Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Book Review: "The Storm Before the Calm"

Yesterday I mentioned my friend Talbot Davis, pastor of Good Shepherd UMC in Charlotte, and his new e-book The Storm Before the Calm.

Today, let me give you an actual review.

The Storm Before the Calm is a creative, insightful, and highly relevant look at some of the best known "storm stories" in Scripture. In the introduction, Talbot says that "Calm can--and should--be our life's experience." He asks, "What if the real purpose of storms is to prepare us ... for the calm that follows?"

Throughout these messages, Talbot speaks to real-life, gut-wrenching storms that people face, such as marriage break-down, prodigal children, addiction, financial issues, health issues... He demonstrates a compassionate understanding of the pain brought on by these storms, and he shows how the Scripture speaks to the issue. He also makes no bones about challenging people to face up to the responsibility they bear to make good choices and face the storms constructively in accordance with Scripture.

Talbot does a great job of starting with real-life needs, then going to a single portion of Scripture and applying it to the situation at hand. Notice I said a single text. So many of us contemporary preachers start with a topic and then cherry pick a bunch of verses from throughout the Bible, sometimes ripping them out of their context to make them back up what we had already planned to say. Talbot doesn't do that. He turns to a single story or portion of Scripture: Jesus' parable of two builders...Paul's shipwreck in Malta...a poetic passage from Isaiah...Jesus calming the storm...Noah's embarrassing moment after the flood. He walks the listener (or reader) through the passage. He gives historical/cultural/theological background in a way that's understandable, interesting, and even fun. And once he's helped you see what the Bible says and what it means, Talbot makes very clear how it applies to your life.

For me, this creative exposition of Scripture is the best feature of The Storm Before the Calm. Talbot brings things out of the text that I've never seen before. When I prepare to preach or teach on these texts in the future, I'll be referring back to this e-book.

If you're "trying to make sense of life's storms" I recommend The Storm Before the Calm.

Check back tomorrow when I'll tell you something else I love about this book...

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