This is the first book I have read written by Michael R Emlet and I must say it was an amazing read. Having done a Master’s level course in Biblical counselling I have read a lot of the books out there on the subject. This book is different and a much needed addition to the material already available. Generally the evangelical church does not have a very good Bible knowledge. The average church-goer is unable to connect the message of scripture to the real problems people face every day. As a result there is a lack of confidence amongst Christians when it comes to ministering to those around them.
In his book Cross Talk, Emlet really delivers what the subtitle suggests, he shows where life and Scripture meet. He brilliantly and plainly explains how to understand and interpret Scripture. He speaks about the real nature of problems we face, and helps us see how to understand real life issues people face.
Emlet begins with a concept of ‘ditches and canyons’. Ditches being those passages of Scripture that have a generally simple connection to modern life, Canyons are those that seem to have barely any connection if any (think genealogies or huge war stories). This results in Christians having a seriously small Bible that they can actually use. He then demonstrates how we may underestimate the distance in some the ditches and overestimate the gap in the canyons.
What is the Bible and what isn’t the Bible? What is the overarching structure of Scripture and how does this help us in real life? These are some of the issues dealt with in the first part of the book.
In the middle of the book, Emlet moves from reading Scripture, to reading people. People are more than just a specific issue, they have a story. Focusing too much on an individual aspect of someone’s life may ignore the larger picture of what God is doing in their life.
Emlet draws on Luther’s excellent summation of a Christian’s status as simultaneously saint and sinner, but he adds another category called sufferer. With this in view he notes. “Ministry to others is much more than correction or reproof. It is also encouragement…, vision-casting, and hope-building” (p. 95).
In the final part of this book, Emlet gives two case studies of very challenging life situations and shows how to apply the historical-redemptive structure of Scripture from Canyon and ditch passages to people’s lives. This really demonstrates the practical nature of everything he wrote in the first two parts of the book.
The book does allot. It shows how to Biblically approach both the Scriptures and people. “In ministry we are reading two ‘texts’ simultaneously, the story of Scripture and the story of the person we serve…. Reading the person without reading the Bible is a recipe for ministry lacking the life-changing power of the Spirit working through his Word” (p. 90).
This book is amazingly practical. And I can’t recommend it enough to anyone seeking to grow in their ability to ministry to people around them. This book is structured in a really helpful and easy way to grasp. After each chapter you will find discussion questions that make it suitable for group studies.
The “whole Bible”, redemptive-historical approach to Scripture that is explained is transforming. The pattern for personal application of Scripture will really sharpen you as a tool for the Lord’s work. Please get this book! Click here to order from Augustine Bookroom.