Interview with the Founder & Editor of Grace Gems!
Posted on 11/23/2010 by Matt Blair of "The Octavius Winslow Archive"
I recently had the opportunity to do an email interview with the founder and editor of the very useful and profitable website Grace Gems.
If you do any Googling whatsoever for quotes and books of the reformed faith, there is no doubt you have been directed to this treasure trove of freely offered books, quotes, sermons, and excerpts.
For me personally, 99% of the material I use on The Octavius Winslow Archive comes from this wonderful storehouse. Without Grace Gems, the daily Morning and Evening Thoughts would have never left the starting gates. I am deeply thankful for the time and energy that has been devoted to the mission at Grace Gems.
1) Can you tell us a little about Grace Gems?
The Lord was graciously pleased to save me in 1975 through the reading of Arthur Pink's "Sovereignty of God" and "Attributes of God". Since that time, the Lord has given me a voracious appetite for the best devotional writings. Grace Gems is my feeble attempt to serve God and His people, by freely publishing these choice materials on the internet. My objective is to set before the Christian pilgrim — some reflections which may prove challenging, consolatory and encouraging — as he journeys up from this bleak, arid, wilderness world, leaning on his Beloved.
My purpose has been the same since the start:
To humble the pride of man,
to exalt the grace of God in salvation
and to promote real holiness in heart and life.
This ministry actually started as "Grace Quotes" back in 1997. At that time I bought my first computer, and started to send quotes to the 6 Christian people I knew who had email.
In 2002, I started a website, changed the ministry name to "Grace Gems" — and began publishing 'out of print' books and sermons, along with the daily quotes.
In 2007, I added choice audio recordings.
Recently, one of my subscribers (Daniel Weiss from Victoria, BC) has graciously started adding video to my audio recordings — and then posting them on YouTube.
2) Over the years you have amassed quite a library of digital content! What process do you use or how do you go about adding and seeking out new content to put on the site?
I am very selective in what I publish. The most important thing is to find choice materials. Everything must be Scriptural, devotional and well written. I never publish anything I would consider as mediocre — everything must be bona fide "gem quality".
All of the authors I publish are noted for their sound, rich theology — their deep devotion — their extensive knowledge of Scripture — and their constant aim to improve the heart, to guide the conscience, and to sanctify the life.
Most of the materials I publish have been scanned in from old books printed in the 1800's. It is quite a challenge correcting all the thousands of scanning errors from these old books, most of which are falling apart.
3) Are there any authors you have not currently touched on yet that you hope to in the future?
Yes, but they would be too many to enumerate. I have some 20 years of materials remaining on my "to publish list" — though it is unlikely that my 59 year old body and mind will hold out that long.
4) With the explosion in what has become known as "The New Calvinism", how do you feel Grace Gems can or has played a role in rooting believers squarely in the Reformed faith and doctrine?
First of all, I am very encouraged by this increase in interest in the Doctrines of Grace. It is precisely to this new generation of Calvinists, that Grace Gems is most beneficial. Everything I post is updated to modern English — making it readable and accessible to young Christians who would have difficulty understanding these classic older writings.
5) Whenever I do a Google search on a particular puritan or writer of yesteryear, it seems that Grace Gems always comes up within the top 3 hits. How many authors and how much content do you currently have?
Many of the 80 plus authors I publish, are virtually unknown in our modern era.
I have published over 300 full length books, myriad sermons and articles, some 850 audio files, and nearly 5,000 daily devotional quotes.
6) Please tell us a bit about Grace Audio Treasures.
For years I had wanted to put some of these choice writings into audio format, but could never find the right "reader". In 2007, I providentially came across the perfect person — a professional Christian reader who agreed to do my recordings for a fraction of the price that he normally charged.
Then, over a year ago, one of my subscribers (Ruben Sarrion from Spain) sent me a recording he had done of one of my daily gems. It was fabulous — and he even graciously offered to do them for free. He also is a professional reader — and puts his heart into everything that he records.
Really, the audio recordings are the best thing on Grace Gems, as I always select my favorite quotes to be recorded. I recently spent many hours doing my fall yard work, while listening to these gems on my MP3 player. It was perhaps the most delightful work I have ever done! One day I was raking leaves for a full 8 hours — and didn't even get tired!
7) I love to receive my daily email devotions from Grace Gems. Tell us a bit about this service you offer.
These free daily email devotionals are the heart of this ministry. This has grown from my original 6 — to over 12,000 daily subscribers. This never ceases to amaze me, as the growth comes by word of mouth alone — that is, from people forwarding a favorite quote to a friend, etc.
J.R. Miller was right when he said, "Nothing is more helpful and practical in Christian living — than the habit of getting a verse or phrase of Scripture into the mind and heart in the morning. Its influence stays through the day, weaving itself into all the day's thoughts and words and experiences."
I normally choose my daily quote from the material I have been reading earlier in that day. For example, I have been going through the works of James Smith — so virtually every recent quote, has been from James Smith's writings.
I normally publish things that powerfully affect my own heart — usually something very challenging, or helpful, or uplifting. I reason that if something is very edifying to myself — that it may have the same effect on others.
8) What vision do you have for Grace Gems in the coming future?
My goal has always been to freely provide a treasury of ageless, Sovereign Grace, devotional writings. I really have no plans for doing anything additionally, or differently. I have always focused on faithfulness — and left the results up to God. My wife and I are currently working on updating John Bunyan's classic, "Pilgrim's Progress", and hope to publish a professional audio recording of it as well.
9) Lastly, what else would you like your readers to know about Grace Gems?
There are several things:
Though this ministry is a full time job — it really is the passion of my heart. There is nothing I enjoy better, than feasting my soul on these gospel gems. I am deeply humbled and thankful for the way God is using Grace Gems in the lives of His people.
I have a very liberal "copyright policy" which essentially allows anyone to use anything they like — in any way they desire.
Everything on the website is free. I do not accept donations.
I answer all email.
And lastly, "Remember that it is not hasty reading, but serious meditation on holy and heavenly truths — which makes them prove sweet and profitable to the soul. It is not the mere touching of the flower by the bee, which gathers honey — but her abiding for a time on the flower, which draws out the sweet. It is not he who reads most, but he who meditates most — who will prove to be the choicest, sweetest, wisest and strongest Christian!" Thomas Brooks
Please stop in to the Grace Gems website and browse their electronic bookshelves or drop them an email at firstname.lastname@example.org