Pastoring the Pastor [Book Review]

Pastoring the Pastor: Emails of a Journey through Ministry by Tim Cooper and Kelvin Gardiner

This is a pastoral theology with a difference. Instead of the usual systematic and logical dissection and examination of the pastor’s office, call, duties, relationships, etc., we have an email dialogue between rookie Pastor Dan and his Uncle Eldon, a mature Christian elder in another congregation. There are a few other email exchanges thrown in, revealing a bit more of the story from different angles, but the vast majority is the varied correspondence that passed between Pastor Dan and Uncle Eldon when Dan went to his first congregation…and started sinking.

Although the email correspondence is novel and entertaining, initially I didn’t think I was learning much from it all, and almost gave up. But as the book progressed, I realized more and more that some fairly fundamental lessons were subtly yet powerfully seeping into my life via the narrative. I like system, logic, bullet points, and summaries as much as the next person, and yet I found this “story” approach surprisingly effective in communicating important and memorable lessons for ministry.

Admittedly, some of the correspondence stretched belief and some of it is simply silly (e.g. the congregational barn dance), but some of the most ridiculous parts of the story are, I’m afraid, all too real, as many pastors will testify.

Uncle Eldon is a wise mentor to his novice nephew and dispenses a wide range of priceless encouragement, rebuke, and direction that will be applicable to most pastors, and especially to those just starting out. It’s like an inside look into ministry, a sort of “ministry reality show,” that should help prepare seminary students for the transition from classroom ideals to the treacherous bogs of pastoral ministry. Read it with a notebook on hand and you’ll be surprised at how frequently you’ll jot down valuable counsel.

But it’s not just for pastors, it would also be a helpful read for every Christian, giving you insight to what ministry is like behind-the-scenes and how your actions and words can impact pastors and their families for good and evil.

Above all it’s an encouraging story of transforming grace as we watch a proud and self-sufficient young guy be shaped and and transformed in the ministry for ministry, and in the process watch his congregation be similarly and beautifully metamorphosed by God’s almighty grace.

Pastoring the Pastor by Tim Cooper and Kelvin Gardiner (Published by Christian Focus). Tim Cooper teaches Church History at the University of Otago, New Zealand, and is a member of the leadership team at Dunedin City Baptist Church. Kelvin Gardiner has pastored churches in New Zealand, the Philippines, and the US.


Check out

Your pastor isn’t a pundit
“Often we put the pastor in a position demanding that he speak as a professional expert into an issue about which the wisest thing he could probably say is, “I don’t know.” One of the wisest things a pastor can do is to admit a lack of knowledge and refer people to someone better suited to help. If only we would let them do so.”

Depression Seminar
I’ll be leading a Depression Seminar this coming Friday and Saturday in Hudsonville. You can get more details here, but if you come along you’ll get advance viewing of three episodes from HeadHeartHand Media’s forthcoming documentary/curriculum on how the church can better serve the depressed and those who care for them.

A New Image for Black Men
I wish there was more Gospel in this, but it’s still a phenomenally brave challenge both to white and black men.

Endtimes Infographic
This is very well done. Click on the graphic to enlarge.

I will not let you go
Last week Greg Lucas ended up in a violent and vicious fight with … (you’ll have to read to find out)

The Rich Tapestry of God’s Providence
This fantastic story tells two sides of how Tim Challies mother was converted. And here’s Tim’s mother’s take on it.


Interrogating a Text: Translation Questions [Video]

Email and RSS readers click here to view video.

The first six questions to ask when “interrogating” a text are concerned with translating the text:

  1. What are the limits of my text?
  2. What is my translation?
  3. What do the lexicons say?
  4. What are the tenses, moods, and voices of the verbs?
  5. What syntactical features are important?
  6. How do other versions translate the text?

Previous videos in the How Sermons Work series here.


Glory Veiled and Unveiled [Book Review]

Book Review: Glory Veiled and Unveiled by Gerald M. Bilkes

My friend and colleague Dr Jerry Bilkes’ first book was worth waiting for! Those who know him best will find Jerry written all over the book: wise, insightful, discerning, warm, Scriptural, Christ-centered, pastoral, concise, practical, experiential, organized, Church-loving, and inspiring. That’s the book, and that’s Jerry!

Of course, there are other books on the parables, but this book is quite unique in the genre, especially in the way Jerry arranges the parables under four main headings:

  1. The Glory of the Kingdom
  2. The Glory of Kingdom Grace
  3. The Glory of Kingdom Consummation
  4. The Glory of Christ the King

Each parable is then set out using four categories

  1. The Scenery: How does Christ use the context, setting, background, and culture reflected in the parable to reach within human hearts?
  2. The Substance: What is the main message that Christ gives in the parable about His kingdom or aspects of it?
  3. The Savior: What does the parable unveil about the glorious Savior, His person and His work, to those who believer?
  4. The Searchlight: In what ways does the parable search our hearts and lives and expose what is in them, as well as guide us into the knowledge of Christ as the gracious and glorious king of the kingdom?

Jerry’s also managed to encapsulate each parable in a pithy memorable phrase. Some samples:

  • The Glory of Kingdom Mercy: The Parable of the Good Samaritan
  • The Glory of Kingdom Fruitfulness: The Parable of the Unfruitful fig tree
  • The Glory of Kingdom Wisdom: The Parable of the Rich Fool
  • The Glory of Kingdom Provision: The Parable of the Great Supper.

I’ve enjoyed using this book as a daily devotional, reading a chapter a day (25 parables with 8-10 pages on average), but I’ve also found it an indispensable aid to preaching the parables. The only downside is that you’ll find it hard not to preach them as Jerry writes them!

Glory Veiled and Unveiled: A Heart-Searching Look at Christ’s Parables by Dr. Jerry Bilkes. Available from Reformation Heritage Books and Amazon.


Check out

25 Top Resources for Dealing with Anger
So many quality resources here.

Gospel Hatred
Why Barry York is rejoicing in some recent experiences of Gospel hatred.

Why I’m thankful for common grace
Few of us are thankful enough for this.

Let the children fail
“A recent study continues a growing body of research that shows parents who help their children too much are doing them a disservice. The study says that such actions are prompted by a parent’s “misguided attempt to improve their child’s current and future personal and academic success.” It blames the “high responsiveness and low demandingness” of parents.”

More talking about listening
Some thought-provoking quotes on listening from Adam McHugh.

Resources for Preaching
I agree with most of Mike Leake’s conclusions here.


Children’s Daily Bible Reading Plan

This week’s morning and evening reading plan in Word and pdf.

This week’s single reading plan for morning or evening in Word and pdf.

If you want to start at the beginning, this is the first year of the children’s Morning and Evening Bible reading plan in Word and pdf.

I was contacted this week by Jason Henry, a missionary in Mongolia, who had very kindly collated and produced the second year of morning and evening readings in Word and pdf. Thanks so much Jason, and may God bless you and your family as you witness to God’s truth in that needy land.

And here’s the first 12 months of the Morning or Evening Bible reading plan in Word and pdf.

Here’s an explanation of the plan.

And here are the daily Bible Studies gathered into individual Bible books. Further explanation of that here.

Old Testament

New Testament

May God bless you and your children as you study the Word of life.