Monday, December 12, 2016

Study Bibles for Expositors--Reformation Study Bible by Reformation Trust

Several months ago, I reviewed some study Bibles (Holman, NIV, ESV, Dugan, Hebrew-Greek Keyword) that I found to be helpful for expositors.  The Bibles that I reviewed were primarily those that fell into a category of general readership and those that were commonly found at large in big box Christian bookstores.  There are several Bibles that I am going to write reviews of in the next few days that fall into a variety of subsets of Christian doctrines and views.  While some of these Bibles can be purchased in big box stores, there are a few that you may have to track down through on-line sources. 

Friday, December 09, 2016

Book Recommendation—Engaging Exposition—Daniel L. Akin, Bill Curtis & Stephen Rummage

It is obvious from the flurry of writing that I am doing on the Barnabas Blog that you can tell it is the end of the year.  I generally try to put out a “Top Ten” list of books that I have read the previous year.  This year is a little different because I have read so many good books, helpful books, and changing-my-thinking books that it is hard to say which one was the best one.  I probably read too many books about preaching during the year but since it is what I do, I read in an effort to sharpen both mind and efforts in that category.  I mentioned to the church recently that when they get to heaven one of the jewels they will get in their crown will be from having to endure my preaching.  I hope it is not an endurance factor for them but one that encourages their spiritual growth.

This book, Engaging Exposition, by Daniel Akin, Bill Curtis, and Stephen Rummage will be very difficult to unseat as one of the best I have read and interacted with this year.  It was given to me by one of our lay ministers, Charlie Joyner, a couple of months ago.  It has an incredible range about it.  It speaks to the rigorous academic side that preaching should be subjected to—areas like hermeneutics, the inspiration of Scripture, the different genres of Scripture, and how to identify the main idea of a passage of Scripture.  It also has a section that deals with the nuts and bolts of building a sermon.  Even though I have been preaching for almost 25 years, this kind of practical advice is always good for me.  The last section of the book speaks to the actual delivery of the sermon itself. 

Thursday, December 08, 2016

Book Recommendation--A Guide to Expository Ministry--Dan Dumas, Editor

One of the genres of books that I enjoy as a preacher is the group that deals with act and art of preaching itself.  If you have read this blog for any length of time, you have discovered that I have recommended a lion’s share of books about preaching—most have been to do with expository preaching.  It is good for preachers to continue to read books that will sharpen their skills as a preacher.  Because I believe that preaching—both the delivery by the preacher and the listening by the hearer—is an act of worship, I believe a preacher should do everything within his power to get better at preaching.  One of the ways that we can get better is to read books about preaching.

Last week, a friend of mine, Wayne Naylor, sent me a book, A Guide to Expository Ministry which has been edited by Dan Dumas.  It is a little over a hundred pages in length and it is packed with very good advice.  However, the advice in this book comes from a bit of a different angle in that it addresses the expositor in the first half and the listener in the second half.  I believe that churches that trend toward expository, verse-by-verse preaching goes a long way to creating something that takes place in the pews.  What takes place in the pews is a heightened awareness of the power of Scripture.  So Dumas and his covey of writers are working the angles of both the preacher’s responsibility and the saint’s duty as well. 

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

The Need for Pastor Theologians

There is something that takes place when you began to move beyond that middle point of life.  You tend to look back in retrospect at time and opportunity that was squandered.  You look forward with much more concern about the great values and virtues of a spiritual life than what was in those early years of youthful inexperience.  Age uniquely brings a sobriety, a seriousness, a focus, and at times even a sense of grimness to the mind.  This is especially true for a Christian pastor, or in my thoughts, it should be.  One of those areas of my own personal calling and ministry that I am looking back to are the countless times that I said, “I am an assistant pastor, preacher, minister not a theologian.”  Increasingly as my preaching style has drastically changed from my earlier years from topical preaching to much more expository preaching, I have been greatly convicted by the Spirit of God and my interaction with the Word of God that pastors need to be

Monday, October 31, 2016

A Needed Reformation in Pentecostal Preaching

There is a quiet buzzing that is beginning to rise from the grassroots among Pentecostal preachers.  Increasingly I am hearing a faint drum beating that is somewhat like music to my ears.  I am listening to remarks about Pentecostal preaching and its need of reformation at all levels; local, district, and national.  Our preaching has somewhat degenerated into cheerleading sessions that tout the accomplishments of the preacher or a local church or parachurch organization.  Our preaching has deteriorated into messages that take grand liberties with the text that the preacher may have read and wrested it from its true biblical context.  When we take liberties with the biblical text and take it out of context, we have basically said that what we have to say is more important than what God has to say by His Word.  It is my belief that out of context preaching is a very shrewd form of idolatry.  Furthermore,

Friday, October 07, 2016

Book Recommendation--Out of the Flames by Lawrence and Nancy Goldstone

This past March (2016), a good friend of mine recommended a book to me, Out of the Flames, by Lawrence and Nancy Goldstone.  Not only is this book one of the best books I have read this year, it probably will fall into the category of one of the greatest books that I have read in my lifetime.  The subject matter of the book is “the remarkable story of a fearless scholar, a fatal heresy, and one of the rarest books in the world.”  It is the story about Michael Servetus who was one of the most brilliant men that has ever lived.  Not only was Servetus a theologian, he was also a scientist and was one of the first to discover the pulmonary circulation of the blood through the lungs but he also wrote a book that cost him his life. 

One of the reasons that I believe this book is so important is not only for the content of the book but also who wrote it.  It is written by Lawrence and Nancy Goldstone, a husband and wife team, who are not theologians.  This is important because of the subject matter they write about concerning Michael Servetus and his battle with one of the most sadistic souls who has ever lived, John Calvin.  The Goldstones are primarily book collectors and write about antiquarian books which are books that are very rare and usually very old.  One of the book’s descriptions states that the Goldstones are interested in the “enduring legacy of books.”  Because they are not theologians or church historians they have a tendency to write their book about Servetus without the normal bias that comes against Servetus by so many of the church historians, theologians, and religious philosophers who do undertake the task of writing about the conflict between Servetus and Calvin.  In fact, I have read before various accounts by authors who generally come from a Reformed bent and it appears to me that before they ever get their thoughts off the ground, Servetus is under a severe thrashing. 

Monday, October 03, 2016

What Is Good Preaching?

 I have just recently come home from the UPCI General Conference held in Indianapolis, Indiana.  A couple of the Thursday morning seminars provoked my thoughts for this blog.  The first was by Raymond Woodward, “Why I Call Myself a Teacher,” and the second one was by Jerry Jones, “Preaching and Revival.”  Both of the sessions highlighted the matter of preaching and its crucial importance for our churches and our world.  I was again drawn back to the fact that even though there are a wide diversity of demands made on pastor/teachers and evangelists in our day, we can ill afford to let our preaching slip way down the list of our priorities.  There is absolutely nothing that is as important as good preaching in our churches.  But that gives rise to a very good question—what is good preaching?

Friday, July 01, 2016

July With the Puritans--George Swinnock--Part 2

This is the second outing that we are going to spend with George Swinnock whom was introduced in the previous post.  One of the chief ways of gaining insight into the Puritans is the need to read their sermons but even more so than that is to think and meditate on what they have written.  Early on you will discover that there were some matters that set the writings of the Puritans apart.  I intend on showing you some of the chief themes and characteristics about their preaching.  First, they were very concerned about the state of their conscience.  Secondly, they were very focused in on the brevity of life.  Thirdly, they used some of the most masterful word pictures in their preaching.  I have gathered most of the material I will write today from Volume 1 of George Swinnock’s work (pp. 1-26).    

The State of the Conscience

The condition of the human heart is sinful and has great proclivities toward sin.  This is the reason that men must be converted because of his fallen nature.  Never be surprised at the actions that sinners fall into.  “Men’s hearts naturally, are like Nebuchadnezzar’s, the hearts of beasts, grazing only in fleshly pastures, savouring only sensual pleasures, till their reason returneth to them; then they bless and honour the most high God, who liveth forever, Dan. iv. 34; then they mind spiritual dainties, and relish celestial delights” (pp. 3-4).  This is the kind of understanding of the human condition that has been seriously lost and sorely neglected by much of our world today.  Somewhere along the way, educators, politicians, news commentators, and even religious leaders have come to believe that man is basically good.  Take that single sentence that Swinnock wrote in the 17th century and make a comparison with any Christian bestseller today and you will notice a drastic difference in the content of the books.  In fact, the New York Bestseller List for the Religion/Spirituality list for today has a book about Scientology in the first slot.  The books that follow are those which are very marketable which means that there is very little of a call toward holiness and devotion to God but rather how to get God to do what we want Him to do.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

July with the Puritans--George Swinnock--Part 1

It seems like forever ago that I spent a month blogging about some of the Puritans.  Back in March 2012, I wrote a series of articles on Puritan preaching along with a brief sketch of some of the Puritan preachers.  Those men were Jeremiah Burroughs, Thomas Brooks, Thomas Shepherd, and Thomas Watson.  During the last five years, I have continually drawn from the writings of these men and their works have often been as refreshing to me as an artesian well that watered my soul.  Their commitment to personal holiness, private prayer, and passionate but deep preaching has certainly been a motivation for me.  With that in mind, I have determined to spend another month with the Puritans in hopes that those who read this will make a decision to explore some of the lives and works of these men.