Pastor's Library

AquaChurchAquaChurch (Essential Leadership Arts for Piloting Your Church in Today's Fluid Culture)

Leonard Sweet, 1999, Group Publishing, 269 pages, $16.97, hardcover.

How do you share the unchanging message of the gospel in an ever-changing world? How will the church adapt our changing society in the new millenium? Leonard Sweet's new book, AquaChurch, provides today's Christian leaders with navigational aids to help them stay the course as they seek to reach people drowning without hope in Jesus Christ. Bill Easum, president of 21st Century Strategies, Inc., says AquaChurch is a "learning manual on self-navigating the watery world of Postmodernism. He (Sweet) shares with us the leadership arts' that can help guide us through the turbulent currents of today."

In the first of the two sections Sweet makes his case for AquaChurch. He points out how the metaphor of maps for guiding our way is inadequate. We no longer have accepted landmarks that can be depended upon. He says, "It's like being out on the water in a ship." You must have navigational tools you can depend on.

The second section of the book covers those navigational tools that equip Christian leaders to be effective. Sweet uses metaphors to communicate his message. Jesus is the North Star and the fixed point to guide us. Ministry must always focus on Him. The Bible is the compass. Sailors must have a compass to safely navigate to their destination. Casting the Anchor, Walking the Gangplank, Listening for Sonar, Seeing through Scopes, Valuing the Crew, and other metaphors provide insight into Christian music, worship, fellowship and ministry.

You may not agree with everything Sweet says, but you will certainly be challenged to become more creative in sharing the timeless message of the gospel. Any pastor or Christian leader wanting (or needing) a fresh perspective on his or her leadership role and how to become more effective in communicating the gospel should read AquaChurch.

Bob Dasal

 

The Bible Jesus ReadThe Bible Jesus Read

Phillip Yancey, Zondervan, 1999, 221 pages, $19.99, hardcover.

Philip Yancey fears that Christians in general are losing touch with three-fourths of the Bible-the Old Testament. In The Bible Jesus Read he strives to reawaken us to our heritage. He begins by admitting that he, too, had largely ignored the Old Covenant, until he discovered that the questions asked and the problems faced of old are the very same problems that grip our interest today-questions such as: Who am I? Why am I here? What is God like, and where is He when I need Him?

"Apart from the Old Testament we will always have an impoverished view of God," the author asserts. Then he takes us to Deuteronomy, Job, Psalms, Ecclesiastes, and "the Prophets" to demonstrate how up-to-date are the problems faced. Job, for example, "faced a crisis of faith, not of suffering. And so do we." Dipping into Psalms, Yancey finds them "messy and disordered, like life." They reveal, he says, "what a heartfelt, soul-starved, single-minded relationship with God looks like."

Yancey relates that existentialism had been a youthful temptation to him, and he was shocked a few years later to find a very existential book in the middle of the Bible. Ecclesiastics, he says, is a very modern book: its despair is the product of a golden age of ease and soft living-very much like modern America for many.

The prophets, too, "in chapter after chapterdeal with the very same themes that hang like a cloud over our century: the silence of God, economic disparity, injustice, war, the seeming sovereignty of evil, the unrelieved suffering that afflicts our world."

Yancey admits he did not find full answers to all these questions in either part of the Bible. But he did find a satisfying answer to the question: Does God care? "Jesus is the answer."

This is a provocative book which may disturb the dust over your own unanswered questions. A very good book.

Ted Kyle

 

The New Complete Works of JosephusThe New Complete Works of Josephus

Revised and Expanded Edition. Translated by William Whiston. Commentary by Paul L. Maier, 1999, Kregel Publications, 1143 pages, $16.99, softcover.

The New Complete Works of Josephus, with 1,143 pages, is a book to be studied more than read. However, I did have the opportunity recently to sit down and talk with Paul Maier who wrote the commentary and who has been the driving force behind this revised and expanded version. Dr. Maier told me his goal in this expanded and updated version was to maintain accuracy, but greatly improve readability. His accompanying commentary is insightful and helpful in understanding this important period of history.

The Works of Josephus are familiar to most people interested in Jewish and early Christian history. This first-century Jewish soldier-turned-historian spent much of his adult life composing a history of the Jewish people. His writings have provided invaluable information on Jewish life in New Testament times for generations of preachers.

William Whiston, the translator, was an 18th century English mathematician and historian, to whom we owe a tremendous debt of gratitude for his great work.

Kregel Publications has revised Whiston's dated language, using modern vocabulary and spellings in this unabridged edition. Paul Maier wrote a new introduction and commentaries on the original writings. The efforts of Kregel and Dr. Maier have resulted in greatly-improved readability of Josephus.

I had always liked Josephus, but found him somewhat difficult to read and comprehend. This newly-released volume, containing all five of Josephus' works, should greatly benefit the Bible student, the history buff, and the historian. The updated language and Maier's commentary make both reading and comprehension easier.

The book also has cross reference numbers throughout to the Greek text of Josephus in the Loeb Classical Library, as well as numerous charts, tables, and maps. If you have read Josephus in the past and liked it, you will love this version.

Bob Dasal 

 

flambeau@darkcorp.comflambeau@darkcorp.com

Don Hawkins, Kregel, 1999, 142 pages, softcover.

Frankly picking up where C. S. Lewis' Screwtape Letters left off, flambeau follows the fortunes of Flambeau, a demon who is a low-level corporate manager in Satan's "business." However, unlike Letters, which focused on an individual human and his inner life, flambeau looks at the enemy's "tricks of the trade" to nullify the church's witness and effectiveness. The one-way flow of email memos from Scraptus, Flambeau's demonic mentor, covers a wide array of techniques to implant in church staffers, board members, congregants at large, and-not least-the pastor. They range from criticism to loose talk to intimidation to sarcasm to stonewalling to flirtation to lying, among others. In the end.but no, you'll need to read the book to learn that. And it is an easy, profitable read. Incidentally, for those of you tempted to try out the title as an email address, yes, it is a valid address-of the publisher.

Ted Kyle