LHP Review: Vocation

Kraft, Dave. Mistakes Leaders Make. Wheaton: Crossway, 2012. 121 Pages. Paper. $14.99. http://www.crossway.org/books/mistakes-leaders-make-tpb/ (LHP)

Baucham, Voddie, Jr. Family Shepherds: Calling and Equipping Men to Lead Their Homes. Wheaton: Crossway, 2011. 192 Pages. Paper. $15.99. www.crossway.org (LHP)

Veith, Gene Edward and Mary J. Moerbe. Family Vocation: God's Calling in Marriage, Parenting and Childhood. Wheaton: Crossway, 2012. 253 Pages. Paper. $15.99.  www.crossway.org (LHP)
Getty, Keith and Kristyn Getty. Hymns for the Christian Life. Nashville: GettyMusic, 2012. Audio CD. $13.99. (mp3 download available for $9.99) http://www.gettymusic.com/ (LH)

Getty, Keith and Kristyn Getty. Hymns for the Christian Life (Songbook). Nashville: GettyMusic, 2012. 36 Pages. Paper. $11.99. (downloadable version available for $9.99) http://www.gettymusic.com/ (LH)

What are your God-given roles in this life? 

I am a baptized child of God, a son, a brother, a husband, pastor, headmaster, book reviewer, writer, musician, and a taxpayer, just to name a few.

The resources highlighted below focus on various vocations of the Christian life.

You Don't Have to Learn This the Hard Way…
Anyone involved in leadership knows that it's tough and mistakes are bound to happen. But some mistakes are more costly than others and can result in the end of effectiveness, the loss of important relationships, and disqualification from ministry.
Using the story of a fictitious church team to demonstrate the problems, principles, and practice of finding solutions, leadership expert Dave Kraft uncovers the top 10 critical mistakes leaders make and shows you how to avoid them so you can have ministry and relationships that last.

Dave Kraft served with the Navigators for thirty-eight years before becoming a pastor at Mars Hill Church in 2005. Currently Kraft is one of the pastors at Mars Hill Orange County where he coaches the next generation of leaders. He is also a life and leadership coach with Ministry Coaching International (MCI). Kraft's first book, Leaders Who Last, was published in 2010. He and his Wife Susan have been married for 43 years and have four adult children and seven grandchildren. (publisher's website)
A follo-up to the author's Leaders Who Last, Dave Kraft examines the other side of the coin this time, how leaders can mess up and how not to.

Kraft's ten chapters focus on ten things that could and often do replace Jesus, faith, and proper priorities of Christian leaders under Scripture. The author deals with the inherent sin and idolatry behind each of the false substitutes. This book was worth my time and was a quick read.

Crossway also sent us the next two books for your consideration.

It’s hard to overestimate the importance of the family, and that of fathers in particular. We’ve heard it said, “As the family goes, so goes the nation.” But it can also be said that “as the father goes, so goes the family.” Consequently, Voddie Baucham has set out to teach men how to faithfully shepherd their families.
Derived from Baucham’s monthly meetings with men in his church, Family Shepherds calls men to accountability for their God-given responsibilities in their homes. Baucham’s clear style and practical approach will spur men to protect their marriage, raise kingdom-minded children, value the synergy between church and home, and navigate difficult family dynamics.
Family Shepherds is a book for any husband or father looking to lead well, and it will serve as an excellent resource for churches looking to equip the men in their congregations. (publisher's website)
I was more uneasy with this book than the one by Kraft and the next one by Veith. I appreciated the focus on men exercising servant leadership in the home, at church, and at work, but I had some basic points of tention other Lutherans readers will likely have. 

Bring up discipleship, and Lutherans will quote from Matthew 28.

Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:16-20 ESV)
A better, Biblical answer to "How do you make a Christian disciple?" (27) would be "by means of baptizing and by means of teaching."

The author's point about "Decisionism" may have been better made by quoting Joshua 24 in context:

“Now therefore fear the LORD and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness. Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD. And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the LORD, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” (Joshua 24:14-15 ESV)
Or, by making reference to Jesus in John 15:
You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. (John 15:16 ESV)
I commend the author and publisher for giving such intentional and positive focus on Christian men.
Voddie Baucham Jr. is the preaching pastor of Grace Family Baptist Church in Spring, Texas. Author of Family Driven Faith and The Ever-Loving Truth, Baucham is also a sought-after preacher and conference speaker. He and his wife, Bridget, live in Texas with their seven children. (publisher's website)

I give my highest recommendation to  Family Vocation: God's Calling in Marriage, Parenting, and Childhood.

Gene Edward Veith Jr. (PhD, University of Oklahoma) is provost and professor of literature at Patrick Henry College and the director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary. He is also a columnist for World magazine and TableTalk, and the author of several noted books on Christianity and culture, including God at Work. Mary J Moerbe (MA, Concordia Theological Seminary) is a professional deaconess in The Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod, serving as diaconal writer for the Cranach Institute (publisher's website and book back cover).

What does it mean to be called as a husband, a wife, a parent, a child?
How does the grace of the gospel impact how we carry out these particular callings?
How does God’s presence address the struggles that our own family faces?
Gene Veith joins forces with his daughter Mary Moerbe to explore these kinds of questions in light of Christian vocation and its applications for family life. They show how the Christian faith is lived out precisely in our ordinary relationships, and how a biblical understanding can equip us to move away from common confusions and dysfunctions to persevere in love.
Written with sensitivity and wisdom, Family Vocation addresses the perennial problems and joys of family life and provides a compelling paradigm for creating loving families in the face of cultural pressure. (publisher's website)
Tactfully challenging feminism and patriarchy (82), the unfortunate myth of "the one" (41), and encouraging and equipping heads of household to pass on the faith (122, 152) and not passing on their God-given responsibilities (128), Veith and daughter Moerbe clearly teach the Christian Bible doctrine of vocation (11ff, 19-20, 39, passim) for a new day and a larger Christian audience. 

Family Vocation grew out of a 2006 conference and will serve as a timely and timeless resource for Christians of every tradition and background, married or single, childless or "abundantly blessed". 

I will use it in premarital counseling sessions (e.g., 15ff), pastoral care, and a gift to anyone concerned about restoring the family. This is a book that is well worth the money to buy, the time to read, the shelf space to store, and the effort to teach. Read it and reread it and buy a copy for someone you care about.

QBR has happily reviewed previous albums and songbooks by Keith and Kristyn Getty (and their friend and collaborator, Stuart Townend). Their latest collection is a soundtrack of Christian vocation.

Gettymusic provided us a copy of their new CD and expanded songbook for review. They write:

As we continue to write modern hymns for the church, this collection comes from the challenge to consider not just what we sing on those occasions when we’re all together but how the shared lyrics of our faith speak into all the moments in between. Musically, “Hymns for the Christian Life” reflects both the Celtic and American folk traditions, old and new world brought together, just as we lean on the rich legacy of Church music we already have with songs written for the life of the Church today.

-Produced by Charlie Peacock and Ed Cash
-Featuring acclaimed artists Ricky Skaggs (Simple Living), Moya Brennan (A Mother's Prayer) and Alison Krauss (on a special duet recording of 'In Christ Alone') 
(Getty website)
The album has the following twelve tracks:

  1. Christ He is Risen, He Is Risen Indeed   
  2. Oh, How Good It Is  
  3. A Mothers Prayer   
  4. Simple Living (A Rich Young Man)    
  5. Before You I Kneel (A Workers Prayer)    
  6. The Village Reel   
  7. The Perfect Wisdom of Our God  
  8. Kyrie Eleison  
  9. My Heart is Filled with Thankfulness  
  10. In Christ Alone  
  11. Nothing But the Blood  
  12. Holy Spirit (with Gabriels Oboe)

A deluxe audio edition (and this songbook) also has three additional hymns/songs:
  • Shout for Joy (The New Hundredth)
  • Gethsemane
  • Echoes of Heaven (Wedding Song)
The first track, "Christ Is Risen, He Is Risen Indeed," is based on the traditional Christian Easter greeting and response, "Alleluia! Christ is risen!" "He is risen, indeed! Alleluia!" We are considering asking our adult choir to sing it this Easter. 

The second track is a modern hymn treatment of Psalm 133 that comforting, encouraging, edifying, and singable. 

Mothers will appreciate track 3, including the Irish Lullaby sung in the original (with English translation in the songbook). 

Track four's lively tune will give you pause to reconsider the accounts of the rich young ruler and the widow and her mite. LWML groups may find it of interest. 

Track five sings vocation from its first phrase to its last, incorporating melodic lines of J. S. Bach's treatment of WACHET AUF. 

The sixth track is instrumental fun!

I have loved track seven, "The Perfect Wisdom of Our God," since I first heard it sung by co-author Stuart Townend. An unique melody and rhythm in 3/4 give heft to an already pensive, humble, trusting text. 

Track 8, a modern Kyrie, is growing on me, yet I still wrestle with the wording of the four stanzas. 

I personally sang "My Heart Is Filled with Thankfulness," track 9, as a solo at two Thanksgiving services (after our scheduled soloist lost her voice). The joyous, uplifing melody line only adds to the hope and faithful confidence of the hymn text.

"In Christ Alone," track 10, is the first Getty-Townend hymn I learned and taught to others. Alison Krauss lends her voice to a duet with Kristyn. 

As readers of QBR know, we've been following the "retuned" hymns phenomenon over the last couple of years. No hymn seems to be as popular with modern revivers of old hymn texts (and less commonly, tunes) than "Nothing But the Blood of Jesus," track 11. For Lutheran Christians, context is important. I like thinking of "Nothing But the Blood" as a Eucharistic hymn!

The final CD track, "Holy Spirit," deserves a note of its own. The first phrases say, "Holy Spirit, living Breath of God, breath new life into my willing soul;" The part "willing soul" leaves too much room for confusion with regard to conversion and the false teaching of "decision theology," so I propose "sinful soul" as an alternative, more in line with Psalm 51 anyway.

I am encouraged by the solid and fresh texts and tunes that have been written for the church by Keith and Kristyn and their friends. Personally, I'd love to hear what they could bring to treatments of Mark 10:47, Luke 2:14, Revelation 5, John 6:68, Psalm 51 (especially verses 10-12), Psalm 116, Isaiah 6:3 and Matthew 21:9, John 1:29, and Luke 2:29-32. There are certainly a lot of parables that have not yet been memorably rendered in Christian hymnody.

The Gettys were recently evening inspirational entertainment for the 2012 Lutheran Church (LCMS) Extension Fund conference.

I commend all of the above resources, designed to help equip those whom God has called, to be faithful in their callings. 

The Rev. Paul J Cain is Pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church, Sheridan, Wyoming, Headmaster of Martin Luther Grammar School, Yellowstone Circuit Visitor (LCMS Wyoming District), a member of the Board of Directors of The Consortium for Classical and Lutheran Education, Wyoming District Worship Chairman, and Editor of QBR.

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