Review of Word Centered Church

Word Centered Church a revised edition of Reverberation by Jonathan Leeman demonstrates the vital role the Bible should and must have in the life a local church. Given the fact that by and large the Bible does not have a central place in the life of many local churches this is a timely book.

This book is composed of three main sections. The first section addresses the ways in which God’s word functions. The second section addresses the role of the sermon which is to come from the Word. The final section addresses the word’s place in the life of the local church. Churches are to sing the word, pray the word, disciple with the word, and spread the word through personal evangelism.

While many pastors I know might agree with the centrality of the word in preaching I think the attention that Leeman gives to singing and praying the word are helpful correctives given the current conditions in many churches. Many leaders in the church would be greatly helped if they considered the importance of affirming the word of God in what is sung by the congregation. Leeman also addresses a clear problem in the prayer life of local churches in how divorced it is from biblical example and precept. In many church prayer meetings one would be hard pressed to hear the reverberation of God’s word in the prayers made.

Whether pastor or layman this book will prove to be helpful in thinking through the central place the Bible should and must have in the local church if we are to be faithful to God.

Disclosure: I received a review copy of the book from the publisher for the purpose of reviewing it. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review.

 

Review of Reclaiming the Old Testament for Christian Preaching

In Reclaiming the Old Testament for Christian Preaching the various contributors have provided an important resource for pastors. Many pastors avoid preaching the Old Testament for the simple fact they don’t know how to preach it.

A large chunk of the Old Testament is narrative, and often when it is preached it is mishandled. Lawrence Turner helps pastors understand the importance of plot in preaching the narrative passages. Paul Kissling likewise focuses in on narrative but with an eye toward preaching on characters. Christopher Wright’s work on preaching the law is particularly helpful in understanding the principles which apply to today. Through each chapter of the book every major genre and the major sections of the Old Testament are addressed with the closing chapters providing guidance in how to deal with difficult texts and how to preach Christ from the Old Testament in such a way that one does not butcher the text.

As a preacher I have to be honest that until I read this book I had not given the Old Testament the attention it deserves in my preaching ministry and had thus robbed my hearers of a balanced diet so to speak. This resource has reminded me of the importance of preaching the Old Testament and has helped me to think through how to actually preach the Old Testament in such a way that is faithful to the text and beneficial to the hearers.

Disclosure: I received a review copy of the book from the publisher for the purpose of reviewing it. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review.

Review of Preaching in the New Testament

Among the many books that have been published on the issue of preaching Preaching in the New Testament by Jonathan Griffiths truly stands apart. Most of the recent publications on preaching in recent years have focused more on the how to of preaching. In contrast to those work Griffiths seeks to explore what the New Testament has to say about preaching and its priority in the local church.

This book is divided into three main sections. In the first section a biblical theology of the word is presented, the key terms used to describe preaching in the New Testament are explored, and the word ministry of all believers is addressed. In the second section of the book Griffiths narrows in with laser focus on six of the most prominent New Testament passages that address the issue of preaching the word, his work addressing Hebrews and its implications for the church are worth the price of the book. Th third and final section provides an overview of the material covered in previous chapters with some important implications of this work explored.

Biblical preaching has fallen on hard times, and rather than argue for the importance of preaching simply based on its importance in church history we must have a biblical foundation for preaching in the church. Griffiths in this work points to the solid foundation for understanding the enduring importance of preaching in the life of the church which is found in the New Testament.

Disclosure: I received a review copy of the book from the publisher for the purpose of reviewing it. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review

Review of As Kingfishers Catch Fire

Readers who have befitted from Eugene Peterson’s prolific writing ministry will want to read his latest book As Kingfishers Catch Fire, a collection of his sermons.

This book is divided into seven sections with each section containing sermons based on the books of seven different biblical authors. The first part of the book contains sermons from Genesis through Deuteronomy. The second contains sermons based on various Psalms by David. The third comes from sermons on Isaiah. The fourth draws on Solomon with an emphasis on wisdom literature including Job. The fifth contains sermons drawing on Peter as recounted in the gospels. The sixth contains sermons from Paul’s epistles. The seventh and final section draws on sermons based on John, 1 John, and Revelation.

Eugene Peterson’s pastoral heart and his skill as a pastor-poet are on full display in the sermons contained in this volume. The context that is given for the sermons helps shed light onto the work and challenges involved in preaching God’s word. I don’t think there isn’t a pastor out there who won’t gain some benefit from this latest work.

Disclosure: I received an advanced copy of the book from the publisher for the purpose of reviewing it. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review.

The D Word

https://i1.wp.com/stevensonlynch.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/Divorce-Laws_1.jpeg

In my sermon yesterday I touched on the issues of marriage and divorce. In many ways the attitude of the church reflects that of the Pharisees of Jesus day in that any reason is a valid reason for divorce. This is a denial of God’s design for marriage and when it is accepted in the church ends up presenting a distorted view of the gospel. Listen to the sermon below and heard what Jesus had to say about marriage and divorce.

https://www.dropbox.com/s/zexgfsu61jsjz2q/Luke%2016%20False%20Religion%20Exposed.mp3?dl=0

The Passionate Preaching of Martyn Lloyd-Jones (A Review)

 

There are several biographies available on the Doctor, The Passionate Preaching of Martyn Lloyd-Jones by Steven J. Lawson stands apart in its laser focus on his preaching ministry. Lawson in the work demonstrates clearly that Lloyd-Jones stands as a much-needed model of expositional ministry for our days.

Lawson begins the book with a summary overview of Lloyd-Jones’s life and ministry. In his second chapter he addresses Lloyd-Jones’s call to the preaching ministry and the self-understanding the Doctor had of the preaching ministry. The third chapter addresses the importance of Lloyd-Jones’s emphasis upon biblical authority in light of the spiritual and theological decline which was characteristic of the church in Lloyd-Jones day. Lloyd-Jones did not merely verbally assent to the authority of Scripture but as Lawson demonstrates lived a life reflective of that commitment. Chapters four and five delve into the nature of his preaching and his preparation. Chapters six and seven address the God-focused nature of his preaching and the commitment to sound doctrine which framed his preaching ministry. Chapter eight addresses how his understanding of the doctrines of grace shaped his preaching ministry. The final chapter in my opinion focuses on an important emphasis upon the work of the Spirit in preaching. Lloyd-Jones had an understanding of divine unction which is often neglected in works on preaching.

Lawson’s work in focusing on the preaching ministry of the doctor is commendable. Lawson does a wonderful job of distilling from various sources the things that set Lloyd-Jones apart as a model preacher. In light of the decline of preaching in America this work could not be more timely. Lawson demonstrates areas where preachers would do well in imitating the Doctor.

Disclosure: I received this book free from the publisher for providing this review. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html

On Preaching

H.B. Charles, Jr. has provided a short and helpful resource for preachers in his book On PreachingCharles from the very beginning of the book demonstrates his understanding of the vital importance of preaching for pastoral ministry.

Charles addresses three main areas surrounding preaching preparation for preaching, the practice of preaching, and general points of wisdom for preaching. Charles in addressing the need for preparation recommends that if one is able to get theological training at seminary they should, while also emphasizing that whether one attends formal schooling or not one should still be a student. He also addresses a bias towards candidates with a master’s degree in churches. This is a needed word for the church and for pastors. I know men who have graduated with a M.Div. and have departed the faith while on the other hand I know men who have never completed college who are faithfully serving the Lord in pastoral ministry. His focus on preparation focuses on preparing a preaching calendar, studying the text, and praying before preaching.

In his advice on preaching itself he recommends writing out a full manuscript before for clarity of communication and becoming familiar with the material in such a way that neither a manuscript or notes are needed. The overall focus of the final section is becoming comfortable with being yourself as a preacher and not trying to imitate or steal another preacher’s sermons or style. His last two chapters are probably ones that bear repeated reading as reminds preachers that we are not to seek to be somebody and that the aim of our charge is to be men of God who faithfully and rightly handle the word of God.

I think there is much to commend this book to wide audience of preachers and pastors. Rather than focusing on mechanics the author addresses the heart and soul of preaching ministry. He does not seek to give a one size fits all model of preaching and preparation but provides principals that would be applicable to any pastor of any background.

Disclosure: I received this book free from from the publisher for providing this review. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html