Let’s start with a basic overview. The book is divided into 4 major sections – each one covering one of the major sports in the US – hockey, basketball, baseball, and football. Each sport is given 25 devos. Each devo has a Game Plan nugget, a fast fact about the vignette or story, a key verse, the actual vignette/story, then a “Follow Through” question with instructions to read a larger section of scripture.
The last part of the devo is a snippet about one of the 25 greatest games played in that sport. It’s a nice touch but I wish they had pushed the envelope a bit in this area. In the introduction, the editor tells us he didn’t want to cause controversy by ranking the games. He just wanted to point out great games. Well…I for one wish he had ranked the games then told us why he ranked them where he did. Then invited us on a website to debate, dialog and contribute further.
At any rate, the book is well laid out. Each devo takes up two pages but both pages are open to the reader at the same time. Typeface is easy to read. Plus there is a key verse reference guide in the back as well as a short bio on each of the writers.
The Not So Good
Let’s start with the obvious – most devotional books smack of Hallmark Christianity with enough cliches and pithy sayings to make us all sick. It’s the nature of the beast, I guess. I’m fairly skeptical when it comes to devotional books, especially sports devotional books.
The good news is this book doesn’t drop to that kind of writing. Your hands will not get sticky (sap) while reading this book. It’s not going to exactly exactly challenge you either.
It leaves me fairly conflicted as to how to review the book. It’s mostly a good resource, but it’s not great. If we are going to stick with the sports metaphor – it’s a stand-up double. A lot better than striking out, much better than a single, far from a home-run.
The stories were great examples of basic, simple spiritual truths. The vignettes will be great illustration material. But there just wasn’t enough of those “slap you upside the head, put the book down and seek God’s face” kind of moments. Lots of motivation, not a lot of challenge.
Those that are looking for the next “My Utmost For His Highest” will be disappointed. And yes — it is completely unfair to compare any book to Oswald Chambers but I do think it is fair to expect more scripture than story, more spiritual truth than vignette. And on this front, the book did not deliver. It had a great set-up to deliver this kind of material, but it is obvious that is not the kind of book they wanted to write.
So You Hated The Book?
No. Not at all. There is much good about the book. In fact, I think there are some specific people that are going to get quite a lot out of the book.
A pre-teen sports buff.
A middle-school sports fanatic.
A coach that needs a quick banquet story with a spiritual principle.
An athlete leading a pre-game devotional.
A new believer who needs a “first” tool to help them get in the Word.
There are enough great stories and fast facts in this book that a coach would be wise to have it on his (or her) shelf as a quick resource of stories to inspire their teams as well as teach some spiritual principles. My sports fanatic son is going to love this book. Any young, new believer who needs a guide in getting into the habit of reading God’s word will find this resource extremely helpful and easy to use.
So if you fit into one of those categories – grab it. I know I’ve got a couple in my own house.
Disclosure: Discovery House Publishers sent me a free copy of this book to review. I was under no obligation to give a favorable review.