Saturday, July 31, 2010

CrossTalk Michael Emlet

Yet another from the CCEF stable. The book is subtitled "Where life and Scripture Meet." And that is really what it is about - how to take the Word and rightly apply it to the lives of men and women that we counsel. The book is hammering out the historical redemptive approach to the Scripture. The author is keen that we don't just use the usual familiar texts but that we learn how to use the narrative portions as well. The eleven chapters are well peppered with practical examples, if not templates showing how to press the Word into people's lives in a life changing way.
Once more this an excellent book not only to have on your counselling bookshelf but to have read and taken in. To help on the intake - each chapter ends with a good selection of questions which a well thought out. I found the book helpful in applying the Scripture to my own life and how to apply it to others - both in preaching and counselling.

The Trellis and the Vine, Marshall & Payne

I had read some rave reviews of this book and so when I spotted it at the International Conference I decided to lighten Tom's van for the return journey home. The book lived up to the publicity hype. At the start I thought - not much new here - but the author's have that way of sucking you in and then wham I was caught. So much so that I sat engrossed in it for the entire two hour journey back on the boat last night. It is about ministry in the church. The basic premise is that if we do one man ministry in the church the wheels will come off or the church simply won't grow as she should. It is really down to a II Timothy 2v2 approach - training others to make disciples How I wish I had read this 20 years ago when training for the ministry. I kept thinking that this book could have so many provocative sub titles - why Go teams produce so little fruit, why RP church plants struggle, why RP congregations plateau out at 60 people, why reformed churches have ministerial casualties, why we are not getting the men we need in the ministry, why established congregations spend so much energy on keeping the structures of the past in place. If any of these sub title strike a chord - read and buy. You will not agree with all that these guys say - but you certainly will be challenged, perhaps humbled and hopefully changed

The Holiness of God R.C. Sproul

I had been keeping this for my holiday read. I wanted something to prime the pump of my daily devotions, something to stir me when I was tired and weary. This little classic didn't let me down. Eleven chapters of clear and concise Biblical teaching on the holiness of God and how this touches down in our lives. I was pleasantly surprised by how easy this was to read. Each chapter carefully crafted and climaxing in a corker of a chapter on holy space and holy time. It is one of those books that deserves a second read with a highlighter pen just to really take in some of Sproul's mind capturing one liners.
Each chapter concludes with 5 or 6 appropriately stimulating questions which would be useful not only for person study but also for group discussion.
I was glad to find that this book was so good because I bought a box full on the recommendation of a friend. If you would like a copy - I am happy to pass one (a book and not a box) on to you the next time we meet - just ask.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

God in the Wasteland - David Wells

If you have a head on your shoulders at all you will realize that the church in many places is in big trouble. One committed Christian man said to me recently about his church, which is packed to over flowing each week - "it is a mile wide and an inch deep." David Wells would not be long in explaining why to my friend.
The author is in a league of his own when assessing where the church is at today. With intricate and careful research David Wells pieces together the factors that have shaped and honed the church of today. Granted that he is primarily speaking of the situation in the US. But it is not too difficult to transplant his thesis to the church this side of the shuck.
This book was assigned reading at RTC back in the early 90s. Having revisited it 20 years on I benefited even more this time round. Well's desire is the the church be what God intended her to be. "I want the church to be an alternative to post modern culture, not a mere echo of it."
In a day and age when the church is losing her way big time pastors need to sit up and read this book if they are to be God's men for reform.
Just another quote to whet your appetite "Churches imagine that the less they ask or expect of believers, the more popular they will become and the more contented the worshippers will be. The reverse is true."
It is not a read for the sun or a bedtime browse. But if you can hide away the warnings and grapple with some of the diagnosis - you may well be God's agent of reform in your church, or at least a plug in a crumbling wall.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Seeing with New Eyes David Polinson

Another classic from the CCEF stable. This masterpiece by leading CCEF counselor David Powlinson does what it says on the page - seeing with new eyes. His book divides into two basic sections. The first ties 6 chapters together under the theme "Scripture opens Blind Eyes." A number of these are basic exegesis and application of Scripture passages. The latter section of the book, comprises 9 chapters under the theme of "reinterpreting life." In this section Powlinson deals with many of the unbiblical counseling ideas that many Christians have imbibed.
Any one wishing to develop more pastoral counseling into their preaching should read the first section and anyone wishing to help people out of the fog of much modern day counseling should read the second section. That means it's a must for anyone in pastoral ministry.