5 Questions on Christianity, life & books
1. How did you become a Christian?
My father was a big influence on my life growing up. He was my best friend as well as my father. He read me Bible stories at night going to bed, and his personal faith in Christ was manifest and attractive. Though I never remember a time when I did not believe that God existed and that Jesus Christ was the Saviour of the world, I knew it like I know that British Airways could fly me to Brazil- but I have never been there! Dad’s faith was different- it was real and living! When I was nine my dad and I were out in the fields together when he had a massive heart attack, and died in my arms. It was a traumatic experience. Quietly, over a few years, I began to search for the faith I knew that my father had. Under the bedclothes, I started reading the Bible for answers, but I told nobody. When I was thirteen a friend invited me to a nearby CSSM (Scripture Union) beach mission. As soon as I heard the Gospel from someone else other than my mum and dad, I responded. I always say that God found me behind a sand-dune on a beach at Greystones in the South of Ireland! From that point onwards I have been able thankfully to say, not just that Jesus is the Saviour, but that he is my Saviour too!
2. Who is or has been an influential person in your Christian pilgrimage?
Over the years many people have, under God, been a helpful influence on my Christian life- so it is hard to pick one out! But probably I have been most helped and influenced by the late Alec Motyer, who was my College principal, mentor and friend over the years. He and I had similar backgrounds in Ireland, and his love for the Bible and his passion in preaching has had a profound effect on my life. His example of a warm hearted Reformed Faith, that is devotional, as well as doctrinally clear, has been my bedrock example to seek to follow in my life and ministry.
3. What piece of advice would you give young ordinands going into ordained ministry today?
Get well trained for the long haul of ministry at a really good theological college! In particular, sort out your doctrine of Holy Scripture, and see that a high view of the Bible as God’s inerrant Word is the foundation for all that you do. Devour Scripture and become devoted to the Lord whom Scripture testifies to, and be determined in your life and ministry to obey the Lord whatever it costs! Then seek to preach and teach God’s Word with your whole heart. Only that solid conviction will help you weather the pressure to cave in to fashionable views, ecclesiastical pressures, or novel ideas!
4. Which is the best book you have read in 2021?
The best book I have read in the last year is “Pointing to the Pasturelands” (subtitled: Reflections on Evangelicalism, Doctrine and Culture) by the late J.I.Packer. It is a collection of all the columns and articles that Dr.Packer wrote over the years when he was a consulting editor for Christianity Today magazine in the States.
It is just full of wit and wisdom, and a great example of how to apply Reformed theology to questions and issues facing contemporary Christians. I loved it and was encouraged and helped by it. Highly recommended!
5. What are you working on at the moment?
I have just finished a long article, expounding Peter’s sermon in Acts Ch.2, under the title: “Prophetic Preaching - the missing jewel of the Evangelical Church?” which I am hoping that Latimer might publish! It seeks to show what can be missing elements in effective preaching today, and how the church needs that preaching.