For some people their ideal holiday is a lovely city break, walking around viewing the architecture. For others their dream holiday is exploring new places, hiking and doing adventurous things. For me, my ideal holiday is where I get the time and space to sit in the sun and read. When we go on holiday my wife always looks at my book pile with a little bit of despair in her eyes, because there are so many books. However, I don’t always get through them all. But here are short reviews of some of the books that I recently read whilst on holiday, enjoying the sun.
Right with God by Mike Reeves
Reeves is a great writer and a very helpfully clear, thought-through theologian who has written this very short introduction to the doctrine of Justification, answering the question of how do we become right with God? I think this is a helpful book that would be a good resource to hand to a new Christian. IF you have read Reeves before you’ll hear a bit of repetition from other books of his, but I think this is still a worthwhile book. Although it isn’t much of a book, more of a booklet with only 54 pages. I like that Reeves weaves in voices from the past to help the reader see where to go and read other great authors from Church history.
When God seems gone by Adam Mabry
Most Christians will be able to think of a time when the Lord felt absent. In this book Mabry brings his usual easy to read writing style to a very personal topic. One of the good things about this book is that Mabry is honest about his own feelings and struggles of times when God has seemed absent in his life. His vulnerability makes the book more approachable and helps you resonate more with the topic. One of the things I felt was missing in the book is the realisation of how God could be using such times of difficulty to shape and transform His people and I would have enjoyed some time spent on the benefits of lamenting. I think this is still a helpful book that pushes you to focus on Jesus in times of trouble.
Challenging Leaders by Graham Nicholls
The subtitle of this book is ‘preventing pastoral malpractice and investigating allegations’ based not hat alone, it should be pretty obvious just how important and necessary this book is today. This book has multiple authors and is edited by Graham Nicholls. As a multi-author book there is naturally a bit of overlap, there isn’t the same sense of continuity of content and quality of content throughout, but it is helpful. I would say this book is more for Pastors and church leaders. One of the strengths of this book is that it is written by people in the UK, there’s nothing wrong with similar books written from an American context, but the cultural differences are significant. Therefore, was pleased to see this book coming to the market. Due to the multiple authors, which is a bit inevitable, one of the things I didn’t really like about this book is the lack of consistency regarding the terminology ‘spiritual abuse’, ‘pastoral malpractice’ and ‘abuse of power’ for example come up multiple times throughout the book even though there’s a section on which term is more helpful to use. If you’re in a leadership position in a church, I recommend you read this.
Pride by Matthew Roberts
One of the issues that Christians have increasingly come up against in the last few years, and will continue to come up against is that of identity (particularly in terms of the LGBTQ movement). In this book Robert packs in tons of deep theology, Bible references and arguments for why the LGBTQ movement is a new facet to the age-old problem of idolatry and false-worship (particularly the worship of self). This is a helpful book that I’m sure many people will read. Roberts does throw some punches (in a polite way) at Living Out and a few of the contributors there. If you’ve been on social media for a few years (particularly Twitter) you’ve probably seen some of the arguments before, but I found it interesting to see them coming from the UK too. I’d be interested to see how Living Out and others respond to the book. There are times where I think a little bit more nuance and a bit more time spent on practically what the teaching of this book looks like would have been helpful. This will be a helpful book for Christians to read as we continue to seek to follow Christ in a world that loves self and infects worships self.
The Balanced Pastor by John Benton
This book is good, but was a little bit confusing. Originally it was three separate booklets on different topics which have now been put together into one book, the thing that makes it confusing is that there doesn’t seem to have been work done in making the three different works merge into one cohesive work. Instead the book has been split into three parts;
Part 1 – Servant Shepherd, avoiding spiritual abuse as a Pastor
Part 2 – Taming Dragons, a pastoral response to destructive people in the church
Part 3 – Freedom & Humility in the churches, leaders and congregations who grow people for Christ
Each part of the book is helpful and has good Bible work and practical advice for pastors and churches. I think it would be helpful for those training in ministry to read, but it maybe a little bit too short for those who are wanting in-depth discussions on these topics.
How then should we worship? by Sam Waldron
the subtitle of this book is ‘The Regulative Principle and Required Parts of the Church’s Corporate Worship’ Ok, I’ll admit, this is super niche reading for holiday material! As it says on the tin, this book is about the regulative principle and how that should impact how we worship God as a gathered church on Sundays. I’ll be honest from the get go, I did not like this book.
Waldron is the Dean of Covenant Baptist Theological Seminary and professor of Systematic Theology and a pastor in his local church. Waldron covers a lot of ground in this book from singing, to clapping, saying ‘amen’, collecting an offering and much more. In some senses the book was academic, clearly written by a man who is used to writing or reading academic papers, because of the style of writing, but in other ways I didn’t find it that academic (raising questions without answering them, not interacting that well with Bible texts or secondary sources). The book is very repetitive and wasn’t a thrilling read, I was quite glad when I finished it. I would not recommend this book.
Unconventional by Sharon Dickens
Are you involved in women’s ministry? Are you a woman in church who is thinking about how to disciple other women? Are you a church leaders who wants to think about women’s ministry and se the women in your church discipled? Get this book, read that again, get this book!
Sharon is a great writer, reading her books is like having a chat with her and learning from her experience of discipling women at Niddrie Community Church (in Edinburgh) and in her wider role as director of women’s ministry for 20Schemes. This book is very practical, Sharon takes you through the steps of how she built the women’s ministry at NCC and the different things that they tried and the processes that they went through. The thing I like most about this book is Sharon’s honesty, she speaks about times that she has failed and found hard and things that have hurt her too. This book is exactly what is says ‘A practical guide to women’s ministry in the local church’. I highly recommend this book to you! I loved it so much I finished it in an afternoon.
*** I received a copy of these books from the publishers in exchange for honest reviews. This does not change the way I rate the books. My views are my own. ***