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Memoirs of an Ordinary Pastor: The Life and Reflections of Tom Carson [Paperback]

By D. A. Carson (Author)
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Item description for Memoirs of an Ordinary Pastor: The Life and Reflections of Tom Carson by D. A. Carson...

A memorable firsthand account of not only the sacrifices and triumphs of full-time ministry but of remaining faithful in a brutal era in recent North American church history. This ordinary pastor's life and times, dreams and disappointments will ring true for all who have devoted themselves to the Lord's work.

Publishers Description

D. A. Carson's father was a pioneering church-planter and pastor in Quebec. But still, an ordinary pastor-except that he ministered during the decades that brought French Canada from the brutal challenges of persecution and imprisonment for Baptist ministers to spectacular growth and revival in the 1970s.

It is a story, and an era, that few in the English-speaking world know anything about. But through Tom Carson's journals and written prayers, and the narrative and historical background supplied by his son, readers will be given a firsthand account of not only this trying time in North American church history, but of one pastor's life and times, dreams and disappointments. With words that will ring true for every person who has devoted themselves to the Lord's work, this unique book serves to remind readers that though the sacrifices of serving God are great, the sweetness of living a faithful, obedient life is greater still.

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Crossway Books
Pages   160
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 0.5" Width: 5.5" Height: 8.25"
Weight:   0.42 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Mar 1, 2008
ISBN  1433501996  
ISBN13  9781433501999  

Availability  3 units.
Availability accurate as of Oct 25, 2016 11:48.
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More About D. A. Carson

D. A. Carson

D. A. Carson (PhD, Cambridge University) is research professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, where he has taught since 1978. He is a cofounder of the Gospel Coalition and has written or edited nearly 120 books. He and his wife, Joy, have two children and live in the north suburbs of Chicago.

TIMOTHY KELLER is founder and pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York. He is the best-selling author of The Prodigal God and The Reason for God.

Thabiti M. Anyabwile (MS, North Carolina State University) serves as a pastor at Anacostia River Church in Washington, DC, and is the author of numerous books. He serves as a council member of the Gospel Coalition, is a lead writer for 9Marks Ministries, and regularly blogs at The Front Porch and Pure Church. He and his wife, Kristie, have three children.

Mike Bullmore (PhD, Northwestern University) serves as the senior pastor of Crossway Community Church in Bristol, Wisconsin. He was formerly professor of homiletics/practical theology and department chair at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois. Mike lives in Kenosha, Wisconsin, with his wife, Beverly. They have three children.

Bryan Chapell is the senior pastor of Grace Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Peoria, Illinois. He is also the host of a daily half-hour radio Bible teaching program, Unlimited Grace, and the founder and chairman of Unlimited Grace Media ( Bryan previously served as the president of Covenant Theological Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri, and is the author of a number of books, including Holiness by Grace.

ANDREW M. DAVIS (PhD, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) is senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Durham, NC. In addition to his PhD, he also holds an MDiv from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He served as a church planter in Japan from 1994 to 1998.

Kevin DeYoung (MDiv, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary) is the senior pastor at University Reformed Church (PCA) in East Lansing, Michigan. He serves as a council member at the Gospel Coalition and blogs at DeYoung, Restless, and Reformed. He serves as Chancellor's Professor of Systematic and Historical Theology at Reformed Theological Seminary and is a PhD candidate at the University of Leicester. He is the author of several books, including Just Do Something, Crazy Busy, and The Biggest Story. Kevin and his wife, Trisha, have seven children.

Ligon Duncan (PhD, University of Edinburgh) is the chancellor & CEO and the John E. Richards Professor of Systematic and Historical Theology at Reformed Theological Seminary. He previously served as the senior minister of the historic First Presbyterian Church in Jackson, Mississippi, for seventeen years. He is a cofounder of Together for the Gospel, a senior fellow of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, and was the president of the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals from 2004-2012. Duncan has edited, written, or contributed to numerous books. Ligon and his wife, Anne, have two children and live in Jackson, Mississippi.

Richard D. Phillips (DD, Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary) is the senior minister of Second Presbyterian Church in Greenville, South Carolina. He chairs the Philadelphia Conference on Reformed Theology and coedits the Reformed Expository Commentary. He is also a chairman of the Philadelphia Conference on Reformed Theology, a council member of the Gospel Coalition, and a trustee of Westminster Theological Seminary.

Philip Graham Ryken (DPhil, University of Oxford) is the eighth president of Wheaton College. Formerly, he served as senior minister of Philadelphia's historic Tenth Presbyterian Church. He has written or edited more than 40 books, including the popular title Loving the Way Jesus Loves, and has lectured and preached at universities and seminaries worldwide.

Tim Savage (PhD, University of Cambridge; ThM, Dallas Theological Seminary) has been senior pastor of Camelback Bible Church in Paradise Valley, Arizona, since 1988. Tim and his wife have two adult sons.

COLIN S. SMITH is the senior pastor of The Orchard Evangelical Free Church in Arlington Heights, IL, where he has been since 1996. He is the author of The 10 Greatest Struggles of Your Life and can be heard on his Unlocking the Bible broadcast with Moody radio.

Sam Storms (PhD, University of Texas at Dallas) has spent more than four decades in ministry as a pastor, professor, and author. He is currently the senior pastor at Bridgeway Church in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, and was previously a visiting associate professor of theology at Wheaton College from 2000 to 2004. He is the founder of Enjoying God Ministries and blogs regularly at

Stephen Um (PhD, University of St. Andrews) serves as the senior minister of Citylife Church in Boston, Massachusetts. He also serves as a council member for the Gospel Coalition. Stephen lives in Boston, Massachusetts, with his wife, Kathleen, and their three daughters.

Sanders (Sandy) L. Willson (DD, Crichton College) has been the senior minister at Second Presbyterian Church in Memphis, Tennessee since 1995. Sandy is a cofounder of the Memphis Center for Urban Theological Studies as well as a cofounder and chair of the Nexus leadership mentoring program. He also serves on the boards of the Gospel Coalition, World Relief, Union University, and Reformed Theological Seminary. Sandy and his wife, Allison, have five children and ten grandchildren.

D. A. Carson currently resides in Deerfield, in the state of Illinois. D. A. Carson was born in 1959.

D. A. Carson has published or released items in the following series...
  1. 9Marks
  2. Bible Savvy
  3. Expositor's Bible Commentary (Paperback)
  4. Gospel Coalition
  5. Gospel Coalition Booklets
  6. Justification and Variegated Nomism
  7. Pillar New Testament Commentary
  8. Re: Lit Books
  9. Theology in Community

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Reviews - What do customers think about Memoirs of an Ordinary Pastor: The Life and Reflections of Tom Carson?

Discovering a Hero of the Faith in an "Ordinary" Pastor  Mar 25, 2010
"Ordinary" pastors don't usually get press. They don't speak at conferences. They don't write books. Their ministries are on the whole fairly average. They work hard, they faithfully serve the flock God has entrusted to them, and generally go unnoticed.

Tom Carson was, by all accounts, an ordinary pastor. Yet, he was a most extraordinary man.

Tom worked in the most difficult missions field in Canada (Quebec), striving to make in-roads for the Gospel with its Francophone population. Roman Catholicism has long been entrenched in Quebec, and is at the heart of many of the great divides between the French and English in our country (this subject is far too long to get into here, but there is an excellent primer on many of the cultural issues in Chapter 1 of the book; Canadian History books at your local library or bookstore will also be helpful in fleshing out the conflict). Protestant Christians in the 1930s through the 1950s faced a great deal of persecution, including the possibility of imprisonment for being a Protestant minister. Missionaries often gave up because they saw so little fruit and so much opposition. Yet these were the people to whom God chose Tom Carson to minister.

The book, working in large part from the elder Carson's journals, describes a man who sought to faithfully teach the Scriptures with honesty and integrity. Tom Carson was a man who loved Jesus and loved the Bible. He understood the importance of teaching sound doctrine. He was a man who understood the meaning of toil and sacrifice, working hard to fulfill his calling and be a good husband and father. It also shows a man plagued by deep insecurities about his abilities as a pastor, and who, because of those same insecurities, could not truly see the fruit of his ministry.

There are two things that stand out most vividly about the portrait of Tom Carson presented in this book. First, his humility: He never appears to have thought of himself more highly than he ought, nor did he become embittered by the success of future ministers. Even his role in the formation of the Fellowship of Evangelical Baptist Churches in Canada, he downplayed, with his son Don not even learning the details of his involvement until he was in seminary. He simply served faithfully and loved people well.

The second, his prayer life: Tom Carson understood what it meant to rely on the Lord, especially the salvation of those to whom he ministered. A poignant example appears on page 80:

"I [D.A. Carson] went looking for Dad after the morning service to entice him to come and play the piano while the rest of us sang or played instruments. He was not where he usually was. I found him in his study, the door not quite closed. He was on his knees in front of his big chair, tears streaming down his face, as he interceded with God for the handful of people to whom he had just preached. I remember some of their names to this day."

I don't pray like this. I don't think I know anyone who does. I am inspired by Tom Carson's example, and ashamed because of my failure. Even now, looking back on those few sentences, I'm on the verge of tears.

I want to be a man like Tom Carson.

I wonder how Tom would feel about this book having been written: Would he have felt embarrassed? Honored? I don't know. Regardless, I'm grateful that D.A. Carson has written this memoir and for showing us that there is much to be learned from so-called ordinary pastors like Tom Carson.
A humble gem  Nov 17, 2009
Don Carson is a research professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School where he has taught since 1978. Over the years he has written oodles of decent books and spoken at many conferences. He is a world respected and re known teacher of the word of God.

Now if you've read any of his books or listened to any of his talks I'm sure that you'll agree that he has a brain the size of a small planet - possibly bigger. I've only read two of his books (a couple of others are on the reading list but I haven't as yet got round to reading them) and I have to say the ones I read were great but did require a high degree of concentration. They weren't what you'd call a "take to bed and read with the electric blanket" kind of read. I'm not saying that's a bad thing, in fact I believe that can be a healthy exercise. But that was the expectation I had when I picked up this book.

Now pardon the pun but my expectations were well and truly put to bed. This is a great book to read - it is intensely personal - it is honest - it is humble and gives a wonderful insight into Don Carson's Dad - and therefore into Don himself. Tom Carson is a wonderful example to us all - he was a man who faithfully followed his Lord and Saviour through what ever the world and Devil threw at him - and as we share in his inner most feelings written in his diaries as we progress through the record of his life - we share the spiritual highs and lows, we share his doubts and his long struggles with the ill health of firstly his wife and then himself.

We share the joys of his kids growing up - but most of all we see that through all of this by the grace of God it is well with his soul - and though he pours out his heart to God throughout his life - as narrated in his diaries - at times quite strikingly in his brutal frankness - it is clear that he never gave up his hope in the Lord Jesus - and that is who went before him - the author and perfector of his faith.

This book is a great witness to those who may be thinking their labours for the Lord are in vain. Tom Carson was an understated man - yet his influence on the church in Canada is clear for all to see - much of this though he did not live to see. It is a clear illustration to us of Galatians 6:6-10 - "Let us not grow weary in well-doing, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart." We live by faith not by sight - our hope is in Christ alone not in man.

Yet this is not powder puff prosperity Christianity - this is take up your cross and follow me Biblical Christianity. Tom Carson suffers - his weakness is clearly and frankly communicated - but I think it is clear that through it God is glorified.

Okay so if you've got thus far I think you've got the gist - give it a read. One thing I should note; there is a lot of background information on the recent history of the Church in Canada. I think it helps set the scene for Tom Carson.
A perfect gift for my husband  Oct 20, 2009
My husband is an Evangelical Free Church pastor and D.A. Carson was a professor of his while in seminary at Trinity. My husband also has experienced more than his share recently of the struggles of being an ordinary pastor. He read the book in a couple of weeks time and confessed that it brought him to tears more than once. I think it would be an excellent gift for any "ordinary pastor."
Ordinary?  Aug 31, 2009
I realize there is a difference between being average and ordinary, but I would say Tom Carson was not ordinary. Pastor Carson served the Lord in a day when it was quite costly to do so in Canada. He was a faithful husband, father and pastor. D.A. Carson has done a great job putting together these excerpts from his dad's journals, telling the stories connected to them, and placing them in their biographical, cultural and historical context. I was encouraged by Carson's willingness to include the entries revealing his discouragements, and there were many. I found myself in tears on numerous occasions as he showed his dad's struggles with God's grace and never feeling like was measuring up in ministry, even though he was an extremely hard worker. He had a true shepherd's heart for people of all stripes. Read this book for a glimpse into the life of an extraordinary man.
A Needed Call Down To Earth.  Jul 19, 2009
I tend to be proud and self-righteous and have big aspirations. I have been cynical toward small church pastors in the past thinking that they didn't accomplish much with their lives. What a fool I was.

This book nailed home--not directly or explicitly but by honestly portraying a Godly pastors life--what God had been working in me and gave me a heart for the local and small church.

A must read for those who have lofty dreams and/or are cynical/worried about wasting their lives. Be faithful and your life wont be wasted, regardless of how many people know your name.

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