Periodically, I am asked read a book pre-publication and write a brief promotional blurb for the book. I have had the pleasure of doing this for a number of books including (but not limited to) Leadership Directions from Moses by Olu Brown, A Missionary Mindset by Doug Ruffle, and Go: The Church's Main Purpose by George Hunter. Recently I had the further distinct privilege of endorsing two new books: Scripture and the Life of God by Dr. David Watson, Dean at United Theological Seminary and The Band Meeting: An Invitation to Intentional Relational Transformation by Professors Scott Kisker (United Theology Seminary) and Kevin Watson (Candler School of Theology). Both books are outstanding and well worth reading! By way of endorsement for Dr. Watson's book I wrote: "Scripture and the Life of God goes way beyond being one more informational book on reading Scripture. This book is transformational! Whether a pastor, a long-time discipled Christian, or a novice to the faith, all will be offered a fresh and exciting adventure into the transformational presence and power of God through Holy Scripture. I cannot recommend it highly enough!" Dean Watson is a New Testament scholar who writes for the church as a whole. Pastors and Sunday School classes alike will benefit from reading Scripture and the Life of God. The book is written with Study Questions at the end of each chapter to facilitate group discussion. The author does not duck issues of biblical inspiration. Rather he insightfully takes us beyond commonplace considerations to a deeper level of meaning. Consider the following: "Yet in adopting one theory or another, we should remember that the meaningfulness of Scripture does not depend on a particular understanding of inspiration. It depends upon God. God is alive, and God reaches out to us in and through the words of the Bible. Therefore, we search the Scriptures. We pray over them. We listen to them in worship. We sing their words. Ultimately, we are formed by God's work through them into the people we are meant to be. We have become participants in the divine nature" (Scripture and the Life of God by David F. Watson, pg. 15). Allow me to offer a couple of other excerpts to whet the reader's appetite: "In this book, I want to argue a singular point: the Bible is a form of divine communication meant to lead us more fully into the life of God. Put in theological terms, we might say that through the Bible we receive divine revelation, the purpose of which is soteriological. In other words, the purpose of God's Word is salvation for the world. John Wesley believed that Scripture shows us 'the way to heaven - how to land safe on that happy shore. ...Here then I am, far from the busy ways of men. I sit down alone: only God is here. In his presence I open, I read his Book; for this end, to find the way to heaven.' Or to put in in yet another way, God speaks to us through the Bible and leads us into salvation. God loves us and wishes us to return that love. When we do, we enter more fully into the divine life. The Bible is a 'book of meeting.' It draws us ever more deeply into a relationship with the God who came to us in Jesus Christ. In light of this, our first posture toward the Bible should be one of gratitude, not criticism"(Scripture and the Life of God by David F. Watson, pg. xviii). "Reading in community is an act of humility. None of us has all the answers. None of us is a perfect interpreter of the Bible. A particularly unique understanding of a passage of Scripture is not likely a very good one. We are fellow travelers on the pathway into the life of God. The biblical scholar James Sanders wrote that we should consider ourselves to be pilgrims: 'The model of the believing community ... is that of a pilgrim folk en route through the ambiguities of present reality to the threshold of truth.' In this life, we simply will not reach our final destination. We won't know it all. We will never apprehend the whole truth about God. We will not fully understand all that God has done for us. For our entire Christian lives, we are moving more deeply into the life of God" (Scripture and the Life of God by David F. Watson, pg. 50). Dr. Watson closes by reminding the reader of a well known story of St. Augustine, which speaks into my life, our lives together, the life of the church and, I believe, has a word desperately needed for our times. "We started this book with a story about Augustine, the great theologian of the fourth and fifth centuries whose spiritual autobiography, the Confessions, is among the classic works of Christian literature. He would come to be called 'Saint Augustine,' an iconic figure after whom churches, schools, and cities would be named. Before he was any of these things, though, he was simply a man who came to understand that he needed to know God more deeply than he did. When he heard the voice of a child calling, 'Pick up and read,' he took it as a sign that God was leading him into the next step of his journey with Christ. He was obedient. He picked up his copy of Paul's letter, he read, and he was transformed. Scripture was the vehicle that God used to lead Augustine across a crucial threshold in his life of faith" (Scripture and the Life of God by David F. Watson, pg. 113). It is my hope that Pastors and Sunday School classes across the Central Texas Conference will use this book, Scripture and the Life of God, to help us better understand and more fully delve into the book which matters most - the Bible. John Wesley, the founder of the Wesleyan revival and the Methodist Church, speaking of the Bible wrote: "I want to know one thing - the way to heaven; how to land safe on that happy shore. God himself has condescended to teach me the way. For this very end He came from heaven. He hath written it down in a book. O give me that book! At any price, give me the book of God!" Scripture and the Life of God does just that! It helps us embrace the Holy Scriptures on a more meaningful level.