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500 of 538 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Don't judge this book by its cover
A few months ago I joined the Thomas Nelson Publishers blog book review team. What a novel idea. I signed up, agreed to write a review and publish it on my blog as well as one other commercial site. In exchange, I received the book I chose to review in the mail.

I chose "Jesus Calling," a devotional by Sarah Young.

I was drawn to the content based on...
Published on July 27, 2009 by I. McVicker

versus
1,450 of 1,644 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Jesus Speaks in This Book - But in a Very Narrow Way
"Jesus Calling" is a relatively unique devotional book in that Sarah Young has written her devotions from the point of view of Jesus Christ. Using this technique gives the book a sense of immediacy and intimacy with the Lord, and this is the great strength of the book.

Many of these short sayings that Young puts in the mouth of Jesus are things the Lord would...
Published on August 8, 2010 by Fr. Charles Erlandson


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500 of 538 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Don't judge this book by its cover, July 27, 2009
By 
I. McVicker "globalgirl" (Surrey, British Columbia Canada) - See all my reviews
A few months ago I joined the Thomas Nelson Publishers blog book review team. What a novel idea. I signed up, agreed to write a review and publish it on my blog as well as one other commercial site. In exchange, I received the book I chose to review in the mail.

I chose "Jesus Calling," a devotional by Sarah Young.

I was drawn to the content based on a few tweets from others reading the devotional. I grew up in my faith with the Oswald Chambers classic "My Utmost for His Highest." I love my online devotional time on the Jesuit site [..]--one of my favourite experiences on the web. I also love Henri Nouwen's "Bread for the Journey."

Now "Jesus Calling" is fast becoming another classic in my life. Sarah Young writes what she hears Jesus speaking to her in her spirit. She has honed her listening through years and years of writing in her journal and being attentive to what the Spirit wants to say to her.

As I have spent time in "Jesus Calling, "I have heard Jesus speaking to me many times in beautiful, fresh ways. Sometimes I hear Sarah's personal filter--she is the pen, the messenger, after all--but I also recognize this as the voice of my Shepherd.

Here are a few of my favourite calls:

* "Rest in My Presence, allowing Me to take charge of this day. Do not bolt into the day like a racehorse suddenly released. Instead, walk purposefully with Me, letting Me direct your course one step at a time."

* "You are on the right path. Listen more to Me, and less to your doubts. I am leading you along the way designed just for you."

* "You must discipline yourself to live within the boundaries of today. It is in the present moment that I walk close to you, helping you carry your burdens. Keep your focus on My Presence in the present."

I definitely recommend "Jesus Calling." My only caveat comes with the actual design. Here's what I suggest: Please don't judge this book by its cover. I was surprised when I opened the parcel I received in the mail. I was actually somewhat taken aback. My heart sank somewhat, because this book came dressed as a very dated, and forgive me for this, missionary. You get the picture. I had to force myself to pass through the visual barrier. The size and design also visually placed it in the gift book category, which surprised me. I am in my thirties and I have never bought a Christian gift book. That's just me.

As I dove into the content, however, wanting to keep up my end of the agreement, I was drawn in by the fresh writing. This book has taken me new places with Jesus. There's a lot of wisdom here, so much Beauty and great Depth.

"Jesus Calling" is worth laying down all your preconceived ideas about where you might receive and delving deeply into this revelation of Jesus.

So, while the design placed this book for me in a different audience; the content of this book crosses generations for those who want to experience Jesus in a fresh way.

If you can pierce through the visual barrier of the book jacket, the content will grab your heart, because it is Jesus speaking though one of his beloved daughters.
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1,450 of 1,644 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Jesus Speaks in This Book - But in a Very Narrow Way, August 8, 2010
By 
Fr. Charles Erlandson (Tyler, Texas United States) - See all my reviews
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"Jesus Calling" is a relatively unique devotional book in that Sarah Young has written her devotions from the point of view of Jesus Christ. Using this technique gives the book a sense of immediacy and intimacy with the Lord, and this is the great strength of the book.

Many of these short sayings that Young puts in the mouth of Jesus are things the Lord would say and has said to me during a life of listening to Him, reading the Scriptures, and keeping a journal. How often have I heard Him remind me to worship Him alone, to trust in Him at all times, and that He is always with me. To hear these words as if they are Jesus' own can be beneficial to the soul.

However, there are 4 reasons I can give "Jesus Calling" only 3 stars and not 4 or 5 stars, (even though I'm vastly outnumbered in the reviews on Amazon).

1. Young has Jesus say only a limited range of things compared to what God actually teaches in the entirety of the Bible. I love to hear Jesus say things like, "Relax; Trust Me; Listen to Me; I am with you; I am calling you; and Wait for Me." But this seems to be all that Young's Jesus ever says. Where are the specific commandments of Jesus, and not just "affirmations"? Where does this Jesus ever talk about the practical ways we should love our neighbor, and not just love God? And why is it always a solitary call to be alone with Him, when we're called to be the Church?

2. "Jesus Calling" shows Young's bias and doesn't have Jesus say the hard things He must often say. Where are His reminders and commandments to seek forgiveness and to forgive, to love regardless of the cost, etc? This Jesus doesn't seem ask us to do anything difficult or to sacrifice very much. It's all "You are on the right path." Where are the times when Jesus has to chastise, correct, and discipline us? Where are the times when He says things like, "Repent!" or "You're being too selfish and must take up your cross for Me today."?

3. "Jesus Calling" doesn't give any hint that sometimes God may withdraw His sweet fruit from our lives so we will depend only on Him, and not on His gifts. The saints have often experienced the "dark night of the soul" when we can't always feel God's blessed Presence? What then? Young's devotional doesn't account for this.

4. The devotionals are not directly scriptural. Thankfully, these devotionals aren't heretical or unsound: they're just incomplete. It's true that there are some Scripture references tacked on at the end of each devotional, but I don't sense that the whole counsel of God comes through in these devotionals. I like what God has told Young, but sometimes it's all too easy to interpret your own voice as being that of the Lord's. Occasionally, the words presented as Jesus' are jarring and don't sound like Jesus, such as: "This is a paradigm shift that will revolutionize your life" (devotional for March 22).

"Jesus Calling" has undoubtedly blessed many lives and will continue to do so. However, it gives a narrow view of the entirety of what Jesus Christ has to say to us.
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65 of 74 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Very Well Done and Inspiring Book, September 6, 2011
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This review is from: Jesus Calling: A 365 Day Journaling Devotional (Hardcover)
What a neat book. You have a page for every day of the week for a full year. On each page is a devotional that is written from Jesus' point of view, so that the I, Me or Mine refer to Christ, and the "you" refers to you the reader. Therefore, the perspective of the devotionals make it seem like Jesus is speaking to you.

Following each devotional are Scripture references, and after that you'll find about 10 blank lines for you to journal in. I suggest reading them in a quiet place, so you can reflect on the devotionals more effectively - and then jot down any thoughts that come to mind.

All-in-all, I found it to be a good layout, and I really liked the fact (with my busy schedule) that the devotionals were short and easy to finish. Just a great tool to help you search for a deeper experience of Jesus' presence. Can also recommend The Prayer Project: How Each One of Us Can Make The World a Better Place to Live - In a Few Minutes a Day.
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121 of 142 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Seeking peace...., February 14, 2010
By 
Cheryl (Atlanta, GA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Jesus Calling: A 365 Day Journaling Devotional (Hardcover)
This book, written as if God were speaking, gives you a new perspective on God's desire for you to find contentment and peace. Sarah Young finds the perfect scriptural references for each devotion. Reading this devotion daily will bring you a new kind of peace, rooted in the word of God.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply Great. Please get this book. There aren't any words to describe how great this book is., May 6, 2006
By 
TechHead (Los Angeles, CA) - See all my reviews
I had to stop reading ahead because the first time i started reading it I was so touched. It really feels like God is talking to you in modern times. Sarah Young is truly gifted and this book has literally saved my life. Keep it goin. We need more devotional books like this.
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320 of 393 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Not Recommended, January 3, 2013
By 
I had no knowledge of either the book or the author when I began reading Sarah Young's Jesus Calling (having been asked by some of the readers of this site to do so). I had seen the book as a fixture on the Christian bestselling lists, but had never taken a look at it. The first thing I learned is that it has over 450 reviews on Amazon where it is holding down a 5-star average, something that is no small accomplishment. I downloaded it to my Kindle and began to read.

Sarah Young is the wife of a third-generation missionary to Japan who has earned post-graduate degrees from Covenant Theological Seminary in St. Louis, a Presbyterian seminary. Her book is a devotional, a year's worth of short reflections on the Christian faith. But it has one major, all-important twist.

I will review the book under 2 headings: What She Says About What She Says and then What She Says. In other words, the first part will discuss the foundation of what she says and the second part will look at the actual content of the devotionals.

What She Says About What She Says
This is a book about experiencing the Presence of God (Presence is always capitalized in the book). It is about growing closer in relationship to the Lord, something every Christian craves. Young uses Presence to describe a very tangible feeling of God's presence. Here is some background, the first time she encountered this Presence:

One night I found myself leaving the warmth of our cozy chalet to walk alone in the snowy mountains. I went into a deeply wooded area, feeling vulnerable and awed by cold, moonlit beauty. The air was crisp and dry, piercing to inhale. Suddenly I felt as if a warm mist enveloped me. I became aware of a lovely Presence, and my involuntary response was to whisper, `Sweet Jesus.' This utterance was totally uncharacteristic of me, and I was shocked to hear myself speaking so tenderly to Jesus. As I pondered this brief communication, I realized it was the response of a converted heart; at that moment I knew I belonged to Him. This was far more than the intellectual answers for which I'd been searching. This was a relationship with the Creator of the universe.

Influenced by authors such as Catherine Marshall and Andrew Murray, Young continued to pursue this Presence of God, seeking to learn how to continually feel or sense God's presence. She grew in her love for God and grew in her desire to spend time with him, speaking to him in prayer and hearing from him through the Word. It was in 1992 that she received a copy of God Calling, "a devotional book written by two anonymous `listeners.' These women practiced waiting quietly in God's Presence, pencils and paper in hand, recording the messages they received from Him. The messages are written in the first person, with `I' designating God." This book became a treasure and a textbook.

Young continues,

The following year, I began to wonder if I, too, could receive messages during my times of communing with God. I had been writing in prayer journals for years, but that was one-way communication: I did all the talking. I knew that God communicated with me through the Bible, but I yearned for more. Increasingly, I wanted to hear what God had to say to me personally on a given day. I decided to listen to God with pen in hand, writing down whatever I believe He was saying. I felt awkward the first time I tried this, but I received a message. It was short, biblical, and appropriate. It addressed topics that were current in my life: trust, fear, and closeness to God. I responded by writing in my prayer journal.

You will not be surprised to learn that the content of this book, each of the devotionals, is a message Young has received from the Lord--a message meant to provide a deeper experience of Jesus' Presence and Peace. "This practice of listening to God has increased my intimacy with Him more than any other spiritual discipline, so I want to share some of the messages I have received. In many parts of the world, Christians seem to be searching for a deeper experience of Jesus' Presence and Peace. The messages that follow address that felt need."

We cannot miss this. As I have spoken to others about the book, I've heard some people say that this book is written as if Jesus is speaking to the reader. But it's important to know that Young makes a far more audacious claim--this is Jesus speaking, through her. The messages he has given her, she now passes on to us.

This is a very good time to pause and consider this claim. Sarah is claiming some kind of new revelation from God. She is saying that God speaks to her and that she then passes these messages to others. Immediately we need to ask what she believes about the Bible. Is she claiming that these messages are equal to Scripture? That they trump Scripture?

She makes no such claim; not directly, anyway. At one point she says, "I knew these writings were not inspired as Scripture is, but they were helping me grow closer to God." Later she says "The Bible is, of course, the only inerrant [without error] Word of God; my writings must be consistent with that unchanging standard." But this is all she says. While she clarifies that her writings must be subservient to the Bible, she does not actually tell us what they are or how we are to regard them. Are they authoritative? Are they in any way binding on her or on us? If they are not inspired and not inerrant, what exactly are they? There are no answers forthcoming because immediately Young begins to share those words of God as daily devotionals, saying "I have continued to receive personal messages from God as I meditate on Him. The more difficult my life circumstances, the more I need these encouraging directives from my Creator."

James Montgomery Boice once said that the real battle in our times would not be the inerrancy or infallibility of Scripture, but its sufficiency--are we going to rely on the Bible or will we continually long for other revelation? In Jesus Calling we see this so clearly. Young teaches that though the Bible is inerrant and infallible, it is insufficient. It was not enough for her and, implicitly, she teaches that it cannot be enough for us. After all, it was not reading Scripture that proved her most important spiritual discipline, but this listening, this receiving of messages from the Lord. It is not Scripture she brings to us, not primarily anyway, but these messages from Jesus.

On this basis alone this book is very suspect and needs to be treated with the utmost care. Young offers us words that she insists come straight from the Lord. But she gives no proof that we should expect the Lord to speak to us this way; all she offers is her own experience of it. At this point we are left with a few options. We can stop reading altogether, we can continue to read while rejecting her claims that these are words from the Lord, or we can read and take her at her word. Personally, unless reviewing the book, I would abandon it immediately. If she claims to be speaking Jesus' words, I am no longer interested. However, for the sake of reviewing it, I continued to read.

What She Says
Young offers a years' worth of devotionals, all of which are written in the first person, as messages from Jesus. Each of them is followed with a few Scripture passages. Here is the first half of the devotional for January 8:

Softly I announce my Presence. Shimmering hues of radiance tap gently at your consciousness, seeking entrance. Though I have all Power in heaven and on earth, I am infinitely tender with you. The weaker you are, the more gently I approach you. Let your weakness be a door to My Presence. Whenever you feel inadequate, remember that I am your ever-present Help.

It is interesting that the majority of the devotionals are affirmations rather than commandments which means that the book tends to be more descriptive than prescriptive. It is less about Jesus telling how we are to live, but more about who he is, who we are, and how to enjoy his Presence. It is notable that these affirmations span only a very narrow range of the Christian experience. It is equally notable that many of Jesus' words sound very little like what he says in the Bible. For example, "Let the Light of My Presence soak into you, as you focus your thoughts on Me." And shortly after, "Learn to hide in the secret of My Presence, even as you carry out your duties in the world." I do not even know what that means or how it might be applied. There is no clear command there for me to obey and no clear word about who Jesus is.

Conclusion
Jesus Calling is, in its own way, a very dangerous book. Though the theology is largely sound enough, my great concern is that it teaches that hearing words directly from Jesus and then sharing these words with others is the normal Christian experience. In fact, it elevates this experience over all others. And this is a dangerous precedent to set. I see no reason that I would ever recommend this book.
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241 of 296 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Not Recommended, January 9, 2011
There are several problems with this book. Here are just four:

-The obvious one is that the book puts words in God's mouth.

-The author seems to depend on mystic experiences she's had for her belief in God. Also, she wants something more than God's Word in the Bible. It has a New Age feel to it.

-It's a feel good book. It avoids the real problem of personal sin. It's all about God filling the personal needs that you feel. It's very self-centered.

-Dependence on experiences will lead to frustration and confusion in the Christian life because we need to have more and more experiences to be satisfied.

In a nutshell, the book is misleading and is self-centered, rather than what Christianity teaches- to realize our sinfulness and look to Christ, and to serve God and others as a response to our salvation.

I do not recommend this book.
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267 of 329 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Sarah Young's "Jesus Calling", May 26, 2009
I initially gave Sarah Young's "Jesus Calling" a great review, mostly because I had never encountered a devotional that had Jesus speak directly to the reader. At first, this concept was intriguing to me. As a born again Christian, however, I have become increasingly convicted when I pick up this book. Why? Because the words written on each page are not Jesus' words, but are portrayed that way. Even though the author *may* have felt Jesus saying these things to *her*, how are we to know for sure? The only words that I trust as Jesus spoken words are directly from the Bible. I don't feel comfortable reading this book anymore. It feels like heresy. I feel the same way about the final "Left Behind" books that write in dialogue from Jesus. I don't think anyone should put words into our Savior's mouth. As a Christian, be wary of trusting any words attributed to Christ that aren't in the Bible.
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43 of 50 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing, February 15, 2010
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This review is from: Jesus Calling: A 365 Day Journaling Devotional (Hardcover)
I have really enjoyed this book! Make sure you read the introduction. It really helps you appreciate the contents even more. Every day that I read an entry I continue to be amazed at how applicable it is to me that day. I am grateful to God for using Sarah Young in this way.
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145 of 178 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Is Deception Calling? My Thoughts about Jesus Calling, July 6, 2012
A couple months ago I was given this devotional book: Jesus Calling, and although I never read devotionals I began to examine the book. What I found shocked me. The author, Sarah Young, claims to have received revelations from Jesus through dialogue journaling (something she learned from two "listeners" who wrote another book called God Calling. I'll get to that in a minute). Her book is even written as if Jesus is speaking those messages directly to the reader, which I personally think borders (or crosses into) blasphemy.

Alarm bells began to clang in my head.

Young writes that a year after reading that book, God Calling, "I began to wonder if I, too, could receive messages during my times of communing with God. I had been writing in prayer journals for years, but that was one-way communication: I did all the talking. I knew that God communicated with me through the Bible, but I yearned for more..."

The first question that I think needs to be asked. Is it Biblically appropriate to desire more revelation from God?

2 Timothy 3: 13-17 gives a warning about false teaching as well as an admonition to hold to the scriptures which were given to us by God: "But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived. But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works."

If we can be "thoroughly furnished unto all good works," then the scriptures are sufficient for our relationship with Christ. We should study them diligently and be transformed by "the renewing of our minds." We should certainly yearn for more understanding of the scriptures, and more transformation of our hearts and lives, but I see no biblical admonitions to yearn for more than the Bible.

Additionally, Acts 20:20 states: "You know that I have not hesitated to preach anything that would be helpful to you but have taught you publicly and from house to house."

The reformers called relying on scriptures solely as the authority for the Christian faith (and sufficient for the faith) the principle of Sola Scriptura. Equip.org offers a very full and rich explanation of Sola Scriptura (I recommend you read it!), but for the sake of brevity they define sufficiency of scripture as "all that is necessary for faith and practice." It was one of the key principles of protestantism.

It is obvious Young does not hold to that doctrine. Rather she seeks and accepts experiential, subjective and by the sound of it, mystical, personal revelation.

It is my view that abandonment of the sufficiency of the Bible opens us up to all kinds of deception (self-deception as well as demonic deception). The Bible even warns us that our hearts are "deceitful" in the book of Jeremiah. The Bible proclaims itself to be authoritative, whereas experiences are entirely subjective. If extra-biblical revelation is acceptable then how can it be verified?

Occult-like Practices

Young claims in her book that her one-way journaling became "dialogue" (two-way conversation) with Jesus. Yet, she admits that her journaling was "not inspired as Scripture is," but still she writes each daily devotional as if Jesus was speaking those words Young heard. This is completely illogical. If Jesus was in fact speaking to Young, then his words would have to be authoritative because Jesus is God. There is no way for him not to be authoritative.

In another of her books she writes, "My first devotional book, Jesus Calling grew out of writings gleaned from my times of focused concentration of Jesus: waiting in His Presence, listening in my mind for His communications. As I listened and wrote, I continually asked for the Holy Spirit's help ... I wrote Dear Jesus in the same listening-to-God mode that I used with Jesus Calling. I've continued to write with the help of Christs's Spirit, who guides my thinking while I listen in His Presence. I believe the Bible is the only infallible Word of God. My writings are based on that absolute standard, and I try to ensure they are consistent with Scripture."

This is a root problem of personal revelation -- you cannot know for certain that the internal voice you are hearing is God, yourself or from the devil. So she purports to write what Jesus told her, but she had to vet those words to "ensure they are consistent with Scripture." I have a better idea. Study the actual words of God that have already been given to us. I'm sure there is plenty more in the Bible to challenge, convict, teach and change each and every believer for the rest of their life on earth even without whispers in your mind.

In my view, waiting and listening for the voice of God is a recipe for deception.
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Jesus Calling: A 365 Day Journaling Devotional
Jesus Calling: A 365 Day Journaling Devotional by Sarah Young (Hardcover - March 2, 2010)
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