Let’s start out by telling our readers a little about you. (Current ministry context, family, joys in life, etc.)
I live in Belleville, IL, a suburb of St. Louis, MO with my wife Erica and daughter Alissa. I am an eight-year Navy veteran and have been employed for the past 11 years at the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) where I oversee advanced educational programs. I have a Bachelor of Science degree in Religion (Biblical Studies) from Liberty University.
As far as ministry efforts are concerned, I run a personal blog (Christian Apologetics and Intelligence Ministry, http://intelmin.org) and associated social media which provides original content and shares articles of interest I come across. I also have the pleasure of serving as the Managing Editor of Servants of Grace and the editor for Servants of Grace Apologetics.
It is probably not a surprise I am an avid book reader which also happens to be my favorite hobby.
My biggest joy in life (outside of being a child of God of course) is my family. We are a homeschool family with this year being our third year doing the homeschool thing. This has proven to be both a wonderful and challenging experience. With that said, it is a joy to watch our daughter blossom academically and to be able to spend time rearing her in this regard in the fear and admonition of the Lord.
Our other “child” if you will is my wife’s thoroughbred horse named Beckham. We get to spend a lot of time going to horse clinics and shows which occupy any remaining free time we may have.
What are you reading right now?
I am a very eclectic reader meaning I read on a variety of topics to include old books (Puritan authors are a favorite) and new releases. There is really no pattern to my reading madness. A particular subject matter catches my attention and down the rabbit hole, I go.
I am currently reading:
- Atlantis: Fact or Fiction, edited by Edwin Ramage – Why? This subject has long fascinated me. Why? I have no idea.
- The Lordship of Christ by Vern Poythress – A newer release by a favorite author of mine on a very important topic.
- Nephilim Hybrids by L.A. Marzulli – Why? See below where I note my voracious interest in the first few chapters of Genesis. The topic of the Nephilim has long interested me. Marzulli is a well-known author and researcher on this subject.
- The Inerrant Word by John MacArthur – Another newer release on an always important subject. I appreciate MacArthur’s (and the other authors who contributed) diligence in affirming the inerrancy of Scripture.
I told you my reading habits are eclectic!
What are some books you regularly re-read and why?
I seem to find that I return to the writings of the Puritan authors more so than other books. Perhaps it is their passion for holiness and style of writing that draws me into what they have to share.
Titles I find myself coming back to include:
- Holiness by J. C. Ryle
- The Mortification of Sin by John Owen (or anything by him for that matter)
- The Sinfulness of Sin by Ralph Venning
I am also a voracious reader on all things related to the first 8 or so chapters of Genesis. A book I find myself returning to as I study that topic is The Biblical Doctrine of Man by C. Ryder Smith.
What biographies or autobiographies have you read recently?
The last book in this genre I read was Unashamed by Lecrae. It was a truly fascinating read, not just because I am a big Lecrae fan, but because it was an autobiography I actually enjoyed reading. Some books in this genre can be a bit dull and boring for me.
Unashamed was an excellent read and I gained an even greater appreciation for Lecrae as a person and for his musical talents and ministry. My daughter is now reading this book and she is not known for reading non-fiction.
Speaking of biographies and such, is there any particular one that has influenced you a great deal in your faith?
I have not been a big reader of biographies over the years, but I will say there have been some that have both drawn my attention and that had a lasting impact.
Perhaps most notable in this regard are the twin autobiographies by Charles Colson, Born Again and the follow-up to that book, Life Sentence. I read these books as a teenager. The lasting impact they had was the reality that God can take even the hardest of individuals, woo them, and remake them as a child of God for His glory and for the furtherance of His kingdom.
Colson was known as the “White House Hatchet Man” and for good reason. God broke through that hard exterior and Colson’s life story speaks to God’s mercy and grace.
If you were sitting down with a fellow believer and they asked for your top five book recommendations on Christian living, what would they be?
Just when I thought the questions would be a bit easier.
I will again point to one I noted earlier and that is Holiness by J. C. Ryle. A second recommendation would be Knowing God by J. I. Packer. A third would be The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer. My fourth suggestion would be The Christian in Complete Armor by William Gurnall. The final one on my list would be The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment by Jeremiah Burroughs.
What books have molded how you serve and lead others in the gospel?
Once again I have to say I appreciate the writings of the Puritans in this regard. The message of the gospel is one of understanding the impact of sin and the solution to that gigantic problem. The gospel is more than just “getting saved”. It is truly a day to day, moment by moment realization of who we are as the people of God. It is rooted in grasping what it means to draw closer to a relationship with our Creator and what this whole thing of loving God and others is about and how we do it.
So I may be cheating a bit here by referring to some already named titles, but I have to again say books like Holiness by J. C. Ryle, Knowing God by J. I. Packer, and Mortification of Sin by John Owen have been impactful in that area.
Concerning books that mold how I serve, I see my biggest service at this point in life as being in the home as a father and a husband. I am not a pastor nor do I lead any specific ministry effort in my church at this time so I tend to gravitate towards titles that are impactful in the areas of fatherhood and marriage.
Shepherding a Child’s Heart by Tedd Tripp was a tremendous hugely impactful for me in the area of child rearing and fatherhood. Both the book and the DVD teaching series are well worth the time. What Did You Expect by Paul Tripp was also quite helpful when it comes to the realities of marriage.
I must also plug a subject I think is of great important when it comes to service, a book that deals with the thorny issue of debt. Part of loving God and others involves how we deal with the funds we are provided. Being in debt to the point where you are unable to love God and others through the area of financial giving is all too common these days.
Getting out from that ungodly burden of debt is a must. Debt causes all manner of anxiety, it causes us to pass by those in need, and quite frankly it is just plain unbiblical to be a slave to debt. So I have to recommend Dave Ramsey’s book The Total Money Makeover or other books of a similar nature that help people refocus their financial priorities.
Finally, let’s conclude with this question. What are you learning about life and daily following Jesus?
I will keep this one very simple – I learn each and every day that I have so much more to learn. Every time I open my Bible or I read an excellent book, I come just a bit closer to understanding what it means to be the chaste bridegroom, to be a child of God, to be part of the called out people of God, and what it means to love God and others. Oh, I have such a long way to go in this regard.
Michael lives in Belleville, IL, a suburb of St. Louis, MO with his wife Erica, adopted daughter Alissa, two cats Molly and Sweetie Pie and horse Beckham. After spending eight years in the United States Navy as a Yeoman, he has been employed for the past ten years by the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) where he oversees advanced educational programs. Michael holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Religion (Biblical Studies) from Liberty University and is currently closing in on completing a Master of Arts in Religion (Biblical Studies) from Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary. He is an avid reader and blogger.