Joseph Bentz -- Author. Speaker. Teacher.


Speaking Topics

Contact Joseph Bentz to schedule a speaking engagement.

Joseph Bentz's non-fiction books, God in Pursuit: The Tipping Points from Doubt to Faith, Silent God: Finding Him When You Can't Hear His Voice, When God Takes Too Long: Learning to Thrive During Life's Delays, Pieces of Heaven, and Nothing is Wasted have been used as small group studies in churches across the country. He has spoken at churches, colleges, and other venues about issues related to these books and to his four novels. He has also spoken at a variety of writers conferences. Here is a sampling of some of the issues he has addressed:

Light and Foreshadow

Some of the conversions described in God in Pursuit show "sudden" transformations from disbelief to belief in Jesus Christ. The apostle Paul's conversion is one famous example, as he turns to Jesus in a blaze of light on the Damascus road. But are conversions like this really as sudden as they seem?

This talk probes how God prepares people for their encounters with him by sprinkling their lives with spiritual foreshadowing—or clues and signals of hope along their spiritual path. These transformations often take place in the midst of "kairos," or "loaded time," moments separated from all the ordinary minutes and seconds of life, when time is particularly filled not only with God's presence, but also with the opportunity to know him.

Is Spiritual Sanity Possible in a Multi-Tasking, Instant Messaging, Channel-Flipping, Cellphone-Ringing World?

Each day most of us are bombarded by emails, websites, billboards, phone calls, 24-hour news channels, television shows, and other people's music seeping through walls, radios, and headphones. Even as we complain about this noise, many of us also become addicted to it, wanting to check that email just one more time or send off just one more text message before we turn to something more important.

In such an atmosphere, it's easy for our relationship to God to become one more item we try to multi-task. What happens to quiet reflection and deep prayer? How can we quiet our minds enough to listen to God?

This talk offers a fresh perspective on the noisy mind and practical steps to help reduce the noise and restore spiritual sanity.

Misinterpreting God's Silence

Nothing is as easy to misinterpret as silence. If you don't believe that, take a few minutes to think of some times when someone has misinterpreted your own silence. Have you ever been accused of pouting or being angry when in fact you were merely deep in thought or tired? Has someone ever taken your silence to mean approval when it really meant skepticism? Has someone ever interpreted your silence as disapproval when it really meant satisfaction or shyness?

For the committed Christian, those times in life when God goes silent and seems to withdraw his presence can be painful and bewildering. For reasons unknown to us, our spiritual lives go cold. Not understanding what is happening, we may panic. We may rebel. We may sink into discouragement. Tragically, we may misinterpret God's silence and give up on Him altogether.

That doesn't have to happen. As strange as it may sound, God may be doing some of His most significant spiritual work in us during those dry times. How can we cling to our faith and let the silence do its work? How can we avoid the trap of misconstruing God's silence?

Why Is God So Slow?

One of the greatest frustrations of the Christian life for many of us is that we are always waiting on God to act. How many of us have felt that, for no reason we can fathom, God is dangling the things that are most important to us just out of our reach? We wait, sometimes for years, for our prayers to be answered, for our deepest longings to be fulfilled.

What is the purpose of all this waiting? Does it have meaning? Why would God build this frustrating element into the way his world operates? This talk looks at some biblical principles of God's timing. Although we normally focus only on the more exciting, action-oriented elements of the lives of biblical heroes such as Moses, David, and Paul, the fact is that almost no one whose story is recorded in the Bible was spared those long stretches when they must have wondered what God was doing and why he was taking so long to do it. What can we learn from these biblical figures in order to transform our own frustrating periods of waiting on God into times of joy and thriving?

How Not to Wait–Or Waste–Your Life Away

Many of us are wishing–or waiting–our lives away.

We put so much of our hope on what life will be like after some future event—once we get that great job, once we graduate, once we get married, once we retire—that the day we are actually living gets lost in a frantic blur.

Think of how much of our day we spend in a "get through it" mode, as if life is really about seeing how many items on to the "to do" list we can check off. And yet don't we tell ourselves that it won't always be this way? Sure, our lives are future-oriented right now, but that's only because we're waiting on the Big Thing to happen. And we're also waiting to get past the Big Obstacle that is keeping us from the Big Thing. The Big Obstacle might be debt, or college, or surgery, or confusion, or enemies. The Big Thing might be financial security, or a better relationship, or a new home, or a promotion.

Of course, the problem is that once we knock down one obstacle, a new one or two pops up to replace it. And once we do get the Big Thing in our grasp, if we ever do, it isn't quite as all-satisfying as we had assumed it would be. We already have our hearts set on the next "Once this happens. . . ." The chase is on again, and we sacrifice the present for the future's hazy promise.

How sad it would be to get to the end of our lives and think, I never really lived my life because I was always waiting for it to happen. Ecclesiastes 11:8 says, "Even if you live a long time, don't take a single day for granted. Take delight in each light-filled hour." How can we do that? How can we keep from sleepwalking through our lives and instead live in a way that is passionate and fully aware? This talk offers some possibilities.


Speaking Topics Appropriate for Writers Conferences/Workshops

Joseph Bentz has presented the following one-hour sessions at writers conferences and workshops. He has served twice as a freelance faculty member and speaker at a wide variety of writers conferences, such as Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference in California and Glorieta Christian Writers Conference in New Mexico.

Confronting the Three Big Lies of Writing

This session helps writers confront and overcome the three biggest lies that keep them from doing their work:

  • Lie Number One: "I will write this project as soon as. . . ."
  • Lie Number Two: "I can write only when. . . ."
  • Lie Number Three: "Now that I am finally sitting at the computer, I realize I can't write because. . . ."

Writers who admit that they are using these lies and follow some proven strategies to vanquish them will start producing more and better work than they ever thought possible.

Top Ten Strategies for Becoming a More Productive Writer

The strategies analyzed in this session include such principles as:

  • Let yourself play with ideas before you begin the formal writing.
  • Start writing at the point in the project where you have the best ideas and feel most confident.
  • Set reasonable goals and stick to them. Determine a number of pages per days or hours per day that you will write. Make it a low number at first.
  • Write to discover your ideas. Don't wait until you already know what you want to say to start writing.
  • Write yourself a note at the end of your writing for the day to indicate what you would have done next if you had continued.

These and other practical tips and examples will help writers avoid the most common barriers that prevent writers from doing their best work.

Writing the Book Review: An Open Door Into Magazine Markets

As the author of dozens of book reviews for a variety of magazines and journals, I know that a number of editors use book reviews as proving grounds for writers who may be assigned to other articles. Many magazines also make arrangements for freelance writers to becomes regular reviewers of books that are assigned to them. This session answers many questions about book reviewing and covers the basics of how to establish yourself as a reviewer and how to write a good review.

Why do magazines publish book reviews? How do readers use them? What are editors looking for in a book reviewer? What are the key elements to a good book review? How can you market yourself as a book reviewer? What is the pay? These and other questions will be discussed along with examples and handouts.

Straddling the Worlds of Fiction and Non-fiction

What if you can't decide between writing fiction and non-fiction? What if you want to do both? This session will deal with the advantages and disadvantages of working in both worlds. As an author of published books in fiction and non-fiction, I have a personal perspective on this issue, but this session will also include interviews with an editor and with other writers who do both. What are ways that a writer's fiction can bolster her non-fiction, and vice versa? What are some ways to connect the two? What are the risks of trying to establish oneself in both areas? How would a writer deal with "branding" issues in marketing?

What Fiction Writers Can (And Cannot) Learn From the Literary Classics

Many fiction writers are first inspired to write novels because of powerful early encounters with the classic works of literature. They think, if only I could create fascinating characters like those in Dickens and Austen and Fitzgerald. If only I could emulate the humor in Twain or the stylistic virtuosity of Faulkner. Classic writers may provide good models in some ways, but in the modern publishing world, other techniques those great writers used may no longer work. Starting a novel with a soaring passage describing the beauty of the sun filtering through the trees may have been fine for an 18th century British novelist, but that doesn't mean your editor will let you do it. Come and find out which techniques to borrow from the classic writers and which ones to consign to literary history.

Contact Joseph Bentz to schedule a speaking engagement.