Jesus Calling

Several months ago someone asked what I thought of Sarah Young’s Jesus Calling. “I don’t know; I haven’t read it.”  All I knew about it was that my wife was reading it.

jesus callingTo get up to speed, I first read the critique by Tim Challies which my questioner had mentioned.  Then I read Ms. Young’s introduction to her book, followed by the first 2 months of entries (there’s one for each day of the year).  It seemed very orthodox.  I do wish it was a little more balanced: adding some focus on God and His glory to the preoccupation with the reader’s anxieties, insecurities, and fears.  But that’s just quibbling.

On the other hand, I found Ms. Young’s own introduction to her book disturbing on two points.  First, she seems to dance frighteningly close to adding words to the Bible, offering “new revelation” which God prohibits in Rev. 22:18.  She claims the words in the book are verbatim what Jesus said to her.  That would be “automatic writing” which has been practiced for over a hundred years by a smorgasbord of metaphysical and new age folks–always roundly condemned as an occult practice by Christians of every stripe (I’ve been told there was even some of this in dark corners of the early Evangelical Free Church movement).

I believe God still gives Christians prophecies, words of knowledge, and words of wisdom–that the Holy Spirit can give Jesus’ followers specific words for specific situations.  But this is different; and quite unlike any examples of New Testament prophecy (Old Testment prophecy was Scripture).  Whereas Ms. Young commonly focuses on comfort, the surprisingly few words of NT prophecy display a more robust purpose.  In fact, the two specific prophecies made by Agabus both contained bad news: “A famine’s coming!”, and “Paul will end up in Roman hands”.  While without doubt God cares about our anxieties, a book mostly saying “Relax, everything’s gonna be OK” leaves me less than confident that these are Jesus very words.

Secondly,when the author apparently recounts her conversion on France’s Alpine slopes near L’Abri, she writes that what seemed to be a “warm mist” enveloped her, and that she became aware of a “Lovely Presence”.  Her involuntary response was to whisper “Sweet Jesus”.  She says, “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.”

Perhaps she simply chose not to include that she repented of sin and turned to Christ in faith (the gospel Paul preached, Acts 20:21), but what she did choose to include leaves a reader wondering about her gospel engine.  It comes off eerily like the “Jesus is my boyfriend” mentality that is thankfully waning but still surfaces in some worship songs, books, and devotional writings (see Catholic writer Leon Podles’ critique, The Church Impotent: the Feminization of Christianity).

Is Jesus Calling a good book to read?  Depends.  No, if you read it as Jesus’ very words; that’s the exclusive domain of the Bible.  Yes, if you take it as a believer’s reflections of her Lord’s love and mercy.

Thinking beyond this book for the moment, from every direction Christians are today offered aids for their faith.  Some are good, some are bad, some are better than others, but most fall on a continuum between bad and good.  Weigh every resource by the Scriptures, the leading of the Holy Spirit, and every ounce of wisdom of your sanctified mind.  It will not do to blithely gulp down everything that appears under the name of a blogger we admire, or is endorsed by our favorite preacher, or published by our favorite authors, or even recommended by a friend.  When an army seeks to infiltrate the enemy’s ranks, the weapons employed are not just guns and firepower, but camouflage, disguise, imitation, trust, seduction, and sleight of hand.  We will be safer if we expect these things of our enemy (2 Cor.11:13-15).

No Reserve, No Retreat, No Regrets


Heir to the Borden Dairy fortune, William Borden was born with a silver spoon in his mouth.  In 1904 his high school graduation gift from his parents was a trip around the world.  They had no idea that in his travels God would infect his heart for the people of the world.   Got 3 minutes to watch?

Warning: “The Exodus Tour” that we’re leading to Egypt, Jordan, and Israel next March, is actually a mission trip r_seaman@hotmail.comcleverly disguised as an inspirational Holy Land tour.  You too could return with an infection, showing symptoms like increased loving, praying, sharing, giving–or who knows: maybe even going!  You’ve been warned.

prayers at wailing wallbeggar woman

With God in the North Atlantic

Today is my son’s birthday.  Happy birthday Cameron!

Today is the day when Uncle Sam receives his due.  Filed yet?

Today is the day an iceberg sent the unsinkable Titanic to the bottom of the sea 101 years ago.  Men first placed the women and children in the too few lifeboats.  85 engineers worked feverishly to keep the ship afloat as long as possible.  The band played ragtime to keep spirits up, but soon switched to hymns.  Those without a seat on the lifeboats knelt on the deck in prayer as the waters rose around them.

One passenger was a Baptist pastor on his way to the States to become pastor of Chicago’s famous Moody Church.  John Harper was traveling with his 6 year-old daughter.  Once he saw her safely in a lifeboat, he roamed the doomed liner, urging people to turn to Christ.  When he was finally forced into the frigid ocean, he held on to a piece of wreckage and swam to others floating around him.  Always, he’d speak about Jesus.

“Are you saved?” he asked one man.  “No,” the man replied.  “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved,” Harper urged.  He continued pleading with others until the icy water pulled him under.  One of those who hear his plea, did turn to Christ in faith and later told an Ontario church, “I am the last convert of John Harper.”

1517 people died in the tragedy.  But thanks to John’s faithful witness, perhaps a few turned from death to life to enter God’s glory that night.  Thanks for leaving a faithful example, John.

Let’s keep praying for each of us to tell someone about Jesus this year.  500 red roses in 2013.

Saber Rattling

It’s become a North Korean habit: each year after a cold hibernation, whichever juche leader happens to be currently starving his people to death, talks of war–threatening either South Korea, the US, or both.  Analysts claim it’s an annual attempt to get food aid and other concessions from the world community it so doggedly refuses to join.

This year’s inaugural saber rattling by Kim Jong Un has a decidedly different flavor.  North Korean missiles are on the move, the hotline with South Korea has been silenced, the strongman’s been photographed with a map of US targets, and DPRK generals have reportedly been given the green light to wage nuclear war.  The fact that the Pentagon has deployed extra planes, ships and missile defenses to that part of the world says that those closest to the incoming intelligence think there’s cause for concern.

…you will hear of wars and rumors of wars.  See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet (Matt.24:6).  I hear Jesus reassuring us that all incoming geopolitical activities must pass through His hands and plans, and that such things are but the “birth pangs” of the end (Matt.24:8).  In fact, the greatest world event has still to be completed before the end will come: …this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world… (Matt.24:14), FIRST.

Don’t fear; but this would be a great time to gather our children and pray for the 24 million people of the “Hermit Kingdom”; a place rated by everyone as the most dangerous place in the world to be a Christian.  Despite that, Open Doors estimates there are 200,000-400,000 Christians in the land, all worshiping underground or in prison camps.  A believer inside North Korea observing the frantic preparations for war says, “No matter how difficult life is for us, we never blame or complain about our circumstances. God has promised us in the Bible that if we seek His Kingdom first, all other things will be given to us as well. Please pray for us.”

We will.