Reading the scriptures every day and then pondering thought provoking questions are worthy uses of a devout Christian’s time. So this book has to be a great resource, right? For several reasons this book falls short of its goals.
Forty Days of Meditation
A Scripture Journal
by Pam Hawkins
Common English Bible
Each day the “journal” has three to five passages from the Bible, all in Common English Bible version, with a meditation question. Day 1 for instance has Exodus 20:1-6 (God warning against making idols with threats about punishment to the third or fourth generation), Psalm 95:1-7 (a song of thanks to the God and Lord of all things and an exhortation to bow down to him), Mark 12:28-31 (Jesus saying that the greatest commandment was loving God, with everything in you, and loving neighbors), and Ephesians 4:1-6 (Paul calling believers to live in unity with other believers because there is only one Lord.) The meditation for this day is, “What difference does it make for you that the Lord of life is “one Lord,” one God, and that you are called to have no other gods? Recall a season of life where another “god” claimed your loyalty.”
On the face, that’s not a bad combo. There are passages about idols and a single God to worship from the Pentateuch, the Psalms, the Gospels and the Epistles with a question about “one Lord.” But where it fails is in exposition. There is an assumption here that the reader would understand what idols are, which I think is not appropriate. Consider a normal person looking to get closer to God. Ask them what other “gods” they worship (and maybe read them the Exodus passage) and they may honestly be confused. They are not Hindu, or Muslim, or any other religion that worships another “god.” It is the responsibility of the writer to engage the reader at their level and briefly explain what they mean by other “gods.”
Not all meditations are clear. Day four asks the reader to “Name and describe a “wide open” or “deserted” place where you have felt close to God…” without context of what to do with that feeling. Conversely, some of the meditations are excellent. Consider Day 11, “What is the difference for you between believing something about God and believing in God?” Others are just as poignant. I’d like to believe this isn’t a preference thing, but the fact is that when we read books it’s impossible to remove our bias and expectations. For me, the meditations were generally loosely tied to the passages and in many cases vague in a not helpful way.
I also have a problem with calling this a “journal” because there is often less than half a page on which to write. For such a small book (122 pages), there was certainly room enough to add 40 more pages to give room to actually journal. (Not having these pages to write on cannot have been a cost saving thing as we are already being charged $9.99 suggested retail for 120 pages. That’s 0.08 a page! Normal novels – 350 pages or so – come in at $0.02, or four times less. My point: this is overpriced and certainly could have added the “journal” part into this “scripture journal.”)
In conclusion, it’s hard to imagine someone reading this and actually meditating on each day and not growing. I believe, however, that it could have been much better with a little more clarity in the meditations and the addition of the journaling pages.
@ashertopia is the Managing Editor of BookGateway.com. He is an avid reader and a lifetime learner. His favorite genres include science fiction, fantasy, as well as theology and Christian living. His personal blog is AshertopiA – a land flowing with milk and honey… and a lot of sticky people.
This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.