First Look: An Interview with Gloria Furman, Author of Labor with Hope

Thanks for reading my blog series First Look, where I interview authors about their new books. The goal is to point you to solid, Christ-centered resources by giving you a peek into the author’s mind and heart.


Gloria Furman (MACE, Dallas Theological Seminary) lives in the Middle East where her husband, Dave, serves as the pastor of Redeemer Church of Dubai. She is the author of many books, including Missional MotherhoodTreasuring Christ When Your Hands Are Full, and Glimpses of Grace. She is author of Labor with Hope: Gospel Meditations on Pregnancy, Childbirth, and Motherhood (Crossway, 2019).

Tell us what your new book is about.

Labor with Hope is a devotional book written for expectant moms to help encourage their spiritual life by pointing them to worship Jesus Christ. The person and work of Jesus is the focus of the book, and I discuss several Scripture passages that utilize the language of birth to point us to spiritual realities. One famous scriptural example of this is when Jesus tells Nicodemus he must be “born again” (John 3).

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A Prayer for When the Pain Returns

Old pains have made new appearances lately. The jaw pain I thought was almost gone is back with a vengeance. I’ve felt discouraged, set back, and weary, unsure how to process this…

Why would God remove certain pains, after much prayer, only to return them? How am I supposed to understand these recurrences? Why does it seem like I can never get ahead of the pain and discomfort?

I don’t have the answers to these questions. I’m at a loss for words when the pain returns and presses upon me with its fearful weight.

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First Look: An Interview with Elliot Clark, Author of Evangelism as Exiles

Thanks for reading my blog series First Look, where I interview authors about their new books. The goal is to point you to solid, Christ-centered resources by giving you a peek into the author’s mind and heart.


Elliot Clark (MDiv, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) lived in Central Asia, where he served as a cross-cultural church planter along with his wife and children. He currently works to train local church leaders overseas with Training Leaders International. He is author of Evangelism as Exiles: Life on Mission as Strangers in Our Own Land (The Gospel Coalition, 2019).

Tell us what your new book is about.

Many of us in North America have been privileged with a history of relative ease. In many cases, evangelicals have been (and still may be) the social and cultural majority. As such, we’re accustomed to doing evangelism from a position of power and influence. And we might even be tempted to think that success, cultural status, and having a “voice” are what make our gospel believable.   

But that’s not the way it’s been throughout church history, and it’s certainly not the norm in much of the world today. The Christian experience is typically one of exile. The Apostle Peter emphasized this as he wrote to first-century Christians facing trials of shame and social exclusion. What’s surprising is not that Christians suffer in this way—even Jesus was a chosen exile—but that our increasing experience of weakness and marginalization actually presents an incredible opportunity for the gospel.

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Moms, You’ve Got One of the Best Jobs

My husband wrote this article in honor of moms. It blessed me a ton, and I’m hoping it will encourage you today whether you’re raising children, have raised them, or are a spiritual mother. 

U.S. News and World Report recently ranked the 100 Best Jobs of 2019. Scan the list and you’ll find jobs in fields like tech, finance, public service, and medicine. According to the report, these jobs made the cut because, “They pay well, challenge us year after year, match our talents and skills, aren’t too stressful, offer room to advance throughout our careers and provide a satisfying work-life balance.” In other words, the best jobs come with great challenge and great reward.

But if that’s true, then why didn’t “mom” make the list? Scroll through the 100 Best Jobs of 2019 and you won’t find “mother” anywhere. Why is that?

Maybe for some “motherhood” isn’t considered a vocation. After all, you can’t really put “full-time mom” on your resume, the role doesn’t come with a benefits package or paid vacation time, and you can’t take “Mommy 101” in undergrad. Maybe it’s because moms work from home with a very small client base.

Whatever the reason, leaving “mom” off the list is a mistake.

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First Look: An Interview with Matt Smethurst, Author of Before You Open Your Bible

Thanks for reading my blog series First Look, where I interview authors about their new books. The goal is to point you to solid, Christ-centered resources by giving you a peek into the author’s mind and heart.


Matt Smethurst is the managing editor of The Gospel Coalition. He and his wife, Maghan, have three children and live in Louisville, KY. They belong to Third Avenue Baptist Church, where Matt serves as an elder. He is author of Before You Open Your Bible: Nine Heart Postures For Approaching God’s Word (10Publishing, 2019).

Tell us what your new book is about.

Before You Open Your Bible is about nine heart postures that will spark a richer experience with the Book—and the God—we claim to love. So many great resources exist on how to read and study the Bible, but I’m actually not aware of any that focus exclusively on how to approach it in the first place. That’s what I’ve aimed to provide in this brief “prelude” or “prequel” of sorts. Because without the right heart postures, we’re not yet ready to start reading.

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First Look: An Interview with Jeff Medders, Author of Humble Calvinism

Thanks for reading my blog series First Look, where I interview authors about their new books. The goal is to point you to solid, Christ-centered resources by giving you a peek into the author’s mind and heart.


Jeff Medders is the Pastor of Preaching and Theology at Redeemer Church in Tomball, TX, right outside of Houston. He’s married and has two kids. Jeff writes books and articles, and talks about writing on his podcast Home Row. He is author of Humble Calvinism: And If I Know the Five Points, But Have Not Love… (The Good Book Company, 2019).

Tell us what your new book is about.

Humble Calvinism explores the five points of Calvinism—TULIP—showing how the doctrines of grace should humble us before the Lord and before one another. This book isn’t a defense of Cavlinism—it’s an exhortation to real Calvinism, humble Calvinism, Christ-like and fruit-of-the-Spirit Calvinism.

The points of Calvinism point somewhere, to someone: Jesus of Nazareth. He is the marrow of the doctrines of grace. Total Depravity reminds us that we are totally dependent on Jesus. Election shows how we are chosen in Christ. Each point points to Jesus. The most important five-letter word in Calvinism isn’t TULIP—it’s Jesus.

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First Look: An Interview with Abigail Dodds, Author of (A)Typical Woman

I’m excited to roll out this blog series entitled First Look, where I’ll be interviewing authors about their new books. The goal is to point you to solid, Christ-centered resources by giving you a peek into the author’s mind and heart.


Abigail Dodds is a wife, mother of five, and grad student at Bethlehem College & Seminary. I’ve long admired her writing abilities, but mostly her desire to exalt Jesus in everything she writes. She is author of (A)Typical Woman: Free, Whole, and Called in Christ (Crossway, 2019).

Tell us what your new book is about.

(A)Typical Woman answers the question, “What does it mean to be a Christian and a woman?” It isn’t looking at all the verses in the Bible about women or addressed to women and then trying to assemble a composite of the ideal woman for us to try and imitate so we can be real women. The book is simpler than that. It isn’t throwing out the necessity of paying close attention to what God has to say to us in particular passages as women, but it isn’t trying to achieve womanhood. Instead, we want Christ to be our beginning and end. So we must examine two parallel and conjoined realities: the gift and reality of being born––made through Christ––as a woman, and the gift and reality of being re-born––made through Christ––as his daughter.

The book has three sections:

  • “Women Through and Through” is the foundation of the book. It examines our new birth, our womanhood, how we read the Bible, the meaning behind our bodies, holiness, etc.
  • “Women in All We Do” looks at some of the particular callings women have.
  • “Fearless and Free Women” is more personal, looking at how Christ matures us as Christian women.

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Pastor, Involve Your Wife in Your Job Search

Are you a pastor? Or are you married to one? Then you’ll benefit from a book I had the privilege of contributing to, Benjamin Vrbicek’s Don’t Just Send a Resume: How to Find the Right Job in a Local Church.

When my husband and I got married, he was pastoring middle- and high-school students at our church. He loved his job and was excellent at it––but we knew the end was near. He had agreed to work in this role for five years, at which point he wanted to become a preaching pastor.

We hoped and prayed this would happen at the same local church, but only God knew.

Through many unknowns, we started discussing the possibilities. Would God direct us to stay somehow? Would he have us elsewhere near our home? Or would he call us to pick up everything and move across state lines?

After about a year of waiting, we got the call: We were staying at the same church, in a different role. Hallelujah! But the waiting was intense, and it stretched and grew our marriage in a unique way.

Pastor, as you begin (or continue) your job search, know that your wife desires to be involved. She knows you better than anyone, will speak truthfully, and wants what’s best for you. The following are five ways my husband involved me during our season of searching and waiting––and I hope they’ll be helpful to you.

Through Commitment

As husbands and wives are joined in the covenant of marriage and united in Christ, one spouse’s calling means both spouses must be called. In other words, your wife should have peace and clarity about the jobs you’re looking at and pursuing, especially when it comes to decision time.

My husband always reminds me that “we’re in this together.” No, I may not be preaching on Sundays or pastoring the flock, but I’m one with him, so any job search needs to be a united effort and decision. Your devotion to your wife extends even to this.

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What’s Motivating Our Online Authenticity?

What’s motivating our online authenticity?

What’s the heart behind our sharing an embarrassing or ungodly or messy or raw moment on social media? Is it truly to offer, in a spirit of humility, an example of what it looks like to walk humbly before the eyes of God?

Or is it to garner likes and attention—to gain the eyeballs of man?

Probably both. Our motives will always be mixed in this life, until our hearts are rid of sin forever before the presence of Christ. But it’s struck me lately how disingenuous our messiness is if we’re using it for the wrong reasons, and often the wrong reasons can feel like gray areas, difficult to identify in human hearts that often desire both the glory of God and man.

Jesus warned his disciples of practicing their righteousness before people, to be seen by them (Matthew 6:1). He gives a few examples: giving, praying, and fasting. The same principle applies to our online sharing: Are we practicing our “righteousness” in the form of rawness and authenticity before others to be seen and praised by them? Is our authenticity an end in itself, or a means to a greater end?

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Why I Publish on Ministry Blogs

I’ve appreciated the recent online conversation, started by Tim Challies, about the benefits of keeping a blog-blog versus writing primarily for group blogs or ministry blogs. I actually agree with much of what Tim writes about the importance of maintaining personal blogs, especially the freedom they allow for cultural commentary and responding to current events (a freedom that many ministry blogs don’t allow), along with the benefits of faithful “plodding.”

I keep a blog-blog, and I served almost five years as an editor to a ministry blog (shameless plug: Unlocking the Bible), so I feel I can comment from a unique, dual perspective. When it comes to publishing online, I try to abide by the “one home, one away” guideline (the keyword being try). Here are four brief thoughts on why it’s important to keep publishing “away” on ministry blogs:

More eyeballs

If our objective is to exalt Jesus Christ and share the good news about him with others and help them see how this good news applies to every corner of their lives, don’t we want as many eyeballs as possible to see what we’re writing?

Numbers aren’t an evil motivator. Sure, my heart’s not perfectly pure and won’t be until I’m with Jesus, but I genuinely want to point as many people as I can to him. Many writers don’t have a global blog-blog following, but many ministry blogs do, so I think it’s making the best use of the time (and using common sense) to seek out the biggest and widest platform for the soul-transforming message we proclaim.

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