Author Interview with Sally Michael

For our 30th author inter­view posted on our blog, we inter­viewed Sally Michael, author of God’s Names, God’s PromiseGod’s Prov­i­denceGod’s Wis­dom, and upcom­ing titles: Jesus Is Most Spe­cial (avail­able Sep­tem­ber 22), and God’s Bat­tle (avail­able Octo­ber 27).

  • 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.

Answer­ing where I am from has always been a dif­fi­cult ques­tion. My father was in the US Navy so we moved quite a bit when I was young—however most of my grow­ing up years were spent in Vir­ginia, Rhode Island, and Ecuador, South America.

I met my hus­band, David, in col­lege. Our older sis­ters were room­mates and think they were respon­si­ble for our rela­tion­ship. But actu­ally, God in His prov­i­dence gets the credit for this match! After our wed­ding, we moved to Min­nesota so David could attend Bethel Sem­i­nary… and for­got to leave until 38 years later. I guess that make up for the many moves dur­ing my younger years! We recently moved to Indi­ana where my hus­band is a pas­tor (children/youth/family) at Col­lege Park Church after serv­ing at Beth­le­hem Bap­tist Church for 27 years. We have two daugh­ters, Amy, who is mar­ried to Gary and has three lovely chil­dren; and Kristi who is a nurse midwife.

I can’t say that I have “unique” hob­bies but I do enjoy handcrafts—mostly cross stitch embroi­dery, quilt­ing, and sewing. Of course, I love to read. When I was grow­ing up, a Fri­day night treat was that we could read in bed as long as we could stay awake! (Among other books, that meant I read most of the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys books!) I also enjoy play­ing games—it is a great bond­ing activ­ity for fam­ily and friends.

 

  • Ques­tion #2 — Which writ­ers inspire you?

Hmmm, this will sound strange, but I am inspired by Dr. Seuss. I love the cre­ativ­ity in his books. So many children’s books tap the imag­i­na­tion, such as A House is a House for Me by Mary Ann Hober­man. I also love The Rel­a­tives Came by Cyn­thia Rylant because of the cre­ative way in which she describes ordi­nary life and fam­ily love. How could the imag­i­na­tion not be stretched by read­ing the Bor­row­ers series by Mary Nor­ton? The bor­row­ers are lit­tle peo­ple liv­ing in the walls and floor­boards of the houses of big peo­ple. They sur­vive by bor­row­ing from the “human beans.” Their “bor­row­ings” of postage stamps for pic­tures, glove fin­gers refash­ioned into pants, and match box dressers is a delight­ful use of imag­i­na­tion all clev­erly recorded through rich vocab­u­lary. These enchant­ing children’s books are a sheer delight as I find cre­ativ­ity and imag­i­na­tion an inspir­ing reflec­tion of our Cre­ator God.

 

  • Ques­tion #3 — Did you always enjoy writing?

This will sound strange, but I really don’t enjoy writ­ing. I am a teacher at heart and most specif­i­cally a Bible teacher. I have a pas­sion that chil­dren know Jesus and His Word…and writ­ing is just the medium in which I can dupli­cate my teach­ing and reach a wider audi­ence of children.

 

  • Ques­tion #4 — Do you have a favorite author? Who is it and why?

I couldn’t pos­si­bly pick a “favorite” author so I will just men­tion one author I have found very help­ful for encour­ag­ing me to see the big­ness of God and to grow as a Chris­t­ian– Jerry Bridges. Two of my favorite books of his are Trust­ing God: Even When Life Hurts and The Joy of Fear­ing God. I find his books the­o­log­i­cally sound and very prac­ti­cal. His love for God is obvi­ous and some­what contagious.

 

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

This may sound obvi­ous, but I pray. I remind God that He has end­less cre­ativ­ity and never runs out of ideas and I ask Him to give me an idea. He is always faithful…though not always quick!

 

 

NEW RELEASE — Hidden in the Gospel by William P. Farley

Hid­den in the Gospel: Truths You For­get to Tell Your­self Every Day

by William P. Farley

128 Pages | $12.99 | Paper­back

Sum­mary: We live with our own thoughts 24/7. Often we are car­ried along by sin­ful think­ing instead of inten­tion­ally speak­ing truth to our­selves. How can we start chang­ing this? How can we live lives that are influ­enced by the gospel moment by moment?

William Far­ley argues that mature Chris­tians solve many spir­i­tual prob­lems in their lives by preach­ing the gospel to them­selves. The gospel is not one event but a story that began before time and stretches into eter­nity. Key moments in this story—such as Jesus’ incar­na­tion, death, res­ur­rec­tion, and ascension—teach us lessons that can be applied to life every sin­gle day. In this user-friendly book, Far­ley shows us how.

About the Author:

William P. Far­ley is the senior pas­tor of Grace Chris­t­ian Fel­low­ship, a non­de­nom­i­na­tional evan­gel­i­cal church in Spokane, Wash­ing­ton. This award-winning author’s writ­ing expe­ri­ence is exten­sive and diver­si­fied. He has pub­lished arti­cles in Dis­ci­ple­ship Jour­nal, Enrich­ment Jour­nal, and Focus on the Fam­ily Mag­a­zine. Bill and his wife, Judy, live in Spokane, Wash­ing­ton. Other books he has writ­ten include: Gospel-Powered Par­ent­ing: How the Gospel Shapes and Trans­forms Par­ent­ing, Gospel-Powered Humil­ity, and Out­ra­geous Mercy: Redis­cov­er­ing the Rad­i­cal Nature of the Cross.

What Others Say About this Book:

Pas­tors would have to engage in very lit­tle coun­sel­ing if Chris­tians would pri­or­i­tize what Bill Far­ley exhorts his read­ers to do. . . . [and this] would trans­form the lives of Chris­tians, their homes, and their churches.” —Don Whit­ney, The South­ern Bap­tist The­o­log­i­cal Sem­i­nary, Louisville, Kentucky

“This small gem of a book pro­vides a joy­ous gospel feast that begins with our elec­tion in Christ before the foun­da­tion of the world and ends with Christ’s new cre­ation. No small thoughts here! This is the recipe for big, expansive, and ever-expanding hearts.” —R. Kent Hughes, Col­lege Church, Wheaton, Illinois

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Our mis­sion is to serve Christ and his church by pro­duc­ing clear, engag­ing, fresh, and insight­ful appli­ca­tions of Reformed theology.

 

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Author Interview with Brock Eastman

This week’s author inter­view is with Brock East­man, author of our Quest for Truth series:

  • Taken (Book 1)
  • Risk (Book 2)
  • Unleash (Book 3)
  • Tan­gle (Book 4 — to be released 2015)
  • Hope (Book 5 — to be released 2016)

  • 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 live in the Rocky Moun­tains with my wife, three girls, and two cats. I have the awe­some oppor­tu­nity of work­ing from home for Com­pas­sion Inter­na­tional (a min­istry striv­ing to release kids from poverty.) It’s great to be able to work where my kids and wife are all day. Plus I can wear my paja­mas if I really want to (though I don’t sug­gest that). Spare time, what is that term you speak of, oh please explain it to me. But when I do have an ounce of spare time, I write, write, edit, and think of new ideas.

 

  • Ques­tion #2 — When did you first want to write a book?

After I started read­ing Harry Pot­ter I was enthralled by the way a story like that could draw in a non-reader like me. I hated read­ing, despised it, I was a video game jockey; Sonic the Hedge­hog all the way. Of course they just released Sonic on android, so let’s hope I don’t get addicted again — I’ve got books to write and edit. But I also wanted to write after read­ing Harry Pot­ter for one really big rea­son. Harry’s not exactly the eth­i­cal hero I wanted my kids to read about and aspire to be like. I know your think, “Duh, he’s a wiz­ard. Dark magic, evil.” But that’s not actu­ally what I mean. Harry (if you’ve read the books) seemed to always be dis­obey­ing author­ity to accom­plish his goals, and that right there is a foun­da­tional prin­ci­pal I don’t want to teach my chil­dren. It’s a com­mand­ment after all, “Chil­dren obey your par­ents.” Okay, so you got me, Harry didn’t have any par­ents, but you under­stand the over­all point. Kids should not be taught to lie, cheat, or steal their way to success.

 

  • Ques­tion #3 — Did you always enjoy writing?

No, no, and no. I was the kid who wrote the exact amount of required words or pages for a paper. Not a word more, and if I was a word less, I could always find a place to add a fluffy word like ‘very.’

 

  • Ques­tion #4 — What inspired you to write this book, about this topic?

I explained part of this above, but The Quest for Truth was also writ­ten, because I wanted to pro­vide a clean action adven­ture story for kids. Even a lot of kids and young adult books in the Chris­t­ian mar­ket­place have ram-bam killing in them. I think death has no mean­ing in our cul­ture any­more. Turn on the tele­vi­sion and you’ll see a dead guy on the pave­ment about every 45 sec­onds. We are inun­dated (and our kids because they are on the couch too) by the sight and idea of death. Usu­ally with­out any thought to the dead per­son. See some­thing hap­pens when a per­son dies, they either go to heaven which we can be joy­ful about and cel­e­brate, or they go to death, which is sad and heart­break­ing. This eter­nal life or eter­nal death result never comes through on the tele­vi­sion, or in most books for that mat­ter. I wanted to write a story that didn’t show such won­ton death. If some­one in my books does die, it’s dealt with in per­spec­tive to the true grav­ity of the situation.

 

  • Ques­tion #5 — Do you have a spe­cific spot that you enjoy writ­ing most?

Hmmm. Really I can write almost every­where. But at my desk makes me hap­pi­est, I have all my lit­tle trin­kets, big screens, and a comfy chair. I do, how­ever, like to write from a cabin when at all possible.

 

  • Ques­tion #6 — What book are you read­ing now?

Well actu­ally I’m read­ing the first three books in The Quest for Truth because I need to make sure every­thing ties together. Char­ac­ters can get a bit unwieldy in a  five book series.

 

  • Ques­tion #7 — Do you have a favorite movie? What is it and why?

Juras­sic Park and the rea­son is because I grew up want­ing to be a pale­on­tol­o­gist. I was obsessed with dinosaurs; in fact I will find a way to write a book about them some­time. I sort of did I guess, I included them in Unleash and Tan­gle.

 

  • Ques­tion #8 — Do you have a favorite quote? What is it and why?

Ah I don’t know who it’s attrib­uted to, but, “I went out­side to find a friend, but could not find one there. I went out­side to be a friend and friends were every­where.” Great quote because it’s a sim­ple thing we can all do. I believe that every­one desires friend­ship, fel­low­ship, it’s how God designed us. And the eas­i­est thing we can do is be friendly and befriend those around us.

 

  • Ques­tion #9 — What advice would you give to aspir­ing writers?

Don’t stop until you’ve writ­ten the whole story from begin­ning to end. You can always go back and edit later, but get the story on paper (or the com­puter). Fin­ish! Fin­ish! Fin­ish! Once you have a full man­u­script, you can edit until your heart’s desire. But once you have it from start to fin­ish, it’s no longer an idea, it’s real!

 

  • Ques­tion #10 — Do you have an inter­est­ing writ­ing quirk?

Inter­est­ing? I like to drink apple cider and lis­ten to movie sound­tracks. Not sure that’s all that interesting.

 

  • Ques­tion #11 — Do you have a favorite book that you have written?

Unleash was my favorite, but when Tan­gle releases I am fairly cer­tain it will be my favorite. Which means by that trend, Hope will be my favorite.

 

  • Ques­tion #12 — At what time of day do you write most?

I like to write in the evening, some­times after mid­night. Some­thing about the burn­ing the late night oil gets me going. It could also be because I have three kid­dos and writ­ing any other time is pretty much impossible.

 

  • Ques­tion #13 — How do you deal with writer’s block?

Ugh, the dreaded writer’s block. I pro­cras­ti­nate usu­ally until some­thing changes in my head. No, usu­ally a walk, a hike, a drive to the moun­tains will help. A con­ver­sa­tion with my wife, or watch­ing a good movie.

 

  • Ques­tion #14 — What has been the tough­est crit­i­cism or com­pli­ment given to you as an author?

What has been the best com­pli­ment? Before I was ever pub­lished, when I wrote Evad (Taken and Risk in one vol­ume) while in col­lege, a fam­ily mem­ber ripped into the book pretty hard. It was painful, I was pretty sure I had no chance of ever get­ting pub­lished after the email. After all I was a small town boy, going to col­lege for a degree in mar­ket­ing. But then God opened door after door after door and just 5 short years after that, my first book was pub­lished! WOW! Now that’s God.

 

  • Ques­tion #15 — Do you have a favorite char­ac­ter or one that you relate to?

In The Quest for Truth my favorite char­ac­ter has changed over the course of the series. Oliver was my favorite in Taken, and in Risk it was Austin, but in Unleash I really began to develop Tiffany and she became one of my favorites, now in Tan­gle Mason has become my favorite. So through the course of the series each of the Wikk kids has taken their place as my favorite, and it shows as the book cor­re­spond­ing to that char­ac­ter above, is very focused on them or reveals major growth for them. Oliver though, was always the foun­da­tional char­ac­ter in the series for me, and over­all he’s my go to guy. Though I must throw a bone to Obbin, because he always sur­prises me with his hero­ics. “How does he sur­prise you the author?” you ask. When you start writ­ing you’ll under­stand, char­ac­ters take on a life of their own.

 

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Inter­ested in learn­ing more about Brock Eastman?

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Author Interview with Sam Allberry

This week’s author inter­view is with Sam All­berry, author of Lifted: Expe­ri­enc­ing the Res­ur­rec­tion Life and Connected: Living in the Light of the Trin­ity.

  • 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’m British – from south­ern Eng­land, where I’ve lived and worked my whole life. I am a pas­tor, and work for an Angli­can church in a town called Maid­en­head. Despite being a Brit, I’m some­thing of an Amer­i­canophile – I love US his­tory and pol­i­tics. I’ve had the oppor­tu­nity to visit the States numer­ous times and find Amer­ica utterly fas­ci­nat­ing. Other than that, I love hill walk­ing – espe­cially up in Scot­land – and Thai cuisine.

 

  • Ques­tion #2 — Did you always enjoy writing?

Yes – I’m a bit of an intro­vert, and so quite enjoy tak­ing time out to play around with words. As a pas­tor I know that so much of Chris­t­ian min­istry feels intan­gi­ble, and so it is a joy to have time to write and be cre­ative and have some­thing tan­gi­ble to show at the end of it. Which isn’t to say writ­ing is always easy – I’ve had many a day where I’ve ended up delet­ing most or all of what I’ve spent the day work­ing on!

 

  • Ques­tion #3 — What inspired you to write Con­nected: Liv­ing in the Light of the Trinity?

Under­stand­ing more about what it means for God to be Trin­ity has been one of the great­est joys in my Chris­t­ian life. It has made me real­ize that God is both big­ger and more beau­ti­ful than I had pre­vi­ously thought. His tri­une nature has cap­ti­vated me, and as a pas­tor it is some­thing I long for Chris­tians to bet­ter grasp and enjoy.

So it was nat­ural for me to want to do some writ­ing on this, and to try to write some­thing that would help Chris­tians in gen­eral be excited and thank­ful about God being Trin­ity. I wanted to write a book that didn’t get bogged down in tech­ni­cal­i­ties or Latin ter­mi­nol­ogy, but which showed both the beauty and prac­ti­cal sig­nif­i­cance of the Trinity.

I remem­ber think­ing some time ago that if I could write an even vaguely help­ful book on the Trin­ity then I would die a very happy man! What­ever else I may get round to writ­ing in life, I can’t imag­ine writ­ing on any­thing more sig­nif­i­cant and won­der­ful than this!

 

  • Ques­tion #4 — Do you have a spe­cific spot that you enjoy writ­ing most?

I have to con­fess to enjoy­ing writ­ing in cof­fee shops, and Pan­era Bread is a favourite, par­tic­u­larly the one in Hern­don, North­ern Vir­ginia. Writ­ing can be quite an iso­lat­ing expe­ri­ence so it is nice to write with other peo­ple in the back­ground. Plus a cin­na­mon bun is a good men­tal stimulant!

 

  • Ques­tion #5 — What book are you read­ing now?

I’m read­ing a num­ber of books at the moment. One or two each on Chris­t­ian the­ol­ogy and ethics, The Return of the King, and Hillary Clinton’s lat­est mem­oir (I’m a sucker for polit­i­cal biography).

 

  • Ques­tion #6 — Do you have a favorite author? Who is it and why?

I have a num­ber, and for dif­fer­ent rea­sons: Tim Keller opens my eyes to God’s wis­dom in his books; N. D. Wil­son writes so beau­ti­fully; C. S. Lewis was the first author who taught me that it is enjoy­able to think about God’s truth; Tolkien can utterly cap­ti­vate and absorb me.

 

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

I read a book on writ­ing that kept stress­ing the impor­tance of remem­ber­ing how bad your first draft will be. It is easy to read books and to think the fin­ished work all poured out of the writer seam­lessly in one go. The fact is, it takes me about as long to re-write a book as it does to do the first draft, so don’t worry that the first draft may be awful! There is a sense in which a book is never actu­ally fin­ished – it can always be improved.

 

  • Ques­tion #8 — At what time of day do you write most?

I love writ­ing in the morn­ings. I feel most fresh and clear-minded. If I start the day writ­ing it is eas­ier to carry on, oth­er­wise it is very hard to make the gear-shift into it if I’ve been doing other things that day.

 

  • Ques­tion #9 — What has been the best compliment?

I think the most encour­ag­ing piece of feed­back I heard was some­one who had just read my first book Lifted telling me that they’d fin­ished it (adding that they rarely fin­ish books) and that as a result they were so excited about Jesus being alive. It’s hard to top that!

 

  • Ques­tion #10 — Do you have a favorite animal?

I love dogs – such great fun to be around, espe­cially retrievers.

 

  • Ques­tion #11 — Lord of the Rings or The Chron­i­cles of Nar­nia? Why?

I love both, but Rings wins in the end as it has such an extra­or­di­nary depth and pathos that I can eas­ily lose myself in.

 

  • Ques­tion #12 — What famous per­son (liv­ing or dead) would you like to meet and why?

I’ve always loved the music of Mozart, and you sense from it a man who had both depth and lev­ity to him. I’d love to meet him and get a sense of what was going on under­neath his beau­ti­ful music.

 

  • Ques­tion #13 — If you have a favorite book of the Bible, what is it and why?

My favourite book of the Bible tends to be whichever book I’ve most recently been study­ing closely. So at the moment it is Ezra. But Acts is a book I fre­quently come back to when I need to get my heart stirred afresh for the Lord’s work.

 

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To learn more about Sam Allberry:

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Author Interview with Benjamin Reaoch

This week’s author inter­view is with Ben­jamin Reaoch, author of Women, Slaves, and the Gen­der Debate: A Com­ple­men­tar­ian Response to the Redemp­tive Move­ment.

  • 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.

My wife, Stacy, and I are both orig­i­nally from Mid­land, Michi­gan. We met and dated in high school, went our sep­a­rate ways in col­lege, and then began dat­ing again dur­ing our senior year of col­lege. We have now been mar­ried for almost 15 years and have 4 won­der­ful chil­dren. Since 2006 I have been serv­ing as pas­tor at Three Rivers Grace Church in Pitts­burgh, PA. I enjoy run­ning, and when I can find the time also bik­ing and swim­ming.  Last year I did my first triathlon. Stacy and I like going on cre­ative dates all around Pittsburgh.

 

  • Ques­tion #2 — Which writ­ers inspire you?

John Piper has been a role model for me in many ways. After col­lege I spent 2 years doing an appren­tice­ship pro­gram at Beth­le­hem Bap­tist where I sat under his preach­ing, teach­ing, and men­tor­ing. His pas­sion for the glory of God, and his effort at com­mu­ni­cat­ing that pas­sion through speak­ing and writ­ing, is a great inspi­ra­tion to me.

 

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

Dur­ing our time at South­ern Sem­i­nary my wife became very involved in the sem­i­nary wives’ insti­tute led by Mary Mohler and oth­ers. In those classes, and through var­i­ous other influ­ences, the issue of bib­li­cal man­hood and wom­an­hood became a topic that Stacy and I dis­cussed often. When I was try­ing to choose a dis­ser­ta­tion topic, Stacy sug­gested I focus on some­thing related to this issue. After much read­ing, and through inter­ac­tion with my advi­sor, Tom Schreiner, I landed on this par­tic­u­lar sub­ject of the redemptive-movement hermeneu­tic. The book came from that dissertation.

 

  • Ques­tion #4 — What book are you read­ing now?

I’ve been read­ing Cen­ter Church by Tim Keller and lis­ten­ing to an audio book of To Kill A Mock­ing­bird. I also recently read, and really enjoyed, a book by my friend Stephen Wit­mer – Eter­nity Changes Every­thing. Also on my weekly read­ing list (read­ing to our 10 month old son) is Good Night Moon, Moo, Baa, La La La, and an assort­ment of other board books.

 

  • Ques­tion #5 — Lord of the Rings or The Chron­i­cles of Nar­nia? Why?

Tough call. Our fam­ily is read­ing through The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe right now. I espe­cially like see­ing our 6 year old get­ting into the story. But I also really like the action and inten­sity of the Lord of the Rings stories.

 

  • Ques­tion #6 — Is there any­thing you would like to add that you have not been asked about?

The same thing my friend, Noah Toly, added at this point in his inter­view: Noah and I were room­mates at Wheaton Col­lege. We were best men in each other’s wed­dings and have sons named after each other.  I have a lot of respect for Noah and his schol­ar­ship, and I am grate­ful for his friendship.

 

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Inter­ested in learn­ing more about Ben Reaoch and his ministry?

Visit his church’s web­site: www.3riversgrace.org

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