Remaining Faithful in Ministry - John MacArthur

Remaining faithful in ministry has been a very impactful book for me as a minister at a local church. I wouldn’t say there was anything new in this book, but there was a ton of wisdom from a man who has been in ministry for years. That is one of the things I find most valuable about remaining faithful in ministry is the years of wisdom that you feel leap off the pages as you read chapter after chapter.

I would suggest and highly recommend this book to every believer, but especially to believers in ministry leader positions or pastoral leadership. This puts our service into perspective that we don’t do this job for fame or money, rather bring glory to Christ and to reach the lost with his great grace. MacArthur brings clarity to obstacles that we will face and suffering that we will endure and helps put that into the perspective of eternity.

The need for a pure heart and clean hands in ministry is made very evident in this book. It was a nice challenge and reminder that we as leaders often times set the tone for the ones who follow us. IF they see of behaving in a sinful way they may pull permission from our lifestyle.

If you are in ministry, thinking of joining in ministry, or just an average joe, I would recommend you read this book!

The Gospel Transformation Study Bible

gtsb-dribbble.jpg

I have been really enjoying Crossway’s ESV “Gospel Transformation Study Bible.” I never thought I would be a fan of a hardcover Bible but I have been proven wrong. Speaking about the cover the aesthetics of the casing. It is a simple white and blue colour, with a nice paint in water, feel to it. I thought I was pretty eye-catching.

The addition that I received from Crossway comes with a dust cover that you’re able to remove, and the same pattern mentioned above follows unto the actual cover of the Bible. Although I still prefer a leather Bible, I am impressed by the quality of the cover crossway used. As I said it’s aesthetically pleasing, but also opens nicely and lays flat. The paper quality is nice and it's easy to turn the pages. There is also some good room on most pages to add little notes as you are studying.

I would say that the Gospel Transformation Bible is more focused on Biblical theology that it is on exegeting each verse like the ESV Study Bible. Which is nice to have! I personally would use both the Gospel Transformation Study Bible and the ESV Study Bible together. The Gospel Transformation Bible claims to have 80,000 cross-references which is impressive!

The Gospel Transformation Study Bible has two main goals found in its introduction.

To enable readers to understand that the whole Bible is a unified message of the Gospel of God’s grace culminating in Christ Jesus. (This is very important as a lot of skeptics will argue that the Bible is not unified).

To help delivers apply this good new to their everyday lives in a heart-transforming way.

Features

Each book of the Bible will have an introduction page for it.

What will the introduction include?

Author and Date

The gospel in that particular book

Outline of the book

The set up of the Gospel Transformation Bible is pretty basic. You have your Biblical text, and then a dividing line which separates your text from the author's notes. The notes are easy to follow as they are labelled to their corresponding verse.

Also on the side of each page is a list of cross-references to other verses relating to the verse you are reading. This is very handy for following the flow of scripture.

Conclusion

To write this review I have been using the Gospel Transformation Study Bible as my daily Bible to get a feel for it. I have to say I have really enjoyed it. The notes are clear and concise and the font is easy on the eyes. It is probably one of the easiest Bibles I have read in terms of font style and size.

I would recommend this Bible to both teens and adults. To people leading small groups or writing sermons. You will find that this study Bible does a lot of the background work for you! It is a resource you should have on your shelf or buy it as a gift for a friend!

Long Before Luther - Nathan Busenitz

download.jpeg

Long before Luther is a book, I would suggest any Protestant to read. Nathan does an excellent job connecting the teachings of the Reformation in 1517 to the Patristic writings in the early church. This is important to understand as we are continually being accused that our Protestant beliefs are only 500 years old and are not flush with the early church or the rest of church History.

But Nathan points out the opposite. Our belief may not be kosher with the medieval church, but the jive with the Early Church Fathers beliefs and most importantly they are rooted in what the Word of God teaches. Nathan points out that our vies of Justification by faith alone, and the imputed righteousness of Christ did not begin with Luther and Calvin but was rooted in the theology of the early church. We see clearly that the Roman Catholics are the ones who have perverted the Gospel and not the Protestants. The Reformation was not an invention; it was a recovery. Nathan covers this in Chapter one that the Reformers didn't invent this; rather they recovered it. Protestant beliefs are not young; rather they are linked back to the early church.

Nathan Does an excellent Job at examining the Patristic writings and then connecting those writings with the works of the Reformation. What's nice about this work is Nathan doesn't just give you random quotes from Church history; instead, he gives you the background and setting of the quote to show you that he is not twisting what the early fathers were writing.

I would recommend this book to every Christian and Catholic to have a complete understanding of what Protestants believe/practice.

Discipling As Jesus Discipled: 7 Disciplines of a Disciplemaker

Discipling As Jesus Discipled: 7 Disciplines of a Disciplemaker

Dan Spader is one of the leading voices on discipleship. I have read most of his material, and I am always impressed. Discipling As Jesus Discipled is Dan's four chair discipling book broken down is a more practical way to follow. Dan doesn't give you methods to follow and steps to keep, and then promises if you follow these steps your ministry will grow. Instead, Dan lays out the life of Jesus and pulls out practical principles that we the readers can apply to our lives and the lives of others.

What I liked about Discipling As Jesus Discipled: 7 Disciplines of a Disciplemaker is Dan doesn't only give you principles to study, he also gives you a ton of reflection areas so you can pause and reflect on your own life, ministry, and personal discipleship. In each section, you are asked to lean in, look down, look out, look in, look up and then live out.

Following these steps each week, help you lead your small group more effectively, which will have a more significant impact on you and your group. But this material doesn't just work in a group setting; you can also do it as your reflection time each week. That's how I used it first before I started walking others through the book.

All in all, i recommend this book along with his other book four chair discipling. Together you will make the life and Jesus clear to you and your listeners.

51lf7ROYcdL.jpg

The heart of the Church - Joe thorn

download.jpeg

The heart of the church was the first book I have read by Joe Thorn. I have listened to his podcast and other sermons and have always enjoyed his teaching. I was not disappointed with his book "the heart of the Church" and look forward to reading His other two from this trilogy. 

First off the book was clear and to the point. I would call this a "mans book" because the chapters are short and the book it not long. Not only are the chapters more concise, but are written in such a way that will keep your attention, and you'll walk away learning something. The heart of the church is an important subject that needs to be taught and clarified, and I believe that Joe has done a fantastic job in doing so. 

The heart of the church is broken up into three parts; 1. the history of the Gospel, 2. The doctrine of the Gospel, 3. The God of the Gospel.  Through each section, Joe breaks down the title of the division by focusing on crucial parts that address his claim. By explaining these areas, we the readers walk away with a fuller understanding of each section. I enjoy this because far to often I have read books that make claims and the author barely backs up his points with research. But I didn't have this sense with "the heart of the church" as I read each section I could confidently say I understood what Joe was getting at and how he drew his conclusions. 

 One chapter that stood out to me was chapter seven on reconciliation. Joe is walking through the common flow talking about humans being enemies of God and from there we move to be children of God when we are in Christ Jesus.  After Joe explains both parts, he puts a subheading called " The ministry of reconciliation."  And it's under this subheading where I read a line that made an impact on me. It may not be profound to you, but to mean it spoke volumes.  
It said "The church of Jesus Christ is not only a reconciled community. It is also a reconciling community". I enjoyed that line because there is so much truth to it. If you didn't catch it, Joe is saying that we the Church the body of Christ have been reconciled to God through Christ, but we shouldn't stop there we should also be actively seeking to reconcile other people. Share the good news of Christ and allow the Holy Spirit to convict the hearts of others so they might even be reconciled to the Father through His perfect son.  
I would recommend this book to anyone to read, but especially to someone who lacks understanding of what the church is and how it should function. Although it is a short read, you will walk away from it having learned something new. So if you need more knowledge on the church or you want to confirm what you already know, "the heart of the church" is a book for you! 

Small Church Essentials By Karl Vaters

41qsejNasDL._SX326_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

I enjoyed the book Small Church Essentials. I enjoyed this book because I am a pastor of a small church in a small town. I could relate to many issues and mindsets that Karl addressed in his book. I enjoyed the fact that Karl discussed the issue of small churches being unhealthy or a problem. But on the flip side, Karl also addressed the negative mindsets that come along in all sizes of churches. For example in a small church, it's easy to hate mega churches and even medium churches, accusing them of stealing other members of churches. But it's also easy for prominent church pastors and members to look at small churches and think they are unhealthy or neglecting their calling and duty to the people they are serving. 

Karl in section two talks about the ebbs and flows of church attendance in small churches. One week could have higher numbers while the other week could have lower. This could all be due to something that is happening at the church. For example, a baby dedication brings more people, but the flu season keeps them away. This is important as a small church Pastor to understand because in a small church you will feel the ebbs and flowers more than your large church pastor would. But the key is to keep moving forward and preach/teach and conduct your service in a faithful manner unto the Lord. 

I enjoyed chapter 5, talking about pastors who think their church is small because it's weird or different. They counsel their body and hear stories that they haven't heard any other church face, and they presume that they are weird and that's why they are small. Throughout this chapter, Karl gives us tools how to deal with the situation that seems strange or that no one has dealt with ever. 

I also appreciated that Karl addresses the church growth issue. That we in North America get so hung up on numbers of attendance that we miss the big picture.  We need to be as Karl said: "always striving to increase our capacity for effective ministry." This helps us keep our eyes on the prize and not just trying to start new ministries for the sake of packing more people in a room.

Chapter nine was very beneficial, in addressing issues that seem to plague small churches. Karl doesn't just address the problems; he also gives you solutions to remedy them. Reminding us not to move to fast or too slowly, to always assume honourable motives in people who like to control everything.

Overall I think Small Church Essentials is a beneficial read for both small church pastors and large church pastors. Anyone who is aspiring to be a minister would probably benefit from this book. Why? Because as the author himself says "at some point in your life, you will pastor a small church." How is that statement true? Well, you'll just have to read the book and find out! 

The Question of Canon

51zJmez5hKL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

When it comes to the study of Textual criticism, it all seems overwhelming. When people inquire of me about this subject, I find myself saying there is no introductory level. Now "The Question of Canon" is by no means introductory, but Dr. Kruger has a way to take the study of higher criticism out of the seminary level and put it in layman's terms. 

Dr. Kruger tackles the most prominent "fears" that Christians have when it comes to the Bible. In my line of work (pastor) I am always confronted with the same question. "How do we know the Bible is true," we are asked this question regularly because the world promotes the idea that the Bible was changed and the book we hold today is copies of copies. But Dr. Kruger confronts these ideas in a clear and concise manner, which leaves you educated and not confused.

As a Pastor, I recommend this book to help you understand why you as a Christian follow the words of the Bible. Take your time, ask questions, and ultimately learn! 

Pastor Aaron Visser 

Book Reviews

Thank you for checking out my blog! My blog will be your place to read my reviews and insights from the books I read. I will be looking at the practical side of books both for life and from a Pastor's perspective. My goal is to help you get the most out of the books that you read. I ray that you will be blessed by what you read! 

Pastor Aaron Visser