Several months ago, I reviewed some study Bibles (Holman, NIV, ESV, Dugan, Hebrew-Greek Keyword) that I found to be helpful for expositors. The Bibles that I reviewed were primarily those that fell into a category of general readership and those that were commonly found at large in big box Christian bookstores. There are several Bibles that I am going to write reviews of in the next few days that fall into a variety of subsets of Christian doctrines and views. While some of these Bibles can be purchased in big box stores, there are a few that you may have to track down through on-line sources.
It is obvious from the flurry of writing that I am doing on the Barnabas Blog that you can tell it is the end of the year. I generally try to put out a “Top Ten” list of books that I have read the previous year. This year is a little different because I have read so many good books, helpful books, and changing-my-thinking books that it is hard to say which one was the best one. I probably read too many books about preaching during the year but since it is what I do, I read in an effort to sharpen both mind and efforts in that category. I mentioned to the church recently that when they get to heaven one of the jewels they will get in their crown will be from having to endure my preaching. I hope it is not an endurance factor for them but one that encourages their spiritual growth.
This book, Engaging Exposition, by Daniel Akin, Bill Curtis, and Stephen Rummage will be very difficult to unseat as one of the best I have read and interacted with this year. It was given to me by one of our lay ministers, Charlie Joyner, a couple of months ago. It has an incredible range about it. It speaks to the rigorous academic side that preaching should be subjected to—areas like hermeneutics, the inspiration of Scripture, the different genres of Scripture, and how to identify the main idea of a passage of Scripture. It also has a section that deals with the nuts and bolts of building a sermon. Even though I have been preaching for almost 25 years, this kind of practical advice is always good for me. The last section of the book speaks to the actual delivery of the sermon itself.
There is a quiet buzzing that is beginning to rise from the grassroots among Pentecostal preachers. Increasingly I am hearing a faint drum beating that is somewhat like music to my ears. I am listening to remarks about Pentecostal preaching and its need of reformation at all levels; local, district, and national. Our preaching has somewhat degenerated into cheerleading sessions that tout the accomplishments of the preacher or a local church or parachurch organization. Our preaching has deteriorated into messages that take grand liberties with the text that the preacher may have read and wrested it from its true biblical context. When we take liberties with the biblical text and take it out of context, we have basically said that what we have to say is more important than what God has to say by His Word. It is my belief that out of context preaching is a very shrewd form of idolatry. Furthermore, our preaching has disintegrated into the very popular health, wealth, and prosperity messages of our times that believes that God is going to put a chicken in every pot. Our preaching has become filled with one-liners and sound bites that show the wit and cleverness of the preacher instead of the great majesty of the Word of God. Our preaching has gotten so bogged down in the topical approach that those preachers rarely turn over any new stones in their preaching, they simply are just rearranging material they have already learned in the distant past. Some of our preaching has gotten to the place where that the preacher has become the showcase event instead of the God and His Word. My brothers. . . these things ought not be so!
There is something that takes place when you began to move beyond that middle point of life. You tend to look back in retrospect at time and opportunity that was squandered. You look forward with much more concern about the great values and virtues of a spiritual life than what was in those early years of youthful inexperience. Age uniquely brings a sobriety, a seriousness, a focus, and at times even a sense of grimness to the mind. This is especially true for a Christian pastor, or in my thoughts, it should be. One of those areas of my own personal calling and ministry that I am looking back to are the countless times that I said, “I am an assistant pastor, preacher, minister not a theologian.” Increasingly as my preaching style has drastically changed from my earlier years from topical preaching to much more expository preaching, I have been greatly convicted by the Spirit of God and my interaction with the Word of God that pastors need to be theologians. For a pastor to say that he is not a theologian is certainly not a crime or sin of disqualification from ministry but it does say much about where he has spent his time. We would never expect a physician to say, “I am a doctor but I don’t know anything about medicine.” We would not take our cars to a mechanic who said, “I am a mechanic but I don’t know anything about how a car motor works.” Perhaps that is an oversimplification but I do think that a pastor who has some tenure cannot afford to say that he is not a theologian, that he does not know God.
One of the genres of books that I enjoy as a preacher is the group that deals with act and art of preaching itself. If you have read this blog for any length of time, you have discovered that I have recommended a lion’s share of books about preaching—most have been to do with expository preaching. It is good for preachers to continue to read books that will sharpen their skills as a preacher. Because I believe that preaching—both the delivery by the preacher and the listening by the hearer—is an act of worship, I believe a preacher should do everything within his power to get better at preaching. One of the ways that we can get better is to read books about preaching. Continue reading “Book Recommendation—A Guide to Expository Ministry—Dan Dumas”