Book Review of Invitation to James

December 3, 2014 at 12:20 pm | Posted in Book Reviews | 1 Comment
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Invitation to JamesSunukjian, Donald R. Invitation to James, Persevering Through Trials to Win the Crown. Wooster, OH: Weaver Book Company, 2014, 123 pp.

This book is part of a series that the author is working on to show how he preaches and practices what he teaches. The series is, Biblical Preaching for the Contemporary Church. The purpose of the series is to offer models of the principles presented in the textbook (p. xi). It is the complement of his work, Invitation to Biblical Preaching.

There is an introduction to the book of James and then fourteen chapters of sermons. There is no bibliography which would have been a nice addition. Knowing the tools he used to prepare his sermons would have been helpful to preachers. The reader has to keep in mind that this is not a commentary but a collection of sermons. When necessary the author uses footnotes.

Sunukjian is trying to show preachers how to make the sermon true to the text while connecting with modern society. Even though the sermons have been edited to fit the book format they were preached to his congregation. Since I have not read his textbook my approach to this was more devotional. With that in view it was a good read.

Every pastor should read or listen to sermons on a regular basis. Pastors have to grow spiritually and sometimes they have a hard time listening to others preach the Word. This book will help fill that void. There were chapters that ministered to me and helped me. One in particular was very timely. My reading approach was more devotional than technical and I was blessed. Had I been looking for something more technical I would have been disappointed.

Students who use his textbook would find this series helpful in practical ways too. They could see how Sunukjian practices what he teaches. It seems it would be a good complement to his textbook. This book will give students a chance to see how a skilled preacher delivers the Word to modern listeners. Balance that thought with the knowledge that there are other skilled preachers who may preach differently.

Overall it was a good read and I would recommend it to other pastors and students. My recommendations would be for different reasons because I see each group differently with different needs. I would be interested to see how he handles topics and characters as well.

I received this book for free from www.crossfocusedreviews.com for reviewing purposes and was not obligated to give a good review.

Book Review of Preaching by Ear

November 23, 2014 at 7:44 pm | Posted in Book Reviews | 1 Comment
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Preaching by Ear

McClellan, Dave with Karen McClellan. Preaching by Ear: Speaking God’s Truth from the Inside Out. Wooster, OH: Weaver Book Company, 2014, 171 pp.

Here is a book on preaching that will make you think about your approach to sermon preparation and delivery. The author writes about his journey as a preacher and how he learned about connecting with the message and connecting with the people in such a way that they can hear and understand what he is saying.

The book is divided into two main parts; 1) Preparing the Preacher and 2) Developing an Orally Based Model of Preaching. Within these two sections are nine chapters. The book also has a prologue, epilogue, bibliography, Scripture index and general index. The author uses footnotes which help the reader look at the source.

McClellan uses and defines the term “preaching by ear” as speaking from personally held, deep convictions in a way that enables our words to unfold in the moment by considering the actural people present with us. We are well-prepared, but we’re not certain exactly how it will come out of our mouths (p. 5).

“Orality” is another term defined and used in the book. One good reason for reading the book will be to learn these terms if you are not familiar with them. Many people preparing for missionary service are probably familiar with “orality” or “storying.” Pastors should know these terms also. Better yet they should understand how to use them and how they can impact their ministries.

McCellan shares his understanding of these terms and how the process developed in his life and ministry. He seems passionate about wanting pastors’ lives to be impacted by the Word so that they live it, feel it, and embrace it. Then they need to know their people so they can connect with them in a believable way.

One interesting thing for me was learning a little more about Aristotle and about someone I never heard of before, Quintilian. I’ll encourage you to get the book and read to learn more about these men and they have impacted communication.

Much of the information in this book I have studied in different forms. I did learn some new things and would encourage pastors to read this book with both an engaged mind and heart. There are truths here that will benefit today’s preachers. I recommend this book to those looking for a new and good book on preaching. I would read it again.

I received this book from www.crossfocusedreviews.com for free and was not required to give a positive review.

Book Review of Persuasive Preaching

November 19, 2014 at 4:36 pm | Posted in Book Reviews | 1 Comment
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Persuasive PreachingOverstreet, R. Larry. Persuasive Preaching: A Biblical and Practical Guide to the Effective Use of Persuasion. Wooster, OH: Weaver Book Company, 2014, 298pp.

Preaching is one of the things that I do as a pastor. In my course of studies I have had classes at the bachelor and master’s levels on homiletics and communication. Most of those courses were many years ago but I have continued to read books that would help me develop as a preacher of God’s Word and communicator with people. When the opportunity came to read and review this book I jumped at it.

The book is divided into four main parts with fourteen chapters. The prologue, epilogue, appendix section and bibliography comprise the book. There are two table of contents; one in brief and one much fuller. That was a good idea. Keep in mind this book is about persuasive preaching and what preacher does not want to be persuasive?

The four main parts are; 1) Issues Facing Persuasive Preaching; 2) Biblical Support for Persuasive Preaching; 3) Structuring Persuasive Messages; and 4) Pertinent Applications in Persuasive Preaching. The appendix section will remind you of Greek grammar class; actually so will other parts of the book. There are sample sermons in the fifth appendix. The bibliography comprises fifteen pages with URL sources.

Chapters 5 and 6 are worth the price of the book. Chapter 5, “A Pauline Theology of Preaching” was very good. That may sound vague, but it will make any preacher stop and think about his approach to preaching. The author gives three questions that need to be answered and then goes on to answering them in detail. I will let you read the book to find out what the questions are.

Chapter 6, “Paul’s Proclamation Exhortations” deals with a preacher’s credibility. The conduct and preparation of a godly minister are covered from 1 Thessalonians and 2 Timothy. This chapter will make a man think and pray. This section should be read by every preacher.

The author uses footnotes instead of endnotes which I appreciate. Overall this book should become required or supplemental reading for those studying preaching. Any pastor who wants a refresher course in persuasive preaching should get this book and learn from it. It is both challenging and encouraging.

I highly recommend this book to any pastor/teacher no matter how long they have been preaching. I am getting ready to take a doctoral class on preaching and I emailed the professor to see if this book could count as supplemental reading. Regardless of whether I can use it as supplemental reading or not, I will encourage the professor and other students to get it and read it.

I received this book for free from www.crossfocusedreviews.com for review and was not required to give a positive endorsement.

Book Review of “The Foundation of Communion with God: The Trinitarian Piety of John Owen

November 8, 2014 at 3:26 pm | Posted in Book Reviews, Doctrine | 1 Comment
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The Foundation of Communion with God

McGraw, Ryan M. The Foundation of Communion with God: The Trinitarian Piety of John Owen. Grand Rapids, MI: Reformation Heritage Books, 2014, 149 pp.

With my schedule it has been quite a while since I have reviewed a book or even wanted to review any books. The title and summary of this book was very intriguing to me so I signed up with just a little hesitation. You see, I’ve tried to read some of John Owen’s works before and could not get through them.

This short book by Ryan McGraw gives us some information on John Owen and the outworking of his faith. It is not a stretch to consider John Owen a hero of the Christian faith. We need books like this one to help introduce this pastor/teachers from the past to new generations.

McGraw’s work covers some subjects that all Christians could stand to learn a little more about; the Trinity and public worship. We get to see through forty-one short chapters a glimpse into Owen’s theology and its practical outworking.

The book starts with acknowledgments and a brief introduction into Owen. Then there are three sections; 1) Knowing God as Triune; 2) Heavenly-Mindednesss and Apostasy and 3) Covenant and Church. The book closes with some suggestions to help the reader learn more about Owen.

If you have ever tried to read some of Owen’s works before you will find this book enjoyable and profitable. As I read I learned some truth and shared it with some people close to me. Now that I have finished the book my wife is going to read it based upon my recommendation to her. I hope that is taken as a high complement for McGraw’s work.

The forty-one short chapters could be added to a person’s devotional reading. As you read through each one you will find gems here that will make you stop and think and pray. There is much we modern readers could learn from the life and theology of John Owen.

I heartily endorse and recommend this book for any Christian. It will help the mature Christian as well as the young Christian grow in their understanding of theology and the outworking of it in their daily life. Many blessings came my way as I read through this work.

I received this book for free as a review copy from www.crossfocusedreviews.com and was not required to give a positive endorsement.

Book Review: God In My Everything

September 18, 2013 at 3:22 pm | Posted in Book Reviews | Leave a comment
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God In My Everything

“God In My Everything” by Ken Shigematsu

I wanted to read this book because of the promotional information about it. It was published by Zondervan in 2013. The book is broken up in five main parts. Then come the Afterword; Appendix; Acknowledgments and Notes. This may just be me but I prefer footnotes to endnotes. I like to be able to look at the reference while on the same page. The book is documented well though I would not read many of the books referenced.

In the appendix the author, Ken Shigematsu, gives his and various other people’s rules for life. These are personal and each person should have rules or values that they live by. They could also be classified disciplines for life.

Now for the book there were parts of it that I liked and found interesting for example Chapter 4: Sabbath. I would agree with Ken that everyone needs to understand the concept and practice of Sabbath rest. Some parts of it though were a stretch and I found myself disagreeing with him.

In Chapter 8: Sex and Spirituality there was the mix of agreeing and disagreeing with Ken. There need to be boundaries for married people. They can easily fall prey to temptation and sin. There was not enough space spent on this area and too much space given to monks and celibacy.

The book presented an odd mix to me as I read it. Borrowing a line from the book; “moving forward by looking backward” I will go back to Chapter 1: Monks, Samurai, and the Christian Life. Here is where my interest started and stopped. There was less information given to the Samurai than to the Monks. Then throughout the book the monks and their lifestyle rules seemed to be the test mark for what was said. There is much more to learn from Bushido also.

One of my biggest concerns with the book is the amount of time given to monks, priests and mystics. This book seems to be more of a spirituality led by emotion than spirituality led by Scripture. I cannot argue with someone’s feelings or experiences. I wish Ken much joy and spiritual fruit in his life.

Overall I would not recommend this book to others unless they were very mature in their faith. I received this book for free from www.crossfocusedreviews.com.

Book Review

December 21, 2012 at 4:08 pm | Posted in Book Reviews | 2 Comments
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RUTH, From Bitter to Sweet by John Currid

This book arrived in a pdf form first and I slowly began going through it while waiting for the book to arrive. I make no apologies for being a book person. I use and like my Kindle and have read other books in pdf form on my laptop but there is nothing like holding a book in your hands. Plus I like to write, underline and high light in my books.

This book was published by EP Books (www.epbooks.org) and came to me from Cross Focused Media (www.crossfocusedmedia.com). When beginning a book I go to the table of contents and the bibliography first. The table of contents reveals that the study will be divided among thirteen chapters. The author sees five main sections to the book of Ruth.

Part 1: Setting the scene (1:1-5)

Part 2: Naomi and her Moabite daughter-in-law (1:6-22)

Part 3: In the fields of Bethlehem (2:1-23)

Part 4: The scene at the threshing floor (3:1-18)

Part 5: Redemption (4:1-22)

The author’s breakdown of the book and outline are pretty good. I was looking forward to getting started. Now my personal complaint is that there is no bibliography and he uses end notes instead of footnotes. I prefer footnotes over endnotes anytime. I was surprised that there was no bibliography. Those are my personal preferences and do not take away from the book.

In each chapter the author takes some Scripture and explains its meaning. Then he closes the chapters with “Points to Ponder.” I like the way he does this. The Points to Ponder are pretty good and the reader will find some truth to apply in their lives.

Overall I liked this commentary. It would make a good gift for your pastor. I am passing it on to our Women’s Sunday School class teacher to look over. I have talked with her about it and asked her to consider using it in her class during the Spring Quarter of 2013. The thirteen chapters lend themselves to being used in a Sunday School class or small group. I would recommend it being used in either situation. Yes, I did ask for the book back when she is finished looking it over. It will go on my shelf for future use.

I received this book for free and was not asked for a favorable review.

Book Review: Missional Moves

December 7, 2012 at 2:28 pm | Posted in Book Reviews | 2 Comments
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Missional Moves by Rob Wegner and Jack Magruder

Missional Moves

This is a part of the Exponential Series of books for the modern church. It is intended to encourage and equip church leaders and others who are serving in their churches. This book contains three main parts and fifteen chapters. Both of the authors serve on the staff of the same church and seem to know each other pretty well.

There is a chapter for endnotes and the authors have done some research but most of it is with modern writers. There is a quote from Roland Allen in chapter 2 and personally I was glad to see it and wish there were more from practitioners like him or from his era to the present. There is a wealth of information available for the reader.

The research is not very deep; academic or based in theology. Most of the book is experiential. There is very little balance here. I am sure the authors mean well, but I would choose building off of Roland Allen rather than Alan Hirsch.

They describe their style as “a quirky mix of metaphors and pictures that they use to help us make sense of all of this.” They close by using an illustration from The Book of Five Rings (yes, I have read the book) and I was surprised to see its use here. I am not sure that I agree with their final closing point, but I will give them credit for trying. A reference to samurai always gets my attention.

Here is the table of contents:

PART 1// PARADIGM SHIFT

Missional Imagination

  1. From Saved Souls to Saved Wholes
  2. From Missions to Mission
  3. From My Tribe to Every Tribe
  4. From OR to AND
  5. From the Center to the Margins

PART 2// CENTRALIZED SHIFT

Local Churches on Mission

  1. From Top Down to Bottom Up
  2. From Diffused to Focused
  3. From Transactional to Transformational Partnerships
  4. From Relief to Development
  5. From Professionals to Full Participation

PART 3// DECENTRALIZED SHIFT

The People of God On Mission

  1. From Formal to Fractal Leadership
  2. From Institution to Movement
  3. From Mega and Multi to Mega, Multi, and Micro
  4. From “We Can Do It; You Can Help” to “You Can Do It; We Can Help”
  5. From Great Commission to Great Completion

Notes

The book will challenge your thinking and in the notes concerning a quote and position in chapter 12 they use the words, “we know this is a massive claim. You’ll need to dig in and decide for yourself.” I appreciate the honesty and there is much that the reader will have to think about and decide for themselves.

Overall I liked Part 1 the best. A lot of what they are saying has been said in other books, but I think they are sincere in wanting to get the “church” to live or act like the “church.” I cannot give this book a favorable recommendation. In the subject of “Mission of God” or “missional” there are better books available for studying and applying. I received this book for free from Cross Focused Reviews and was not obligated to give it a favorable review.

Book Review: A Study Commentary on 1 Kings

November 30, 2012 at 2:53 pm | Posted in Book Reviews | 2 Comments
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A Study Commentary on 1 Kings by John A. Davies

The chance to review this book was quite appealing to me. For one, it was a commentary and they are not usually available to review. Second, it was on a book of the Old Testament that I have read many times and preached some sermons from. Third, I figured I would use it again in the future as I studied or prepared sermons and teaching lessons. So I was looking forward to receiving this commentary.

When I pick up a commentary for the first time I usually look at the table of contents and the bibliography first. Maybe I should say I look at them carefully. Everyone does not start there but that is where I start.

When glancing through the table of contents the reader will notice that every chapter of 1 Kings is covered by its own chapter of study in the commentary. The chapters are studied verse by verse. Definitions and explanations are given to help the student understand the Scripture. The chapters are broken into sections of Scripture. Each section ends with suggested ideas of application.

End notes are used and I am not a big fan of end notes. There are approximately 21 pages of end notes after 1 Kings 22 is covered. The author has certainly done his homework and the reader will benefit from it.

The second thing I look at when considering a study book is the bibliography. This bibliography is approximately 20 pages long. I was quite impressed by the breadth of the author’s research. I am not a scholar, but I am a pastor who is currently working on a doctorate and I appreciate the work that has gone into this volume. The author’s work will benefit the reader.

The following quote is from the preface. “While aimed primarily at pastors and students, the commentary should be of benefit to the general reader who wants to understand better the character of this portion of Scripture — its literary subtlety and surprising theological richness” (p. 9). I do believe this work would be of value to pastors and teachers. It will help them study 1 Kings and complement what may already be in their library.

I do not think the average person who attends church will even pick this book up and look at let alone read it. The subject and the 464 pages would probably frighten them. The only real criticism I have is that my review copy came in pdf form and not an actual book that I could put on my shelf. I do recommend this commentary to pastors and teachers. I received this book for free for review purposes without obligation to give a favorable review.

Book Review: A Study Commentary on 1 Kings

November 30, 2012 at 2:43 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Book Review

November 2, 2012 at 1:23 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments
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 Christ and the Desert Tabernacle by J. V. Fesko

 It has been a while since I’ve blogged or reviewed a book and I wanted to get started with both again. I was intrigued by the title and thought this would be a good book to start with. I have read the Biblical account of the Tabernacle many times before but I’ve  never studied it. So when the book arrived I looked it over and liked what I initially saw.

After picking the time to get started with my reading I made a small pot of El Salvador Teopan Pacamara (www.staufs.com) so I could enjoy two of my favorite things at the same time. The coffee could be a different review for another time. Usually I start looking over a book by going through the table of contents and the bibliography. There are thirteen chapters here and no bibliography. I was a little surprised and looking forward to the read.

The introduction starts the book out well and gives the reader some information on the background of the author and how he came to this study. Then each chapter basically follows the format of a Scripture passage to be read; an introduction to the part of the Tabernacle; an explanation or description of the part; how it applies to us and a conclusion.

Each chapter contains a lot of Scripture references and I am grateful for that. This was a refreshing difference from many recently published books. After reading the book you come away with the thought of knowing what Fesko believes about the Tabernacle. The author even motivated me to pull a couple of other books on the Tabernacle off my bookshelf and read them and compare them to his.

I guess that is the best praise or endorsement I can give this book. Reading it encouraged me to know more about the Tabernacle. The author obviously has a high view of Scripture and its authority in our lives. He also has a balanced view of the typology and symbolism here and how to interpret it through the lens of the New Testament.

With thirteen chapters this book could be used as an adult Sunday School study or small group study. A good teacher would find it user friendly and be able to develop discussion questions for their group study.

I am passing this book on to some individuals in my church so they can read it, learn from it and enjoy it. I would recommend this book for pastors and teachers. I received this book for free from Cross Focused Reviews (www.crossfocusedmedia.com) and was not obligated to give a favorable review.

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