Author Spotlight: Gary R. Small
We are pleased to introduce Gary R. Small. Gary is working on his A Word from His Word series with us, parts of which are now available for order through the Word Alive Press Bookstore, and everywhere fine Christian books are sold. We asked Gary to share a little bit about his writing, and new books. But first, a little bit about him.
Gary R. Small is the author of the series, A Word from His Word. This collection is a growing family of devotional guides that can be used for personal or group study. Gary began the series during a family vacation. During this time away from workday life, he noticed that his daily Bible reading had become too routine. The motivation for writing A Word from His Word developed from a desire both for personal learning and continued spiritual growth through Bible study. If you too have a sense your devotional times are lacking something to refresh them, this resource may just provide the impetus to put you back on track and in tune with God’s word.
The first three titles are reflections on St Paul’s letters to the Philippians, Ephesians, and Galatians. Paul wrote these epistles to encourage the early church. He also wrote to keep the maturing congregations grounded in the principles of the faith and to inspire them to keep growing. Each book is divided into short easy-to-read chapters that include a portion of scripture and a short commentary. Book chapters are labeled using a word selected from the scripture excerpt. A key concept of the series is that this word can provoke prayerful thoughts on the passage. The focus word might also be reflected on during the course of the day or week depending on the reader’s approach. At the end of a chapter are three applications, chosen to emphasize the selected word and initiate further thoughts on the topic covered.
The books systematically cover the verses of the Bible book being studied to create a devotional guide with focus-word-based chapters. Whether being used as a devotional resource or a personal study guide, the A Word from His Word series will be a welcome addition to your Christian book collection.
Q: What is different about your devotional series?
A: There are many devotionals for the books of the Bible. Some are wordy and academic; others are too short and leave out key truths from the passage. A Word from His Word attempts to bridge this difference. The series is not meant just to have a catchy title but to be of genuine use to Christians looking to explore and learn from the Bible.
Q: Why did you start to write the series?
A: Part of the reason for the series was to build on the fashionable notion of being intentional. Everything seems to need the adjective intentional in order to emphasize deliberate or focused attention whether this is intentional activities, intentional thought, intentional preparation, or intentional relationships. Although this can seem overdone, there is something useful behind the concept of pausing, considering, and reconsidering a perspective. This is especially so of scripture. Scripture may seem familiar, similar to other texts, and lacking the zest or novelty to grasp our attention. By selecting a word that encapsulates the essence of a passage, considering its translation and original meaning, A Word from His Word encourages the reader to take in the passage more deliberately and with purpose.
Q: Did you find the series changed your own approach to reading scripture?
A: Surprisingly writing has increased the frequency of my Bible reading and made it more contemplative. Rather than plucking away at a book over several months in fits and starts. I have found myself dwelling on a portion of scripture for a week at a time, sometimes reading around the passage, but mostly living with one or two of the keywords from the text. In the process of the week’s thoughts and prayers, a sense of the importance of the focus word emerges. Rather than rushing and reading a different passage each day, this more thoughtful – one might say – intentional thought process has been effective in bringing about applications from God’s word.
Q: There are applications at the end of each chapter. What made you end these sections in that manner?
A: Application is such a key part of Bible study. For sure we must read with the cultural background in our minds and with a wide theological hat on so we do not misappropriate portions of the text. When we have read though, the question remains as to what God’s word means to our life. Is it to be applied, contemplated, or just rejected? All scripture is God-breathed and useful for teaching etc. (2 Timothy 3:16-17) so there is always an application – sometimes we just don’t spend enough time or prayer in the word to appropriate the application. In the series, applications are offered at the end of each chapter to provoke reflections on the passage and on the focused word, in the hope that readers will experience a change in both their perspective and actions as a result of their thinking.
Q: Do you have plans to expand the series?
A: The books almost write themselves through the daily joy of learning from the Bible and exploring different words from the text in their original language. There are drafts of new books in preparation. As to whether they come to press will depend on the uptake of these first three books. A motivation for beginning the process of publication was to share the idea of a word from His word and to raise funds for St Timothy’s Classical Christian Academy and LOCAL church. Personal sales from the books are being donated to these great causes, more about which can be learned by reading the afterword in the books. The writing continues; I have not attempted a longer book such as Romans or 1 Corinthians; those will present their own challenges, but provided there continues to be joy in the process I see no reason why these cannot be tackled in time.