Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Skipping Christmas

It's that time of year again when people start to go a little crazy...ok, a lot crazy. The insane traffic, over-stuffed store aisles, and disco-flashing strings of lights used to start after Thanksgiving. Now? Several of our stores have been sporting fully decorated Christmas trees for over a month.

But if you can imagine fast forwarding..."skipping" all that Thanksgiving and Christmas entails, it will be January 1 next, the time of new beginnings. In the past, I have found it helpful to use a 365 day devotional book, something short, simple, and with dates to keep me on track.

Nothing could be more welcome than Robert Morgan's new devotional book, On This Day in Christian History: 365 Amazing and Inspiring Stories about Saints, Martyrs, and Heroes.

As Morgan says in his Preface, "Contemporary Christianity is interested in recent trends, current challenges, and modern methods. So am I. But nothing braces me to face these days like visiting the cloud of witnesses that comprise church history."

In Morgan's view, "with no heritage from the past, there is no legacy for the future"--quite a compelling argument for learning a bit more about our predecessors in the faith.

To that end, Morgan provides 365 page-long stories about many greater-known and lesser-known Christians from the infamous preacher Charles Spurgeon to America's first foreign missionary Adoniram Judson. The really neat thing is that each story is "told on the date it occurred" in history. As one would expect, accompanying each short reading is a Scripture for meditation.

When I first received the book, I anticipated reading morbid tale after tale of horrific acts of martyrdom. While the book rightly includes many such stories, I found it to have a good mixture of martyr stories vs. tales of the average Christian who sells out his/her life for Christ.

If you're looking for a devotional for 2011 and want to be encouraged by the stories of those who have gone before you, this book is for you. But beware: instead of merely getting a daily dose of history, these true stories may just move your heart to be more radical in your commitment and dedication to Christ.

**I receive no payment for my review. Thomas Nelson merely provides me with a complementary copy of the book.

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