Ten Ways to Kill a Pastor — A Review by Rev Dr Peter J. Scaer

revdr-peter-scaerThe title is stark, as is the cover. But with this book, Christopher Thoma has done a great service for the church. To be honest, I had it on my shelf for a month, and opened it up because my wife didn’t like the sound of the tv. But after biting on one chip, I finished the bag. The morning after, its images are seared on my brain. The accounts are fiction, the stories are real. They are what every pastor has felt. Now, mind you, this book is not an invitation to a pity party. But, it’s about the human condition, as seen from the pastor’s perch.

For starters, Thoma has a way with words, but more than words. He’s letting you inside the mind and heart of a pastor. What he does in these ten little vignettes is to offer an intimate picture of the pastor’s life, his joys and frustrations. In a sense, the pastor-people relationship is like a marriage. You get what you put into it. Do you want a pastor who is faithful and loving, one who cares for you, and for the things of God? One who cares for your eternal soul? Chances are, you already have one. And, to borrow a line from Stephen Stills, it might be the better course to love the one you’re with.

The stories here are poignant, insightful, full of joy, but also heartache, real heartache. In one, we’re told of a pastor receiving an anonymous letter, that is a love and prayer on the surface, but poison underneath. In another, we feel the pain of a pastor’s wife who feels invisible. We see a congregational member being sucked into a unholy cabal, under the guise of caring. We hear the story of a pastor eating cold spaghetti, bills mounting, wife fretting, while congregational members seem to be living a much easier life. Along those lines, there is the “careless word,” what happens when a snarky member comment on the pastor’s wife’s “new” 55,000 mile used mini-van. We get the pastor’s kid, the good kid, who loves his dad, but is under the prying eye of an unsympathetic member. And, we see a bishop who acts nothing like a bishop. You can also feel the smarm dripping off the page, the unctuous piety, the oily words that undermine so many a young pastor, sympathetic counsel that has no sympathy.

This little tome from Thoma is a must-read for church members, church councils, boards of elders, and, most definitely, every call committee and district president. Our pastors are doing good work, they love their people, but we can do a better, a much better job, of caring for them. And, the least we can do, if we love them, or if not them, the Lord who sent them, is to see the thing from their perspective. I spend my time now as a professor, but the words ring true, and remind me of my own brief time doing that which faithful pastors are called to do for a lifetime. Read this book and you’ll be informed. Changed, even.

[Originally published on Dr Scaer’s Facebook page; re-published with permission.]

Review: ‘Stitched Crosses: Crusade’, by Rev. Sam Schuldheisz

pr-sam-higherthings

Grail Quest Books has received the following review of Stitched Crosses: Crusade, by Joshua Rothe, from Pastor Sam Schuldheisz:

“I certainly hope this is the first of more to come. First of all, my knowledge of this era in history is woefully inadequate. It revealed a lack of awareness on my part about the events portrayed. However, I suppose that is what a book worth reading ought to do, to reveal, educate, and delight. Thankfully this is where the prose helped me in learning along with enjoying the story. It also made me want to read more about this time in history as well as stories of similar genre.

“Secondly, I greatly appreciated the attention to detail both in the action as well as in the explanation of particular Christian practices. Whether one has knowledge of these or not, it helped the reader.

“Third, the doctrine of vocation, I thought, rang throughout the book as well.

“Fourth, I loved the last part where Rothe explains the history and meaning of the word ‘crusade’. That shed a light on the rest of the book and I was glad I read it first since it put my mind in the right frame for all the aspects and facets of ‘crusade’ which were present in the book, and in Markus especially.

“And lastly, this story has a way, in fact many ways, of giving the reader a glimpse of the one, great true story: the Gospel. The reader is drawn into a world of historical narrative, with knights, honor, adventure, and redemption, in order to shed light on the great redemption and restoration to life in Christ.”

Pr. Schuldheisz is associate pastor at Redeemer Lutheran Church in Huntington Beach CA. He is a semi-regular guest on ‘Issues, Etc.’, has appeared Pastor Chris Rosebrough’s ‘Fighting for the Faith’ and KFUO radio’s ‘Concord Matters’ podcasts, and was invited to be a guest at Higher Things youth conference, ‘From Above’, in 2013 (making a presentation on Baptismal imagery in C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia). He collects his sermons as well as other reflections (usually on C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and their works) at his blog — ‘E-nklings’.

e-nklings

Books & Nachos Reviews WARS: Phobos Vol.1 Earther Novella

The illustrated edition of the Earther novella, “Healers and Hunters” by Nathan P. Butler, and collected in the upcoming WARS: The Battle of Phobos, Volume 1 – Preludes, has been reviewed on the latest episode Books & Nachos.

Let us know what you thought of the review on the book series’ official Facebook page!

The illustrated novella is available exclusively at IndyPlanet.com. The non-illustrated edition is available for the Kindle (U.S., UK, and Europe) and Nook devices and apps. Links to these products can be found on the novellas product page.