Let’s start out by telling our readers a little about you. (Current ministry context, family, joys in life, etc.)
My wife and I serve our local church, Immanuel Church in Birmingham, in a variety of ways. We mainly serve on the connect team, where we welcome people as they come to worship. We also help serve communion during the worship gathering. Professionally, I work at a local retail bookstore that offers self-publishing services for local authors. As stated above, I am married to Courtney (no kids, yet). We just celebrated our fourth anniversary. My joys in life include spending time with my wife, who is my best friend. I enjoy reading, of course, and playing golf on occasion.
What are you reading right now?
Like most contributors to SOG, I have several books going at one time. I like to read certain books depending on the context. In the morning I’m reading through the devotional The Songs of Jesus by Timothy and Kathy Keller, which walks through the book of Psalms in a year.
I’m also reading The Insanity of God by Nik Ripken, which is a great book about the cost of following Jesus. Following Jesus in America does not cost us much (in the grand scheme of things), but our brothers and sisters in Christ who live in hostile cultures are paying a steep price for their faith. This book is both an encouragement and conviction. When I go to the gym, I like to listen to an audiobook.
Currently, I’m listening to Amazing Grace: William Wilberforce and Heroic Campaign to End Slavery by Eric Metaxas. When I have time at night before bed I like to read fiction. Currently, I am reading through The Grantchester Mystery Series by James Runcie, which is also a PBS miniseries. It’s a British fiction series about an Anglican vicar who helps solve crimes in his community.
What are some books you regularly re-read and why?
To be honest, I haven’t re-read many books. I have referenced books that I’ve read before and re-read certain sections, but I have not read them all the way through a second time.
What biographies or autobiographies have you read recently?
So far this year I have read 41: A Portrait of My Father by former president George W. Bush and God and Churchill by Jonathan Sandys and Wallace Henley. Currently, I’m listening to Amazing Grace: William Wilberforce and Heroic Campaign to End Slavery by Eric Metaxas. I suppose I’ve been on a world leader/politician biography kick because of it being an election year.
Speaking of biographies and such, is there any particular one that has influenced you a great deal in your faith?
Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas is probably the best biography I have ever read. It took me a while to finish, but it is excellent! The life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer serves as a great testimony to the Christian faith. Here is a man who was deeply dedicated, not only to his faith in Christ but also to the Church. He was willing to risk his own life to lead the movement of the Confessing Church in Nazi Germany. He was also willing to pay the ultimate price to do what was right. Christians today have a lot to learn from Bonhoeffer. Thankfully much of his writing has survived and can be read for generations to come.
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?
That’s a tough one. There are tons of great books on the topic of Christian living and spiritual formation, it’s hard to narrow it down to just five. Here are five that have had an impact on me and they are in no particular order.
- The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer
- Every Good Endeavor, (and pretty much any book) by Timothy Keller
- The Heart of a Servant Leader by C. John Miller
- The Purpose of Man by A.W. Tozer
- Radical by David Platt
What books have molded how you to serve and lead others in the gospel?
One book that stands out, in particular, is Called: My Journey to C.S. Lewis’ House and Back by Ryan J. Pemberton. In the book, Pemberton discusses what it means to be called by God and following the Lord wherever he leads. Sometimes the journey takes us to places we did not expect, but in the end, it is always worth it. I read this book during a time of transition and questioning my own calling. I would recommend this book to anyone considering vocational ministry.
Another book would be Be You. Do Good. by Jonathan David Golden. In his book, Golden discusses how the Lord led him to start his own coffee company that seeks the good of the farmers, roasters, employees and customers. This book reminded me that in Christ I am free to serve others by doing good and glorifying the Lord.
Finally, let’s conclude with this question. What are you learning about life and daily following Jesus?
Right now, I’m learning to hold fast to the truth that the Lord is sovereign. My life is not my own, I am his servant. I have no claim on my life to do as I please. I have to remind myself daily that no matter what comes my way, the Lord is leading me and has a plan for my life. That works itself out by seeing everything that happens as an opportunity to serve Jesus. Everything that I do throughout the day is an opportunity to glorify Him.