Wednesday, November 23, 2011

"Marriage Matters" Book Review

"Marriage Matters" is written by Winston T. Smith, is a counselor and faculty member at the Christian Counseling & Educational Foundation (CCEF).  The subtitle:  "extraordinary change through ordinary moments" seeks to summarize that all of the small ordinary events in our marriage that can usually stall the marriage or bring its deterioration can actually fuel our marriages in to an extraordinary relationship.  The opening section creates a biblical foundation for all marriages.  This section is worth the price of the book itself.  The second section deals with specific concerns, primarily, conflict and forgiveness.  The third section is reminder to stay focused on the important aspect of marriage, how grace satisfies us, how our faith in Christ sustains us, and how our marriage is a picture of God the Son dealings with His bride.

All marriage books deal with the same issue.  There really isn't anything new under the sun when it comes to marriage and the Bible truly is a great source for strengthening our marriages.  This book is a good addition to the marriage book arsenal.  I appreciated Mr. Smith's theological convictions that drove the lessons of his book.  He truly understands the covenant aspect of theology and for that sake marriage too.  The opening section discusses marriage from the viewpoint of how God loves His people and how idols destroy that relationship.  Mr. Smith uses the analogy of idol worship through out the book to highlight the destructive tendencies with in each man and woman and how we use them to fuel our own appetites and simultaneously destroy our marriages.

The chapter on marriage roles interested me and I found that Mr. Smiths treatment of the subject biblically consistent.  The subject is dealt with from a foundation of love.  He presents the topic of authority and submission entirely from a "love" perspective.  I found it very encouraging and biblically sound.

This book would be great for a marriage that is several years along.  Husbands and wives will identify with the stories and relate well to the content.  Pastors and teachers will find it helpful for counseling and advice.

 Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the New Growth Press book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 : "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Thursday, November 17, 2011

"An Earnest Ministry" Book Review

I would compare John Angell James' "An Earnest Ministry" with Richard Baxter's "Reformed Pastor."  It is a strong call to ministers to be earnest in their ministry.  To be earnest as Mr. James uses it is to be decidedly fixed upon your purpose, to have a resolute will, and to persevere in actions.  Like "The Reformed Pastor" the reader will receive a charge of adrenaline in its words that should motivate the pastor to greater depth of ministry.  Through two chapters he discusses the nature of earnestness giving us various reasons why this topic is essential.  The sole pursuit of the minister is to pursue the lost mans soul and plead for its salvation.  This one pursuit then allows for lesser pursuits to be more fully accomplished.  In modern times, we must have a goal firmly established in our minds and to let nothing distract us from it. 

I found "An Earnest Ministry" to be a passionate plea of a by-gone era.  That is not a criticism, opening its pages allowed me to look into the past at the affections of a great minister and how ministry was viewed through his eyes.  Pastors need good role models and I found Mr. James to be a great one.  Like our modern day blogs and facebook pages where we "like" anothers post or article, Mr. James included whole sections of sermons and writings from his contemporaries that illustrated his point.  While this was interesting and helped to fulfill his point, at times it was laborious to read those sermons.  Why?  Because they written over 150 years ago.  The language is powerful and full, unlike todays modern day writing.  I will have to admit there were times when I got a little bored.  But, that may just be me, because I got bored with Baxter's work at times also. 

My favorite quote of the book:  This is earnestness in preaching: when it is evident to the hearer that the preacher feels the truths he discusses; when it is manifest to all that he believes what he says, in affirming that his hearers are sinking into perdition and that he is to persuade them to forsake their evil courses:  when his sermons are full of close, pointed, personal addresses; when, in short, through whole discourse, he is seen moving onward from the understanding to a closer and closer approximation to the heart in the conclusion, and the hearer feels at length his hand seizing him with a mysterious and resistless power, and bearing him away almost whether he will or no, to Christ, salvation and heaven. 

Every Pastor should read this book as it is another fine tool for his ministerial arsenal.  This book was given to me free of charge from Banner of Truth Publishers in return for my honest and unbiased review.