Sunday, November 21, 2010

‘The One Year Book of Encouragement: 365 Days of Inspiration and Wisdom for Your Spiritual Journey’ by Harold Myra – Book Review

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For most of us in these United States (and, indeed, for much of the world), we have felt the effects of the economic downturn for the past several years. To endure, what we need more than money is encouragement. Tyndale House has a book entitled ‘The One Year Book of Encouragement: 365 Days of Inspiration and Wisdom for Your Spiritual Journey,’ which provides encouragement in droves.

Here is the synopsis of this energizing and uplifting book:

Invigorate your prayer life. Renew your strength. What do John Wesley, Jill Briscoe, Brother Lawrence, Luci Shaw, Oswald Chambers, Billy Graham, Mother Theresa, Martin Luther, and Philip Yancey have in common? Amazing spiritual insights.
In The One Year Book of Encouragement, Harold Myra identifies seeds of wisdom from these – and other – favorite spiritual guides, from which he develops daily messages of hope and inspiration – messages to give us strength and encouragement in tough times.
In joy or heartbreak, in times of gratitude or when we fear what’s ahead, we can rely on God. Discover today the encouragement you need for life’s journey.

Here is the biography of this author:

Harold Myra served as the CEO of Christianity Today International for 32 years. Under his leadership, the organization grew from one magazine to a communications company with a dozen magazines, copublished books, and a major Internet ministry.

Myra started his journalistic career with Youth for Christ magazine, which under his leadership became Campus Life magazine.

Author of five novels, numerous children's and nonfiction books, and hundreds of magazine articles, Myra has taught writing and publishing at the Wheaton College Graduate School in Illinois. He holds honorary doctorates from several colleges, including Biola University in California and Gordon College in Massachusetts.
Myra has received various awards, among them the prestigious Magazine Publisher's Award and the James Deforest Murch Award from the National Association of Evangelicals. The Evangelical Press Association presented him with its highest honor, the Joseph T. Bayly Award, for his triple career as an editor, author, and publishing executive.

Harold and his wife, Jeanette, are the parents of six children and grandparents of five. They reside in Wheaton, Illinois.

Dr. Myra opens the book with a section entitled ‘Welcome to Encouragement!’ He shares what he hopes to accomplish with this book by sharing the writings of Christians through the ages:

Despite their differences from us, their longings and repentance and prayers resonate with immediacy. It’s fascinating to me, for instance, how many of my friends say they often find François Fénelon’s words from several hundred years ago exactly what they need for a given day.
For me, the men and women in this volume are soul mates. As I’ve read their words, they’ve often stung, but always with astringent healing, or they’ve opened a fresh way of viewing how God works. Other times, they’ve calmed me and lifted me to surrender and praise.

Life has been described as a crucible. The word describes what most people in the Bible endured, and we have much to endure today. Life not only is difficult but is a crucible that refines us. As we move through life, face adversity, bury our loved ones, and recognize the world’s brutality and unfairness, we begin to appreciate more and more the depths of Scripture. We also realize we need guidance, fresh encouragement, and no-nonsense spiritual insight from those who have gone before us and have followed hard after Christ.

Fortunately, we have a rich heritage from which to draw.

….These challenges and prayers are for life as we meet it, in all its challenges, in all its opportunities, in all its wonder and grace from the loving Father. (p. vi)

Each day includes wisdom from a Christian theologian or author, a prayer, and a Scripture verse.

I always like to check my birthday (February 21) in a devotional. The featured giant of the faith for that day is Charles Spurgeon; here is an excerpt from the devotional, entitled ‘Love and War:’

Charles Haddon Spurgeon found it “not a little astonishing” that John’s epistle, so thoroughly “soak in love,” should in 1 John 5:4 include references to war. The apostle John writes, “For whatever is born of God overcometh the world; and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith” (KJV)
“Here are intimations of strife and battle,” Spurgeon writes, “because there is something in the world antagonistic to love. Darkness broods. Who can take Satan down but by force?” (p. 52)

This is the prayer for that day:

Lord, please equip me with more than a wooden sword that snaps as I face what’s before me. Grant me your wisdom, love, and power so that I can overcome the world and share your grace with others.

And here is the Scripture verse:

I will wait quietly before God, for my victory comes from him. Psalm 62:1 NLT

I also sought out a day featuring François Fénelon, whom Dr. Myra referenced in the Introduction. I had never heard of him before getting this devotional. He is featured on December 8, in a devotional entitled ‘Take A Deep Breath;’ here is an excerpt:

François Fénelon encourages us to “live in peace without worrying about the future. Unnecessary worrying and imagining the worse possible scenario will strangle your faith. God alone knows what will happen to you. You really don’t even own the present moment, for even this belongs to God.”
Aren’t we prone to worrying and imagining worst-case scenarios? As we hear about all the things going wrong in the world, we know painful things may be just ahead. As we meet the demands of each new day, we realize reversals and confrontations may come. (p. 342)

I really love this book! Personally, I can use daily encouragement. I plan on introducing the book to Fred, and hope that we will use it in our evening devotionals. This is a terrific book for all ages, and is a great way to introduce people to different heroes of our faith. I thank Dr. Myra and Tyndale House for compiling and providing such a great resource.

You can download the first chapter here.

You can order this book here.

This book was published by Tyndale House and provided by them for review purposes.

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