5 Jul 2016

When You Come, bring … the Books … Three Good Books … One Drawing

Author: Bobby Valentine | Filed under: Black History, Books, Church, Church History, Discipleship, Faith, Race Relations, Reading

This blog is no stranger to recommending good books for Bereans.  Today something a little different is happening.  I will be offering brief “book notes” for three books all published by members of the Churches of Christ and in conjunction with Winekins three copies of Mark Powell’s Centered in God will be given away on Friday July 8.  To be eligible you have to comment. Wineskins will place the responders in a randomizer to pick the three winners.  The winners will be announced on Facebook and my next blog.  I am delighted to partner with such a wonderful resource as Wineskins and if you do not already regularly read it I cannot recommend it enough.  It is without a doubt the best source for healthy teaching in Churches of Christ today.  I have included Amazon links for each book to facilitate ease in getting them.

CenteredMark E. Powell, Centered in God: The Trinity and Christian Spirituality

Mark Powell is associate professor at Harding School of Theology in Memphis, Tennessee.  There are many technical works on the “doctrine of the Trinity,” but Centered in God is not one of them. In fact what Powell has given us is a vision of Christian Spirituality by describing the practical implications of the Trinity.  So many Christians within the Stone-Campbell Movement think the Trinity is just some esoteric  notion that has no practical significance at all.  This is because of massive failure to understand and communicate on the part of thought leaders in Churches of Christ.

After briefly describing the foundations of the Trinity, Powell moves to the meat of his book which explicates how the Trinity is the foundation of virtually every dimension of truly Christian thinking, praying and worship.  Christian life is itself Trinitarian from beginning to end.  The Trinity keeps us from embracing Platonic and Gnostic views by leading us to embrace creation (I was gratified to see this phrase).  The Trinity is the basis for authentic human living and discipleship in the present age.  Three of the richest chapters in Centered in God are “Community,” “Worship,” and “Unity.” I wish I could just pull them out and pass them out at the Christian gathering and pay people to read them.  The book closes with a much needed meditation on the role of genuine mystery within the Christian worldview.

Centered in God is a genuinely good book. It is insightful, meditative and surprisingly easy to read. There are not many things in this world that could be more foundational to our Spirituality than taking time to reflect on and seek to be centered in the Triune God who reveals himself as Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  Worship and praise will flow from you as you eat this book.

Make sure you comment below to be entered into the give away for this rich work.

PPPRLatayne C. Scott, Passion, Power, Proxy, Release

I received this book from the author near the end of April.  I have known Latayne Scott’s work since the 1990s when I needed reliable information on witnessing to Mormons (The Mormon Mirage; After Mormonism, What?; ). Then she wrote a work on worship, Crises: Crucible of Praise, that has left a phrase with me ever since I read it: “sometimes we praise God through clenched teeth.”  When Songs of Faith and Praise was published we were blessed with her poetry.

Passion, Power, Proxy, Release is a work of devotion focusing on the atmosphere of the Lord’s Supper.  The title gives us the four angles in which to we move during that holy meal.  Passion as we see his suffer; Power as we witness his resurrection; Proxy as we identify and participate in his suffering; and Release as we also share in the power of his resurrection.

Each devotion consists of a Scripture, an original piece of poetry and then a short meditation.  I made the mistake of rifling through this work as I camped out at Joshua Tree National Park on the way to the Pepperdine Bible Lectures.  I have since gone back and gone thru most of the meditations again.  Scott is a master poet and she offers some arresting examples.  Poetry is not simply some short rhyming limerick.  She shapes words in such a way that they rest in our mind and just sit there and slowly work their way into our subterranean nature where they do their work.  One of my favorite pieces is a meditation on Exodus 15.11-13 and the spontaneous outburst of praise by Moses, Miriam and the Israelites …

The force of your love
Awes me,
Like a great mountain I cannot ascend
But whose warming breezes
And crags of protection I crave.
I stand on the beach
of this limitless sea
Of forgotten depths;
I would drown myself
In its richness.
Shine forth, great mountain,
Roll forth, great ocean–
Your bursts of light
Pierce my dimmed eyes,
Your thunderings
Soothe my sluggish ears
Your beauty
Makes my heart sing
(Passion, Power, Proxy, Release, p. 46)

I think Passion, Power, Proxy, Release would be a great work of personal devotion and even shared in the context of corporate worship and small groups.  I also see it as a guide for specific seasons of the calendar. For example I think it would be a wonderful guide for Lent to focus our hearts, minds and souls on the heart of the gospel for a season. You will be so enriched by this work.

RRTanya Smith Brice, Reconciliation Reconsidered: Advancing the National Conversation on Race in Churches of Christ

Racism is a sin beloved. It is not some insignificant matter, some individualistic personal problem. Racism is a theological rejection of the Gospel itself.

My friend Tanya Brice, Dean of the School of Health and Human Services at Benedict College, has assembled a remarkable team of black, white, male and female thinkers and doers of racial reconciliation within Churches of Christ.  Reconciliation Reconsidered is divided up into three sections: Historical Realities; Contemporary Challenges; and Concrete Examples.  In the historical section I was gratified that the historical work has paralleled much of my own research revealing accommodation to the racist culture with occasional challenges here and there but mostly silence in the face of evil.  More focused chapters are by John Mark Tucker on “People of Faith at Racial Barricades: Little Rock, Arkansas 1957,” is fascinating.  In the section on Contemporary Challenges we are confronted with how do deal in Radical Love in the wake of Ferguson and the challenge of refusing to be silent.  The third section provides us with a hands on guide to congregations that are actually doing something and helping people like me have the courage to examine my own life and behaviors (microaggressions).

Reconciliation Reconsidered would be an excellent resource for small groups or personal study.  Ministers and elders ought to read the book and meditate upon it so the pulpit can be a healing voice in bringing the meaning of the Gospel’s reconciliation to visible manifestation in the local church.  I cannot help but believe that interaction with this outstanding volume can help Churches of Christ image the creational beauty and diversity of the Kingdom of God more faithfully.  Put it on your must read list and then actually read it.

Bring the Books

When Paul was languishing in prison he told his friend Timothy to bring the books.  I hope you will get all three of these books, I think each has something worthy to share and will bless you, enrich you and challenge you to kingdom living.

Remember to make a comment so your name will be entered into the randomizer for one of the three free copies of Centered in God to be given away by Wineskins.  The drawing will occur on Friday, July 8, 2016.

9 Responses to “When You Come, bring … the Books … Three Good Books … One Drawing”

  1. Jason Bennett Says:

    Thank you for recommending these books!

  2. Jerry Starling Says:

    I always appreciate recommendations for good books. I don’t always buy them, but I frequently put them on my wish list and go back later to buy them if they are still appealing then. Thanks for these recommendations.

  3. Eric Whelchel Says:

    Thank you, Bobby, for this excellent blog. Mark Powell ‘ s book has been on my wish list for a while. It us now at the top of that list. I especially appreciate your sharing Latayne C. Scott and the insights from her work.

  4. Kevin Frank Says:

    Thanks for your blog Bobby.

  5. Glenn Browning Says:

    Sound like excellent recommendations, always enjoy your insight. Thanks, brother.

  6. Robert Bliss Says:

    Count me in.

  7. Justin Says:

    Thanks for sharing these substantive reviews. Makes me want to read!

  8. Sandy Powell Says:

    I would like to read them

  9. John Fields Says:

    Thanks for the recommendations. I respect your heart and the way you think so am very interested in finding out more about these.

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