Interview With Richard Riggall of Shepherd Press (part 1 of 3)

Today HR will begin posting a three part interview with Richard Riggall of Shepherd Press. For those of you who are not familiar with SP, they are Christian publishing house committed to publishing theologically rich books that are also  practical. Shepherding a Child’s Heart by Tedd Tripp, When Sinners Say “I Do” by Dave Harvey  and Don’t Make Me Count to Three! by Ginger Plowman are among the books they have published. I commend these titles and everything else SP has to offer for your consideration.

Additionally, Sp has been very gracious and is offering a discount code That give customers a 50% discount on all items in their shopping cart at www.ShepherdPress.com between now and April 10th. The coupon code is HR50. You will need to be logged in to the Shepherd Press website in order for the coupon to work. To use the coupon code, first add the items you want to purchase to your shopping cart. Then click “View Cart” on the right side of your screen. At the bottom of the shopping cart page is a field titled “Redeem a discount coupon.” Enter the coupon code there and click “Submit.” Then proceed with the checkout process. The coupon code may be used once per customer.

HR: Could you start by introducing Shepherd Press to those who are unfamiliar with your publishing house? How did SP get its start?

SP: Shepherd Press is committed to provide God’s people with solid biblical books and materials.  We work to combine two qualities in our materials that make them unique and spiritually satisfying. (1) They focus on heart issues rather than performance issues. We all know that it is possible to master some Christian performance skills without experiencing internal change. We long for authentic change that works from the inside out. (2) We emphasize the centrality of the gospel. The gospel is richer than simply knowing my sins are forgiven and I am going to heaven (as indescribably wonderful as that is). The message of the gospel includes not just forgiveness of sin, but also radical, internal transformation and empowerment to live in the ways God calls us to live. When these two perspectives are combined,  they enable us to identify the idols of the heart which render us unable to obey God, and also encourage us that we can “do all things through Christ who gives [us] strength.”  The gospel is for Christians; we must daily repent and cast ourselves on the abundant grace of Jesus Christ.
Shepherd Press started with Shepherding a Child’s Heart by Tedd Tripp in 1999.  Tedd had written a draft of the book as his DMin thesis at Westminster Seminary  and received strong encouragement from men he highly respected to get the work in print.  He offered the book to a number of publishers but there was not strong interest in it. In 1995 SP was formed as a business which did a run of 5,000 copies of Shepherding a Child’s Heart in conjunction with a small Christian publisher.  These books sold out far more quickly than was ever imagined, so another run was printed with the same surprising response. By this time Tedd Tripp realized that SCH had enough sales potential to form Shepherd Press as a publishing house which would focus on producing high quality books which combined a robust theological perspective with practical Christian living.

HR: Richard, could you tell me about you’re latest book release,”Power Perfected In Weakness: The Journal of Christopher J. Klicka?”
There’s quite a story behind Shepherd Press producing this book….
Shepherd Press was at the Illinois Christian Home Educators Conference last June with a our book table, when I met Chris Klicka. Tedd Tripp was presenting his Shepherding a Child’s Heart Seminar at the conference and Christopher had approached him about SP taking over the publication of some of his already released books and publishing books which were in the works. Tedd sent him to see me, as accepting (or declining) manuscripts and beginning the review process is one of my responsibilities at SP. The HSLDA table was directly across from us at the conference, so when there was a quiet moment we discussed those things.  We were more interested in a fresh manuscript than reworking an already published book, but we talked, exchanged cards and promised to be in touch. Over the next few months there must have been at least a half-dozen – if not more – e-mail exchanges between us; Chris kept saying the manuscript was almost ready to go – it should arrive the next day or so. And then nothing would come.  I am sure the Lord kept this in my mind as a matter to keep pursuing, because I was unaware that Chris was in his final weeks of struggle. Then on September 29, an e-mail arrived from Chris’ legal assistant at HSLDA, making us aware that he had been moved to hospice care and asking if the manuscript had arrived yet. Upon learning that it had not, she sent it the same day, as well as a link where we followed the postings of the last two weeks of his life, with his death on October 12. What a life of blessing it was.

Once SP got the manuscript and understood the situation, the review process was fast tracked, so that before Chris died, the review of the manuscript had been presented to the board with the suggestion that we consider publishing it as a memorial book. The board rather quickly embraced and approved the idea, but one area of concern was the need for such a project to move quickly but with great sensitivity to the grief of the family and those who worked closely with Chris at HSLDA.  It would be most advantageous for a memorial book to come out quickly, but we did not want to seem to be capitalizing upon the loss of our brother. At this point the project moved into the hands of others at SP. Everyone did a great job on a challenging project, but Rick Irvin, our production manager particularly stands out. Tracy Klicka e-mailed “I just wanted to add my deep thanks to Rick Irvin, for all his outstanding work on getting my husband Chris’s book, Power Perfected in Weakness, published…in time for Chris’s upcoming birthday on April 2nd.   I’m especially grateful to Rick Irvin for the friendship in the Lord he and I now share. I will miss our regular conversations on the phone about our great Savior as we worked together on the book. I never failed to come away encouraged in the Lord after we talked. Thank you, brother!”

As Chris says in the Preface of Power Perfected in Weakness, “The message in this devotional book is simple: “God Can Sustain You Through Anything!”  He illustrates this truth by telling of the struggles and blessings in the final years of his life lived with the increasing debilitation of MS. As Chris journals each incident, he points us to the Lord as the source of all our strength and satisfaction; he challenges us to be bold in sharing the Gospel; and he models for us how to “live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory.” (I Th. 2:12).  The home schooling community is well aware of the great gifts, energy and passion he possessed.  His gifts were many, his energy boundless, his passion deep; a passion which his colleague Mike Farris observes, “…never ever, ever, ever dimmed, even slightly.” Chris Klicka was an attorney, spokesman, lobbyist, husband, and father. He was also an author, with two more books in progress when he passed away. We trust that the lessons of his final battle will encourage God’s people.

HR:Could you take a minute and talk about the SP books you are most exited about? Which of your works do you most often reach for?
SP: That’s a hard one to answer.  Which SP book am I most excited about?  I could say “ The most recent one I read”  or “ The one coming out soon”, or “The one someone was just telling me was such a help and encouragement to them”….   I have some personal favorites, but I understand how that will vary for different people,  related to their stage in life, the issues with which they are struggling, the type of books they enjoy reading – even their gender!   Shepherding A Child’s Heart was certainly a significant book for my wife and I when we were raising our boys. Now all three sons are grown and married with their own children, and it is their turn to be using SCH, but Linda & I find we still look at Shepherding… and now Instructing…  but from a new perspective as grandparents. The principles have application throughout our lives, so those books can be of great benefit even to those not involved in either parenting or grandparenting. For instance Wise Words for Moms by Ginger Plowman with its list of ‘put off & put on’ is a marvelous resource for examining our own hearts.
The Herein is Love books on Genesis to Numbers (eventually going to Joshua) by Nancy Ganz are something I pull off the shelf for reference and reading. The subtitle of “Commentary for Children” could seem misleading, as most then expect them to be simplistic in content and childish in expression, but they are not. If a scholar like D.A. Carson is willing to refer to them as “….very competent…”, almost all of us can profit from them. Richard Ganz’s book Free Indeed is excellent for reference on breaking bondage to sins and finding freedom in Christ. The chapters are short and focused with pointed questions, creating a good counseling guide.

Paul Tripp (Tedd’s bother) has contributed some valuable resources to SP. He has a unique gift of painting pictures for us which make our sin clear and the Grace of the Gospel compelling. Broken-Down House uses the metaphor of a dilapidated, rickety house which is being restored while we live in the middle of the immediate mess – but ultimate order – as a picture of God at work in our lives. Lost in the Middle is particularly focused upon issues that come to the fore in what is often called ‘mid-life crisis’, but its application is far broader. Any time we find ourselves thinking “It’s not fair. This isn’t what I expected from life. What happened to all the expectations I had?  Why Me?” , this book has something to say to us.
I’ve just started re-reading When Sinners say “I Do” by Dave Harvey.  Even the healthiest marriages need checkups.

Tune in Tomorrow for part Two of the interview.

For more information of Shepherd Press or to purchase one of the books discussed above click here.

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