Seven Questions about Books, Life, and Ministry with Mathew Sims

Posted On August 14, 2016

Let’s start out by telling our readers a little about you. (Current ministry context, family, joys in life, etc.)

Hey, readers! My name is Mathew Sims. Currently, my family attends Downtown Presbyterian Church, a church in the PCA. We’ve been there for four or five years and love it. We are currently teaching Sunday School for K through 5. A big push in our church is everyone chipping in and coming alongside parents to nurture children in the Lord. It’s been great to see that work out in the life of the church.

My wife LeAnn and I have been married for almost eleven years and have three daughters—Claire (9), Maddy (5), and Adele (almost 3). If I’m honest, I just love spending time with my family. We swim, hike, watch movies, and go out to dinner together. I’ve come to realize over the years that family time rejuvenates me.

I’ve had a great opportunity since the spring to work from home as a full-time editor. It’s been awesome to spend more time with my family, have schedule flexibility, and also work in a field that I enjoy. However, it’s also been a challenge. I didn’t realize how much I enjoy casual office interactions with friends until I started working from home.

What are you reading right now?

I’ve been reading more fiction lately. Currently, I’m reading Patrick Rothfuss’ The Name of the Wind. Next up in the que is a Lee Childs’ Jack Reacher novel, and JD Vance’s Hillbilly Elegy.

I’ve also been slowly working through Banner of Truth’s new edition of Calvin’s Institutes since it released. With my kids, we recently finished The Hobbit and started into ND Wilson’s Boys of Blurr.

What are some books you regularly re-read and why?

Great question. First off I know some people struggle to re-read books, so if that’s you don’t be discouraged.

I regularly re-read JRR Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. I probably read those books the most out of any.

I’ve also read Richard Sibbes Bruised Reed almost a half dozen times. It’s so short and compact and penetrates my heart in fresh ways every time I read it.

What biographies or autobiographies have you read recently?

Actually, it’s been a while since I’ve dug into a good biography. I think the last one I read was IVP’s autobiography by Thomas Oden—which was excellent. I highly recommend it.

Speaking of biographies and such, is there any particular one that has influenced you a great deal in your faith?

One that never failed to bring tears to my eyes was Steve Saints’ End of a Spear. Also, his Desiring God conference message about God’s sovereignty in relation to the tragedy that happened with his daughter in conjunction with the End of a Spear. I’m tearing up just thinking about all the suffering that family has experience and how their faith in Christ has grown in such tough soil.

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?

  1. John Stott’s Basic Christianity
  2. CS Lewis’ Mere Christianity
  3. John Owen’s The Mortification of Sin
  4. The Valley of Vision
  5. JI Packer’s Knowing God

Those are great entry level, easy to digest books. Past that I’d get your hands on a great systematic—like John Calvin’s Institutes and a more recent one like Michael Horton’s The Christian Faith or Michael Bird’s Evangelical Theology.

What books have molded how you serve and lead others in the gospel?

The one book that made the most seismic change in my Christian life was John Piper’s Desiring God. It caused a paradigm shift in the way I saw the gospel that still affects me today.

Also, Timothy Keller’s Every Good Endeavor—most people aren’t in some kind of full-time ministry and may not have any idea how their work connects to their faith. Another Keller book Walking with God through Pain and Suffering. I think everyone should read that before tragedy hits.

Also, when my family shifted into the Presbyterian tradition, I found the freedom of having a confession and catechisms refreshing. I didn’t have to disciple others and especially my family on my own. Probably the reformed confessions and catechisms have most consistently molded my discipleship endeavors because I use them regularly with my family.

Finally, let’s conclude with this question. What are you learning about life and daily following Jesus?

The last six months has been one of a lot of change for me. I’ve been reminded time and time again that my work isn’t who I am and also that following Jesus is a daily endeavor. Even if you work at home, spend tons of time with your family, and everything is going “well,” you still have to follow Christ daily. You can’t just neglect that essential component of being a Christian. And growing our faith is hard work. It just doesn’t happen without thought and intentionality. We grow by the Spirit as we work in his power towards being more like Christ.

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