it on the plane. He’ll be reading it if you sneak up and catch him by himself at breakfast. I asked him, “Bill, what are you reading? What is that?” That’s how he told me about you and about Lamplighter Publishing as well. Bill?

Bill: Mark, it was the “Dialogues of Fenelon” I agree with your perspective that it reads like Proverbs and it really should be on everyone’s reading list. It’s one of the great classics. I’m a busy business person and you are too. We’ve got a lot of things to talk about but briefly, one of the reasons why people should buy this book on Fenelon is he gives such practical advice for harried, crazied living, which we all are involved in now. I felt like – I know he was speaking to this gal at his time but I felt like he was talking directly to me when I read it. Any time you get that kind of a rhythm on a book, it pulls you in and you want to read more. Thank you for what you’re doing. I’m not sure of the best place to start. I guess I’m curious, as an entrepreneur myself, let’s go back and talk about how you got into this business to begin with. Because I think, in addition to the ministerial ideas that you have, this is a great entrepreneurial story too.

Mark: Let me clarify a few things first. First, Francois Fenelon from the 17th Century is probably – you guys started off the show by talking about sitting down with a person for 30 minutes greater than most of the wisdom we’re going to gain in a lifetime – that’s what Fenelon did for me. He was one of my first mentors that God brought into my life, though he’s dead yet he began to speak. Listen to this quote – this comes from one of his writings – “the great physician who sees in me what I cannot see knows exactly where to place the knife. He cuts swift and deep into your innermost being, exposing you for who you really are. But pain is only felt where there’s life, and where there’s life is just the place where death is needed most.” When I first read that, I realized I had stumbled upon something that was far beyond the wisdom of our day and there’s a reason for it. As we get into the reason why we started Lamplighter and the reason this is entrepreneurial and it’s really bringing wisdom of the past back into our lives today, what I found is that these authors wrote out of the depths of suffering. These authors knew what it was like to endure adversity that develops their character, that leads to hope, it doesn’t disappoint us, according to Romans V. When God brought these stories into my life, I was learning the scriptures from a different perspective – a deeper perspective. That makes the difference between the literature that we have today and the literature that we had back then. People suffered for Christ in a way that we haven’t even touched the surface. That’s how I was introduced. I was looking for mentors. For the first 10 years of my Christian experience, I was seeking mentors – longing for a mentor to come into my life. God brought it through literature. Another thing I want to clarify, that quote you quoted “you’ll be the same today as you’ll be five years from now except for the people you meet and the books you read” – that’s not my quote. I wish it was but that comes from a man named Charlie “Tremendous” Jones. That’s really how everything got started. I heard that quote 34 years ago when I was at a seminar. He pulled me out of an audience of 3000 people and brought me up on stage and asked me, at that point in my life, what great Christian literature has been influencing my life – what biographies? What great men and women of God were influencing my character for Christ? At that moment in my life, at 22 years old, I had never read a book in my life other than the scriptures. I had just gotten saved. So there I was, this young Christian, having never read a biography or any other book – I had a bachelor’s degree and never read a book – and God in his unique and amazing design decided that he would start my Christian character development at that conference with this amazing man of God named Charlie “Tremendous” Jones who would confront me by divine providence, divine design, out of a crowd of 3000 people. Not only put pressure on me but after it was over with – and after embarrassing the living daylights out of me – when I got home three days later, there was a special delivery box on my doorstep with 12 biographies in it. Those biographies God used to change my life forever. In fact, the first book I read was D.L. Moody – the greatest evangelist of the 19th Century. The second one was George Mueller. I’m going to put you guys on the spot – I’m going to give you a quiz. D.L. Moody, greatest evangelist of the 19th Century, then Mueller – what is Mueller known for primarily?

Bill: If you’re asking me, I would tell you – you asked the wrong guy because Mueller’s one of my heroes too, as one of the early brethren fellows who started many orphanages and who basically gave away as much money as he could. Mueller is a … I don’t know how you could read a biography of Mueller and not be energized about life, knowing how people can give.

Brian: Mark and Bill, if I could interrupt real quick, we have to run to a quick commercial break. That’s how when you’re having a good time how time flies. Ladies and gentlemen, come on back, Mark Hamby with us for the full hour, here at offthegridnews.com.

[0:10:30 – 14:41 break]

Brian: Ladies and gentlemen, once again, welcome back to Off the Grid News – the radio version of offthegridnews.com. Talking about, for sure, a different paradigm today, Bill. I know that you and Mark were discussing, right before we went to the break – and I want to say quickly that Charlie “Tremendous” Jones, that he pulled Mark out of the audience all those years ago – when the student is ready, the teacher appears. It’s 50/50. You think it’s Charlie “Tremendous” Jones and I’m going to say Mark “Tremendous” Hamby or Mark “Fantastic” Hamby, because when the student’s ready, that’s when the teacher shows up and he must have been able to sense that. I wanted to throw that in but I know you and Mark were having a great discussion.

Bill: We were. He’s going to elaborate on George Mueller, who started a bunch of orphanages and was a master of Christian education and did so many wonderful things. He was going to add on to my limited knowledge of George’s life.

Mark: You guys lead in the most incredible phrases. “When the student’s ready, the teacher appears.” That is an amazing statement and that is so true. God had been preparing my life up to that point – I had just read through the scriptures from cover to cover. I had a great senior pastor that was discipling me, encourage me to memorize scripture. That’s what prepared me to be ready for that teacher to come on the scene. You’re right. That is key. Today we live in a culture that is amusing itself to death. People are no longer prepared, therefore God can’t show up. I really believe there’s some wisdom in what you just said there. OK, George Mueller. Most people would say George Mueller – he’d be known as a great man of prayer or a man who took care of countless orphans in orphanages and so forth. But I just learned something recently that blew me away. George Mueller read through the Bible, cover to cover, 400 times in his lifetime. From the time he was 71 to 92, he read through the scriptures four times every year, cover to cover. That is what I believe gave George Mueller the foundation to be the kind of man of God, the man of faith, the man of prayer, the man of miracles, that he was. God did great things in his life because he had a great foundation of the word of God in his life. I believe that’s what’s missing today. The scripture says that there’s going to come a day when God’s going to send a famine on the land – not a famine of bread and water but a famine of hearing the word of God. I believe that that’s happening today.

Bill: That’s amazing. You talked about Postman. This show is all about getting off the grid and you mentioned Neil Postman. I don’t think many people realize that the ideas for amusing ourselves to death came from a seminar or a talk that Postman gave regarding both Orwell’s “1984”and “Brave New World.” The dangerous thing about the times we’re in, from my perspective, Mark, is that there’s a control grid that exists. Postman understood this. It sounds on one level like “you guys have become silly children and that’s something you should try to correct.” But I think Postman’s got this other idea and especially in the context of Orwell, that this soma that we have – and Brian and I were talking, most people just read ESPN or they read some Bill O’Reilly column – they all want to know what somebody else’s opinion of everything else was. It’s almost meaningless and ridiculous. You add the video games in and we’ve got almost – there’s no substance to life anymore.

Mark: Do you know what’s amazing? I didn’t mention Neil Postman. I only quoted him. You immediately heard “Neal Postman” because you read his works. Most people today aren’t familiar with his works. He wrote that in the ‘60s, which is also amazing. Do you guys know what the word amuse means in English?

Bill: No, tell us.

Mark: It comes from two words – a, negative particle meaning no or not; muse – to muse means to think. What we’re doing today is we’re no longer thinking because of the amusements that we’re taking into our lives. In French it means to distract. People today are being distracted from truly the most important thing. The president of University of Southern California wrote in his book “Contrarian Leadership” that one of the lowest levels of literature is the newspaper. Wherever I travel today it seems like everyone’s reading the newspaper. Very few people are reading the word of God or books that are of value that leads to a productive life. We really have been addicted to mediocrity and addicted to our amusements of the day. Here’s something interesting. Ezekiel 28 – the first – one of God’s most important creations was Lucifer. In fact, Lucifer in the Hebrew means light bearer or in Latin it means light bearer. Lucifer, according to Ezekiel 28 and Isaiah 14, he was the cherubim that covereth. He was the cherubim angelic being that covered the throne of God. In his body were all of these precious gems. Also the scripture teaches that he also had musical instruments built into, created into, his body. He was the sight and sound of God’s glory. The reflection of God’s glory. Lucifer turns his back on God, gets cast out of heaven, down to earth and guess what happens? Man – God creates man in his image. Second commandment of God is not to have other images before God. What is happening today? Lucifer, who was the image bearer of God, reflection of God’s glory, has now been given to man. What’s Lucifer doing? He’s distorting the image of God through a bombardment of images through the media – from video games to computers to TV, everything else that’s out there. It’s making it more accessible, more easy, for people to be saturated with the images of the day so that we’re no longer able to reflect the true image of God. In fact, one of the reasons we’re in such a non-productive state in our economy is that people are no longer able to imagine, because everything that is around them is imagining for them. I believe that’s what’s happening today.

Bill: I think that’s brilliantly stated, Mark. I think you’ve touched on something so that we’ve become – and this is in the devil’s bag of tricks as you say – we’ve become a nation of images. We’ve become visual and image-centric rather than logo-centric.

Mark: That’s exactly right.

Bill: Isn’t that where we’re going? Here’s a really neat thing from my perspective. My wife’s grandparents were always very interesting people to me because they were in their 90s when they died and they were very well-read. They were nurtured and well-read when they were young on a whole different kind of thing. There wasn’t anything for them to do in the day except maybe get the hogs in the pen or pick berries or do whatever it is the were doing, and read some of the classic works that you’ve reprinted. When you have a conversation with someone who has a richness to us, there’s such a stark contrast to a conversation with someone that’s got the earphones in and you try to … we all know the 16-year-old guy who’s got the hat on and the earphones in and you try to nudge him to take them off and answer a question and he doesn’t know where he’s at. Alex Jones would call him a “fluoride head” or whatever. The contrast between that generation, that are now dying off, and this generation – what do they call the generation that’s just growing up now that’s now reading? It’s not Xers. What do they call them?

Brian: Jeremy, that’s your generation.

Bill: Jeremy, what are you? I’m just kidding. But Mark, do you want to speak to the difference between cultures in your experience as well?

Mark: Absolutely. What’s going on today is that because of the image saturation, people are no longer able to think through things. In fact, images – when you’re watching something – films, video games, whatever – you shift from left brain to right brain. Left brain is your center for values, center for discernment. Right brain is your pleasure center. Endorphins are being released when you’re watching something. What is happening – and endorphins, by the way, that are being released through these chemicals – that’s the same properties of heroin. Literally, people are being addicted to the images that they’re watching. Furthermore, the images are shifting every two to four seconds. Whenever you have that kind of shift, it’s the same principle of an EEG, where there’s a brain scan. When you’re having an EEG, you’re watching a strobe light. Those images – the images that you’re looking at – actually go into the brain and they can graph the brain wavelength activity. When you’re watching something – video, video games and so forth – what is happening, it is actually changing the brain wavelength activity for people to think now in illogical, disconnected thought patterns. That is the primary reason for the disconnectedness between this generation and even our generation and the generations of years gone by. What man has to do – what our culture has to do – is we’ve got to get back to the thing that’s most important and that’s what David said – “if you meditate upon the word day and night, everything you do will prosper.” Joshua said the same thing – “this book of the law will not depart out of my mouth.” We’ve got to become men and women of the Word again. We’ve got to ponder it day and night so that we can – the more time you spend with God, it will influence who you are. Psalm 16:11 says “God will make known unto us the path of life. In his presence is fullness of joy. In His right hand are pleasures forever more.” That’s a verse of proximity. The more we spend time with somebody, the more influence it’s going to have on our lives. That’s the basic difference in the culture today. I believe that we are living in the days of judges, where men are no longer leading. Women have to rise up in place of men. There’s a whole generation, judges too, a whole generation who knew not the Lord, neither the works that the Lord had done. That’s the basic difference. I think it’s up to our generation to change this. We’re going to have to be the ones that are going to have to say “enough is enough.” For me in my house, we’re going to serve the Lord. We’re going to get back into the Word. We’re going to put away the childish things. Let’s put away the newspaper. It’s nothing more than a soap opera. Let’s put away FOX news, let’s put away Rush Limbaugh. Let’s put away all the stuff that is preoccupying our time and let’s get serious about the things that are most important. That’s why we started Lamplighter.

Brian: Mark, we’re going to have to run to a quick commercial break. Let’s do that. We’ll come back, I want to talk about Lamplighter and Bill’s got some other questions as well. Ladies and gentlemen, come on back. Mr. Mark Hamby for the remaining hour, here at offthegridnews.com.

[0:25:45 – 0:30:00 break]

Brian: Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for returning. We’re here today with Mr. Mark Hamby. Bill, I was thinking, everyone’s complaining about slot machines. “they’ve got bells and whistles and noises and sounds … you have to interact with them.” But then you listen to Mark’s description of what happens to a human brain when is sees images flash every four minutes – how he equated it to a controlled substance, what it does to your brain. We should be complaining about the media as much as for those that want to complain about slot machines in Vegas – you’ve got a slot machine sitting in your living room, it’s called a television.

Bill: And we’re getting good – we’re human beings created in God’s image – so we get good at whatever it is we do. If we want to get good at creating bad images, we’ll get good at that. We’ll master that. Up until the point, my guess, is where our brains finally shut down, if what Mark’s saying is true and I believe that it is. We were talking before the break, Brian, a little bit about culture. What’s the difference in these cultures? If you look at Drudge Report or something you see these headlines, or you go anywhere and you see this aggregation of who we are, what’s going on. Sometimes we pick sensationalized things. I want to throw Henry Van Til out here and say Henry Van Til said that culture is religion externalized. In other words, what we all collectively think are ultimacies, that’s what our culture is. If we’re going to get off the grid, if we’re going to go change things, we’ve got to not only do it with a loud guitar but we’ve got to go do it in our own private lives as well. So if we control our minds and help our children to control their minds through what we read, we’re going to change culture in a way that I don’t think you can predict. Bigger than some of these big noisy ways, big loud ways, big marching. I’m not against the Tea Party – I love our friend Ted Nugent – all the things that we like, the NRA and all these things, but sometimes – and I think if George Mueller was here he would agree – sometimes the secret things that go on and the changes that we decide to implement in our own hearts and minds are so powerful, like what happened to Mark. Mark, do you want to jump in on that?

Mark: Sure. You guys are really hitting it on the head here. I read a book once called” Culture Making” and it said that we no longer should be protesting or boycotting the culture, we need to make it better. We need to make it attractive so that when people see in us what they normally do not see as far as a high level of excellence, that they then ask us of the reason of the hope that is in us. What I believe is missing today, what I believe is necessary today, is for Christians – who are created in the image of God, first of all – to become saturated with His word. The Word of God is alive and powerful. That’s what changes us. Once a person starts to really start to connect with God again, like what Piper said in his book “Desiring God,” he said “the chief end of man is to glorify God.” By the way, this changed my life. I read this about 15-16 years ago. From that moment that I read this, my life has not been the same. Just one word changed my life. Ready for this? You guys know the quote, right? “The chief end of man is to glorify God.” In the Westminster Confession it says “and to glorify him forever.” But Piper changed it and said “the chief end of man is to glorify God by enjoying him forever.” That one word changed my life because it was the first time that I understood that God created me because he wanted to enjoy me. And he wanted me to enjoy him. It’s really a partnership. When people start seeing God, the purpose that God created us was so that he could partner with us to continue to be creative on the earth, to continue to show forth his glory and works in the earth, so that when people see it they’re attracted to it and say “I’ve never seen it done like that before.” That’s what’s missing in our culture. I think Christians are called by God to rise up – to be imaginative, to be creative thinkers, to be cutting edge – and to do it better than anyone ever has done it before. That is going to take extreme, extreme hard work. It’s going to take sacrifice. It’s going to take people going to school again, getting the doctoral degrees, being apprenticed with people, and really taking the time to be the best at whatever God-given abilities he’s given us. Piper also said that God is most glorified when we’re most satisfied in him. To me, that’s what motivates me more than anything else is that God wants to enjoy me. He wants me to enjoy him in a partnership kind of way. Daily. We’re like “OK, Lord, what is it that I can do today?” How can I become better at what I do today so that I make my life an attractive opportunity for the gospel, so that people ask me of the reason of the hope that is in me? That again is the reason why we started Lamplighter.

Bill: Mark, we know that ideas really do have consequences. Not too far away from where Brian and I are sitting right now, a young man named Ronald Reagan read a book growing up here in Dixon – you could throw a rock to it almost from where we’re at. Ron’s a bit of a hero in these parts and other parts. He read a book when he was a young man that you carry. Do you want to tell us a little bit about how that … you think about reading one little book, some kid someplace, changed the world.

Brian: I think of Mark’s answer when you said “one word changed it,” and I thought it was going to be supercalifragilistic … Jeremy, run out real quick, be quiet when you open the door – get the thesaurus. If Mark’s going to throw out a word, I need to know what it is. What was Mark’s word? Two letters…

Mark: “By.”

Brian: “By,”yeah. I’m all over it, Bill. I’m with you. What was the book?

Bill: Down the road, some kid’s reading a book. He’s not marching, his parents aren’t protesting in any big march. They just gave him a book. What was the book?

Mark: Actually, it was his grandmother. She gave him the book called “That Printer of Udell’s.” He was 11 years old, went into the bedroom, started reading it. He came out, looked at his grandmother and said “grandma, someday I’m going to become President of the United States.” Ronald Reagan not only became President of the United States but before he died he said it was still one of the number one influences in his life. It is a book that – out of the 140 books that we have found, I would put that number – probably #12 on the list of great books that I’ve read. That is an amazing influential book for the church today to read. Everyone needs to read that “Printer of Udell’s.” But there are 11 others that are even better.

Bill: Why don’t you talk about a few of your – I was going to save this for a little bit later but I’m excited about, in your mind, let’s go down the list of a few of them and why you think some of the other ones are better. Some people are going to be listening to this, Mark, and say “I’m a homeschool mom and I’ve got someone this age” or “I work all day and I want my kid to read …” Give us some ideas of books that if they go to your website, what should they be typing in your little search thing and shopping for because you think “if you’re going to start someplace, start here.”

Mark: Sure. The first book I read actually has been the book that is still, I would say, #1. It’s called “The Basket of Flowers.” I read it to my 12-year-old daughter. As I was reading it, I was weeping, because I had never found wisdom like this in my life. We can do this one of two ways since we probably don’t have a lot of time. I have two books that I can give you a two minute synopsis of them. The other ones I can give you themes of them.

Brian: OK, Mark, let’s do it this way, since we have two minutes to a break – could you do a two minute synopsis of one book and then we’ll come back from the break and we’ll let you hop right into the second book?

Mark: OK, here goes. “The Basket of Flowers.” The father is the king’s gardener. He’s teaching his daughter the principles of godliness to his flowers. He says “Mary, see in this lily, my child, the symbol of innocence. Its leaves are of whiteness which out vies that of the richest satin and equals that of the driven snow. Happy is the daughter whose heart is also pure for it’s the pure at heart who shall see God. But the more pure the color, my child, the more difficult it is to preserve it in all its purity. The slightest taint can spoil the flower of the lily and it must be touched even with the greatest precaution, lest it retain the blemish. At that moment the guards burst into the garden, took Mary, began to beat her with whips unmercifully. You see, the day before, when Mary brought the roses and lilies to the queen, the queen set her aside and said she had a gift for her. But the queen then took her ring off her finger and set it on the dresser. When she returned, she gave the gift to Mary and Mary left the castle. But the queen’s ring was missing. The only one in the room at the time was Mary and the penalty for stealing from royalty is death. The judge questioned her severely. She said she did not steal the ring. She begged for mercy. The judge said that he would hang her if she did not confess. If she did confess he would release her. Her father questioned her severely. She said ‘father, you know I wouldn’t take an apple out of someone’s orchard.’ The father then looked at the judge and said ‘I see in her face the face of innocence.’ The judge said ‘if you do not get her to confess, I will hang you before her eyes and then your daughter.’ Then he said this” – and I’ll never forget it – “he said, ‘Mary, it is better to die for the truth than to live for a lie. For the worst pillow to sleep on is the pillow of a guilty conscience which you do not possess.” When I read that, I was on my knees in tears because I knew I did not possess the wisdom that this father possessed that I needed so badly.

Brian: Ladies and gentlemen, we’re going to run to a quick commercial break. I want to talk to Mark about that. That’s extremely powerful. We want to talk to Mark when we come back, right after this break at offthegridnews.com.

[0:39:52 – 0:44:05 break]

Brian: Ladies and gentlemen, as the announcer says, welcome back to Off the Grid Radio. Brian Brawdy here, as always, with Mr. Bill Heid. Today, our very special guest, from Lamplighter Publishing, Mr. Mark Hamby. Mark, I can tell because of our quick little conversation in the break, you’re not going to tell me how the story finishes. So I’ve already gone ahead on lamplighterpublishing.com and put an ‘X’ in my shopping cart for “The Basket of Flowers.” But I know Bill had a question for you about that and we want to hear about some of your other top 10 favorites.

Bill: I was just going to say that everybody that’s listening to this ought to pause this right now and go to lamplighter.com and open this up and look at some of the stuff while we’re talking. You can let us blare on as you’re browsing and actually look for some of these books because these books – really, you want to get off the grid, you want to change things, you want to revive culture – you’re going to go in and control what your thoughts are. I don’t think there’s a better place that you can do that – fuel for the brain – than going to this website. So put us on pause and then go there and then come back. Now we’re back, right? Because you put us on pause.

Brian: You put it on pause and you went to lamplighterpublishing.com. That’s where you went before you came back, right?

Bill: Brian, you’ve already ordered “Basket of Flowers,” and you’re getting ready … Mark’s going to tell us about a couple of other ones that he thinks should be on the list. Then we’ll go into Lamplighter Theater.

Brian: To be honest, I think I’m going to order “The Basket of Flowers” on the dramatic audio CD, because I listen to it in the truck when I’m driving back and forth. I can’t always read but – Mark, is that cool with you? “The Basket of Flowers” – the dramatic audio CD – that way I can figure out who put the kibosh on the ring?

Bill: You really will be crying. You probably should not drive … is there a warning on the dramatic version of the CD telling people not to drive?

Mark: If you can figure it out, let me know and I’ll send you another free book.

Brian: I’m Mark’s most insane friend so no one else would be worked up about …

Bill: My kids cry when they read his stuff, when they read these books too. Sorry, Mark. Our introductions are too long, but you’d have to admit they are interesting, as you said.

Mark: Engaging.

Bill: Tell us about some other stuff that absolutely you should have.

Mark: Absolute reads – if they’ve got young children, you must read “Teddy’s Button.” “Teddy’s Button” has led more children to Christ than any book I know of. It’s a book about a boy and girl that hate each other and they learn that you don’t win the battle with hate, you win the battle with love and your greatest enemy is yourself. Every parent that I know that has read this book with their children has either written to us or called us and said “this is the best book I’ve ever read in my life.” It is an amazing story. I’m not going to get into it too much other than just take my word for it, it’s a life-changing story. In September, we’re also going to have this one in a dramatic audio form. Another book, if you’ve got teenagers – junior high to senior high – there’s a book that if I had read it when I was that age it would have saved me 10 years – a decade of aimless aimlessness and meaninglessness. It’s a book called “Hand on the Bridle.” What a book. If they’ve got preschool children – well, if they’ve got children 4 to 8 – there’s a book called “Courage at Runaway Brook” and “Little Threads” – those two books are essential. “Little Threads” is a book written by the author who wrote “Stepping Heavenward.” That’s the one that Elizabeth Elliot, Kay Arthur, Johnny Ericson  said changed their lives. She also wrote a children’s book called “Little Threads.” “Little Threads” and “Courage at Runaway Brook.” A book that, if teens love to read, there are two books that will blow them away. I think, from all the letters we receive from around the world, teenagers are saying these are Lamplighters’ top books – this would be 12 and up – the first one is called “The Hidden Hand: God Bringing Seven People to the End of Themselves so They’ll Learn to Trust in the Hidden Hand of God.” It’s about 500 pages long. It took me three days to read it. I could not put it down. I took three days off of work. When I started reading it, I could not put it down. It is my wife’s all-time favorite book. It’s my third favorite book. The first one is called “Ishmael.” It is a story in the 1830s of a boy who educates himself. He passes the bar exam educating himself and he is the first American lawyer to win a case on behalf of a woman. Changes the course of American history. But it’s much more than that. It is the most incredible story of a boy who’s got to make a decision – a young boy, he’s got to make a decision – between two young ladies. It’s not a romantic story, it’s a story of a young man and a young woman fighting the fight of faith and flesh in their lives and have to make a decision, are they going to sacrifice their temporary pleasures for eternal good? What a story. It’ll have you on the edge of your seat. When I was reading the – it actually comes in two volumes, “Ishmael” and then “Self Raised” is the second volume – I was reading the first volume, I didn’t have part two, and I was on an airplane coming from California to Pennsylvania. I got to the last 20 pages, I was savoring it, I was on the airplane – I got to the very last sentence and it says “the rest of this book will continue in …” I just screamed on the airplane like “oh no! I’ve got a six hour flight and I don’t have part two.” Part two is even better. Here’s another one, called “The Hedge of Thorns.” This book is a life changer for all ages. It’s a little heavy. It’s a true story – a father telling his son not to go near a hedge of thorns. Of course when you’re told not to do something, you want to know all the more what’s on the other side of the hedge. The hedge is six feet wide, 12 feet high and a mile long. The boy, he’s about 10 years old, he gets a half a mile away from home, starts breaking the branches off because he can see some light on the other side and he knows there must be an orchard or a vineyard on the other side. IN fact, he believes there might even be the lost Garden of Eden on the other side. Now his imagination is taking off with him. All the things that happen when we start to go across the boundaries that God and our parents set for us tend to create this desire of wanting to know what’s forbidden. The boy gets halfway through, can’t get through, so he gets his seven-year-old little sister, who he dearly loves, to crawl through the hedge, thinking she could peek her head out on the other side. She can’t get through. In a fit of passion, wanting to know so badly what’s on the other side, takes the palms of his hands, the backs of her shoes, and pushes her as hard as he can. When he pushes her, the thorns go into her face, into her eyes, scars her for life. He runs her home. The mother stops the bleeding just in time. She then does something unthinkable. Now, I’m reading this to my family when they were young, and I’m in tears. The mother sets the little girl, with her bandaged face, in his arms and she says to her son “I want you to look at your sister’s face for the rest of the evening and never forget, when you cross the boundaries that God sets for you, you can harm those you love the most.” If that were my son, I would have given him the biggest beating of his life. This woman used wisdom, a far greater punishment, one that he will learn from, he will never forget. I just didn’t possess that kind of wisdom. The next morning, the father takes him to the same spot. Gets him up early in the morning, gets him dressed, doesn’t say a word to his son – I couldn’t imagine my father not saying a word to me, I’m thinking “what’s he going to do?” – takes him to the same spot where he pushes his sister through, he picks him up. It appears in the story he’s going to throw him into the hedge and teach him a lesson. Instead, he picks him up on the palms of his hands, lifts him up as high as he can, so that the boy can see what’s on the other side of the hedge of thorns. When he sees it, it changes his life forever, because on the other side of the hedge of thorns there’s a – well, you’re going to have to read the book. [laughs]

Brian: I was going to say – wait a minute, if you’re going to do that then we need to go back to “The Basket of Flowers.”

Bill: You’ve got to read the book.

Brian: Good job, Mark. Good job.

Mark: OK. One more. “Titus: a Comrade of the Cross.” 1896 there was a contest throughout the whole world. Whoever could write a story to set a child’s heart on fire for Jesus Christ would get a thousand dollar reward in 1896 – that’s like a quarter-million dollars today. This lady, Florence Kingsley, finds historical documents – we do not know if it’s true or not – I think they are, my wife doesn’t – that’s typical – she finds this history account of the two thieves on the cross and who they were and why the scripture has both thieves cursing Christ but all of a sudden one thief changes his mind and says “this man has done nothing wrong but we justly deserve what we’re about to get.” In the story, you will find out who the thieves are and why the one thief changes his mind at the last moment. It is the most powerful book I have ever read in my life. Next week we’re meeting with a major film company that they’re asking us to consider it to be put into a film which I’m hesitating right now because I know that film in itself is not good for people but if we’re going to reach the culture we may have to go that direction. Then lastly – two lastlies – are you ready for this? This is a book in 1877 quickly sold over 2 ½ million copies. It’s a book called “A Peep Behind the Scenes.” My wife was reading it to my daughter when she was 12 and I watched the two of them for a whole week weep every morning as they would read a new chapter. It’s the story of this mother, she teaches her daughter what life is like behind the scenes. She teaches her it’s better – that behind every smiling face there’s a hurting heart and everything that is attractive and alluring in this life, there’s always a high price to pay. Then the last book, this one is the most life-changing book I’ve ever read in my life. I find it much more powerful and much more grabbing than “Pilgrim’s Progress.” It’s called “Sir Knight of the Splendid Way.” It’s the story of a knight who wants to see the king and the only way you can see the king is if you keep your armor on. The only way you can keep your armor on is if you have a pure heart. It is an extraordinary story. We just got back from London and we just recorded that one as well which will air in September.

Bill: Mark, I have to ask you a quick question because I was on your website looking around and now my mind is … I’ve forgotten … which is the book – because popular culture thinks that “Scarlet Letter” was the big book of its time, but there’s some books that just absolutely destroyed it. And yet popular culture that we have won’t talk about it, right? Because we want to have this certain idea about the Puritans so we want to make sure … what was the real book that “Scarlet Letter” wasn’t even close to at the time, that Hawthorne hated?

Mark: Thanks for reminding me. I can’t believe I left out the most important book.

Bill: That’s why I’m here. That’s why I’m here for you.

Mark: The book we named our ministry after – the Lamplighter – it’s called “The Lamplighter,” written by, I think, O.F. Walton. It was a story written in the same month as “Scarlet Letter” and Nathaniel Hawthorne was so livid over this book, he wrote in a newspaper column “these ‘blank blank’ women ought not to write these moral stories that are corrupting and influencing our culture” – he’s thinking Christian ways. The same month that “The Scarlet Letter” was printed, “The Lamplighter” outsold “The Scarlet Letter” 10 to 1, went on to sell 60,000 copies in just the first few weeks, and that was in 1850. But around 1880, everything changed – public school education started, a lot of the books that were once considered the parental curriculum – parents read these stories, by the way, to train their children in Godliness. There weren’t schools way back then. There was a one-room schoolhouse but primarily they used the scriptures to teach their children. But this is what is essential, Peter 2, Chapter 1, it says “we’re to be diligent to add to our faith virtue and to virtue knowledge. Knowledge is always built upon the foundation of virtue.” Peter goes on to say “if we will practice these things” – practice faith, add to your faith virtue, virtue knowledge, knowledge self control, self control perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, love. He says “if you do these things and practice these things, you will never fall.” That was what made the difference in the culture back then, is that parents saw that the most important thing that they could give to their children was an influence of Godly character and that’s what made the difference.

Bill: It’s amazing stuff. It’s stuff that needs to be interjected into our lives. Guys like Piper and J. I. Packer – even though they understand that, people that are writing Christian material today – we still do, irrespective of that, we still live in a hot tub culture. By getting these books, you’re going to be able to go back in time and find out what that Romans V lifestyle was that shaped these folks, that drug them through that broken glass. Before we go, Mark, do you want to tell us a little bit about some of the dramatic audio that’s going on? The people that you’ve got doing your audio – you’ve got to tell us some of these – you’ve got “Lord of the Rings” people, you’ve got “Pirates of the Caribbean” folks. Tell us about what’s going on there because that’s extremely exciting.

Mark: When I realized that only 5 to 10 percent of the entire North American continent reads non-fiction or anything of value that leads to a productive life, I’m doing my doctoral research right now on the effects of media on the mind and the moral imagination. I came across that statistic, and when I did, I realized we are a publishing ministry – we’re a teaching and publishing ministry – but only 5 to 10 percent of the people are being influenced, so let’s do something even greater. Let’s get these stories out in another medium. It just happened that my wife and I were invited to speak at “Focus on the Family,” a strategic planning meeting. While we were there, several of the guys and gals that used to work for Focus that were creating Adventures in Odyssey and Radio Theater got laid off. Through divine providence, we had the most amazing moment of our lives. Some guy looked at us and said “aren’t you the guy that publishes those books? I heard you speak at a conference.” I said “yeah.” HE goes “have you ever thought about putting them in radio drama?” I said “20 years, eat, sleep and breathe the idea.” We met with John Fornof and Marshal Younger four hours later. John walks in, teary eyed, looks at me and says “I just read your website and I believe that God has called me to help you birth Lamplighter Theater.” That Lamplighter Theater was born that day. We only had enough money to do one drama. This is expensive stuff. We went to Hollywood, we did drama like you said with characters that had already performed in “Pirates of the Caribbean,” “Chronicles of Narnia,” “Les Miserable.” These creators – we’re talking about the music designers, music composers, sound designers, script writers – these are the best of the best in the world, and there they were at our disposal to be able to partner with us. So we create this amazing drama called “Sir Malcolm and the Missing Prince” about an incorrigible king’s son who has to learn the lessons of servanthood before he can become the next king. We’re done and we’re going to do another one five years later and God in his amazing, miraculous design, decides that Dennis Rainey – he’s going to prompt Dennis Rainey to pull out a three-year-old radio interview that he did with me talking about Lamplighter Books, like we’re talking today. Within 48 hours, it generates enough revenue for us to go back to Hollywood, only this time we went to London and we did eight more episodes. We get back and two weeks later after we get back – we’re a small ministry, there’s only nine people on staff. Everyone that works at Lamplighter works anywhere from 12 to 18 hours a day. That’s just the way it has to be right now until God raises up the support that we need to make things a little bit more normal. So we get back and two weeks later, Nancy Leigh DeMoss pulls out a three-year-old radio interview and decides to re-air a radio interview she did with me talking about Lamplighter Books. In 10 minutes, we sold a thousand “Basket of Flowers.” I called up John, I said “I’ve got more money, let’s do it again.” We went back. We did this … New Year’s Eve, we’re so broke that my secretary calls me up in tears and says “we’re not going to make payroll. What am I going to do?” We prayed as a staff and got – we have a prayer partner list of 400 people – they started praying. New Year’s Eve, Moody Bible Network decides to re-air a year-old radio interview that Greg Wheatley did with me on Prime Time America. He airs it on New Year’s Eve and all day New Year’s Day. Our website is lit up. We have more revenue. I call up John, I said “we can do this again.” We contact radio stations and in two months we had 400 radio stations signed up. This was a year-and-a-half ago. Today we have over a thousand radio stations in 20 countries airing Lamplighter Theater, airing these stories that are done by some of the greatest actors and the greatest creators on earth. We just praise God and we’re just asking God and asking God’s people to come alongside of us. This is a huge undertaking. We’ve got people in India, China, Japan, South America, Africa, that are begging us right now to put these in their languages. This is an opportunity to really create a revival on the earth and we’re just excited. God’s word is getting out in a new and creative way that the world has never seen before.

Bill: This is pretty amazing stuff. There’s some things that people can do, you can obviously become – and I would encourage everybody to be a prayer partner over at Lamplighter – that’s something that you should do as a no-brainer. The second thing is go, get out your wallet, get your credit card and go buy some stuff because not only are you going to help your family, you’re going to help Mark and his ministry. Some of you can probably figure out a way to help Mark put some of these things in other languages. Mark, Brian will close it up here in a second, but if somebody wants to help you do that and they say “I want to write you a check,” what’s the best thing they can do?

Mark: They can go to our website at lamplighter.net – there’s two websites – lamplighter.net or lamplighterpublishing.com. It’s a little confusing so just lamplighter.net and there’s a whole place there that they can help support us. We’re actually trying to get in English, before we even go to the other languages, we want to get it out in English right now. We can probably have this on close to 10,000 radio stations by the next year, if God’s people help us right now. We have two dramas that we just got back from London and we’ve had to postpone them because we just don’t have the finances to finish them right now. But we’ve got it all recorded, now we’ve just got to add the music and the sound. So they can go to lamplighter.net. We believe it’s in God’s timing and guess what else? This is going to blow you away. As you close this, July 17-22, all of the guys that are creating Lamplighter Theater, that helped create “Les Miserables,””Chronicles of Narnia”, “Left Behind” in Radio Theater and Adventures in Odyssey – most of those guys are going to be teaching with us. It’s called the Lamplighter Guild – we’re going to be up in a 250-room castle in the Catskills. We are going to be mentoring, inspiring, instructing students from 16- to 90-year-olds, in both the dramatic arts and visual arts, also in culinary design, horticulture and biblical entrepreneurship. This is going to be a week like no other. It’s in the same spirit of L’Abri that Francis Schaeffer did. This is going to be our very first one. We’re hoping it’s going to lead to many more in the future, to inspire students how do they reflect the image and glory of God in their giftedness on the earth so that they will be able to live a life that is compelling through their excellence of work, so that people will ask them of the reason of the hope that is in them.

Bill: I think everybody should try to – is information on that on the site as well?

Mark: Yeah, lamplighter.net and the first picture they see, it’ll show this castle and they just press that and it’ll take them right to the site.

Bill: Take them right to the castle. Transform them. Right to the castle. Brian, do you want to – I’d say to everybody listening, my last comment is let’s try to light Mark’s site up. Just like what’s happened to him at Moody before, please, you need this more than you need gold – we talk about gold and silver and you need those things, but you need this more than you need gold and silver – maybe more than you need that extra hamburger or that extra food that you’re eating. This is real food, Brian.

Brian: Absolutely. I talk all the time, Mark, about mind-ups – just like push-ups or sit-ups or pull-ups for the human body – I’ve used for 20 years now the term mind-ups. They’re things you can do to strengthen your mind, to lose some of the psycho fat that’s on it, things you can do to make it more flexible. Your books are absolutely those mind-ups. Now, I know you’re not going to tell me the final part and who took the ring, but what I do need is you were telling me about the thieves on the cross. Before I let you go and I close it, can you give me the title of that book? Because that’s going to round out my top 10.

Mark: Sure. “Titus: A Comrade of the Cross.” When you find out who that thief – who the one thief is that repents, it’s going to blow you away.

Brian: Very cool. “Titus: A Comrade of the Cross.” Mark, thank you so much. WE knew that this was going to be a great interview. We thank you for spending the whole hour with us. I want to go ahead and give up lamplighterpublishing.com and lamplighter.net. Of course, you can log on to offthegridnews.com and we’ll have all the links to Mark and the cool, cool things that he is doing. Ladies and gentlemen, say goodbye and good luck to Mr. Mark Hamby, the publisher – and I should say representing his 12 people that are working hours and hours a day to pull this off – at lamplighterpublishing.com. Mark, thank you so much.

Mark: Thanks guys.

Brian: Alright, ladies and gentlemen, that’s going to do it for us. Thank you so very much, as always, at following us here at Off the Grid. Bill, what a fantastic interview today. Just fantastic.

Bill: I’ve got a whole bunch of notes. Usually, people call us and tell us they get a bunch of notes – “I took some notes listening to you guys,” and I go “wow, that’s kind of neat.” I took a whole bunch of notes today and things. I’d love to get Mark back at some point as he furthers his studies on the impact of visual images on individuals and culture. I think that’s another day for us to talk because, you want to get off the grid, you’ve got to really make an effort, because this stuff’s coming at you. Culture’s coming at you. You have to take proactive moves to get off it.

Brian: This is getting off the mental grid. When you think about it, we tell people all the time, don’t be connected to the electric grid. Why? Because the electric grid will let you down. Well, you can’t be connected to the philosophical grid, unless you’re sure it’s the grid you want to be connected to, because a lot of times the philosophical grid will let you down. If you’re not grounded in your own belief as to what it means to be human, then you’re on the hook for someone that’s going to teach you what they think is important – about what it means for Bill Heid to be human. Forget what Bill Heid wants. That’s why it’s important to disconnect from both the electric grid and the philosophical grid. Bill Heid’s going to decide for Bill Heid, what’s the most important.

Bill: That’s for me and my family. This might sound like an Ozzy Osbourne lyric, but Lucifer laughing spreads his wings. I think Lucifer likes the grid the way it is so how then shall we live? I think this has been a great show, Brian.

Brian: It really has been. It’s one of those shows where I’m on his website, I’m taking notes, I’m writing everything down and then I heard two voices talking and I go “wait a minute” – I came back and you guys were talking and I’m going “wait a minute, I didn’t write down the “Titus …” Ladies and gentlemen, thank you so very much as always for listening to Off the Grid Radio. Please, please, please be sure to email us with questions, comments, critiques, even maybe other guest ideas – we’ll turn them over to Sarah and she can see to hook them up for the guests. You can get us that information at [email protected] You can find us on Facebook – Facebook.com/offthegridnews and, of course, as always follow us on Twitter @offgridnews. On behalf of Bill Heid, everyone at Off the Grid News and our parent company Solutions from Science, I’m Brian Brawdy. Thank you so very much for hanging out with us for the full hour.

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