Review: The Gospel: How the Church Portrays the Beauty of Christ

The Gospel: How the Church Portrays the Beauty of ChristThe Gospel: How the Church Portrays the Beauty of Christ by Raymond C. Ortlund Jr.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It sounds correct to speak of being Gospel centered. I wonder how well we understand what it actually means to be a Gospel centered church. The author makes a case for what it looks like to be Gospel centered in practice as well as profession. Every church has a culture, whether it is deliberately shaped or more organic. Having the Gospel correct in our doctrinal statement does not mean our church body is Gospel centered in practice. Ortlund brings out that Gospel centeredness can happen, but it doesn’t happen by a plan or program. A church must adorn the Gospel preached with a community of disciples who live out the Gospel in their lives.

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Review: Work and Our Labor in the Lord

Work and Our Labor in the LordWork and Our Labor in the Lord by James M. Hamilton Jr.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This brief book presents a biblical theology of work. It would be an excellent introduction to the subject if one is unfamiliar with the biblical teaching on work. Hamilton shows us what it looks like to faithfully bear the image of God in our work and not be idolaters. He does this by pulling out propositional teachings from Scripture and providing examples of faithful work. I always find it edifying and profitable to read him and I always come away with some things to think about I haven’t considered before.

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Review: More Faithful Service

More Faithful ServiceMore Faithful Service by Albert Mohler Jr.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This short book is a helpful study in the pastoral ministry. Each chapter is contributed by a different author. It is more of a workbook with area for your notes and answering questions. The layout is done well and it’s overall useful. The study is divided into three parts pertaining to pastoral ministry–faithfulness, persistence, and excellence.

Don’t let the apparent simplicity fool you. It is worth working through.

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Review: 10 Questions to Diagnose Your Spiritual Health

10 Questions to Diagnose Your Spiritual Health10 Questions to Diagnose Your Spiritual Health by Donald S. Whitney
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a helpful book to think through ten different aspects that mark spiritual growth. Whitney doesn’t give a checklist or form to fill out. Instead, you will have to read each chapter and reflect on the condition of your own heart in life. It does provide a good opportunity to take stock of your life. Over time, good habits tend to slide and bad ones creep in. Also over time, if we are growing in knowledge and grace, we are better able to assess where we are than a few years ago. If you take it seriously, you won’t enjoy reading this book but it will be helpful to you.

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Review: The Compelling Community: Where God’s Power Makes a Church Attractive

The Compelling Community: Where God's Power Makes a Church AttractiveThe Compelling Community: Where God’s Power Makes a Church Attractive by Mark Dever
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book is an excellent blend of biblical teaching and practical experience. The main thrust of this book has to do with the kind of unity a church ought to have. Churches can be like social clubs where the unity is built around similarities, whether demographic or special interests. Other churches have mere unity on a shared confession of faith, or distinctive doctrinal points. Both of those are common and both of those fall short of the mark of communal unity of the Lord’s churches in Scripture.

Dunlop uses the term “supernatural community” to describe the kind of church community taught in the New Testament. I’m not thrilled with that term, but the way he uses is right on. He also goes not to explain why there is no program to implement to have that kind of community. Pastors and church members will be benefited by reading, thinking, and praying through this book. The unity of the church membership should be working out in visible ways in terms of evangelism, discipleship, and even discipline.

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