Tags: Colossians, commentary, cross focused reviews, Sufficiency of Christ
Christ All Sufficient, An Exposition of Colossians by Brian G. Hedges
This is a new work, published in 2016 to add to the list of commentaries on Colossians. The author is the pastor of a local church and writes with that perspective in mind. As you read through the commentary you will see that this author is also a scholar.
Even though in the introduction Hedges claims that this is not a technical commentary, he says that he has benefited from the scholarship of others (pp. 15-16). He makes good use of endnotes and gives the reader a very good Selected Bibliography. The bibliography will give you an idea of some good commentaries to buy and use.
The outline will help students of Colossians as they study through the book. The theme of Christ being all sufficient for the believer is upheld throughout its pages. It is easy to read, understand and apply the truth from its pages.
Reading through the commentary you will find a textual approach with insight into the meaning of what is being said and how it applies. It’s almost as if you are reading his sermons on Colossians. That is a good thing.
Pastors will find this a good addition to their libraries because it will offer a practical balance to technical, scholarly works. I personally benefited from it and wish I had it in my library while I was preaching through the book of Colossians.
I received this book for free for review purposes from http://www.crossfocusedreviews.com and was not required to give a favorable review. I give the book four stars out of five. Buy a copy for yourself and buy one for your pastor.
Tags: making disciples, rediscovering discipleship
Book Review of
Gallaty, Robby. Rediscovering Discipleship. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan. 2015, 238 pp.
Here is a book about a subject that has been around longer than most of us realize. Most Christians have heard about discipleship. The problem is they may have never been discipled. This book can help Christians know what discipleship is; where it comes from; and get practical ideas on how to get this ministry going in their lives and churches.
Two main sections and thirteen chapters comprise the body of the book. The author uses endnotes instead of footnotes. I was surprised at the number of references in a book on this subject. A lot of research went into this book. It is not just a testimonial on how discipleship has helped the author.
The first section, “Know the Man Before You Go On Mission” gives the reader background information on discipleship. We learn how making disciples was practiced, developed and was forgotten over time. This is an interesting section that pastors and church leaders will benefit from reading.
The second section, “The Method of Making Disciples” helps the reader with practical advice and examples. While moving through this section I hope most readers will be thinking that they can do this. There is no guilt here for those not involved in making disciples. But there is plenty of encouragement and motivation to not only be a disciple but to make disciples.
This is an easy book to read and come away with feeling good about making disciples. It is well worth the time for pastors, leaders and teachers to read and practice. A Biblical ministry method is laid out for the readers to learn and apply. The practice of making disciples will revolutionize any church.
I received this book for free from www.crossfocusedreviews.com for review purposes. I was not required to give a favorable review.
Tags: evangelicals adrift book review, Matthew E. Ferris, review of sacramentalism
Ferris, Matthew E. Evangelicals Adrift: Supplanting Scripture with Sacramentalism. published by Great Writing; 2015, 248pp.
This is a challenging book to read, not simply because of its subject but also because of the research compiled within its pages. There are multiple citations from different scholarly works. I truly appreciate the use of footnotes instead of endnotes. This makes my reading and checking quotations easier.
The author presents a high view of Scripture over and above tradition or creeds. He does not bash Catholics or those who hold to a high view of sacramentalism. He simply presents these views in the light of Scripture.
The author presents the views of many people from different times in history. He asks that the reader look at these views in the light of Scripture. Famous people from Church history are quoted and the views they hold are looked into through the lens of Scripture.
There are ten chapters, an index of modern authors, a bibliography and a subject index. Almost every page contains footnotes. This is a book that could be used as a reference tool for further study. This book is not one sided in its approach because the author admits that “the book is not an apology for Protestantism” (p. 24).
Personally, I appreciate the work that Matthew Ferris has done for this book. I learned a lot that I did not previously know or paid attention too. In the future I can see this work being an interesting reference work to consult. I wish we examined every tradition, creed or sacrament in the light of Scripture.
This book is not for everyone, but if you want to read an in depth study of sacramentalism in the light of Scripture it will be worth your time and money.
Tags: book review, pastoral ministry, preparing for ministry, the secrect life of a pastor
The Secret Life of a Pastor by Michael A. Milton
I did not know if I wanted to take the time to read and review this book. It seems to be written for young men preparing for pastoral ministry. It is a collection of letters written by the author to his seminary students. In the introduction the author states he has “sought to address things that are real in the life of pastors.” He does just that.
The twenty short chapters cover various aspects of pastoral life and ministry. These chapters are easy to read and digest. They seem to be written with a love for the Lord, for pastoral ministry and for the brotherhood of pastors. Not only will students learn from these chapters but also seasoned pastors will learn something too.
I would encourage the reader to add one chapter a day to their devotional time. Both experienced and inexperienced pastors should be able to relate to most of the topics that are shared. A couple of chapters really spoke to me. They either encouraged me or challenged me. They helped me pray about some specific things. Sometime in the future I will reread this book.
Whether you are preparing for pastoral ministry or doing pastoral ministry you will not regret the time you take to read this book. Read it in a thoughtful way and let God use it to challenge, encourage and remind you of His love for His Church and how He calls and equips men for pastoral ministry.
I have already recommended this book to some pastors that I know. I received this book for free for an unbiased review from www.crossfocuedreviews.com.
Tags: book review, doctrine of the church, ecclesiology, reformed ecclesiology
Boekestein, William and Daniel R. Hyde. A Well-Ordered Church: Laying a Foundation for a Vibrant Church. EP Books: Grand Rapids, MI, 2015.
Here is a book on ecclesiology or the doctrine of the Church that should be on every pastor’s shelf. It is easy to read and understand. The authors hold a high view of the importance of the Church. They write from a reformed position, but readers from a different position should still find the work helpful.
This is how the book breaks down. An introduction followed by Part One: Identity. This chapter deals with the “The Church’s Relation to Christ.” Part Two: Authority has two chapters of study. They are, “Not Human Preference but Divine Revelation” and “Christ Ministers Through Officers.”
Part Three: Ecumenicity has two chapters also. They are “Within a Denomination” and “Outside a Denomination.” This is followed by the longest section, Part Four: Activity. There are seven chapters in this section. This is followed by an conclusion.
There is an afterword and an appendix to present the reformed church government. The bibliography will give the reader some more titles to look for and read. One of the drawbacks of the book is the use of endnotes instead of footnotes. There are some review questions for further study and titles for suggested reading at the end of each chapter.
This book could be used with a church board to help them grow in their understanding of the church. If you are not from a reformed background you will have to explain some things but that should not hinder the use of this book to help leaders grow. This text could also be used as supplemental reading for a class in ecclesiology.
I would highly recommend this book to pastors. It would surely help those who are discouraged or going through a difficult time. The authors have a high view of Christ and His Church. They present the Word and teach it with clarity. I could see some very good discussion in a small group studying what this book presents.
I received this book for review purposes without charge from www.crossfocusedreviews.com.
Tags: biblical preaching for the contemporary church, book review, invitation to james, sermons on james, sunukjian
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.
Tags: book review, Dave McClellan, homiletics, preaching by ear, sermon preparation
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.
Tags: book review, cross focused reviews, homiletics, larry overstreet, persuasive preaching, sermon development
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.
Tags: 2 Peter 3:18, book review, cross focused reviews, John Owen, Reformation Heritage Books, the foundation of communion with God, the trinity
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.
Tags: book review, cross focused reviews, God In My Everything, spiritual disciplines
“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.