I’m a church girl. I toddled into church services and colored with crayons during sermons as a tiny tot. I watched the Top 40 Bible stories play themselves out on felt boards as a child and was fired up at youth conferences by radical, on-fire speakers. Now, I tote my own daughters to church every Sunday to sit in Sunday School class, and through sermons, and in worship.
Here’s the thing–one of the consequences of hearing the same basic Bible stories over and over for three decades or more is that you begin to need depth and freshness to remind you just how incredible, life-revolutionary, and powerful Jesus’ own words and deeds really were and still are.
I was hoping that Nettelhorst’s year-long devotional, A Year WIth Jesus: Daily Readings and Reflections on Jesus’ Own Words, would do this for me. The concept is simple—read a brief passage of Christ’s teaching and then a short and to-the-point meditation on that Scripture. To shake things up a bit more, the author has organized the Biblical text by themes, such as Love and Hate, Truth and Lies, Friends and Enemies . . .
All in all, it was okay. Not fresh and inspiring, challenging or thought-provoking, but okay. For pastors and teachers, the thematic structure of the book could be a great teaching and lesson preparation tool, but for personal study, I would prefer to follow the context and timeline of the Gospels themselves rather than hop and skip through the Scripture looking for matching themes.
The devotional thoughts were solid, decent, and informative, but generally basic and foundational. Some of his historical and cultural input on the Biblical events was enlightening.
I also picked up Eugene Peterson’s book this year, A Year With Jesus. Structured more chronologically through the text and with perhaps half of the word-count for each day’s devotional, Peterson managed to add a freshness and depth to the Gospels I’ve rarely encountered. Nettelhorst’s effort was decent, okay, reasonable, generally good, but Peterson’s was extraordinary and has made a more consistent and definitive impact on my Spiritual walk.
I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.