Monday, October 18, 2010

The Reformed Pastor - Richard Baxter

Each year after the RP minister's conference I try to make a list of things that need seeing to in my life and ministry. One of the points on this year's list was to read again this classic.
I first read this abridged version of the Reformed Pastor nearly twenty years ago when training for the ministry. It is 125 pages of absolute gold dust. It is Baxter's exposition of Acts 20v28 "Take heed therefore unto yourselves." The book has three main sections: oversight of ourselves; oversight of the flock and a third section of pure application. The first two sections each have three subsections: nature, manner and motives re oversight. Every page is littered with sentences worthy of the highlighter pen. Obviously it is primarily for the pastor but since Baxter took time to include a preface for the "lay reader" it is a book designed to be a blessing to all of the people of God. If the Lord spares me to labour on in the ministry for 20 more years I hope to have read this 20 more times. Any man training for the ministry must track this down and read it and reread it until it becomes the warp and woof of your life.
Ps - on the look out for one of these trendy preaching caps and trying to work on the facial hair!

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Depression - the stubborn Darkness Ed. Welch

Whether you are someone who suffers from depression, has someone in your family under this dark cloud or are involved in counselling and pastoring, this classic of Ed Welch's is a must. The book is set out in four parts: Depression is suffering; Listening to depression; Other help and advice and Thinking God's thoughts. Welch's approach is Biblical and therefore balanced. As a counsellor of many years the author is obviously drawing on a host of experiences to flesh out the theory. As a teacher committed to the Scripture the writer is making it clear that the answer is not in the pills alone, but much deeper, in having the Word of God shape every corner of the mind.
This book will not only help someone trapped in the spiral of depression and those helping others but will also serve as an inoculation against this debilitating condition.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

God's passion for His Glory - John Piper

This book has the appropriate sub title, "living the vision of Jonathan Edwards." In this book Piper is introducing the reader to Edward's classic "The end for which God created the world." This book is really Piper explaining why he thinks the way that he does regarding the glory of God and the joy we all need.
The book divides neatly into two - the first half is Piper's summary of Edward's book with lots of helpful hints on how to read the latter half of the book with profit. The second half is Edward's masterpiece itself. Piper does a super job in breaking up the text of Edward's book into short readable sections and also inserts some explanations to assist the reader getting in to the groove of Edwards style. Most readers will have no difficulty reading Piper's half of the book, and there is much there to glean. The second half, i.e. Edwards book, is much more of a challenge. The first half of "The end for which God created the world" is quite philosophical and I have to confess that much went over my wee head. But the second part of Edward's book is by and large quotations from the Scripture which I hope went into me head. If you read it and grasp it all be sure to send me a summary. As I struggled with the paragraphs I plodded on remembering what Piper says early in the book - if you are just reading books that you understand you will never learn anything. To learn and grow it is better to be grappling with things just out of reach.
Any young men out there thinking of the ministry who haven't read any Edwards - it is time that you did. If I could wind the clock back 30 years I would give myself to reading Edwards day and daily. All his works are now available online. If you don't want squinty eyes the Yale volumes are now available in paperback. Though there does seem to me something a bit odd about reading such a heavy weight in paperback.