Skip to main content

Forty Days on the Mountain: Meditations on Knowing God






Forty Days on the Mountain: Meditations on Knowing God by Stephen Smallman

What does a seasoned pastor, an urban missionary, and a faithful teacher of God’s Word have to say to our generation?  In his new book, Forty Days on the Mountain, Pastor Stephen Smallman brings us face to face with Moses, Jesus, and the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments.  With a rare combination of solid interpretation of the Bible and the unique ability to get to the heart of the matter in short chapters, Smallman does a remarkable job in these meditations on knowing God.  You will be nourished spiritually in these pages but don’t think for a second that you won’t be challenged in your well-traveled faith.

On Day 3 Stephen looks at Moses’ meeting with God at the Burning Bush (Ex. 3.1-15).  He notes that it was God’s initiative that in placing the burning bush before Moses and subsequently calling Moses toward God’s presence.  Smallman writes, “This initiative on the part of God is the pattern throughout Scripture, from his seeking out Adam and Eve after the fall, to the call that God graciously extends to place our faith in Christ …it all goes back to God’s coming to him (30).”  Though the interaction between divine initiative and human volition is mysterious (30), we have to forsake the notion that we as humans are the instigators towards the divine.  The beauty in this is that we serve a God who desires to make himself known and is in pursuit of us at every angle in every age. 

One very important distinction is found on Day 17 where Stephen looks at Colossians 1:9-14.  In this Pauline passage, the phrase “you may be filled with the knowledge of his will, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord.” Of this section, Stephen writes, “I’m afraid that for many Christians that order is reversed - …Or perhaps it would be better to say we are so preoccupied with the doing of Christianity that we pay scant attention to the matter of knowing (80).”  The deep knowledge that the Colossians have of God’s will compels them to act in a manner worthy of their calling as holy believers in Christ.  For Smallman, the knowing encourages the doing of the Christian faith and these twin aspects of faith are not at odds, but rather work in concert together.

With a vision for the necessities of the Christian faith, for growth in grace, and a challenge for comfortable Christians, Stephen Smallman is to be commended for writing such an excellent book.


Thanks to P&R Publishing for the copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

the great spiritual migration

The Great Spiritual Migration by Brian D McLaren

Brian McLaren and his own pithy way brings to the foreground and emphasis on a new kind of Christianity. The kind of faith that Brian envisions is a kind of migration not been set in the bedrock of beliefs that is unmoving but rather shifting with both culture and with faith. His new book the great spiritual migration is exactly that, a pointed work that encapsulates a vision towards the future where Christianity is changing and its peoples lives are changed as well.

Brian states in the introduction, "but we also know that for a lot of people Christianity is malfunctioning, seriously so, and it's not pretty. This kind of frustration with conventional Christianity is what McLaren gets gets to at the heart of this message is concerned with a number of different clusters unbelief. One, namely that Christianity has been stuck in a set of propositions or beliefs that has controlled churches in the faith, rather then a spirit of love t…

Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning

Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning by Timothy Snyder
Misperceptions, misconnections, and missed observations are just some of the issues that Timothy Snyder raises in his book, Black Earth, concerning the Holocaust.  Snyder, no stranger to the frontlines of scholarship on the Holocaust, with his previous book Bloodlands, that concerns the land from Hitler to Stalin, takes a look at the Holocaust from new sources and new avenues of thought.  How did some nation-states survive relatively unscathed from Nazi persecution while others, notably Jewish populations, succumb to a wave of killings?  Also, what was the role of the Soviet Union in the war and how did Stalin effect changes in the Final Solution?  These questions are only two of the many that Snyder answers in his detailed account of the Holocaust.
One of the best chapters was entitled The Auschwitz Paradox.  Generally when the public thinks about the Holocaust, we think of Auschwitz first or at the top of our mental m…

NKJV Study Bible by Thomas Nelson

NKJV Study Bible by Thomas Nelson Publishers
Growing up with the NIV, the NKJV was not a bible I was familiar with.  This new NKJV Study Bible takes all of the features of the Thomas Nelson Study Bible and makes them better.  Right out of the box I noticed that the Bible was considerably lighter than most study bibles I have read.  Further, the text font was much larger than most study editions, although I’m not quite sure of the size. The aquamarine color was a great touch and the Bible was finely put together, enduring the wear of many coming years of use.
Why is this Bible worth the purchase?  First, the study notes were great for extra handling of particular confusing and messy areas of Scriptures, both Old and New Testaments.  Yet, the study notes aren’t an obstruction to the reading of the biblical text.  Clearly, the editors have taken great care in making the text stand out and the notes illuminate certain themes and areas of Scripture.  Second, the NKJV takes into account all t…