Archives for August 2014

Lectionary Reflection for the Tenth Sunday after Pentecost

This excerpt comes from Psalms for All Seasons, commenting on Psalm 67:

Psalm 67 is a communal expression of desire for God’s blessing so that the whole world will come to acknowledge God.

The psalm has a chiastic, or mirror, structure: it begins and ends with an expression of desire for God’s blessing (vv. 1, 7).

This frames an acknowledgement that God is the source of both deliverance and harvest (vv. 2, 6), an expression of desire that all peoples will bless God (vv. 3, 5) with a statement of confession of God’s just and sovereign rule at the center (v. 4).

The psalm echoes the Aaronic benediction (Num. 6:24-26) but also extends its focus by suggesting that this blessing is for the benefit of the nations.

Prayer for reflection:

God of all,
may your lavish grace and saving power by known by all people in all places,
so that the world may resound with your praise
as all nations bow before your loving rule made known in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

©2012 Faith Alive Christian Resources. Published by Brazos Press. Unauthorized use of this material without express written permission is strictly prohibited.

Announcing the Brazos Press Bloggers Program

Do you like to read thoughtful, theologically grounded books on subjects of importance to the church and the world, and do you have a blog where you would be willing to post reviews of Brazos Press books?

Then apply to become a Brazos Press Blogger!

If accepted, you will receive periodic email invitations alerting you to new books available for review.

For more information and to apply for the program, please visit www.brazospress.com/bloggers.

The Weekly Hit List: August 8, 2014

Marlena Graves, author of A Beautiful Disaster, was interviewed by Tina Bustamente.

“The main theme throughout A Beautiful Disaster is finding God in the wilderness, coming to know Jesus and His presence in the arid seasons of one’s life, and you do such a tender job talking about all the different kinds of wildernesses we go through. What is one thing you’d like people to walk away with after they read your book? Something you hope for them?”

“My deepest desire is that those who read my book will know that they are deeply loved by God – even in the wilderness. Sometimes it’s hard to believe in and feel God’s love in what for some seems like a hell on earth because God at times can seem so distant. I hope to have in some ways shown how God is very close to us in our sufferings. A bruised reed he will not break, a smoldering wick he will not snuff out (Isa. 42:3).” 

Read the entire interview here.

 

Quick Hits:

Kingdom Conspiracy by Scot McKnight (October 2014) was recommended by Nijay Gupta: “Scot has his finger on the pulse of Christianity in America today and he is a doctor that tells it straight. This incisive and challenging work will be very useful to current and future church leaders.”

Wesley Hill, author of the forthcoming (May 2015) Brazos Press book Spiritual Friendship, was quoted in Religion News Service and The Washington Post: “Gay, Christian and celibate: The changing face of the homosexuality debate”

Wendy VanderWal-Gritter, author of Generous Spaciousness, was mentioned by David Gushee is his column for ABPnews/Herald.

Live to Tell by Brad Kallenberg was recommended by Byron Borger of Hearts & Minds.

A Beautiful Disaster by Marlena Graves was quoted by Panhandling Philosopher.

Be Not Afraid by Samuel Wells was reviewed by Michele Morin.

 

Ebook Specials:

Dissident Discipleship: A Spirituality of Self-Surrender, Love of God, and Love of Neighbor by David Augsburger is only $2.99 (88% off) from participating retailers through August 10.

God Does Not…: Entertain, Play “Matchmaker,” Hurry, Demand Blood, Cure Every Illness by D. Brent Laytham is only $1.99 (90% off) from participating retailers through August 14.

Ebook Special for God Does Not…: Entertain, Play “Matchmaker,” Hurry, Demand Blood, Cure Every Illness by D. Brent Laytham

Now through August 14, the ebook of God Does Not…: Entertain, Play “Matchmaker,” Hurry, Demand Blood, Cure Every Illness by D. Brent Laytham is only $1.99 (90% off) from the following participating retailers:

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

CBD

“Sound theological reflection and nuanced incisive cultural criticism make this book an entertaining and worthwhile read.”
Michael Gulker, TheOtherJournal.com

God Does Not . . . challenges several widespread misconceptions of how God works in the world.

  • Joel Shuman reveals that although God does not wear a white coat and always cure, he always heals.
  • Daniel Bell argues that the logic of blood sacrifice permeates today’s culture and challenges the notion of redemptive violence.
  • Kelly Johnson shows that the frenetic pace of daily life does not mesh with God’s patient peace.
  • Does God write the perfect love story for each of us? Margaret Kim Peterson and Dwight Peterson help us see how our idea of God’s plan for love and marriage is distorted by our desire for Hollywood happy endings.
  • Jason Byassee cautions against revering contemporary cinema too highly and concludes that God’s church is where the action is.
  • And finally, D. Brent Laytham paints a picture of God’s work in the world through the lens of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

A follow-up to the popular God Is Not . . ., this book is both accessible and provocative. In the end, we are left not with a negation of what God does, but an affirmation of a God who does all things well.

D. Brent Laytham (PhD, Duke University Divinity School) is dean of the Ecumenical Institute of Theology at St. Mary’s Seminary & University in Baltimore, Maryland. He previously taught at North Park Theological Seminary. He is an ordained minister in the United Methodist Church and takes special interest in bringing pastors and scholars together to address theological and ecclesiological issues.

Lectionary Reflection for the Ninth Sunday after Pentecost

This excerpt comes from Matthew (BTCB) by Stanley Hauerwas, commenting on Matthew 14:22-33:

Matthew tells us that immediately after Jesus has fed the crowd “he made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead [of him] to the other side.” He dismisses the crowds and goes, like Moses went up the mountain to ask the Lord to forgive the people for their idolatry (Exod. 32:30–34), up the mountain to pray. He was alone most of the night, but toward morning he comes to the disciples, whose boat is far from land and is being battered by the waves.

When the disciples see him walking on water they are terrified. People do not walk on water. And so they grasp for any explanation that would return their world to normality—he must be a ghost.

Jesus responds to their cry of fear and after identifying himself tells them not to be afraid. Just as God names himself to Moses in the burning bush, Jesus identifies himself as “I am.” This is the “I am” of Ps. 77:19, the “I am” who provides a way through the sea, a path through the mighty waters, leaving footprints unseen.

Peter asks Jesus to command him to meet him on the water, and Jesus does so with the single word, “Come.” Peter walks toward Jesus but notices the strong wind and begins to sink. He begs Jesus to save him. Peter does not begin to sink and then become frightened, but he becomes frightened and so he begins to sink. Losing sight of Jesus means that Peter, like all of us, cannot help but become frightened, which means we cannot survive. Jesus, as he has so often done, stretches out his hand and saves him.

Peter is often criticized for being impulsive, for having “little faith,” and for doubting, but such criticism should not overlook that he asks Jesus to command him to come to him. Peter begins his journey across the water toward Jesus with the recognition that this is not something he can do on his own initiative. He asks Jesus to command him to come, recognizing that he has no ability to come to Jesus unless his ability to come to Jesus comes from Jesus. Peter’s faith is little, but he at least is beginning to recognize that faith is obedience.

We are, of course, sympathetic with Peter because we too doubt. We doubt because, like Peter, we are frightened. Our fears are not governed by our fear of God, because we fear, like Herod, the opinions of others more than we fear God. As a result, we sink beneath the weight of our desires, hoping others will think us normal. But followers of Jesus, those who refuse to live in a world devoid of miracle, cannot be normal. We worship, as the disciples did, this Jesus whom they now recognize to be the Son of God.

Soon Jesus will rename Simon as Peter and declare that “on this rock” Jesus’s church will be built, making this story ripe with ecclesiological implications. The church is the ark of the kingdom, but often the church finds herself far from shore and threatened by strong winds and waves. Those in the boat often fail to understand that they are meant to be far from shore and that to be threatened by a storm is not unusual. If the church is faithful she will always be far from the shore. Some, moreover, will be commanded to leave even the safety of the boat to walk on water.

©2006 by Stanley Hauerwas. Published by Brazos Press. Unauthorized use of this material without express written permission is strictly prohibited.

Ebook Special for Dissident Discipleship by David Augsburger

Now through August 10, the ebook of Dissident Discipleship: A Spirituality of Self-Surrender, Love of God, and Love of Neighbor by David Augsburger is only $2.99 (88% off) from the following participating retailers:

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

CBD

“Inspirational, thoughtful, meaty, accessible and responsible. Mature Christians involved in the church, academy and the marketplace will find this book thought-provoking and convicting. . . . Faculty should assign this book . . . and devise ways to facilitate thoughtful interaction with it. . . . This book is practical, thoughtful and challenging.”
Andrew D. Rowell, Christian Scholar’s Review

In Dissident Discipleship, David Augsburger discerns two dominant strains of spirituality in the modern church. The first is focused on self-growth and self-enlightenment, and the second is focused almost entirely vertically by encouraging a deeper personal relationship with God. While there is a need for care of self and a deeper relationship with God, Augsburger shows that churches must nurture a third type of spirituality that combines the best of the other two types and adds to them a horizontal commitment to love of neighbor manifesting itself in service.

Augsburger points out that this robust form of Christian spirituality has implications that extend well beyond the walls of the church. An active love of God and neighbor, one that is deeply Christian, provides unique and needed answers to contemporary issues such as loneliness and world poverty while helping believers better balance this-worldly and other-worldly horizons. Dissident Discipleshipwill be a valuable resource to pastors, students, counselors, and all Christians interested in spiritual formation.

David Augsburger (PhD, Claremont School of Theology) was professor of pastoral care and counseling at Fuller Theological Seminary (now retired). He is the author of Caring Enough to Confront and Hate-work: Working through the Pain and Pleasure of Hate.

The Weekly Hit List: August 1, 2014

Colossians (BTCB) by Christopher R. Seitz was reviewed by Robert Gundry in the July/August issue of Books & Culture.

“Seitz offers a wealth of canonical and theological commentary on the text of Colossians. . . . Readers will be enriched both theologically and historically. . . .

“Happily for me, Seitz’s commentary, while paying due attention to the history and importance of theological interpretation as represented in the Nicene tradition, seems to prioritize the scriptural text.

“Well done!”

Subscribers can read the rest of the review here.

 

Quick Hits:

Dangerous Passions, Deadly Sins by Dennis Okholm was reviewed by Byron Borger on Hearts & Minds.

Devin Brown, author of A Life Observed, will be the guest speaker on the Educational Opportunies Tours’ May 2015 tour through England, “A Journey with C.S. Lewis & J.R.R. Tolkien.”

Darkness Is My Only Companion by Kathryn Greene-McCreight was reviewed by Michele Morin.