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Edward J. Vasicek "Author, pastor, columnist" (Kokomo, IN USA)
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Staff Your Church for Growth: Building Team Ministry in the 21st Century
Staff Your Church for Growth: Building Team Ministry in the 21st Century
by Gary L. McIntosh
Edition: Paperback
23 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars Useful Book, Addresses the Issues, May 10 2004
As the pastor of a church with an average attendance of 200, our church board decided that it was time for us to consider hiring a second pastoral staff member. We had little idea of what to look for in a second staff member. So I purchased this book to find some direction, and I was not disappointed.
McIntosh offers some clear opinions that were helpful and well reasoned. Ideally, the second staff member should be someone very different from the senior pastor. The idea is to compliment him, not replicate him.
The first four chapters touched on this subject. He did seem to lean too much for my liking upon the opinions of Lyle Schaller (who writes from a mainline denominational viewpoint; Schaller knows his stuff, but there are significant differences between the needs of a typical mainline church and a church in an evangelical denomination or an independent evangelical church; conservative churches generally tend to be more active and pastors are less like chaplains but more creative and aggressive than their liberal counterparts, hence they need additional staff earlier). McIntosh does not seem to communicate this distinction (of course he may just disagree with me:).
The book's title and subtitle truly communicate the nature of the volume. It deals with two distinct subjects: finding the right staff member(s),which occupies the lesser portion of the book,and working with and nurturing staff, the majority of the book.
The latter part virtually ignores staffs with two or three pastors, but assumes a large church format. Okay, you can't make everyone happy. But I still did not like that (there, I feel better).
Although I skimmed through the latter section, it did seem to offer advice that could be adapted to smaller situations. You will enjoy the book greatly if you are a staff or board member from a congregation with a large staff; if you are simply looking for good advice about what to look for in a second staff member, you will find the first few chapters quite relevant but will probably not finish the book.
All in all, a good book.

First And Second Samuel
First And Second Samuel
by David F. Payne
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 27.20
16 used & new from CDN$ 3.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Favorite Commentary of I and II Samuel, April 14 2004
David Payne has written a balanced commentary useful for pastors, teachers, or serious students of Scripture. It is conservative, does a fine job of interpretting the text without becoming tedious (sticks with English), and is exceptionally strong in drawing out principles for application.
If you are familiar with I and II Samuel, you are aware of the complex web of relationships within the book. Payne untangles them and provides clarity and solid analysis.
As a pastor of 25 years, I have preached through I and II Samuel on three occasions, and I have found this to be the most helpful of my commentaries. Highly recommended.

How to Be a Gentleman: A Contemporary Guide to Common Courtesy
How to Be a Gentleman: A Contemporary Guide to Common Courtesy
by John Bridges
Edition: Hardcover
51 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Practical, Succinct Advice, April 6 2004
What it means to be a "gentlemen" is always a matter of opinion. But John Bridges offers us a well-balanced path, addressing most areas of life in a brief 150 page book filled with brief statements, such as, "A gentlemen never tells jokes that may embarass other people, even if those other people are not in the room." The entire book is made up of similar directive sayings (no paragraphs), which is fine with me. It gets the authors points across quickly and clearly.
The chapter titles include, A Gentlemen Experiences Real Life, A Gentlemen Gets Dressed, A Gentlemen Goes to Dinner, A Gentlemen Says the Right Thing, A Gentlemen Gives A Party, A Gentlemen Goes to A Party, A Gentlemen and His Friends, A Gentlemen Goes to the Office, A Gentlmen Gets Equipped, and Extreme Etiquette: A Gentlemen Faces the Really Big Challenges.
I was very satsified with this book and highly recommend it.

Wild at Heart: Discovering the Secret of a Mans Soul
Wild at Heart: Discovering the Secret of a Mans Soul
by John Eldredge
Edition: Hardcover
177 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

3.0 out of 5 stars Great Theme, But Could Be Better, March 8 2004
As I looked over the reviews of this book, I noted a real polarization: guys either loved or hated this book. Any book this polarizing, I thought, must at bare minimum be bold. And this is a bold book.
On the positive side, the basic premise, that men need to embrace masculinity instead of apologizing for it, is great. It is true that many (unfortunately Eldredge says, "the church," which is tough to prove since he has not been in every church) churches do embrace a feminized Jesus and seem to push an agenda that feminizes men. As a pastor of 25 years, I have noted this tendency in many (perhaps most?) congregations (but I can honestly say that this has not been the case in the two churches I have pastored). Though common, this problem is not always present.
Eldredge argues that men should feel free to be "wild at heart," and that a deep relationship with God and the security that comes from realizing one is truly a man is a key to a satisfying and meaningful life for a man.
He recognizes the "wound" that men have, the importance of having a battle to fight and a beauty to rescue, themes dealt with about ten or (or more) years ago (by the likes of Gordon Dalbey, Robert Hicks, etc.); but his work is a current volume, and this material needs to re-circulate for the upcoming generations.
On the negative side, however, this book is reactionary. It addresses all men as though they were of the same temperament, namely that of the author. Besides watching way too many movies, the author enjoys the great outdoors. But he has forgotten that God does not only bless the Esaus, but also the Jacobs. And some of us guys don't even like movies (sorry, but there is nothing masculine about having to be entertained visually). Many men have died for their country, saved lives, reared masculine sons and feminine daughters and been bold warriors for the kingdom on God and yet did not enjoy repelling or hunting. I fear we learn a lot about John Elderedge and about men LIKE him (and there are many,perhaps even a narrow majority, although I wonder) than men in general; those of us who love the great "indoors" are virtually ignored or relegated to a category (by default) as less than masculine (although I do love the outdoors, just not hunting or repelling; I am a hiker).
The author is unusually weak in Bible interpretation, but he is no heretic. He does, however, point out that Adam stood silently alongside Eve while she ate of the fruit (he gives credit to, "The Silence of Adam," by Larry Crabb); on that interpretation, he is right on. And that is a key and crucial thought. He is weak in the interpretation department elsewhere throughout the book. Unfortunately, many of his points come from popular movies, great illustrations for the men who probably need the book most (those who live life vicariously through movies and TV). But again, a segment of us (who would rather play cards or take our wives dancing rather than tube out) were left out.
The first half of the book disenchanted me; the second half was much better and worth the reading. His comments about spiritual warfare need contemplation.
For men who have temperaments like Elderedge (the restless, deep feeling, and aggressive kind) or who have been stifled and intimidated by a feminized version of Christianity, this book is bold and radical enough to wake you out of your stupor. But it is not an "on the mark," response, but a reactionary (and overly emotional) one. If that's what floats your boat, you'll love it. If you are a bit more laid back (like myself and many other guys), you will not enjoy this book as much. Of course, if you are a passive wimp, you NEED this book, whether you will like it or not!
Some other books I would recommend (as better) in this genre include Gordon Dalbey's, "Father and Son," Robert Hicks, "The Masculine Journey" (if you can find it; this is an excellent book), and Robert Lewis', "Raising A Modern Day Night" (on bringing up boys). To my way of thinking, these are less reactionary and right on the mark.
So is this a good book or a bad one? It is certainly not a bad book. And though it is not truly Scripturally based, it is not heretical (just extra-scriptural). If you share common frustrations and experiences with John Elderege, you may find really enjoy it. For many guys, this would be good medicine; for others of us, it is at least thought provoking.

The New Brain: How the Modern Age Is Rewiring Your Mind
The New Brain: How the Modern Age Is Rewiring Your Mind
by Richard Restak
Edition: Hardcover
22 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Helps Us Understand the Effects of Behavior on the Brain, Feb. 16 2004
Not only does our brain influence our behavior, our behavior and the choices we make influence the very structure of our brains! This is the basic proposition of Restak's work, and his documentation of that proposition is convincing.
Although the brain is a complicated and technical subject, Restak writes for the layman and explains how our choices (e.g., viewing violent movies, choosing to practice an instrument with diligence, or even enjoying humor and laughter) affects our brains -- physically.
Modern research has proven that the brain has much more plasticity (flexibility and ability to change) throughout life (not just during youth) than previously believed.
Although Restak does not give enough credit to inherited abilities and tendencies (in my opinion, he needs to address studies among identical twins raised apart), it is still interesting to note how practice and discipline actually change the brain's structure.
My favorite portion addresses how images (TV, movies, photos, etc.) destabilize our brains, and how that watching a fictional event is processed by our brain as an actual event. The result is that portrayals of violence make us stressed, fearful, and more prone to be violent ourselves, almost as though we had participated in the acutal events portrayed.
He addresses music, ethical issues involving medication, and leaves us with predictions about new medical treatments involving melding the brain with modern technology.
All in all, this was an interesting and informative read. Great for anyone who deals with people or is concerned about social issues.

Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts: Seven Questions to Ask Before (and After) You Marry
Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts: Seven Questions to Ask Before (and After) You Marry
by Les, III Parrott
Edition: Hardcover
108 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Best Marriage Preparation Book, Dec 10 2003
As a pastor of 25 years, I have used several books as part of a pre-marital counseling regiment. This is the best, by far! Not only do the Man's and Woman's Workbooks (I suggest ordering them with the book) make premaritial counseling simpler, I have found that this book hits the nail on the head. Couples who went through the material in preparation for marriage thanked me after they were married, and they shared how valuable this material was in the daily grind of life.
I first heard the authors at a Moody Pastor's Conference in the late 1990's. It did not take me long to determine that I would check out their books. I have since concluded that Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott are exceptional in the realm of understanding human relationships.
Althogh the book is written by a godly Christian couple, this is more of a relational book than a spiritual one, so I would not consider it a complete pre-marital regiment, but a good anchor book.
Whether used in counseling or simply read by a couple in their own quest to prepare for marriage, this book is a gem. The Drs. Parrott seem to have a realistic (and well documented) grasp on the nature of marriage. This is practical, hands on material.
The book is arranged around 7 questions: Have you faced the myths of marriage with honesty? Can you identify your love style? Have you developed the habit of happiness? Can you say what you mean and understand what you hear? Have you bridged the gender gap? Do you know how to fight a good fight? and Are you and your partner soul mates?
Of course no couple entering marriage could honestly answer all those questions with a "yes." But the book provides a good start and helps couples begin to face reality and potential areas of growth.
If a couple follows the exercises by purchasing the workbooks, (like identifying some of your own personal "commandments"--rules you live by that you picked up who knows where and expect your spouse to know and agree with), it could preclude many potential tensions later.
This book could also be used as a marriage enrichment manual. Indeed, many couples (perhaps most) have probably failed to incorporate these solid principles. Indeed, several couples I counseled have identified this exercise as having made a significant difference in their marriages.
To those of you considering marriage, go through this book together, and cosider at least some of the exercises in the workbooks. To pastors and Christian counselors, I urge you to read this volume and consider using it!

Margin
Margin
by Richard Swenson
Edition: Paperback
64 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Key Book for All Christians: In My Top 25 All Time Books, Nov. 12 2003
This review is from: Margin (Paperback)
Margin is a crucial book for any serious Christian. In a day of pushing the envelope, Swenson urges us to leave room ("margin") for the unexpected (and to reduce stress).
Many believers schedule their time to the hilt, live within their credit limit rather than their means, and displace time with family and God with good things, but not the most important things.
Although Swenson, himself an M.D., practices what he preaches, he does perhaps go a little overboard in some areas (resisting buying a computer, wearing a watch, etc.). But, all in all, he argues for balance and sanity to replace the rat race many Christians join. He gives the reader permission to be counter-cultural. He asks us if we could imagine Jesus leaving the Last Supper because His pager went off!
As a pastor of 24 years, I have used this book to help me manage my own life. I have shared its Biblical insights from the pulpit and used this material extensively in my counseling ministry. This is truly a "must read" book. It is a life changer.

Purpose Driven Life
Purpose Driven Life
by Rick Warren
Edition: Hardcover
385 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Great Overview , Good Discipleship Tool, Nov. 8 2003
This review is from: Purpose Driven Life (Hardcover)
I have benefited from the ministry of Rick Warren since 1989. As a matter of fact, I went to his "Purpose Driven Church" seminar in Indianapolis in about 1995. Although I have carefully selected which of Warren's suggestions to use in our ministry here, I do have great respect for the man.
His new book, "The Purpose Driven Life," has been the number one best seller on the New York Times Best-Seller list, and seems destined to be used of God to both deepen believers and reach seekers.
If you have been through a meaty discipleship program (Campus Crusade, IV, Navigators), or are a well-read Christian, you might not learn anything new from Warren's book, but you will appreciate the concise way he deals with so many issues of the Christian life. I bought this volume to see if I might use it for discipleship or teaching.
The book is already becoming a fad in the evangelical community. Churches are teaching Sunday School lessons, doing 40 day programs, or coordinating preaching schedules with its chapters. I recommend this book DESPITE the fact that it is a fad (I usually detest fads because they are almost always shallow or lopsided). This volume, though very simple, is filled with meaningful content. It doesn't take you in depth into any subject, but presents an important overview and addresses the basics in each area. Since many believers struggle with seeing the big picture or the whole picture, this book will fill yet another void.
The five major purposes of the Christian life, as understood by Warren, include, "You Were Planned for God's Pleasure" (Warren is right on here), "You Were Formed For God's Family, You Were Created to Become Like Christ, You Were Shaped for Serving God, and, You Were Made for a Mission." These chapters are then subdivided, providing forty short chapters in all (the reader is encouraged to read one chapter per day). I especially appreciated his view that we exist to glorify God, and, although I disagree with some of his terminology, his perspective on worship is great.
This book would be wonderful to give a new believer, but it will also "bring to remembrance" important truths no believer should ever get over. The most basic truths are always the most important ones, and we should never leave them behind in the search for depth.
On the negative side, I have four gripes: (1) Warren uses some of the strangest Bible translations out there; I have a number of verses memorized that he "quotes," but the paraphrases are so far removed from the original that I cannot even recognize them; (2) Warren quotes or uses illustrations from religious people who are not evangelical, and readers may infer that he approves of their theological views (or that it really doesn't matter what you believe), (3) what Warren doesn't say can also be misleading. I appreciate his positive spirit, but he fails to qualify many of his teachings. For example, he emphasizes that Christians should stay put and not meander from church to church; however, he does not note important exceptions (e.g., bad doctrine or unethical leadership). I am not saying Warren would advocate staying in a bad church (he would not), but it sounds like he does advocate this because he of what he fails to say (the silence is deafening); and (4)he does not deal with learning to depend upon the Holy Spirit and what that means.
Warren is actually a Southern Baptist, and his doctrinal views align pretty well with many evangelicals, including mine. He has written a book that will be a powerful force for the kingdom in the days ahead. I encourage all Christians to pick up this book. Some will find it fills in gaps; others will find it "brings to remembrance" important truths; but, because of this book's major significance, we also need to read it as participants in the broader Body of Chirst.
This book would make a great gift, both for Christians and for those even somewhat open to the Gospel.

Practical Christian Theology: Examining the Great Doctrines of the Faith
Practical Christian Theology: Examining the Great Doctrines of the Faith
by Floyd H. Barackman
Edition: Paperback
2 used & new from CDN$ 780.27

5.0 out of 5 stars Best Hands On Theology Book for Pastors & Laymen Alike, Nov. 7 2003
Barackman has compiled a concise but thorough practical theology that outlines matters of both doctrine and practice. Unlike multi-volume works, this book puts doctrine at your fingertips. Although multi-volume works may be more detailed, none are more "packed" nor less intimidating. I use this for lesson preparation, I bought copies for each of my elders, and I give a copy to those I have discipled or want to develop more deeply. This book needs to get into the hands of our church leaders, but pastors will also get a lot of use from this one.
The author is Pre-millennial, Dispensational, eteranlly secure, and holds to inerrancy. Pastors/laymen from Bible Churches, Ev. Free Churches, Baptist, Grace Brethren, and numerous other evangelical/fundamental denominations and fellowships will probably agree with the doctrinal and practical content of this work. As a graduate of Moody Bible Institute, I find this book very much in line with sound doctrine.
Do not be deceived: though this is only one volume and concise, it strikes me as quite scholarly. A truly helpful tool for hands on ministry, and a solid theological education for the untrained.

The Prophecy of Ezekiel: The Glory of the Lord
The Prophecy of Ezekiel: The Glory of the Lord
by Charles L. Feinberg
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 24.58
16 used & new from CDN$ 23.64

5.0 out of 5 stars Best Commentary on Ezekiel from Dispensational Viewpoint, Nov. 4 2003
Teaching or preaching on Ezekiel can get tough, but Feinberg provides a fine interpretation of the text from a Premillennial, Dispensational, and Conservative viewpoint. Feinberg believes God is not through with Israel, but has future plans for his chosen nation (yet personal salvation is only available through Jesus Christ).
The book is highly intepretative, seeking out the original intent and meaning of the text. Feinberg often lists options of interpretation (from a conservative viewpoint) and then concludes which view seems the best.
Although it is anything but dumbed-down, this is an understandable work, not bogged down with numerous (unncessary) references to the Hebrew; Hebrew words that are significant are sometimes briefly expounded. This is 293 pages of meaningful interpretation, no fluff nor tedious technicalities. Feingberg does sometimes include a brief but meaningful application of the text.
This work is invaluable to pastor, professor, or serious layman alike. Ezekiel can get thick, but Feinberg is a great freind to take along on the journey! By far the best!

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