Sunday, June 1, 2008

Books for May 2008

The Work of the Pastor by William Still (re-read). This brief volume is a help, challenge, and rebuke for all of us. Still, who pastored a single flock in Scotland for 51 years, here presents the sum of the pastor's duties, distilling it down to the essence of shepherding and feeding the lambs on the Word of God. For such a short book, there is much to be found here, and it is one of those books I believe should make its way into the rotation of every pastor. (10)

Wiring a House by Rex Cauldwell. Yes, I actually read this book cover-to-cover. And, in fact, I thought it was a great read. When I was in seminary, a friend who was a former electrician taught me how to wire lights and outlets; now, as I face the work of our attic renovation, I realized that I had a bit more wiring to do than simply a light socket here and there. This book answered every question I had remaining, and gave me the knowledge and confidence to move ahead with the electrical part of the job without fear (or at least without more fear than is a healthy amount when working with electricity). This writer is a seasoned Master Electrician, and he does a great job of telling the industry secrets while introducing concept after concept in a very readable and didactic manner. He also goes the extra mile with "Above Code" comments in every chapter, telling you where the code standards aren't quite enough for one reason or another. A great book, and a must-read for me in my current status as part-time contractor! (9)

With Reverence and Awe by D.G. Hart and John R. Muether. This book, subtitled, "Returning to the Basics of Reformed Worship," was a difficult read for me. I agreed with 90% of the content, and found it engaging in that manner; however, I agreed with about 30% of the tone-- how they brought about communicating their ideas. Like most forms of communication, tone matters so much when conveying sometimes difficult and/or confronting content. Even though they claim not to do this (of course they would!), there was also a little edge of "if you're not worshiping like us, then you're not worshiping the way God wants you to" in the book; that sort of arrogance gets under my skin quickly, even in small doses. There is some good content in this book, and they do a fair job of driving the discussion toward the Scriptures-- it might be worth reading just as an introduction to relevant biblical texts for thinking about worship (though other books do a better job at that). (5)

Emotionally Healthy Spirituality by Peter Scazzero (re-read). I first read this book a few years ago, but decided that it might be, well, healthy to read it again. It was just as good. Scazzero deals with a difficult subject honestly, with clarity, and with practicality. He discusses what emotional health is (on a primarily individual level), and how a church might (or any relational group) might embody good emotional health. While there are some shortcomings in the book, and while I want for more help and information on some of the points (another post on this is coming), I'd like to think that every church CAN aspire to what Scazzero sets forth as something like an ideal. (8+)

Ruling Elder by Leonard Van Horn. Here's a (very) brief little booklet that is great for orienting Elder candidates to the office. It is quite basic, offering a short examination of three questions: Are you called to be an Elder? What is your view of the church? Are you qualified to be an Elder? Van Horn works through each competently. By no means is this little book sufficient for all officer training needs! But I plan to use it as a give-away to all nominees (in complement to the training they are already receiving) to help guide them in considering their nomination. (8)

Framing Floors, Walls, and Ceilings by the editors of Fine Homebuilding. You can tell by the fact that I read two books on home remodeling-type subjects that I'm in the midst of a big project at the house! Unfortunately, this one wasn't nearly as good as the one above. It looks to be essentially a compilation of articles by these editors, all of which are moderately helpful. But because this one was cobbled together-- rather than written step-by-step with comprehensive planning involved, like Wiring a House was-- there are big holes of information. Since I've done some basic building and remodeling before, I was mostly able to follow along; someone with no experience in this area would easily get lost. I'll still use this for reference at times, but it's likely that I'll look for another (better) book on the subject to round out my knowledge-base. (4)

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