Power in the Pulpit by Jerry Vines & Jim Shaddix

Power in the Pulpit is a textbook on expository preaching. It is comprehensive in its scope yet practical and accessible. It is a must-read for preachers who love the Truth and a desire to keep God’s Word the focus of their preaching ministry. After all, if it isn’t God’s Word, it isn’t preaching.

The book comes in three parts:

1. The Preparation for Exposition – This section deals with the definition and philosophy of expository preaching as well as the development of the preacher.
2. The Process of Exposition – This section gives practical instruction for studying the text and organizing the sermon.
3. The Presentation of the Exposition – This section equips the preacher for effective sermon delivery.

Power in the Pulpit is a classic on expository preaching. It is deeply challenging, yet it encourages the preacher to the monumental task of preaching. It is an exaltation of God’s Word. It is a challenge to God’s servant. It will change the way your approach sermon preparation and delivery.

Advertisements

Book Review: How To Break Up With Your Phone by Catherine Price

The alarm bells are blaring. People are beginning to realize that we have run down a path without knowing where the path leads. Even people within the digital media industry are stepping out and calling for us to pause, step back and consider where these new technologies lead. What do they do to us as individuals? How do they impact societies?

Catherine Price sums it up nicely in her introduction:

The problem isn’t smartphones themselves. The problem is our relationship with them. Smartphones have infiltrated our lives so quickly and so thoroughly that we have never stopped to think about what we actually want our relationships with them to look like—or what effects these relationships might have on our lives.

The consumer may have run blindly into our present relationship with smartphones and other digital technology. But, as Price notes, the creators of these technologies had an end in mind. They were not creating a product, but a platform, a marketplace of sorts. In this digital marketplace, the consumer would feel like the customer but would, in fact, be the product. Your attention is the product and advertisers are the true customers.

This concise book is an excellent starting point for anyone who is uncomfortable with their present relationship with their smartphone or other digital media. It comes in two parts: the wake-up and the breakup.

In the wake-up, Price presents the facts of how digital technologies are designed for addiction. They wire our brains for distraction and prohibit focus. They kill our attention span, mess with our memory, and steal our sleep.

…if you wanted to invent a device that could retire our minds, if you wanted to create a society of people who were perpetually distracted, isolated, and overtired, if you wanted to weaken our memories and damage our capacity for focus and deep thought, if you wanted to reduce empathy, encourage self-absorption, and redraw the lines of social etiquette, you’d likely end up with a smartphone.

In the breakup, Price provided practical advice on how we can take back ownership of our relationship with our smartphones and other digital media. This section is full of tips and tricks that you can implement immediately that will improve your “digital hygiene.” This section of the book encourages us to pause and ask, “What do I want to pay attention to?”

As Kingfishers Catch Fire by Eugene Peterson

“Sixty years ago I found myself distracted,” Peterson writes. “A chasm had developed between the way I was preaching from the pulpit and my deepest convictions on what it meant to be a pastor.”

This was the beginning of Peterson’s journey to live, preach, and teach a life of congruence; no more separation between Sunday religion and daily living.

As Kingfishers Catch Fire is a collection of forty-nine sermons Peterson first preached at Christ Our King Presbyterian Church during nearly 30 years as their pastor (1962 – 1991). The sermons are divided into seven groups of seven.

  • Preaching in the company of Moses (Law)
  • Preaching in the company of David (Psalms)
  • Preaching in the company of Isaiah (Prophets)
  • Preaching in the company of Solomon (Wisdom Literature)
  • Preaching in the company of Peter (Gospels)
  • Preaching in the company of Paul (Epistles)
  • Preaching in the company of John (Johannine Literature)

The result is a collection of sermons or teachings that brings God’s Word into our daily lives to inform how we should, and by God’s grace can, live.

There is no doubt that Peterson is an excellence writer. His familiarity with the Bible is evident. He is a masterful storyteller. He paints pictures of everyday life lived in a real world on a canvas of God’s Word.

I would recommend this book primarily to pastors and preachers. Even though it is a book of sermons, it will probably challenge you personally more than it will become a mine for material. As always, the book should be read prayerfully and thoughtfully.

*I received a free review copy from bloggingforbooks.com in exchange for my personal, unbiased review.

Book Review: What Radical Husbands Do by Regi Campbell

Let’s face it guys, we never want to feel incompetent concerning anything we do. In fact, when we are not good at something, we often ignore it to focus on our areas of expertise. Perhaps this is a reason some men struggle in their marriages? How many among us can say we have mastered the art of winning, and keeping, our wife’s heart?

However, marriage is not a hobby or our latest business idea. We cannot afford to focus our attention elsewhere when our marriage is less than what it should be. We have to be intentional; even radical.

Regi Campbell’s book provides more than a strategy. It offers very practical advice which comes from real-life experience. This book was born out of a broken marriage restored. And regardless of where your marriage is today, there is hope for a happy and healthy future if you become a radical husband.

This is a short book and easy to read. It is full of practical advice that is immediately actionable. I would rate this book three stars out of five if I was only considering the quality of writing and publication. However, due to the content, I would highly recommend for all men who desire a better marriage.

Book Review – The Art of Pastoring by David Hansen

Ministry Without All The Answers

I enjoy reading books that go against the natural grain of my personality. They challenge me and give me a fresh perspective. For me, this was one of those books. My personality is very analytical, process driven, and task-oriented. Most books on pastoral ministry fit well with what my personality naturally gravitates to as they deal with the process and programs to grow a church or the principles of leadership to lead a congregation. This book, however, deals with the heart of pastoral ministry.

The focus of the book is not what a pastor does so much as what a pastor is. It is relational. It is practical, although it doesn’t give you ten steps or an outline. It is about being, not about doing. This is a side of pastoral ministry, I would dare say, we all need to pay more attention to; for our sake and for the sake of our family and the precious people we pastor.

I will leave you with a few quotes that I thought especially notable and a recommendation to read the book if you desire to have the heart of a pastor. [Buy the book on Amazon.]

The pastoral ministry is a life, not a technology.

My life as a pastor is far more than the sum of the tasks that I carry out. It is a call from God that involves my whole life.

Task-driven ministry elevates the method above the Spirit. It subjugates our life with Christ to management technologies. Our day is divided into hours and tasks rather than opportunities to do God’s will. The problem is that when I fine-tune my week I am out of harmony with the kingdom of God.

The pastoral ministry cannot be employer-driven, trend-driven, or task-driven. Pastoral ministry must be following Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ called me to this work, and following Him must be integral to realizing His calling.

Jesus understood from the beginning that His was a life of sacrifice. His life flowed toward the cross at all times. He never climbed ladders of success. The devil showed Him plenty. The people begged Him to climb. But Jesus rejected ladders and consistently chose the downward road to sacrifice.

Review: The Apache Wars

The Apache Wars: The Hunt for Geronimo, The Apache Kid, and the Captive Boy Who Started the Longest War in American History

It appears that the length of the title and subtitle of a book is directly correlated to how long it will take me to read the book. I have been working on this one for months. Not because it is poorly written; for the history enthusiast it is thrilling. Perhaps the length is partly to blame as it is four hundred plus pages. Let’s blame my busy schedule and bad habit of starting twenty-three books at a time.

Paul Hutton is considered one of the great scholars of western Americana and he writes with great knowledge and detail. He brings every story to life on the pages. This is the story of the Apache’s long fight against Mexico and the United States with a focus on several of the major players. You certainly did not learn it all in history class.

If you enjoy American history, you will enjoy this book. If you enjoy tales of bravery, you will enjoy this book. If you enjoy the quest to understand the deep ironies of history and how they always seem to repeat themselves, you will enjoy this book.

Happy Reading!

Book Review: Reaching Millennials by David Stark

In Reaching Millennials: Proven Methods for Engaging a Younger Generation, David Stark writes from his personal experience in church leadership and church consulting alongside information and statistics from interviews and research. His writing is easy to read and the book is brief.

I struggle with a good bit of Stark’s conclusions in this book. While I believe that Stark is correct in writing that outreach to millennials requires a change in some thinking patterns, I do not believe that churches should change to fully accommodate any particular demographic. There should be a clear distinction between message and method. The message never changes. And the methods that the church uses to proclaim the message should represent a balance of tradition and relevance that meets the needs of a particular community.

I am undecided whether I would recommend Reaching Millennials. While Stark shares some important thoughts and statistics, his approach seems like it could further encourage the entitlement of millennials. Church leaders could learn from Reaching Millennials, but should not forgo Biblical tradition, firm doctrine, and the interests of other demographics.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.