Being Lutheran releases in May, you’ve just turned in your manuscript for Why Should I Trust the Bible?, and you are a full-time pastor, husband, and father. How do you find time for it all?
By the grace of God! I am blessed to have many supportive and encouraging people in my life. My wife, Elizabeth, does so much to ensure that I am able to have time for writing. My congregation, St. Luke Lutheran Church (Haslett, MI), is such a wonderfully supportive community of believers. The only reason that I am able to find time for it all is because God has blessed me with such a wonderful network of support and encouragement. And a lot of coffee!
What does your writing routine look like?
I am really cautious about honoring the responsibilities I have to my family and congregation; I never want my writing to undermine my other vocations. My writing routine is slow and steady: I start writing most mornings at 5:30 a.m. and conclude no later than 8:00 a.m. I always try to hit an average word count in order to stay on pace for a project. For instance, I knew that I had to average roughly 400 words per day in order to complete Being Lutheran on time. I am usually listening to some music while I write.
What’s been the hardest part about the writing process for you?
The sheer length of a book can be challenging. I am most familiar with writing shorter pieces like sermons and essays where you are able to edit as you write. I usually like to get one sentence perfect before I move to the next. However, writing a book is different; you must keep your feet moving if you are ever going to finish the project. It was initially hard for me to simply write and save the editing for later.
Who are your favorite authors?
I am indebted to many authors. Gene Veith is one of my favorite authors, and I was thrilled to have him write the foreword for Being Lutheran. I also love reading Augustine, Luther, Wendell Berry, Jonathan Swift, and Ernest Hemingway.
What do you enjoy reading with your daughters?
I was raised on a lot of Dr. Seuss. Green Eggs and Ham was my father’s favorite to read to me when I was young. My girls love it when I read that book to them. We also regularly read children’s Bibles and really enjoy the vintage Arch Books that CPH recently re-released.
We love donuts at CPH. What’s your favorite?
Jelly filled (because the fruit in it makes it seem healthy . . . that way I can justify having two)
What’s your confirmation verse?
Matthew 5:14. I never want to hide my faith in Jesus.
The best advice you’ve ever received is?
You can pick your friends, you can pick your nose, but you cannot pick your friend’s nose.
Seriously, the best “advice” I have ever received is seeing my parents live out their faith in Christ Jesus. This may not have been verbal advice per se. However, I will always cherish the lessons that they taught me.
How do you spend your free time?
I love spending time with my family, running, and cycling. I also love anything outdoors: fly-fishing, hiking, camping, and kayaking.
As a pastor, what is your greatest fear?
The pastoral office is way bigger than me. My constant prayer is that I will never dishonor the pastoral office in any way. And I am always afraid of getting in the pulpit and realizing that I prepared a sermon on the wrong texts!
What is your favorite Luther quote?
Observing how intently his puppy (Tölpel) watched him eating dinner, Luther once said, “Oh, if I could only pray the way this dog watches the meat! All his thoughts are concentrated on the piece of meat. Otherwise he has no thought, wish, or hope” (Table Talk).