Review: Preaching with Bold Assurance: A Solid and Enduring Approach to Engaging Exposition

Preaching with Bold Assurance: A Solid and Enduring Approach to Engaging ExpositionPreaching with Bold Assurance: A Solid and Enduring Approach to Engaging Exposition by Hersheal York
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book is divided into three parts: The Text, The Sermon, and Delivery. Part I was the strongest. Part II started with an explanation of the trademarked Decker Grid System for building sermons that felt like quite a departure from Part I, though getting past that, there was definitely good material. Part III was about delivering sermons so the focus was on effective communication. Some of the psychology stuff got in the way, but it helped me think about different aspects of delivering a sermon and connecting with an audience.

Overall, it is not an exhaustive treatment, nor was it intended to be. The book covers a good bit of ground from studying the text, to building the sermon, to delivering the sermon. Throughout I was challenged to think about my own ministry and examine deficient areas in my own preaching. I’m thankful for the book and recommend it as worth reading.

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Review: The Pastor’s Family: Shepherding Your Family Through the Challenges of Pastoral Ministry

The Pastor's Family: Shepherding Your Family through the Challenges of Pastoral MinistryThe Pastor’s Family: Shepherding Your Family through the Challenges of Pastoral Ministry by Brian Croft
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I wasn’t sure how the tag team effort was going to work out in this book. However, it worked well. I appreciated reading both perspectives on the same subject. When it comes to books on the home, they vary on their helpfulness. The Bible does give sufficient instruction for us in our homes, but the market is crowded by a lot of extrapolation and thrice-removed opinions about the Bible actually requires of us. We have to sift the counsel we receive. Are we having burdens heaped upon us like an overloaded mule, or are we receiving counsel from someone with a healthy dose of what you call horse sense?

I think Croft is doing the latter in this book, which makes it a helpful book. He does deal with texts and calls out some of the neglect pastors can be guilty of, which is sinful. He rightly calls us to repentance in these. He also gives wise counsel that we should receive with discernment. For instance, he encourages a father to engage in one-on-one discipleship of his children. He may not be in chapter and verse territory, but he is giving good counsel.

I also appreciated how he dealt openly with the abysmal family legacies of some of the “heroes” of the faith that exalt so much. I was personally disappointed a few years ago reading about the marriage and home life of George Whitefield. Whitefield is one of the men Croft writes about. We need to be cautious is vaunting the men of the past. There are both good and bad examples in history. Can we really call a man “successful” in ministry who neglected his family all the while?

This is a great book for pastors and pastors’ wives.

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Barrenness in the Ministry

Reading Words to Winners of Souls by Horatius Bonar is a good way for preachers to start the year. It is a small book that packs a big punch. It brings excellent conviction and exhortation for us to begin a new year of ministry.

Here are Bonar’s words on being satisfied with a barren ministry:

To deliver sermons on each returning Lord’s Day, to administer the Lord’s Supper statedly, to pay an occasional visit to those who request it, to attend religious meetings—this, we fear, sums up the ministerial life of multitudes who are, by profession, overseers of the flock of Christ. An incumbency of thirty, forty or fifty years often yields no more than this. So many sermons, so many baptisms, so many sacraments, so many visits, so many meetings of various kinds-these are all the pastoral annals, the parish records, the ALL of a lifetime’s ministry to many! Of souls that have been saved, such a record could make no mention.

Multitudes have perished under such a ministry; the judgment only will disclose whether so much as one has been saved. There might be learning, but there was no tongue of the learned to speak a word in season to him that is weary.” There might be wisdom, but it certainly was not the wisdom that “winneth souls.” There might even be the sound of the gospel, but it seemed to contain no glad tidings at all; it was not sounded forth from warm lips into startled ears as the message of eternal life—”the glorious gospel of the blessed God.” Men lived, and it was never asked of them by their minister whether they were born again! Men sickened, sent for the minister and received a prayer upon their death-beds as their passport into heaven. Men died, and were buried where all their fathers had been laid; there was a prayer at their funeral and decent respects to their remains; but their souls went up to the judgment seat unthought of, uncared for; no man, not even the minister who had vowed to watch for them, having said to them, Are you ready?—or warned them to flee from the wrath to come.

Is not this description too true of many a district and many a minister? We do not speak in anger; we do not speak in scorn: we ask the question solemnly and earnestly. It needs an answer. If ever there was a time when there should be “great searching of heart” and frank acknowledgment of unfaithfulness, it is now when God is visiting us—visiting us both in judgment and mercy. We speak in brotherly kindness; surely the answer should not be of wrath and bitterness. And if this description be true, what sin must there be in ministers and people! How great must be the spiritual desolation that prevails’! Surely there is something in such a case grievously wrong; something which calls for solemn self-examination in every minister; something which requires deep repentance.