Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Raising Peanuts in a Gold Field – Paul W. Powell

©2009 Paul W. Powell, Tyler, TX

Paul Powell, Dean Emeritus and Special Assistant to the Dean of George W. Truett Theological Seminary, offers another collection of sermons that are challenging to the preacher as well as the layman in the pew. Mining from years of experience, Powell again presents meaningful illustrations, anecdotes, and ideas related to applying scriptural principles to everyday life.

The theme of this collection is mediocrity. Or more precisely, how to avoid living a mediocre life when we have access to the spectacular power of the Holy Spirit. In addition to the title chapter, the reader will find “Living for Christ in the Home” which addresses faithful Christianity within marriage; “Hot Air or True Religion” concerning how sincere faith; and “Finishing Well” reminding believers to focus on Jesus throughout life.

The most useful aspect of the book is the wealth of illustrations ranging from Powell’s personal ministry at churches throughout the state of Texas to interesting stories involving ordinary people and greats such as Johnny Weismuller alike. Preachers will want to read this book for the ideas, scholarship and illustrations. Others will be impressed by the readability and matter-of-fact presentation of sermons that can be applied directly to everyday living.

I give Powell 4 out of 5 reading glasses for Raising Peanuts in a Gold Field.

Benjamin Potter, February 24, 2010

Monday, February 1, 2010

Secrets Behind Closed Doors – David Ray

© 2009 Winepress Publishing, Enumclaw, WA

David Ray has developed a book that addresses some of the more pressing issues that attack the very heart of people these days yet are the very issues that nobody talks about—at least not out loud, at least not in mixed company, at least not without fear of being judged, labeled or ostracized. His experience as a pastor/counselor has given him a wealth of “behind closed doors” scenarios to use in compiling this book.

The author tackles life issues ranging from depression to suicide, from homosexuality to abuse, from unwanted/unexpected pregnancy to euthanasia, and just about everything in between in short order. Each issue finds about 10 pages’ discussion (more or less) including: an introductory word (with generalized case study), some keys to dealing with the issue, an author’s assessment (called the A.P.S. or Author’s Post Script), some discussion starters, and closing with a prayer for that particular situation.

Without being judgmental himself, Ray addresses many of the areas with which the church and Christians have found difficulty dealing without becoming judgmental to the point of hypocrisy. Part of his reaction comes across strangely like a self-help book. At times it seems that he encourages people with “hide-able” issues to pick themselves up by their own bootstraps. At other moments he encourages approaching God as an answer.

The biggest difficulty that I had with the book was the passing nod to Devine ability in matters where that is the most important response that anyone can make. That said, I understand that too often preacher-types like me tend to raise the flag of God and prayer as an escape issue. In this I believe that Ray is working diligently to avoid this escapism. For this reason I’d give him three reading glasses.

Who would I recommend this book to? Pastors who need a good reference tool in their counseling; someone facing the need to address one of the issues in the book—including supportive friends and family members. On the other hand, I would not be quick to jump on the “group study” bandwagon that publishers are excited about in their marketing of such books to churches and church leaders.

Benjamin Potter, February 1, 2010

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