David E. Prince and Jon Canler. Jesus the Hero Family Devotional. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2016. 420 pp. $14.99 [Buy on Amazon]
One of the most frustrating aspects of being a pastor is seeing your people purchase books that claim to be Christian or biblical, but are in no way worthy of the name. Most Christian parents have a desire to lead their children in the ways of the Lord. They want to teach the Bible to their children, but they aren’t sure how to do it in a biblically faithful and relevant manner.
As a pastor to children and their families, I am always looking for resources to help enhance family discipleship. I receive monthly emails from publishers with the latest books for children and families. Many of these books are devotional in nature. But the sad reality is that many of these books contextualize the biblical message to the point that it is unrecognizable. Suffice it to say, I honestly cringe at the mention of another family devotional. My dissatisfaction has led me to write family devotionals for our faith family based on the book of the Bible we are at present walking through on Sunday mornings. However, there seems to be lacking a biblically and theologically solid family devotional of the entire Bible.
In Jesus the Hero Family Devotional (JTH), pastor David Prince and his Ashland Avenue Baptist Church family have provided a concise, complete, contextualized and Christ-centered resource for parents to use in the discipleship of their families.
When I first received JTH, I was surprised at its thickness. This lengthy devotional (400+ pages of content) provides a devotion for every day of the year. Within each day’s devotion is a:
- Bible passage
- Key text
- Short reflection
- Connection to the New or Old Testament (depending on the passage of the day)
- “For the kids” section
- Prayer prompt
However, these six elements only take up around 1 1/2 pages for each day. JTH is refreshingly concise, which is significant when you consider the richness of the content. Parents don’t have to worry about rushing through a lengthy devotion each day. Each devotion can be read in just a couple minutes, which I know is music to the ears of parents with multiple children.
I really enjoyed how thoroughly Prince and the other Ashland Avenue members dealt with the biblical metanarrative. While obviously not dealing with every text of Scripture, they were able to deal with the story of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation in a compelling way. When an Old Testament text is being taught, there is a connection to the New Testament, and vice-versa. In other words, parents are able to show their children how the Bible isn’t a collection of unrelated stories, but instead one grand story of God’s pursuit and redemption of his people. And in JTH, they are able to show them this every day.
JTH is so complete in the handling of the grand narrative of God’s redemption that parents will will actually benefit from each day’s reflection. I gained much insight and found practical application for my own life as I read through JTH. JTH isn’t just for kids. Parents will grow along with their children as they walk them through each devotion.
One of the common worries among parents who receive a biblically and theologically thorough book is whether or not it will be relevant to their children. Books that do contextualize often do so at the expense of solid teaching. But parents will be glad to find this error nowhere in JTH. In fact, there is a helpful section designed specifically for children. Sometimes there is a suggested craft or activity and other times there is a helpful analogy contextualized for children. The “For the Kids” section is neither sentimental or soft, but rather appropriate application of a given biblical text.
Finally, JTH lives up to its name. Jesus really is the hero of not only the Bible, but of life. Each devotion is lavished with gospel truth and application. While never forcing Christ into any passage of Scripture, each reflection keeps in mind the storyline of Scripture and points readers to the ultimate fulfillment of all things in Christ.
Jesus Really is the Hero
In the words of David Prince, “Jesus is the Hero…The Hero of the self-revelation of God in the Bible. The Hero of the created order. The Hero of world history. The Hero of redemptive history. The ultimate Hero of all things” (5). Christ is the focal point of all Scripture, and through the use of JTH, he will be the focal point of every family devotion.
JTH is a trustworthy guide for parents seeking to lead their families in family worship. Families seeking a biblically faithful, Christ-centered, and practically relevant family devotional need look no further than Jesus the Hero Family Devotional.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher. I was in no way required to post a favorable review in return for receiving this book.
Mathew Gilbert (B.A. Boyce College) is Associate Pastor for Children and Preschool at The Church at Trace Crossing in Tupelo, MS. He is a M.Div student at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Mathew is married to his high school sweetheart, Erica. Mathew and Erica live in Tupelo with their son, Jude. You can follow him on Twitter @mat_gilbert.