Reformation Heritage Books was selling it for $5 each at the time (sorry, not that price anymore). I purchased several copies, gave them to all the guys on staff and thought that at some point I would get to reading it. When I arrived in Ohio at my new church, I wanted to read a book with Ray, our youth pastor, and had an extra copy of this book and thought it might be a good book to go through together. It was.
In a Portrait of Paul, Ventura & Walker take their time as they walk through Colossians 1:24--2:5. Each chapter corresponds to the next section of Paul's text. It is their belief that in this text, Paul explains "a model and standard for the ministry of the Lord Christ. According to the Scriptures, spiritually healthy children of God should be part of a healthy local church and under the care of her undershepherds; this portrait of Paul will help you to make wise choices in every aspect of this vital matter. Here, churches looking for a pastor will find guidance in what a faithful man of God looks like. Christians looking for a church will find a tool by which they can assess the pastors of the flock in the light of God's Word, finding men to whom they can commit the care of their souls" (5).
Each chapter deals with a different aspect of the calling of a true minister of Christ. Then they adequately apply the passage to both to the "Fellow Christian" and the "Fellow Minister." I would say the bulk of the book is directed at the minister as He serves Jesus and shepherds His people. But there are some very helpful words of encouragement to all Christians as to how to respond to their minister. For instance, in chapter six, they deal with the "Subject of Paul's Ministry" which of course was preaching Jesus. After they unpack Colossians 1:28 as to what it means that Paul preached Jesus, they begin to apply it to the Christian & the Minister.
Fellow Christian: "Remember also that such a ministry to you . . . will never lead to an easy time or a casual life. If a man is faithful to your soul, you will not hear stories and jokes all the time. You will not always feel good about yourself. At times, you may see yourself as the least worthy sinner who ever crawled the earth" (107-8).
Fellow Minister: "Our duty is to make Christ known, publicly to proclaim Him, impressing Him upon the lives of men and women, boys and girls, closely, effectually, earnestly, and prayerfully, by the pointed tools of admonition and instruction . . . How shall we accomplish this? To begin with, we need simply to spend more time with Him . . . We must not read the Bible for our 'professional' needs, as a lawyer might turn to his statute books" (108-10).
It was a good book that made us both think as we read through a couple chapters each week. I recommend it to you. My only criticism of this book is that they seemed to deal with many of the same topics throughout the book. It was very repetitive. But, as you know, we need repetition because we often do not get it the first time.