Thursday
Nov142013

Two-Minute Drill to Manhood

Book Review by 
Aaron Earls

For John Croyle, the clock continues to tick. Whether on the football field or in the life of a child, the seconds slip away until the outcome is clear.

Playing on championship teams for legendary University of Alabama head coach Paul “Bear” Bryant, the former All-American defensive end knows the value of every moment in a game. But mistakes are magnified when the clock starts winding down, which inspired the title of his book “The Two-Minute Drill to Manhood: A Proven Game Plan for Raising Sons.”

Football games often are determined in the final two minutes of a game and, often with teenagers, parents are coming down to their two-minute drill, Croyle said. 

“Before our sons leave our home, they have to know how to be a good man, a good husband and a good father,” he said.

In addition to raising two biological children, Croyle has been a father figure to nearly 2,000 children at Big Oak Ranch. Croyle began the boys’ ranch 40 years ago for abused, neglected and abandoned children. Big Oak Ranch, which has since added a girls’ ranch and a Christian school, will receive 100 percent of the author proceeds from “The Two-Minute Drill.”

The lessons learned from the hurting hearts of those who come to stay with “Mr. John,” along with experiences with his son and daughter, served as the foundation for the parenting book from B&H Publishing. 

The book has garnered endorsements from sports legend Bo Jackson, Crimson Tide football coach Nick Saban and other prominent men in sports and entertainment.

Years ago, in preparing for a trip with his then-13-year-old son Brodie, who would later become a quarterback at Alabama and in the NFL, Croyle felt God impress on his heart one question: “What do you want to teach your son about manhood?” The question inspired Croyle’s seven life principles based on the acrostic M-A-N-H-O-O-D.

Aaron Earls writes for LifeWay Christian Resources.

Thursday
Oct312013

‘Level fields of play’ - the Bobby Shows story

Book Review by 
Caleb Yarbrough

In “Level fields of play: Bobby   Shows’ life and ministry through sports,” James O. Preston Jr. tells the story of Bobby Shows, Mississippi native, basketball star, devoted sports evangelist and former Arkansas Baptist minister.

The book takes the reader through Shows’ early years growing up in rural Mississippi in the 1940s and 1950s, up to his time as a member of the Mississippi State University varsity basketball team and finally through his distinguished career as a minister of the gospel.

The book focuses on Shows’ lifelong love of sports and how he used that love as a tool with which to reach people with the message of Jesus Christ both at home and around the world.

One major topic of “Level fields of play” is Shows’ involvement in the 1963 NCAA men’s basketball tournament. The highlight was Mississippi State’s historic matchup with Loyola University of Chicago. In the midst of the American Civil Rights Movement, Loyola started four black players against an all-white Mississippi State team from the Deep South. The game became know as “Game of Change,” because of its impact on the desegregation of American sports.

While he did not play in that game, which Mississippi State went on to lose, Shows said it was an experience he would never forget.

“We simply wanted to go and play basketball and do as well as we could and hopefully win the game. But as you look back and you see the things and the comments and people involved and how they felt about it, it becomes pretty obvious that it was a lot more than a game,” Shows told Preston.

At the beginning of Chapter 10 Preston writes, “Little did Bobby realize when he dedicated himself to the Lord that he would serve God, not as a basketball star, but as a sports missionary.” 

The author goes on to cover Shows’ life after college, how he met his wife, Jane, and how God blessed him with the ability to minister to the lost with his passion for sports, including by serving as recreation pastor of Park Hill Baptist Church, North Little Rock, for 14 years.

“Level fields of play” is a well-written book that tells the story of a gentle giant who used the gifts and passions God gave him in order to grow the kingdom of Christ. Whether you are a sports fan or not, it is well worth a read!

The book is available in print or in digital form from Amazon.com. Visit www.levelfieldsofplay.com for more information, or email jameso.preston@gmail.com. A portion of the proceeds from sales of the book goes to benefit Sports Crusaders, a ministry founded by Shows.

Caleb Yarbrough is a staff writer at the Arkansas Baptist News.

Thursday
Oct032013

‘Misreading Scripture with Western Eyes’ 

Book Review by 
Doug Hibbard

A lifetime ago, when tests were taken with No. 2 pencils and without calculators, the preparation for a multiple choice test included this advice: If you run short on time, go ahead and guess. Your guess has a chance of being right, and anything left blank is wrong. 

So, dutifully, many of us readily bubbled ovals in a line when the time limit was nearly up.

I doubt that any one of us ever considered that guessing correctly would be dishonorable. After all, the goal is to get as many of the questions right as possible, is it not? The introduction to “Misreading Scripture with Western Eyes” recounts a story of the author’s time in Indonesia where his students rocked this simple assumption: Guessing correctly? That’s lying to the professor about what you know.

This opening story sets up “Misreading Scripture” quite well. Throughout this work, E. Randolph Richards and Brandon J. O’Brien present Scriptural passages that we tend to read in one manner due to the light of our shared cultural experiences. They then present other possibilities for those passages. For example, we often picture a Nativity scene with Joseph, Mary, baby Jesus and some animals. Would this have truly been the case? “Misreading Scripture with Western Eyes” gives us another view: a hectic stable with aunts and cousins, all working through the cultural routines of childbirth.

Throughout “Misreading Scripture with Western Eyes,” the authors are clear that they are highlighting the cultural blind spots of what we call the West, which are places such as the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada, as well as the Bible teaching that we have exported around the world. They are clear that any culture is likely to misread Scripture, but acknowledge that as a pair of white men in America, they are most qualified to discuss their own weaknesses. 

I found the text of “Misreading Scripture with Western Eyes” easy to read, and many places are now highlighted in my copy. The next time I preach on Peter’s admonitions of modesty, I will consult what Richards and O’Brien point out regarding economic modesty, as well as consider the latest skin-baring fashions. This is a helpful resource for learning and reference for the Bible-driven teacher and preacher.

Doug Hibbard is pastor of First Baptist Church, Almyra.

Thursday
Aug222013

‘One Year to Better Preaching’ 

Book Review by 
Doug Hibbard

have never met a pastor who did not want to preach the Word of God better than he does. I have met many, however, who want to preach better, but have no idea where to start. A return to the classroom is not practical, and the many textbooks available require a monstrous time commitment to work through.

Into this niche comes Daniel Overdorf’s book “One Year to Better Preaching: 52 Exercises to Hone Your Skills,” published by Kregel Ministry. Packed into these 320 pages are weekly, bite-size suggestions to strengthen one’s skills as a preacher.

Overdorf uses the image of honing an edge.” His presentation is encouraging to the reader: Rather than addressing his audience as if they are bad preachers, he puts forward how to sharpen the strength that is already there.

The book speaks to eight major areas in sermon preparation: prayer and preaching, Bible interpretation, understanding listeners, sermon construction, illustration and application, word crafting, the preaching event (presentation/environment) and sermon evaluation. Rather than taking those in clumps, the exercises are spread out across these areas throughout the year. One week will tackle prayer and the next evaluation, for example, though Overdorf provides a chart to allow readers to focus on one area if that is their need.

The exercises presented in “One Year to Better Preaching” are all useful, though one’s mileage will vary depending on his needs. Some will require trust in one’s congregation, as many pastors may fear creating a feedback group in their church. Consider, though, that congregations evaluate their pastors’ preaching every week anyway. Overdorf’s exercise is simply to harness and guide that energy.

“One Year to Better Preaching” also presents additional resources that add value to the text. These are varied. Some are books suggested for deeper study, others are Web resources to view and some are forms that can be utilized. Especially helpful is the link for a congregational feedback form.

While it might not be the best gift for a pastor, many pastors will benefit from Daniel Overdorf’s “One Year to Better Preaching: 52 Exercises to Hone Your Skills.”

Doug Hibbard is pastor of First Baptist Church, Almyra.

Wednesday
Jul102013

‘Brothers, We are Not Professionals’

Book Review by 
Caleb Yarbrough

In the updated and expanded edition of “Brothers, We are Not Professionals: A Plea to Pastors for Radical Ministry,” John Piper, theologian and former pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, argues that the pastorate is not a profession, but a supernatural calling in which God seeks to use men to do extraordinary ministry.

“Nothing has happened in the last 10 years to make me think this book is less needed. In fact, instead of going away, the pressure to ‘professionalize’ the pastorate has morphed and strengthened,” writes Piper in the book’s preface.

Through 36 relatively short chapters, six of which are new to the edition, Piper argues that the problem with “professionalism” within the pastorate is that the pastorate is not a profession and professionalism is not supernatural.

“Professionalism carries the connotation of an education, a set of skills,

 and a set of guild-defined standards which are possible without faith in Jesus. Professionalism is not supernatural. The heart of ministry is,” writes Piper.

Throughout “Brothers, We are Not Professionals,” Piper’s tone is consistently one of humility and brotherly love. In each chapter, Piper addresses an aspect of pastoral ministry in which he believes pastors must remove their “professional” tendencies in favor of a basic reliance on God for both inspiration and guidance.

At its heart, “Brothers, We are Not Professionals” is a cry to pastors to recognize the pastorate as a calling, rather than a profession.

“The more professional we long to be, the more spiritual death we will leave in our wake. … The world sets the agenda of the professional man; God sets the agenda of the spiritual man. The strong wine of Jesus Christ explodes the wineskins of professionalism,” Piper states.

Caleb Yarbrough is staff writer at the Arkansas Baptist News.

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