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Review Smith’s new book provides direction for the faithful

  • Published Saturday, August 17, 2013, at 10 a.m.
  • Updated Saturday, August 17, 2013, at 10:27 a.m.

“The deep waters of God's life are already flowing. We simply learn the strokes that will enable us more and more to be at home in them.” – Richard Foster, “Life With God”

James Bryan Smith learned the requisite strokes of spiritual discipline from his mentor, Richard Foster, author, former professor of theology at Friends University in Wichita, and founder of Renovare, an international, spiritual renewal organization.

In 2010, Smith, theology professor at Friends and United Methodist minister, started his own spiritual renewal organization, the Aprentis Institute. Its mission is to promote “higher-level thinking, deeper conversation and a creative track for growing closer to God.” His series of books, including “The Good and Beautiful God,” “The Good and Beautiful Life” and “The Good and Beautiful Community,” provide direction for spiritual seekers who want a greater understanding of what it means to be a follower of Jesus.

“Hidden in Christ” focuses on 17 verses of the New Testament epistle of Paul to the Colossians. “I noticed that single words from Colossians 3 began to bounce around in my mind, forming a new understanding of the gospel, and a new awareness of who I am, and who my brothers and sisters in Christ are,” Smith writes. He then began to memorize those verses.

“When you memorize a passage rather than a random verse here or there, your mind is filled with an entire system of thought, not merely an idea,” he writes. “Colossians 3 is a very rich passage, comprising a complete picture of our life in Christ, so it made an ideal choice to memorize.”

Each chapter in his book takes a single word from that biblical section and expounds on it with anecdotes and personal reflections, and concludes with a short list of follow-ups: living into the truth, affirmation, prayer and reflection. A group discussion guide at the end divides the book into five sessions with questions for participants.

The pocket-size book is a convenient resource to carry, consult and meditate on throughout the day. Its evangelical focus, however, offers little in the way of sacramental or historical insight to the spiritual diversity of Christianity.

That said, “Hidden in Christ” will undoubtedly help readers with a Christian foundation find faith-enriching direction and challenging disciplines for their spiritual journey.

– Tom Schaefer

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