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Discipling: How to Help Others Follow Jesus (9marks: Building Healthy Churches)
Discipling: How to Help Others Follow Jesus (9marks: Building Healthy Churches)
Price: £6.71

5.0 out of 5 stars A corrective to some, a refresher to others, an encouragement to all,, 4 Aug. 2016
Jesus commands His followers to make disciples.

To be a discipler.

To help others to follow Jesus.

Discipling is clearly important. It is something that local churches should have as a priority and be doing. It is one of the works of service that church leaders should be equipping individual members of church for.

But what is discipling and how do we do it?

That’s the subject of an excellent new addition by Mark Dever to the 9Marks Building Healthy Churches series.

Discipling: How to Help Others follow Jesus is short, accessible, practical, and most importantly biblical, book to encourage us and help us to do this important task, written by someone who has a proven track record of doing this.

Dever begins by answering the question, What is Discipling? and over four short chapters he shows that it isn’t really that complex.

“Discipling is deliberately doing spiritual good to someone so that he or she will be more like Christ.”

“Discipling really is just a bunch of church members taking responsibility to prepare one another for glory.”

In the next section of the book, he takes two chapters to show the importance of the local church as the place where discipling takes place.

This happens as members gather together and pastors prepare the members to disciple and take responsibility for one another.

“God sets pastors apart to disciple the church by teaching them God’s Word… They disciple members so members can disciple.”

“Pastors teaching the Word is the core of a church’s discipling ministry. It provides the food and water that feeds all other discipling relationships within the church.”

But also as the church affirms who is a disciple through baptism and the Lord’s Supper.

The final part of the book contains four practical chapters looking at how you might go about discipling another Christian, including a chapter specifically on what elders can do to raise up future leaders.

“Jesus tells us to make disciples by teaching people to obey, but they cannot obey what they haven’t been taught. We first have to teach.”

“No matter who you disciple, you want to help them better follow Jesus by growing in the knowledge of God and by learning to put that knowledge into practice – to understand better and to live better.”

On the basics of discipling, Discipling: How to Help Others follow Jesus lays a great foundation. For some this will be helpful corrective. For others a useful refresher. For all an encouragement to do what Jesus commands all His followers to do. This is a book that all pastors, elders, and church members would benefit from reading.

But, and there is a but. It was a book that left me wanting more. More on what a discipling relationship in action looks like – for Dever or others at his church to share real life stories of he/they actually discipled different people at different stages of their Christian walk. This want for more reflects how useful I found this book at reminding me what I need to be doing.

Thank you Crossway for providing a free copy of this book through Beyond the Page.

The Pastor's Book: A Comprehensive and Practical Guide to Pastoral Ministry
The Pastor's Book: A Comprehensive and Practical Guide to Pastoral Ministry
Price: £6.71

4.0 out of 5 stars Not quite what I was expecting but a useful addition to my library, 27 April 2016
With a subtitle of ‘A comprehensive and practical guide to pastoral ministry’ I was expecting that The Pastor’s Book would be the go to book for all aspects of pastoral ministry, a bit like On Being a Pastor by Derek Prime and Alistair Begg.

The fact that was written by R Kent Hughes and a few of his friends, a man with over 40 years of experience as a pastor, it looked like it was going to be the ideal resource for a youngish pastor like myself.

Sadly, what I hoped it would be, it isn’t. The focus is a lot narrower.

However, after getting over my initial disappointment, The Pastor’s Book, did turn out to be useful addition to my library.

The focus on the book is primarily on the Sunday Worship Service and other special services that take place from time to time (weddings and funerals) or at particular points during the year (Christmas and Easter), and the planning which goes into the different parts of them. There are two chapter on other ministerial duties (pastoral counselling and hospital visitation) but noticeably absent were chapters on pastoral care and visiting..

Hughes begins the book by outlining his hopes for it: that it will encourage a thoroughly gospel-centred ministry; refresh the church from the wells of historic orthodoxy; provide many of the practical examples; and become a go-to resource for busy pastors.

It is fair to say that the book hits its objectives, especially that of providing practical examples, and this is where the book is at its most usefulness.

I picked up a number of great ideas that I will probably look to incorporate into how I go about planning Sunday Worship Services and other services that I lead during the year. Some of the ideas that I noted down included putting an affirmation of the incarnation into the traditional carol service, making sure all the different types of prayers are prayed during the service, plus an encouragement to say the Apostle’s Creed more regularly than we do. There are also some good ideas for putting together a marriage preparation course, and for helping people prepare a eulogy for a funeral.

I also was challenged by the way Hughes reminded us to make the most of Christmas and Easter. He says, “They are events that the faithful pastor uses to instil the essentials of the gospel in the lives of his people by the prayerful preparation of sermons and services that evoke the question, “What do these things mean?” to which he then heralds the answers.”

So The Pastor’s Book isn’t quite the comprehensive and practical guide to pastoral ministry that I hoped it to be, but what it does do, it does well. I will refer back to this book, but maybe not as frequently as I first thought I would. One other comment worth mentioning is that this book is not cheap, and because of its narrower focus, some pastors or future pastors might find it hard to justify the expense.

Thank you Crossway for providing a free copy of this book through Beyond the Page.

Praying the Bible
Praying the Bible
Price: £7.41

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars ... Whitney’s Praying the Bible is a book I cannot recommend highly enough, 21 Oct. 2015
This review is from: Praying the Bible (Kindle Edition)
Don Whitney’s Praying the Bible is a book I cannot recommend highly enough, especially if praying is something you struggle to do.

Praying the Bible is about praying the Bible.

Yet it is more than that.

Whitney’s diagnosis of the reason why prayer is a struggle will resonate with many. “The problem is not that we pray about the same old things. Rather its that we say the same old things about the same old things.”

The solution he suggests is so simple, and he makes the brilliant point that it should be. “If God invites and expect all his children to do the same things – to pray – then prayer has to be simple… Would your heavenly Father make prayer so difficult, or confusing that you could never enjoy it, or rather, never enjoy him through prayer?”

And what is his solution?

You guessed it. Praying the Bible.

“When you pray, pray through a passage of Scripture, particularly a psalm… The best place for learning to pray through a passage or scripture is in the book of Psalms.”

But what makes this book so useful, it is that Whiney doesn’t finish here. Having shown that the solution is to pray the Bible, he then step by step, shows you how to do this. “To pray the Bible, you simply go through the passage, line by line, talking to God about whatever comes to mind as you read the text.”

He then tells you to stop reading and having a go at putting this method into practice yourself. As well as this, he also deals with questions that may arise, such us what to do if you don’t understand the meaning of a verse, what happens if nothing comes to mind to pray about, or how do you incorporate your prayer lists into this method.

Praying the Bible is a book that all Christians would benefit from reading, especially new Christians wondering how to pray and what to pray, and anyone who finds prayer a struggle. Yet knowing that some people just won’t read books, the method Whitney outlines is something that pastors should teach and model to their congregations too.

Thank you Crossway for providing a free copy of this book through Beyond the Page.

Who Is Jesus? (9Marks)
Who Is Jesus? (9Marks)
Price: £6.64

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One for your evangelistic resources tool belt, 8 Aug. 2015
A resource that pastors, church leaders, in fact, every Christian needs are good tracts and books which clearly explain who Jesus is and what He has done, that they can give away to those who have not yet put their trust in Him.

Greg Gilbert has written not just one, but two books, that would fit into this category. What is the Gospel? which came out a few years ago, and now his follow up to it, Who is Jesus?.

Who is Jesus? does exactly what the title says. Over 8 chapters, Gilbert clearly explains from the Bible who Jesus is and what He came to do and how every person should respond to Him. In that respect, there are lots of other books that do a similar thing.

The strength of his book comes in the opening chapter and the final word.

In the opening chapter, he encourages the reader to “give Jesus a chance”. It’s a serious challenge to take the time needed to find out what the truth about Jesus is, something they can do by reading the chapters which follow.

But having encouraged the reader to discover the answer to this important question, with his final word, Gilbert takes this book a step further than other books like it, because here he presses home the urgency of responding now by putting your faith in Jesus.

“The day of salvation and mercy and grace is only so long, and that means that one day, the choice will no longer be yours. It will be made for you, and the choice that will be made is that you will be cast away from God, from Jesus, forever.”

Yet he also wants to keep the door open for those who aren’t ready to do this, by pleading with them to keep asking questions about Jesus and examining and explore the reasons why they will not rely on Him to save them.

“Maybe you’re not ready yet to put your faith in Jesus. If so, why not? What other questions do you have? What is holding you back? Once you identify those things, don’t just walk away from them. Examine them. Pursue them. Find an answer to your questions. This issue – “Who is Jesus?” – is of crucial importance. Don’t ignore it or put it off.”

To your tool belt of evangelistic resources to give away, Who is Jesus?, is one to add.

And if you are a Christian needing a reminder of who Jesus is, well, you won’t be disappointed by taking the time to read this book. In fact, some of the freshness Gilbert brings to truths that will inevitably be familiar to you make it worthwhile to do so.

Thank you Crossway for providing a free copy of this book through Beyond the Page.

Blind Spots: Becoming a Courageous, Compassionate, and Commissioned Church
Blind Spots: Becoming a Courageous, Compassionate, and Commissioned Church
Price: £8.54

4.0 out of 5 stars A book for now, 8 May 2015
What local churches needs today are courageous, compassionate, commissioned people.

Sadly it seems that local churches and its members tend to be drawn to or to focus on one of these aspects to the expense of the others.

So some churches stand for the truth with great courage. Other churches have great compassion for the broken, weak, and abused in their communities. And then there are the churches that are all about building up the church and reaching the lost.

But there are two potential problems with this.

One problem is that local churches look at other local churches whose focus is different with suspicion, rather than seeing that each other’s strengths are necessary if a lost world is going to be reached with the gospel. They see the faults of others rather than seeing their own limitations.

The other problem comes when their weaknesses are further downplayed. So the courageous churches may stand up for truth, but can be lacking in love or passion to reach out with the gospel. The compassionate churches are wonderfully caring but may compromise on truth or fail to see that people’s greatest need is to be saved from the wrath to come and so need to hear desperately the good news about the Lord Jesus. And the commissioned churches are passionate about making disciples and maybe extremely creative in seeking new ways to do this but may compromise on truth in the name of whatever works and their desire for results could lead them to failing to take the time to meet real needs that people have.

Now into this situation Collin Hansen has written an extremely challenging and timely book, Blind Spots: Becoming a Courageous, Compassionate, and Commissioned Church.

In Blind Spots, Hansen wants to help us address this dangers, these blind spots we might have. “I’m not telling you to search for the perfect balance between heart, head, and hands, or compassion, courage, and commission. I’m telling you that if you want to follow Jesus in this world, you need all three in full, blessed abundance – in ourselves, our local churches, and the church at large.”

He wants the church to be more like Christ who was “equally zealous for pure doctrine, generous charity, and urgent evangelism” and so he helps us to identify our weaknesses not only so we don’t look down on other believers who are gifted in other ways, but also that with the help of the Spirit we would change and be more obedient to God’s Word.

I’ve found this book helpful to think through personally as a pastor which of the strengths I’m more naturally drawn to and the dangers this brings. Not only that, it has also helped me to appreciate the diversity of the church and to be more charitable towards churches and Christians I might have been tempted to dismiss because of their different gifting.

Blind Spots really is a book for reading now, especially for church leaders in the UK, as we look at how we can lead the local churches Christ has made us overseers of and work with other local churches to reach the nation with the good news of salvation in Jesus.

Thank you Crossway for providing a free copy of this book through Beyond the Page.

Churches Partnering Together: Biblical Strategies for Fellowship, Evangelism, and Compassion
Churches Partnering Together: Biblical Strategies for Fellowship, Evangelism, and Compassion
Price: £6.71

5.0 out of 5 stars It's time to start working together!, 4 Feb. 2015
I’m convinced that the Bible teaches these two things: i) that local churches should be independent churches; ii) being an independent church does not mean being isolated and that local churches should work together.

But this raises a number of questions such as ‘How should local churches work together?’ ‘When should local churches work together?’ and ‘What should local churches work on together?’

Wonderfully there is a really helpful book called Churches Partnering Together that goes a long way to answering these questions.

In Churches Partnering Together, Chris Bruno and Matt Dirks, want to encourage local churches to enter into what they call kingdom partnerships with each other. “A kingdom partnership is a gospel-driven relationship between interdependent local churches that pray, work, and share resources together strategically to glorify God through kingdom-advancing goals they could not accomplish alone.” They do this by showing how the apostle Paul encouraged local churches to work together, by giving to a collection he would take to the poor Christians in Jerusalem.

There are lots of useful points made throughout the book on things such as the motivation for partnership, the foundation for partnership, the nuts and bolts of how a partnership works, and also persevering in a partnership, as well as step by step instructions for how to set one up.

However the stand out chapter for me was the one on interdependence in partnership. “When Paul challenged the Corinthians to send a generous contribution to Jerusalem, he didn’t expect it to be a one-way street.” They then make this challenging comment that “If we go into any ministry without hoping to receive something, we’re either arrogantly proud (what could we ever gain from those guys) or arrogantly humble (it’s more blessed to give than receive; so we never want to receive anything).”

So what are some of the blessings we receive from partnering with other local churches in ministry? They suggest stronger gospel fellowship; encouragement, inspiration, and refreshment; spiritual and practical shepherding; greater passion for other areas of ministry; and tangible assistance. Certainly these have been my experience.

Churches Partnering Together is a great book for church leaders to read, especially those who lead independent churches, to get them thinking about how they can work with other local churches for the sake of the gospel. It has got me thinking about what the church I'm part of could be doing with other local churches in the area.

Thank you Crossway for providing a free copy of this book through Beyond the Page.

Taking God at His Word
Taking God at His Word
Price: £8.54

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Easy to read, thoroughly biblical, helpfully practical and accessible to all, 20 Sept. 2014
Have you ever watched a film where the opening scenes turns out to be the ending, and then the rest of the movie shows you how that conclusion was reached?

Kevin DeYoung’s book, Taking God at His Word, does a similar thing as he begins his book at the end with the application.

DeYoung like the Psalmist who wrote down the words of Psalm 119, wants us to believe that God’s Word says what is true, demands what is right, and provides what is good. He wants us to delight in God’s Word, desire God’s Word, and depend on God’s Word. And He wants us to sing God’s Word, speak God’s Word, study God’s Word, store up God’s Word, obey God’s Word, praise God for His Word, and pray that God would act according to it.

And the way he says that will happen, is as we understand what the Bible says about the Bible.

So what we have in the rest of the book unsurprisingly, are seven chapters unpacking key passages of the Bible and as he does, he covers a huge amount of ground. He explains how the Bible is God’s Word, it is true and inerrant, it is sufficient, clear, and authoritative, it is relevant to all of life and necessary for salvation, and worth sticking with,

As you’d expect if you’ve read any of DeYoung’s previous books, this one is easy to read, thoroughly biblical, helpfully practical and accessible to all. He really does have the knack of being able to make complex things simple and straightforward.

Taking God at His Word is a solid introduction or refresher on the doctrine of Scripture. It would make a good book to give away if you are looking for something more substantial and less yellow than a book like ‘Can I really trust the Bible?’ In addition, for pastors and preachers, the eight chapters would provide a good basis for a teaching series on the Bible which is something I might one day do.

Thank you Crossway for providing a free copy of this book through Beyond the Page.

Preaching: A Biblical Theology
Preaching: A Biblical Theology
Price: £11.73

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars One for every preacher's reading list, 7 April 2014

That’s how I’d sum up Preaching: A Biblical Theology by Jason Meyer.

It’s a book that has some simply outstanding chapters, so much so, that if they were all put together, they would make a great little book on the subject. But it is also a book that has a long section in the middle that didn’t quite hit the target, which was frustrating.

The opening two chapters on the What and How of Preaching, that set preaching within the larger context of the ministry of the Word, were really helpful. Meyer’s thesis is that “the ministry of the word in Scripture is stewarding and heralding God’s word in such a way that people encounter God through his word” and that this “stewarding and heralding must be carried out faithfully and fearlessly”.

Following this we have a long section, from chapters 3 through to the end of chapter 16, which begins with a condensed biblical theology of the ministry of the word, which is then expanded on over 11 chapters. This was probably the weakest part of the book. (To be fair to Meyer, he does give busy pastors the permission to skip the part of the book). It would have been great if there could have been in this section more specific and detailed application about what each of 10 scenes he divides the Bible story into uniquely has teach about the ministry of the word.

After this, the remainder of the book is great. The chapters on the What, How and Why of Expository Preaching provided a great definition “preaching must re-present the word of God in such a way that the preacher represents the God of the word so that people respond to God”, a memorable method “share, show, shepherd”, and a clear defence for it. Equally strong are the brief chapters that discuss the relationship between preaching and scripture and preaching and sin and why expository preaching best fits with what these doctrines teach, and a chapter on how topical preaching can be done well.

One final highlight of the book that was a real bonus was an appendix where Meyer surveys and comments on other books on preaching that he has been helped by and which any reader who follows up these leads would be too.

So Preaching: A Biblical Theology is a book that is mixed.

Yet on the basis of the opening and closing chapters, it is a book I’d definitely encourage preachers experienced, occasional, or just starting out, to read. Certainly I’ll be returning to re-read these chapters every so often.

Thank you Crossway for providing a free copy of this book through Beyond the Page.

The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert
The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert
Price: £5.63

4.0 out of 5 stars God's Grace in Action, 21 Aug. 2013
Every time someone puts their trust in Jesus, it is a miracle of grace. From the child who grows up always believing in Jesus, to the person who seems furthest away from Christ, there is much rejoicing in heaven every time a sinner repents, and every conversion story is one worth hearing.

But stories like that of Rosaria Butterfield need to be told and heard widely, to remind Christians afresh of the power of the gospel to save, and this is why `The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert' is such a great book, because it does just that.

Rosaria was a radical, lesbian, feminist professor who specialised in Queer Theory (a postmodern form of gay and lesbian studies). That was until God used the loving witness of pastor Ken Smith and his wife Floy, who befriended her, and shared the gospel with her over a number of years, to bring her to repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus, and her whole life was transformed. Today she is a homeschooling, pastor's wife and mother of four adopted children who is part of a local church that sings unaccompanied psalms.

This book tells the story of how that happened.

You might not agree with everything she says (particularly about homeschooling and unaccompanied psalm singing), but you will be amazed and at times moved, as she tells the story of what God has done in her life.

Jesus on Every Page: 10 Simple Ways to Seek and Find Christ in the Old Testament
Jesus on Every Page: 10 Simple Ways to Seek and Find Christ in the Old Testament
Price: £8.49

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Take the Road to Emmaus, 21 Aug. 2013
Every now and then you read a book that makes you go "Wow!" David Murray's Jesus on Every Page is a book that would fit into this category. I was looking forward to reading it, and having read it, it does not disappoint.

It is a book of two halves. The first half tells David's own `Road to Emmaus' story of how he came to discover that the Old Testament was all about Christ. This part of the book really draws you in with a mix of personal narrative and clear Bible teaching.

The second half of the book provides 10 ways of finding Jesus in the Old Testament: Christ's Planet, People, Presence, Precepts, Past, Prophets, Pictures, Promises, Proverbs and Poets. Time and time again these chapters made me say to myself "Why didn't I see that before?"

Each chapter of this book was a delight to read, however the one that really blew me away, was Christ's Planet, where Murray shows how we can discover Jesus in creation, giving 11 ways (yes, eleven ways!) we see Christ in Genesis 1 and 2. If the rest of the book weren't so good, I'd say it's worth buying just for the chapter, but actually it's worth buying for every chapter.

I really cannot recommend this book highly enough. Both for pastors to help them preach Christ from Old Testament passages, and also for the whole congregation to help them to know Christ better from these 39 books of the Bible.

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