April 26, 2010

Steve Sonderman, How to Build a Life-Changing Men's Ministry

How to Build a Life-Changing Men's Ministry: Practical Ideas and Insights for Your ChurchThanks to Bethany House the review copy. I am involved in leadership of the adult ministries area at my church, and we have been looking to expand our men's ministry, so it was with great interest that I delved into this book. Sonderman passes on a lot of experience in this informative book about building a men's ministry. A few major emphases come across. One is the need to proceed slowly and deliberately, taking time to build a leadership team and bathing the effort in prayer, surveying the men in your church to gauge interest and needs, and building up incrementally from a foundation. A second emphasis is on having a mission statement for the ministry, and likewise always remaining cognizant of the mission and purpose of each event (does this fit in with our mission?). A third emphasis is on the importance of small groups to real life change. A last emphasis is on the need for careful planning and delegation, bringing many men into the preparation for and conduct of ministry events.

It is obvious, as you read this book, that Sonderman has learned many lessons from his years of experience, both in his own church and in his networking and speaking across the country, and those lessons are passed along as he goes. I also appreciate the balance of both practical wisdom and strategic thinking that comes across in these pages. He helps you both to think big picture about what a men's ministry is as why to do it, as well as how to have a Saturday morning breakfast that works. In all, I found this to be a great resource for thinking about and planning a men's minsitry.

April 25, 2010

Commentary Recommendations by John Walton

BestCommentaries.com had a link on their blog recently to the Wheaton College website of Professor John Walton, a professor of OT there, and the author of The Lost World of Genesis One: Ancient Cosmology and the Origins Debate (which incidentally was a really fascinating book which I hope to review in due course). At the bottom of his page you will find a link to a PDF of recommended commentaries. I always enjoy seeing what learned people recommend in the way of commentaries and commentary series. I recommend perusing it at your leisure, especially if you will find yourself in the marked for an OT commentary in the near future.

April 24, 2010

Eerdmans new release schedule

Nijay Gupta points out that Eerdmans has put out their summer release schedule here. I'm always excited to see what they've got coming down the pike. Especially noteworthy over the next few months is the NICNT volume on John, which will be getting an update by J. Ramsey Michaels. That is certainly a volume to anticipate.

April 07, 2010

Michael Bird, The Saving Righteousness of God

It is a sad irony that some of the books I enjoy the most are the ones that languish on my to-be-reviewed shelf the longest. I think it's partly that I want to do them justice. And this one by Bird has been on my shelf since last fall—a testimony to its value, not its unimportance. And because I can't stand to see it sit there any longer, I offer instead this short inadequate notice to say it was truly a great book. I've been greatly enjoying, over the past year or so, delving deeply in to the world of Pauline theology, but that joy has been often tempered by frustration or even angst at the fragmented world of Pauline scholarship: so much seems contested these days, with many scholars working at cross purposes. And much of the debate is far too acrimonious. But Bird's offering in the Paternoster Monographs series is truly a gem. It offers great exegetical insight into Paul's letters, a clear-headed appraisal of what is important to the Apostle, and a constructive proposal that integrates the fruit of both the "traditional" reading of Paul and an open but critical inclusion of the "new perspective" on Paul and other contemporary approaches and estimations of the Apostle. In short, even beyond the great wealth of knowledge on Paul and his understanding of God's saving righteousness, Bird's book gives me great hope that especially the divide between old and new perspectives on Paul will be transcended as we move forward. This book is truly a must-read for anyone interested in Paul, the new Perspective, Romans, or even the New Testament more generally.

April 05, 2010

Pistis Christou and the Law

I'm reading through Galatians as I work my way through Frank Thielman's Paul and the Law. And I have been overwhelmed by Paul's logic in Galatians 3 in regard to Christ and the Law. In verse 22, Paul writes that everything was "locked up" under sin so that the promise could be given "through faith in Jesus Christ . . . to those who believe." I am well aware that the debate surrounding the various constructions and uses of pistis Christou as objective or subjective genitive is far from settled at this juncture, it has at least provided the impetus for me to look with new eyes at this passage, and to discover what is plainly there with regard to Paul's logic for why the law is in place (and in fact the reading doesn't seem to change substantively with subjective or objective renderings of the genitive construction). Paul seems to be saying that the law isn't opposed to the promise, but is in fact the necessary precondition of, and instrument through which Christ's faithfulness accomplishes our justification. The law provides in a sense the mechanism through which justification on our behalf by Christ occurs, as Christ's faithfulness under the law yields forth in God's abundant gift of life. The law is thus fulfilled and the promise is then extended to all people without the the constraint of the law, which has fulfilled its purpose in Christ. In a sense, instead of thinking of Christ as circumventing the law to bring salvation by faith (a type of theology that may at times rest just beneath the surface in my own thinking), Christ brings that salvation precisely through the law, which was God's ordained mechanism to bring blessing and life from death, even as the gift is now offered apart from that same law.