God’s Reflections: An Interview with Author Ronald Ian Phillips
We are not the light, just the reflection if we stand close enough to the Source. The farther we move away from God’s will for our lives, the more we stumble in the dark. But, as believers, there is an all-powerful force that will lift us up and help us to walk in the light. The goal of God’s Reflections is to draw Christians closer to the light source, so they can radiate brighter in their service to God and be part of the greatest rescue mission by making disciples for Jesus Christ. – Ronald Ian Phillips
Good morning, Ronald! Bob Neff, Jr. is raving about your new book God’s Reflections, so I thought we’d “sit down” with you to hear all about it.
Tell us a little about yourself…
Thanks, Karen, for this opportunity to talk about the new book, which I think will be a great reading companion for people taking Bob Neff tour adventures. I grew up in a Christian family in Minneapolis. We almost never missed a church service and had devotionals after dinner every night. My mother led me to the Lord shortly before she died in childbirth leaving my father to raise four young children. His unwavering, remarkable faith through adversity was an inspiration to all who knew him.
My wife Shelby and I live in southern Minnesota. We have visited over 40 countries, including India, Russia, and Morocco, as well as traveled extensively throughout the United States. After retiring from teaching AP History for 40 years, I’ve been able to pursue a lifetime ambition of writing.
How do you know Bob Neff, Jr.?
Bob and I both attended Pillsbury Baptist Bible College and have remained great friends ever since. My wife Shelby and I treasure our special Christian bond and close friendship with Bob and Cindy.
(I checked in with Bob…😃. He thinks a lot of you, too!)
Cindy and I always look forward to spending time with Ron and Shelby. We love their energy and value their friendship. Our visits with them are always too short, and we always come away refreshed. We are sure God’s Reflections will refresh you as well. ~Bob Neff, Jr.
Tell us about God’s Reflections and the inspiration for it.
Thousands of books have been written about God’s providence throughout American history, but linking fifty-two American history stories with parallel, biblical insights is really a unique approach. During my years of teaching history in a public high school, there were many changes, but never has there been a greater need than right now for people to read factual accounts of American history showing God’s hand in our country’s development, as well as principles and lessons from the Bible.
A college/seminary president, a missionary, and a preacher with five decades in God’s ministry joined me in this collaborative effort. This unique, team-achievement reflects the broad scope of their knowledge, wisdom, experience, background, and collective expertise.
What are your hopes for God’s Reflections?
An aspirational goal is to get this book in as many hands as possible for God’s glory.
God’s Reflections: Biblical Insight from America’s Story was written to allow readers to be inspired by stories of struggles and triumphs throughout America’s history and reflect on the life-shaping applications from the Gospel. The spiritual wisdom and life-shaping application of the Gospel and accounts of America’s exceptionalism makes this a compelling read.
How long did God’s Reflections take to write it?
Probably close to two and a half years with another half year to edit and document sources. It has been an exciting and whole new adventure with a steep learning curve.
How is this book a reflection of your faith journey?
As Christians, I think believers are to be in service for God, so writing this book provided me with an opportunity to hopefully encourage and strengthen the belief of Christian brothers and sisters and spread the good news to those who have not heard the Gospel.
What is unique about the format?
One lesson for each week of the year works well for Bible study classes. Families are already using God’s Reflections for devotionals, and it can be a textbook for universities, Christian high schools, and homeschooling families.
What are your favorite chapters in the book?
Personally, Chapter 16 ranks right up there. It’s the story of Thomas Nast’s Sharp Pencil and Jesus’ “Parable of the Talents” (Matthew 25:14–30). The lesson is that it does not matter if friends and admirers say flattering words, or detractors have harsh criticism when we use our talents in service for God. It does not matter if our work is unnoticed, unappreciated, or unaccepted. Only the Master’s final judgement matters when we hear our Lord say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
When did you realize you wanted to write a book?
I became serious about writing when I retired from teaching, had more time, and no longer had an outlet for expressing what I was learning from history and the Scriptures.
Do you have a writing process?
The greatest challenge was researching and documenting hundreds of topics spanning most of America’s past. Each story involved recording thirty to forty pages of notes and synthesizing the information into a compelling, factual narrative. Shelby patiently read and edited the early drafts for clarity, and when completed, I would send them to my biblical scholars, who wrote most of the scriptural applications.
What writing advice would you offer others who want to write?
Choose a topic you are passionate and knowledgeable about—and, realize there are many ways to climb the mountain, so don’t get discouraged when you reach what seems to be a dead end.
What do you do when you’re not writing?
My wife and I love to read under the palapa in Mexico, hike the mountains of Montana, enjoy the lakes of Minnesota, and play tennis and pickleball…just to name a few activities.
Who are your favorite authors and what are you reading right now?
Some of my favorite authors would include: Shelby Foote, Stephen E. Ambrose, and Dr. David Jeremiah.
Currently, I’m reading The Thirty Years War by Peter Wilson in preparation of writing a sequel to this book on world history with biblical applications.
What are you currently working on?
In the short term, I’ve been involved in marketing and publicizing this book, and asking my readers for Amazon reviews to encourage a wide audience to read the book. A sequel to God’s Reflections is also in the works.
How can we get a copy to read?
For a limited time the Amazon kindle edition of God’s Reflections: Biblical Insight from America’s Story has been reduced from $9.99 to just $2.99.
*For the paperback edition, a 25% off discount code: inspire has been set as a special promotion for Bob Neff Tours to buy, following this link: (https://wipfandstock.com/9781666735727/gods-reflections). A nice feature is that no credit card information is entered until after you see the final price. To receive the 25% savings, enter the code inspire in the discount box.
Or, click on one of the buttons below:
Thank you for sitting down with us. We are excited to spread the word about this amazing book you’ve written. Would you leave us with three words?
Be God’s Reflection…
What Others Are Saying About God’s Reflections…
“God’s Reflections: Biblical Insight from America’s Story is the work of four men who love their homeland, the United States of America, and the God who revealed Himself in the Bible and promises an eternal home to those who believe His Word. The authors survey the scope of American history and the shaping of the ethos of American culture with attention to significant historical events and influences. Those cultural and political developments provide a platform for presenting Biblical principles and teaching which influenced those developments or were overlooked in the history of the United States. This work, divided into fifty-two chapters, will provide an interesting read, a helpful review, and edifying biblical reminders to adults and youth who share the authors’ love of God and country.”
– Dr. Donald Odens, professor at Central Baptist Theological Seminary
“God’s Reflections: Biblical Insights for America’s Story provides the reader with scores of accounts from American history, followed by related lessons from the Bible. Those who enjoy history will enjoy the narratives of our country’s past. For readers who are unaware of the nation’s past, or have forgotten much of it, here is a broad collection of reminders of significant events. Additionally, the authors give us Biblical insights and applications which parallel, in a fashion, the historical ones. God’s Reflections: Biblical Insights for America’s Story will be enjoyed by, and benefit readers who want to be reminded of our nation’s past, and be challenged in their present lives.”
– Ken Houghten, pastor and missionary
“An incredible amount of research has gone into the writing of this book… I highly recommend God’s Reflections to individuals for edification; to families for devotions; and to students of all ages to recognize that in the providence of God, normal people were led to build a unique and exceptional nation fashioned around the priority to freely worship and serve God.”
– Alan J. Hodak, Executive Director, Minnesota Association of Christian Schools
Ronald Ian Phillips
Taught Advance Placement United States History, World history, and Humanities in Owatonna, Minnesota to over 11,000 high school students for 40 years. He has also taught college career Bible classes, world religion, and adult Bible study courses.
Dr. Ernest J. Schmidt is the past President at Faith Baptist Bible College and Theological Seminary in Ankeny, Iowa. Dr. Schmidt has a Doctor of Ministry degree, pastored churches for over 24 years and taught theology for 29 years at various colleges and seminaries.
Reverend David Grotzke is currently Senior Pastor at First Baptist Church – Baxter, Minnesota and School Administrator Lake Region Christian School. He has a Master of Divinity degree with 45 years in the pastorate.
Seth Ian Grotzke is currently a missionary in Spain and previously pastored for six years in Minnesota. He holds a Master of Divinity and Master of Theology degree and is the developer and host of a weekly bilingual TV program in Spain.