Author Interview with Kathleen Nielson

Learn more about Kath­leen Niel­son, author of 11 P&R titles, on this week’s author interview.

  • Ques­tion #1 — Tell us a lit­tle bit about your­self. . .

I’m a wife, mother, grand­mother, daugh­ter, sis­ter, aunt, cousin, friend, teacher, writer. . . I love think­ing about the blend of call­ings God gives us, grow­ing and enrich­ing all of them through all the rest as they mul­ti­ply through the years.

I’m the wife of a man who knows mul­ti­ple call­ings well, hav­ing worked as a col­lege pro­fes­sor, a trader in the finan­cial mar­kets, a pas­tor, a col­lege pres­i­dent, and now a direc­tor of mul­ti­ple projects in global Chris­t­ian edu­ca­tion. My hus­band Niel is obvi­ously impor­tant in my story: the adven­ture of life with him has played a huge part in shap­ing me—and he is my great­est earthly encour­ager in the work I’m priv­i­leged to do. He has shown me and pointed me to the love of Christ. We’ve been joy­fully mar­ried since 1977 and have three grown sons, two beau­ti­ful daughters-in-law, and four absolutely remark­able granddaughters.

For a num­ber of years (most of the years we were rais­ing our sons), I taught col­lege Eng­lish part-time (lit­er­a­ture and writ­ing), but Bible study teach­ing and writ­ing grad­u­ally took over my life! Those two kinds of teach­ing are not at all unre­lated, of course, as they both involve read­ing and ask­ing ques­tions of texts. Those are skills we’re not gen­er­ally so good at in our fast-moving world, and I am grate­ful for the train­ing in Eng­lish which laid an impor­tant foun­da­tion for my work in reading/studying/teaching the bib­li­cal text—and, by God’s grace, in encour­ag­ing oth­ers to do so.

I love teach­ing the Bible to women—both in the local church and in var­i­ous con­fer­ences and other set­tings. I presently serve as direc­tor of women’s ini­tia­tives for The Gospel Coali­tion, which involves con­nect­ing with women in many min­istry con­texts, over­see­ing TGC’s women’s con­fer­ences, and work­ing on var­i­ous pub­lish­ing projects. One of my favorite involve­ments is serv­ing on the board of direc­tors of The Charles Simeon Trust, a min­istry com­mit­ted to train­ing in bib­li­cal expo­si­tion through both work­shops and online courses.

Spare time? If I’m not writ­ing some­thing or speak­ing some­where, I’m prob­a­bly either trav­el­ing in Indone­sia with Niel, play­ing with grand­daugh­ters, doing Bible study or hav­ing cof­fee with a group of women, read­ing a book, or going for a walk—or some com­bi­na­tion of the above!

 

  • Ques­tion #2 — What inspired you to write your books?

I’ll give two dif­fer­ent answers, the first for the Bible stud­ies which I’ve been priv­i­leged to pub­lish with P&R. Those stud­ies were begun years ago as a project just for the women of my church, where I helped lead the women’s Bible study. We were look­ing for cur­ricu­lum that would lead us into the meat of the Word and teach us how to take it in, whole Bible books at a time—the way they are given to us in Scrip­ture. Finally, one of our lead­ers said, “Kathleen—how about if you just write it!” And so began one of the most joy­ful projects of my life.

The sec­ond answer relates to my book Bible Study: Fol­low­ing the Ways of the Word. My hus­band and I were for years blessed to be part of a church where the lead­ers were com­mit­ted to train­ing mem­bers in read­ing and study­ing the Scrip­tures. As I began trav­el­ing and speak­ing here and there, it became clear that many churches were not so involved with bib­li­cal train­ing. I devel­oped a series of talks on just what the Bible is, and what that means for how we should study it—and one of the places I gave these talks was Dubai, in the United Arab Emi­rates, at a women’s con­fer­ence for an inter­na­tional church. The wife of that church’s senior pas­tor (who has since become a good friend) urged me to put that mate­r­ial in a book. I’m thank­ful for her urging—and loved work­ing on that book about study­ing the Word.

 

  • Ques­tion #3 — Tell us about a few of your favorite books

C. S. Lewis’s Till We Have Faces is a favorite and much-read novel, one that delves deep into a story of learn­ing to see what is real and true. It seems to jolt me toward real­ity every time I read it. I’ll also often pull out some poetry—perhaps Ger­ard Man­ley Hop­kins if I’m wide awake, or Amy Carmichael if I’m need­ing encour­age­ment, or George Her­bert at any time. John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress comes off the shelf reg­u­larly. These writ­ers have helped shape my think­ing about God and what it means to fol­low him: they take the stuff of real life and, as they put that stuff into words, find every­where echoes of the story of redemp­tion in Christ.

Some greatly-appreciated bib­li­cal helps would include books by Graeme Goldswor­thy, Edmund Clowney, Derek Kidner, J. Alec Motyer, Dale Ralph Davis, D. A. Car­son, John Frame, Leland Ryken, and Kent Hughes (our pas­tor for many years).

 

Books by Kathleen Nielson:
1. Bible Study: Fol­low­ing the Ways of the Word
To read a sam­ple chap­ter of this book, click HERE
Liv­ing Word Bible Study series:
2. 1 & 2 Thes­sa­lo­ni­ans: Liv­ing the Gospel to the End
To read a sam­ple chap­ter of this book, click HERE
3. Colos­sians and Phile­mon: Con­tinue to Live in Him
To read a sam­ple chap­ter of this book, click HERE
4. Eccle­si­astes and Song of Songs: Wisdom’s Search­ing and Finding
To read a sam­ple chap­ter of this book, click HERE
5. Isa­iah: The Lord Saves
To read a sam­ple chap­ter of this book, click HERE
6. John: That You May Believe
To read a sam­ple chap­ter of this book, click HERE
7. Joshua: All God’s Good Promises
To read a sam­ple chap­ter of this book, click HERE
8. Nehemiah: Rebuilt and Rebuilding
To read a sam­ple chap­ter of this book, click HERE
9. Proverbs: The Ways of Wisdom
To read a sam­ple chap­ter of this book, click HERE
10. Psalms Vol­ume 1: Songs Along the Way
To read a sam­ple chap­ter of this book, click HERE
11. Psalms Vol­ume 2: Find­ing the Way to Prayer and Praise
To read a sam­ple chap­ter of this book, click HERE

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Inter­ested in learn­ing more about Kathleen?

Visit her web­site: www.kathleennielson.com ==========================================================================

Author Interview with Zack Eswine

This week’s author inter­view is with Zack Eswine, author of Recov­er­ing Eden: The Gospel Accord­ing to Eccle­si­astes. This is the 15th and most recent book in our Gospel Accord­ing to the Old Tes­ta­ment series.

  • Ques­tion #1 — Tell us a lit­tle bit about yourself

I was born and raised in South­ern Indi­ana. Hen­ryville is my child­hood home­town. But I’ve spent a great deal of time in “the Knobs” too. Now, I’m a pas­tor. With my fam­ily, I work and rest in Web­ster Groves, Missouri.

 

  • Ques­tion #2 — Did you always enjoy writing?

When I was younger I enjoyed the thought of writ­ing but not the work of it. I liked the sounds of words and I liked to con­nect them. I imag­ined with ambi­tion the enjoy­ment of hav­ing my own books that peo­ple read. But a funny thing hap­pens. When your first book releases, you still have to take out the trash or brush your teeth or buckle beneath a pain that undoes you that day. So, I sup­pose over time “enjoy­ment” in writ­ing has changed its qual­ity. I sup­pose I’ve had to learn the hard work war­ranted by the craft. Per­haps my early enjoy­ment more resem­bled the delight of tast­ing an apple-flavored candy. The candy col­ors the tongue green for a moment. We look in the mir­ror or make faces at friends. But now “enjoy­ment” in writ­ing feels more like bone and ache. The stiff back and body soak of sweat from dig­ging dirt with­out shade until finally the sun decides to back off. Evening breeze and cool water whis­per and wait until finally we get to ease deep into our favorite chair next to our favorite peo­ple and hear those invit­ing words. “Din­ner is ready. “

 

  • Ques­tion #3 — What inspired you to write this book?

Two rea­sons. Per­son­ally, I find great help and com­fort from the book of Eccle­si­astes. Pas­torally, I have found that Chris­tians unfa­mil­iar with this book are sorely dis­ad­van­taged in the way they try to approach God and to do life as a Chris­t­ian. I have also found that those who aren’t Chris­tians can find gen­uine help in this book.

 

  • Ques­tion #4 — Do you have a spe­cific spot and/or time that you enjoy writ­ing the most?

As a pas­tor and as a fam­ily man, I have to fol­low the sea­sons and find my times within them. Some­times this means I’m writ­ing late at night, or within a nook of after­noon. I rarely write early in the morn­ing, though I can if I need to. My favorite spot is out­side, near some trees, next to some kind of water, like a pond or lake. But on most occa­sions I’m in my upstairs hall­way next to a win­dow at a desk.

 

  • Ques­tion #5 — How do you deal with writer’s block?

Every­one is dif­fer­ent on this of course. For me, I’ve tried the wis­dom that says, “push through and write any­thing, don’t edit it, and see what you dis­cover.” Some­times I do this. But more often than not, I’m real­iz­ing that I need to stop. Get up, go for a walk in my lit­tle upstairs hall­way or step out­side, feel the wind, walk around the neigh­bor­hood or even take a shower. Often thoughts begin to flow again. If they don’t, I’m learn­ing to assume that I’m not ready to write that sec­tion. It isn’t well enough formed or under­stood within me yet. I have to sur­ren­der to the fact that I need to live a bit more of life than I want to in order to write about this sub­ject that stalls me. Until then, I will move on to a dif­fer­ent sub­ject or idea. I try to ride what­ever wave will let me catch hold for as long is it will take me. Even if it isn’t the wave I wanted to ride that day.

 

  • Ques­tion #6 — Which Writ­ers Inspire You?

Dif­fer­ent writ­ers for dif­fer­ent rea­sons dur­ing dif­fer­ent sea­sons of my life. Wen­dell Berry, Kath­leen Nor­ris, Don­ald Hall, Czes­law Milosz, and Mary Oliver have put places into poetry. Mar­i­lynne Robin­son has done this also with her nov­els. Eugene Peter­son has done the same for me in terms of think­ing about pas­toral min­istry with a local peo­ple and place. Pastor/Poet/Novelists like Georges Bernanos or Ger­ard Man­ley Hop­kins inspire me as a pas­tor who writes. Fran­cis Scha­ef­fer and Jer­ram Barrs help me think about the world. John Calvin, Mar­tyn Lloyd Jones, and Charles Spur­geon teach me prayer and Spirit depen­dence upon God. Leighton Ford helps me pay atten­tion to Christ moment by moment.

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Want to learn more about Zack Eswine?

Read his blog: http://preachingbarefoot.com/

Visit his web­site: http://www.zackeswine.com/

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Author Interview with William Edgar

This week we get to learn more about William Edgar, author of Truth in All Its Glory: Com­mend­ing the Reformed Faith, Rea­sons of the Heart, and the CAHQ book­let, How Did Evil Come into the World?

  • Ques­tion #1 — Tell us a lit­tle bit about your­self: where you’re from, fam­ily, job, per­sonal inter­ests, unique hob­bies, what do you do in your spare time, etc.

I am Pro­fes­sor of Apolo­get­ics at West­min­ster The­o­log­i­cal Sem­i­nary, Philadel­phia, where I have taught for over twenty years. I am ordained in the Pres­by­ter­ian Church in Amer­ica. I direct the gospel-jazz band Renewal and like to fol­low Brazil­ian soc­cer. I am cur­rently Pro­fesseur Asso­cié at the Fac­ulté Jean Calvin, Aix-en-Provence. My schol­arly inter­ests include apolo­get­ics, the­ol­ogy, aes­thet­ics, African-American music, and ethics. I belong to sev­eral learned soci­eties, includ­ing the Amer­i­can Musi­co­log­i­cal Soci­ety and the Soci­ety for Eth­no­mu­si­col­ogy. I am a Senior Fel­low at the Trin­ity Forum. I sit on a num­ber of boards, includ­ing the Huguenot Fel­low­ship, the Insti­tu­tional Review Board of Chest­nut Hill Hos­pi­tal, and the Quo Vadis Insti­tute, in Salzburg. I have pub­lished sev­eral books and numer­ous arti­cles in French and in Eng­lish. I have a wife, Bar­bara, and we have two chil­dren and three grand children.

 

  • Ques­tion #2 — Which writ­ers inspire you?

C.S. Lewis, Walker Percy, Dorothy Say­ers, David Brooks, Hon­oré Balzac, Vic­tor Hugo, and Larry Woiwode.

 

  • Ques­tion #3– What book are you read­ing now?

Bach: Music in the Cas­tle of Heaven by John Eliot Gardiner.

 

  • Ques­tion #4 — What advice would you give to aspir­ing writers?

Write one para­graph per day, no mat­ter how you feel.

 

  • Ques­tion #5 — Do you have a favorite book that you have written?

Tak­ing Note of Music, pub­lished in 1986.

 

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Learn more about William Edgar by vis­it­ing his WTS fac­ulty page: http://www.wts.edu/faculty/profiles/wedgar.html

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Author Interview with Peter W. Smuts

This week’s author inter­view is with P. W. Smuts, author of Mark by the Book: A New Mul­ti­di­rec­tional Method for Under­stand­ing the Syn­op­tic Gospels.

  • Ques­tion #1 — Tell us a lit­tle bit about your­self: where you’re from, fam­ily, job, per­sonal inter­ests, unique hob­bies, what do you do in your spare time, etc.

I was born in ethnically-diverse South Africa to par­ents of Euro­pean descent. Most of my life and min­istry have been spent in the city of Cape Town located on the south­ern tip of the African con­ti­nent. I have been mar­ried to my wife, Dag­mar, for about 32 years. We met at the Uni­ver­sity of Cape Town where we were both stu­dents. We have four chil­dren, a boy and three girls, and a grandson.

I can­not pin­point the exact day I was con­verted, but it was as a law stu­dent at the Uni­ver­sity of Cape Town that I began to grow as a Chris­t­ian. It was in this con­text that I was intro­duced to the Reformed Faith and grew to love these great doc­trines. It wasn’t too long after this that I made the tran­si­tion from ‘law to grace’, so to speak, and after a num­ber of years of Chris­t­ian ser­vice, the Lord opened the door for me to do fur­ther the­o­log­i­cal stud­ies in the States. Dur­ing these years of study my grasp of the Word of God and the Chris­t­ian Faith was broad­ened and deepened.

Upon my return to South Africa in 1996, I was appointed to the Fac­ulty of the Bible Insti­tute of South Africa where I have been serv­ing the Lord ever since. The Bible Insti­tute is a small well-known evan­gel­i­cal Bible col­lege that recently cel­e­brated its 90th Anniver­sary. It attracts stu­dents from all over the world, but pri­mar­ily from Africa, who want to be equipped for cross-cultural min­istry on the mis­sion field or ser­vice in the local church. It is my priv­i­lege to teach the stu­dents hermeneu­tics, homilet­ics and NT Greek.

I enjoy read­ing (the Bible and books rather than blogs), watch­ing movies (his­tor­i­cal dra­mas), swim­ming at the local gym for exer­cise, and expe­ri­enc­ing the out­doors in scenic Cape Town and the West­ern Cape area.

 

  • Ques­tion #2 — What inspired you to write this book, about this topic?

Mark by the Book advo­cates, describes and applies a unique inter­pre­tive approach to the Syn­op­tic Gospels that I have devel­oped – by com­bin­ing bits and pieces from oth­ers – and have taught with great ben­e­fit in the class­room con­text with my stu­dents. This class­room expe­ri­ence inspired me, in part, to write the book. So this book is really the prod­uct of my many years of study­ing and teach­ing the Gospels in an aca­d­e­mic con­text. It com­bines my inter­est in both hermeneu­tics and the Syn­op­tic Gospels.

 

  • Ques­tion #3 — Favorite sport to watch? Why? My favorite sport’s team?

I was an active sports­man grow­ing up, and con­tinue have a gen­eral inter­est in watch­ing sports of all kinds – rugby, soc­cer, ten­nis, golf, Olympic ath­let­ics and swim­ming, etc. How­ever, my favorite sport to watch is cricket. Why? Con­trary to pop­u­lar per­cep­tion, cricket can be a very excit­ing game to watch. It can dra­mat­i­cally change from one ball to the next, with the out­come, on occa­sion, uncer­tain until the last ball has been bowled. It is not good for one’s nerves! My favorite sport’s team? I sup­port our South African national cricket (‘Pro­teas’), and rugby (‘Spring­boks’) teams.

 

  • Ques­tion #4 — If you have a favorite book of the Bible, what is it and why?

A num­ber of NT books would be on my short-list of favorites, includ­ing John, Hebrews, and Rev­e­la­tion. But pride of place goes to Romans. Arguably it is one of the most influ­en­tial pieces of lit­er­a­ture in his­tory, a let­ter that God has used to con­vert the likes of Augus­tine, Luther and Wes­ley. I love this let­ter because of its Gospel focus, God-centeredness and encour­age­ment for the Chris­t­ian reader. Let me give you just one exam­ple of this encour­age­ment: If Romans is likened to a crown, one writer describes Romans 8 as the jewel in this crown; it begins with no con­dem­na­tion for those in Christ Jesus (v.1), it ends with no sep­a­ra­tion for those in Christ Jesus (v.39), and every­thing in between hap­pens for their good (v.28)!

 

  • Ques­tion #5 — Do you have a favorite quote? What is it and why?

The fol­low­ing quote is one of my favorites: The main thing is to make sure that the main thing remains the main thing. In the mod­ern world, it is easy to get dis­tracted by trivia and sec­ondary issues. In life and min­istry, this quote chal­lenges me to keep focus on the essen­tials of the Chris­t­ian faith – the Tri­une God, the Gospel and glory!

 

  • Ques­tion #6 — Do you have a favorite author? What book are you read­ing now?

I have ben­e­fited from the writ­ings of many authors over the years, and I stand on the shoul­ders of count­less oth­ers in my teach­ing and preach­ing min­istry. How­ever, I have never been drawn to one spe­cific author who I could iden­tify as my favorite. The focus of my read­ing and study is the Scrip­tures and bib­li­cal schol­ar­ship (com­men­taries, etc.), although I do read more broadly. Typ­i­cally I jug­gle read­ing 2 or 3 books at the same time. One of the books I am work­ing through at the moment with ben­e­fit is Klyne Snod­grass’, Sto­ries with Intent on the para­bles. Den­nis Johnson’s, Him we Pro­claim, and D. & J. Gibson’s (eds.) From Heaven He Came and Sought Her, are on my short list of books to read.

 

  • Ques­tion #7 — What advice would you give to aspir­ing writers?

The art of writ­ing has been described as rewrit­ing. It is rare that you get it right first time. Keep rewrit­ing until you do. I would also encour­age any aspir­ing writer to speak to expe­ri­enced authors they meet, seek­ing their advice about the writ­ing process, iden­ti­fy­ing pit­falls to avoid, and secur­ing a pub­lish­ing con­tract, etc. I have found this to be invalu­able in my own experience.

 

  • Ques­tion #8 — At what time of day do you write most? Do you have a spe­cific spot that you enjoy writ­ing most?

As a full-time Bible col­lege lec­turer in the African con­text, I have many respon­si­bil­i­ties, besides teach­ing and writ­ing. So I find it dif­fi­cult to safe­guard a par­tic­u­lar block of time each week just to write. When writ­ing my book, I found it best to view myself as a full-time writer, using every spare moment through­out the day to write, while fit­ting in my other respon­si­bil­i­ties as the need arose. This method enabled me to main­tain the momen­tum nec­es­sary to com­plete the book in time for the publisher’s dead­line. Some of the ini­tial research and writ­ing of my book was con­ducted in a sem­i­nary library dur­ing a sab­bat­i­cal visit to the States. The bal­ance of the process was com­pleted in my office on cam­pus, the spot where I enjoy writ­ing most.

 

  • Ques­tion #9 — Favorite fla­vor of ice cream?

I love Amer­i­can ice cream. Pis­ta­chio is a favorite. In South Africa one of my favorite fla­vors is Eng­lish tof­fee frozen yoghurt. A quick anec­dote: I was intro­duced to frozen yoghurt in a US air­port many years ago when I first vis­ited the States. I saw patrons eat­ing what I assumed was ice cream. But when I attempted to order this ‘ice cream’, I was told ‘We don’t sell ice cream.’ Bewil­dered, I pointed and asked, ‘What’s that?’ ‘Frozen yoghurt’, I was told. ‘Really? . . . Never heard of it . . . Frozen yoghurt?! Are you seri­ous?’, I asked. ‘OK, I’ll try some of that.’ I did, and the rest, as they say, is history.

 

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Want to learn more about Peter W. Smuts?

Visit the Bible Insti­tute of South Africa’s web­site: http://bisa.org.za/

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Author Interview with Richard Phillips

This week’s author inter­view is with Richard Phillips, author of the fol­low­ing 19 P&R titles.

Reformed Expos­i­tory Com­men­taries (he is also one of the two series editors):

Basics of the Faith Book­lets:

Other Books:

  • Ques­tion #1 — Tell us a lit­tle bit about your­self: where you’re from, fam­ily, job, per­sonal inter­ests, unique hob­bies, what do you do in your spare time, etc.

I was raised in an Army fam­ily, so I moved all through my child­hood. We were what I would call patri­otic Protes­tants. My fam­ily was not Chris­t­ian in a spir­i­tu­ally alive sense, but we attended church reg­u­larly and empha­sized moral­ity, patri­o­tism, and duty. This made for a won­der­ful child­hood in many ways. Ours was a very close-knit fam­ily that enjoyed work­ing and play­ing together. My father was a tank colonel, so there were always things going on that are very inter­est­ing to a boy. Due to the Viet­nam War, in which my father served for two years, there was also a sense of impend­ing tragedy in the air. Many of my child­hood friends’ fathers died and we attended an awful lot of funer­als. So the patri­o­tism, duty, and honor fac­tors were very high in my upbring­ing. But there was a huge amount of love, fun, and excitement.

I met my wife 22 years ago at church. We have five chil­dren, which makes us a pretty active fam­ily. We home-school and our kids are quite active in church, sports, and music (to name the main activ­i­ties). This year our old­est is a senior in high school, so it is pretty excit­ing work­ing through the pre-college process with her. Our two boys (16 and 14) are play­ing on a home-school var­sity foot­ball team (isn’t South Car­olina great!) and that is excit­ing to me, since I played foot­ball as well. We are blessed to serve a church with a strong and lov­ing com­mu­nity, so our kids are highly immersed in a Chris­t­ian social cir­cle in which my wife and I are pretty involved as well. It’s a lot of fun and we are grate­ful to God.

I was an Army offi­cer until age 35, so I came into min­istry later than most. I was con­verted at age 30 at Tenth Pres­by­ter­ian Church in Philadel­phia and by God’s prov­i­dence I began preach­ing there reg­u­larly at age 39. For the last 15 years, I have been preach­ing God’s Word vir­tu­ally every week, usu­ally morn­ing and evening. It was a priv­i­lege to serve as evening preacher at Tenth and then senior min­is­ter at First Pres­by­ter­ian Church in Coral Springs, FL. But we found our home in Greenville, SC, where I am senior min­is­ter at Sec­ond Pres­by­ter­ian Church. I am involved in a num­ber of dif­fer­ent Reformed orga­ni­za­tions, includ­ing the Alliance of Con­fess­ing Evan­gel­i­cals, the Gospel Coali­tion, West­min­ster The­o­log­i­cal Sem­i­nary, and the Gospel Ref­or­ma­tion Network.

All this keeps me pretty busy!  Any­thing along the lines of hob­bies mainly involves things with my chil­dren. We fol­low our sports teams pretty avidly (Uni­ver­sity of Michi­gan and the Boston Red Sox, mainly). And I am a writer – so I have no spare time for any­thing else!

 

  • Ques­tion #2 — Which writ­ers inspire you?

My writ­ing mainly involves the expo­si­tion of Scrip­ture, so my inspi­ra­tion in writ­ing runs in that direc­tion. I am inspired by faith­ful ser­vants of the Word who have writ­ten a large amount of mate­r­ial on a wide range of top­ics and texts, han­dling them all with faith­ful­ness, skill, insight, clar­ity, and econ­omy of style. My first inspi­ra­tion in this regard was James Mont­gomery Boice, who I had the priv­i­lege of know­ing inti­mately and with whom I shared many dis­cus­sions about min­istry, the­ol­ogy, and writ­ing. When I think of other inspi­ra­tions, I would include Mar­tyn Lloyd-Jones for his insight and power, John Mur­ray for his clar­ity and depth, and my close friend Phil Ryken for his reg­u­lar, con­sis­tent excel­lence. These are the virtues to which I aspire: faith­ful­ness, insight, clar­ity, and con­sis­tent excellence.

I would add a word to aspir­ing writ­ers that they need to read vora­ciously. As a preacher and writer, I not only read dozens of com­men­taries weekly, but I also read the­o­log­i­cal books, church his­tory, and pub­lished ser­mons (my favorite) for per­sonal edi­fi­ca­tion and spir­i­tual fuel.

 

  • Ques­tion #3 — Did you always enjoy writing?

Yes. In high school and col­lege I enjoyed writ­ing papers. As a young Army offi­cer, I pub­lished arti­cles on tac­tics and lead­er­ship in mil­i­tary jour­nals. I think I have always felt a cre­ative out­let in writ­ing and have wanted to exer­cise that. It still thrills me to write, and espe­cially to serve Christ’s Church in this way. After thirty books in print, I still greet each new arrival with an aston­ished joy that I have the priv­i­lege to write books and with a fer­vent desire that peo­ple would be gen­uinely helped by them. Writ­ing is such hard work and takes so much time, that I do think you need to find a joy sim­ply in the process of writ­ing and editing.

 

  • Ques­tion #4 — Do you have a favorite book that you have written?

My com­men­taries are par­tic­u­larly pre­cious to me, as is the entire Reformed Expos­i­tory Com­men­tary series that I co-edit. I think my Hebrews com­men­tary will always be dear to my heart, because it was the first full-length com­men­tary I wrote and I ded­i­cated it to Jim Boice as a way of express­ing my desire to carry on his work. Also my Zechariah com­men­tary, because I was aware that it would be a par­tic­u­larly valu­able con­tri­bu­tion to the lit­er­a­ture. I am always excited about my most recent book, in this case my 2-volume com­men­tary on the Gospel of John (ten years of my life went into that one). I am also really excited about the Rev­e­la­tion com­men­tary that, Lord will­ing, I will pub­lish in 2 or 3 years.

 

  • Ques­tion #5 — How do you deal with writer’s block?

I don’t know that I expe­ri­ence writer’s block, per se. But there are plenty of times when I do not see the way for­ward – the right tran­si­tion to the next topic, the proper orga­ni­za­tion of the mate­r­ial, a really excel­lent con­clu­sion, etc. What I do is set the work aside, know­ing it will be on my mind. I then may go for a drive, take a shower, or do some chores. I pray for God to give me insight so that I may serve him. Over and over, I find that God answers this prayer. Usu­ally, it is while the sub­ject is not at the fore­front of my mind – but not absent either – that an insight will come that enables me to move for­ward. Some­times, as well, the solu­tion presents itself while I am deal­ing with a dif­fer­ent min­istry issue – pas­toral coun­sel­ing or a com­mit­tee meet­ing – and that sit­u­a­tion pro­vides a con­text that helps me to orga­nize my problem.

 

  • Ques­tion #6 — Favorite sport to watch? Why? Favorite sport’s team?

Col­lege foot­ball. Raw pas­sion and unbri­dled enthu­si­asm. Loy­alty to fam­ily and alma mater. I grad­u­ated from the Uni­ver­sity of Michi­gan and I am (together with my sons) a fanat­i­cal fol­lower of Michi­gan foot­ball and basketball.

 

  • Ques­tion #7 — Favorite ani­mal? Why?

The dog. Loy­alty, love, faith­ful­ness, devo­tion, play­ful­ness and fun. The exact oppo­site of cats!

 

  • Ques­tion #8 — Lord of the Rings or The Chron­i­cles of Nar­nia? Why?

Lord of the Rings, by far. I enjoy Nar­nia, but it is much more pedan­tic – Lewis, as Tolkien com­plained, con­trolled the nar­ra­tive to force a point on you. (This is not to deny the bril­liance and beauty of Nar­nia!) Lord of the Rings is true lit­er­a­ture, as a Chris­t­ian world­view expresses itself in myth­i­cal form. I lis­ten to the Lord of the Rings on audio once a year.

My favorite scene in Lord of the Rings? The coro­na­tion of Aragorn. As beau­ti­ful an artis­tic depic­tion of the exal­ta­tion of Christ as I have ever read: “Ancient of days he seemed and yet in the flower of man­hood; and wis­dom sat upon his brow, and strength and heal­ing were in his hands, and a light was about him. And then Faramir cried: ‘Behold the King!”” That is won­der­ful beyond telling.

 

  • Ques­tion #9 — What famous per­son (liv­ing or dead) would you like to meet and why?

My heart is par­tic­u­larly drawn to Bible fig­ures. After our Lord, I really look for­ward to meet­ing Samuel, Jonathan, Jehoshaphat, Paul, and the writer of Hebrews (I’d like to know who he is). Notice how I put this – not that I would like to meet them but that I am going to meet them!

As for Chris­tians in heaven, I look for­ward to these: Tyn­dale, Luther, Calvin, Lady Jane Grey, Lloyd-Jones, Spur­geon, B.M. Palmer, Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jack­son, George Wash­ing­ton, and Robert the Bruce.

Non-Christians I would enjoy meet­ing (here my mil­i­tary back­ground comes out): Napoleon, Nel­son, von Manstein, Belis­ar­ius, Pom­pey the Great, Leonidas, Ben Franklin, and David Ortiz.

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