This week’s Sunday Spotlight is with Todd Coburn, author of Reflection of the Son.
Please read about the book below and see our interview with author Todd Coburn and our reviews on the book!
Blurb: This book examines a simple fact of nature, the way the moon reflects the sun’s light to a darkened world, and draws some staggering insights into the way a Christian is to reflect Jesus Christ to a fallen world. Its chapters are named with simple mnemonic titles to lead readers through foundational principles in a clear and compelling way that can help Christians remain focused on productive steps toward spiritual maturity. In the process, this book reveals some deep spiritual truths and presents them in a way that a child can understand.
Interview with Todd Coburn:
Twogalsandabook: Did you always want to be an author?
Todd Coburn: Not exactly. My writing career started when I was in about fourth grade, following a discussion with a dear relative while on vacation. After this discussion and the encouragement it provided, I immediately started writing a children’s book about an owl and a group of other animals. My confidence waivered after a few pages were produced, and it wasn’t until a creative writing class in college that I rediscovered the joy of writing. Yet except for a couple short stories for the class, and the poetry I produced for friends and loved ones from about tenth grade onward, I did not get back to my own writing until the late ’90s when I started writing a poetic children’s book, “When Mommy Wears Red”, on the inspiration of a beauty I’d met at work who I eventually married, and her young son. After submitting this work to a publisher, I followed it up with another called “Alligators”, which was really a poem I’d written years before based on a childhood game I’d played with my mother. I immediately started on a few other books, one fictional work for teen-agers, one on spiritual growth, one historic fiction set at the time of creation, and one romance inspired by a memory of a high school sweetheart. Yet when my first two children’s books came back rejected after submission to a couple publishers, I began to feel getting published might be an unachievable goal, and refocused on more productive activities.
Twogalsandabook: What inspired you to write this book?
Todd Coburn: I have always risen quite early for a morning workout, and one morning in 2010 as I left the house about 4:30 am I was startled to find a breathtaking full moon hanging huge and low in the sky. The moon was bright white and it cast silver light across the terrain, leaving tall shadows in the moonlight. I was left breathless, and paused to admire it and to thank the Lord Who created such beauty, when I was struck with the realization that the moon has no light of its own. Zilch. Yet because of the reflective properties of its face, and due to its precise positioning, it is able to reflect the light of the sun to the earth’s darkened face. That is when I was struck with the epiphany that Christians (those who worship God through His Son, Our Savior, Jesus Christ) are like little moons, void of life or light, yet able to appear bright as we reflect His light to those around us. After pondering the beauty and truth of this observation, I immediately felt that I must write a book about this and share it with mankind.
Although I have always felt a strong pull from God towards Him from my youth, I have never felt quite so certain that any other action in my life was directed by God as strongly as I felt He was calling me to write this book. I pondered that on my way to workout, and afterward, and in the months that followed. Yet each time I found another full moon, especially in the morning, I felt He was reminding me to start writing.
Eventually I did start the book, and when I’d drift from my goal of writing it for a while, it was usually another full moon that would remind me of His call and of my duty to write the book that I felt He had so kindly revealed to me.
In the summer of 2015 I felt convicted for not finishing the book that I felt was such a beautiful testimony to the simplicity and beauty of how God designed our role as Christians, and so I left my fears, feelings of hypocrisy, and procrastination behind and finished the book.
Since I had already experienced the slow response and lack of action when trying to entice a publisher to embrace my book more than a decade before, I decided to cut to the chase and immediately sought the best self-publishing option. I ended up choosing Westbow Press since they are associated with Zondervan (probably my favorite Bible publisher) and Thomas Nelson (another respected name in publishing), and in March of 2016 it first came available to the public.
Twogalsandabook: Are there any specific writers that inspire you?
Todd Coburn: I love Scripture (the Bible), so I suppose I’d say that the Holy Spirit is the One Triune Writer Who inspires me most.
Yet among mankind, I also find folks who inspire me.
Louis L’Amour has consistently been one of my favorites from Jr High onward. His writing is excellent. His men are men to admire. They exhibit attributes of courage, a strong sense of justice and fair play, and a propensity to sacrifice themselves to protect the innocent, weak, or downtrodden.
In the fantasy genre, J.R.R Tolkien is another long-time favorite due to the powerful way he moves my imagination. C.S. Lewis, Roger Zelazny, Robert Aspirin and R.A. Salvatore and another few of my favorites.
In the Christian fiction genre, I have found Bodie Thoene to be an absolutely amazing writer. When she spins a tale I can feel the emotions of the characters, see the greatness and depravity of mankind, and am lifted to heights of worship for the God that imparted certain characteristics in mankind. Also, I have found that Bodie has a unique gift of understanding the heart of God, and is very adept at putting it in writing. I love and admire that.
Also in the Christian fiction genre, I have found Francine Rivers to have an amazing gift of storytelling. I have read a number of her books and can only admire the beauty of her giftedness as I enjoy her stories. Her Mark of the Lion series is absolutely spellbinding.
Twogalsandabook: Have you written anything else?
Todd Coburn: The only other two books that I have completed are the two children’s stories “When Mommy Wears Red” and “Alligators” mentioned above, yet these have not been picked up by a publisher yet, so I think it is time to illustrate them myself and self-publish them. Although I do have some artistic ability, it falls short of what I hoped for these books, yet I have looked about for a good illustrator and have yet to find one with the right style and interest for the task.
Twogalsandabook: Is there anything you’re working on now?
Todd Coburn: I am currently working on a book that I think I will title “A Poem for Many Occasions”. It is a collection of poems that I have written throughout my lifetime. Many of these are personalized to family and friends. Some are silly, while others are quite deep. Yet all have a message, and a beauty, or an emotion, and many can be used or repurposed for someone else. I am organizing them by topic, like “Poems for a Son”, “Poems for a Mother”, “Poems for Young Love”, “Poems for the Heaven-Bound” and the like. Since some are rather racy and others are very personalized, I am struggling to decide which should be included in the book. This will probably be my next released work.
Another book I started long ago will be called “First Man”, or “Red Man”, and is Biblical fiction through the eyes of Adam. I have a number of other ideas in this genre, but have not started them.
Another that I am working on will be called something like “The Age of Mankind – You Decide”, where I lead readers through Scripture in a precise way so they can unravel for themselves how long mankind has been on earth based on what the Holy Spirit reveals through the Bible. This is rather straightforward, and quite fun, and removes all the conjecture that usually emerges in discussions on the topic.
Another book will be called “Layers of Beauty from the Hebrew Scriptures” that explores some fascinating truths about God revealed in the lettering and orchestration of the Hebrew words of the Old Testament.
I am also working on an Aerospace Strength Handbook for aerospace engineers in the structural analysis subfield. I drafted about a third of the thing over Christmas vacation and released it locally for the use of my students at California State Polytechnic University Pomona. I am currently working on the drafts for Volume I and II for the book, and once these drafts are complete and in use by students I will try to hone the three volumes into a combined handbook or text for aerospace professionals. This handbook will probably not be complete enough for public release for two years or more.
Twogalsandabook: What ambitions do you have for your writing career?
Todd Coburn: Curiously, I have enjoyed all the work I have done in this life. This has included mowing lawns, moving furniture and setting up chairs, performing engineering analysis, managing an engineering team, teaching at university and church, and writing. Yet of all these activities, writing seems to be the platform that will enable me to make the most lasting impact on the world. Therefore, I would love to see my books resonate with folks enough to precipitate widespread acceptance and sales. This would be very encouraging and would validate that my writing is actually helping folks.
Twogalsandabook: Do you think your writing will stay in the Christian genre?
Todd Coburn: Probably not, since I am already working both inside and outside of that genre. However, writing Biblical Truths is probably most fun and fulfilling for me, more so than any other kind of writing, so I hope to release many books in this genre.
Twogalsandabook: Do you read a lot? What are some of your favorite books and genres?
Todd Coburn: Yes. I have always read a lot, although it seems to cycle with the ups and downs of life. I have found reading to be therapeutic, and at hard times in my life I have found it puts lifetimes between me and whatever painful memory troubles me. Also, since publishing Reflection of the Son I find myself in a near-frenzy of ravenous reading and am reading on a wider range of topics.
My favorite genres are Scripture, Christian fiction, Christian, westerns, fantasy, and practical engineering texts.
Twogalsandabook: What was the most difficult part of writing the book? Was there anything that you deleted or altered?
Todd Coburn: It is curious that the further I got into completing the “Reflection of the Son”, the more hypocritical and unqualified I felt to write it. That slowed and stopped me more than once, as I felt I would be more comfortable unleashing it if I were a little better in my own Christian life, or a little more consistent, or had a few less flaws. Yet at times I suspected that perhaps the Lord allowed certain flaws to develop in my own life so I did not suffer too much from the arrogance and illusion of perfection.
I did not really alter or remove much from the early drafts. The book flowed out pretty systematically. I would usually reread the entire thing each time I would restart writing after a dry spell, and that would bring me to a similar mindset to continue writing in a cohesive fashion.
One chapter or appendix I later wished I had included was a simple one on how to become a Christian. After releasing the book I realized that many of my students, co-workers, and friends who were interested in the book were not Christians, and although they can learn a lot about Jesus and Christianity from the book, I realized I left them ill-informed on the simplicity of becoming a child of God.
Twogalsandabook: Did you have to do much research for the book?
Todd Coburn: Oh yes! I read Scripture all the time, and have done so pretty consistently from childhood. Yet I did not want the book to present doctrine from my denomination nor from my upbringing. I wanted it to stand solely on God’s Word and what it says. Therefore, instead of saying certain things that I knew to be true, I tried to re-examine each concept, to re-evaluate where it springs from in Scripture and how it fits with the entirety of God’s Word, and then strove to build the ideas like blocks in a wall, with each truth standing on a passage of Scripture and fitting together with the truths adjacent on either side and beyond so that the straightness, curvature, and connectivity of the Truth of God’s Word would be apparent and unmarried by my thinking or upbringing. This took the most time in writing the book.
Twogalsandabook: Have you ever experienced writers block? If so, how do you deal with it?
Todd Coburn: I do not recall ever feeling writer’s block. My writing is more like the water that is released when the spigot is opened. For me, it is all of the other things on my plate that draw me from writing, and because each of these activities is also absorbing, I find that time simply elapses between writing times. Also, since I have so many interests, when I begin to write again I simply pick up on the book that is most on my mind.
Twogalsandabook: Where is your favorite place to write? Do you have a favorite “writing” atmosphere?
Todd Coburn: I am pretty focused, and can write or engineer nearly anywhere, but I prefer a quiet comfortable place near water and coffee. I have a great little office at home, and another larger one at school, and both are perfect for maintaining comfort as my thoughts are unleashed to run free into my writing.
Twogalsandabook: Do you have any advice for other novice or aspiring writers?
Todd Coburn: Write. Write. Write.
Stop and read your own work frequently.
Reading your own stuff repeatedly keeps the storyline coherent and uncovers a myriad of typos. Doing this after a time away is one of the best ways I have found for identifying poorly worded sentences or paragraphs. When our writing is fresh in our minds we tend to be blind to how cumbersome some sentences can be. Yet after a dry spell, we find ourselves tripping over the way some sentences are constructed. If we stumble reading a paragraph of our own, then our readers are sure to do the same. Once identified, these weak spots can be rewritten to spare our readers the frustration of retracing their steps repeatedly while they try to read our work.
Twogalsandabook: Do you think what God warned about in His Word in Colossians 2:8-10, about not relying on our own intellect, philosophy, or science, etc. to try to understand God, His Word, the world around us, or ourselves has, in practice, seeped into the Church as a whole (not a particular denomination, but rather, the corporate Body of Christ)?
Todd Coburn: Absolutely. It is very popular in this modern day of “science” to rely heavily on our own reasoning capabilities. In fact, many Christian organizations today have the word “reason” in the names or slogans of their organizations, which tends to propagate the notion that our “reasoning” capabilities will lead us to God. Yet Corinthians 1 and 2, and Colossians 2:8-10 teach the opposite. Scripture reveals that our human reason leads us away from God.
In the Garden of Eden mankind was perfect, satisfied and complete, and he lacked nothing. When he ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, man did not suddenly understand what was good and evil, what he did was start to use his own reason to substitute his perception of good and evil for what God had ordained as good and evil. We see this first in man’s perception of nakedness. We see the same problem throughout Scripture and history, as mankind inserts what he thinks makes sense about god, creation, government, life, conception, marriage… you name it, and elevates his own ideas above what Scripture reveals as God’s Design and standard.
This is why Corinthians 1:18 says that the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, and why Corinthians 2:14 says a man without God’s Spirit cannot understand or accept the things of God, and why Colossians 2:8 warns us against being captivated by this foolish clinging to our own reasoning capabilities.
It is true that the Word of God makes sense, that it is the Source and fulfillment of wisdom and knowledge, and that it is “reasonable”, but only to the one who has rejected the apple from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and instead clung to the apple of God’s Word through the enlightening work of the Holy Spirit.
This is consistent with the entirety of Scripture, and is sadly being systematically rejected even among Christians.
Twogalsandabook: What would you say to those who would say, “But Todd, there are many paths to God, and the one you purpose in your book, Reflection Of The Son is just but one option”?
Todd Coburn: It is curious how much freedom God leaves us in this life, on this planet, at this time. He loves us so much, and desires our voluntary love so much, that he unleashed us in the Garden to pursue our own “reason” and desires in this life, even when it tramples our own best interest and the best interest of those around us.
If God gave us this freedom to believe rightly or wrongly for our time here on earth, then I would be slow to yank that freedom from another. Yet we will all be held responsible for what we believe.
The Holy Spirit declares in Psalm 19 that “the heavens declare the work of God’s hand”, and in Romans 1:18-23 He declares that His invisible attributes are clearly seen in this universe that He has made.
Mankind is without excuse if they choose to reject God and instead use their own “reason” to imagine another path to Him. Scripture teaches that those who search for God will find Him. This does not imply that those who search for the god of their own choosing will find Him. It instead teaches that if we seek the True God and are willing to sacrifice all, especially our own reason, intellect, and knowledge and place it in subjection to His Word, His Spirit, and His Will, then He will reveal Himself to us and indwell us and make us His children, named Christians in honor of His Son, our Savior and our God, Jesus Christ.
One day soon, this life will be over, and we will again stand naked before God Almighty. I would not want to be standing in the shoes of someone who chose to worship a cow over God’s beloved Son, or of someone who claims to love God but has callously rejected God’s Son who allowed Himself to be crucified on their behalf.
When we stand in the judgment, we will all have to answer for the sins we have committed against God and against mankind. Yet those who have surrendered to God by accepting the cleansing blood of Jesus as payment for their sins will find that Jesus will settle the balance of their bankrupt lives so that they are free of the debt of sin and can frolic in heaven for eternity with Jesus Christ, their Lord and Savior, and with all the others who have been grafted in to the family of God since they surrendered to Jesus Christ in this life.
Yet those who have the sin of rejecting Jesus Christ, the Holy One of God Who sacrificed Himself for us, will not be covered by Jesus’ blood, will have no means to settle the debt of even the smallest sin, and will be rejected by God for rejecting His beloved Son, and will therefore be banished from God for eternity. This is a tragedy, and deserves careful consideration by each person while here on earth.
Twogalsandabook: After reading this quote, “Anything else that looks like goodness, righteousness or truth are simply cheap imitations that fall short of the fullness of the real qualities that are offered in and through Jesus Christ.” Would you say that a person who isn’t a follower of Christ, (e.g., Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist) or one that feels closer to God the Father can still reflect the light of God? In other words, we MUST be saved and a follower of Christ to reflect light?
Todd Coburn: Yes, a person really would have to be a follower of Jesus Christ in order to reflect Jesus’ light.
You see, Jesus’ light is an illumination of the path to God. We see this in Matthew 5:14-16, which tells us that we are the light of the world and that the purpose of this light is to glorify God. Therefore, Jesus’ light is what illuminates the path to God, and since Scripture is clear that Jesus is the only way to God, and that He Himself is also completely God, this means that Jesus’ light draws us to Himself so that He can carry us into the arms of His Father though the power and indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
Scripture reveals that anything that leads us on any other path to god is not light but darkness, and leaves its followers groping about for purpose and fulfillment and love.
On this earth, there are many things that pose as sources of light, yet they lead us into deeper blackness since they lead us away from Jesus, the Source of Light and Life. Anything in this world that claims to point to God is claiming to illuminate the way to Him. Yet any of these that lead from Jesus toward some other destination are counterfeit, and lead only to emptiness and eternal death and suffering.
In Ephesians 5:8-9, we see that the fruit of Jesus’ light is all goodness, righteousness and truth. It is these attributes, and others, that Matthew 5:14-16 suggest mankind will see in the lives of Christians and be drawn towards Jesus’ light.
Since Jesus is the source of all goodness, righteousness, and truth, anyone who exhibits these characteristics is modelling the traits of God that were planted within mankind in his original, unfallen state. Yet when these traits are evident in the life of an unbeliever, they are misleading since they point to the Source of these traits Whom the person modelling them refuses to acknowledge.
The Biblical definition of good is whatever God announces as good. The Biblical definition of righteous is the life swept clean of sin by the One Who paid for all sin. The Biblical definition of truth is anything that God has said or done, and Scripture teaches that truth is personified in Jesus Christ.
When Christians model these attributes they exhibit the fruit of Jesus’ light leading to God, since these attributes spring from a heart that acknowledges the source and purpose of these attributes.
When non-Christians model these attributes it is more like borrowing the fruit of God’s design and using it outside His purpose, since His purpose is that these attributes lead mankind to Himself.
Twogalsandabook: Could you give some specific examples on how a Christian reflects Jesus’ light? How can we be positive that we are reflecting Jesus’ light and not our own?
Todd Coburn: Since Jesus’ light illuminates the path God through Himself, each time we share our faith in Jesus we are reflecting Him.
As we study God’s Word and share it with people around us this is also reflecting His light.
When we exhibit goodness and righteousness and truth in our lives, and then give God the credit for these attributes and acknowledge that the source of these is Jesus Christ then we are reflecting His light.
When we train our children in God’s ways and teach them His Word we are reflecting His light.
When we give of ourselves or our things for others and give glory to Jesus we are reflecting His light.
Yet when we do any of these things and do not give Jesus the glory then we are really not reflecting His light at all. We are simply reflecting our own “light”, and one does not have to examine the light of our own lives for long to discover that it is merely darkness leading to nowhere outside of the action and person of Jesus Christ.
It is difficult to be certain that we are reflecting Jesus well. It is easy to distort His message, and it is natural to revel in the glory of reflecting Him well.
Fortunately, we do not have to concern ourselves too much with whether we are reflecting Him perfectly. Jesus commanded us to shine His light. He loves it when we strive to do this in spite of our shortcomings. In the same way that we take pride in our little children singing and playing and performing and competing in spite of their trips and sputters and blunders, God takes pleasure in our attempts to emulate Him and to obey His commands. He loves it when we love Him even though we do not fully understand Him. This is one mystery of the church here on earth. God loves us. If we love Him back fully then we can never fall too far from His grace, nor from His loving, restoring hand.
Twogalsandabook: Who would you recommend to read this book?
Todd Coburn: I recommend this book to Christians (this includes anyone who professes faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior), as I believe it makes some foundational truths about the Gospel very simple and very clear, and provides some insights and visuals for striving to walk a balanced Christian life.
I recommend this book to non-believers if they are curious what Christians believe, or if they are seeking to examine foundational truths of Christianity and find this book less daunting than the whole of God’s Word, or if they simply have Christian friends that they wish to understand better.
Twogalsandabook: Is there anything you would like to add that we have not inquired?
Todd Coburn: I would like to say thank you Stacy and Mischenko! Thank you for your interest in my book, for your kind reviews, and for featuring it in your precious blog!
Thank you blog-readers for holding your interest and reading this interview to the end.
May the Lord bless each of you by revealing Himself fully and by drawing you into deeper lasting relationship with Him.
Twogalsandabook: Are there any social media platforms or websites that readers could connect with you on?
Todd Coburn: I am on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Goodreads, and invest a little time each place. I have a Twitter account, although I am still trying to determine what value that offers.
Information is available about my book on http://ReflectionoftheSon.net, about my teaching on http://www.cpp.edu/~tdcoburn, about my Engineering support on http://faastructuresder.com, and about myself at http://ToddCoburn.com. My contact information is on each of these websites.
I prefer E-Mail to social sites for any detailed discussions, and invite anyone in the Pomona area to swing by my school office for a free signed copy of my book.
Twogalsandabook would like to thank Todd Coburn for giving us his time for this interview and for sharing his book with us.
Reflection of the Son by Todd Coburn is a book that will really make you think. I found the analogies stunning as I’d never thought about it the way Mr. Coburn has presented it.
It’s a short and simple read at 84 pages and the way it’s written, anyone can understand it. There are multiple Scriptures throughout the book that are explained.
“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:14-16
I think this book would be great in a Bible study class as well. Even without questions, it really gets you brainstorming and would be a perfect book for a group discussion.
Chapter 6 “Perfect Positioning” was my favorite.
Whether you’re already a Christian, want to become one, or just want to learn more about Jesus, this book is for you and I can certainly see it benefiting those lost in between.
Reflection of the Son is a very positive message that couldn’t have come at a better time in my life.
I’d like to thank the author for sharing this with me. 5 stars
Stacy’s Review: 5*****
Want to know more about Christianity and some foundational principles? This book is great for explaining those. For those already a Christian, it is good to remind us that we should be allowing the Lord to shine through us. It has multiple scripture references so that the reader can go see for him/herself what does the Bible actually say, and would be useful in trans-version study of many different translations, and word studies as well. It would also be a useful book for Bible studies too. I think we all encounter times, when we feel that we are not making an impact or a difference, and can get caught up in the notion of “If I just try a little harder, work a little more, etc”, when this book is a great reminder of that it is not in our strength anything is accomplished, but His, and good for helping to get back on track by looking to the Lord, and not ourselves. I would encourage all Christians to read this book, and non-Christians looking to know more about the Faith.
I received this book from the author.
About the author:
Genre: Christian, Religion, Spirituality
When asked, what’s the best thing about being an author?
Todd Coburn: The best thing about being a writer is when folks are lifted by your thoughts in ink; when they learn, when they say, “Yeah, that’s right on!”, when they are moved by truth they had not previously known or understood, and when their emotions overflow at the feeling your writing has unleashed. When they share thoughts like these about my writing, it is deeply moving, extremely gratifying, and makes me feel like I have touched something beyond myself, perhaps even beyond my life.