Spiritual Leadership by J. Oswald Sanders (Books on the Ministry #19)

book spiritual leadership

There’s good books and there’s books you simply must have. While every Christian can glean so much spiritual help from this fine book, it would almost be a crime for a pastor to not own and carefully read this book by J. Oswald Sanders. Originally written in the late 1960s, this million-seller finds a new life in this stunning paperback edition by Moody. I’m not sure how to describe the material the cover was made from, but it’s the best paperback cover I’ve ever seen.

I don’t think this classic became so popular through a savvy marketing campaign, but simply by the fact that it is so captivating. It covers leadership as the title suggests, and though there is some overlap with the modern subject of leadership that floods the book market, you also see that spiritual leadership is worlds apart from modern leadership. The book is true to the Bible, and you will find yourself saying over and over again “that’s so true”, even if what you just read nailed your hide to the wall.

The book begins by explaining how ambition fits into the picture and goes on to opine the lack of leaders today. As you would imagine, by chapter 3 you read of Jesus Christ’s master principle – the principle that leadership is servanthood. Later chapters will discuss how to become a leader even if you are not naturally one, insights that you can gain from Paul and Peter’s leadership, as well as essential qualities of leadership.

Later in the book we are told that spiritual leadership requires spirit-filled people. We are admonished how we can never be a leader in God’s work without being a leader in prayer. There’s suggestions on how to make use of time and how to incorporate the highly valuable act of reading.

Later chapters become even more soul-searching. There’s discussion of improving leadership, the cost of leadership, the responsibilities of leadership, the test of leadership, and the art of delegation. We are told of the necessity of replacing and reproducing leaders as well. Finally, in the most probing pages of the book, he reviews the perils of leadership. We should read that section repeatedly! He ends with a short chapter on Nehemiah, followed up by a short conclusion chapter.

Make this book one of the first five or six you buy if you are going into the ministry and read it carefully. It’s one of the great ones and its manifold impact on many Christian leaders over the last 50 years is its greatest recommendation.

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

The Expositor’s Bible Commentary (Rev. Ed.)- Volume 9: Matthew-Mark

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Volume 9 of the Expositor’s Bible Commentary (revised edition) covers only the Gospels of Matthew and Mark. Fortunately, that means that Matthew, one of the most important books of the Bible, gets a great deal of extra space in the series. D.A. Carson, one of the most respected scholars of our day, handles Matthew in this volume. It seems to me that Carson’s Matthew is the most heralded volume in either the old set, or this new revised series of the Expositor’s Bible Commentary.

Although the rewrite was not substantial, Carson’s Matthew still holds its place among the commentaries on Matthew available today. Carson wrote a substantial Introduction. He begins discussing the criticism of Matthew, or in other words, how critical scholars have debated the book of Matthew. Considering Carson’s reputation in conservative circles, his credence of the opinion of some of the more critical scholars is somewhat surprising. Still, his work is outstanding. He addresses history and theology, as well as the synoptic problem, and again entertains more than I could. In any event, I can hardly imagine a better overview. When he discusses authorship, he is tentatively agreeable to the historic position of Matthew being the author. On subjects like occasion, purpose, and structure, he begs for restraint. His discussion of themes and special problems was well done. While the text of the Introduction was not altered greatly from the original volume, I noticed the footnotes and bibliography were updated a great deal.

The commentary on Matthew would just what you’d expect from Carson – detailed, careful, cautious, thoughtful, and with skilled scholarship. He is occasionally harsh, but this is one of the most important commentaries on the Gospel of Matthew available today.

The Gospel of Mark received a more substantial rewrite. The work of the late Walter Wessel, much appreciated by pastors in the old set, was thoroughly updated by scholar Mark Strauss. The Introduction was also updated a great deal, I noticed, when I laid the old and new volumes side by side. The upgrade was a success. The new work covers in its Introduction the place of Mark’s gospel in biblical studies, genre, authorship, origin and destination, date, occasion and purpose, literary features, and ends with a bibliography and outline. The commentary itself was also effectively updated.

The 2-for-1 nature of this volume, along with the fact that the Matthew portion is considered one of the premier commentaries on Matthew, means you can’t go wrong in adding this book to your library. It’s a good deal and I highly recommend it.

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

40 Questions About Church Membership and Discipline by Kimble

book 40 questions

This book provides a unique format to get you thinking deeply about church membership and discipline. You can read through the table of contents for a specific question on the subject, or you can as I did, read through the entire book and be blessed to think through the issues from a variety of vantage points. Mr. Kimble has provided a nice resource here. Though there are many new titles in the area of church membership and discipline published recently, this book carves out its own niche and will be appreciated by readers everywhere.

The author divides the questions into four main parts. Part One defines terms and gets us thinking in the right direction for the questions that follow. Part Two contains general questions about church membership. These questions cover theology, ministry, and practicality. I can’t think of a question he left out, nor of a question he answered carelessly.

Part Three contains general questions about church discipline. If anything, the subject of church discipline is even more bewildering to most Christians than that of the little-discussed subject of church membership. The author again divides the questions into theological, ministry, and practical questions. Part Four asked two concluding questions about the significance of these two interrelated subjects.

As a Baptist pastor, I find this volume biblical, well-written, and helpful. Its design makes it the ideal volume to have on the shelf to pull down when a question comes to mind. Even if you squabble about some conclusion the author makes, he writes succinctly and carefully lays the issue out for you. The reader cannot help but be blessed by this volume. I highly recommend it!

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

Sermons for Advent and Christmas Day by Luther

book luther

We’ve all heard so much about Martin Luther. I’ve even read his biography entitled “Here I Stand” by Bainton, also published by Hendrickson Publishers, and enjoyed it. What I had not done, however, is read any of his sermons. I’m glad to possess this book so I can get a feel of Luther for myself. Plus sermons for the Christmas season are always a blessing for sermon ideas or devotional reading.

The book begins with a fine preface that gives a biographic overview of Luther. It’s extremely serviceable if you need to brush up on Luther before you get started reading the sermons. From there the sermons are designed to correspond with the first, second, third, and fourth Sunday of Advent followed by two sermons specifically for Christmas Day.

In the first sermon Luther takes us to Matthew 21:1-9 and the Triumphal Entry of Christ. The goal, I believe, is to make us remember the why of Advent, or the why of Christ’s coming to us. Over the course of the sermon, Luther explains the mistaken views some Jews had over the Messiah. It’s in this sermon you will find that his sermons were quite long (100 points in 32 pages). Still, there’s a lot of content.

His second sermon takes us to Luke 21:25-36 where he draws out the comfort Christians can take from the signs of the Day of Judgment. The third one considers Matthew 11:2-10 and looks at how Jesus answers John’s question on if He was the Messiah they were looking for, or should they look for another. This text could, in my judgement, be used more for Advent than the previous one. The fourth sermon looks at John 1:19-28 and is something of a sequel to the last one in examining John the Baptist’s confession of Christ.

The last two sermons are Christmas messages expounding Luke 2:1-4 and John 1:1-14 respectively. There are many things to ponder in his look at Luke 2, though I could not accept them all. Still, it’s well worth reading. The last one is a perfect Christmas text rarely preached on Christmas. It is THE text of the Incarnation and Luther does well making much of Christ in it.

Beyond being an asset at Christmas time, this book is a great place to sample Luther. With two good reasons like that, I’d recommend you get this book!

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

An Unhurried Leader by Fadling (Books on the Ministry #18)

book unhurried

I needed this book. So many leadership books offer up the same, though slightly retreaded, message of so many others, but this book is food for the soul. It’s the best book for pastors, or any in a leadership position, that I’ve read in a long time. There’s no gimmicks here to manipulate people, just a call to commune with God to the point He imbibes your work with His grace.

In a day where so many speak of effectiveness, Fadling prefers that we look at fruitfulness instead. He unearths the often-buried scriptural truth that fruitfulness comes from abiding in Christ. If the Lord makes you fruitful, you will influence others and the task of leadership is fulfilled. He makes it all sound so simple while the work of communing with God is at once challenging and the very opposite of work. If that sounds confusing, just read the book.

He begins by asking us to be unhurried leaders who stop seeing activity as productivity. He exposes the subtle pride that we often present as spiritual leadership. He explains our blind spot of working for God instead of with God. He challenges us to lead from abundance–a concept we frankly don’t get. He gently scolds us to stop running from the thirst of our souls to unquenching activity.

There’s so much more. The chapter on prayer is the most insightful I’ve read in years. More than being condemned as most prayer treatises, I want to implement what he says.

Outstanding is an understatement for this book. 5-star plus gets a little closer. I hope many will read and follow and be helped as I was!

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

Pastoral Theology by Akin and Pace

book pastoral theology

Daniel Akin and R. Scott Pace team to provide us with an outstanding volume on pastoral theology. Its design is what sets it apart from others in the field. It aims at more than the “what” by focusing on the “why”. That doesn’t mean that the book isn’t practical, but that it draws its practicality by providing the reader with a stronger desire to take pastoral work seriously.

The book begins with more theological foundation and builds to pastoral ministry. Section One has three chapters covering theological, Christological, and pneumatological doctrine and the relationship for the pastor and God’s character, champion, and Companion.

Section Two covers anthropology, ecclesiology, and missiology. This guides us even more to ministry. From there, the book blossoms into a passionate plea for preaching and pastoral ministry. Every page was full of nuggets. I don’t see how any preacher couldn’t be deeply challenged, guided, and encouraged. The chapter on balancing our families in ministry is worth the price of the book.

This book succeeds on both the level of theology and ministry. I can’t imagine a better book for pastoral theology. Let’s read it and remind ourselves why our ministry is so critically important and how scriptural the ministry is!

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

The Hermeneutical Spiral by Grant Osborne

book spiral

This massive book lives up to its subtitle of “a comprehensive introduction to Biblical interpretation”. It’s the fullest volume I have seen on the subject and it brings the word encyclopedic to mind. There’s no way that you could find any subject in the field of hermeneutics not mentioned in this book. Its greatest strength may also be its greatest weakness as it may be simply to prolix for some people. Still, Grant Osborne has had as much direction in the scholarly world for hermeneutics study as anyone in the last 30 years. Additionally, this busy scholar has written a few important commentaries along the way.

His conception of hermeneutics as a spiral form from text to context has become the preeminent academic theory of biblical interpretation today. In this book, he breaks down the hermeneutical spiral in great detail. In his lengthy introduction, he explains the issues of interpretation, the difficulty of acquiring meaning, how to view the Scriptures, the place of the reader in interpretation, and how the goal of hermeneutics is expository preaching.

Part 1 is on general hermeneutics and covers five chapters. He takes in turn context, grammar, semantics, syntax, and historical and cultural backgrounds. In each case, he describes the range of things that has been believed in the subjects and strongly argues for his own perspective. Again, the detail is incredible and covers main issues as well as esoteric ones.

Part 2 covers genre analysis, or what we might call special cases in hermeneutics, in nine chapters. In my opinion, he shined even more in this part. The special sections of the Bible can be difficult in biblical interpretation and he gives much food for thought in every category. Even where I could not agree with him, I found him both exhaustive and interesting.

Part 3 is special. He calls it applied hermeneutics and he covers biblical theology, systematic theology, homiletics– contextualization, and homiletics– the sermon. This section continues past where most hermeneutics books end. In making the natural progression to homiletics, he provides almost a second book on that needed subject for preachers all within the same covers of this book. There’s two appendices at the end on some fairly-narrow scholarly issues too.

There’s no doubt that this is a five-star book. The only question is if it’s too much for some readers. For those who want THE book on hermeneutics, this is it.

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

Introduction to Biblical Interpretation (3rd Ed.)

book-biblical-interp

William Klein, Craig Blomberg, and Robert Hubbard, Jr. have teamed to give us one of the best hermeneutics textbooks that is in print today. It’s been popular with students since it was first written in 1993 and this third edition ensures its use for years to come. It has an attractive hardback cover to complement its substantial contents. I’ve perused several of these volumes on biblical interpretation that’s on the market today, and find this book to be one of the top choices.

Coming in at over 600 pages, this book deserves the label of in-depth. It might be a little tough to those who have never studied hermeneutics before, but those who have will love this volume. Don’t misunderstand me – it’s well-written, accessible, but covers a lot of information.

Chapter 1 on the need for interpretation drew a nice portrait of why hermeneutics are so important in studying the Bible. Without proper hermeneutics, the Bible gets to mean what anyone wants it to mean. When that happens, it means nothing. The next three chapters on history, literary and social-scientific approaches, and the canon and translations were not as interesting to me as what followed. In fact, some of the social scientific approaches gave credence to groups whose voice is off-base in interpreting the Bible. If those things are your interest, you will find those chapters well done.

Chapters 5 and 6 serve to allow the reader to see his or herself in the process of interpretation. Chapters 7 through 10 are the heart of the book. Those chapters cover the nuts and bolts of hermeneutics. There are a few things discussed the strike me as splitting the hair a little too fine, yet every hermeneutics textbook will discuss these things today. You will appreciate the choice writing that illuminates some rather technical information. There’s good help for interpreting different parts of the Bible and in both Testaments.

After chapter 11 delved into what we gain from proper interpretation, chapter 12 discussed the immensely important subject of application. Without application, interpretation is a hollow exercise. The authors did a good job in giving hints at how to make application after interpretation is done.

I’ve had the chance to study this subject in great detail, and I picked up a few key points in this book that I really appreciate. I don’t see how you can go wrong getting this book and I highly recommend it.

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

A Minister’s Obstacles–An Awesome Reprint

book turnbull

I’m excited to see this superb book reprinted. I found an old copy of this book early in my ministry and it made quite an impact on me. It’s crazy that it went out of print. It’s truly one of the great titles on the ministry that has been written. In fact, when I started a series a few years ago on the best books for ministry, I recommended this book. (Read me earlier review here).

The story behind this reprint is touching. Marty Moon fell in love with this book and was saddened to realize that preachers today did not have it available to glean from. He also wanted to give a gift to his pastor, Bill Lytell of Gospel Baptist Church, on the occasion of his 25th anniversary as pastor. On March 5, 2017 Pastor Lytell was presented with a copy of this book reprinted in his honor. Clearly, Mr. Moon saw in Pastor Lytell the great traits exemplified in this book.

Your pastor would likely be blessed by a copy too.

Click here to find on Amazon.

Ministry Mantras by Briggs and Hyatt

book-mantras

J.R. Briggs and Bob Hyatt present a discussion and encouragement for ministry that uses key statements as the angle to get us to have clear focus on ministry. While it might strike you as only slogans that appeal to our distracted generation, or even clichés that sound cute, the book does manage to push us in ministry.

Some of the mantras were just a reminder of what we should know, but others were quite profound. The one “Leadership is purposefully choosing whom you will disappoint”, especially when it was demonstrated that Jesus practised this in His ministry, is an example.

The mantras are categorized as either leadership, vision, motivation,ministry, pastoral care, leadership development, opportunities, success, spirituality, expectations, community, formation, conflict, outreach, and stewardship, though there is clearly overlap. Some you have heard, but many you have not.

Only occasionally did they give the impression that if your ministry doesn’t look like theirs it’s substandard. Overall, I enjoyed reading this volume. To my mind, you could either read this straight through as a regular book like I did, or you might read one mantra a day to spread out the challenge. Either way, it is a solid effort.

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.