There’s one thing that really bothers me about the blogosphere. It is obsessed with the new. We want the latest news, the most innovative commentary, and the most recent reactions to whatever the next new controversy is.
We can even get that way with reading Christian books. I love getting bright, shiny new copies hot off the press. And as an author, I want people to get excited at my own new releases. There’s nothing necessarily wrong with reading the new. But new isn’t always best.
The funny thing is that the evangelical Christian subculture can also be a little slow on the uptake. There’s a small percentage of books that get so widely read that you find both your grandma and the mom in the minivan pick-up line at school recommending them to you. This process can take a while. But all too often, these “Christian” bestsellers are doctrinally damaging.
And so, even now I find myself needing to be prepared to give an answer when someone tells me about this great, new book they read, Jesus Calling. (I’m not reviewing Jesus Calling here, but here are some good reviews by Todd Pruitt, Michael Horton, Kathy Keller, and Tim Challies if you are interested.) This book was published in 2004, but now there now are countless off-shoots, just like with The Power of the Purpose-Driven, Yes You Can Bet Your Best Life Heaven is For Real friends that enjoy the same fame.
As I was thinking about an upcoming MoS podcast that we are going to do on this subject, I was thinking of the importance of being able to recommend another book that may appeal to someone who enjoyed Jesus Calling. Coincidentally, ahem, I mean providentially, I received a message from a pastor asking me if I had any devotional books that I could recommend in place of Sarah Young’s book. He mentioned that he didn’t like condemning a book without providing a suggestion for something else. This was indeed fresh on my mind, but I had sort of an old, new rendition of an even older book to suggest.
I think that one reason people are attracted to Jesus Calling is that they want to learn more about communion with God. That is a good thing! The Puritan Paperbacks series by The Banner of Truth Trust has a great abridged version by R.J.K. Law of John Owen’s Communion with God. It is laid out very nicely, and its short chapters are conducive for use as a daily devotional. There is great teaching on the person and work of Christ in this book. Here is an excerpt that I found a great source of meditation:
The mutual love of God and the saints are similar also in that their communion of love is in Christ and through Christ. The Father communicates all his love to us through Christ and we pour out our love to the Father only through Christ. Christ is the treasury in which the Father places all the riches of his grace taken from the bottomless mine of his eternal love. Christ is the priest into whose hand we put all the offerings that we wish to give to the Father. So God’s first and chief love is his Son, not only as the eternal Son who was the delight of his soul before the foundation of the world, but also as the Son is our Mediator and the means by which the Father’s love is conveyed to us (Matt. 3:17; John 3:35; 5:20; 10:17; 15:9; 17:24). In Scripture we are said to have access to God and to believe in God only through Christ.
The Father loves us and ‘chose us before the foundation of the world’. And that love of the Father led him to ‘bless us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ’ (Eph. 1:3,4). From his love, the Father sheds or pours out the Holy Spirit richly upon us through Jesus Christ our Savior (Titus 3:6). In the pouring out of his love, there is not one drop falls on us except through Christ… (20)
Although I love to read new reflections and applications about God’s love for us in Jesus Christ, I also treasure the old. And I think this not-so-new version of an old classic is a wonderful daily reading on communion with God.