Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Jesus Calling: Enjoying Peace in His Presence 365 Day Devotional by Sarah Young

Picking a devotion book is difficult; there are so many to choose from. Devotionals are available to a wide range of audiences and yet cater to specific people. The unique angle of Sarah Young’s book, Jesus Calling: Enjoying Peace in His Presence, is that it is written from the perspective of Jesus. Each day’s paragraph is like a direct word from Jesus to encourage the reader to experience His presence in his/her life.

The format is conducive to the author’s goal of leading people to a closer and real experience with Christ. Each paragraph spoken by Jesus to the reader is followed with a few scripture references that serve as a foundation for the day’s lesson. The reading is designed to take but a moment of the reader’s devotional time, leaving the majority of his/her quiet time to practicing the bit of truth for the day.

This approach makes the book appealing yet takes some getting used to. I was not sure I liked the idea of Young speaking on behalf of Jesus in an attempt to teach me how to dwell and live in His presence. As the reader works through the daily readings it becomes more natural besides, Young is not proclaiming to have received divine intervention while writing these devotions.

For a fresh approach to daily devotionals try Jesus Calling by Sarah Young.

I received a complimentary copy of Jesus Calling: Enjoying Peace in His Presence from Thomas Nelson Publishers as a participant in their book review blogger program.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Storylines: Your Map to Understanding the Bible by Andy Croft & Mike Pilavachi

Storylines is exactly what it says it is—a map to understanding the Bible. I realize that seems obvious since that is the title of the book but, often the title and content do not match up as seamlessly as they do in this non-fiction title. Croft and Pilavachi make it clear as to what to expect out of their book and that is, in fact, what the reader gets from the text.
The intended audience for Storylines is teens and young adults and the authors present the material in a fresh, modern style that attracts this target audience. Writing in an informal manner draws the reader in and the current aspect of the writing makes the book relevant.
Reading the Bible can be overwhelming and discouraging for young people. The Bible is very long and can be difficult to apply to life. Storylines is the perfect resource for understanding how the Bible fits together as a whole while enjoying the various stories within the whole. Even for those who have read the Bible completely, Croft and Pilavachi provide insight that will expand any reader’s previous perceptions of the Bible.

Two of the best sections in Storylines are the appendixes. Appendix A, The Bible in 20 Pages, is an excellent, and much needed, addition to the book and could not be any better done. I was pleased with how well this section was written. Everything you would expect in such a summary was included and appropriately mentioned. The author recommendation to read this appendix prior to beginning the book was most beneficial and fitting.

Appendix B, The What, Why and How of the Bible, was a suitable conclusion for Storylines. Croft and Pilavachi leave the reader with practical methods for reading and studying the Bible. They complete the task and leave the reader satisfied. Readers are presented with an overview of the Bible, they learn how the Bible fits together as one story and then finish with straight forward techniques to make Bible reading enjoyable and meaningful.

I recommend Storylines and can say, without hesitation, it is the best non-fiction book I have read this year. Storylines is a good tool for young Christians, both young in age and young in their faith journey. Pastors, teachers and youth leaders would also find this book useful as they attempt to engage young Christians in Bible study. Reading how all parts of the Bible connect to each other and point us to Christ is something every person can gain from.

I received a complimentary copy of Storylines: Your Map to Understanding the Bible from The B & B Media Group, Inc. in exchange for a written review.