I’ve started a new book.
Well, I haven’t exactly started to actually read it yet. Like starting at page one.
I’ve been thumbing through it to decide if I really want to read a book with such a scandalous title as The God Who Smokes written by someone named Timothy Stoner. Honestly, my first thought was this might be a book about promoting marijuana.
If you think about it, there really is a lot of smoke when it comes to God. There’s that haze or mist that keeps us seeing dimly. There are smoking sacrifices, smoking pots, and smoking mountains.
Scripture describes a God who is a consuming fire (Deuteronomy 4:24) and who breathes smoke (Psalm 18:8).
But we want to focus on a God who loves.
We don’t want to think about a God who gets mad.
In chapter 5, also titled “The God Who Smokes,” Stoner writes:
If God did not get angry, He would not be God . . . If God forever turned His eyes away from the abuse, the perversion, the pollution, the pillaging, raping, spilling of innocent blood, the sexual slavery, the Lord’s Resistance Army conscripting little children to become cold-blooded killers, the decapitating of political prisoners in the name of God Allah, and decapitating forests and jungles in the name of God Mammon, then God would not be just or righteous . . .
I think forever turned are key words here because I have to admit I don’t understand how or why God allows this kind of suffering, except I know God doesn’t live in my time zone .
Stoner goes on:
So God rages and roars and smokes. He thunders, shakes, and burns like this massive forest fire. Because at the core of His being, God is love . . . His wrath is about His love . . . This smoking, smoldering God is holy love aflame . . . There are those who wish to tone down the anger, to smother the fire and smoke on the mountain. If they succeed, they will lose more than an image of a mean God–they also lose mercy and extinguish grace.
Even His wrath is about His love.
The back cover promises a balanced response to the divisive issues raised by those who promote an emergent theology.”Timothy celebrates the good within Emergent while providing a balanced and thoughtful critique.”
As I page through, I see humor and personal experiences delivered with a lyrical bent and lavishly salted with Scripture. Each chapter ends with a beautiful blessing. Like this one.
May you be comforted by the burning
protective strength of your Father’s strong and stormy love.
May you recline at peace and with veiled face bow.
May you be thrilled and terrified
at the rampaging, irresistible
zeal of this consuming fire who has pledged Himself
to do you good all the days of your life
and who will not hold back even if the good seems bad,
and stings and burns and blisters your skin.
May your heart thrill at the awesome God
who held nothing back that He might hold you close,
who poured on His Son what He never deserved
that you might receive forever
what you would not have desired,
but were created for.
Then may your own heart become an altar
aflame with fiery love and exclusive zeal
to bring Him glory and expand His praise
among all peoples and nations–
among your friends and your enemies, too.
I’m moving this book to the top of my stack.
Have you read it?
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