Today, I talk to Vince Antonucci about his new book Devo for the Rest of Us.
Instead of asking, “what is your book about,” I’m going to ask the question that’s behind that question. And that unspoken question is, “how are readers going to benefit from reading your book?”
Vince Antonucci: The goal of life is intimacy with God. And intimacy with God leads to influence in the world. Jesus said if we abide in him, we will produce much fruit. To abide in God we must be confident of His love for us, that He’s not only perfect, but also compassionate. That’s why the devotional readings especially focus on God’s love for us. And to abide in God we must spend large quantities of quality time with Him. This book will help the reader to have quality time with God forty days in a row, establishing a habit that will hopefully last a lifetime. The devotional readings especially focus on God’s love for us.
Explain the title, Devo for the Rest of Us.
Vince Antonucci: There are great devotional books out there. But I’m not sure if there are many devotional books designed for people who don’t typically read devotional books. Or many written that will make you laugh out loud. This is a devotional book for the rest of us – for those who want more of God, deeper spiritual lives, but maybe don’t typically use a devotional. (And who like to laugh.)
Tell us a bit about the experiences that shaped the insights in the book.
Vince Antonucci: I came from a completely unchurched, non-Christian background. In fact, my mother is Jewish and my father a professional poker player gambling addict, so they never took me to church. Then I went on to start two churches, both totally focused on Jesus’ mission of seeking and saving the lost. 70% of the people we’ve reached have been unchurched, non-Christians.
All of this led me to see the critical importance of new Christians understanding and living out the foundations of our faith. What has shocked me is how many long-time Christians don’t understand or live out the foundations of our faith. The topics I cover in Devo For The Rest Of Us are the essentials. Who is God? What does it mean to have your identity in Christ? Why and how do we share our faith? Why is Jesus the only way to Heaven? How does God transform us? How do we live holy lives in a sinful world?
Sketch out briefly how a Christian can experience unbelievable love, unlimited hope, and uncommon grace amid the pressures and struggles that we all face today?
Vince Antonucci: 2,000 years ago Jesus offered an invitation. He said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” That invitation still stands today. The truth is, when life gets hard we’re going to run to something. Some of us run to food, others to watching TV, others to the fantasy worlds offered to us in novels or video games.
They may make us numb for a bit, but they don’t change anything. But we have a God who loves us and says we can make Him our refuge. We can run to Him. God doesn’t help us to escape life, He offers the love we’re desperate for, a sane way to live in a crazy world, and hope for the future. Both God For The Rest Of Us and Devo For The Rest Of Us help the reader to experience God’s grace in a world that can often be so graceless.
Many Christians struggle with worry today. What’s one key insight you’ve discovered about how to defeat worry that believers can apply right now?
Vince Antonucci: You know who doesn’t worry? Kids with good parents. Right? When you were a kid, if you came from a stable, loving home, you didn’t worry. You were happy and carefree, because you knew that your dad or mom would take care of everything. Jesus said that people who have a loving Heavenly Father would never need to worry.
We could live our lives in trust, and experience the carefree happiness usually reserved for kids. When I worry it means I’ve “fired God.” I’ve removed God from His role as my Father, from His role as the One who is in control, and I’ve taken His position. So, when I’m tempted to worry, instead of trying to assure myself that everything is going to be fine, I remind myself that I’m not in charge, God is. I remember how faithful He proved Himself in the Bible, and in my life. And I fire myself and put God back in His spot as my Father and the one who is in control of my life.
Likewise, Christians often struggle with doubt. What can you share that’s practical about “God for the doubters?”
Vince Antonucci: We often view our doubts as scary. I view them as energizing. We think of doubting as weakness, but I see it as strength. Doubts shouldn’t pull us away from God, but instead push us to seek answers. The cool thing is that there are answers. God is not afraid of our doubts, because he knows the deeper we go the more our faith will grow. That’s exactly what’s happened in my life. I’ve turned my seasons of doubting into seasons of studying, and every time it’s made me more confident in God and His Word.
Your book, Devo for the Rest of Us, is a way to get someone new to Christ to start their journey as well as a good re-fresher for any believer. What’s the difference between Devo and your other volume God for the Rest of Us?
Vince Antonucci: My hope is God For The Rest Of Us will help people know that no one is beyond the grace of God. That’s critical, first, because sometimes we feel like maybe we’ve gone beyond the grace of God. We need to be certain of God’s unconditional love for us. God’s love is what draws us to Him and turns us away from our sin.
It’s also critical because our mission is to share God’s love with others, but it may feel like some people would never accept God, or like God might not accept them. Knowing that God is for the rest of us should lead us to share God with the rest of us. Devo For The Rest Of Us, on the other hand, will help people to establish the habit of spending time with God every day and will equip them with the knowledge and tools to grow in their relationship with Him.
What else would you like to say about your book?
Vince Antonucci: I would encourage people, even if they’re not morning people, to get Devo For The Rest Of Us and begin their day with a reading for forty days. It will launch you into your day with a shot of spiritual adrenaline and a focus on God and His love for you. And … you will start your day with a laughter. (I don’t think anyone ever complained about that.)