Every Preacher Needs This Book

12 12 2017

9780802495440_p0_v2_s550x406“Ouch…Charlie that really hurt!”  That was taken from a very popular YouTube video from several years back, but that is how I felt in the opening chapters of this tremendous read from Jerry Vines and Jim Shaddix entitled Power in the Pulpit:  How to Prepare and Deliver Expository Sermons Revised Edition published by Moody.  I found myself hurting only through conviction as I was reminded of what expository preaching entailed and what was expected of me, the preacher.  This work which actually began in the heart of Jerry Vine’s two books, A Practical Guide to Sermon Preparation and A Guide to Effective Sermon Delivery, was originally published as Power in the Pulpit in 1999 after Jim Shaddix was asked to revise and update Vine’s two books.

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Dr. Jerry Vines

The authors do not just dive into the nuts and bolts of sermon preparation, but rather spend a great deal of time setting a foundation in their section entitled The Preparation for Exposition.  It hurt because I’m reminded of the great responsibility upon my shoulders when I am God’s chosen representative given the task of present the very Word of God each week to those who listen.  They reminded me of the necessity of the Spirit of God for this to truly take place.  I found myself convicted and praying more for Sunday.

To add insult to injury these guys then have the audacity to put a chapter in their book

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Dr. Jim Shaddix

which tells me that I need to “give attention to issues like personal worship, character and integrity, dependence on the Holy Spirit, intellectual development, physical fitness, good study habits, and healthy role models.”  Actually this chapter is worth purchasing the book.  I especially found myself convicted on the discussion of the Holy Spirit’s anointing and how a preacher might pursue it.

From there these two authors, who are known for their own capabilities in the pulpit, lay out the nuts and bolts of sermon preparation.  This book is filled with so much information that at times I felt myself overloaded at times.  This is a book that I will have to return to time and again.  For the next year this book is going to be close to my desk as I seek to sharpen my knife of preaching.  From studying the text to the organization of the sermon itself, the authors allow us to look at the process of exposition from every angle.  In this process it is clear that the authors have a high view of the text and a desire to keep it front and center in the exposition process.

The authors have a whole section on the actual presentation of the sermon and leads the reader down so much material to think and consider.  There is even a section on protecting your voice and was written from the personal experience of author Jerry Vines who struggled with a vocal nodule in his ministry.  The reader is able to benefit from the time that Vines himself spent studying the subject of voice and how to be best steward the voice that God has given us to use.  There is nothing left out on the section on the presentation as the reader is taught to hold the attention of his hearer and best convey the message that God has given him through his time of study and preparation.

This is one of the most thorough books on the preparation and delivery of expository sermons that I have read.  It is written by two men who are not only are masters themselves in this arena but have influenced some of the best preachers of our day.  Though I never sat in a class taught by either of this men, I will be at their feet learning for a long time to come.  I’m thankful to have had the opportunity to read and review this book.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of this review.

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The Spurgeon Study Bible

1 12 2017
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Pictures are from B & H Website

There is value in studying a specific pastor or theologian-to read everything that he has written and to study his life.  For John Piper it was Jonathan Edwards.  For Jonathan Edwards it was David Brainerd.  For the man who loves C. H. Spurgeon and wants to get to know him as you read God’s Word, then this Bible is for you.  Because of my own personal love for Charles Spurgeon, I jumped at the chance to review this new Bible that is being published by B & H Publishing in the CSB translation.

One of the characteristics of Spurgeon that I always loved about him was that he was real and transparent about his loves and struggles in life.  Though he was a tremendous preacher and leader, he battled depression and discouragement.  Alistair Begg, Senior Pastor of Parkside Church in Cleveland, Ohio, and the editor of this study Bible, has penned a well written short biography of Spurgeon at the beginning.

At the bottom of every page you are able to read quotes from Spurgeon’s sermons and 9781586409715.in01works so that as you read the Scripture, you are able to see what the Prince of Preachers had to say about that passage.  You are literally taken back to Spurgeon’s day on some of the pages because the publisher has printed some of those notes in the very handwriting of Spurgeon himself.  To top it off this Bible gives you a taste of some of the lost sermons of Spurgeon that have been found and included in the book The Lost Sermons of C.H. Spurgeon:  His Earliest Outlines and Sermons Between 1851 and 1854 also published by B & H.  In this Bible you can actually read these sermon notes in Spurgeon’s own handwriting.

9781586409753.in02As far as the CSB Bible is concerned, I have found it easy to read.  I absolutely love the font and size of the letters.  It is easy on the eyes of this man who doesn’t see like he once did.

If you are a lover of C.H. Spurgeon then this Bible needs to be on your shelf.  If you have not been introduced to Spurgeon this Bible needs to be your shelf for you will find in this Bible a good understanding of this preacher who made such an impact in his day and who continues to impact the preaching of preachers in our time.

I was given a copy of this Bible by B & H Publishing for an honest review.

 





Ladies, Buy this Bible!

2 11 2017

9781433648199.Front02I’m a guy and I’m reviewing this Bible.  I’m doing it because I heard the founders of She Reads Truth on a podcast and these ladies caught my ear in what they are trying to accomplish with their ministry.  (The introductory remarks by Raechel Myers and Amanda Bible Williams are inspiring)  I’m doing it because when this Bible was first released it flew off the shelves and was difficult to buy.  I’m doing it because I was able to lay my hands on a few copies and gave it to our seniors as a parting graduating gift at the church I pastor and they loved it.  What is so special about this Bible?  Well let me tell you my thoughts.

First, I love how these ladies give a small primer on how to read the Bible.  Every Bible needs this.  We need to be reminded that we are not reading the Bible for reading sake but rather we are reading it to apply it and to become doers of it.  Their approach to the Word of God is worshipful and life changing.   They follow this up with a wonderful well thought gospel message.  This is a great way to lead up to the Scriptures for the redeemed heart is fertile soul for the Word of God.

This Bible is built for studying the Bible.  The writers have carefully looked at each book and have printed a key verse written with great style and beauty by one of 15 artist.  This thing looks girly.  The book introduction pages are color coded by genre.  The layout gives you plenty of room to take notes.  You have well written devotionals that are placed with the coinciding Scripture so that when you are reading through your Bible plan, you have devotional thoughts to bring you even more into the story.  Your Bible plan is at the beginning of each chapter with “Going Deeper” passages at the side of each one.  You have maps, charts, and timelines perfectly placed in the sections where you need them the most for personal Bible study.  Yes, the tools in this Bible do nothing but enhance your reading of the Word of God.

Now I understand why these Bibles flew off of the shelves.  Now I get why my wife has already taken over my copy of this Bible.  All I can say is that I need to get me a Bible cover so that nobody can see the “She” on the outside cover and study on.  The CSB is already coming out with more manly study Bibles like the Spurgeon Study Bible.  Perhaps that one will make me grunt just a bit.

I was given a copy of this Bible in exchange for an honest review.  I honestly loved it!





Why should you bring your kids to Sunday School?

1 11 2017

At the church that I pastor we still have age appropriate Sunday School classes every Sunday morning prior to our worship service.  It is something that our discipleship team works extremely hard on each year in getting teachers and material.  Sundays come on the weekends though and some parents find it difficult to get up and give that extra time.  Why should you do it?

You do it because they have a class that is targeted to their age.  It will be a place where they will meet friends and have a teacher that will pray for them, teach them, and love them.  I read somewhere that if you come to church a little earlier with your child that it will equal to over 800 hours of additional Christian teaching before they graduate and children-sunday-schoolleave your home. 800 hours!  Did you hear that?  800 hours!  If the Word of God is true and I believe that it is where Psalm 119:11 says,  “I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you,” it means that your child says 800 hours of the Word poured into them because you got up early.

You do it because that teacher has spent considerable time preparing the lesson for them.  There is nothing more discouraging to a teacher than to spend time in preparation and then have hardly anyone show up.  They have spent time not only in Bible study but in prayer preparing for that time when the kids enter the room.  Nothing says I love my child’s teacher like you having them there for the study.

It just sends the right message to your kids when you bring them to Sunday School and you stay with them.  It shows your children that you believe the Bible is the authority in your own life.  At our church when your child is in class you too have an opportunity to go to class.  There have been plenty of times in my own experience when the truth I needed to hear for that day came in the Sunday School lesson, not the sermon.

There have been too many people that I’ve known in life that look back to a faithful Sunday School teacher as one of the most influential people in their lives.  That can’t happen unless you make the effort to get your child there.  Hope to see you this Sunday!

 





Danger! This book will influence your view of the church’s role in missions.

1 11 2017

414jle6C0AL._SX351_BO1,204,203,200_How can a church accomplish the mission given to us by Jesus Christ and do it in a way that would pleasing to God and be more than just a punching off of a checklist?  That is the question that is answered in Missions:  How the Local Church Goes Global.

 

Missions:  How the Local Church Goes Global is part of 9Marks Building Healthy Churches Series and is written by Andy Johnson, Associate Pastor of Capital Hill Baptist Church in Washington D.C.   In this book Johnson gives us some insightful and practical guidelines for having a Biblical mission’s ministry in our local churches.

 

The forward by David Platt is just about worth the purchase of the book.  In this book you will find the author beginning first with the Word of God as it speaks to missions.  The author has a deep sense of the glory of God and a love for the gospel and it comes out on the pages of this book. This book is very much gospel centered.

 

The author addresses the question of how a church can do missions well.  What do we need to look for in a missionary that we partner well?  How can we be a help and not a harm to those we partner with?  How can we involve more of our congregation in personally being involved in the missions ministry?  How can we avoid the pitfalls that some churches find themselves in partnering with missionaries? What does a healthy partnership look like?  Those are the questions that are addressed in the heart of this book and practical advice is given.

 

Probably one of the most helpful parts of the book that I intend to refer back to is chapter 6 on reforming short-term missions.  Not only does he speak to what a short term mission trip should be so that it is helpful, but he also gives ten points that a participant should consider when going on such a trip.  This should be given to every participant to read before he or she agrees to go on such a trip.  It has made me relook at my own personal short term mission trips.

 

This book is a short read that is filled with practical truth.  It challenged me to think how I have done missions.  It challenged me to allow the gospel to infect everything that we do as a church.  It needs to be on the shelf of every pastor as a resource to help keep his ministry in missions on track.  I’m thankful to have it on mine.

 

I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.  I was glad to do that.





Will you die knowing your life counted? Review of The Last Arrow: Save Nothing for the Next Life by Erwin Raphael McManus

27 10 2017

9781601429537When I leave this world, I want to leave a hole in it from where my life counted.  I want to be missed.  I want people to come to my funeral because in some way I touched their life.  I want to know that my life counted.  That is why The Last Arrow:  Save Nothing for the Next Life, written by Erwin Rachael McManus, resonated with me.  This book is a combination of personal stories experienced by the author with sound teaching.  It is about making your life count and how that is accomplished.

McManus is the pastor of Mosaic, the community of faith in Los Angeles, and is probably best known for his book The Barbarian Way.  His books have sold over a million copies worldwide and he is a nationally sought after speaker.  I heard him speak many years ago at a Promise Keepers meeting for men.

The premise of this book comes from the Old Testament story in 2 Kings 13 where King Jehoash, the King of Israel, goes before the dying prophet Elisha after his kingdom has been threatened by Amaziah, King of Judah.  You will need to read the Scripture to get the whole story, but when Jehoash is told to take the arrows in his quiver and strike the ground, he only strikes the ground three times.  This angers the prophet who desired for the king to strike the ground five to six times because by striking it only three times only partial victory was assured.  The prophet felt as if the king left something on the table.  He felt the king settled for less.

McManus feels that this translates to us as Christians in that we too leave things unfinished and never rise to our full potential.  He states that we should die with our quivers empty because we have given our all in this life.

Ironically McManus goes back into the life of the prophet Elisha himself to prove what a life of striking the last arrow looks like.  Perhaps that is why Elisha is so angry at the king for only striking his arrows three times.  The books takes you from the calling of the prophet Elisha, through his life, to his death, and to after he has died.  It catalogs what made the prophet Elisha so effective that even after his death, he made a difference.

Throughout his teaching McManus introduces us to some extraordinary people that are scattered all over the world.  He weaves their lives with the example of the prophet to teach us how we can live such a life.  The author also tells personal stories of his own adventures including recently being diagnosed with cancer himself.

The book is 224 pages but easily read.  It has a great flow to it and the stories keep you reading wanting more.  I found myself stopping only to take time to tweet out a quote taken from the book.  There are plenty of tweetable quotes.

My overall impression of the book is that this is a powerful book that could be a game changer in the life of a reader.  It is challenging.  Probably my favorite two chapters were chapter 7 entitled “Stand Your Ground” and chapter 8 entitled “Find Your People.”  I will go back to those chapters time and again.   The price of the book is $22.99 which seems a little high but that is why we have book discounter sites for right?  I had just a few moments in the book where my personal theology cringed just a bit but overall it was sound.   If you want to do some heart work in your own life, then pick up this book today.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.





Review of Portraits of a Pastor, Jason K. Allen, General Editor

19 10 2017

When Thom Rainer says in the introduction of a book that it would be “pastoral malpractice to not read” a book, you read it.  That book that he is referring to is Portraits 9780802416346of a Pastor:  The 9 Essential Roles of a Church Leader, edited by Jason K. Allen and published by Moody Publishers.  Jason K. Allen is the president of Midwestern Baptist Seminary where he has served since 2012. In bringing nine ministry leaders together to write individual essays in this book, he answers the questions of what a pastor is to be and do.

The first chapter was written by Jared C. Wilson, who holds several titles and responsibilities for Midwestern Baptist Seminary.  He challenges the pastor to take up his role as a shepherd.  I found the chapter challenging and comforting.  Challenging in that he lays out in this chapter what a shepherd does and pretty much says that if you are not doing these things you’re not just a poor shepherd, but you’re not a shepherd.  It is encouraging in that he reminds us that our righteousness is in Christ Jesus and not in ourselves.  That was a blessed thought to me as sometimes I deal with insecurity in my own life.

Chapter 2 was penned by Daniel L. Akin, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary since 2004 and Professor of Theology and Christian Preaching since 1999.  He was given the task of speaking into the pastor’s heart concerning his role as husband and father.  Akin grabs your heart when he poses this question on p. 40 of the book:  “Are you committed to making your wife a success, not in man’s eyes, but in God’s?  Have you determined that if you only shepherd one person in your entire ministry, it will be your wife?  Then your children?  Do you understand that shepherding begins in the home?”  I like that he just doesn’t diagnose the problem, but he gives you practical steps to shepherd your family well.  This was a very practical chapter.

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Jason K Allen

Jason K Allen himself tackles the third essay in this book; his subject is the pastor as preacher.  Although an entire book could be and has been written on this subject, he tackles this subject.  He argues that preaching the Word is best done through biblical exposition, preaching where the sermon is driven by the text.  Because this is such an exhaustive subject, I found myself wanting to hear more in this essay, but still he gives several tidbits of truth for you to chew on.

Owen D. Strachan is the Associate Professor of Christian Theology at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and the author of many books; his essay topic was the pastor as theologian.  He begins his essay asking where the pastor fits in modern America?  He points out that there are so many cultural tugs at the pastor to be something other than what God has called him to be.  To do that he believes the pastor must be a theologian who finds the true source of his pastoral power in these days.  Strachan takes the pastor back to his calling and all that truly entails: to the gospel and the joy to proclaim Christ no matter the cost and to God’s sovereignty, which will sustain the pastor when the gospel takes him into the lion’s den.  Strachan finishes out his chapter with application for pastors to follow who wish to be faithful theologians.  This essay made me stop, reread, and meditate as he showed how necessary this part of being a pastor truly is.

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Christian T. George

When I got to the fifth essay in this book written by Christian T. George on the pastor as church historian, I started reading it wondering why this even made the book.  Church history, as I recall it, was nothing more than a bunch of dates and names to remember.  George sucked me right in to his chapter, and I began repenting of my previous thoughts.  His essay is full of tweet worthy quotes such as, “Church history comes to life when we realize that we are the history of tomorrow” or “Every pastor must become a church historian because he is part of the history he is studying.”  Honestly this one chapter has made me want to pull out some biographies that have been collecting dust on my bookshelf or bring out Spurgeon’s sermons once again when I’m studying a particular text.  This essay is worth reading the book.

 

John Mark Yeats believes that it is time for a “significant conversation” to take place about pastors taking up their role as lead evangelists in their churches.  Yes, the title of this essay is the Pastor as Evangelist.  Serving as Dean of Midwestern College and Associate Professor of Church History at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and College, Yeats believes that church needs to turn from its “come and see” mentality and take up what the Great Commission in Matthew 28:18-20, Divine Mandate in Acts 1:6-8, and the Great Sending in Matthew 10 teach: all believers clearly need to go.  The rest of this chapter has Yeats giving some practical ways to make evangelism great again in the local church.  His contention is that the pastor should not only take the lead in this but should build an army of people with the same passion.  Though this was not an exhaustive piece on evangelism, it was enough to cause you to go and dig in other places.

In the chapter entitled Pastor as Missionary, Jason G. Duesing answers the question as to whether the title missionary fits the work of the pastor as described in Acts 6:4 where the twelve saw their duty as focusing on prayer and preaching.  Should the pastor add the title of missionary to his duties or could that be an outworking of the duties to which he is already focused on?  Duesing is the the academic Provost and Associate Professor of Historical Theology at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary & College.  I will let you read the book to find his answer (it’s the latter).  One of my favorite parts of his essay was his instruction on how to answer the critic who questions whether we should practice global mission efforts when there are many lost people so close to home.  As a pastor I get this question quite a bit.  I appreciate his reasons why we should.  Overall this was once again a thought provoking chapter that would do well for pastors to read and consider.

Ronnie W. Floyd most certainly knows how to lead.  He has successfully led Cross

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Ronnie T Floyd

Church in Northwest Arkansas since 1986, lead the largest protestant denomination for two years as the President of the Southern Baptist Convention, and has recently been chosen as the President of the National Day of Prayer.  For those reasons he was given the task of writing the essay entitled Pastor as Leader.  In this chapter he talks about the brand of the pastor which is the gospel.  He gives this vital advice, “You cannot let other people and what they say about you define. you.  If you do, you will live a long and miserable life.”  He then spends the rest of his chapter giving you seven solid pieces of advice that every pastor would do well to heed.

 

“Not every man of God is a pastor, but every pastor must be a man of God.”  That is how Donald S. Whitney, Professor of Biblical Spirituality and Associate Dean at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and founder and president of The Center for Biblical Spirituality, started his essay entitled:  Pastor as Man of of God.  After showing that “Man of God” is an appropriate title for the pastor, he argues why the pastor should fulfill that title by actually becoming a man of God in practice.  Taking from his years of meditating on this subject of how a person can grow in godliness, having authored the popular Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian LifeWhitney gives some very practical advice to the pastor as to how he can most faithfully be a man of God himself.  Nobody, in my opinion, is more qualified to speak on this subject and Whitney doesn’t fail to deliver.

No, this is not an exhaustive book on pastoring, but it does give you enough truth with each essay to meditate on and perhaps pursue further.  This is the kind of book that a pastor should keep around and read again from time to time just to keep him on course.  My book is filled with highlighted sections that I will return to and meditate upon.  With that being said, this is a book worthy of the pastor’s library.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of this review.