Saturday, February 13, 2016

Book Review Room to Grow: Meditations on Trying to Live as a Christian

Preaching is hard. Actually preaching can be downright impossible at times. Ask any pastor and he will tell you that after a while preaching can be an uphill battle. It can also be a joy, but I've found after many years of ministry it's a lot of work trying to create an inspiring, Biblical, clear, and interesting sermon week after week, month after month, and year after year. There are times when I feel like my words are dry as dust. There are other times when I feel like they are seasoned with salt. Several years ago I got into the habit of reading sermon collections. I have a lot of them, I mean, a lot. I figured if I'm surrounded by great preaching by Will Willimon, Walter Brueggemann, William Sloane Coffin, and others how could I go wrong?  But I've found that if I am going to preach the Word of God that I must hear the Word of God too.

The latest sermon collection that has reached my desk is Martin Copenhaver's new book Room to Grow: Meditations on Trying to Live as a Christian (Grand Rapids, Eerdmans, 2015). If you are a pastor and have never heard of Copenhaver before take a few minutes and look him up online. He is a wonderful writer and storyteller and my hunch is that he's a good preacher in person as he is on the page. Copenhaver has written and co-authored a few books the most recent one Jesus is the Question: The 307 Questions Jesus Asked and the 3 He Answered (Abingdon, 2014).

In Room to Grow Martin manages to weave together the Biblical narrative at hand with meaningful stories that bring the gospel to life. The writing flows like a river flowing down stream and I found myself turning page. As a writer  I know full well how hard this can be but Copenhaver makes it feel effortless. I often felt like I was sitting in a pew listening to him. Many pastors simply provide an exegesis of the Biblical text thinking that this is a sermon but as one of my seminary professors of Scripture reminded us that the exegesis takes place Monday through Friday, but the sermon on Sunday is not exegesis. I couldn't agree more.

The meditations run the gamut from Psalms, Exodus, Isaiah, Matthew, as well as numerous letters from Paul and also from Acts and Revelation. The book is not organized around a specific theme or themes and neither does it follow the Church year but it is a selection of reflections on how we as sheep can follow the Good Shepherd.

If you are interested in digging deep into the Christian life and thinking about how you can live a life of faith than take and read Room to Grow, hopefully you too will grow into the image and likeness of Christ.

For more information about Room to Grow click here