I’ve recently had the privilege of reading John Prockter’s new book, Stuck in the Mud? John is a youth worker who is local to me. Here’s the book description:
At times of difficulty or transition we can often feel unable to move forward.
Framed around twelve real-life sticking points in John Prockter’s life, this book offers us hope in a faithful God and a pathway through difficult times. John encourages us to engage with Scripture in a new and inspiring way, allowing Jesus to bring the freedom we all need to live our lives authentically.
Frank yet approachable, Stuck in the Mud? is an ideal guide for those wanting to engage in the ups and downs of discipleship.
As I began reading, this book immediately grabbed hold of me and wouldn’t let go. John writes engagingly, with poetic prose and stories that invite the reader right in. I’d recommend this book if you’re feeling stuck – in life, in faith, in hope – and if you’re going through difficult times. That’s probably all of us, really. It’s particularly apt if you’re wrestling with issues of identity in God, or if you’re finding that life is leaving you flat – where do we find our joy? Where do we get our peace, when life is hard work? What takes us into freedom?
I found it full of honesty, warmth and touches of humour. John uses stories from his own family life as well as other anecdotes to illustrate biblical truths, and his words take the reader further towards the freedom found only in Jesus. You should give it a read!
John has kindly answered a few questions for me about the book, his life and his faith. If you’d like to win a signed copy, read to the end, and enjoy!
1. Tell us a bit about yourself.
Hi Liz, thank you so much for having me here on your blog. My name is John Prockter, I’m a youth worker, musician and apparently now, also an author! I’m married to Louise, have three kids, and live in Telford.
2. What inspired you to write Stuck in the Mud?
The biggest thing for me was that there were a number of people around me who were going through some serious life challenges. I remember coming home one day, and speaking to my wife saying, “I’m spending every day talking about the same things to different people!” This wasn’t a frustration aimed at the people, it was a restlessness in me about what I could do about it. One of the big things for me was writing down my thoughts, organising my feelings about what was going on around me and creating something that could be given, like a gift to people who’re feeling stuck.
3. Tell us about the purpose of this book. Who is it for, and what do you want the reader to get out of it?
My greatest hope for the book is that people who are experiencing brokenness will read it. People who have read Stuck in the Mud tell me it’s a blissfully easy read, which I take as a massive compliment. I need people who wouldn’t usually take to a book, to feel able to get into it and get something out of it. The last thing I want is for people who are stuck, to get stuck in my book as well.
4. You give an invitation in your introduction: Are we stuck? Are we struggling with issues we need release from? Do we need some restoration?
Can you tell us about a time you have felt stuck, and how God restored you?
There are some big examples in the book, which I won’t mention here. Still, I remember one particular day not so long ago when I had got wound up and stuck with the pressure I was feeling at work. I remember telling Louise I needed some time away, like a retreat or something. So I went swimming, visited a sauna and steam room, and then went for a coffee. While I was sat, taking in the fresh coffee smell, I began reading a passage from Isaiah and got an overwhelming sense that God didn’t call me to burn out.
He said to me that day that I was treating my responsibilities like events, which is why I was crashing. I needed to learn to accept a different rhythm, which included being more deeply connected to Him, to my family, my work, and myself.
5. Something that struck me about the book was your poetry – and poetic prose. For example, when talking about how Jesus keeps searching us out:
He crashes through the heavens.
His gift of grace is freely given.
Have you written poetry in the past – and will you be writing more of it?
Before any of this writing stuff, I was a songwriting musician. To be fair, lyrics are not the same as poems, but they’re closely related. What I found while I was writing was that there were natural moments where I wanted to sing. Like what I was writing was a form of liturgy which needed a response. As I got further into the book, I leant more into it and allowed the poems to come out between the stories and the scripture.
I don’t know if I’ll write like that again, but I certainly enjoyed it and felt it was necessary for the narrative.
6. One of my favourite lines from the book is this: ‘The good news is that surrendering to Jesus is the most strategic, most significant, most freeing thing you can do.’ I love this because I’ve found it to be true in my life, that the more I abandon myself to Jesus, the more I become free to be who I am created to be. Can you tell us a little about how this has played out in your life?
Do you know, the older I get, the more I’m convinced that God is present. When I get tied up in knots about the pressure, or the responsibility, there really are only a very small amount of solutions. I can administrate my way through, drink, throw my hands in the air or stop, and give it all to Jesus. What I’ve found to be true is that everything other than Jesus simply buys me time, which can be helpful but is not a solution. However, with Jesus, I find an increase of capacity, the perspective to know what to drop, and a depth of love which doesn’t just distract me, it restores me.
7. I also love this line: ‘You are His great treasure. But, He is also your greatest treasure, and herein lies the problem.’ Can you expand on this for us?
There’s something important about discipleship in this line. First, you need to learn to accept God’s love for you. You’re his great treasure. However, there’s a limit to how far you can grow on that. God will always feel the same about you, but the real delight for those who can sense it, is that making God your great treasure unlocks a depth of relationship which is so much better. There’s a cost to it, but it’s so worth it.
So, if you can accept that you’re God’s great treasure, wonderful. But if you can make Him yours? Wow, you’ll see how much further you can grow.
8. What do you think it means to be fully released in our lives with Jesus?
Talking about discipleship, here’s another one. There’s this great story in Luke 10 about the time when Jesus sends out seventy-two disciples. They experienced some fantastic things and came back, puffed up with the excitement. When they returned, Jesus encouraged them not to relish the power and the freedom, but to be thankful for their salvation.
It’s clear from the story of the cross that Jesus is committed to us being released from the power of sin and death. And as with the significance of recognising God as your treasure, there’s so much more depth to be found by not only relishing freedom but also expressing thankfulness in obedience to God.
If you want to enter this giveaway, all you need to do is sign up to my mailing list here. You’ll get a free book out of it – my six week Bible study course, A Tale of Beauty from Ashes. If you’re already signed up, please just leave a comment in the comments below this post. I’ll choose the winner from a cyber-hat and you will receive a signed copy of John’s book!