Earl, Richard. Shepherd’s Balm: Monday Morning Calls to the Shepherds of God’s Flock. Cherry Hill: Kalos Books, 2010. 335 pp. $7.99. Purchase on Kindle or in Paperback.
Richard Earl is a 27 year veteran of pastoral ministry in a variety of small church contexts and roles. He has been lead pastor at Mountainside Assembly of God, a progressive missional congregation, in Coal Township, Pa. in the heart of Pennsylvania’s anthracite coal region since 1998.
Rich is founder and president of the Lehigh Christian Alumni: an alumni affinity group at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pa. He serves as board chair of Expectations Women’s Center in Lewisburg, Pa. and of Vision for Growth, a Christian action group serving the communities of Shamokin and Coal Township, Pa.
Rich lives with his wife Faith, and Art Therapist and three children in Sunbury, Pa.
You can connect with Rich through Facebook, and follow him on Twitter (Goodground). Follow his interesting blog at http://goodground.blogspot.com/. He is an avid antiquarian book collector and dealer.
Divided into 52 “chapters,” Shepherd’s Balm is written to be a devotional to help pastors to continue to focus on the Lord…even on Monday. The author pulls from many different writings and authors as he seeks to challenge pastors to gird up their loins and be prepared for the fight. Each chapter is written to that end. Some of the chapters are meant to be healing. Others are meant to be a stirring call to battle.
Some of the men from which Richard extracts from are Richard Baxter (Puritan), Eugene Peterson (author of The Message), Dallas Willard, Charles Spurgeon, Andrew Murray, William Gurnall, and John Bunyan to name but a few. Richard, while serving as the editor, has also added a few of his own chapters.
The end of the chapter offers exercises to put into action the principle found in that week’s devotion. These help to get the pastor back in the saddle so-to-speak. Also included at the end of each chapter is a page dedicated for journaling. Again, a beneficial discipline to work into one’s daily routine.
Richard Earl has done a nice job of compiling from a wide array of pastors who have “been there and done that.” He does not reinvent the wheel nor does he come off as an authority on how the pastor should respond in ministry. Rather, he writes as one who has suffered through the very same trials and tribulations that every pastor preaching the Scriptures will experience. His exercises offer practical helps that will push the pastor in the right direction. Often times, Satan isolates ministers into believing they are the only one to experience such and such a trial. By engaging in these exercises, the element of isolation will be nullified. All in all, well edited and written. Very practical and biblically sound advice can be found on these pages.
For most pastors, Monday’s are rough. Sunday services generally take a toll on the pastor more than any other day of the week. Many resignation letters have been written and thrown away on Monday’s. Shepherd’s Balm will be a great resource to give to a pastor who is struggling or will find himself one day struggling in the ministry.
Even more, this resource could be used for all Christians to help them along in their respective journeys with Christ.
For more information on the book, you can visit the Shepherds Balm.