Some months ago, I completed work on an editorial project involving Dr. Timothy Cross. Timothy, author of over thirty books, resides in Cardiff, Wales. When he first showed me his proposed manuscript, I liked it immediately, and recommended it for publication by the company I was working for at the time. Then, through a series of events, it ended up being brought into print by Christian Focus. The title chosen makes me think of Twitter. And that could be a blog post in and of itself!
I so much like the way that Timothy wrote the book, that I thought I should share some background to the story with you. It comes in the form of an interview. Enjoy!
Jim: The English language uses many sayings from the Bible, and people often quote them without even realizing they are quoting from the Word of God. You have been working on this fascinating book, “A Little Bird Told Me–Everyday Expressions from Scripture”, for some months. How did you first come up with the idea?
Timothy: Like an oak tree, the book grew from a small acorn! I kept on hearing politicians, colleagues and even footballers using expressions from the Bible without realizing it, and I thought that pointing out that these were biblical expressions, and explaining their meaning would make for interesting messages for my gospel slot on the monthly South Wales Talking Magazine. The response to the messages was very encouraging, and I typed up some of them and these were published as a mini series in the Evangelical Times. This wider audience response was also very favourable and I thought ‘I’m on to something here’. Surprisingly, the subject does not seem to be very well covered in Christian literature, and this motivated me to get a compilation of everyday expressions from the Bible and their meaning into print. My experience reveals that both Christians and non Christians seem to have a fascination for the origins of and background to expressions from the Bible which are in everyday use.
Jim: Tell us about some of the blessings to you personally in working on this project.
Timothy: If one is convinced that the Bible is no ordinary book but the very Word of God itself, then digging into Scriptures–whether it is preparing a sermon or researching a book or for personal devotions–is one of the greatest privileges and blessings possible this side of eternity. The more I study the Bible (and I have been at it a long time!) the more I am convinced of its divine inspiration. According to 2 Timothy 3:15, the purpose of ‘all Scripture’ is to lead us to Christ. Thus when a believer studies Scripture in the right spirit, the Lord Jesus always draws closer. The inspired Word and the incarnate Word, while distinguishable in principle, in practice are inextricable in our personal experience.
Jim: We’ve heard it said that all writers get “Writer’s Block”. Is this true of you? How do you deal with it?
Timothy: At the risk of being a heretic I have never suffered from ‘writer’s block’ and I have written over thirty books. A godly elder once told me that when it comes to sermon preparation, ‘Let the message make an impression on your soul, then there will be no trouble with expression.’ The same applies, I believe to Christian writing. Christian writing is unlike secular creative writing in that it is not original but rather a matter expounding the Scriptures which have been given. Saying that though all Christian writers and preachers aspire to expounding the Scriptures with both clarity and passion and not put any human barriers between them and the hearers/readers.
Jim: What was the most surprising or inspiring saying that you think you used in this book?
Timothy: When people say ‘I’m almost at my wits’ end’ they never fail to be surprised when you say to them, ‘Did you know that you have just quoted from Psalm 107:27?’ Choosing the most inspiring saying from the fifty-two is difficult. You are asking me to choose a Quality Street chocolate! I personally though find it incredibly heartwarming when Almighty God refers to His redeemed children as ‘The apple of my eye’–see Chapter 1.. This can only be explained by divine grace–God’s love for the undeserving and ill-deserving.
Jim: There are 52 readings in this book. That could seem an unusual number. Tell us about this.
Timothy: There was no predetermined plan to this, but rather just the way the work panned out. It began with six chapters, and I never thought that these would go beyond the South Wales Talking Magazine and Evangelical Times. The Lord’s people kept encouraging me, though, so I continued my research, and the chapters came to 31, which I thought would be suitable for daily devotionals–31 days being in most months. A publisher–you!–then asked me to increase the chapters to 52. I was reticent, as I was by then working on other writing projects. Before I knew it, though, extra ‘Everyday Sayings from the Bible’ came to my mind and attention, and these were written up. In fact I now have several extra chapters which are not included in the work. Books have an ideal length in my opinion. I like them to be neither too long nor too short. Fifty-two–the number of weeks in a year–seemed to be the ideal length. Each chapter is self contained while being in line with the overall theme. It can be read either one chapter at a time or a few chapters at a time in a pick up, put down manner. It might even make a daily travelling companion for someone commuting to work, or a spiritual ‘pick me up’ during the lunch hour.
Jim: You are very good at drawing lines of application from the truth you are writing about to us in our modern world. How would you advise ordinary people to cultivate this practice when dealing with family, friends and neighbours?
Timothy: If this compliment is true, it stems from my years in the pulpit. Pulpit preaching is a matter of the explanation and the application of a biblical text–not so much a matter of making the Bible relevant, but rather bringing people under its eternal relevance. While the Bible was written in a certain context which should always be borne in mind when accurately expounding it, as the Word of God it is also timeless. God is our eternal contemporary and thus His Word is always relevant. Similarly, human nature does not change even if human technology does. Those in Bible times shared the same hopes, fears, aspirations, stresses and perplexities as we do. But their needs–just as our needs–were met by the saving and sustaining grace of God in Christ.
Jim: Are you available to give talks to people at churches, conferences, etc., on the topics in this book? What is the best way for people to contact you if so?
Timothy: Yes!–though I have quite a full diary of preaching engagements, involved as I am in the local church. I am contactable via the contact section of my website.
Jim: Dr. Cross, it has been a pleasure interviewing you on this subject. Thank you for taking the time for this interview!
Timothy: You are more than welcome. If the readers find half the blessing in reading the work as the blessing I had in preparing the work, I will be more than amply repaid.
To read a sample excerpt from the book, click or tap here.
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