I'm some way ahead in my reading than in my reviewing, so I'm going to catch up by reviewing chapters 5,6 and 7 in one go.
Chapter 5 explores man's calling to be shepherd leader - to direct his attention and passion into caring foe those placed under his care. He rightly diagnoses a suspicion and hostility towards leadership in our culture and which overflows into our churches. However, he contends that the bibles shepherd leader model exemplified in the person of Jesus Christ answers the two causes of that skepticism, namely - too high a value on independence and observed bad or abusive leadership.
Phillips then shows how the primary tool of the Shepherd leader is knowledge of the word of God, because that is from what he derives his authority. Such a call is again one that we sorely need today. Seeing such self sacrificial, God centred, leadership will enable those who long to be led by are skeptical to willingly submit to shepherd leadership for their good and God's glory.
Chapter 5 ends part of one of the book in which Phillips seeks to lay down the theological foundations on which his teaching and practical instruction is based.
Chapter 6 marks the beginning of the second part of the book which looks at practical implications of the theology. It looks at Marriage and God's astonishing design for it. I want to say at the start that I found this chapter both interesting and provocative. I am not sure about his emphasis on the need for man to be married is balanced. His teaching from Gen 2 that it was not good for man to be alone is great, however, he goes on to say that 'unless you have the gift Paul referred to (1 Cor 7:7), it is imperative for your well-being that you be married, to move beyond the "not good" status of single adulthood.' I think there is more to be said on the singleness issue than is conveyed here, and for many men who long to find a wife and feel singularly un-gifted as Paul was I worry about the damage this could do.
However, that caveat aside this is a fantastic chapter, exploring the wonder of God's creation of a helper for Adam with all that entails in terms of fulfilling our mandate, whilst also containing insightful challenges to men. He rightly discerns the spirit of the age when he calls young Christian men to stop depriving themselves of God's provision for their physical, emotional and sexual needs so that they can remain immature and self-absorbed. He also explores the agape love which Ephesians 5 calls husbands to.
Chapter 7 then explores marriage cursed and redeemed, marriage is so good in God's design in Genesis 2 that it is the first thing Satan attacks in Genesis 3. And the consequences if the fall and God's judgement are explored for both men, women and marriage. Men now, like Adam, find it easier to blame their wives, and because of our mandate and the curses effect on work we now struggle with a devotion to work which draws us away from our wives. (How many marriage counselling sessions, or death beds has that been confessed in/on). For woman as well the implications of the curse are that they are gripped by an unwholesome desire to possess and control a man - fascinatingly he work this out in terms of it being visible in the emphasis on how you look so that you can attract /keep a man seen in women's magazines. Overall sin makes marriage and intimacy and serving together hard.
But don't despair because the chapter ends with a reminder our failings here are to drive us to our knees in search of God's grace and forgiveness and that in Christ we are free through God's redeeming grace to love our wives and fulfil God's plan for marriage.
I have found the two chapters on marriage to be compelling reading. They have made me think about myself, my driven nature as regards work, and how my redemption should change that and affect my marriage.