Preaching By The Book – A Book Review

This book is the second in a series published through Hobbs College Library (part of OBU).  I will start off by saying that this book is not for the average layperson.  It is a deep study of the formation of sermons.  The author of this book, R. Scott Pace is a distinguished writer and professor who utilizes his experience to assist pastors in developing their sermon style.

 

The book is divided into the following three sections:  Foundation, Framework, Finishing Touches; within each section of these three sections are the sublevels of sermon writing.  In foundation, the reader is given information about the inspiration and investigation into the sermon topic.  He advises the reader that unless the foundation is solid (Based on the Word of God) the rest will falter.  The next section, framework, progresses into interpretation and implementation of the Word and how to study and use the information received to write a sermon.  The final section, Finishing Touches goes into introductions, illustrations, invitations, and conclusions.

 

Throughout the book, Mr. Pace stresses the importance of using the truth of God’s word in your sermons.  He also stresses the impact of a personality in a sermon.  I can identify with that because I am more apt to actually hear a sermon that has a personality to it.  I do not mean the pastor is acting like an idiot, but just that their individual personality shines through the words they are speaking.

 

Even though this book is not geared towards laypeople, but towards pastors, I enjoyed learning about structuring sermons and how to make sure they follow a good format.

 

I would give this book 5 out of 5 stars and a must for those starting to deliver God’s word.

 

I was given a free copy of this book for an honest review by B&H Publishing.

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Cornerstones – A Book Review

Brian Dembowczyk has written a book that reviews 200 basic questions about God, Jesus, the Church and pretty much any basic theological question you can imagine.  He starts of with a letter to parents about why he wrote the book and how to use it to develop a spiritual nature in their children.

The book is colorful and interesting in its format It is broken into 7 sections.  The sections are listed below:

  1. God
  2. Creation
  3. Sin
  4. Jesus
  5. Salvation
  6. The Bible
  7. Discipleship
  8. The Church and Last Things

Even though the questions and answers are a simple format and are geared towards children; I feel that this book would work well with anyone who is new to the faith or would like to renew the knowledge they have.

I found the answers simple, correct and to the point, and since I prefer books that are straight to the point I enjoyed this one.

Keep in mind this book is to be used as a family unit, you are not to give the book to someone and walk away, it is an interactive study to expand and deepen the knowledge a person has of their spiritual walk.

I rate this book 5 out of 5 stars and would recommend it as required family reading.

 

I was given a free copy of this book in return for an unbiased review.

The CSB Worldview Study Bible

The Worldview CSB Study Bible is a newer translation called the Christian Standard Bible.  This translation is said to be more reader-friendly.  I did not really have a problem with the verses I checked against my ESV and will continue to utilize it in my studies since I like to use several translations.  There are approximately 100 essays located throughout the Bible written by different professors, theologians, Pastors, etc. that range in topics from how to use the study Bible to different religions and modern issues we as Christians are dealing with.  I did not really care for them to be scattered throughout the Bible I would have preferred to have them in the back as an appendix.  The study notes are located at the bottom of the text and any additional reference verses are located in the middle column.  In the New Testament, all Old Testament references in the text are in bold, and I find that I like that and wish all Bibles would do it.  Before I review the actual physical characteristics I want to put in a word of caution.  If ANY of the study notes raise a question, talk to your Pastor, Priest Spiritual Head or whatever they are referred to as; do not accept information that is contrary to your beliefs in any way.  That being said the notes that I review were on target with my theology, but of course, I did not read every study note.  There is a very nicely detailed concordance in the back along with colorful maps.

Physical Characteristics – It is a blue Leather touch with silver gilding on the page edges.  It comes in a sturdy box that if giving as a gift and mailing should do well.  There is a presentation page with the verse Revelations 22:6A Then He said to me, “These words are faithful and true” I liked that and felt it gave it a great touch.  There are 2 ribbon markers one for the Old Testament and one for the New Testament.

I give this Study Bible 4 out of 5 stars based on the information I read and would recommend it for purchase.

I was given a free copy in exchange for an honest review.

The CSB Study Bible for Women – Book Review

This is the Christian Standard Bible translation offered by Holman.  The exterior of this Bible has a hardback light turquoise with a cream bookend.  It comes with a very pretty flowered paper jacket.  The appearance of this Bible is feminine and the only thing I would like to see changed is that the flower jacket covered the entire exterior.

The interior has a lot of features to review, starting with the wife and husband family trees located in the very front of the book.  It then lists the Ketubah, which is a Jewish marriage contract, I found the information about this interesting and it also gives space for your own personal contract to be written.  Next comes the listing of family milestones and spiritual mothers.  Since there are events and people in our lives that shape us, this is a great way to honor them.

The introduction to the Study Bible had some very relevant suggestions and ideas that were written by Dorothy Kelley Patterson (professor at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary).  There is also a section on how to actually study the Bible.  There are essays from various women throughout the Bible and also different charts and maps to help.

One of the many items I liked were the word studies located throughout.  Each one picks a single word and gives a more detailed breakdown; origin, different locations in the Bible, etc.)  The concordance is the back has many different features including related terms, color coding for old, new or both.

Now to the meat of the review.  I checked the translation against my ESV, NIV, and NLT and found them to be similar.  I like the format of the study notes and how much information is provided.  The essays and study notes were extensive and I did not read all of them, but the ones I did were in line with the Lutheran doctrine.

However, if anyone should have questions about any notes in a study Bible, I would suggest a discussion with your Pastor in case the notes are not conducive to your doctrine.

That being said I would purchase this Study Bible and give it 3 out of 4 stars.

You may purchase it at:  https://www.lifeway.com/en/product/the-csb-study-bible-for-women-light-turquoise-sand-hardcover-P005787303

 

Problems or Blessings #2

I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate. Romans 7:15

Well, I almost blew it again.  Just like Paul in the book of Romans, I know the right way to act, but more often than not, I keep choosing the same old sin.  A little while back, I blogged about how most of our “problems” are really just annoyances or inconveniences, and instead of whining and complaining, we should focus on the actual blessings we’ve received.  Today I had a test of just this sort of situation, and I came close to forgetting all my good intentions.

On Tuesday our church has a regularly scheduled Bible Study at 10:30AM.  I went over an hour early so that I could run off some copies needed for the Wednesday Prayer meeting and the next Fanning the Flame meeting.  I got there only to find a repairman working on the copier!  I got pretty cranky with my husband–after all, he could have called me to let me know what was going on, couldn’t he? I didn’t even bring a book to read (duh, what about my Bible?) and I didn’t have anything to do until class started. What a waste of my precious time.

Then it dawned on me — Joan, this gives you an hour to pray!  No interruptions, no phones, a beautiful sanctuary to sit in — what a blessing!  It calmed me down and I realized that not only did I have my Bible, I had my little Pilgrim’s Guide (a book of prayers of Bible verses from my Via de Cristo weekend) in my purse.  So I spent a peaceful hour thanking God, examining my conscience (something that I evidently sorely need to do), and reading over the chapter we’re studying (which I hadn’t found time for).  And you know what?  After class, I got the copying done, too.  Another first world problem solved!

 

 

Piety and Direction

On a Via de Cristo weekend, one of the talks is called Piety. I didn’t think very much of this word when I first heard it because, probably like you, I thought of a Bible thumping, scripture quoting person that gets on your nerves really fast. You really don’t want to be around this person who always has a scripture answer to every question that you ask. You might just shake your head and wonder what is wrong with this person because they always seem angry. Then there is the opposite of that person, you know, the one that just smiles, goes to church a lot and doesn’t interact with the world around them. They should have a permanent halo over their heads. For both of these “types” you think, “They’re so Heavenly minded they’re no earthly good”. And so you should.

True, or Authentic Piety, is neither of these things. Authentic Piety is an intimate, revitalizing, deepening relationship with God. If you’re not actively working on your relationship with God, to deepen it, make it better, then you are not “Pious”. The examples that I give above are examples of False Piety. False Piety is a superficial, inaccurate or deceptive practice that appears to be Christian. It’s all on the outside, nothing on the inside.

We’ve all done the false piety thing, even in little stuff. Acting a different way in church than you do at home or just going to church because that’s what you’ve always done because that’s the way you were raised. Just going to church doesn’t make you a Christian.

With true Piety, you want to get closer to God and start to do things in your life to make that happen. Going to church regularly is a good start, but when you sing that hymn or praise song, listen to the words. If you go to a traditional church like me, when you go through the Liturgy, really mean the words when you say them. Pay attention to the sermon or even take notes!!

Start small with that and then build to reading the Bible, going to a Bible study or prayer group. Listen to Christian Music on the radio. Build small actions around you that grow your knowledge. As your knowledge of God increases, so will your true piety.

Do I have this this Piety thing down? I don’t. But everyday I try a little harder; try to do a bit more. I’m working on my piety everyday. This is a journey, not something that just comes to you and you have it. Working on getting closer with God does give me a direction in my life. By reading Scripture I hear the voice of the Lord, directing me everyday and that gives me peace.

Stewardship of My Reading

“All things are lawful, but not all things are helpful.  All things are lawful, but not all things build up.”  1 Corinthians 10:23

Anyone who reads our blog regularly knows that I am an avid reader.  I read all sorts of things:  suspense novels, historical fiction, novels that address ethical questions, legal thrillers, nonfiction books about the brain, mental illness and other medical issues, spiritual autobiographies, books on prayer and other aspects of Christian living, the Bible (of, course) and more.  None of these books are “unlawful” and sometimes I use my reading time to just relax and take my mind off my responsibilities and the stress of everyday life.  Of course, we learn something even when we read books that seem merely escapist — we increase our vocabulary, travel to foreign cultures, grow in understanding people very different from ourselves, etc….I’m sure you could add to the list.  However, it is also true that some books are more edifying than others.

Gracious Uncertainty: Faith in the Second Half of LifeMost of the time I am reading two books at once:  one that is just for fun, and one that builds me up in some way.  I read my serious book for a bit first thing in the morning (when I’m fresher) and the other one throughout the day and before bed. Right now my morning book is called, Gracious Uncertainty: Faith In The Second Half of Life by Jane Sigloh.  In the forward, Jane is described as a “wife, mother, grandmother, teacher, poet, vintner, cook, gardener, and story keeper.”  The book is a serious of short essays, starting with a memory about her spiritual life, many from her childhood and youth.  It has inspired me to look back on my own spiritual journey and consider writing some of those memories down for my children and grandchildren.

I also try to do my Bible study early in the day.  I’ve been reading through the book of Acts (that’s what we’re studying in our Tuesday morning class at church) and parts of 1 Kings (our Sunday School unit this quarter is called ‘Kings and Prophets–we’ve been using material from Concordia Publishing, if anyone is interested).

My point in all this is simply:  if you’re a reader, like I am, be a good steward.  Read to relax, but also try to also spent time with things that are truly worthwhile.  Don’t have much time?  Pick a book like the one I mentioned or a devotional that has short chapters or essays and read one a day.  Read through the gospels in small bites.  Read a Psalm each day.  Then think about what you’ve read.  Write down quotes or verses that strike you.  Talk to others about what you’ve been reading. Build yourself up.

P.S.  The Lutheran Ladies recently signed up to be B&H/Lifeway Bloggers, and review new books.  Look for our book reviews on our blog and B&H Publishing website.  Hopefully our reviews will point you toward some edifying reading!