Q: Why do these Bible stories matter?
Why do these stories matter? Well, they matter because we have handicaps, and we go through divorces, we make promises and don’t keep them. We tell lies because we don’t like the truth. Why do these stories matter? Because they are in the Bible. There is a story of a young boy who is handicapped and remembered by a king. There is a story of a king that cheated on his wife. There’s the story of a prophet who is so depressed that he became suicidal. There is a story of a follower of Jesus who didn’t believe that Jesus was who He said He was. These are the things we do—we get depressed, we have handicaps, we don’t believe Jesus is who He said He was. And so these stories are great tools for us, to help us to see how kind and patient God is even when we struggle. And also these stories are great tools to give to people. They are gifts we give people; and when people who have never read these stories discover that the Bible is populated by real people with real questions, with real concerns, they find their stories in these stories. And that’s my prayer, that we’ll all find our story in the stories of the Bible.

Q: You explain that these biblical character profiles reveal how God can “use man’s best and overcome man’s worst.” What do you mean by that phrase?
Well, this phrase is important because it helps us see that God uses us when we’re useful. But we still have a purpose when we’re not useful. Our use to God doesn’t depend on our own goodness; He can overcome our mistakes. In fact, what we mean for evil God can even use for good. So this phrase exalts God as the One who really leads the cast of characters.

Q: How can these ancient stories in the Bible help us in modern times?
When we study the cast of characters we see how people turn to God in the toughest times of their lives. These stories are so important because they remind us that when we don’t have anywhere else to go, we can go where we should have gone when we felt like we had everywhere to go--we can go to God. God allows us to get to the end of our rope because at the end of our rope we find that He is waiting on us there.

Q: Many Americans are experiencing tough times through job loss and financial stress this year. How can the experiences of biblical characters provide encouragement for modern readers?
The stories of people in the Bible are relevant to us because they went through what we go through. They went through financial challenges; they went through political change; they went through issues of storms of geography and storms of theology and storms of personality. Everything that we go through, they went through. And so when we see how God interacted with them and their difficulties, we see how God interacts with us. And sometimes the result is a bit convicting that God challenges us, or chastises us; sometimes the answer is very comforting--how God helps us and God encourages us. But, that’s the reason we love these people in the Bible because their stories are our stories, and how God interacted with them is how God interacts with us.

Q: This past year has been filled with transition for you and your family: managing serious health issues, changing your role at Oak Hills Church, becoming empty-nest parents. How have you and Denalyn seen God work through these circumstances?
Somebody said if you don’t want change, go to a soda machine because you will find change everywhere else. And that’s true; life is full of changes. We’ve found that in our own family over the last couple of years. I’ve had some health issues--thankfully I’m feeling and doing much better now. We’ve had some family changes--healthy changes but changes none the less--of one girl going to college, one girl getting engaged, another going off to graduate school; so a lot of transition going on in our family. But, we have found that God is that one unchanging center around which we can hover and to which we can tether. When we do that, our days seem to discover some stability, when we forget that our days are disruptive. I would say over the last 24 months I’d give myself a B minus in this; some days I’ve done well, other days I haven’t. But even on the days I haven’t, God has done His part. He’s been faithful, and in changing times He never changes.