Editor’s Note: Recently a Christian book club in the northeast purchased 1800 copies of Bill Farley’s latest book, The Secret of Spiritual Joy. We found that really encouraging (can 1800 avid Christian readers be wrong?). So, with the fourth Thursday in November about to kick off another holiday season, we wanted to take this opportunity to feature Bill and his recent book on…gratitude, also known as Thanksgiving! To help spread the biblical wisdom of this book, we are also putting it on a pre-Black Friday sale. Through Wednesday, 11/23, the paperback is on sale here for $5.99, and ebook versions are available for just 99 cents, here and on Kindle. If you like to review books online, you might also want to pick up a free copy. So, here’s a little background on Bill and his recent book.
Who is Bill Farley?
What’s your “origin story”? Tell us a little about your personal background and your current roles.
I am the oldest of nine children. Raised in a Roman Catholic household, I have spent my entire life in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. At age 22, God opened my heart to the gospel and I was converted to the Evangelical faith.
Before entering full-time ministry, I spent twenty-seven years owning and operating a small business. In 2002, with five other families, I planted the church that I now pastor. It has grown to about five hundred Sunday attenders, split between two campuses.
Judy and I have five adult children. Three are either pastors or married to pastors. In addition, we have twenty-three grandchildren. Eleven live with us in Spokane, WA. Four live in Ogden, UT, four live in Greensboro, NC, and four live in Durham, U.K.
The Story Behind the Book
How did the idea for this book get started, and then mature to the point where you decided to start writing?
Like my other books, The Secret of Spiritual Joy is an application of Christ’s cross to daily life. Through reading Jonathan Edwards and the Puritans in my late thirties, I entered more deeply into the message of the cross. For the first time I really understood what it meant, why it was necessary, and how it impacted everyday life. One application was to grumbling and self-pity.
Because of this I wrote an article for the Journal of Biblical Counseling titled The Poison of Self-Pity. A few months later a well-known Christian leader contacted me and suggested that I turn this article into a book.
My first response was a lack of enthusiasm. The subject seemed too limited for a book. Upon further thought, however, it became obvious that the real subject was gratitude, against which self-pity was a sin. In other words, self-pity was just a subsection of the larger argument. I also noticed that the more grateful people were, the more joyful they were. Finally, I saw a connection between joy and gratitude in my own life, and that led me to the book’s title.
Pen to Paper, Fingers to Keyboard
What was your writing process, and what did you learn as you were working on this project?
Whenever I write a book I start by reading everything I can on the subject. In this case, I read some Christian academic works on thanksgiving. I also read some secular works on this subject. Then I began to outline chapter ideas. When the rough drafts were finished, I entered into a contract with Cruciform and we began the editorial process.
The Secret Uncovered
What is the essential message of this book and the basic elements of your argument?
Joy is a fruit of gratitude. Paul commands us to “overflow” with thanksgiving (Colossians 2:7). In fact, according to Peter O’Brien, Paul discusses thanksgiving more frequently than any other first-century author, Christian or pagan. Why would this be the case?
Paul understood what he deserved. When he looked at the cross of Christ he saw Jesus dying in his place. He saw Jesus taking the punishment, the wrath, that he deserved. Because this was true, thanksgiving was the proper response to everything in Paul’s life.
This has big applications. It means that in ourselves we don’t deserve eternal life. We don’t deserve a spouse. We don’t deserve children. We don’t deserve food or drink. We certainly don’t deserve modern luxuries like central heat or indoor plumbing. All of these and more are gracious gifts from a loving and merciful God who owes us nothing but the judgment we see Jesus taking on the cross for us. Yet, despite this, God has lavished us with grace upon grace, both spiritual and material.
If readers could only take away one thing, or a few things, from your book, what it (or they) be?
If readers finished The Secret of Spiritual Joy overwhelmed with God’s grace and kindness, freshly resolved to put grumbling and self-pity to death, and seeking to overflow with gratitude 24/7, then I would be the happiest author in the church.
Learn more about The Secret of Spiritual Joy, and don’t miss the paperback on sale for $5.99, or the $0.99 cent ebooks, including on Kindle. You might even want a free copy.
Bill Farley is the author of several books and serves as senior pastor of Grace Christian Fellowship in Spokane, Washington.