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

My Favorite Color is Blue. Sometimes.: A Journey Through Loss with Art and Color

My Favorite Color is Blue. Sometimes by Roger Hutchison

Taking a look at the digital copy of this book allowed me to look at the striking art inside the book, and its connection to the words of the page that were focusing on loss.  Looking at the physical copy of the book even brings to life more the staggering similarity that the words and pain have together on the page.  The focus here is how certain colors express the sentiments of those who have lost a loved one.  I did not think that I would relate too well to this book until two days ago, as we lost our little boy, who was only 17 weeks old.  The pain is palpable and yet the pages of this book give me good reason to think of my son with a sense of pride and hope.

Roger writes, "You are a shooting star. Your light trails across the heavens.  I blinked and you were gone."  We were full of anticipation at the first and second ultrasounds, and there was the picture of our little boy Jackson, his developing face and little …

The Catholic Novelist in the Protestant South

Mystery and Manners: Occasional Prose by Flannery O’Connor
A profound simplicity of thought, a penetrating vision of what it means to be human, Flannery O’Connor embodies the spirit of bringing fictional stories to life.  Others might call her fiction ‘grotesque’ in a rather unflattering manner, but O’Connor was not content to live up to their criticisms.  In this short book of collected essay and lectures, Mystery and Manners, editors and friends of Flannery, Robert and Sally Fitzgerald have given us a glimpse into the vision of her faith, style and life as a writer.   A lifelong Catholic, Flannery O’Connor sought to wed together the moral integrity of her faith with the character of her craft in writing.  Specifically, fiction for her was an exploration in imitation.
In a rather illuminating statement in the chapter entitled, “A Catholic Novelist in the Protestant South, “ O’Connor writes,
“I am specifically concerned with fiction because that is what I write.  There is a certain em…