A Voice to the Church ... Meet Douglas Laird
Interview by Deborah Porter
FWM: Doug, it is a delight to have this opportunity to interview you, as I have such a respect and admiration for your faithfulness to God and His Word. Before we talk about your writing, it would be wonderful if you could tell us a little about yourself and your family.
DOUGLAS: I am a non-denominational Christian who acknowledges the Bible, and only the Bible, as the means for spiritual edification under the post-salvation ministry of God the Holy Spirit. I was raised in a Christian home and cannot remember a time when God and the things of God were not a central part of my life. However, it was not until my early teens that I came to understand the significance of having a personal relationship with Him.
I am a retired police captain, following a 30 year law enforcement career. I am a cancer survivor and live with debilitating conditions due to diabetes. I am 52 years old, married for nearly 32 years to my wife, Karlene, and have three adult children, Jason, Kelley, and David. We reside in Cumberland, R.I. (USA)
FWM: Have you always loved to write? Or was it something that you fell into?
DOUGLAS: I have always had "a way with words," but did not use my writing talent in the spiritual realm until the mid 1980's after identifying my spiritual gift of prophecy. By prophecy, I mean the ability to study and convey Biblical principles as they apply to everyday life and eternity. It was a very intense personal struggle to determine if it was God's will for me to become a pastor-teacher or to remain as a spiritual writer. Time, circumstances, and experience have revealed to me that it is as a writer that I was called to serve God.
FWM: As we know, teachers are particularly accountable before God for how they use their gift. Given the nature of your writing, I am sure that this is something that you take very seriously. With the abundance of information and material available today, not to mention the ease of access to the same, it can be very easy for new Christians (and old) to absorb things that arenít necessarily true. What advice would you give someone who is struggling to sort the wheat from the chaff?
DOUGLAS: First thing is for the reader to be Spirit-filled; that is, under the power of God the Holy Spirit, to give him/her discernment as to what is truth and what is not. We can neither teach nor learn anything in the spiritual realm without this prerequisite (John 15:5).
I have a short and a more detailed response to offer as far as procedural advice for readers is concerned. The short one would be to insist on a chapter and verse reference before considering anything that is being promoted as having come from the Bible (Acts 17:11).
The more detailed response would be to apply the "ICE" evaluation process when Scripture is being quoted. I learned this process from Pastor Robert McLaughlin, pastor-teacher of Grace Bible Church in Somerset, Ma,, but I do not know who was its original author. The ICE method evaluates a doctrine or a spiritual concept based on the Isagogics (historical background), Categorical (comparing ALL relevant passages that address any given subject) and Exegesis (the grammatical structure of the word(s) or phrases as they were used in the Hebrew, Greek, or Aramaic language) of the original manuscripts. This is very tedious work, but is what gives credibility to the material that is being offered or evaluated. Without doing so, a clever writer or speaker can make the Bible appear to say just about anything they want to.
FWM: How do you go about preparing to write one of your articles?
DOUGLAS: I get the inspiration for my articles from a variety of different sources, and make notes for potential future articles in the journal that I use during my daily devotional time. When I am about to develop the idea into an article, I begin by making sure that I am Spirit-filled and seek Godís guidance in what I am about to write. I then research the material that I intend to make use of and make myself as free as possible from any source of distraction.
FWM: Your writing is very "no nonsense" in style, with the emphasis being on getting the message across Ė whether itís a hard pill to swallow, or not. You donít hesitate to call a spade a spade, and you donít skirt around issues or sugar-coat them. Do you think this style has developed because of your experience as a police captain?
DOUGLAS: While I can credit my law enforcement career with much of the development of my writing skills and style of getting right to the heart of the issue, I also consider spiritual issues too important to sugar coat. Those who communicate the principles of the Word of God, in any realm, have the obligation to "tell it like it is", regardless of the reaction that it is going to receive. Preaching, teaching, or spiritual writing that does not stir the soul is meaningless. Sometimes such teaching brings comfort and encouragement, sometimes it brings conviction and challenge.
FWM: Although some of your messages are aimed at the non-believer, the vast majority are very clearly directed at the Christian, with the emphasis on helping them to grow up in their faith. Do you think this type of teaching is lacking somewhat in many churches today?
DOUGLAS: There are two spiritual issues that every soul must address in the course of one's lifetime. The primary one is how he/she responds to the Gospel message. Once saved, the same believer has the opportunity to spiritually mature and bring further glory to God. It was for the resolution of these issues that Man was created. Salvation is not possible without a response to the Gospel Message, and living in the post-salvation spiritual life is not possible without developing and applying what the Bible calls the mind of Christ.
The primary message of the evangelist is the Gospel Message and this is aimed at the unbeliever. The primary teaching of the pastor-teacher is for the edification of the congregation who have already been born again. They need to hear how it is they are to execute the post-salvation spiritual life, NOT to hear about being "good" or "moral." Individuals know when they are doing what is right and they know when they are doing what is wrong.
Being "good" and "moral" will be the result of spiritual growth, but has never been or ever will be the means to acquire it. What they need to hear is how to live the spiritual life. Teaching of this nature is becoming a "hard find" in the Church today.
FWM: Doug, I know this is a huge question with so many possible answers, but what would you consider to be the greatest need in the church today?
DOUGLAS: What I believe is needed, speaking about the Church as a whole, is to purge itself of every practice and teaching that Man has added to the Word of God in the name of religion and to return to preaching, teaching, and worshiping God in accordance with what is revealed in the Bible. This has always been and will always be the greatest need of the Church in every generation, in order to serve its membership and fulfill the Great Commission.
FWM: As we are standing right at the start of another New Year, it would seem appropriate to reflect on the year thatís been and look forward, with hope, to what lies ahead. What would you say have been the most important lessons youíve gained from 2005, and what are your plans for 2006?
DOUGLAS: Perhaps the greatest lesson that I learned in 2005 is the importance of discerning what God would have me to do (or not do) in all situations, and then leaving the final outcome in His hands. I desire to do all that He would have me do in all situations that I encounter, including to do nothing if that is His will, so that I do not get in His way by trying to force things to happen contrary to His plans or timing for myself or for others.
My plan for 2006 is to continue to "grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" (2 Peter 3:18) and to "Fight the good fightÖ" (1 Timothy 6:12) wherever and however He would have me do it.
FWM: Doug, I couldnít think of a better goal for the coming year myself. Thank you for this time with us, and may God continue to use you as one of His voices to the church.