Author Archives: Jeff Beckley

Book Review: Sacred Parenting

Book Review:  Sacred Parenting by Gary Thomas

The Good:

I’m Gonna Be Honest.  The author held to a commitment to honesty throughout the book.  Using personal examples, he was able to present an honest and realistic approach to Biblical parenting.  The “perfect parent” band-aid was ripped off pretty quickly, disarming the reader to identify with the principles presented.

The B-I-B-L-E, that’s the book for me.  Most parents of small children have to choose wisely what parenting books they read.  Both for content and for the sake of time.  So, if I’m going to read a parenting book, if it has a firm foundation in Scripture, my time and content satisfaction is enhanced.

Challenge Accepted.  Are you sure you want to be challenged as a parent?  Are you really sure?  Thomas has an incredible talent of laying out parental challenges that lie ahead that are convicting but irresistible.  You cannot help but continue turning pages to discover new challenges around every corner.

The Bad:

My Heart Hurts.  Not exactly a bad thing.  Maybe you need an antacid…or maybe it’s the convicting power of God’s Word.  But the author presents challenges that are daggers straight to the heart.  TUMS may have calcium, but no pill can take away the heart aches of parenting.  The honesty of the book is refreshing, but at times is difficult to accept.

The Grade:  A.  As a parent and youth & family pastor, I regularly read parenting books and articles.  This writing has vaulted to the top tier of parenting resources.  Honest, convicting, and insightful are some of the descriptions that come to mind.  Thomas does not take the easy way out, but provides a road map for spiritual formation parenting, both in the child and the parent.  You will walk away from this book changed.

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Book Review: In Praise of Plodders

Book Review:  In Praise of Plodders by Warren Wiersbe

The Good:

Struck Gold.  This is an absolute gold mine for pastors and ministry workers.  There is so much wisdom in its pages and Wiersbe does not let up from the first pages to the last.

Pastoral Training.  From the Sunday pulpit to the days in between, the reader will be trained to be a good shepherd to his people.  Good reminders, encouragement, and even warnings are given to the reader.  Wiersbe provides insight into ministry that only a grisly veteran could provide.

Whose Line is it Anyway?  I’ve said this before about Wiersbe…he provides the best one-liners that you can just take to the bank.  But, in this book, he relies on pastors of today and yesterday to provide incredible knowledge and teaching to the pastor of old and young.

The Bad:

Repeats Occasionally.  Because these were excerpts from a Christian newsletter, there are occasions where the author repeats information.  But, because the information is so valuable, is it really a bad thing if you read it more than once?

The Grade:  A+.  This was my favorite pastoral ministry book that I have read thus far in my ministry.  Wiersbe has a talent for providing enough push to drive the minister to greater heights, while balancing enough encouragement to push through difficulty and tough sledding.  This book should be on the shelf of every pastor within arm’s length of their desk.  I wouldn’t leave home without it.

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Characteristics of a Gen Z Youth Ministry

Had the privilege of attending and speaking at the Teen Leadership Conference at Clarks Summit University.  There I was part of a National Youth Ministries Conference that featured incredible speakers who spoke on ways to impact Generation Z for Christ.

Studying the different generations is fascinating to me, and it is important to understand the characteristics of each generation.  Especially since there most likely is 7 generations in your church on a given Sunday.  Seven!

Do you know the leadership style of the Generation Z?  What impact is social media having on this generation?  Mental health seems to be an issue, how do you help students who are struggling?  These are all issues we discussed in the seminar.

My job was to answer the question:  “What does a Generation Z Youth Ministry look like?”  Here’s a checklist to help you in your quest to reach this generation.  I encourage you to check it out, and feel free to add more in the comments.

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The Pastor’s Book

Book Review:  The Pastor’s Book by R. Kent Hughes

The Good: 

Re-Print!  Maybe the editor missed something.  Instead of “The Pastor’s Book”, would it be more appropriately named “The Pastor’s Textbook”.  The reader will have the experience of sitting in a classroom listening to elder pastors reveal the foundation of pastoral care and leadership.

You Again?  This is a book that will have a place on the shelf within reach.  Would be wise to use a note-card to note all the pages that can be used for various ministries and situations.  For example, you have a wedding coming up?  Well, turn to page 137 to find how to appoint a wedding coordinator.  A few pages later you will find script for a wedding ceremony.  Before all this you can find pre-marital counseling help.  I’m telling you, so many scenarios where this book will give you the full package.

But How Does That Make You Feel?  A guest writer comes in towards the end of the book to discuss pastoral counseling and knocks it out of the park.  You like detail, well this guy talks about how to walk your counselee in the room, position your furniture, and how to be silent.  I’m not being sarcastic, it is incredible practical and dynamite for the pastoral counseling.

The Bad:

Half a Hundo?  Yes, it is expensive.  On sale now on Amazon, but it usually sells for around $50.  This was given to me by a gracious family, and I’m so glad they did.  All that being said, it is worth the price of admission.  Think of it as a seminary level class, and the price does not seem so bad.

The Grade:  A.  Although I’ve been a pastor for about a decade or so, I still know I have much to learn about the pastorate.  Weddings, counseling, funerals, communion, and the list goes on.  No book could review all the scenarios, but this one covers the ins and outs of ministry quite well.  Pastors of all experience levels should have this on their shelf to better shepherd their flock.

If you are looking for a much better review, click here.

 

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Book Review: Start With the Heart

Book Review:  Start With the Heart by Kathy Koch

The Good:

What’s a Parent?  Excellent introduction to the book and the first chapter is worth the price of admission.  The beginning to the book provides a parenting summary that is very well done and worth the read.

Off The Charts.  The diagrams and charts were very well done.  These charts and diagrams are valuable tools in parenting and provide tangible ways to improve your parenting.

Well Organized.  Something I appreciate is a well-organized anything.  Well, Dr. Koch does a superb job of organizing her data, information, and instruction.  The chapter headings, book flow, and organization were all top notch to allow for a smooth read.

The Bad:

Discipline Light?  There were times when I thought the discipline was a bit light.  This could have been on purpose to allow parents to apply their own discipline based on their parenting style.  However, there were times when it seemed to care about the feelings of the child more than a disciplined way of parenting.

More practical than spiritual.  As a pastor, obviously I lean more toward spiritual-heavy, but to be fair, this was not the point of the book.  This was a motivational book, not as much a spiritual tool.  However, when the Scriptural support was evident and appreciated.

The Grade: B.  Highly practical and useful tool for any parent.  Loved the explanations and defined attributes of parenting.  Not at the top of my list, but valuable enough to recommend for parents of young children.

 

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6 Resources on Helping Young Adults

 
Check out the new blog post youth specialties.  Hope it helps your ministry!

6 Resources on Helping Young Adults

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A Tribute to Warren Wiersbe

Right behind my desk, within arms reach of my computer is The Bible Exposition Commentary by Warren Wiersbe.  It was the first commentary I ever bought for my pastoral library.  It will always be within arms reach while I am studying for a sermon, lesson, or preparing to teach from God’s Word.

Dr. Wiersbe was a mentor of mine.  No, I never had the privilege of meeting him, or sit across from his desk, or discuss theology with him over a cup of coffee.  But his writing has had such an impact on my life.  He had a special way of taking Biblical doctrines and exegesis and placing them on the bottom shelf that even guys like me can comprehend and understand.  He truly was a pastor’s pastor. 

This past Thursday, Warren Wiersbe went to be with the Lord, the subject of his scores of books, sermons, and other writings.  The One He helped others understand better, He now sits in His company.  What a legacy.  Many pastors I admire point to Wiersbe’s works as a mainstay on their shelves.

With all due respect to to other commentary writers, Wiersbe has been my favorite.  I liken him to having my grandpa sitting next to my desk, and being able to ask him questions about theology and proper exposition of a text.  So easy to understand, his books are more like a conversation than literature.

In honor of his life, I want to say thank you.  Dr. Wiersbe, you have guided my understanding of Scripture, helped me gain a better grasp of Biblical doctrines, and have been a safety net for difficult passages of Scripture.  Your legacy continues on the 3rd shelf of my bookshelf, where I can find answers and insight that will never grow old.  Thank you for your help in these early years of ministry, and I look forward to the help you will provide in the years ahead.

 

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Book Review: Choosing Marriage

Book Review:  Choosing Marriage by Debra Fileta

The Good: 

Great Combo.   The author is a licensed counselor and a passionate believer, which provides a great combination of practical and spiritual help to the marriage relationship.  While providing real life examples from her personal life and counseling situations, it gives a well-rounded approach to building healthy marriages.

See Things From the Other Side.  Truth be told, most of the marriage books on my shelves are from the male perspective.  Sure, they are full of Biblical truth, but they lack one thing…the view from the other side of the aisle.  A book about marriage from the wife’s point of view was sorely needed, and Debra Fileta is a great place to start.

For real, for real.  One thing you can say for sure about this book, it is honest and real.  For example, the author gives a hilarious story of her honeymoon that provides a reality of what marriage can be.  The rose-colored glasses are knocked off your face, and the realistic approach to a godly marriage is refreshing and appreciated.

The Bad:

Can you hand me my glasses?  One complaint I have actually has nothing to do with the content of the book.  For some reason, the text seemed faint in some places.  Maybe it was just my copy, but the font could have been a little bolder for the reader.  Small annoyance in a very enjoyable read.

Careful of the hyperbole.  It was rare, but I did catch some hyperbole.  For example, in the final chapter the author mentions marriage as the “hardest and greatest thing you’ll ever do”.  Taking out the spiritual side of things, perhaps this is true.  But the greatest thing we will do as believers goes beyond our marriage, and into eternity.

The Grade:  A.   If I had to describe the book in one word:  enjoyable.  Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t just a book of whimsical saying and enjoyable stories…this book had some dynamite advice and counsel for the marriage relationship.  My point is it was written in a way where you could enjoy improving your marriage, while being challenged in an appropriate and endearing manner.  Kudos to Debra Fileta in providing a valuable resource to both singles and married folks in their pursuit of reflecting the relationship of Christ and His bride.

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Book Review: The Tech-Wise Family

Book Review:  The Tech-Wise Family by Andy Crouch

The Good:

Ready for a Challenge.  Listen, this is not for beginners.  The instructions are not keep your phone usage under 5 hours per day and limit your binge watching for the weekend.  No, this book will make you want to throw your phone out the window and hug your kids for an hour.  The challenge is real people, so buckle up.

Hold Hands.  Why do we hold our kids’ hands in the parking lot?  To lead them to our car and not let them get hit by a Target shopper who couldn’t wait to hit the dollar bin.  Same principle here.  Crouch holds your hand the whole way, guiding you through each principle, and giving you practical steps to accomplish each step.

Rest in Peace.  Most of us reading this do not rest.  You may have times of leisure, but we do not rest.  God rested.  Is this thing on?  God rested.  And yet we still think we can go 24/7 with another shot of espresso, a smartphone, and a Google home.  Doesn’t work that way.  You need to rest, and this plan will help you get there.

The Bad:

Have you met my kids?  I love my kids dearly, but some of these rules/steps are…I’m laughing out loud as I type this thinking of my children…unrealistic.  To his credit, the author does say this is not a one size fit all plan.  For example, tea on Sunday?  Yeah my 4 year old son is gonna be hyped for an afternoon of tea and classical music.  I can just hear him saying, “Daddy, my turn to pick?  I’d like to hear Symphony No. 5 in C minor…please daddy?”.  Or the rule of no screens till they are 10.  Now keep in mind, this is cherry picking the difficult ones.  Most principles are dynamite and need to be considered.

The Grade:  A-

The case is made.  I mean, just look at this Time Magazine article, there is no debate anymore.  Too much screen time for children is dangerous and hazardous to our kid’s spiritual and mental health.  It’s time we take control, set boundaries, and not allow the addiction to technology start when they are in diapers.  Feel free to start small.  That is what our family did as we have implemented several ideas, and they have been beneficial to our family.  And one more thing, the tech-wise family, it starts with the parents.  Set the example, and lead your family into being a tech-wise family.  It will be uncomfortable at first, but that’s often where God works best.

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5 Alarming Porn Statistics for Youth

I would not just call these stats “alarming”, but “jaw-dropping” would be more like it.  This is an epidemic.  Time we begin and continue to have conversations about the dangers of porn, and the broken hearts that only can be freed and rescued by Jesus (Galatians 5:1).  Click on my article below to find these stats, and more reasons to pray and have conversations with teens, parents, and your own children as soon as possible.

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