Max Lucado has touched millions with his signature storytelling writing style. Awards and accolades follow Max with each book he writes. Max is the first author to win the Gold Medallion Christian Book of the Year three times --- 1999 for Just Like Jesus, 1997 for In the Grip of Grace and 1995 for When God Whispers Your Name. In 2005, Reader’s Digest dubbed him “America’s Best Preacher.” In addition, he has been an ECPA Gold Medallion finalist with more titles than any other author in the industry.
In 1994, he became the only author to have 11 of his twelve books in print simultaneously appear on paperback, hardcover and children's CBA bestseller lists. Lucado set a new industry record by concurrently placing nine different Word Publishing titles on the CBA Hardcover Bestseller List in both March and April 1997. Max Lucado is a fixture on the national bestseller lists --- a Max Lucado title has appeared on the CBA hardcover bestseller list every month for the past dozen years. He has appeared on the Publishers Weekly, USA Today and New York Times bestseller lists. He has won eight ECPA Gold Medallion awards.
In addition to his nonfiction books, Lucado has authored several award-winning children's titles including, Just In Case You Ever Wonder, The Crippled Lamb, Alabaster's Song and the award-winning You Are Special. Max is also the author of Hermie: A Common Caterpillar, and the Max Lucado’s Hermie and Friends collection of books and DVD’s are quickly becoming a fixture on bestseller lists. He also served as the general editor for the best-selling Lucado Study Bible and God's Inspirational Promise Book.
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With more than 65 million copies of his 50-plus books in print, Max Lucado is arguably the hottest Christian author around. The three-time Gold Medallion Award winner has been called “America’s Pastor” by the media for his gentle and popular grace-filled stories. He still preaches part-time at Oak Hills Church in San Antonio, Texas and publishes at least one new book each year. In this interview, FaithfulReader.com’s Cindy Crosby talks to Lucado about his latest title, CAST OF CHARACTERS, his plans for the future and the one addiction he still enjoys.
FaithfulReader.com: CAST OF CHARACTERS is a collection of stories from your previous books about people of the Bible. Tell us how it came about.
Max Lucado: I love stories --- I really do. I’ve always found stories of biblical characters compelling, as tools to encourage me personally and to encourage other people. I felt as if it would be great to compile the stories into one book. I’ve wanted to do this for a long time, and recently I had a great window to do it.
FR: What sort of window?
ML: I typically have a new book each year, but because of surgery last September, it’s delayed a bit. (Lucado was treated for a serious heart condition called atrial fibrillation.)
FR: How is your recovery coming?
ML: I’m feeling great. Yesterday, I signed up for another half-iron man triathlon in May, which will be my first in two-and-a-half years. I’m also doing more swimming and running and biking. I like having physical activity --- it offsets my addiction to chocolate chip cookies.
FR: Homemade or store bought?
ML: Any kind!
FR: Do you have a favorite character in CAST OF CHARACTERS?
ML: David. I love being able to see his whole life in scripture, which is rare. Usually we just get glimpses of a character’s life. His story is there from the teen years to his deathbed. The unevenness of his life fascinates me. He was peaceful and barbaric; he wrote the 23rd Psalm but cut off Goliath’s head. I can relate to his unevenness, where you say, “Who is this in this body doing that?” Deep inside, he had a heart for God, he really wanted to know Him. God hears that earnest desire we have.
FR: A few of the characters you include are well known, but others like Mephibosheth are pretty obscure. Is it more difficult to write about a well-known person like Paul, who so much has been written about, or someone like Mephibosheth?
ML: I think it’s more difficult to write about the characters we don’t know much about. Someday, I think it would be fun to write a book about all the nameless people in scripture: the person who lowers Saul over a wall in a basket, the man who had the donkey Jesus rode for his triumphal entry. You have more permission to get creative with their stories. It’s fun taking the lesser-known characters and writing about them --- but you have to really dig in. They all have one teachable point, a key to their character presentation.
FR: Even though I had read your character stories in previous books, some of them still made me cry. Are you a sentimental guy?
ML: Well, maybe so. I think it’s good to talk from the heart, to think about stories Jesus told. Some He told are analytical --- “the kingdom of God is like a pearl” --- but some are heart-tuggers, like the prodigal son, the woman with the lost coin…. And there is a place for heart-touching stories.
FR: Grace permeates this book, as it does your others. Will you ever get tired of writing about grace?
ML: Not yet! I just finished writing my new book, FEARLESS (September 2009), about all the occasions Jesus said, “Fear not.”
FR: Speaking of fear, what do the characters in CAST OF CHARACTERS have to say to us in a current climate of economic and political unrest and anxiety?
ML: God has been through this before. We have not. The key is for us not to panic. We know that life is not always easy. According to Jesus, things get worse before they get better. There will always be wars and rumors of wars, and in the end the gospel will be preached and Jesus will come.
FR: You told me once that you struggled with pride, and my goodness, you have a lot to be proud of. It’s a long way from the mission field where you started to 65 million copies of your books in print! When you read the sales numbers, what do they mean to you?
ML: I am just stunned by those figures. I try not to think about it too much, or I might mess it up.
FR: How do you get your writing done these days?
ML: Instead of senior pastor, I’m now the minister of preaching at my church, which frees me up. I split the preaching responsibilities, which gives me another day-and-a-half to write. I try out a lot of the book materials in sermons, which helps me gauge the response to my stories from looking at the listeners’ faces. It’s helpful feedback.
FR: Now that FEARLESS is written, what’s next for you?
ML: I’m starting to focus more on international things. Next year, I’ll begin traveling to Mexico, Honduras, Brazil and Africa. It’s been a good 12 years since I’ve been back to Brazil, where my missionary work began. I’m excited about that.
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December 8, 2006
Max Lucado is a New York Times bestselling author with more than 40 million copies of his books in print. By turns funny, warm and serious, he has won a place in the hearts of Christian readers for his fresh prose, emphasis on grace, and ability to pen applicable concepts. As the minister of Oak Hills Church in San Antonio, a prolific writer and the father of three girls, Lucado has no problem staying busy. Here, FaithfulReader.com’s Cindy Crosby chats with Lucado about his writing life, his recent health challenges, and the best joke he’s heard lately.
FaithfulReader.com: You slew a lot of “giants” as a young man, on your way to becoming a Christian and a pastor.
Max Lucado: My main challenge was a drinking problem that was well-entrenched by the age of 18. Many other bad habits and attitudes were born out of this one.
FR: I especially liked the phrase you use in the book, a “God-saturated mind.” Tell our readers what this means, and why it is important when “slaying giants.”
ML: In David’s Goliath story he referred to God nine times and to the giant twice. The God-saturated mind gives God this level of thought.
FR: You share a lovely Eskimo word for forgiveness, “issumagijoujungnainermik,” which literally means “not being able to think about it anymore.” Why is forgiveness an important part of facing our giants?
ML: Because hurt and anger are such formidable foes. Hurt people hurt people. I’ve discovered as a minister this truth: we could preach on forgiveness every week and still need more. Grace is hard to give!
FR: What’s the biggest giant you are personally facing today?
ML: Honestly, focusing on God’s provision to meet my needs daily.
FR: There are some hilarious stories about your proclivity for getting lost.
ML: Most recently, I’ve turned one-hour bike rides into two because I forgot my way home.
FR: You have a wonderful way of recasting Bible stories --- you’re a terrific storyteller. Why do you feel stories are so important?
ML: Stories take on a life of their own for the readers. They remember them and apply them personally.
FR: Your prose is so vibrant and alive. Tell us about your writing process.
ML: The secret to writing is rewriting. The toughest part of writing is rewriting. But it’s essential. Good authors, much better than I, rewrite their works dozens of times.
FR: You have written some beautiful new children’s books, including THE OAK INSIDE THE ACORN. How is writing children’s books different for you from writing for adults?
ML: Children’s books come easier. The key is to focus on one storyline.
FR: If you weren’t a pastor and a writer, what would you be?
ML: I’d be just a writer. And someday I will go in that direction.
FR: If I remember correctly, you and your wife Denalyn are getting close to the “empty nest” stage of life.
ML: We still have one daughter at home. Sara is a high school senior. Andrea, our college junior, is studying abroad, and Jenna, our oldest, is out of college.
FR: Are you still taking part in Ironman triathlons?
ML: I’ve developed atrial fibrillation of the heart. My cardiologist has urged me to avoid endurance events until we get it straightened out. Right now my hobby is eating :)
FR: What books (Christian and/or secular) are you reading these days?
ML: I’m really enjoying Randy Alcorn’s book, HEAVEN. This work deserves a spot on every Bible teacher’s shelf.
FR: You’re known for your ability to tell a good joke. What’s a recent favorite?
ML: How can you distinguish a blacksmith’s dog? Call his name and he makes a bolt for the door.
FR: What can you tell us about your upcoming projects?
ML: EVERY DAY DESERVES A CHANCE releases this spring. 3:16, a book on the Bible’s most famous verse, is slated for late 2007.
FR: What will Christmas look like for the Lucado family this year?
ML: Six Christmas Eve services and a long nap Christmas Day.
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