Sarah Young is quietly leading thousands of women worldwide on a journey of intimacy with Christ. Sarah has a philosophy degree from Wellesley College, a counseling degree from Georgia State University, a Master's degree from Tufts University, and studied with Francis Schaeffer's L'Abri Fellowship. Sarah and her husband have traveled around the world planting churches and counseling, and they currently reside in Australia.
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.Read more ›
"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.Read more ›
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.
If Sarah Young, the author of the words attributed to Jesus, had only used "He" instead of "I" in her book, about half of my objection to it would be gone. However, in publishing these as messages she received from "listening to God," she has left us in a quandary.
Although in the Introduction she acknowledges that she "knew that these writings were not inspired as Scripture is" and a few pages later she says "The Bible is, of course, the only inerrant [without error] Word of God," then why are the messages she received from Jesus put in the first person? If it is not truly Jesus speaking, she could have said "Jesus wants you to come to him and have rest in him." But when she says "Keep your `antennae' out to pick up even the faintest glimmer of My Presence," and those words are attributed directly to Jesus (and they don't sound like anything else he has ever said), then they have to be received on the same level as Scripture, or she has put her own thoughts into the mouth Jesus.
Ms. Young says in the introduction "I knew that God communicated with me through the Bible, but I yearned for more. I wanted to hear what God had to say to me personally on a given day." In the article by Alan Miller on CNN's Belief Blog entitled "I'm-Spiritual-Not-Religious" he says "[This] attitude fits with the message we are receiving more and more that "feeling" something somehow is more pure and perhaps, more `true' than having to fit in with the doctrine, practices, rules and observations of a formal institution that are handed down to us."
The great Bible teacher James Montgomery Boice, late pastor of Tenth Presbyterian Church and author of many books about the Bible, wrote that the great issue of our day would not be the authority of the Bible, but its sufficiency.Read more ›