Alpha Predator Author Interview with Steve Taylor

Alpha Predator Author Interview with Steve TaylorBack on June 19th, I posted my book review of Alpha Predator: How to Be Victorious Over Life’s Ultimate Adversary and What to do When You’re Not.  If you have read the review then you know that the book and the man who wrote it holds a special place in my heart.

Today I am excited to be able to post a summary of a telephone interview that I got to do with Steve last week.  Steve was gracious enough to take time out of his busy schedule to give me a call and to bless me with his words and his wisdom; he has given me permission to write about that call here on Matthew515.

The first thing you need to understand about Steve Taylor is that even though he is a retired missionary he is still working full time for God.  He is currently a full time pastor in Pratt, Kansas and during our conversation he was power walking for exercise in preparation for his upcoming return to Zimbabwe, Africa on a mission trip.  More on that later.  Let’s get to the interview.

Me: “How did the idea for the book come about?  Where did that idea begin and how did it take shape?”

Steve: “I was in a difficult ministry situation at the time.  It was very challenging and I was in contact with people who were really struggling.  I wanted to tell the story of Africa in the midst of challenging circumstances.  Writing was cathartic and it was an outflow of my life experiences through words on a page.  My Dad really encouraged me to take what I was writing and turn it into a book so I attended a writer’s conference in Denver, Colorado and came back with a passion to write the book.”

Steve: “Being a full time pastor, Alpha Predator was mostly written between the hours of 10pm and 2am after everyone had gone to bed and the world had gotten quiet.  I needed that time that was free of distraction so that I could really hear God speak to me.  During those times my thoughts could coalesce into something solid as they appeared on the page.  Even then, it took nearly two years to finish Alpha Predator.”

Me: “And did I hear that you were perhaps considering a follow-up?”

Steve: “Yes, two actually.  One would tell more of how God called Shirley (Steve’s wife) and I to the ministry and our early years getting settled in Africa.  The other will be a Study Guide or Workbook to go along with Alpha Predator.”

Steve: “A copy of Alpha Predator found its way into the hands of a prison chaplain in Texas and that chaplain has shared with me that he is having great success using it as a teaching tool with the inmates there.  These are men who live very close to the evil that is described in Alpha Predator.  The Workbook is a direct request from the chaplain and others who are using Alpha Predator as a teaching tool.”

Steve: “Speaking with that chaplain and my experience with writing Alpha Predator really got me thinking.  Distractions are everywhere and we need quite time alone with God to really hear Him.  Old disciplines of the ancient saints like solitude, silence and fasting are necessary.  We have an entire generation that does not know how to be still and know God.  Solitude and alone time should be a blessing, not a punishment!”

Me: “I agree with you, Steve.  I feel like the theme of my life these past few weeks has been prayer and alone time with God.  I’ve never had a greater desire to talk to God and to get away from the distractions of this world than I do right now.  I think God is trying to remind His people of something.”

Steve: “God wants to reclaim His children.  That’s one of the main reasons I wrote Alpha Predator.  I feel like there are many Christians out there who have made mistakes and just don’t know how to come back home.  The story of the Prodigal Son is a story about a Son who left, made many mistakes, but then came back and was restored by his father.  It’s not a story about a lost person, but about a believer.  We have many Prodigal Sons today and the Father wants them back.”

Me: “I feel the same way.  I had a gentleman in my Sunday School class a few weeks ago tell me that the Lord had given him a thought to give to me.  This was right after I started Matthew515 and what he said really affirmed my ministry.  He said the Lord told him “My people perish for lack of knowledge” and that’s exactly how he relayed it to me.  It just underscored the seriousness of what the Lord had asked me to do and motivated me to not hold anything back.”

Me: “You make an annual trip back to Zimbabwe and I know that is coming up soon.  Is there anything you would like to share about that?  Are there specific prayer requests that you have about your trip that I could share on Matthew515 in with my church?”

Steve: “Every year I take a small group of men to the Zambezi River Valley near where I lived while I was in Africa.  We can’t go in as missionaries anymore so it has to be for the purpose of tourism and sight-seeing but we do minister as we are able.  Last year we started 4 churches and had 227 professions of faith in 18 days.

Steve: “We go into the deep bush, 200 miles from the nearest electric light and deliver basic necessities and medical supplies while teaching and preaching the gospel.  Through these trips we’ve started 28 churches and have trained men to take them on after we are gone and ensure that the ministry continues.”

Steve: “You should make the trip with me sometime.  It would change your life!”

Finally, Steve has asked that any who read this would pray for the safety of those who are going and for safe passage through the many check-points and roadblocks that they will have to navigate on their way into the bush.  He also asks that we pray for the well being of the team while in the bush because (in his words) “everything in Africa bites”.

*Follow-up: Although this post is nearly three years old, everything in it is still relevant.  Steve Taylor is still taking yearly trips to Africa and is still very much in need of our prayer.  I re-post this interview from time to time because I love Steve Taylor and respect the wisdom that he imparted to me through our time together.*

Fear is Never Our Friend Book Review

fearisneverI can honestly say that Fear is Never Our Friend by Gary L. Richardson has helped to change my life for the better.  After reading it for the first time late last year I realized how much I was letting fear control my decisions and thought processes and how many of my thoughts were negative and unhelpful.

There are several key points that Mr. Richardson makes in his book which I feel are absolutely vital knowledge for anyone who wants to live life to the fullest and go beyond the meek and timid lifestyle that many of us settle for.

The first one happens to be the title of the book; fear is never our friend.  I know some of you are probably thinking that fear is actually very helpful in certain situations but if you think it through it really is not.  Knowledge and wisdom are helpful; fear never is unless it’s the fear of almighty God which Mr. Richardson also discusses in his book.

Knowledge and wisdom are your best friends in any situation, dangerous or not.  It is knowledge that tells you that encountering a snake in the woods is possibly dangerous while fear just tells you to panic and either freeze up or run away.  Fear is an emotional response that we can learn to control when we have the proper knowledge.  Mr. Richardson does an excellent job with this point and if it were the only point he made then the book would still be worth reading.  Fortunately, it is not because he is just getting started.

Based on the premise that fear is never our friend is the realization that we cannot make a decision based on faith and a decision based on fear at the same time.  These two things cannot coexist.  We either choose to live out our days exercising our faith (and yes, faith is like a muscle, it grows with use) or we choose to let fear guide our decision making.

Mr. Richardson believes that fear is an epidemic in the world today and I agree with him.  For many, fear guides their steps without them even realizing it.  I know that before I read Fear is Never Our Friend that I had been living in the shadow of fear and anxiety for many years.

Here is an example.  For over a decade I had a nervous habit whereby I would either rub or pick the cuticles of my thumbs, often without even realizing it.  I called it nervous energy but the reality is that it was anxiety manifesting in a physical habit.  When sitting beside my wife in the evening while watching TV she would often place one of her hands on top of mine to get me to be still so prevalent was my habit.  Usually, until she did this, I would not even be aware that I was doing it.

In the last few months I had started to wrap a band-aid around my thumbs to let them heal .  It worked as long as the band-aid was on but when removed I would go right back to the same bad habit.  In other words, the underlying problem was still there.

I re-read Fear is Never Our Friend a few weeks ago in preparation for this review and got just as much out of it the second time as I did the first time last year.  This time the Lord spoke to me about my anxiety through Mr. Richardson and his discussion of Philippians 4:6 which starts “Be anxious for nothing”.

Mr. Richardson posed the question “Do you think Paul was making a request or stating a directive when he wrote that?  And if it is a directive (it is) then was Paul asking us to do something impossible?  And if you think it is impossible then you only need to look 7 verses down in Philippians to verse 13 which says “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”.

In other words it is completely possible to live an anxiety free life and this is in fact a directive for one who claims to be a child of God!

The first time I read Fear is Never Our Friend I learned to recognize my fear and to choose the path of faith instead.  It is the reason that this blog exists and the reason that I have acknowledged God’s call on my life to ministry.  The second time I read Fear is Never Our Friend I learned to recognize my anxiety and to turn it over to God.  Now, whenever I am tempted to exercise that old nervous habit I state “I will be anxious for nothing”.

It may sound like a small thing but the underlying issue was not and the fact is that God used Mr. Richardson’s book in my life to break me of a habit that I had been struggling with for over 10 years!

Like many of you, I knew those verses in Philippians and had read them many times.  I am born again and have been in church for most of my life.  But I was not applying what I had read and what I knew and it took Fear is Never Our Friend for me to finally realize what God had been trying to tell me all along.

Fear is Never Our Friend was the catalyst for a very great change in my life and I think it could be for many other people if they would read it and apply it.

Fear and anxiety are not the only 2 topics discussed in Fear is Never Our Friend.  Mr. Richardson also discusses negativity, defining who we are as Christians and setting appropriate limits, failure and why it can be a good thing and more.  After each chapter are questions for discussion and a summary of the most salient points.

With 7 chapters, Fear is Never Our Friend is designed to be a 7 week, small group study but can be read straight through just like any other book.  I’ve read the book both ways and as I’ve stated I was blessed and encouraged both times and both times I got something different out of the book that greatly helped me in my life.

Maybe you have already conquered fear and anxiety in your life.  If so, I praise the Lord for you and I pray that you are passing on your knowledge and wisdom to others because we greatly need it.

If, however, you are dealing with fear and anxiety as part of your everyday life then you absolutely need to read this book.  God would not have you living in fear and reading Mr. Richardson’s book would be an excellent way to start to overcome it and to live a more joyous and abundant life.

Fear is Never Our Friend is available from Amazon, Barnes and Noble and other fine booksellers.


ISBN-13 978-1563221071

Publisher: Hensley Publishing

Publication date: June 1, 2009

Pages: 192

The Circle Maker: Praying Circles Around Your Biggest Dreams and Greatest Fears – Book Review

The Circle Maker Book ReviewThere has been a consistent theme in my life recently.  That theme is prayer.  How fitting, then, that the book reviewed this month for Matthew515 is a book about prayer.

The author, Mark Batterson, opens the book with the story of Honi.  Honi was an Israelite sage who was known for his powerful prayers.  In a season of great drought, Honi decided to intercede for his people.  The story goes that Honi drew a circle around himself in the sand and told God that unless He sent showers of rain and gracious favor on the land that Honi would not move from his circle.  God sent both rain and blessings in honor of Honi’s prayer.

From that simple story, The Circle Maker introduces the power of prayer.

Mark Batterson is the pastor of National Community Church in Washington, D.C., and it is clear from his book that he lives a life given over to prayer.  With humor and energy Mark shares how God has used prayer over and over again in his life, and in the lives of people he has met, to meet some truly incredible needs.

Mark’s own story of how he came to D.C and started National Community Church is a story of how God uses prayer to do things that only He could do.  Interwoven in Mark’s story are stories of other people and other places where prayer has had a truly miraculous impact simply because God’s people asked Him to work.

There is a powerful message and a powerful blessing contained in The Circle Makerif you are willing to work like it’s up to you and pray like it’s up to God, then God will amaze you with what He can accomplish through you and around you.

There are several things that I really appreciate about The Circle Maker.  The first, and the reason that I want everyone I know to read it, is that it will bless your socks off.  (In fact, if you decide to read it you might as well go ahead and remove your socks anyway because you will be standing on holy ground.  This book is absolutely heaven sent!)  I had tears of joy in my eyes on multiple occasions and I rejoiced to see what God is able to do through those whose lives are lived as a prayer unto Him.

Encouragement of this magnitude is powerful stuff and it just might jumpstart your prayer life and walk with God.  I know it did for me.  So please, read The Circle Maker and expect to laugh, smile, cry and rejoice in what your God can do.

I appreciate that while Mark lays out a great foundation for what prayer is and how it works he also understands that it isn’t the circle that has power and it isn’t just because we ask that we receive.  Mark’s entire book points to the Heavenly Father.  The focus is always on God; it is always God that gets the glory.  That’s how I know that this book is heaven sent.

Mark points out many prayers he prayed that were not answered like he wanted them to be and some prayers that have yet to be answered at all.  Prayer is not a “name it, claim it” enterprise and it’s not a way that we can get everything we want.  Real prayer opens a channel in us for God to work His mighty acts without violating our free will.  

God is for us.  Always.  He wants to move and to work in our lives and to pour out His great love on us.  Prayer is the way we get into sync with God’s plan (which is always the best plan!) and when done genuinely and consistently amazing things can happen.  Amazing things will happen.

Reading The Circle Maker makes me want to get involved with God’s plan in a way that I’ve never done before.  Since reading it God has filled me with a holy anticipation of what is to come.  I have never been more excited to be a child of God than I am right now.  Read The Circle Maker and prepare to be amazed.

ISBN-13: 978-0310330738

Publisher: Zondervan

Publication date: December 18, 2012 (reprint)

Pages: 226

Alpha Predator : How To Be Victorious Over Life’s Ultimate Adversary And What To Do When You’re Not Book Review

Alpha Predator by Steven R. Taylor

I am very excited to kick off book reviews on with Steven R. Taylor’s book, Alpha Predator: How To Be Victorious Over Life’s Ultimate Adversary And What To Do When You’re Not.  Steve (as I know him) has been a friend of the family for many years and he and my dad have kept in touch even as Steve’s missionary adventures took him to Africa and all over the United States as well.

My dad told me about Alpha Predator even before the idea for this blog was given to me and not to long after was off the ground I realized that I wanted to cover literature that was both inspirational and instructional in matters of faith.  I am an avid reader and as I have gotten closer to God and more interested in strengthening my faith I have begun to seek out books and authors that inspire and challenge me to go farther and deeper in my daily walk with the Lord.

That’s why it’s such an honor and privilege to cover Alpha Predator here on  Not only is the book written by someone I know personally it also happens to be interesting, instructional and real in the type of information it presents.  It’s a very relevant topic that Steve is covering in Alpha Predator and because of his many years as a deep bush missionary in Zimbabwe, Africa, Steve is able to use his real life experience and bring firsthand accounts of adventure, danger and faith in action.

An alpha predator, if you didn’t already know, is the predator that sits at the very top of the food chain.  The alpha predator of the African bush is the lion and it was the Apostle Peter who first compared the lion to our adversary Satan.  It is these very verses from 1 Peter 5:8-11

8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. 9 Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world. 10 But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. 11 To Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.

that Steve uses as the framework for Alpha Predator.

Steve begins his book with an account of a fatal lion attack that occurred very near his home in Zimbabwe one fateful day.  As Steve learned of the circumstances surrounding the vicious attack and fatality he and the neighboring tribesman all agreed that the tragedy could have been avoided had the individual been vigilant, prepared and followed proper instructions on how to live in lion country.

Steve uses this story and others to parallel the Christian walk with his lion experiences and provides instruction and teaching on how to be victorious over Satan in everyday life and how to recover and move on when we fail.  Coming through on every single page is the feeling that Steve has personally lived and experienced exactly what he is teaching and this makes his book all the more compelling for it’s authenticity.  This is a deeply personal work from Steve and you will feel like you know him and have walked in his safari boots by the time you reach the last page.

You will travel with Steve in isolation through the deep bush, across lakes and remote rivers and into villages where the gospel has never before been preached and no Christian has ever gone before.  You will see how God worked in a mighty way to bring salvation to hundreds of souls and how Satan and the forces of darkness opposed Steve and his family almost to the point of death.  And through it all you will glorify God, as Steve did, that we have a God who has dominion over darkness and evil and who is personally interested in our salvation and restoration.

Although it is the alpha predator who gets the title role in the book it is we who are instructed and edified by it and more importantly it is God who gets the glory.  Steve would be the first person to tell you that he is no hero even though some of the stories and deeds in Alpha Predator are indeed the work of a “gospel hero”.  Steve would instead say that he was just a man who followed God’s call and by God’s grace and mighty power was able to overcome the worst our “alpha predator” could bring against him.

To read Steve’s story and to learn more about our “alpha predator” and how to be victorious in life’s battles with evil pick up a copy of Alpha Predator: How To Be Victorious Over Life’s Ultimate Adversary And What To Do When You’re Not from Amazon, Barnes and Noble or other fine booksellers.

ISBN-13: 9780988726109

Publisher: Blood Washed Khaki

Publication date: 12/13/2012

Pages: 234


Book reviews are coming

bookOn Wednesday of this week I will post my first book review for  My subject for that review will be Alpha Predator by Steven R Taylor.

Following Alpha Predator in the coming weeks will be Gary L. Richardson’s Fear is Never Our Friend which as I have already mentioned in a previous post has been a great help and inspiration to me and has really motivated me to change my approach to life.

Thereafter I hope to be able to post at least one new book review per month for  I am passionate about learning and reading and discovering new things and books are one of my most favorite ways to do that.

I look forward to sharing what God is teaching me and showing me through the works of these people of faith and I am certainly open to suggestions for new authors and new works as we move forward.  For now, I leave you with 2 Timothy 2:15 which says “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”