Top critical review
A simple-reading devotional for Christians with simple needs
on January 14, 2010
QUICK SUMMARY: Growing with Purpose is a fine devotional book for the type of devotional book that it is. If you want a book that dispenses with calendar entries, can be read in under a minute, and are not a recent convert to Christianity, you may enjoy these daily reflections. If you want a greater challenge in your life than a one-minute reflection, look elsewhere.
I like this book because it sits on my desk at work, and when I have just a moment to spare, I can touch bases spiritually with God by reading a one-page devotional reading. I'm writing this review on the strength of a week's reading or so -- in other words, I've not finished reading the entire book -- so what I'm sharing is based on a fairly scant interaction with the author's writing. Although the readings take only a minute, they do give me fodder for thought when I take a break to stroll around the lake in front of my place of employment.
I think this devotional is best suited for a Christian who is NOT a recent convert to Christianity. I say that because the devotional readings are too short to give much context, and so the author presupposes a certain amount of Biblical knowledge. For instance, the 6th devotional opens with "Joseph's life was anything but peaceful. He was sold into slavery by jealous brothers and thrown into prison on false charges." Joseph who? Most Christians, of course, will know the author is refering to Joseph of the Old Testament. A new convert may not know this.
How could this devotional be stronger? If you're reading a one-page devotional, the discussion focus must be laser sharp. You should come away with one, very specific, very targeted thought or activity on which to dwell or pursue. Here, I think the material feels too broad to be of great use. For instance, the 4th devotional encourages "Wow" thinking: "Wow! The God who spoke the world into existence also spoke me into existence. Wow! The God of creation shaped me as a masterpiece... Wow! The God who placed the moon, stars and the sun in the sky also placed his Holy Spirt within me!" And so it goes. I would have rather been given one, very specific "Wow!" -- perhaps some astounding, little known fact about our universe or human body -- and let me dwell specifically on that Wow! and the God behind that Wow!. To say, in effect, "Wow! There's a universe and God created it" doesn't make for an awe-inspiring devotion.
So who will benefit from this book? Most any Christian who doesn't already spend time reading the Bible on a daily basis, nor does any other reading of a spiritual nature. If you're doing nothing and you want to start somewhere, this book might be of some help. If you're a mature believer, I'd suggest looking for something else that matches your level of maturity.
A final observation: In skimming through this book, the bulk of the devotionals focus on God (the Father). For Christians, it's the person of Jesus Christ that is the central figure in all of the universe. I would have preferred the devotional readings to focus much more on the uniqueness and person of Jesus Christ, rather than to speak simply about God. Talk about God, and not a lot of people's feathers will ruffle. Talk about Jesus Christ, and instantly you'll have people bristle because of the unique, hard-to-accept, claims of Christ -- claims that make pure Christianity unlike any other religion in the world.