Bio

Welcome! (receive chapters of my book as I write them, or just check out my most-often-used book for meditation here)

First, some housekeeping for those with a keen sense of direction:

Online articles (Desiring God, etc.), click here to check them out.

FootnotesClick here to read my academic work.

Blog: Blog.

Philosophy classGotcha covered.

A Little About Me

My name is Paul Maxwell. I hail from Hyde Park, New York. My life was directionless (like teenagers do) until I went to Moody Bible Institute to study biblical languages at 18. Then I got my M.Div. at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia (If you want to live in Philadelphia, never move there from Chicago). Last (and certainly not least), I’m here in Chicago (again), getting my PhD in systematic theology with Kevin Vanhoozer and teaching philosophy at my alma mater, Moody Bible Institute.

I recently quit school, took an amazing job, quit that job in order to return to school because I learned a valuable lesson, and here I am, 27 and back in school, working and writing and doing the things that I love.

My life still feels rather directionless—blessings and cursings, joys and tragedies, deep feels and numb hazes, feeling okay and feeling like the world is going to end, these things come from day to day. Sometimes from moment to moment. But God continues to be here—wrestling, caring, performing surgery, asking me to trust him, coming through even when I don’t. That’s the Christian life, and it is my life. And I am so completely confused by this life that I try as hard as I can to figure out bits and pieces here and there. I’m starting to realize I’ll never have the full picture.

My interests include psychology, theology, and the Christian life. More specifically, I am currently working in the areas of psychology and theology, trauma studies, doctrine of God, and the relationship between the Old and New Testament (specifically, the mechanics of the use of the Old Testament in the New).

Fan of Chris Nolan. Anxious evangelical. More than anything, my primary energy is spent wrestling with the God who fights for my life—in sin, suffering, and sanctification. Life is difficult, and God gets that, and has talked a lot about it, and has blessed me with the opportunity to think a lot about that both personally and professionally.

You can follow me on twitter (@paulcmaxwell), or email me at paulcmaxwell@gmail.com.

P. S. (If you’re poor stop reading at this point [kidding: definitely keep reading]) I had an awesome job that paid lots of money, and I left it because I felt God’s strong call to finish my Ph.D. in theology and teach. So, if you are a fellow starving graduate student like me, I salute you: let’s get Chipotle post-grandma’s-christmas-money sometime. If you are itching to give to a good cause (or if you are a Nigerian prince looking for a bank account to store his millions), I’m currently living project-to-project and spending all of my money on rent and tuition, so it would mean the world for you to consider helping me to breathe and write simultaneously for long periods of time.

Donations help me to write more for internet venues such as desiring God on difficult issues like divorce, depression, suicide, spiritual darkness, addiction, and trauma (and all the other happy things). (I am about to release 12-hours of devotional podcast material and 6 books in the next few months, so any donations also go towards expediting that — I count it an honor and my source of duty to be in the ranks with every single sufferer in the kingdom)

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46 Comments

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  1. John Grunditz, Calvary Memorial Church, Mpls October 20, 2014 — 10:30 am

    I appreciated your article on “The Epidemic of Male Body Hatred” on the Desiring God blog. I agreed with your points but had an interesting observation from my own life. Last year I had cancer which through surgery, we seemed to have gotten. In the process my wife helped set a much better eating plan into action. I am 64 and have pastored 36 years (and counting). Like most I work way too many hours, eat poorly and don’t exercise. This caught up with me. However a side benefit of eating right is that I lost about 25+ pounds. I was reasonable thin, but in losing the weight my clothes fit and I feel so much better and this has impacted so much of my life. I know many/most pastors are in this same boat and I was surprised and what a difference the health/weight loss made.
    Thanks for your article.
    John

  2. Your article dealing with younger men needing older men was good. Now you need to encourage younger men to seek out, to include the older men. As the senior guy in our church I never get invited to the things the younger guys are involved in. I enjoy the same things they do but I’m never included.

    • Hey David,

      That is definitely the other side of the coin. And you are right. That needs to be addressed. If younger guys aren’t seeking out older guys to be mentored (and they always should be, for their own good), they have no place to say anything.

      I’m sorry that’s the dynamic in your situation. I will pray that it changes. That’s too bad, and those younger guys are missing out on your wisdom!

    • David, just a brief interjection. I have come to realize that it often takes us to OFFER for them to include us. The perception and often the separation is that they believe we have not interest or time for them. Also, perhaps find one to mentor and create an event or outing that would allow you to invite them. Just my thoughts to be included in my son (25) and stepsons (24) lives.

  3. Hey Paul,

    Just read your article on men and laziness really hit home in a tremendous way. I can see those patterns reflected in my own life and how the grace of God works in and through those shortcomings. Needed to hear this really felt the Holy Spirit moving in my heart and life as I read. Could not come at a better time my wife is full term with out first kid. Just started my MDiv as well. I struggle with one of the forms you mentioned almost daily. Thank you for your words and encouragement! Miss TIU greatly got my undergrad there and played football there. Maybe I will run into you at homecoming.

  4. Hi! I just wanted to say thank you for the lazy boys article. That’s my life right now, and you’ve written the article I needed. I plan on re-reading it a lot. I’m at the end of my MA studies to become a high school teacher, and I have to give classes now. All these new responsibilities are making me go through these exact cycles again and again… Anyway, thanks again. A brother from Hungary

  5. Hi.Really like this new layout of the site. Very crisp.
    I read everything you post on Desiring God (from Canada nonetheless); you are in touch with what being a (younger) Christian in 2015 is like. The journey IS hard, but we serve a very mighty Master. Please keep on writing, your words matter greatly.

  6. Great article on cycles. You could certainly expand on each of those in a subsequent series of posts. Tie each article to a follow-up article on practicing theology to fight that specific cycle. Then, build out any leftover ideas in an addendum post. Finally, publish it all as a short e-book. It’s great material at this point, and surely not every great article needs to become a book (even a short one), but this does🙂 Personally, I see many parallels between Tripp and Lane’s “How people change” and how this article could become something like, “How men change,” or “How men get sanctified.” No matter what, again, great article. Thanks for sharing it.

  7. Great posts…. Can not Wait to Read more….I will email you soon….Thanks again…

  8. I thank you for this article on laziness.
    I was discussing with my husband today, and he told me the only thing he dislikes in me is the way I’m lazy. It’s not the first time.
    Here in Africa, you can easily afford a housemaid. Since we got married, everywhere we go, I will still try to get a househelp for I do not really want to do anything.
    And now, I feel this laziness as a heavy burden. I was comfortable with that. When he expresses himself about me being lazy, I’ll just tell him: “I told you I was, so you were conscious when you choose me as wife.” Mercy, Lord, have mercy.
    I’m so blessed with your message, and this statement deeply touched me: “Laziness is not the passivity it pretends to be. It is active obedience to something other than Jesus Christ. ”
    I do read my Bible, but I must confess even in my relation with God, I’m still lazy. Caring for my children, it’s always with this spirit.
    This is a cry of a woman who really needs prayers.
    Be blessed in your ministry.
    A cameroonian lady from Senegal

  9. Thank you for your efforts and passion put into the article on laziness. It was encouraging and I look forward to living with this in mind! Also, thanks for the practical step. I got the book and am excited to read it!

  10. Carlos Marquina March 29, 2015 — 4:58 pm

    Hey Paul,
    I just finished reading a couple of articles on laziness on DesiringGod, and they were very timely, as this is something I am taking a more realistic view on. I was curious though, if you would clarify a bit more on the place of hobbies in a [lazy] young man’s life. I have the suspicion that my unique point of view is what’s maybe causing me to miss the point of what you are saying on this topic. in both articles, I can see the point you are making on how obsessions with hobbies can ultimately derail a young man from real, selfless, and meaningful work… But what do healthy “hobby habits” look, sound, and feel like?

    My unique point of view is one of someone recovering from a crippling relapse of depression. For a too long, all ever I wanted to do was wallow in self-pity (specifically: cry in bed). None of the hobbies that were entertaining to me were effective in pulling me out from the state of an emotional sloth. After hitting rock bottom, I began taking this condition seriously, and partnering up with a great Christian psychologist, I discovered that the hobbies ended up being a good coping skill.

    Is there a risk of hobbies becoming unhealthy for me in the future? After reading your articles, I now say YES. So how can this be prevented? What is a healthy amount of frequency and dedication?

    Thanks for your insight, Paul. Your articles are a blessing to me.🙂

    -Carlos

  11. Hi Paul,

    I love this bio! How I wish the honesty expressed here would be emulated. I also appreciate the holistic nature of your research topics. Moody Bible to WTS, eh? Sounds like my same kind of trajectory.

  12. This morning I read your contribution to Desiring God. http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/when-your-twenties-are-darker-than-you-expected.

    Funny – how the content is geared to the twenty-somethings and how it resonated with me at fifty-six. There are a number of “devotional” types I read in the morning & prior to this one, I’d stop to ask God to focus my thoughts as they struggled to break free of the words and mess about with work, the dog, going for a walk – anything – everything, other than the words on the page. Sometimes it’s the “thees” and the “thous” that fetch me up.

    Your words found the mark and my thoughts found the focus and I know, I know, I know –

    From the end of the earth I will cry to You,
    When my heart is overwhelmed;
    Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.

    Thanks.

  13. Paul, I was so encouraged by your article “When Your Twenties Are Darker Than You Expected.” Thank you for your honesty.

  14. Just read your article “A single person’s good desire for sex”. Awesome job on it, loved every point you made. It gave me a clearer understanding on that verse, which I never fully understood. I think so many people in my culture/community just get married to whomever in order to not “burn with passion”, but they end up suffering in marriage because they rushed. Anyways I love your writings, keep it up!

  15. Hi Paul,
    Have a question for you.. If what we practice as Christians is unconditional love, how come our criteria for choosing a spouse is so selfish? They have to be kind, not have anger issues and all, HOTT…
    So maybe not hot, but the moment you find out the person has some serious character flaws the he/she is no longer ‘good christian’ material for marriage.
    I’d like to know what you think.
    Thanks.
    Amy

  16. Hello Paul,

    I just read your article on divorce, and its effects on children. I really appreciated it, and really identified with so much of what you said. I’m a double divorce kid and I know my childhood experiences shaped who I am today. I’m nearly 50 years old, but I still feel the effects of the fallout of my parents (all of them!) – anger, fear, lack of confidence, God-doubt, bouts of sadness, etc. By God’s grace, however, I have been freed from so much of the pain and suffering of my childhood, but I know I have far to go – I’ve been walking with Jesus for 22 years, and I’m amazed at how much I still fall back into the old me. The good news is, the Lord brought me an amazing husband (19 years married), who patiently loves and serves me, as well as a wonderful body of believing friends who accept me as I am. The first time I read Psalm 27, I wept like a baby (“when my mother and father forsake me, then the Lord will take care of me”). Also Ephesians 1:9 – I am accepted in the Beloved. These verses do not cease to amaze and comfort me. It is so comforting to know that no matter how much loss or disappointment we experience in this life, our Lord will never leave us nor forsake us. Thanks again for your encouraging article. lw

  17. An amazing article “What Gossip Says about God” the timing of its discovery was a blessing to me. I am thankful for you sharing. My son is preparing to Graduate from Andover Newton Theological School – his commitment to this course of learning has given me great hope for the future. Keep sharing.

  18. Mr. Maxwell, I just finished reading your reconciliation piece on the TGC app. I am deeply moved and edified by your thorough discussion of the hard topic of reconciliation. I am a 60 year old believer that was raised in a very legalistic, dysfuncional minister’s home. I have forgiven, but reconcilation has not come as of yet. In my growing up years and even into adulthood, forgiveness and reconciliation were taught as one in the same. Your words were a comfort and affirmation to my heart. Thank you.

  19. Thank you for words on reconciliation. .just what I needed to read. .. Because of trust, for one, I am not ready. You gave me the words I couldn’t find. Blessings to you🙂

  20. Just read your article on desiringgod this morning. Wanted to let you know your writing is always encouraging. You have your finger on the touchstone of struggles both young and old. Hope God blesses you with encouragement as you encourage others. Much love.

  21. You might have just changed a life. I can’t say saved, that is for my Jesus. But changed, although appropriate, still doesn’t seem enough. So, thank you. I am grateful. I am relieved. I am looking forward to every ounce of healing this article on heart grenades will eventually lead to. I’ve already read it twice. I’m guessing, given the shock factor and all, that another ten at least, will be necessary! God has used you in a great way. Well done.

  22. Thankyou that your writings help me to hang on when i can only clinging on the Lord without knowing what to do next rite now. Which i’m in the directionless, bad mood, good mood, numb, blank, ..well pretty much life like where you said you are. Just do the same routines and learn to follow and obey Him one at a time. I think i’m in God’s waiting room 😸. Thank you.

  23. Paul, thanks for putting your writings on here for us to be blessed by. Where do you attend church?

  24. Thank you for the article about the dark twenties. I need that sort of reminding and encouraging, and validation that I am not alone in that darkness.

  25. thank you for the article about sons and daughters of divorce, I needed that. I am struggling and it was very much a little boost that I needed to get back up.

  26. Hi Paul. Just read your article on Desiring God about being stuck in a spiritual rut. That is exactly my situation right now. Thanks for putting into writing the thoughts and insights about escaping such situation for us Christians. I’ve been feeling tired and unsure about my life and that of my young family, overly critical of Sunday worship in church, doubtful of God’s love and plans for me, which has drove me not to talk to Him aka prayer life. I just feel so hopeless about my situation but reading your thoughts and the 6 points you have mentioned just gave me a glimmer of hope that He is faithful and just to take me out of this ditch. Thanks for your writings, God bless.

  27. Thanks for the article on dating with a sexual history. I was fortunate to meet a godly man many years after my first marriage. Before we married I told him that I would give him details on my sexual history. After thinking about it for awhile he told me that anything that happened before we met was past history and he did not need to know. Blessed to have married him over twenty years ago.

  28. You have a wonderful way of expression through words. I read a few of your articles on Twitter, (Desireingod.org) then landed on your blog. Gods timing is perfect! Always in a state of confusion over my spirituality and to read your article, helped clarify the “Crazy” haze I drift through some days searching for Christ and answers to what he has dealt me. Thank you for your great works, I needed them in this moment. May the Lord continue to bless you and lite the path he has laid for you to continue your good works, through his name. Amen!

  29. Came across one of your articles in Desiring God. Just want to encourage you to keep up the Gospel-centered writing.. Good job!

  30. Read two of your articles on desiring God. They were awesome. Down to earth, relatable and honest. Great job!

  31. Just stumbled across your work for the first time today after reading ‘Holy Tursday’. Deeply challenged and enriched. Look forward to more of your work.

  32. Hi Paul,
    Your article on gossiping was fantastic, you are very gifted. Keep sharing your God-given wisdom!

  33. Thanks for writing ‘Did God Betray You?’ I keep going back to it in this season of fighting to believe God’s kindness, care, and love. The honest, brutal, head-on, truthful dealing with gritty, ugly reality had been so helpful and has reminded me of truth and hope in ways that are invaluable. Thanks.

  34. Paul—enjoyed your thoughts on “Life of Lazy Boys.” It’s a good first step of understanding. I think you need a part two with specific tactics, for one of the pains of lazy boys is a lack of actionable planning. Sometimes we just need a small push, a simple comment, a necessary quote, and a paradigm shift can occur. Other times we need significant mentoring—which seems to be all but gone from life today. Our lives are filled with negative accountabilities that strangle the life out of us. Positive Accountability is the call of the proverbs—as well as where the majority of good leadership lessons come from. Thanks for fighting the good fight. Let me know when you’re ready for a great cup of coffee. Cheers.

    PS—do you know know your specific personality blend with the DISC Model of Human Behavior?

  35. Hey! I just wanted to say I love your work I only just stumbled upon your article on cynicism and I could not believe what I was reading, I was just wrestling w God about my rebelliousness towards new ideas and you described word for word what I realized about my own cynicism and how it separated me from Gods love. it was incredibly intuitive and insightful. I can now go back to it and read it and remind myself the mechanics of it because you did I great job at diving into such a murky subject that is hard to understand. Thank you

  36. Got here from a Desiring God article. Love your writing, it ministers to my heart. Thank you and God bless you!

  37. Thank you for your article “Real Men Love Strong Women.” A friend and I were just talking at dinner tonight about the struggle of being single in today’s culture and pursuing our desires to be strong, fearless women in the Lord, yet also remaining “feminine,” not intimidating men or diminishing their God-given call to be masculine in their pursuit of women in relationships. I have heard men put down strong women, which is very discouraging to me and to a lot of women who are seeking after godly strength. I think John Piper summed it up very well in saying, “Weak theology makes weak women.”🙂 Thanks again for a very helpful article!

  38. I appreciate your writing, Paul. At one point, I thought I was the only “millenial” Christian in existence. And then, when I realized the fault in that logic, the only SINGLE “millenial” in existence. Thank you for touching on important topics that speak to those of us “in between”.

    Best from a fellow former Hudson Valley-ite,
    Corinne

  39. Thank you for providing solutions in the articles you write. Too often, people will talk about an issue they see or a concern they have without giving any relief for it (e.g. the political stage, world causes, etc.). You introduce a topic, raise questions that hit squarely between the eyes, and then answer those questions in a biblical fashion, using Scripture in a practical way to enforce your point. I appreciate that, and I’m fairly certain that others benefit from it as well.

  40. As a recently dumped (nearly) 27 year old bible college student i have to say accidentally stubbleing upon your articles brought me more relief in 10 minutes than a month of hard searching. The dark twenties and dumped one’s in particular were painfully honest and helpful.

  41. Hello Paul,

    I just want to thank you for writing this article (http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/let-the-stepchildren-come-to-me)… Praise God for through the article, I gleaned that the Lord, who created the universe, is the same Lord who truly knows what each of His children is going through. He’s not just the God who oversees evwrything from Heaven, but He’s also the God who cuts through one’s heart with His Word. (Had an aha! moment after reading it through)

    Oftentimes, I feel that God might have forgotten me, or He does not know what I am going through because I can’t hear anything from Him. This article is a reminder that He knows and understands, even more than I will ever do.

    Thanks again! May God continue to bless you to bless other people through your writing.

    Blessings,
    Marielle

  42. I stumbled upon one of your articles earlier this week. I enjoyed reading your pieces, “Real Men Love Strong Women” and “Things it’s OK to Feel When You’re Single.” I especially was glad to read the latter piece, since I think many articles for singles are written by people who are already married and that one was written by someone in that “season of life.” The one about gossip was convicting as well. You definitely have a gift for writing! (I admit, after reading some of the articles, I was surprised to see your bio and find out that your were only in your twenties! I’m always glad to read fellow twenty-somethings/millennials’ pieces about how God is working in their lives.) I pray that God continues to guide you in your endeavors, even if your life may seem “directionless” now. Thanks for sharing your musings and reminders about God’s character with the public. Have fun writing!

    Rachel

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