Interview With The Founder & Editor Of Grace Gems!

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 know 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 have a very liberal “copyright policy” which essentially allows
anyone to use anything they like — in any way they desire.

Everything 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 virtual bookshelves or drop them an email at  pilgrim@gracegems.org

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About Matthew Blair

Sinner saved by grace.
This entry was posted in devotions, interview and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Interview With The Founder & Editor Of Grace Gems!

  1. Erik says:

    Matthew,

    Thank you so much for doing this interview and giving us readers an inside view into this incredible website. Just like you with your Octavius Winslow site, I too have benefited immensely from these digital writings on J.C. Ryle Quotes.

    Grace Gems is to be commended for their labor of love these many years as they have blessed the universal body of Christ with so much rich, Christ-centered devotional material.

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