Another book: Could this be God?

Posted by on Jun 28, 2016 in Blog | 0 comments

It has been an exciting few weeks for me on the publication front. My book When Faith Turns Ugly has been out for about 2 weeks, and I have now received the final proofs for my next book, Could this be God? Bumping into God in the Everyday which British publisher Bible Reading Fellowship (BRF) are releasing on 23 September. It is fairly different from my other books – a series of 90 short pieces written for a wide audience and with an intentionally laid back but devotional style. In spite of its light touch, the publisher latched onto it because they feel that each piece connects faith back to life, and that it manages to do so disarmingly and often profoundly. They are very nice publishers!

In his commendation of the book Derek Tidball (former principal of London School of Theology) was kind enough to say: I couldn’t stop smiling as I read this wonderful book. Don’t mistake its light touch, practical stance and humorous style for shallowness. It conveys great spiritual wisdom.

If you are interested in what it is about, here is the preface…

Preface

Have you ever wondered what Abraham thought that hot day when he looked up and saw three strangers standing near the entrance to his tent? They had arrived during the midday siesta and obviously needed food and drink. In no time he and Sarah were rushing around to ensure they received the finest of fare.

What did they think, before they sprang into action?

Was it an instantaneous ‘Oh bother. There goes my nap. Just what I need in this sweltering heat.’

Or perhaps it was a more enthusiastic, ‘How exciting. Guests. Let’s hope they have some gossip to share.’

Genesis 18 doesn’t provide us with sufficient clues to give a definitive answer, but the hospitality they provided was exemplary. It turns out that the three strangers were none other than the Lord and two angels. The unnamed writer of Hebrews 13:2 was later to moralise on the incident, ‘Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it.’

Entertaining angels. It sounds like a novel pastime. Who wouldn’t raise their hand for that? Trouble was that Abraham and Sarah didn’t know they were doing it. And truth to tell, it was jolly hard work. It would have been so easy to have missed that transforming encounter.

‘Ah,’ you say. ‘I should be so lucky. But angels don’t drop by where I stay.’

Says who?

Not scripture. In fact it encourages us to expect more than angels. In Matthew 25 Jesus tells us that when we reach out to the least of people, we are reaching out to him. When we feed, visit or clothe strangers, we are not to be surprised if Jesus is somehow the beneficiary of our actions.

Indeed, we should approach each life experience with a searching question, ‘Could this be God?’

Could this be God? What. In the midst of this muddle? Or in this insufferably boring meeting? Or in this time of excruciating pain? Or here in the supermarket? Or at the children’s concert? Or in this new, insecure employee?

These readings insistently suggest that the answer might well be yes. They flow from the deep conviction that God is constantly at work in the world and in our lives. The question is not whether God is at work, but whether we have the spiritual sensitivity to spot it.

Each of the readings in Could this be God? started as a column in Perth’s monthly Advocate newspaper – a publication of the Baptist Churches of Western Australia. The column has been running for over a decade, and its popularity has seen many calls to gather the collection under one cover. It is exciting to see this now come together in this publication.

I have enjoyed writing each piece. They chronicle a decade of my life. Before I write I ask God to remind me of incidents that have delighted, troubled or intrigued me. I usually start completely unsure where the writing will go, and the conclusions have often surprised me as much as I hope they surprise you.

I am grateful to readers of the Advocate. Over the years their feedback and encouragement has persuaded me to continue writing. They have often duplicated a column they enjoyed in their church newsletter, or posted it on Facebook, or discussed it in small groups, or mailed it to a friend. Many of the stories have found their way into sermons and talks. Most encouragingly, some have told me that individual pieces have touched their life, and made a difference to the way they see the world.

I hope this book finds its way into your heart, and that it helps you to approach life a little more expectantly. Perhaps ‘Could this be God?’ will be a question you will ask more often…

Roll on September 23. I will keep you posted as more information becomes available. Incidentally, the book is already available for pre order at Book Depository, who include postage in their price (which with the collapse of the British Pound, was less than A$15 when I last looked).

Nice chatting…

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