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Staying fresh: serving with joy

By Paul Mallard
June 2015 | Review by David Cooke
  • Publisher: IVP
  • ISBN: 978-1-78359-193-0
  • Pages: 224
  • Price: 10.99
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Book Review

Staying fresh: serving with joy
Paul Mallard
IVP
224, £10.99
ISBN: 978-1-78359-193-0
Star Rating: 4

There are few preaching experiences worse than delivering a lively sermon to a receptive congregation while feeling spiritually parched oneself. It’s encouraging to read this book and realise that such occasions are not unprecedented. Paul Mallard writes with disarming honesty and his book would benefit any in church leadership, not just pastors and preachers.

He begins with the underlying problem, a problem first raised in Revelation’s letter to the church at Ephesus: a loss of first love. In a sensitive but challenging way, Mallard highlights the need of preachers to grasp the love of Christ for them, finding their joy in him rather than in their ministry.

Helpful chapters follow, addressing the need to count the cost of serving Christ and to make sure we fear God rather than other people. Unfortunately this particular chapter is marred by repetition of the spurious allegation that C. H. Spurgeon once stated that if you resist one of your deacons, he will fly at you (Spurgeon always firmly denied this libellous claim)!

Throughout the book there are helpful text-boxes containing questions for further thought or other helpful observations. In the two chapters on taking time (and more time) to be holy, there are boxes containing quotations from M’Cheyne on the subject; a summary of Ryle’s reasons why holiness is important; practical advice on avoiding pornography; and, finally, useful pointers for our private devotions.

There is a vital chapter on the need for the leader, if married, to guard his marriage. As the author comments: ‘Marriages may be made in heaven — but the maintenance of the masterpiece is down to us’ (p.111). Mallard’s description of a typical post-elders’-meeting conversation with his wife is uncannily familiar! Some of the practical advice towards the end of the chapter is perhaps a little prosaic, but the reminder that one’s marriage must take precedence over one’s ministry is well made.

The closing chapters contain a blend of down-to-earth advice (‘control your diary’) and spiritual counsel (‘preach the gospel to your own heart’; ‘keep an eye on the prize’).

The author’s style is fresh and replete with telling, personal illustrations. Few can fail to be greatly helped by this book. I warmly recommend it.

David Cooke
Banbury

 

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