Article first published as Book Review: David A. Peterson’s Receiving and Giving on Blogcritics.
May 30, 2013
Receiving and Giving:
New Book Reveals Blessings Everywhere in Our Lives
Reverend David Peterson’s new book Receiving and Giving is a beautiful testament to God’s true purpose in our lives and the purpose He holds for us. Peterson begins by telling us that: “In the Bible are 475 references to ‘blessing.’ Interestingly, there are only 309 references to ‘pray’ and a 109 more to ‘prayer.’ I take this difference to add gravity to God’s commitment to the act of blessing as His central occupation.”
Peterson continues by revealing how blessings from God surround us everywhere we look. One practice he recommends to prove this fact is that we ask God to show His love by picking a certain item and seeing how frequently it appears in our lives, whether it’s pedestrians in crosswalks, birds, or even unicorns. Peterson also relies heavily on scripture to confirm his message, discussing tales of how Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were blessed and showing the blessings offered in Jesus’ parables and the Sermon on the Mount.
But beyond biblical interpretation, the real meat of this book is the Bless Challenge that Peterson makes to his readers, namely to take every opportunity to provide blessings to others. Peterson states:
Throughout Receiving and Giving, Peterson discusses various types of blessings and how God blesses us, and then he offers ways to apply those blessings in our lives and the lives of others. Peterson does not expect us to work miracles in big ways because he knows miracles occur in small ways. Simply spending the time to eat a meal with someone is a way to bless him. To hold off from showing anger when someone makes a mistake is a way to bless—Peterson illustrates this blessing by recounting his own experience wrecking the family car and how his father kept his temper and trusted him with another vehicle.
I was most moved by the passages about the blessings that result from forgiveness which are deeply thoughtful and reveal the only power that can change the past:
One amazing story Peterson tells of forgiveness is about a boy whose mother was killed in the World Trade Center during the 9/11 attacks and how that boy found it in his heart to forgive Osama Bin Laden.
Peterson also reveals the power of love that lies in blessings and that God is a loving, nurturing God always there to bless us when we let Him, no matter our faults:
Peterson writes in an inspired fashion that flows beautifully from his pen and infiltrates the reader’s heart until the task of blessing feels like the most natural behavior in the world, and once we get into the habit of blessing, as I discovered after reading this book, blessing others is easy. We just have to be willing to find space in our busy lives to take a minute to bless others. Reading this book will convince you that it can be done and that it will be more than worthwhile.
— Tyler R. Tichelaar, Ph.D., and author of the award-winning “Narrow Lives”
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