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An Interview with Angus MacRae (Part 2)

Rev Angus MacRae, minister of Dingwall & Strathpeffer Free Church, Chair of the Board of Ministry, and Moderator of the 2018 General Assembly, talks to Free Church Books about his life, ministry, and the books he has enjoyed along the way. In the first part, he looked at the way books helped shape his faith through his younger years. In this second part, Angus talks about how books now impact his everyday life as husband, father and minister.

As well as being a 'professional Christian', you are also a husband and a father. Do you and Ann, your wife, ever chat about the Christian books either of you are reading? Are there any books that Ann would particularly recommend?

One of the most helpful books Ann and I have ever read was You Can Change, by Tim Chester. It deals with changing the heart, managing emotions and addressing sin in a biblical and challenging way. Anything that helps to build a regular rhythm of daily reading and worship is also helpful. We have enjoyed reading together Bible-based devotions by Alec Motyer (on Isaiah and Psalms) and daily readings by Tim and Kathy Keller (on the Psalms and on Proverbs). It is good to read biography, books on mission and the global church, and books that will help us to know God better. We have both benefited from The Meaning of Marriage by Tim Keller, and his book Prayer: Awe and Intimacy with God.

Recently Ann has read (twice) Dayspring MacLeod’s book on Bonhoeffer; A Spoke in the Wheel, and she has just started working through John Piper’s huge biographical volume, 21 Servants of Sovereign Joy. We are both reading through Sing!; a little book on worship by Keith and Kristyn Getty. I have been reading You Can Pray, by Tim Chester and on my list is Mission Matters, also by Tim Chester.

As parents, which Christian kids' books would you recommend to others?

There are many wonderful books and resources to use with children. We found XTB and other children’s devotions from the Good Book Company were helpful to use with a young family. We used The Beginner’s Bible when our children were small. Since then The Jesus Storybook Bible has been published, by Sally Lloyd-Jones. That is beautifully written and illustrated, and goes well with its companion book, Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing (which has helped many adults as well as children). I see a need to do much more in church life to equip families to make disciples at home and prepare young people for the challenges of school, college, friends, social media and the world of work. Parenting Against The Tide, by Ann Benton is on my list to read, as I feel I need help in this area. I think social media can be a real menace and a source of anger, anxiety and worse. It can waste a lot of time and lead into sin. We need to limit “screen time” and spend more time with people, with the Lord, with good books and with God’s book. Tim Chester’s Will You be my Facebook Friend? is a very sensible quick read.

You're now a busy minister. How big a part does reading play in your ministry, whether in preparing for sermons, guiding small groups or keeping up with the latest theological trends? Do you manage to find time to read as much as you would like?

Ministry would be impossible without good books. I often give people books, and I try to cultivate reading in the church family. Preparing talks and sermons does require use of books and online resources. It is good to listen to the text of scripture first, and then go to the books. Much of the application and contemporary illustration will come from keeping up with a wide range of books, and sources of news and comment, including things on culture and politics. I do sometimes use e-books on my phone or tablet, but I don’t find that as enjoyable as using a proper book. Electronic books seem more forgettable! I like a printed volume that I can underline or mark-up with scribble, or some notes on the fly-leaf.

And finally - what was the last book you read, Christian or not?

Paul: A Biography by Tom Wright.