Donny's Ramblings

So Donald Miller Emailed Me

24 Comments

Let’s imagine you’re a Stephen King fan (I happen to be a HUGE Stephen King fan) and out of the blue you receive an email from Stephen King. I’m not talking about someone pretending to be Stephen King. I’m talking about an email from the man himself.

Since I first picked up his book Blue Like Jazz, Donald Miller has been my Stephen King. Instead of reading the latest King book, I’d much rather read Miller. If you’ve known me for any length of time you understand what that statement says about how impressed I must be with Don.

It’s not that I idolize him. It’s not that I think he’s somehow a greater person than the rest of us. It’s just that I appreciate his writing ability and, even more so, I appreciate the way he’s helped rewire my mind. On many occasions I’ve made it clear that if I had grown up around the type of Christianity Donald Miller portrays in his books I never would have become a porn producer. I never would have caused so much pain in the lives of so many people. My son never would have experienced growing up in a home where daddy came around only to visit.

Every single Christian on the face of the planet needs to read Donald Miller’s books. In the left column of this blog you’ll find a section that says “Three Books That Changed Me.” Click on any one of those books and buy it. I recommend reading them in the order I have them listed. They’ll change your life for the better.

With this in mind, imagine what it must have been like to receive an email from the man himself. On March 25th, 2007, at 11:33pm I was able to have that experience. What he said was simple. I’ll copy and paste it for you:

donny,

don miller here, just writing to say hello. craig gross told me a bit of your story and it sounds amazing. thought i would make contact. i hope you are doing well there. and i am glad you have encountered God, and i know he is glad to have encountered you. do fire me an e-mail and give me an update on how things are going for you. all the best…

don

I had a feeling such an email might be coming. Craig Gross from XXXChurch.com has heard me speak of Donald Miller’s books on numerous occasions. Just this past weekend in Morton, IL we had lunch with the leaders of the church that hosted the last Porn and Pancakes event. I told one of the pastors about Donald Miller’s books and how every Christian should read them and, in fact, every church should start a small group to go through them chapter by chapter. Craig told me that I was a walking advertisement for Don and that he was going to email him about me.

The thing is, although he writes about life as a Christian, Donald Miller’s books are romantic. Not in a way that men can’t appreciate, and not in the way you might typically think of romance. It’s not possible for me to properly describe what I mean. You just have to experience them for yourself. That being said, let me at least attempt to draw you into what hooked me into reading Blue Like Jazz. I opened the book and this is the first thing I read:

“I never liked jazz music because jazz music doesn’t resolve. But I was outside the Bagdad Theater in Portland one night when I saw a man playing the saxophone. I stood there for fifteen minutes, and he never opened his eyes. After that I liked jazz music.

Sometimes you have to watch somebody love something before you can love it yourself. It is as if they are showing you the way. I used to not like God because God didn’t resolve. But that was before any of this happened.”

That, my friends, is what I’m talking about. What a great way to start a book! I couldn’t put it down. Don Miller’s books show a Jesus I want to know. A Jesus I want to love. A Jesus I want to serve. A relationship with God that I want to experience.

He paints with words. I can’t describe his books any better than that: the man paints with words.

On March 17th, the day I announced the Hiatus that wasn’t a Hiatus after all, I read To Own a Dragon in one sitting, down at Caldwell Park in Redding, California. In it, Don discusses growing up without a father. Once again, the book changed my life. Perhaps some day I’ll tell you more about that. Perhaps not. But that weekend changed the direction in which I was heading.

Isn’t it funny how powerful words can be?

Sometimes you have to watch somebody love something before you can love it yourself.”

How does that sentence make you feel? I know what it does to me: it makes me want to be that Jazz Musician. It makes me want to love what I’m doing SO MUCH that others love what I love, just because they witness ME doing so. I want to fall so deeply in love with God that people come to know him simply because of the joy he brings to MY life.

I know that is possible. That’s part of the reason my brother surrendered his life to God. It’s part of the reason that after being an alcoholic for years, he’s still sober to this day. It’s part of the reason he calls me with hope in his voice, where before there was none.

I have no doubts whatsoever that I’ll be reading those three books numerous times. I’ll continue, as I do now, to tell people what I’ve learned from them. I’ll share the Confession chapter of Blue Like Jazz over and over again, because IT REALLY IS THAT POWERFUL.

And I’ll always remember the day an email showed up in my mail box, without a subject line, from the author of three books that were quite instrumental in rewiring my mind.

It was great to hear from you, Don.

24 thoughts on “So Donald Miller Emailed Me

  1. I saw Donald Miller once. His books changed my life too.

    Blessings on your journey.

  2. I saw Donald Miller once. His books changed my life too.

    Blessings on your journey.

  3. Funny, I just finished Blue Like Jazz yesterday. I’m way behind in my reading. Donny, you are right! I loved the book! I couldn’t put it down. I found myself at work sneaking to read the book. I can’t wait to read the rest. An e-mail from Don? I would absolutely do a messy in my paints! How cool.

    Blessings,
    Steve Conley
    http://www.steveconley.logspot.com

  4. Funny, I just finished Blue Like Jazz yesterday. I’m way behind in my reading. Donny, you are right! I loved the book! I couldn’t put it down. I found myself at work sneaking to read the book. I can’t wait to read the rest. An e-mail from Don? I would absolutely do a messy in my paints! How cool.

    Blessings,
    Steve Conley
    http://www.steveconley.logspot.com

  5. I’m halfway through “Blue Like Jazz” right now. It’s amazing.

  6. I’m halfway through “Blue Like Jazz” right now. It’s amazing.

  7. Oddly enough, that’s the same way I feel when I get an email from JR or someone on the X3 Team. 🙂

    Being that you are on the X3 Team, that probably makes no sense to you… haha..

    -Josh

  8. Oddly enough, that’s the same way I feel when I get an email from JR or someone on the X3 Team. 🙂

    Being that you are on the X3 Team, that probably makes no sense to you… haha..

    -Josh

  9. Just bought Blue Like Jazz… you’re selling books!

  10. Just bought Blue Like Jazz… you’re selling books!

  11. yes, totally. i can relate. my example may not be as profound as others’, but it’s what comes to mind… i didn’t know the first thing about cooking before this year. i wasn’t even interested. you’re gonna think this is silly, but i started watching the Rachael Ray show on t.v. and it always reeaaally seems like she’s enjoying what she’s doing (she’s always saying things like “Yum-O!” while she cooks). so, i decided to give some of her recipes a try. i am soo addicted to cooking and trying new recipes now. it’s great. i wanted to be that jazz player…well, in my case, that cook.

    that sounds like a great book. one of these days, maybe i’ll check it out.

  12. yes, totally. i can relate. my example may not be as profound as others’, but it’s what comes to mind… i didn’t know the first thing about cooking before this year. i wasn’t even interested. you’re gonna think this is silly, but i started watching the Rachael Ray show on t.v. and it always reeaaally seems like she’s enjoying what she’s doing (she’s always saying things like “Yum-O!” while she cooks). so, i decided to give some of her recipes a try. i am soo addicted to cooking and trying new recipes now. it’s great. i wanted to be that jazz player…well, in my case, that cook.

    that sounds like a great book. one of these days, maybe i’ll check it out.

  13. Wow, now I want to read them!

  14. Wow, now I want to read them!

  15. Hey Donny,
    You should get a commission! Miller’s writing style is great, and very readable. And the themes are pretty universal, especially for the younger generation.
    I’m happy that God’s still working.
    Thanks for all your help.
    I think it’s your turn to buy me some pizza or something.
    Bill @ http://www.maxgrace.com (shameless plug)

  16. Hey Donny,
    You should get a commission! Miller’s writing style is great, and very readable. And the themes are pretty universal, especially for the younger generation.
    I’m happy that God’s still working.
    Thanks for all your help.
    I think it’s your turn to buy me some pizza or something.
    Bill @ http://www.maxgrace.com (shameless plug)

  17. I am a little over halfway through Blue Like Jazz… it is an excellent book and a fast read. It is rare for a book to make me laugh out loud… but I have cracked up several times while reading this. I can really relate to some of his struggles. I recommend this book to anyone that feels that their faith has become unexciting, or impersonal.

  18. I am a little over halfway through Blue Like Jazz… it is an excellent book and a fast read. It is rare for a book to make me laugh out loud… but I have cracked up several times while reading this. I can really relate to some of his struggles. I recommend this book to anyone that feels that their faith has become unexciting, or impersonal.

  19. I’ve read Blue Like Jazz and am in the middle of “Searching for God Knows What.” I was raised Christian, and really did love God. I read my Bible on my own and talked to Jesus since I was 8 years old. I went to and graduated from a Bible College. I was the poster child for the good “Christian”. But I have not been a TRUE Christian. “Begining in Bible College, I began to become disgusted with church, many church people, and myself. I gained 30 pounds, I became a gossip and was constantly negative and was just jaded by the ugliness in the world. People stopped wanting to be around me, I think.
    And then, I read “Blue Like Jazz”. I became a MESS reading that book, and am becoming more of a mess reading “Searching for God Knows What”. His writing has totally “re-wired” and changed me so deeply that I can’t explain it. I want to just… leave the church “stuff” and go be with people in bars, cafes, strip joints… wherever. I want to show people that they have value by… me just listening to them, no matter what they look like, talk like, smell like…etc. Each of us is full of greater value than we realize.

  20. I’ve read Blue Like Jazz and am in the middle of “Searching for God Knows What.” I was raised Christian, and really did love God. I read my Bible on my own and talked to Jesus since I was 8 years old. I went to and graduated from a Bible College. I was the poster child for the good “Christian”. But I have not been a TRUE Christian. “Begining in Bible College, I began to become disgusted with church, many church people, and myself. I gained 30 pounds, I became a gossip and was constantly negative and was just jaded by the ugliness in the world. People stopped wanting to be around me, I think.
    And then, I read “Blue Like Jazz”. I became a MESS reading that book, and am becoming more of a mess reading “Searching for God Knows What”. His writing has totally “re-wired” and changed me so deeply that I can’t explain it. I want to just… leave the church “stuff” and go be with people in bars, cafes, strip joints… wherever. I want to show people that they have value by… me just listening to them, no matter what they look like, talk like, smell like…etc. Each of us is full of greater value than we realize.

  21. I’m currently reading Blue Like Jazz and it’s awesome how he writes in conversation form as if he and the reader are sitting at a table and he’s telling the reader what he wrote in the book. As a fellow writer, an aspiring writer working on his craft, I love Miller’s style of writing in Blue Like Jazz and I am wanting to try my hand and mind at that style whenever I can spare a free moment without being tied down by school work.

    I understand what his chapter about Reed College, because I go to a secular college and see the oppositions of experiences and philosophies and other such things that some students have against Christianity. I know some people who go to a Christian school near where I live and I think they have it easy in the witnessing department because they don’t have to feel so restricted and limited when sharing beliefs with their fellow students and they don’t have to fear offending someone’s beliefs because most of them are Christians and that builds a comfort zone for them. It’s difficult for me to know that I have to be a witness for God because of the Great Commission and it is more difficult to know how to go about doing so when non-Christians don’t want to hear anything about Christianity and especially when secular philosophy says Christianity is a waste of time because it’s illogical, which I am learning from being in my intro to philosophy class this semester. Every Monday and Wednesday this semester, I feel like I’ve been punched in the stomach and wonder if I should believe in God and why I should and more questions and concerns about my belief system come to my mind. It’s stressing.

  22. I’m currently reading Blue Like Jazz and it’s awesome how he writes in conversation form as if he and the reader are sitting at a table and he’s telling the reader what he wrote in the book. As a fellow writer, an aspiring writer working on his craft, I love Miller’s style of writing in Blue Like Jazz and I am wanting to try my hand and mind at that style whenever I can spare a free moment without being tied down by school work.

    I understand what his chapter about Reed College, because I go to a secular college and see the oppositions of experiences and philosophies and other such things that some students have against Christianity. I know some people who go to a Christian school near where I live and I think they have it easy in the witnessing department because they don’t have to feel so restricted and limited when sharing beliefs with their fellow students and they don’t have to fear offending someone’s beliefs because most of them are Christians and that builds a comfort zone for them. It’s difficult for me to know that I have to be a witness for God because of the Great Commission and it is more difficult to know how to go about doing so when non-Christians don’t want to hear anything about Christianity and especially when secular philosophy says Christianity is a waste of time because it’s illogical, which I am learning from being in my intro to philosophy class this semester. Every Monday and Wednesday this semester, I feel like I’ve been punched in the stomach and wonder if I should believe in God and why I should and more questions and concerns about my belief system come to my mind. It’s stressing.

  23. For the questions about the validity of Christianity, I HIGHLY recommend the book “Letters from a Skeptic”. HIGHLY. 🙂

    Here’s a link to the book on Amazon.com

    – Donny –

  24. For the questions about the validity of Christianity, I HIGHLY recommend the book “Letters from a Skeptic”. HIGHLY. 🙂

    Here’s a link to the book on Amazon.com

    – Donny –

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