Randy Maxwell talks books and spiritual growth

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Pastor Randy Maxwell.

After 18 years working with Pacific Press Publishing Association, Randy Maxwell turned to pastoring, currently at the Renton Adventist Church, near Seattle, Washington, USA. But he retains his love for books and Adventist publishing.

What sparked your focus for your new book Boot Camp for the Last Days?

During my first pastorate in Kuna, Idaho, I perceived a need to revisit the heart of our Advent message in Revelation 14. It seemed like our prophetic mission and identity was fading, but I also felt that we needed more than a mere rehearsal of symbols, timetables and events. In the end-times, nothing is more important than knowing Christ and possessing His character. And this is the lens through which I looked at Revelation 14:6–12.

In what ways do you adapt the concept of “boot camp” to our spiritual lives?

Boot camp is about being serious about anything you take seriously. Boot camp is also known as basic training, designed to transform a civilian into a warrior. In the last days of earth’s history, we need to be transformed from “civilian” churchgoers into fully-devoted followers of Jesus Christ. The last message to be given to the world before Jesus returns is basically a call to take God seriously. Spiritually, we need to be ready for the “wedding” and serious about the war. So each chapter ends with some “basic training” action steps and applications.

If My People Pray has become an Adventist classic. Why do you think this has been so popular?

I take no credit whatsoever for the success of this book. It might sound like a cliché, but I really do give all the glory to God. My assignment at the time was a book on fatherhood, but God wanted a book on prayer. It was also the right time. The zeitgeist of the 90s was prayer and revival, and our people were hungry for connection with God. Perhaps another reason for its popularity is its accessibility. I’m not a theologian, so I didn’t write it that way. I wrote as an ordinary layperson who struggles like everyone else, but with a burning passion to see God pour out His Spirit in my life and church. 

"Don’t settle for just reading the Word, the Spirit of Prophecy or a good spiritual book. Pray the book. Journal your thoughts. And ask God to show you how to put what you read into action."

How and why are good books valuable for our spiritual growth?

Good books inspire and fire our imaginations. I love great preaching and great preachers, but we lose so much of what we hear. The written word can be shared again and again, from generation to generation, with equal and fresh blessing for each new reader. The written word provides opportunity for deep thought and meditation, and spiritual growth requires a certain amount of wrestling with and pondering ideas.

How do we move good ideas out of books and into real life?

This is an excellent question because sometimes we think we’ve actually done something because we read about it. The Jews were guilty of searching the scriptures and thinking that, by doing so, they had eternal life. But Jesus told them that they were mistaken because the scriptures testified about Him, yet they were rejecting Him. If what we read fails to move us to action, it’s just so much head-knowledge, which Paul says, “puffs up while love builds up” (1 Corinthians 8:1). Don’t settle for just reading the Word, the Spirit of Prophecy or a good spiritual book. Pray the book. Journal your thoughts. And ask God to show you how to put what you read into action. Don’t try to implement every concept, but select the top one or two concepts that challenge you the most, and pray those concepts into action.

Boot Camp for the Last Days and If My People Pray are available from Adventist Book Centres in Australia and New Zealand.

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