To celebrate the publication of my book, Christ Is for Us (Abingdon, 2016), I was delighted to be interviewed by blogger Cara Meredith on her website, and I’m happy to share our conversation below as well.
Cara Meredith: I’m so glad you’re here with us today! Tell us a bit about yourself, will you?
I’m glad to join you today, Cara. My childhood dream was to become a writer, and I’ve now contributed to, collaborated on, or authored 12 published books. I never dreamed of working for the church, but this Easter will mark my 24 years as a pastor, all in the same local congregation. God is at work in wonderfully surprising ways!
Let’s talk about your book: what, in a nutshell, is your book about anyway?
Christ Is for Us is a seven-week study for Lent and Easter grounded in the Revised Common Lectionary, but you don’t need to know anything about Lent or the Lectionary to use the book. Its central message is that no matter what challenges we face in life, no matter what’s happening in the world around us, we can live with confidence and hope in God. That’s a message for everyone and for all year round.
Do tell, what was the inspiration behind it?
I was invited by Abingdon Press to write this book, so the initial idea came from the publisher. But inspiration grew from there as I lived with the designated Scripture texts. The Revised Common Lectionary is a three-year cycle of weekly Scripture reading that includes a portion from the Old Testament or the book of Acts, a Psalm, a Gospel text, and another New Testament reading. So really it was immersing myself in the Scripture texts for the weeks of Lent and Easter that inspired this book.
How do you hope readers will be changed by reading your words?
I hope that readers will encounter Scripture in a fresh way to see that Christ is for us—both in the sense of coming on our behalf and being on our side. I pray that the individuals, groups, and congregations who read Christ Is for Us, will read Scripture, wrestle with the text, explore, and live out what they learn.
Lest we forget to ask, how have YOU been changed by writing the book?
I’m more naturally drawn to the stories of Jesus, but in writing this book, I gained a new appreciation for the writing of the apostle Paul, especially the book of Romans. I gained a new appreciation for studying Scripture in community as I met with a small study group during the time I was writing this book, and included some of our discussion. Now that the book is out and Lent has begun, I’ll be meeting with another small group where we hope to deepen our experience of Christ is for us, and strengthen our sense of community together.
Finally, a lot of my blog readers are also writers; since you just finished writing (and publishing!) a book, what encouragement or tips would you offer those who are just dipping their toes into the water, so to speak?
Many writers benefit from writing every day, from writing first thing in the morning, or writing a certain daily quota of words, or developing other good writing habits. But that doesn’t work for everyone, and you don’t have to write that way. Write when you can, where you can. Follow your passion. Find what works for you. If your dream is to write, be encouraged by these words of Henry David Thoreau: “If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.”
Writing/Reflection Prompt: What’s on your reading list these days and why?
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