Books Read For April

For Beckwith we need to hold a balance in respect to politics. Politics is not everything, but neither is it nothing. It has its place. That is why Christians need to be informed of the laws and statutes of our land and discerning as to when they need to or should get involved.

I think this is a valuable book for those seriously interested in politics. It has some wonderful insights, simply lays out the various areas of study in politics and succinctly discusses the major issues. Finally, it points you to further study.

Recommended.

Evangelism requires words, but as the authors point out, words can be cheap. No, evangelism, interaction with people, requires more than words – it requires a commitment to get involved. It requires an investment of time, energy and compassion. It requires the willingness not just to open a can of worms, but to help be involved in its clearing up. It involves learning to get into friendships with people for the long haul.

If the church exhibited more of the characteristic of friendship at the margins we would have a revolution on our hands. It will also shake up our schedules. Recommended.

Cordeiro has produced a book that should be on the book shelf of every seminary student and pastor. Knowing how to manage yourself and the demands of ministry is so important. Knowing what God has called you to do and to live intentionally in that calling; willing to delegate and assign tasks that others can do and when to take time out, and away, to be with the God and to seek him. What are your priorities in the limited hours of a day and how you must make time for family and yourself.

Wayne Cordeiro knows first hand what happens when you lead on empty!

Highly Recommended.

Stott is a scholar of the highest order and his commentaries are first class. Yet what makes them different is that all of Stott’s commentaries can be used as devotional tools, and this is very useful. Technical Commentaries are great and needed (and I have many) but when preparing for Bible Studies where there is lots of engagement, Stott’s commentaries are invaluable. Mixed in with the scholarship is the heart of a preacher / evangelist and this gives the commentary real practical teeth. To spend a month or so going through Acts with this commentary by your side would be a wonderful devotional study.

Highly Recommended.

The first serious biography of John Stott since Timothy Dudley-Smith’s comprehensive two volume work. Roger Steer has done a good job in revealing to us Stott.  Of course, this is one volume and so the events are truncated and the major events of Stott’s life and ministry and not developed as fully as they might have been if there was more space. One of the draw backs of the size of the book is that some of the transitions are a little too abrupt, causing you to reluctantly move on, but leaving you wishing for some more inofrmation.

Over all a good biography which I enjoyed.

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The Message of Acts: The Spirit, the Church, and the World by John Stott

Our Men’s Breakfast Bible Study has just finished studying the book of Acts. We started it 7 months ago, and we meet every week. After we eat breakfast, each study is around 45/50 mins long, including questions and discussion. My boss and I (along with Jon our Music Director) have team taught. One of the many commentaries I used was John Stott’s, The Message of Acts. This is really a first class commentary and I will give you just two reasons. First, Stott is able to summarize succinctly  what other commentators take pages to explain. I used other commentaries in the preparation of the 14 studies I gave on Acts (including David Peterson’s excellent work), and there was never a time when another commentary said something that Stott had not already mentioned And of course Stott is wonderfully biblical in how he handles the text. Secondly, all of Stott’s commentaries can be used as devotional tools, and this is very useful. Technical Commentaries are great and needed (and I have many) but when preparing for Bible Studies where there is lots of engagement, Stott’s commentaries are invaluable. Mixed in with the scholarship is the heart of a preacher / evangelist and this gives the commentary real practical teeth. To spend a month or so going through Acts with this commentary by your side would be a wonderful devotional study.

Highly Recommended.

New Book: Church Planting Is For Wimps by Mike McKinley

This looks like a very interesting book. Here is a great snippet to wet your appeitite!

” When my former pastor from Capitol Hill Baptist, Mark Dever, called one morning and asked me to meet him that day on the seminary campus, I felt reluctant. I was happy to meet with Mark, but doing so meant staying late at work. It also meant skipping my fifteen-minute afternoon nap, which was often the only thing lying between me and the abyss. But Mark has boundary issues and a way of getting what he wants, so later that day I chugged a jumbo-sized cup of gas station coffee and slumped down on a bench outside the seminary library, waiting for him to arrive.

When he did, we started with a few moments of chitchat, but he turned to business pretty quickly. Capitol Hill Baptist was growing out of its meeting space, he said, and the cost of making significant renovations to their old building was exorbitant. The elders of the church had decided to implement a strategy to plant churches in the surrounding suburbs. Mark was here to float a trial balloon: would I be interested in returning to DC after seminary to be CHBC’s guinea pig church planter?

I would eventually say yes, of course. Mark is a made man in the Reformed Mafia. He has a giant Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals logo tattooed on his back. He has J. I. Packer’s home phone number in his contact list under “Jim P.” You don’t say no to a guy like this.”

Leading On Empty: Refilling Your Tank and Renewing Your Passion by Wayne Cordeiro

80 percent believe that pastoral ministry affects their families negatively. 33 percent say that being in ministry is an outright hazard to their family. 75 percent report they’ve had a significant stress-related crisis at least once in their ministry. 50 percent feel unable to meet the needs of the job.

90 percent feel they’re inadequately trained to cope with ministry demands. • 25 percent of pastors’ wives see their husband’s work schedule as a source of conflict. • Those in ministry are equally likely to have their marriage end in divorce as general church members. • The clergy has the second highest divorce rate among all professions. • 80 percent of pastors say they have insufficient time with their spouse. • 56 percent of pastors’ wives say that they have no close friends. • 45 percent of pastors’ wives say the greatest danger to them and their family is physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual burnout. • 52 percent of pastors say they and their spouses believe that being in pastoral ministry is hazardous to their family’s well-being and health. • 45.5 percent of pastors say that they’ve experienced depression or burnout to the extent that they needed to take a leave of absence from ministry. • 70 percent do not have someone they consider a close friend.

Such are the statistics which Wayne Cordeiro quotes near the beginning of his book. Statistics which are both, simultaneously frightening and not surprising. Pastoral ministry is a privilege, honor and a blessing, but it is also tough. It is demanding. And, unless ministers are wise and aware, it can destroy us, and our families.

Cordeiro himself came close to being destroyed by ministry. His own journey through burnout, depression and ‘leading on empty’ is the foundation of this book.

Cordeiro has produced a book that should be on the book shelf of every seminary student and pastor. Knowing how to manage yourself and the demands of ministry is so important. Knowing what God has called you to do and to live intentionally in that calling; willing to delegate and assign tasks that others can do and when to take time out, and away, to be with God and to seek him. What are your priorities in the limited hours of a day and how you must make time for family and yourself.

There is some wonderful wisdom in this book; wisdom we as ministers should chew on:.

A leader’s greatest asset is not necessarily time. It is energy. A person with energy can accomplish more in four hours than another would in four days.

[My] Number One [priority] Is My Daily Devotions.

Steward your energy well, and in seasons of dismay, you will still have enough of a reservoir to lead.

Healthy marriages require intentionality and planned investment. So will your waistline, your family, your ministry, your faith, and your emotional health. The Scriptures exhort us to “run in such a way that you may win” (1 Corinthians 9:24). It is not automatic.

I thoroughly recommend this work.

A Volcano – Travel Disruption – Great Missionaries of the Past Turning In Their Grave…

I confess. I sinned. I chuckled at the scenes of people delayed and getting angry because of the shut down of the airports across Europe. I did not chuckle because I was happy to see people disrupted. Not at all. I chuckled because of the expectation we have today that traveling thousands of miles SHOULD be easy and that delays are called ‘hardships’.

I thought about the missionaries of the past. Those men and women who traveled across oceans, and uncultivated land without planes, or SUV’s, or All Terrain Hummers! Those who went into deepest Africa, like Livingstone; or who crossed the Atlantic Ocean in the 18th Century like Whitefield and Wesley. Delays, uncertainty, high possibility of death from storms or disease where their constant companion. Even Paul the Apostle in Acts 27-28 travels from Israel to Rome and is shipwrecked and has to spend 3 months on Malta (now that’s a delay!). And this was a man who had traveled 3500 miles by sea.

Our modern culture has made this assumption that to travel thousands of miles should be simple and easy – and fortunately a lot of the time it is easy. But really, a few days, a week, 10 days delay is no big deal when compared to the real problems of the world. Those who have been inconvenienced and stranded should rejoice that they have probably ate better and slept more comfortably in their delay than the majority of men, women and children do each day of their life around the world.

A little perspective. A little reflection. A Volcano; some travel disruption; people will get home and  life will go on.

Can A Church Be To Big?

Carl Trueman thinks so. A very thought provoking point…

OK, it’s been some years since I’ve beaten this drum, but this really did highlight for me once again the manifold problems and shortcomings of the megaconference with the megapastors phenomenon. Such are inspiring and encouraging shots in the arm for those working hard in struggling churches; but the pastor of a church with, say, 1000 or more people has almost nothing of any practical usefulness to say to the session at a church like mine vis a vi day-to-day shepherding. It’s a just a different scale of operation, when you cannot know all your people by name, and have a team and a budget to keep everything running.

This is not a criticism; there is no `biblical’ norm for church size (though I do think, as a rule of thumb, if the pastor can’t remember every member’s name, it might be time to think of splitting and planting); but it is to say that pastors of very large churches are actually of inversely proportional use to the wider church simply because the world in which they live is not the world in which the vast majority of pastors, elders, deacons, members and adherents exist; and the specific questions big church pastors, and solutions they can offer, are often of an entirely different order. So here’s an appeal: let’s organise some big conferences where all the speakers are pastoring churches of three hundred people or less. It may well be that the lectures and Q and As prove less inspirational but far more useful to normal churches and pastors in ordinary circumstances.

Taken from Reformation 21 Blog