Book Review – Let the Earth Hear His Voice: Strategies for Overcoming Bottlenecks in Preaching God’s Word (29/12)

Every preacher who has tried to excel in preaching would probably have felt the immense burden and enormous responsibility to preach faithfully and competently. Many a times, you would find yourself just like Paul who cried out to God, “Who is sufficient for these things”. No doubt some of these struggles come because of bottlenecks that occurs during the preparation of sermons.

Let the Earth Hear His Voice: Strategies for Overcoming Bottlenecks in Preaching God's WordGreg R. Scharf understands the problems face by preachers and wants to help them go through these bottlenecks. Although this is primary a book about resolving these bottlenecks, Scharf does not want to make any assumptions, he starts by making a biblical case for preaching. Having shown that preaching is biblical and necessary, Scharf then tackles 8 of such bottlenecks.

This book would especially be helpful for young budding preachers, since they would soon encounter these bottlenecks in the near future. More experience preachers would quickly identify themselves with the various bottlenecks, but they will go away learning some ways to deal with them. This book is definitely practical for preachers and deals with things that preachers often faces. Though tackling these situations Scharf gently encourages preachers to continue to work on their weaknesses rather than to give up on it.

Personally I was helped by this book, most of the books on preaching do not really deal with this bottlenecks at such a detailed level and I’m thankful that such a book has finally been published. If you’re looking for a book to help you with the  practical issues in preaching, then this is the book for you. Pastors should get this book and review their preaching every year or every two years. I’m sure they will find themselves preaching better and better as the years goes by.

Rating: 5 / 5

If you’re interested, you can get it here and here (free international shipping).

Disclaimer: I was given this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

P.S. You might also be interested to get Christ-Centered Preaching: Redeeming the Expository Sermon, here and here (free international shipping), kindle.

Book Review – Preaching with Accuracy: Finding Christ-Centered Big Ideas for Biblical Preaching (3/6)

Books on preaching generally falls into two camps, one that is primarily more theoretical or the other more practical. I have found this book to the on the more practical side, which I found was very helpful to me.

Preaching with Accuracy: Finding Christ-Centered Big Ideas for Biblical PreachingSo far, I have read about 3-4 books on preaching. Much of these books talks about the more theoretical side of things. Often after reading these books, I go away agreeing with what has been said but also with a wonder of how I can really preach better. Randal E. Pelton has written this book to fill this gap.

Within the book Pelton wants readers to preach Christ-centered sermons, but he does not just shows the readers the importance or reasons for it, he shows them how this can be done practically. In essence, this really is a short book on simple exegesis and sermon preparation. Pelton teaches pastors with simple skills that works for every sermons, but always keep in the context in mind.

Pelton reminds pastors that 3 contexts should always be in mind when preparing for a sermon. The textual context, the immediate context and also the canonical context. The book  is littered with helpful illustrations and exercises that helps to drill in the principles used within the book.

I foresee that new preachers will find this book extremely helpful.  Those who finds it hard to prepare sermons from texts will also find this book extremely helpful in their sermon preparation. In fact, if you wish to teach simple exegesis, this book will also be helpful. I hope seminaries would consider using this book to teach the “how to” for their homiletical lessons.

Rating: 4.5 / 5

If you’re interested, you can get it here and here (free international shipping).

Disclaimer: I was given this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Book Review – Preaching by the Ear (30/11)

The best preaching is preaching that comes from the heart. That’s what this book is all about, preaching from the heart. Although preaching seems not to have changed much over the years, there has been one fundamental difference between preaching done today and preaching done eons before. And that difference is, the invention of the writing.Preaching by the Ear

Dave McClellan has written a book that helps preachers see the differences between preaching done today and preaching done in Jesus’s time. Essentially this book is a book that will help preachers think critically about our preaching today. McClellan points out many pointers that would have escaped the modern preacher due to the sheer magnitude of the influence of writing to us.

For example, McClellan points out that prior to writing, words, speeches were always considered to be temporary and transient as compared to the written word now, which can be compared, edited, reference long after the “speech” has been spoken.

This has practical applications to preachers who has always been drilled and trained to think about crafting a sermon, by typing or drafting a long “speech” that one has to reads off. McClellan points out that in an era before writing, preaching would have never been done this way, rather preaching would necessarily be extemporaneous. The difference between the two would be evident to the hearers, the one who preaches extemporaneously would not expect the listeners to be able remember every word that was preached and thus come out with hooks to help readers remember the progression and the flow of the speech. “Preaching” a typed sermon, no matter how well written still suffers from the problem that it never sounds like conversations but rather as messages typed out.

From here, McClellan proposed how to help preachers preach extemporaneously, he emphasis the importance of being marinated in the word of God, not just because one has to preach on the text in the coming week, but rather the preacher ought always be found thoroughly soaked in the Word of God. Next, he also helps preachers make the task of preaching easier by showing them that the burden of what and how to preach it, never lies on the preach, rather it rests on the Word of the Lord, and preachers just have to preach what it was originally preaching about. Finally, he advises preachers with a technique to help preachers slowly be able to preach and link the sermon in a way that preachers can eventually to be able to preach without notes.

This is unlike any preaching books I’ve read so far, and it has been very insightful and has made me aware to be a more “verbal” preacher and to preach in such a way that would really sound like preaching. McClellan also redeems the problem of how should I preach this or that, by simply letting the text speak for itself. A very helpful and insightful book for preachers, and should be recommended for preachers young or old.

Rating: 4.75 / 5

If you’re interested, you can get it here and here (free international shipping), Kindle.

Disclaimer: I was given this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Here’s a introduction on the book by the author.

Book Review – Persuasive Preaching (20/11)

When was the last time you heard a sermon that really helped and pushed you to really want to live out what you’ve heard? I reckon it has probably has been quite some time. So what’s wrong with preaching these days? Preaching these days have been more and more exegetical, which is certainly great, but it is not very pervasive. It does not ‘push’ people to want to live the truth preached.Persuasive Preaching

One book that aims to help remedy this situation is this book, by Larry Overstreet. First, Overstreet wants the readers to see that persuasion is a biblical idea, and uses numerous bible verses  to show his points. Next, after he has examine and shown that it is biblical, he moves to how the readers how they can do it.

This book is really a book that helps preachers see the importance of preaching, Overstreet really does an excellent job in gathering from the whole bible ideas, notions, connotations that goes with preaching, it has been a quite a tour to see Overstreet bring the readers through passage after passage on every word that is related to preaching. At times, it felt to be quite a long book since I was more interested in the persuasive part, but Overstreet does bring to the readers a very good understanding of preaching, especially good was his chapter on the theology of Paul’s preaching, something I think no other authors has done thus far.

Next, Overstreet then shows the readers 4 ways they can preach persuasively in their congregations, I found them helpful and very practical, something that you can use immediately after you read these chapters. Overstreet has also added an example for each of them in one of the appendixes for the reader as reference.

Lastly, Overstreet finishes by discussing some questions that is related to persuasive preaching like the work of the Holy Spirit and also the differences between manipulation and being persuasive. I felt the chapter on manipulations and persuasiveness could have been covered more in-depth, as yet, it did not seem to answer the question sufficiently.

All in all, if you’re looking for a book that wants to talk about what the bible says about preaching, go to this book. But, some readers may find the part about “how to” preach persuasively a bit lacking within this book. This book makes an excellent case for preachers on the dire need to preach persuasively.

Rating: 4 / 5

If you’re interested, you can get it here and here (free international shipping), Kindle.

Disclaimer: I was given this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Pastors, Preach the Word (18/8)

I have one small word of advice for pastors & preachers: PREACH GOD’s WORD (boldly)! (pun intended)

I don’t know about you, but when I walk into a church service, I want to hear God’s Word being preached, and I’m quite certain I’m not the only one. Sure, there are those who are there who would want their ears tickled by some entertaining stories or less preachy sermons. I’m sure out of your deep desire to want to reach out to them you might are almost certain to be less preachy, more entertaining, more jokes here and there, more stories here and there.

But guess what? For those faithful believers who are there, they are not fed by the Word. And these are those who will stick with the church through thick and thin…. As the saying goes, “when the going gets tough, the disinterested simply goes away….” Why would they stay? If they wanted to have  interesting stories, there are far better storytellers out there. So it looks like you most probably wouldn’t keep them.

So why would you want to deprive those who wants to be faithful to God of His Living Word? Why would I want to stay unless the church takes God’s Word seriously? And if I see it handled this way, would I want to continue to stay? Why as shepherd are you not taking care of the sheep? Remember what Paul commands Timothy his protegé:

I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season;reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. (2 Timothy 4:1-5)

So preachers & pastors, Preach God’s Word boldly. It’s the thing we need, and what the disinterested desperately need, nothing else is more important than that. Preach the word, not the world.

Hurt with the truth, Don't comfort with lies

Book Review – Models for Biblical Preaching (3/7)

Books

Well this isn’t exactly a book on how to do expository preaching, it is a book that shows you how an expository sermon should look like. What’s more, all the sermons in this book is on the old testament!9780801049378

Having just recently read the ‘Biblical Preaching’ by Haddon Robinson (an excellent book, I must add), I was very much eager to read this “follow up” book. Altogether there was 11 sermons inside. each from a different passage and genre.

I felt that the distribution of the genres and books were thought out and planned, no major genre were left out. The authors did not choose easy passages not did they used those frequently used passages, and a short commentary about the sermon itself was given each of them was presented.

What I felt was good about this book were the inclusion of the interview and commentary after each sermon. This really helps preachers old and new to see how others have been doing this work and also their tips and advice to preachers who have to preach to their congregation week after week.

Although not all the passages chosen were frequently used/seen, some of them were the more common ones that can easily be found elsewhere. And while each and every single contributors were students of Haddon Robinson and applied the skills as mentioned is his books on preaching, a more detailed study on each and every sermon would be more helpful. Understandably, based on the number of sermons included in this volume this would have made the task of reading a little repetitive. But since these are “models” maybe a more careful study on some or a few of them would be of more help to the reader.

Furthermore, would it be necessary for this book to be printed? I’m not sure about that. With more and more whole series on expository preaching (e.g. Preaching the Word, Reformed Expository Commentary, Mentor Expository Commentary, etc…) Would I have benefited more from them or from this book? Granted that these other series might not all use Robinson’s model, but with an average of 2-3 sermons for each genre, would that be sufficient? And without a detailed analysis of how the sermons reflects the model, would this book really help me if I’m trying to learn and utilise the model?

Don’t get me wrong, the sermons included in this book are good and deserves to be read by preachers. They would encourage you to stay on the course and help you see that preaching good sermons is something that can be accomplished, but I’m not certain whether this book would spur preachers to preach the Old Testament more or would have had the necessary tools to do that apart from the passages shown within the book.

Rating: 3.25/5

If you’re interested, you can get it here and here (free international shipping), Kindle.

Disclaimer: I was given this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Book Review – Biblical Preaching: The Development and Delivery of Expository Messages (1/7)

Books

If you have dipped into a few preaching books on expository preaching, you would no doubt be referred on multiple times to Haddon Robinson’s Biblical Preaching. So it was with great joy and anticipation when I found that I can finally read this book.

Biblical PreachingRobinson first begins the book by making a case and defense for expository preaching. Though it was certainty not the most water-tight argument for expository, it does the job sufficiently. I have no doubts no readers who picked this book would rather have this book begin by making a lengthy defense for expository preaching. Robinson however does make show why expository is important and what is, and is not expository preaching. Too often the term ‘expository preaching’ is abuse by preachers and writers to an extent that almost any kind of preaching can be termed as expository preaching, Robinson refuses to do that and states clearly what he is teaching and advocating. His definition can be summarise as ‘communicating biblical concepts…. through proper exegesis… with the Spirit’s help in the preacher’s life and applying it to the hearers’

Robinson then takes the readers step by step through what can be commonly found in other expository preaching books. Deriving the main idea from texts, building an outline, asking functional questions (this section is very good), making good application, things to take note during preaching, how to introduce the audience to the text and how to conclude it.

I found the section on functional questions was very helpful, basically, there are 3 kinds of questions you might have to answer in every sermon, explaining, proving or applying it. This section really plays an important role in preaching, after all, what else could you do in preaching other than addressing these 3 questions?

Along the way, Robinson gives the reader tips and advice on what younger preachers can learn to do early on in their lives (e.g. having an index for illustrations for future use). At each step, Robinson guides the readers slowly, showing the necessity of each of these steps and their importance.

What I found was most helpful was the student exercises included at the back of the book, these I think really help drive the point home each time after I finished reading the chapter. I highly recommended and advice future readers to do each exercise after you have finished reading that particular chapter. The exercises help to recap and also illustrates Robinson’s point. Many a times, while doing the exercises, I find myself having light bulbs lighting in my head, due to the lucidity of these exercises.

Finally, Robinson brings the readers through one sermon he’s prepared and shows the reader how each and every part of the sermon is based on what he has taught us in the sermon. It was a great idea to include this is and really does bring the flesh onto the skeleton that he’s been teaching about.

All in all, this is an excellent book on preaching, though, I’m a little sad that no word was said about topical preaching, this really is a minor drawback. It would be good to include some advice for preachers who might want/have to preach occasionally a topical sermon, but still remain a committed expository expositor.

Rating: 4.25/5

If you’re interested, you can get it here and here (free international shipping), Kindle.

Disclaimer: I was given this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Book Review – Preaching: Simple Teaching on Simple Preaching (2/6)

Books

Alec Motyer sets out in this very small but useful book to help preachers or would be preachers to have a good grasp of what preaching is like and should be. Don’t expect to find anything fancy here, it’s the usual steps that you will find in most books on preaching.

PreachingHowever, this book does set the tone in the beginning that preaching is HARD work. And no preaching does not just “come out”. Good preaching comes when you work hard at trying to understand the text, finding/thinking of relevant application and presenting it in a clear and memorable way.

Motyer slowly guides the reader along as though we took at peek at him preparing his sermon in the study. Motyer first reminds us that our sermons must always be driven by the Bible (text) and nothing else. The preacher’s job is first and foremost to explain what the text mean.

He then reminds us that the focus of the bible is Christ, and that we ought to be christ-centered in our preaching also. He also shows us how should not moralise (especially) the Old Testament characters.

Motyer teaches us really simple steps while preparing the sermon. First read the text, then note down the important phrases or points within the passage, next using a concordance find the meaning of some of these words (especially those you’re struggling to understand). Following which you work on the structure of the text, the presentation and application.

What the could be improved in this book could be to add some exercises that a person could do at the end of every chapter. Don’t get me wrong, this is not a theoretical book, it does contain many useful and helpful outlines on various passages done by the author himself. But, I do think that doing the exercises at the end would really drive the point home. This however, is just a minor issue within the book. It’s still is very practical and helpful to any preacher.

This really is a small and easy book, it’ll be a good refresher course for preachers who have been preaching for some time. There is always a danger of slowly changing our sermons so that we can have a “better response”. This book would help remain them the main scope of preaching, and also to encourage them to remain the course. Second, this would be a good primer for anyone who is intending to preach, no technical terms are used, and chapters are small and easily digestible. Added inside is also some reading plans that churches could use to help the congregation mediate on relevant text before coming on a sunday to hear the word of God preached.

Rating: 3.75/5

Get yours here, and here (free international shipping), Kindle.

Credo Magazine (27/5)

Yesterday, I blogged about a need for the churches today to go back to faithful exposition of God’s Word.

Came across this the current issue of Credo Mag that talks about the essentials of a Church.

You can get yours free here.

In it, it talks about entertainment vs preaching, the idol of success in our churches, preaching, church discipline, baptism and also the Lord’s Supper.

Here’s a sneak peek of the definition of preaching by Dennis Johnson.

Preaching is (1) proclamation, explanation, and application (2) of the Word of God written, in relation to its integrating center—Christ, the only Mediator between God and man—(3) by a man called by God, gifted by the Holy Spirit, and growing in Christlikeness, (4) to people made in God’s image but alienated and marred by sin and its toxic byproducts (5) in the presence of God (6) to serve as the Spirit’s means of grace by which he replaces unbelieving hearts of stone with believing hearts of flesh, and then brings immature children of God into conformity to Christ, (7) to the glory of God in his church.