Thursday, October 6, 2011

Review: Jesus Calling Devotional Bible


Thomas Nelson's immensely successful devotional Jesus Calling is now available within the full Bible text of the NKJV in the Jesus Calling Devotional BibleJesus Calling comes from the personal journals of Sarah Young, a missionary who decided to record her impressions of God's voice, journaling the voice of the Lord rather than prayers. The result was a unique and perhaps prophetic perspective on devotion. Jesus Calling presents an intimate look inside a relationship with Jesus and a discovery of his voice and character as filtered through the relationship of one person. While I am not able to read and evaluate all of the content within this volume, the nature of the project  resonates with me. One must be careful to weigh the words of the devotion more carefully, as they are written in the first person as from the Lord and as such should be tested and tried (1 Thessalonians 5:19-22). Young's project is dangerously intimate, but promises to pull the reader into discerning the voice of the Lord and finding the power of the loving, kind, good, faithful, joyous, peaceful, patient, gentle, self-controlled voice of Jesus.

SIZE

At 8 and 5/8" by 5 and 1/2" with a 2" spine the Jesus Calling Devotional Bible fits my preference for a well-weighted Bible with a thick spine. The padded hardcover is nicer than a plain hardcover and the graphics are attractive. The spine is obviously glued and the size of the book block makes me fairly sure that the spine would not hold up to constant use; however, this is a devotional Bible and most users probably won't make this a lifetime Bible. It should hold a couple years under average use. There are also leathersoft editions available which may feature a sewn binding.


LAYOUT

This Bible features a nice double column paragraph format in a nice serif font. The print is crisp and black (black letter) and features dark orange chapter numbers and section titles in a bold sans serif font. More popular and notable verses featuring God speaking are sometimes highlighted in an orange text-block and italicized orange print. The font is fair 9pt size. The paper is fairly thin and features some bleed through or ghosting, but seems strong and doesn't crinkle easily.



DEVOTIONS 


The devotional content will be the purchasing point for this Bible, and it is prevalent and poignant. Each devotional page insert features a portion of the text block, a written out prayer from an individual identified by a first name and a section of writing in the first person portraying God's voice selected from Sarah Young's writings. Some will read the content, and it will be like God speaking to them. Some will think, "that sounds just like Jesus." Some will think, "That sounds just like someone trying to sound like Jesus." Those with a critical mind but an open heart will make the most out of this devotional as they scrutinize and weigh the words in the balance of scripture and the witness of the Spirit, ready to receive and recognize the voice of the Lord. At its best, the devotional can lead someone into a dialogue with the Lord and with His Word, teaching them to recognize His voice. At its worst it could lead someone away from what the Lord is actually speaking to them. An example below:
Listening to Him
I am speaking to the depths of your being. Be still, so that you can hear My voice. I speak in the language of Love; My words fill you with Life and Peace, Joy and hope. I desire to talk with all my children, but many are too busy to listen. The "work ethic" has them tied up in knots. They submit wholeheartedly to this taskmaster, wondering why they feel so distant from Me,
Living close to Me requires making Me your First Love--your highest priority. As you seek My presence above all else, you experience Peace and Joy in full measure. I also am blessed when you make Me first in your life. While you journey through life in My presence, My Glory brightens the world around you.
See also Isaiah 50:4; Revelation 2:4; Isaiah 60:2 (From Jesus Calling by Sarah Young)




FEATURES

The Jesus Calling Devotional Bible is fairly light on features, but does include a long, gold ribbon marker, a presentation page, an introduction by Sarah Young and a very brief topical index and list of helpful scriptures. There are no maps or concordance.


Fans of Sarah Young's writing will find this Bible a suitable devotional guide, and the presence of the whole Bible text enables one to read without flipping back and forth between a book. It keeps devotional time founded in Scripture. The proximity of the devotions to the text, helps draw themes out of the text for the reader. Others may find this to be a good short-term Bible to read through in a year with the devotional content. This Bible has the potential to give people a thirst for God's voice and tune their ear to hear Him in their own lives and in the Word. The devotions draw out God's character and His love for His bride, but may be lacking depth and variation for others. This Bible definitely has the potential to lead readers into an intimacy with Christ and His Word and for that it deserves praise. Regardless of personal application it is a fascinating and inspiring look at one individual's relationship and perception of the Lord.







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