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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Review: What Does God Want of Us Anyway?: A Quick Overview of the Whole Bible

What Does God Want of Us Anyway?: A Quick Overview of the Whole BibleWhat Does God Want of Us Anyway?: A Quick Overview of the Whole Bible by Mark Dever
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’ve heard Mark Dever described as all substance and no style. I don’t know how much he might object to that, but I don’t think it entirely accurate. His style is clear and straightforward. I can’t remember reading him and scratching my head in wonder of his meaning. I may not have agreed with him, but I understood him. I can’t always say the same with other authors who would be credited for much style.

This book is a sample of where Dever is at his best. He has a knack for taking big and complex and making it clear and accessible. He undertakes an overview of the entire Bible and then of the Old and New Testaments in this volume. He doesn’t take the sweeping story of Scripture and make it small like a Reader’s Digest abridgement. Rather, he takes to a high elevation where our eyes can see and appreciate more than from a lower vantage point–just like the panoramic photographs he expresses such appreciation for in the introduction. I think he hit his mark.

The neglect of the Bible is miserably widespread among professing Christians. Among many who do take it up, the neglect of the Old Testament is too common. Dever gives a clear view of the Bible’s overarching purpose. Some think the Bible is a discontinuity of random histories and riddled sayings. Some think the Old and New Testaments differ so much that one is about an angry, judging God and the other a loving, accepting Jesus. I challenge you to read this book to get an overview of the continuity of the whole and connectedness of the different books, and then read the whole Bible. You might get a different picture.

When we read the whole Bible and think in terms of the whole Bible, we get a much needed perspective we can’t get from the ground–the love and faithfulness of God. We face disappointments and discouragements in life. We deal with failures and intense pain. These trials could cause us to assume God unloving or unfaithful to his promises. Go to his word. The Bible covers time from the creation to thousands of years of human history to the ages to come, including the eternal ages where the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Jesus Christ will be shown. If we climb to to heights above our earthly struggles and disappointments, we see God’s covenant faithfulness and have hope when we climb back down and take out the trash or drive to the funeral home.

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Review: The Church: The Gospel Made Visible

The Church: The Gospel Made VisibleThe Church: The Gospel Made Visible by Mark Dever
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Some parts of this book are better than others. His main point is good along with various things pertaining to congregationalism, membership, leadership, and discipline within a church. Other areas are problematic like the relation of Israel, the kingdom, inferences from history, and reference to the “universal church.” The “universal church” is a misnomer that is as unhelpful as it is unbiblical. Even though he conceded the “universal church” can be found in early writings but not in the New Testament, he continued to use the term. I appreciate the main point that the further we get from Scripture concerning how we define, structure, and function as a church, the more we obscure the Gospel.

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