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.
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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.Read more ›