The masculine mandate: God’s calling to men by Richard D. Phillips

My highlighted notes below:

Very few of us fit stereotype of man’s man, but all of us can fulfill God’s mandate for men: bear fruit for his glory in this fallen world;

Be a Godly man, a loving husband, a good father and a faithful friend i.e. Be spiritual men placed in real-world, God-defined relationships, as lords and servants under God, to bear God’s fruit by serving and leading.

Work and keep i.e. Genesis 2:15 mandate.

Invest my time and energies and ideas into bringing good things into being. Work/build and keep/protect everything placed into my charge

Colossians 3:17

There can be no higher calling in live than to cooperate with God in being further conformed to his image.

Daily grind: read, pray, work, play

Greatest most powerful passion a father can give his children is passion for the Lord and his gospel of grace.

There will come a day when God will pull down the scaffolding of world history and then point to his masterpiece: Jesus Christ. So, fix your eyes on that day that all our labour is directed: when God will fully manifest his glory.

Gospel Centered Discipleship by Jonathan K.Dodson

My notes and comments from this book below available on amazon.

  • Focus on being a disciple (noun) rather than discipling i.e focus relationship on Christ rather than on me
  • We can be imperfect Christians because we cling to a perfect Christ
  • The gospel saves and sanctifies therefore no need to distinguish between evangelism and discipleship?
  • All Christians are disciples. Disciples learn the gospel, related in the gospel and communicate the gospel
  • Work at diagonal discipleship i.e. grown in holiness (being like God) and mission (living for God)
  • Role of confession in discipleship is important i.e. 1 John 1:9. Confession is not for absolution of sins but a prayer to return to authentic self
  • Drink deeply from the cup of costly grace and fight to live lives of obedience to Jesus. We are not bound to rules, but bound to Christ. Put Christ at the centre of discipleship.
  • Drawing towards the master should delight us
  • God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him. See Psalm 16:11
  • Repentance is one movement of turning away from to Christ in obedience
  • Holy spirit is presence and power of God
  • Fight for faith, depending on power and direction of holy spirit
  • ‘Be’ the church, rather than ‘do’ church i.e. be a Jesus-centred community
  • Reconcile people to God, and people to each other
  • Jesus Christ is better, richer, deeper and sweeter than anything else in the world.
  • Know your sin, fight your sin, trust your saviour

Preach: Theology meets practice by Mark Dever and Greg Gilbert

preachMy notes and comments below based on the content of the book. Available on Amazon.

Aim of the book is to show reasons from the bible why expository preaching is important. 3 specific reasons why this book:

  1. Increase confidence in preached word of God
  2. Increase confidence in biblical exposition
  3. Improve reputation of expository preaching

Ch 1: God speaks

God speaks,  therefore we preach. See Romans 10
Isaiah 41-44 God mocks other non-speaking Gods

Preaching = express/reflection of a speaking God

Ch 2: Power of God’s words

Power of God’s words: creates, judgement, commands, heals
Ezekial 37 – Dry bones reference
2 Cor 5:20 – be reconciled to God through the proclamation of his word

Ch 3: Centrality of expositional preaching

Expose the main point of the text. Must be tethered to God’s word
Examples: Nehemiah 8, Luke 24, Acts 2, Acts 7
The pattern is: read God’s word, explain it, call people to respond (apply it)

Ch 4: what preaching does

The message of the gospel is counter cultural, offensive, status quo challenging i.e. sin , judgement, repentance i.e. christian preaching must therefore seek change.

Two main aims:

  1. Edify
  2. Evangelise. See Luke 4:43

Isaiah 55:11 – My word will not return empty

Ch 5: what to preach on: mixed diet

Ch 6: Sermon prep
Aim to: understand, explain, apply
Develop exegetical outline (main points in order they occur) then preaching outline
Get to the gospel: biblical theology (history) and systematic theology (doctrine)

Ch 7: structure of sermon

Introduction, exegesis, illustration, application, conclusion

Ch 8: delivering sermon

bring light and heat
Logic on fire
People won’t remember the details but still impacted by God’s word by his spirit

Tone: biblical, humble, clear, convicted, sober, joyful confidence

God is good and gives grace and strength to those who preach his word

Conclusion: Proclaim the only true message of salvation. Declare the glory of the saviour and king Jesus Christ.

Iron Sharpens Iron: Leading Bible-Oriented Small Groups that Thrive by Orlando Saer

iron-sharpens-ironA refreshingly short and easy-to-read book on leading bible study groups (link to the book on Amazon). The book is helpfully structured and easy to read. It contains some material that will be familiar to those who have already read the Growth Group material from Matthias Media.

The title of the book is a reference to Proverbs 27:17 that says: ‘As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.

Here are my notes and idea summaries from each of the chapters.
Chapter 1 Small is beautiful
Pitfalls of growth groups:

  • The vertical pushed out by the horizontal: they can turn into little more than social groups.
  • The message sidelined by the method: members can become addicts to one way of encountering God.
  • The blind led by the blind: meetings can become simply opportunities to pool ignorance.


  • The New Testament abounds with instructions to Christian believers to do things to ‘one another’. For example, we are to teach and admonish one another (Col. 3:16), to pray for one another (Eph. 6:18), to carry each other’s burdens (Gal. 6:2) and to work with one another in evangelism (literally ‘with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel’, Phil. 1:27 KJV).
  • A good place to listen to God: each can help the others study the Bible.
  • A good place to talk to God: each can pray for the others in an informed way.
  • A good place to care for one another: each can carry the others’ burdens.
  • A good place from which to reach the lost: members can work together to advance the gospel.

Chapter 2 – preparing for leadership
Its leadership qualities rather than details that have the biggest impact in your life
Suitability for christian leadership depends on an all-round godliness of life.
Leadership is for those with a proven record of practical godliness and doctrinal orthodoxy.
Leadership can be approached with wrong motivations and misconceptions.
Leadership involves setting goals for others.

Set a high bar like Paul
We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ. To this end I labour, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me. (Col. 1:28-29)Chapter 3  Managing the group
Stages (like an airplane)
  • Taxing
  • Takeoff – food, welcome input and discussion on the group
  • Climb – social events, model vulnerability
  • Cruise  – functioning well, develop leaders, weather turbulence
  • Descent – inevitable? New members, new leaders?
  • Land – avoid crash
Chapter 4 Map out the study
Lead the group to new discovery like finding a hidden city!

What does it say? – be prayerful, reflective, inquisitive. What is intention e.g illustrate, exhort, instruct etc
What does it mean? – chief point and scaffolding points
What does it mean for me? –

  • truth to be believed
  • attitudes to foster – feelings, heart attitudes
  • behaviour to be modified
    • Alert
    • Bold
    • Concrete
Pinpoint the main point – what do I want the group to come away with??

Be creative about the method. Direct questions are one way, there are others… Address questions, summarize, reenact… Keep your nose in the text. Use questions to lead to the heart of the passage, don’t squeeze out everything.

Types of questions

  • Kickoff question – goal oriented and engaging
  • Probing – dig deeper
  • Context
  • Summarise
Chapter 5  leading the meeting

Crib sheet
Keep asking questions
Identify and handle all the different roles
Develop trust, harmony, loyalty

Chapter 6 Prayer, Care and Personal Nurture
Like penguins, keep each other warm – Christian fellowship
Model the behavior/set the tone/set the pace e.g. model vulnerability, decision making process,
1:1 – Colossians 3:15. Putting to death via sniper fire
Work hard but play hard

What’s Best Next by Matt Perman

WhatsBestNextI found this book very helpful in pulling together all the good parts of different productivity systems and combining them in a way that keeps the gospel and working out it’s implications as the primary focus of our lives.

The book is very systematic and detailed, with helpful summaries and action points for each chapter.

If you’ve read much Steve Covey, David Allen and Scott Belsky, you will find a lot of his productivity theory familiar. I was able to skip over some bits that I’ve previously read and already benefited a lot from, from the other authors.

A few things I found particularly helpful:

  • schedule my whole week, and not just 9-5, so that I can actually give prayerful thought to how I can plan to do good
  • no man has a right to be idle. Be productive, so that I can do more good
  • integrate prayer in all aspects of productivity and planning
  • serve up (those above me in authority), and serve down
  • if you have the planning and architecting of your life right, at any given moment, you can ask the question ‘what’s best next’ and proceed in that way
  • planning my week is about maximising myself

You can buy this online from Amazon. Here is the table of contents.

Some of my notes and key take-aways:

The book is all about combining theology and time management.
Productivity is about

  • effectiveness (not efficiency)
  • character (not technique)
  • God and others first
  • engagement (not control).

Measure productivity by results not activity
Focus on outcomes, not activities

This is about doing all things in the best way to the glory of God.

We need to learn how to work and be effective in a knowledge economy, where work is not defined, and we need to manage ambiguity and overload.

Do the RIGHT things, not just more of the wrong things in an efficient manner

The most important reality is a person, not a principle.

Being productive is maximising my stewardship of time, talents and resources.
It is in the mundane things we do everyday that we serve God and others
God wants us to do good works (Matt 5:16), so be productive to do as much good as I can

Be abundant and liberal in doing good
Be useful! Be joyful in obedience
Love is the guiding principle of productivity. Put others first
Character manifests itself in action (By their fruit…)
Let all your debts be motivated by love

Get everything out of your head in prayer
Only secure people can serve (i.e. justified by faith)

Decide what really matters, and then do it.
Do one thing at a time, and do first things first

What is my purpose – overall reason for existence – glorify God and enjoy him
What are my principles – the things I would live and die for
What are my core beliefs – gospel
What are my life goals – the things I really want to do and God wants me to do

Create a structure and routines for my week
Time is like space, it gets filled up, it needs to be managed well
To get more done, reduce – schedule to 70% and focus on getting each thing done.

Delegation is great because it’s also an act of love to empower others

Pray, pray, pray as I plan.

If I find I am procrastinating too much, maybe I am doing the wrong job?

Don’t spend all my energy climbing the ladder only to discover I am on the wrong ladder!

Be proactive – intentional, planned, prepared – about doing GOOD!

  • who will I intentionally seek to bless this week
  • what opportunities do I have
  • what blocks or risks are involved
  • what do I need to do to prepare today

Christian love disposes Christians to be public spirited – Jeremiah 29:7

Be creative, competent and audacious in doing all the good you can in the world

Make being useful the main design and ambition of your life, so that the world would be better for us having lived in it.