For a few years now, Insight for Living UK has been pleased to award a Preaching Prize to students at Moorlands College near Christchurch in Dorset. For us it’s a great privilege – even a priority – to encourage the next generation of church leaders and theological thinkers to not only wrestle with Scripture, but also to speak out the truths they discover in the process. To paraphrase the Apostle Paul: if nobody preaches, how can we expect anyone to hear about the grace of God in Christ?
Recently we welcomed the Principal of Moorlands College, Dr Steve Brady, to join our board of trustees at Insight for Living UK. I thought it would be interesting to let you read a little of Steve’s story, so I travelled down to Sopley for a chat.
Terry… So Steve – tell us about your beginnings, how did things start out for you?
Steve… Well, not everybody knows it, I’m essentially from Liverpool, but a good chunk of my life as a kid was spent in Ireland, in a place called Drogheda about twenty miles from Dublin. Strong Irish roots, Catholic on my dad’s side and Protestant on my mum’s.
But I was born and raised in an area of Liverpool called Everton, and that explains why I’m such a keen Everton FC supporter. I always mention that because – in a sense – that’s how I came to faith. In the sixties, not being a church-going family we didn’t have a Bible in the house, but a relative bought me one for Christmas and someone else said I should give it a read. And as a fourteen year old I thought that maybe if I gave the Bible a read, God would help me, and Everton football club into the bargain.
Terry… Ha! It’s a bit like carrying the Ark into battle isn’t it – it can backfire…
Steve… (laughs)… but as a teenager I thought this had worked great, because after five months, Everton were in the FA Cup final, we came back from two goals down and we won, and I was there! But I learned a big lesson – strike a bargain with God and you’ll always get more than you bargained for. So I read the Bible through in about eight months and then started again.
And that second time through I started to realise that I was in big trouble. I fell under what I would now call the conviction of sin. As I was ploughing through those Old Testament laws I came to realise that I was in big trouble before a holy God. Now remember we lived in inner-city Liverpool, what we called a two-up two-down semi-condemned. And I remember lying on my bed wondering, “where am I going to find a lamb to sacrifice for my sins around here?”
Well around that time, as it happened, somebody invited me to play football for a little mission hall, and it was there I heard the Gospel. Long story short, at an evangelistic service there one evening I came to Jesus and discovered there is a lamb – the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world and my sin too. And from that night on I just knew the Lord had His hand upon me.
So four years later in the early seventies I wound up at what is now the London School of Theology to train for ministry. I had this insatiable desire to want to get into God’s Word more – I mean I had read it through twice before I became a Christian, now I wanted to get serious about it!
It was there I met my wife, Brenda, and we’ve just celebrated our thirty-ninth wedding anniversary.
Steve… Thanks, it’s getting a bit scary though! Brenda told me this year she’s looking for a ruby! We were only married three weeks when I was ordained and we ministered in Leicester for a couple of years, then in inner city east London for over a decade at which time I was also able to write my doctoral dissertation, and then we were called out of the blue to come to a church down in Bournemouth. Then after a decade or so there, I joined the staff at Moorlands, a Bible training institution, where I’ve been Principal for over fifteen years.
Terry… Well Steve, you started your story by describing how you immersed yourself in reading the Bible – partly to promote Everton football club it seems – but that aside, how do you approach the Bible now? When you are preparing a message; what are your rhythms and habits as you work with the text?
Steve… Well, I learned from an old pastor quite a long time ago, three steps that I tend to follow. He said “Think yourself empty; read yourself full; write yourself clear.” Suppose I was working with a series in Ephesians, which I recently expounded at Keswick Convention. I’d start in the Greek text and I would make sure, as far as I can, I had accurately understood what was being said, and if any thoughts came to mind I would jot them down and keep track of them. That’s how I think myself empty.
Then I will consult the commentaries and read myself full. If I feel like I’ve come up with something brand new and unheard of before – it’s probably heretical; so I need to read what other minds have thought as a kind of corrective to that. But you still have to make up your own mind on stuff. You can’t just rely on one or two commentators. You have to find your own voice and not just mimic other people.
Then when I say I write myself clear – I write to speak, and that’s different from writing to be read. I don’t write lectures and then preach them. I’m writing in such a way as to be able to communicate it clearly in spoken form, and that means using terms that are easily understood to the average congregation, in ways that they can take home and apply. It’s the “How?” that’s important.
Terry… Practical application.
Steve… Practical application – that’s what I love about Chuck Swindoll and Insight for Living. It’s practical, it’s applied. You don’t leave people hanging on the nuance of some Greek verb, you have to try to give them something that works in real life.
Terry… Thanks, Steve, for taking the time to tell us a bit about yourself. All of us at Insight for Living UK are thrilled at your willingness to serve as one of our board members.
During the month of November, we are particularly excited to offer one of Steve’s books as our Featured Resource. It’s an Advent devotional titled, The Incredible Journey: Christmas from Genesis to Jesus. Through its pages you will get a real sense of Steve’s commitment to Bible teaching and its application from this timely book. Make sure you look out for this book next month.
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