Tim Franks

About Tim Franks

Tim's Blog
My name is Tim Franks, I have been married to my wife Alicia for seven years, and I am a Foster Parent. I graduated from Moody Bible and Southern Seminary. I currently serve as Associate Pastor at Eureka Bible Church in Eureka, IL. I really enjoy reading and am an avid sports fan.



The Passionate Preaching of Martin Lloyd-Jones Book Review

The Passionate Preaching of Martin Lloyd-Jones Book Review

The Passionate Preaching of Martyn Lloyd-Jones

by Steven J. Lawson
Length: Approximately 4 hours. To read (190 pages)
TCB Rating:
four-half-stars
Buy on Amazon

Book Overview

We live in a day and age where preaching has been cheapened and softened for the hearer. With the modern resurgence of expository preaching, Steven J. Lawson gives us a powerful and concise look at most likely the father of modern expository preaching in Martin Lloyd-Jones. The author weaves in the major moments of Dr. Lloyd-Jones life throughout as he focuses on the preaching style of this great man of God.

Who should read this?

This work is a unique biography that touches on the major life points of Dr. Lloyd-Jones, but focuses on the passionate preaching of the late pastor. Any believer could get great benefit from reading this book. However, I would say the main audience for all of the books in this series is those in ministry or studying to do so.

The Passionate Preaching of Martin Lloyd-Jones 1

SUMMARY

Our culture and churches are starving today for preaching that is deep and has power packed behind it. There has been resurgence in the recent years for expository preaching in evangelical churches. In the Long Line of Godly Men Profile Steven J. Lawson writes about the father of this resurgence Martin Lloyd-Jones, highlighting both the major moments of his life and his passionate preaching.

Dr. Lawson begins by looking briefly at the early life and influences of Martin Lloyd-Jones. He was born in Wales with a strong church influence from the Calvinistic Methodists. The family was forced to move to London because of financial hardship, which would impact Dr. Lloyd-Jones immensely. Early on he nor his father ever had an inkling about ministry as a profession. Martin was very intelligent and being a doctor was his chosen profession. The author then shares with us the dramatic calling and change of life that Lloyd Jones makes.

He was converted when he was 25 and felt nearly an immediate call to ministry. When he came to England, he began to Pastor the church called Westminster Chapel. Steven Lawson says, “He would fill its pulpit for the next twenty-five years, during which time Westminster Chapel would become a great gospel beacon that shone forth the light of the gospel, resulting in countless lives’ being transformed” (15). He would see great success from his leadership and preaching during his time there. His influence even today cannot fully be measured and Dr. Lawson shows great praise for all the lives impacted from all the years of his ministry in England.

The final eight chapters of this biography cover aspects of Martin Lloyd-Jones passionate preaching, and how they can be an example for our pastors/churches today. The author begins by looking at the beginning point, which is the sovereign call from God to preach. Many people would challenge Martin’s decision to leave the doctor profession for the pastoral calling. He would challenge back that God calls us to our work, and we must follow that path. Lloyd-Jones would add, “It is God who commands preaching, it is God who sends out preachers” (32).

Also, important parts of his preaching were being biblically based and expository in nature. He was serious about letting God’s authority in His Word direct and guide all of his messages. He says about this, “There is only one way for any preacher to be a mouthpiece for God. That is to preach the written Word entrusted to him” (58). Steve Lawson brings out here the most important part of the legacy of his preaching, which is the expository style. Martin Lloyd-Jones believed there wasn’t any other kind of true preaching.

One of the lost arts in today’s preaching world is the time and careful use of study for sermons. Martin Lloyd-Jones gives us a great example of putting the effort and time into study. Many elements included in his sermon outlines like opening illustration, locating the main idea, and using study tools are what you see taught in most seminaries today. The author pulls out many quotes and illustrations of Lloyd-Jones to illustrate the careful study he put in for all of his sermons.

The last four chapters of the book discuss areas of Martin’s preaching that gave it the lasting power it had. It was divinely focused in the way it addressed the greatness of God more than any point in his messages. His preaching was doctrinally grounded, in the way it continually came back to teaching deep truths of the Gospel to those who were listening. The author says about his preaching here, “Theology for Lloyd-Jones was the match that lit the flame in the pulpit” (127).

His messages were also theologically reformed. One example of this was Friday night services dealing with great doctrines and studies on the Book of Romans. Dr. Martin Lloyd-Jones held strong in his life and preaching to the main doctrines of Calvinism. This is where his roots from Wales came to influence his preaching. Lastly, his preaching was spiritually empowered. Preaching Lloyd-Jones believed had to be backed by the work of the Holy Spirit in order to have any power. The author writes, “A world of difference exists, the Doctor believed, between being naturally gifted to deliver an address and being filled by the Spirit to preach the Word” (162).

The writer concludes with a two-page challenge to all pastors and churches to reclaim again the passionate preaching of Martin Lloyd-Jones. Steven J. Lawson’s challenge is this, “We must capture the primacy and power of biblical preaching once again. There must be a decisive return to preaching that is Word-centered, God-exalting, Christ-centered, and Spirit empowered” (177).

ANALYSIS

Oh what more of a difference the Gospel could have on our world if all those that fill the pulpit week and week out would follow the example of Dr. Martin Lloyd-Jones. We have in this biography not only a brief summary of his life, but a strong biography on the dawning of a new age of expository preaching in the evangelical world we know today.

One of the great strengths of this book is getting to know Martin Lloyd-Jones through his greatest calling, preaching. We see throughout this work the affect that preaching can have on the life of anyone in the world. We see in the opening chapter with his life milestones, all of the things that God prepared for Martin to be the strong pastor and preacher he was. The rest of the book we see all of the elements of his preaching from careful study to being spirit empowered, that help us see the person of Martin Lloyd-Jones in a deep manner. We are emotionally connected to this Godly man by the time we finish this work by Steven J. Lawson.

There are honestly not enough books out there that address some of the strengths we can learn about preaching from Martin Lloyd-Jones. One example of this is the chapter on careful study. I was personally challenged by the importance of study, and ways that I can put more effort into my preparation for sermons. It is hard to estimate the impact that Lloyd-Jones has had on my preaching and pastoral ministry. This book has even broadened my desire to preach the Word, and do it in a way that gives God the glory every time I do.

What makes this work stand out as a biography above most else, is all of the actual words quoted by Dr. Martin Lloyd-Jones. You can know the man better, and understand clearly the points about preaching from this style of writing. I am so thankful that Steven J. Lawson decided to use so many of the powerful words of Lloyd-Jones about his life and preaching. Here is the example of one of those quotes, “The chief thing is the end of love of God, the love of souls, a knowledge of the Truth, and the Holy Spirit within you. These are the things that make up a preacher” (178). Feel the passion and direction behind these words that drove this man of God to the great calling of preacher!

One of the weaknesses of this book was the short biography of his life. It is understandable that the focus of this book was his passionate preaching, hence the title. I would have enjoyed a few more chapters discussing a little deeper the background that brought Martin Lloyd-Jones to the man he became. As the chapters went on there also was no harkening back to his life story to the influence on his preaching. The passionate and convictional preaching he became well known for was because of his upbringing, background, and calling from God.

The other weakness I saw in this work was the fact that the author never really addresses any of Martin Lloyd-Jones weaknesses as a person or preacher. There are a few allusions to some issues, but nothing substantial that would have deepened the book. It is important to learn from the mistakes and weak spots that each person has, in this work we did not have that opportunity. Godly men are flawed, and we should know about those issues in these profiles as well.

I would recommend this book as a great biographical work on the life and preaching of Martin Lloyd-Jones. Especially for pastors and those that are aspiring to be in the future, this book will be of great benefit to their ministries. Take the time to read this book by author Steven J. Lawson, if you want a refresh or motivation to bring passion to the pulpit God has called you too!

CONCLUSION

It can be very disheartening to look around at churches today and see the lack of depth and passion behind the pulpit. Many preachers today have sacrificed biblically based and expository preaching for fluffy and seeker sensitive messages. Steven J. Lawson in his work The Passionate Preaching of Martin Lloyd-Jones exhorts churches and pastors back to passionate and powerful preaching of the late Martin Lloyd-Jones. Oh how we would listen to the words of the author as we head into the pulpit every Sunday. He writes, “May the centrality of the pulpit be so recovered today in churches around the world in order that the matchless glory of God might be brilliantly showcased” (80).

 

FAVORITE QUOTES

  • “Lloyd-Jones stands as an example of what God can do through a man who honors and heralds His Word.” (Introduction)
  • “In the pulpit, Lloyd-Jones would always be doing the work of an evangelist. He knew what it was to be in church but not be in Christ.” (9)
  • “Theology should always ignite the heart, both in the preacher and the listener. Theology must be the foundation of every sermon.” (133)
  • “In short, we need Lloyd-Jonses again to stand in the pulpits across our land and unapologetically proclaim the Word of the living God.” (178)
four-half-stars
By | 2018-04-12T03:03:08+00:00 April 12th, 2018|

Prayer Book Review

Prayer Book Review

Prayer

by Timothy Keller
Length: Approximately 8 hours. To read (325 pages)
TCB Rating:
four-stars
Buy on Amazon

Book Overview

Many Christians struggle with their daily prayer life. Timothy Keller’s Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God gives a treatise on prayer from God’s Word, history, and a pastoral touch that help us look for deeper communion with God in our lives. The focus is on preparing our hearts for prayer and knowing God more.

Who should read this?

This work can have a broad audience including Christians and non-Christians. Timothy Keller importantly has a knack in addressing issues for followers of Christ, but still really reaching non-Christians by keeping the Gospel as the focal point. The main focus for the audience with this book is Christians struggling and looking to strengthen their prayer lives.

Prayer Book Review 1

SUMMARY

Many times we are looking for a quick fix to the things that ail us in life, or even a fix for our lackluster, non-existent prayer life. Timothy Keller argues in his book Prayer that the authority of God’s Word and proper preparation before speaking with the Lord will lead to a deeper communion with God. He breaks up his book into five sections: Desiring Prayer, understanding prayer, learning prayer, deepening prayer and doing prayer.

The author begins by sharing the importance of prayer in the Christian life and how without it we lack a vital spiritual discipline that leads us to know God more. He proposes moving from duty to delight, where we desire to love God more through our open communication with Him. Timothy Keller writes, “Prayer, then, is both awe and intimacy, struggle and reality. (5)” The desire here is to avoid extremes with being just obedient in prayer and getting overly emotional in our prayer lives. Beyond just necessity comes the greatness of prayer. Through the words of Paul in Ephesians 1 and the life of a few believers, the author addresses the glory of God being shone through prayer.

Once we get a fuller understanding of why we should pray, understanding prayer is the next step for Keller. The truth is that most people and religions think prayer is important but don’t understand it correctly. He lands here on the idea of a “mystical prophet” by looking at the life of Jonathan Edwards and his prayer example. He addresses two key areas of conversing with God and encountering God in strengthening our prayer lives.

Quoting Martin Luther’s thoughts on conversing of God, Keller writes, “We must first hear the Word, and then afterwards the Holy Ghost works in our hearts, he works in the hearts of whom he will, and how he will, but never without the Word. (57)” Timothy Keller also speaks here about the importance of knowing more of God through prayer. A highlight section here talks about how we approach God desiring to encounter more of Him, giving our petitions to God directly through Jesus’ name.

One of the things we have gone away from is looking at what other Christians from history think on a certain subject. Timothy Keller here presents the idea of practicing prayer looking at several examples from church history. These are also very personal in nature as the first two are letters from early church theologian Augustine and the reformer Martin Luther.

These letters show the approach and technique to prayer, but also, most importantly, the passion these men of God had for seeking deep, daily communion with our Savior. Augustine’s focus on the Lord’s Prayer of adoration, petition, thanksgiving, and confession are very helpful. Martin Luther also instructs here with his ideas of praying according to God’s Word through instruction, thanksgiving, confession, and finally praying. The author here also uses the example on prayer from reformer John Calvin from his Institutes. The focus of his work on prayer is the heart attitude with which we approach the throne of God. Keller comments here, “Calvin says that this sense of awe is a crucial part of prayer. Prayer both requires it and produces it”(99). Concluding this section on learning prayer are strong chapters on the Lord’s Prayer example and main touchstones of prayer. Some of these include prayer as work, prayer requires grace, and prayer gives strength.

After defining what prayer is, the author spends the second half of the book giving practical advice for prayer in our daily lives. The first section portrays the deepening of communion with God through prayer. Keller talks about approach to prayer when discussing meditation of God’s Word first. He says here, “Nonetheless, if prayer is to be a true conversation with God, it must be regularly preceded by listening to God’s voice through meditation in Scripture”(145). The writer also addresses looking to have a serious encounter with God, allowing for a deeper relationship and more knowledge of Him to be the fruit of these conversations.

One of the largest problems seen in the church today with prayer is misunderstanding the right techniques to make prayer joyful. He finishes up Prayer by giving us several aspects of prayer that should be included regularly for all of us. We see the need for an approach of awe and wonder for the God we serve. We see the need to find intimacy in our relationship with God through grace. We often need help, so struggling with God is important.

The grind can also distract us from the importance and need we have for prayer.  As Keller says, it needs to be a vital aspect of our lives. 1 Thess. 5:17 is the key passage to this section. There are also several types of prayer examples given for specific situations, such as grief, loss, and forgiveness. The book includes several appendices at the back of the book to help with the practical side of the daily prayer life of Christians.

ANALYSIS

Even outside of Christian circles, there has been extensive writing done on the idea of prayer. Quite often these books, blogs, and articles can be less than helpful and can also become repetitive. That is not the case with Timothy Keller’s Prayer. Keller gives us a unique and refreshing work that adds greatly to the conversation about finding communion with the Lord. We are blessed to have this book in the catalogue of works on prayer.

There are certainly several strengths with this book, but the one that leads the way is the depth throughout. Many books on prayer stay on the surface and focus entirely on the practical nature of the prayer life. Timothy Keller works hard in Prayer to give a fuller definition of what prayer is before diving into the practical nature. As with much of the Reformed crowd, the author focuses on God as the center of prayer instead of the person who is praying.

Keller comments, “That’s the ground motive of Spirit-directed, Christ-mediated prayer—to simply know him better and enjoy his presence” (77). There is a seriousness and reverence seen across the book that is rarely seen, and brings much needed depth to this. The two focuses of the book that addresses this the best are the awe of God in prayer and the true intimacy of approaching God’s throne.

One of the most unique and helpful sections of the book comes in Timothy Keller’s study of history on the subject of prayer. What is the most striking about this section is that two of the people discussed, Martin Luther and Augustine, are writing personal letters. This part of the book really pulls at the heartstring of a pastor as it looks at ministers sharing with others the power of prayer in their natural context.

Also, discussed here is John Calvin in his great theological work, Institutes. The most helpful section in that chapter is where Calvin balances out restful hope and confident hope in our prayer lives. The strong reminder from R.A. Torrey at the end of this section about assuming we are owed by God through prayer is really convicting.

Timothy Keller spends the second half of the book with a very strong, practical section. This is where many books on prayer park for the whole of the work, but not Keller’s Prayer. Having the proper perspective and understanding before heading into the practical really makes this book the excellent work it is.

The practical side of this book focuses on approaching God in the right manner, knowing more of God’s glory through prayer, and seeking deep communion with God in prayer. An example of the author’s earnest care for the daily prayer life of the believer, Keller writes, “Prayer should be done regularly, persistently, resolutely, and tenaciously at least daily, whether we feel it or not” (121). We can be challenged very deeply throughout this work about the practical nature of prayer for our lives.

There isn’t too much to fault with this book, but one of the areas of weakness is many of the larger, theological words used by the author. I truly believe this book, for the most part, will have a large audience across the board, but some of the words used by Keller will make it harder for some to follow. It would help this work to be more accessible if some of the terms were a little less academic for those just reading this that might struggle with prayer.

I would with no hesitation recommend all Christians and those seeking Christ to read this great God-centered book on prayer. This book will benefit many who are looking for a refreshing look on their daily prayer lives.

Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God
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CONCLUSION

Is it time for a reflection on your prayer life? Are you trying to find that deeper communion with the Lord? Timothy Keller’s Prayer brings us to a place where we need to reflect and renew our passion for prayer.

Giving a full definition of prayer that focuses on God Himself, looking at historical ideas of prayer, and giving strong, practical advice on how to strengthen our daily prayer lives, we have one of the best works on prayer today. 1 Thess. 5:17 says to “Pray without ceasing,” and this book helps a long way to achieving this very thing.

FAVORITE QUOTES

  • “We may pray for the coming of God’s kingdom, but if we don’t enjoy God supremely with all our being, we are not truly honoring him as Lord.” (Introduction- 4)
  • “Prayer is the only entryway into genuine self-knowledge. It is also the main way we experience deep change- the reordering of our loves. (18)
  • “To fail to pray, then, is not merely to break some religious rule- it is a failure to treat God as God. It is a sin against his glory.“ (26)
  • “We should ask God for things with boldness and specificity, with ardor, honesty, and diligence, yet with patient submission to God’s will and wise love.” (238)
four-stars
By | 2018-04-01T22:34:58+00:00 March 28th, 2018|

The Prayer That Turns the World Upside Down Book Review

The Prayer That Turns the World Upside Down Book Review

The Prayer That Turns the World Upside Down

by R. Albert Mohler Jr.
Length: Approximately 5 hours. To read (181 pages)
TCB Rating:
four-half-stars
Buy on Amazon

Book Overview

Most Christians struggle to find good traction and time for deep fellowship with the Lord. In this work by Dr. R. Albert Mohler we are given a manifesto to use the Lord’s Prayer as a launching pad and example in finding more freedom and power in our daily prayer lives.

Who should read this?

This book is written for all Christians, balancing the big picture with the deep details of our prayer life. Especially those in a rut or looking for more strength behind their daily prayer lives, this book is for you!

The Prayer That Turns the World Upside Down Book Review 1

SUMMARY

What is the answer to a beleaguered prayer life that lacks the passion, and punch that God’s Word calls us too? The Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6 has been a guide for centuries, even really since the Lord Jesus gave us this teaching at the dawn of the church. Dr. R. Albert Mohler Jr. in his work The Prayer That Turned the World Upside Down we get a fresh perspective on the Lord’s prayer, focusing on a the prayer leading us to revolution in our daily walk with Jesus.

The author begins the book by setting the table of revolution and longing for the coming kingdom through prayer. He begins by showing the importance of prayer in the life of a Christian. He comments here, “But giving up on prayer is not only a sign of evangelical weakness. It is disobedience. Jesus not only taught his disciples to pray- he also commanded us to pray”(xviii).

Dr. Mohler really presents a case here for putting all of ourselves into prayer and avoiding the normal distractions of the modern believer. He quotes the great reformer Martin Luther here, “How much more does prayer need to have the undivided attention of the whole heart alone, if it is to be a good prayer”(xx).

What exactly is prayer? The author gives a working definition here. One of the key points he tells through a personal story.  He says, “prayer is difficult. Like anything of great value, prayer takes great effort, tremendous care, and Spirit-filled discipline”(6). He also here compares the ways different strands of belief in Christ have practiced prayer in the past. He focuses on the importance of the Regulative Principle, which takes all practice only from what is prescribed from Scripture.

Prayer gives us the theological convictions we need to understand who we are and more importantly who God is. The author gives us the understanding that prayer is not a matter of creative self-expression, also not an act of therapy, nor are we are also not able to manipulate or persuade an all sovereign, all knowing God through prayer. Lastly, prayer is also not defined here with any form of giving God a news report or coming with any bargaining chips to barter with.

The rest of the book we dig into the actual text from God’s Word that is known as the Lord’s Prayer. The author begins by writing about how our attitude and approach to prayer matters as much as what we say in our prayers. We are seeking regular communion with God over all else in the way we pray. Dr. Mohler comments here, “The real issue is not so much where we pray, but doing so in a way that does not parade your piety in front of others” (31). The authors of the Gospels gives us here the great setup to the actual Lord’s Prayer in reminding why we should pray, how we should pray, and what we should expect from prayer.

Looking at the beginning of the Lord’s Prayer we see the words, “Hallowed be your name.” Dr. Mohler here is driving the point of setting our hearts right as we pray to God our Father. We are to enter with the correct reverence and anticipation of meeting with the One who has created all things. Our prayers should never only center on you and me, but be centered on whom we are praying to.

One other major focus of this section is the idea of “father.” The Father is God who has chosen, redeemed, and adopted those in His family, loving and caring for all of us deeply. Dr. Mohler gives us reality here when he says, “Only by God’s grace and mercy through the atoning work of Christ do we now have the right to stand before the God of all creation and speak the words “Our Father in heaven. (52). We are to be reminded here as we approach God’s throne of who we are speaking to, what he has done for us, and that Jesus himself exalted God at the beginning of His prayer.

The next petition in the Lord’s Prayer from Matthew 6:10 is “your kingdom come.” The author makes a turn here to show how truly revolutionary and radical this prayer is. Dr. Mohler comments here, “The Lord’s prayer is anything but tame” (73). He uses the City of God by Augustine here as an illustration on the anticipation of the kingdom of God coming again. We are called to yearn for the day when we will all be citizens of God’s kingdom in all its beauty and honor. The writer gives past examples from history such as the Garden of Eden in Genesis, and the covenant made with David in 2 Samuel 8 on this topic.

He finishes this section looking at the phrase “Your will be done.” God has revealed to us here the need to have our shaped and molded to be like His. Dr. Mohler comments here, “The reign of Christ is the reign of a true king: one who demands allegiance; one who will disrupt the order of our lives; one who will call us to abandon our own pursuits for the sake of his” (95). What are we praying for? HIS kingdom to come, and YOUR will to be done!

What are three areas the author wants us to see that are vital to know about the Lord’s Prayer? They are daily provisions, the art of confession and repentance, and help in fighting temptation. God has truly designed for us to be fully dependent on Him. We do have daily physical needs, but because of sin we also have great spiritual needs too. Lastly, the author shows us in this chapter that our reliance on Him means we trust him to give us what we truly need. He says, “At times God may not provide for us in the way we think is best. But we will always find that he provides for us according to his infinite love and care” (116).

One of the areas that Dr. Mohler believes we all struggle with when it comes to prayer is confession and repentance. The words used in the Lord’s Prayer here are “forgives us our debts.” The author says here, “We can only rightly pray the Lord’s Prayer when we recognize that we are deeply sinful and only God’s grace in Christ can remedy our souls” (124). He focuses this section on getting the Gospel right and applying that theology to way we approach prayer, especially confessing regularly. Lastly, he shows us some important tips in thinking about how we ask for forgiveness as we expect others to do so for us.

The last major point discussed about the Lord’s Prayer is fighting against temptation with the Lord’s help. Dr. Mohler gives a picture here of the seriousness of sin and how we need to rely on the Lord to fight against this. We also need to pray as a part of this for endurance to fight sin to the end, because the temptation will never leave us. One point stressed here is the anatomy of temptation. It is does not start or come from God, but from our own sinful pride and lust for sin.

We have the power through Jesus Christ to fight against these temptations. Dr. Mohler desires for everyone to use this radical and revolutionary prayer to the benefit of their daily lives following after the Lord Jesus Christ’s example.

ANALYSIS

The idea and practice of prayer is something that has been elusive and difficult for so many Christians, especially in our current culture climate. This is a very refreshing and new look on the idea of prayer through the lenses of Jesus’ example to us. I plan to pass this one along to many of those that we shepherd at our local church. There have been many commentaries, books, blogs, and prayers shared about the Lord’s Prayer. This work comes with a freshness that both hits at our theological understanding and gives us practical use in our own prayer lives.

One of the greatest strengths of this work is the author Dr. Mohler himself. He is well read and speaks/writes with such great conviction and passion on any topic. One of his greatest strengths is his expository teaching and writing style that puts the focus on the Word of God above all else. God’s Word is our foundation and his use of it throughout this book helps us to understand prayer better. He is characteristically illuminating and pastoral in his sermons and when he writes as is the case here.

Another great aspect of this book is the mix of the theology and practical nature throughout. Dr. Mohler sets the stage for the practical by reminding us the theology behind why and how we should pray. The way we approach the throne of God in humility, expectancy, and vibrancy is shown through every chapter. We must truly known God in relationship and knowledge before we are able to practically see growth in our prayer lives.

One of the great parts of the Lord’s Prayer is that it is naturally very practical in nature. We are truly attempting to put our theology to the test as we practically live it out by prayer. The author really does an exceptional job in providing some great insights in both areas in this book.

With the Lord’s Prayer having such a practical nature providing some great visual illustrations and personal stories can help provide us with added understanding to the topic. Dr. Mohler does exactly that throughout this book. He pulls from childhood, all of his ministry pursuits, and great historical figures to present a great overview of the Lord’s Prayer. His use of Martin Luther in showing us the need to pray and the way we approach the throne of God was particularly helpful to me personally. The story of camping with his father was a very powerful visual picture as well.

The pastoral nature of how Dr. Mohler approached this topic of the Lord’s Prayer enhanced this book very much. Drawing from all of his experience in being a pastor and more importantly training up pastors on a regular basis really gives credence to what he writes here. Dr. John MacArthur says of this book, “His ability to distill complex theology in understandable language is unsurpassed.” That is the definition of writing pastorally!

One of the weaknesses of this book was the size of the sections written on the different aspects of the Lord’s Prayer. Dr. Mohler wrote several longer chapters on the beginning portions of the Lord’s Prayer and smaller chapters on the latter areas. I would have enjoyed a little longer sections on the topics of repentance/confession, and temptation areas of the Lord’s Prayer. It felt that he ran out of space at the end and had to hurry through it a little more than it should have been.

With the practical nature of the Lord’s Prayer it would also have benefited the book to have some personal stories from others in the struggle with prayer, and how the Lord’s Prayer affected their Christian walk. Hearing from Dr. Mohler’s personal experience and ministering was excellent, but I desired to hear more from others and their struggles as well. Possibly from a foreword or allowing a few others to be a part of the work could have helped in this area.

I would highly recommend that all Christians read this book and any work by Dr. Mohler for that matter. You will be challenged and encouraged in your walk with the Lord Jesus.

CONCLUSION

Paige Patterson says of this book, “For a guide to future fruitfulness, purchase this book. To be a recipient of the benedictions of our God, read and practice this volume.” I echo this commentary on such a great book given to us understand God more, and our reliance on Him further. This was an excellent work that will strengthen many Christians in their prayer life, but more importantly in having true communion with God that is revolutionary and radical for the glory of God alone.

FAVORITE QUOTES

  • “We are actually desperate for what no earthly revolution can produce. We long for the kingdom of God and for Jesus King of kings and Lord of lords. We are looking for a kingdom that will never end and a King whose rule is perfect.” (Introduction)
  • “These experiences witness the same reality: prayer is difficult. Like anything of great value, prayer takes great effort, tremendous care, and Spirit-filled discipline.” (6)
  • “At times God may not provide for us in the way that we think is best. But we will always find that he provides for us according to his infinite love and care. “ (116)
  • “But forgiveness is a necessary evidence that we have received forgiveness. If we do not forgive, we will not be forgiven. Hard hearts have no place in the kingdom of God.” (138)
four-half-stars
By | 2018-03-16T00:11:31+00:00 March 16th, 2018|

Portraits Of A Pastor Book Review

Portraits Of A Pastor Book Review

Portraits Of A Pastor

by Jason K. Allen
Length: 6 hours. To read (192 pages)
TCB Rating:
four-half-stars
Buy on Amazon

Book Overview

What exactly is the main role of a Pastor? In Portraits of a Pastor, general editor Jason K. Allen and nine other authors share nine essential roles of a church leader. Looking at leadership roles like theologian, and practical roles such as husband/father.

Who should read this?

One of the great strengths of this book is that it is very readable. This book is focused on current pastors and those inspiring to the calling of pastor. This book would find a great home in pastoral classes at bible colleges and seminaries alike.

Portraits Of A Pastor Book Review 1

 

Summary

Why is the local church in need of a book to understand the calling of pastor? There are many books, blogs, and opinions about this topic. Jared C. Wilson says, “But it seems almost accidental within the evangelical machinery to find a pastor who is actually a pastor”(16). In Portraits of a Pastor we are given a mix of leadership and practical roles in helping us understand the essentials of the local church pastor.

This book is written for those that are currently pastors or those inspiring to be pastors. It will likely be a book used in bible colleges and seminaries for a long time to come. The general editor is Midwestern Seminary President, Jason K. Allen and he also writes the chapter on pastor as preacher. There are nine contributors, covering topics such as pastor as shepherd, man of God, husband/father, evangelist, theologian, church historian, missionary, and leader. This book is written with great force driving the essential aspects of a church leader and a seriousness that fits the role of pastor.

Many times with leadership books there isn’t much to add to what has already been said on the topic. With Portraits of a Pastor, the calling of pastor is set up from a biblical mandate, and the clarity of the role of the pastor leans on the experience of many godly men. Jason K. Allen comments, “Pastors are those who have been set apart by God who are called by His Spirit, and who have submitted their lives to Him”(180).

This is a resource that can be used both in seminary classrooms, but also read personally by current and inspiring shepherds. We are facing today an ever-changing understanding by the culture and the church of what the pastor should look like on the inside and the outside. This work hones in on the biblical understanding of a pastor, giving a clear vision for the future understanding of the local church leader.

These church leaders have the voice and experience to speak on this topic of the pastoral role. Many of these men have been serving for many decades in ministry, focusing on the area of local church pastoring or serving in a seminary setting training pastors. This experience gives credence to these contributors as they wrote this balanced work. They are striving to give a fresh perspective on the role of pastoring that gives us both the concrete and practical ideas to this vital leadership position in ministry. They achieve this by going to our main authority, God’s Word, which gives their evidence for these nine roles of a pastor.

Each chapter is littered with verses that back up the arguments on why pastors should possess these qualities. Ephesians 4:11-16 speaks to equipping the church and is an implied text that weaves through the text chapter by chapter. Opening with a chapter on what the Bible term for pastor is, shepherding. Jared C. Wilson here focuses on the idea of feeding the sheep in several different forms starting with preaching the Gospel to them.

Danny Akin leads the way with the practical side of pastoring by touching on the family with pastor as husband and father. Other practical chapters found in this work are pastors as evangelist and pastor as man of God. In the final chapter Donald S. Whitney puts his expertise on the spiritual disciplines to share about how a pastor must strive to be a man of God. Whitney shares, “But being a man of God is much more than sin avoidance; it also involves cultivating specific fruits of righteousness”(172).

Some of the more concrete roles shared in this book about pastoring include leader, missionary, preacher, and two that really work together theologian and church historian. Owen Strachan and Christian George lay out in these chapters the importance of every pastor being a lifelong learner, striving to know more of God and the rich history of those that came before this. George argues, “The Bible itself was not only woven into the fabric of history, the Bible is history, for it records the dramatic story of God’s interest and activity”(94).

There are several personal examples and illustrations from church history to help support the points made by the contributors. The authors are striving to strike a balance between the scholarly and practical sides of shepherding the local church. Examples from their own pastoring in the local church or being a professor help to apply what we learn from the text of God’s Word. Danny Akin shares some stories about how to balance ministry with family.

Examples from church history and modern missions movement help to strength the arguments for the nine essentials roles of a church leader. Some of these examples include pastoring with Jonathan Edwards and missions examples from the life of Jim Elliot. This practical side is stressed to give more clarity to the issues at hand.

Analysis

It is easy to find great joy in reading this work being an associate pastor in the local church. I have had the fortunate opportunity of sitting under many of these men whether by reading or in the classroom. This book will be one I will keep on my shelves throughout my ministry career as a resource in pastoring in the local church. There is a freshness and seriousness taken by this work that has not been seen in awhile from a book on this topic.

The contributors of this book wanted us to get a feel for many aspects and angles of the pastoral ministry. It is not an easy task, but they are able to achieve this for the most part through giving different perspectives in many of these godly men’s field of expertise.

Also, all of the personal illustrations and stories from history allow for a practical aspect to supplement the roles presented. Lastly, and most importantly standing on the authority of God’s Word gives the great foundation and seriousness that puts this work head and shoulders above the field on this topic.

The biblical foundation is the greatest strength of this book. If we are going to talk about the role of the pastor we must begin with what the Bible and the Lord Jesus Christ says about this topic. Right from the beginning Jared C. Wilson shares the story of Jesus speaking with Peter after the resurrection in John 21. Jesus calls us as pastors to “feed my sheep.” Wilson comments, “The central pastoral commission centers on our point number one: shepherds feed the sheep”(18).

On the practical side we see Danny Akin sharing from Ephesians 5 and 6 looking at the role of husband and father dynamic as a pastor. Akin continues, “After the Lord Jesus, put your wife and family first”(45). It is so important that we lay a foundation on anything spiritual (including being a pastor) on the ultimate authority given to us, God’s Word.

The great theme throughout the book is the pastor is striving to make much of God’s glory in how he leads his church. In his chapter on pastor as leader, Ronnie Floyd comments, “Pastors are not defined only by what they say or by what they preach. They are defined by what they do”(151). Let us pastors be defined by doing, giving the God the glory in all we do!

One of the unique chapters of the book was by Jason G. Duesing on pastor as missionary. Keeping your people informed on being on mission and helping your people go to the nations is so important for a church leader. Duesing comments, “The pastor as missionary means the pastor is a “world Christian” who serves as a model missionary”(134).

We also see that the contributors in this book are writing on subjects they are passionate about and have written extensively on before. Many contributors on this topic allows for so many important perspectives on a vital topic for the local church today.

For example, Owen Strachan wrote an excellent work alongside Kevin J. Vanhoozer called The Pastor as Public Theologian: Reclaiming a Lost Vision, where he covered many of the same thoughts on pastor as theologian in the chapter in this book. Also, Donald S. Whitney teaches Personal/Spiritual Disciplines class at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and has written extensively on this topic. Having this expertise and great personal illustrations alongside it allows for a work on the role of a pastor never seen.

One of the passages I mentioned earlier that is implied in the text throughout is Ephesians 4:11-14 which speaks to the great role of pastor. It reads, “And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.”

With this book being released on the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, it would have brought more fullness to have a chapter on pastor as equipper. We know about the importance of the priesthood of believers, and pastors should heed this in their ministry to their sheep.

The chapter by John Mark Yeats on pastor as evangelist had some good points, but was fairly cut and dry. Some more personal illustrations and thoughts from church history would have brought a stronger practical understanding to this topic overall. It would be helpful to read the other writings from these contributors to get a fuller understanding on these topics presented in this work.

Conclusion

I am very thankful for these godly men and their contribution to this topic of the local church leader. This work will bring great conversation to both the local church and schools on the essential roles of the pastor. The scriptural foundation, added by the experience of the nine writers, supplemented by great stories and illustrations from authors lives and church history give us a fresh take on the pastoral role, and provides us with a work that should resonate with current, and aspiring pastors for many years to come.

Favorite Quotes

  •  Thom S. Rainer (Forward)- “We are to be His leaders in His will in His churches for His glory…”
  • Jared C. Wilson (Pg. 17)- “If you do not feed the sheep, love the Lamb, and trust the Good Shepherd, you are not a shepherd.”
  • Danny Akin (pg. 38)- “A redeemed man cannot be satisfied with a halfhearted devotion to his wife and children. Christ in him compels more. Christ in him demands more. Divine expectations are laid upon him that he cannot and will not ignore.”
  • Owen Strachan (pg. 81)- “The pastor is a theologian, but not a theologian of upward mobility. The pastor is a theologian of the cross.”
four-half-stars
By | 2018-02-02T00:07:19+00:00 February 9th, 2018|

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