Let’s start out by telling our readers a little about you. (Current ministry context, family, joys in life, etc.)
I am a full-time pastor in Cincinnati, Ohio. I have been married to my spectacularly gifted and gorgeous wife for 20 years, and we have four adopted children: Edmond (12), Ransom (9), Avery (9), and Eva (16 months).
We all play tennis, with varying degrees of skill. I’m pretty close to the stage where my two sons are going to be able to spank me in match play. My wife and I enjoy doing just about anything together, including talking, walking, movies, and endlessly shopping for our dream house online.
What are you reading right now?
I always have several books going at once.
A fellow pastor and friend recently sent me a copy of Jesus: Power Without Measure, by the late Douglas MacMillan of the Free Church of Scotland. The subtitle sums it up well: “the work of the Spirit in the life of our Lord.”
I’m also reading the recent 9 Marks/Phil Newton collaboration Elders in the Life of the Church. It is a thorough and practical—and most importantly, biblical—treatment of the topic.
I’ve also been reading a lot of books lately on Titus 2, as I just wrapped up the manuscript for a book in which I hope to exegete that pastoral chapter and how it relates to the local church.
We are also reading The Ology, Robin Hood, and Redwall together with our kids!
What are some books you regularly re-read and why?
I have read The Chronicles of Narnia multiple times, not just for my kids’ sake, but for my own soul’s sake. Lewis has such an effective way of revealing my heart sins, and of pointing me to joy in the gospel.
Pink’s Attributes of God also comes to mind, because of it elevates my view of God. And Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings because of the truth expressed there in mythical form.
What biographies or autobiographies have you read recently?
I am going to show my dependence on Iain Murray here, but two of my favorites are his biography of Martyn Lloyd-Jones and George Whitefield’s Journals with Murray’s introduction. Both books are absolute gems and classics.
I also recently read Borden of Yale, given to me by a man inspired by it to go into missions. William Borden was a philanthropist and millionaire Christian who gave up all his wealth to become a missionary; he died in Egypt before he even reached his destination, but—like Jim Elliot—left behind a legacy that has inspired millions.
Also, an excellent biography of C.S. Lewis, entitled Jack, was put together by his close friend George Sayer. I was both informed and blessed in reading it not long ago.
Speaking of biographies and such, is there any particular one that has influenced you a great deal in your faith?
I would have to say the number one biography I’ve ever read is the 2-volume Autobiography of C.H. Spurgeon (again from Banner of Truth), originally compiled by Susannah Spurgeon. There is no telling how many times, as a pastor or just as a believer, some part of Spurgeon’s life, messages, or trials have come back to bless me.
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?
Wow. That’s hard. So much would depend on the particular person’s age, spiritual maturity, sin tendencies, and particular struggles. But’s here is a very feeble attempt, which I am sure I will second-guess later:
1) Anything by C.S. Lewis, because he will help you see the beauty of God, and therefore of life.
2) Ed Welch’s When People Are Big, and God Is Small because we too often think they are, and He is.
3) John Piper’s Don’t Waste Your Life because otherwise you might be tempted to.
4) Thomas Watson’s A Body of Divinity (by, you guessed it, Banner of Truth) because it is just that good.
5) Don Whitney’s Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life is a must-read for those desiring to form godly habits of devotional living.
What books have molded how you serve and lead others in the gospel?
C.J. Mahaney’s Living the Cross-Centered Life greatly impacted my own prayer and devotional life—and therefore my preaching also—with its simple message concerning the practical priority of the gospel in all we do. I keep extra copies around and give it out to others all the time.
Tim Keller’s A Reason for God is incredibly helpful at getting to the gospel, through all the secondary questions and distractions.
R.C. Sproul’s The Holiness of God rocked my world, and so I love to rock others’ with it.
Finally, let’s conclude with this question. What are you learning about life and daily following Jesus?
I am learning—over and over again—that life is daily following Jesus. Each year I choose a passage of Scripture to pray for myself, and this year I am praying according to Jesus’ admonitions to Revelation 3:14-22, to the lukewarm church in Laodicea.
The problem with lukewarmness is that it doesn’t see or feel its need of Christ in your daily life. The solution for lukewarmness then is to see Christ as everything you need in your daily life!
Lukewarmness, Jesus says, is having just enough religion, good works, material wealth, or anything else to make you think you are fine: “I need nothing.” The answer to lukewarmness then must be, “Jesus, come into me and commune with me, every day.”