Saturday, January 26, 2013

Work Matters

One of the most common pastoral issues that pastors face is seeking to counsel people who are struggling with their work.  Many who are in work suffer the Sunday evening blues and those out of paid work wishing they had the Sunday evening blues.  Many have a sense of dissatisfaction and frustration in work and have a disjointed view of work.  This 2011 publication from Crossway publishers from the pen of Tom Nelson will both equip the pastor to counsel and counsel those who need counselled.  The basic premise of this book is that we need to be able to reconnect what is happening in our lives on the Lord's day and what we do the other six. As you would expect this Christian book on work starts at the start ie Genesis showing why we work and why it is so frustrating. Each of the ten chapters are well thought through and applied.  There is much here that will encourage any believer in their work place.  My only criticism is that although the writer roots our work in the character of God a fuller covenantal view of work is rather lacking.  That said this is a very useful book.  It would be a great book for group discussion.  Much here too for the pastor wanting to do some teaching on work.  The big challenge that I found was teaching people that what they do in their work is valuable and important and not to speak in a way that gives the impression that the only work that is important is the life of the church.  Nelson is basically saying that our daily work is to be an extension of all that we are as the people of God.

Monday, January 14, 2013

What do you think of me?

This volume by Ed Welch has the sub title, Why do I care? As the title and sub title suggest this is a book designed for the young. But this "not so young" minister found it challenging because let's face it we can care too much what others think no matter what our age. Like much of the material published by CCEF staff it is published by New Growth Press. After two introductory chapters identifying the problem and then a further six on getting to the reason why peoples lives are lived looking for approval Welch then plots a path out of the maze by studying who God is, who we are and who everyone else is.  This is a superb book that will help counselling those struggling with peer pressure, low self esteem, co dependency etc. it is designed to be an interactive study though to be honest a briefer accompanying study booklet might be more beneficial.  This book has all the thorough Biblical exegesis and careful pastoral direction that we have come to expect from Ed Welch. A super read and well worth it's place on your counselling shelf.

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

No dummies in the pulpit please

Jesus cried out is not about the agonising cry of the Lord from the cross but how He preached.  John gives a summary of His preaching in John 12v44-50 and he begins that summary with this profound statement.  His preaching was filled with passion, with emotion, with heart as well as head.  He wasn't simply delivering a message from God but did so in a manner that was in keeping with solemn, serious, eternally weighted message that He was proclaiming.
In the course of preparing to preach I listen to a multitude of preachers and am increasingly surprised at how many can have all the content but appear to be missing any emotion.  I have preached 1000s of times now myself and I have to say with Baxter of old, "I marvel how I can preach slightly and coldly, how I can let men alone in their sins."
Bruce Milne in his commentary on John writes with wisdom and great balance on this matter, "Preachers with cold hearts will never warm and awaken the consciences of their hearers....False emotionalism and unrealistic dramatization of the message do not honour God and tend only to alienate non Christians further.  But there is a true engagement of the heart in preaching... which is stamped with sincerity and which is an authentic reflection of the heart of the God whose gospel we proclaim.  God is looking today for preachers who, like His Son, will cry out."