Let’s start out by telling our readers a little about you. (Current ministry context, family, joys in life, etc.)
The Early crew lives in Seattle, WA. I recently joined the staff at Redemption Church. I focus primarily on preaching and theological development of the body. Jana and I met at a punk rock/hardcore show in our first year of college. We quickly fell for each other and have now been married 12 years! We have two fantastic kids that we enjoy so very much. Tovah’s (6) favorite animal is a skunk and Jude (5) is what my Papa Walt calls “all boy!” On Saturday mornings me and the kids “sneak out” to go get donuts and spend some time either at a park or wandering around the city and let mom sleep in. These daddy dates are absolutely priceless.
I personally really love cooking and Jana’s into photography (and is doing quite well at it!). So in the evenings when the kids are down, I’ll cook something up for us and she’ll be close by editing photos and listening to vinyl.
What are you reading right now?
I’m currently working on my doctorate and so most of my reading time goes toward the subject of the atonement of Jesus and relational theology. But that’s not all! I’ve been working slowly through Working the Angles: The Shape of Pastoral Integrity by Eugene Peterson. My friend Cameron Barham recommended it and man is it good as I am re-entering pastoral ministry.
What are some books you regularly re-read and why?
Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence. I return to this over and over because of the simple but profound approach to the omnipresence of God is something that I am in constant need of. That is to say, omnipresence isn’t just a doctrine to nod my head too. This is a powerful, moment-by-moment, transformation of the human experience. God is really everywhere. Amazing.
The Ragamuffin Gospel: Good News for the Bedraggled, Beat Up, and Burned Out by Brennan Manning. This is probably the book that has most impacted me. It is here that I learned how God actually sees me as I am and loves me still. I’m constantly blown away by this simple but incomprehensible statement: God is love.
Telling the Truth: the Gospel as Tragedy, Comedy, and Fairy Tale by Frederick Buechner. As someone who preaches regularly throughout the year, I love Buechner. He has a such a way of approaching the Bible, people, and God in an honest way that is incredibly sobering in a world filled with lies, fluff, and entertainment-driven preaching.
Faithful Feelings: Rethinking Emotion in the New Testament by Matthew Elliot. I return to this book about twice a year because, in it, Elliot takes our common emotions and shows their role in our lives as the children of God.
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?
Well, not to sound too pretentious, but I just wrote my second book that I think will be helpful. It’s called “New Believer’s Guide to the Christian Life: What Will Change, What Won’t, and Why It Matters.” This book is written to ground us in what it means to be a child of God and then to show why we do what we do as Christians. We will then look at prayer, baptism, giving, serving, mission, temptation, and so on. It’s a book that welcomes new believers to the family of God but is also something any believer can read and glean several things.
What books have molded how you serve and lead others in the gospel?
- Center Church by Timothy Keller.
- Lectures to My Students by Charles Spurgeon.
- Dangerous Calling by Paul Trip.
Finally, let’s conclude with this question. What are you learning about life and daily following Jesus?
- All of my wealth is in my relationships. Not in what I can do or produce or accumulate. My relationships with Jesus, Jana, my kids, and my friends are where I truly find real wealth.
- Jesus is gentle. That is to say, everyone currently does or will confess him to be Lord (Phil 2). But for those people who really spend time with him, they are the ones who, when they speak about him, they use words like “gentle”, “kind”, “patient”, and “compassionate” to describe his demeanor.
- To live and die in a state of gratitude. Entitlement is absolutely like drinking poison. It does not quench thirst. It does not bring life. Gratitude should be the heart of anyone who’s met, Jesus. Gratitude for salvation, for family, for friends, for everything.