Monday, August 18, 2014

Author Interview and Giveaway: Radically Normal by Josh Kelley

Welcome to the Christian Book Review Blog! Thank you for being here! To begin, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Thanks for inviting me! 

How and when did you come to know the Lord in a deep and intimate way?

Someone once asked what I was like before I met Jesus. I responded (somewhat facetiously), “I cried a lot and messed my diapers.” I have no memory of life without Jesus, rather I had an ongoing process of learning about him from my parents. When I was in Jr. High, I began the vital transition from “mom and dad’s faith” to “my faith.” 

What person has had the greatest impact in your spiritual walk with Christ?

After my parents, C. S. Lewis deeply impacted (and continues to impact) how I think about God, life, and writing. 

What inspired you to write this book?

This is the book I wished I’d had as a young teenager – I really loved God and wanted to follow him with my whole heart, but didn’t want to be a Jesus freak. I needed someone to tell me how to be fully committed without being obsessive. 

What is the main message in the book and what is the greatest lesson you want readers to learn?

The world tells us to live for today and the church tells us to live for eternity. They are both wrong...and they are both right. The life that pleases God and brings us joy finds the middle ground between complacently focusing on the things of earth and obsessively denying them. 

What Bible scripture has impacted your life the most?

Just one? I can’t narrow it down! Can I just say “Proverbs”? I read Proverbs almost daily and it has shaped how I view everything. 

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What book, besides the Bible, has greatly influenced your life?

Does “The Collected Works of C. S. Lewis” count as one book? 

Okay, now for a fun question. What is the funniest/quirkiest thing you’ve ever done?

Bringing the fire department to school during chemistry class. My friend and I wanted to make gun powder and...if you look closely at my senior class pictures, I don’t have eyebrows. 

Please tell us about the featured book.

Radically Normal weaves stories of my time as a bi-vocational pastor working at Starbucks with lessons on how to discover the God-honoring and joy-filled path between complacent and obsessive faith. My goal was to create a book that was fun and easy to read while conveying deep, Biblical truths. 

Can you please give us the first page?

Starbucks is a big part of my life. I hold most of my meetings at Starbucks and write my sermons there. I have my monthly father-daughter dates at Starbucks. I’m at Starbucks as I write this. But in the spring of 2011, I had no idea the role Starbucks would play in my story.
I had been an assistant pastor at one of the biggest churches in Skagit Valley (about an hour north of Seattle). When I became the lead pastor of one of the smallest churches in the area, I was filled with dreams of all I’d do. In the first three and a half years, I grew the Gathering from about 100 people to about 75—not the sort of thing that one brags about at pastors’ conventions.
This is the story of the lessons God taught me through Starbucks over the next 18 months. It’s also the book I wish I had when I was growing up. All the books I read back then seemed to imply that following God with my whole heart meant enjoying this life less and less.
This book tells how I discovered that the opposite is true.

Going to Extremes

One day when I was about ten years old, my family arrived early at our pastor’s house for a Bible study, and I saw Pastor Arnie sitting in front of the TV watching a football game. Apparently, his team wasn’t doing well, because he was kind of grumpy and was shouting quietly at the TV. “What? Come on! Are you blind?”
Seeing my pastor watch football was unsettling, but I wasn’t sure why. I didn’t think TV was wrong (I watched Star Blazers every morning before school), and I didn’t have a problem with football (my mom loves football). But it seemed so unspiritual. In my ten-year-old logic, I assumed my pastor must do only spiritual stuff.
So many of us have a deep-seated fear that we have to choose—do we want to be obsessive Christians who don’t enjoy this life, or do we want to be complacent Christians who have a lot of fun here? We feel as if those are our only two options. Should we give up football, sell all of our possessions, and become missionaries to India? Or should we have nice houses, be well liked, and climb the corporate ladder? We know those aren’t really the only options, but we’re still haunted by the feeling that God must be happier when we read our Bibles than when we watch football. I wonder how many Christians remain lukewarm primarily because they think that being on fire would be miserable.

(The entire first chapter can be found at 

Where can readers learn more information about you?

My website is and I’m on Twitter at @joshkelley. I’d love to hear from you!  

Join the discussion (Don't forget to click "I commented!" in the Rafflecopter giveaway below for three extra entries): Radically Normal contains "lessons on how to discover the God-honoring and joy-filled path between complacent and obsessive faith." In your opinion, what is that path? (Providing Bible verses would be great!)

(This giveaway is only open to followers of Christian Book Review Blog, so be sure you are a follower!) 
Josh has generously offered to giveaway a print copy of Radically NormalPrint giveaway is available to U.S residents only. Giveaway ends on Saturday August 30, 2014 at midnight (Eastern time). Thanks for coming by to enter!

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