You may know that I run the Woman Alive Book Club. This month’s interview (reproduced here, uncut, with thanks to Woman Alive) is with the prolific writer, RT Kendall (author of over 50 books). He was the senior minister of Westminster Chapel in London for 25 years. He lives with his wife in Tennessee, and continues to preach, teach, and write.
I pray a lot about writing books and seek the leadership of the Holy Spirit in the entire process. I refuse to write until I am gripped. Some of my books were sermons. My book God Meant it for Good was a series of Sunday-night sermons on the life of Joseph from Genesis 37-50. They were originally typed from a tape recorder, then edited to make them more readable. The same is true of All’s Well that Ends Well (life of Jacob) and A Man After God’s Own Heart (life of David). But other books I type at my computer. Sometimes a publisher will ask for a particular subject, sometimes I will get inspired to write on a subject. I like to think that at the bottom of all this is the anointing of the Holy Spirit. But at the end of the day no matter how inspired I may feel if people don’t purchase the books they won’t get read!
Total Forgiveness has sold the most copies (also in 20 languages) of my books and I have received the most letters from people who read it. That book has apparently healed marriages, got family members speaking to each other. I could almost have a book made up of testimonies of readers.
There is not a pastor who does not have people say, “I know God forgives me but I cannot forgive myself.” Totally Forgiving Ourselves has set people free in a wonderful way, but I give God all the glory for this. It’s not me. I have had to do what I tell people to do – I had to forgive myself for not being the good parent I should have been when the children were growing up. I put my church and sermon preparation first thinking I was putting God first. I now believe if I had put my family first I would have preached just as well but I can’t get those years back. I have forgiven myself – I really have! And this has helped others to do the same.
I have been criticized for the title of my latest book – Totally Forgiving God – and I understand this. It sounds like God is guilty of something. But he is absolutely pure, just, and righteous. That said, he allows things to happen which he could have stopped (since he is omnipotent). We have to forgive him – set him free, let him off the hook – for the things he allowed to happen. The book is largely an exposition of the Book of Habakkuk and demonstrates how we must wait until the Last Day for God to clear his Name. I have received testimonies of people who said that book set them free.
We love Britain and would live there tomorrow if we could. It is too expensive. My best friends are in Britain; my happiest memories are in Britain. It was at Oxford I received my research degree; it was in London I was given an international platform. I would never have written a book had I been pastor elsewhere. So I am grateful to God for the privilege of having lived in England. Louise and I take every opportunity to visit when we can. The nostalgia is deep in us.
When I was young I identified with Joseph. Now that I am old I identify with Jacob. When I read about Jonah I say “I am Jonah” – the Jonah who went the opposite direction from what he was told to do; I am also the carnal Jonah who pouted from not being vindicated. My latest book to be published in the USA is on Elijah. I identify with him – a very self-centered man who took himself too seriously.
My book on David is called A Man After God’s Own Heart. I identify with him in many ways, especially in his days of preparation before he became King. But what I admire most about David was how he handled himself when in exile and let God do the vindicating.
Although I have not written a book on Paul – only preached from his letters – he is the one I look forward to talking with in heaven. I want to see what marks he will give me for how well I interpreted Romans, Galatians and all his Epistles. I will also ask him, “Did you write Hebrews?” (I think he did, but nobody agrees with me).