Friday, December 12, 2008

Is There a Lawyer in the Church? Stephen Bloom Chats about writing a Christian Perspective on Legal Issues


I had the opportunity to meet up with Legal Representative Stephen Bloom who is the author of a timely encouragement of faith book titled, The Believer’s Guide to Legal Issues.


In his book Bloom tackles the legal and scriptural sides of thirteen hot topics that seem to plague our society today such as, how some Christians fall into the litigation trap, prenuptial contracts, divorce, estate planning, taxes, the bankruptcy bailouts, and business ethics. Through his astute ability to provide real and personal life lessons along with the translation of legalese into common everyday language he provides compassionate help to those who may find themselves overwhelmed by the judicial system or wonders how current legal challenges fit with their Christian morals and beliefs. Last but not least, he discusses conciliation alternatives and a contract he believes to be the most important.

The topics I found most helpful were estate planning, a living-trust, Medicaid-planning, and living-wills. Bloom’s explanations affirmed my understanding of scripture related to these topics, as well as he gave me things to think about in choosing a lawyer if the need ever arises. The Believer’s Guide to Legal Issues is available through most major bookstores.

Stephen agreed to chat about writing and his book. This is what he had to say.

Jewel: Hi Stephen! Thank you so much for agreeing to share with us a little about your experiences as a writer and your book. Let’s start things off by asking how you get started in writing?

Stephen: It’s a heartbreaking tale. The first thing I remember writing was a poem in 2nd grade, something about wading in a stream. It got selected for “publication” by our teacher, Mrs. Winklehouse. She typed it up and included it in a little mimeographed sheet of poems to be sold for three cents apiece as part of an afterschool class fundraiser. On the morning of the sale, my mom gave me the pennies I needed to buy a copy. But when the time came, I couldn’t get the pennies out of my pants pocket! My little fingertips stretched desperately and I could just barely touch the coins, but I couldn’t get a grip! I was shy and didn’t dare ask Mrs. Winklehouse for help (she was old school, the kind who dragged kids around by the ears when they got unruly), so I just went home without my poem! How sad is that!? I never did get a copy! What a traumatic event for an aspiring young writer!

Jewel: Oh, indeed that is a sad and frustrating moment for a budding writer. It is awesome to think at a young age you learned about promoting your works through fundraising. Well, I am glad you have a copy of your new book. By the way, why is practicing law important to you? Did you dream of being a lawyer during your childhood?

Stephen: As a lawyer, I get invited into some of the most intimate and vulnerable moments in my clients’ lives. As a Christian lawyer, I can use those situations to be a witness for Christ, sometimes through the legal counsel I give, sometimes through prayer, and sometimes simply by listening. I believe the most important aspect of my work as a Christian lawyer is the unique opportunity I have to be a peacemaker in some very difficult and challenging circumstances.

I never planned to be a lawyer growing up, but one of my grandfathers had been a lawyer, so I was aware of the profession. When it came time to think seriously about my future, I realized I had a good combination of skills for law, and it seemed like a practical choice, a solid career. It wasn’t until later, when I became a born again believer in Jesus, that I realized what amazing opportunities the law provides to be an emissary for Christ
.

Jewel: It seems you have the best of both worlds; practicing your faith and your love as a legal advocate. What is your favorite thing to do when you’re not practicing law, teaching a class, or writing?

Stephen: Spending time with my wife and kids is about the best. We’ve always made that a priority. I love playing guitar and writing songs (Sorry, maybe that counts as writing? But it’s very different than regular writing!), reading and keeping up with politics and world events online, working around the yard with plants and trees, and helping to lead in my home church in all kinds of ways, big and small.

Jewel: I am glad you have found that balance of writing, practicing law and spending time with your family. Many writers struggle with finding the right balance between writing and the beneficial avenues of book promoting. What advice would you give a newly published writer?

Stephen: Pray hard and then work even harder to spread the word about your book! Unless you’re at a major house with a big publicity budget (not many of those left!), you are the primary engine driving your book’s visibility. But amidst all your hard work, don’t forget to have fun with it! Being published is a joyful and humbling experience! Relish it!

Jewel: You are absolutely right on! An author is the one who primarily makes others aware of their book. In the midst of all the hard work one must take time to have fun, even in promoting a book. Tell us what inspires you?

Stephen: God. It sounds cliché, but until I decided to turn my writing gifts over to Him, nothing much ever happened. All I had was a bunch of ideas. It was only the urgency of using my gifts to offer the healing power of Christ to our hurting world that finally inspired me to write “The Believer’s Guide to Legal Issues” and to seriously pursue my other writing projects.

Jewel: Indeed total surrender and the willingness to trust God with all the talents one has is what I think God wants from all of us. I learned in writing Flying Hugs and Kisses my trust and total surrender to God brought forth ideas in how to put it together that would help children heal from the loss of a loved one. Speaking of your new book, The Believer’s Guide to Legal Issues, how did you choose your content topics?

Stephen: I wanted my book to be extremely useful and relevant to real people dealing with real legal issues, so I chose the topics that my actual clients are most frequently facing. And I tackled each of the topics from a practical Christian perspective, rooted in God’s wisdom as revealed in the Bible. I also wanted to warn people about some of the common pitfalls and traps for the unwary that arise in working with secular attorneys.

Jewel: Being aware and understanding how to navigate through the judicial system is legal empowerment at its best. I must ask, do you have a book coming in the near future?

Stephen: I have two strong ideas for the next year or so, but it all depends on whether God provides the necessary windows of opportunity for writing. One would be another book for non-lawyers, and the other would be written specifically for lawyers. That’s really all I can reveal about them for now, but stay tuned!

Jewel: Thank you so much Stephen for chatting with me about writing and your book, The Believer’s Guide to Legal Issues. I look forward to reading more books written by you.

For folks seeking to learn more about a Christian perspective on legal issues and Stephen Bloom, please visit IsThereALawyerInTheChurch.com.



Your thoughts about Bloom’s interview are always welcome. Please post by clicking on comments.



Stephen Bloom’s interview is posted by Jewel Sample award-winning author of Flying Hugs and Kisses, also translated: Besos y abrazos al aire (Spanish edition). To learn more about Jewel Sample visit her at jewelofabook.blogspot.com.