We are pleased to introduce Rev. Archie Murray, the author of the soon to be released Being Joseph and Being Ruth. We asked Archie to share a little about himself, his books, and his best writing advice.
I gave my life to Jesus as a young teenager and have had the most vibrant and exciting Christian life! That was without question the best decision I ever made, and it was all because of God’s good grace. Although I hadn’t been seeking Him, he found me and won me forever.
At the age of sixteen, I felt called to Christian ministry, but I said nothing about it. To this day, I have never felt fit for the ministry. However, people of worth and significance often told me that I should enter the ministry. Only after extreme personal pressure from good and close friends who knew me well did I apply to the Scottish Baptist Ministry. I was amazed when they accepted me.
I pastored one of the oldest Baptist churches in Scotland for eleven years before being invited to pastor a church in Canada. I pastored for thirteen years in southern Ontario, learning a lot! It was undoubtedly the greatest privilege of my life.
During this period, I had a distinct view of pastoral ministry. I believed that God calls and places His servants where He sees that they are best needed. I felt this required of me a certain responsibility—that is, I believed that God must have worked something into my heart and mind that a particular church needed. So I didn’t go looking for programs or extracurricular material; I wrote all of my own Bible studies and teaching aides. This was generally well received by the churches where I taught.
I found that I really benefitted personally from the work of preparation, so when I stopped peaching I took to writing. I have continued over the last two years, writing most days. Studying and writing without constraints is a luxury few working pastors enjoy. The peace and freedom from stress and distraction has been awesome.
I came across Word Alive Press by accident, having no knowledge of the publishing industry and no idea where to start. My publishing consultant, Sylvia, seemed to understand me and knew how to help me get my books published. I enjoyed working with her and simply could not have done this without her and the rest of the Word Alive Press staff.
I write because it’s the current expression of my call to preach and teach the Scriptures. I write the same way I prepare for preaching. My aim is to understand the text, to discover its various points and lessons, and to be able to explain and expound these at different levels and to different age groups.
In writing non-fiction books based on the Bible, I begin by writing out the text, separating out its component parts, clauses, and words. I then research and study each one, writing everything down and crafting it into a coherent shape—something that’s simple and understandable to those of any age or background. I’m not a theologian or teacher, as such; I’m a pastor. I want to reach ordinary believers in their daily Bible reading and help them to hear it speak.
Q: What first got you interested in the Bible?
A: My elder brother became a Christian when we were teenagers. When he began reading the Bible and praying, I was bewildered! We weren’t a religious family. At the same time, he began to change and become pleasant, helpful, and thoughtful toward me. At one point, I tried daily to wind him up, to make him lose his temper. He never flinched!
For the next nine months, I watched lots of our friends become believers. The changes in them were visible and serious! I wanted what they had.
I soon gave my life to Christ and started reading the Bible. It enthralled me. But most of all, it spoke to me in my own private life, about me and my relationship with God. It encouraged me to change and grow to be more like Jesus.
Q: Why is the Bible relevant today?
A: The Bible is relevant because it’s about people. It’s about life. It’s about us as human beings. We can also learn from the past, as the stories are about real people and historical events. The Bible’s teachings have stood the test of time for thousands of years of critical examination at the highest level. Millions of people all over the world still hold the Bible as the greatest book of all time. It changes people for the better!
Q: Why did you decide to write about the life of Joseph in the Old Testament?
A: The story of Joseph is about family strife, polygamy, favouritism, the breakdown of relationships, and reconciliation. His brothers sent him into slavery, but he forgave them and saved their lives. God used all the awful circumstances of Joseph’s life to fulfill prophecy. We have a lot to learn from Joseph.
Q: What are your plans for future books?
A: I’m writing a series of books called Being Believers. Being Joseph is the first, and I’ve just finished the first draft of the second book, Being Ruth. By early 2019, I will be well on my way to writing a commentary on the Lord’s Prayer called Being in Prayer. Towards the end of 2019, I will be working on the fourth book in the series, a commentary on Paul’s prayers in Ephesians.
Q: What is your writing process?
A: I write as though I am speaking to my congregation, so I range from speeches to very personal appeals. I look to generate a response in the hearts of my readers. I intend to educate, uplift, and challenge people. I want to encourage people to believe, to live biblical lives of faith, and to respond to what the Bible is saying in real ways.
Q: What is your advice to new writers?
A: Being a new writer myself, this subject is fresh in my mind! I would encourage you to select a subject, research it, and write everything down, in any form that appeals to you. Whatever you write, try to make it meaningful and timeless, so that in fifty or a hundred years it will still be relevant.
Don’t be too critical as you write. Review and rewrite if you want, but it’s not important that you get it right the first time! Everything can be developed. For that, find an older, wiser critic. But don’t take their criticism personally; they’re critiquing your book, not you!
If you can’t find a special place to work, go to a library. But also learn to work anywhere, in any environment. Learn the art of isolating yourself in a crowd. Learn to exist in your own heart and head and keep that space available for writing. But also learn when to stop and have coffee with a friend.
Above all, find yourself and discover what it is you want to say. Develop a passion in something of worth. Learn the art of being led by your innermost thoughts.
Rev. Archie Murray has been involved in evangelical churches his entire life. He has also preached and taught in the U.S., China, and Canada, serving as senior pastor for twenty-four years in two churches. He is married to Helen and has four children and three grandchildren. The author of —Being Joseph and Being Ruth, he is also interested in the guitar, keeping fit, archery, and old cars.