I have enjoyed reading all three of these books. And I highly recommend all of these books for other Christians to read. I would however note that Memoirs of Ordinary Pastor will be particularly helpful for pastors. This post is not in any way a book review of these books, but to just give a taste of what lies within these works.
Packer writes on the wisdom of God, “God’s wisdom is not, and never was, pledged to keep a fallen world happy, or to make ungodliness comfortable. Not even to Christians has he promised a trouble-free life, rather the reverse. He has other ends in view for life in this world simply to make it easy for everyone.
What is he after, then? What is his goal? What does he aim at? When he made us, his purpose was that we should love and honor him, praising him for the wonderfully ordered complexity and variety of his world, using it according to his will, and so enjoying both it and him. And though we have fallen, God has not abandoned his first purpose. Still he plans that a great host of humankind should come to love and honor him. His ultimate objective is to bring them to a state in which they please him entirely and praise him adequately, a state in which he is all in all to them, and he and they rejoice continually in the knowledge of each other’s love–people rejoicing in the saving love of God, set upon them from all eternity, and God rejoicing in the responsive love of people, drawn out of them by grace through the gospel (pp 91-92).”
“One Saturday we were both weeding a flower bed. I was in first year of high school, I think, and going through my first poetry-writing phrase. I wrote for my own amusement but sometimes printed the results in the school newspaper. Observing the worms as I was hoeing, I thought it would be fun to write a poem in the first person from a worm’s point of view. I composed it in my head on the spot: a worm appreciating the warmth of the sun, squeezing through particles of dirt, etc. My last two lines were, ‘I saw the spade flash in the sun: / Woe is me! I am undone.’ I thought it was hilarious and could hardly wait to print it at school. I interrupted my weeding long enough to recite it proudly to my father. He kept on weeding, said nothing for a miunte or two, and then quietly asked, ‘Are you quite sure you want to print a poem that applies to a worm the deepest reflections of the prophet Isaiah when he was afforded a vision of the transcendent God in all his glory?’ (p 74)”
Marshall and Payne write, “We will be arguing that structures don’t grow ministry any more than trellises grow vines, and that most churches need to make a conscious shift–away from erecting and maintaining structures, and towards growing people who are disciple-making disciples of Christ…When planning ministry for the year ahead, there are two broad approaches we could adopt. One is to consider existing church programs (such as Sunday meetings, youth work, children’s ministry and Bible study groups) and then work out how such programs can be maintained and improved. The other approach is to start with the people in your church, having no particular structures or programs in mind, and then consider who are these people God has given you, how you can help them grow in Christian maturity, and what form their gifts and opportunities might take…In the course of doing so, it may become apparent that some programs no longer serve any worthwhile purpose. It may also become apparent that a program is no longer viable because the people who once made it work are no longer available. So the program can be done away with. This might be painful for those attached to them (it takes guts to shoot a dead horse!), but new ministries will begin to arise as you train members of your congregation to use their various gifts and opportunities (pp 17-18).”