Thursday, December 29, 2016

Watch by Rick James

We don't know the day or hour of Christ's return. We are to remain awake and keep watch. (Mark 13:32-37)

James identifies sleep as a fitting metaphor for one “who has been quickened by God's Spirit but remains oblivious and unresponsive to spiritual reality...” We get distracted from our spiritual lives. Being awake, James says, is a matter of perspective and awareness.

James explores a number of aspects of being awake. There is discerning God's will, being alert to spiritual warfare, experiencing trials, realizing that the resurrected Christ lives within, awareness of the life to come, not being a hypocrite, and being ready to share the gospel.

I found this book to be a bit rambling and not as structured as I'd like. He tells lots of stories. Sometimes I wondered what the story had to do with the lesson he was teaching. I did enjoy learning about the brotherly origin of Adidas and Puma. And it was interesting to find out why dogs stick their heads out of car windows.

But there was a long section on memory to introduce us to the use of our senses to discern God's will. The connection? “Memory is a matter of bringing to bear all of the input from all of the senses.” He argues that we must also have a multisensory approach to discerning God's will. But did I really need to know how Joshua Foer remembers the order of a deck of cards or about memory palaces? Many of the stories with which he began each chapter just seemed irrelevant.

Perhaps this book is aimed at a younger crowd that loves reading stories about movies and contemporary people. James did give a few illustrations from godly people and I enjoyed those much more than the others.

I was not captivated by this book nor was I greatly encouraged to be awake and watchful. The topics seemed all over the place and there was just too much irrelevant information in the way of stories. I had a hard time following the trajectory of the book. Others may find this book inspiring, especially those who have not read much on living a fervent spiritual life.

My rating: 3/5 stars.

Rick James has a long history in collegiate ministry and is publisher for Cru. A former ad-agency art director, he is a frequent conference speak and is the author of Jesus Without Religion and A Million Ways to Die. He and his wife live in West Chester, Pennsylvania and have three grown children. You can find out more and read his blog at

NavPress, 272 pages.

I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher. My comments are an independent and honest review.

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