The Blog of Darryl Dash

This blog is about how Jesus changes everything. He changes:

Our relationship with God

Our relationship with others

Our vocations - how we live and work in this world

Our ministries

This blog exists to explore some of the ways that Jesus changes everything. It provides resources and articles that will help you think about the ways that Jesus can change every part of your life.

The Lord himself invites you to a conference concerning your immediate and endless happiness, and He would not have done this if He did not mean well toward you. Do not refuse the Lord Jesus who knocks at your door; for He knocks with a hand which was nailed to the tree for such as you are. Since His only and sole object is your good, incline your ear and come to Him. Hearken diligently, and let the good word sink into your soul. (C.H. Spurgeon, All of Grace)

Filtering by Category: Books

One of the Best Books You Haven't Read

On Boxing Day in 2007, I ordered a book for $9.35 (!) called The Heart of a Servant Leader: Letters from Jack Miller. I remember devouring it in the early days of 2008. It felt like I was seeing how the gospel changes a man and his ministry. It had a profound impact on my own understanding of the gospel.

Since then I've whittled down my physical library from almost 3,000 books to around 100 or so, and this book is still with me. I honestly think it would be one of the last volumes I'd give up.

If you are in ministry, and want an example of someone who has come to the end of what he could accomplish on his own strength, and has been completely transformed by an encounter with Christ, then you need to read this book. Jack Miller has made a marked impact on many people who know and respect, and he does a better job of pointing us to Jesus than almost anyone I know.

It's not a book that gets a lot of attention, and that's a shame. Get it. Read it. Allow it to shape your view of life and ministry. It's a book to which I return often.

You can read my review, or better yet, just go and buy it. It's still not much more than what I paid.

Another Top Book: Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert

I recently posted my top twelve reads from 2013. I somehow neglected to mention one that should have made the list: The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert by Rosaria Butterfield. I have no idea how I managed to miss this one.

Here are three reasons why this book is great:

  1. It’s a spiritual autobiography. If you want to be encouraged by God’s grace at work in someone’s life, read this book. It’s a great reminder that God continues to be at work among the people we wouldn’t have expected.
  2. It’s an evangelism primer. If you want a good model of how to be a winsome, faithful, wise, and grace-filled friend and evangelist, then read this book. Sometimes we need a model more than we need a set of principles; this book provides that.
  3. It will awaken you to some truths that you may have forgotten: what it’s like to be in the process of coming to Christ; that nobody is out of God’s reach; of the intolerance of supposedly tolerant academics; of the common cup we drink when we come to the Lord’s Table. Butterfield writes:

We love these women between the pages of our Bible, but we don’t want to sit at the Lord’s Table with them— with people like me— drinking from a common cup. That’s the real ringer: the common cup— that is, our common origin in depravity. We are only righteous in Christ and in him alone. But that’s a hard pill to swallow, especially if you give yourself kudos for good choices.

Seriously, how did I forget to include this book? So, so good.

Top 12 Books I Read in 2013

I haven’t read nearly as much as I’d like in the past year, especially some of the heavier theological works that I have waiting on my shelf. I’m told this is an occupational hazard of church planters, but one I want to rectify in the coming year.

Still, it’s been a good year for some meaningful books. Here are the top dozen I’ve read this year.

Sensing Jesus: Life and Ministry as a Human Being — This is a brutally honest and helpful book about ministry and leadership. It’s a book to be savored, and I’m going to read it again in the coming year. I wish I had read this book years ago.

Rhythms of Grace: How the Church's Worship Tells the Story of the Gospel — We’ve had the privilege of launching a church and designing a worship service from the start. This book has been immensely helpful as a guide to our thinking. It’s both theological and practical. Bonus: the Kindle version is on sale right now.

Basics for Believers: An Exposition of Philippians — Carson is a great expositor, and this book is a very helpful exposition of the text. So practical, biblical, and helpful.

Come Back, Barbara — I don’t know of a book that exposes the hidden idols of a pastor and father as much as this one. It’s a heartbreaking but helpful story of the power of the gospel, and a peek inside the family of Jack Miller. It’s a quick but penetrating read.

Finally Free: Fighting for Purity with the Power of Grace — Porn is a huge problem, and the solution is not more law, but more grace. This book is the best I’ve read on this topic, and should be on every pastor’s — perhaps every man’s — bookshelf.

The Power of Less: The Power of Less: The Fine Art of Limiting Yourself to the Essential...in Business and in Life — One of our greatest problems is that we have too much of everything. I’ve been working on implementing the ideas in this book, which is tougher than it seems. Very helpful.

Succeeding When You're Supposed to Fail: The 6 Enduring Principles of High Achievement — Some people seem to rise above adversity against all odds. This book examines the reasons why. There are some good principles here that should be, but aren’t, common sense.

The Vatican Diaries: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Power, Personalities and Politics at the Heart of the Catholic Church — I can’t think of a more informative and entertaining book about the politics of the Catholic church. I read this during the papal transition, and it helped me understand some of the workings of the Vatican.

Railway Man: A POW's Searing Account of War, Brutality and Forgiveness — I saw the movie at the Toronto Film Festival, and the book is just as good. It’s hard to believe that former enemies like this could become friends.

Me, Myself, and Bob: A True Story About Dreams, God, and Talking Vegetables — Remember Veggie Tales? This is an inside look at the rise and fall of talking vegetables, and was an entertaining summer read.

Foodist: Using Real Food and Real Science to Lose Weight Without Dieting — This book isn’t so much about weight loss as it is about rediscovering and enjoying real food. Food is one of God’s great gifts, and one to be savored. This book will help you do that.

The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals — I learned a ton from this book, and Michael Pollan is a great writer. This book is proof that you can educate and entertain at the same time.

I have lots more great books on the shelf. I can’t wait to read more of the amazing books that keep coming out.

Three Questions for Ministry

I have three questions, inspired by J.D. Payne's latest book Pressure Points. They've been issues I've been wrestling with in some form for a couple of years. 

One: Are we willing raise up missionaries as well as pastors for the West?  I used to think that we need pastors in North America, and missionaries overseas. Payne writes:

As long as society has a large percentage of believers, a pastoral model may be sufficient for engaging the population. However, the boat of Western society has sailed deeply into post-Christian waters, so there is a need for both pastoral paradigms and a return to apostolic missionary teams. The church trying to operate with only one model is like a boat rowing against the tide  with its anchor down.

We need pastoral models; we also need those who are not called to pastor the already-converted, or to maintain existing churches, but to plant new churches among those who have never heard the gospel.

Two: Are we willing to use simple, reproducible models? Payne writes:

As the gospel continues to spread and the church matures, infrastructures, organizations, and methods tend to become more and more complex. What began as missionary activity with a few elements beyond biblical simplicity develops into a highly structured paradigm for ministry and mission.

While complexity is not always bad, it does hinder reproducibility. We need reproducible missionary methods that can scale. "Jesus did the complicated part," Payne writes. "Now the literate and illiterate, rich and poor, sick and healthy, urban and rural, educated and uneducated can serve him faithfully in HIs church."

Are we willing to develop models of church that are less dependent on complex systems, and that can be easily reproduced, even with relatively young believers with few resources such as church buildings and budgets?

Three: are we willing to learn from successes and failures? Payne observes that we often wait until a ministry has succeeded before we learn from it, and by then it's often years from when that ministry began to bear fruit. "We like to share the stories that reveal the thrill of victory, but we often fail to tell those that remember the agony of defeat." What's the alternative?

We must begin to communicate our stories now — both what is working well and what is not working so well. It is wise and healthy to say, "We don't know the answer, but here is what we have tried."

These three questions are exciting to me. I'm praying for a movement of people who see the West as a mission field; who are willing to use simple, reproducible models; and who are willing to share successes and failures as they serve on mission. I hope I'm among their number.