Faith is a strong word. Frequently applied to a wide array of situations that give little credit to the intensity of what faith is and its implications in a lifestyle. While many have their go to verses as they seek to stimulate their faith, author and speaker Laurie Polich Short has gathered 40 ‘lesser known’ verses and written short devotionals to do the same.
She stipulates that while many repeatedly rely on the same verses, “sometimes we need a fresh word or promise for the season we find ourselves in – something that ignites our faith.” Because they are written as devotionals, focused on one verse only, the book is easy to read and at only 173 pages one can expect each devotional to only be about 3-4 pages each. Short follows each insight with several reflection questions in an effort to stimulate application.
Admittedly, when someone’s goal is to bring ‘fresh insights’ from Scripture, I become skeptical. Confessing that bias, the author focuses on some important insights that readers of Scripture should take note of. These notable insights frequently point to God’s faithfulness as she notes the nuances of texts and pinpoints how they indicate God’s promise to complete something. As an example Short looks at God’s interaction with Moses and demonstrates how the Lord indicates that Moses will bring the people out of Egypt. There is no wavering with the word if, but instead the Lord gives assurances. Such insights are reassuring for believers and affirms the faith that one has in God.
Unfortunately, the concern about looking for ‘fresh’ insights from Scripture is warranted as the author wanders into concerning territory. The concerns of this book can be contained in four primary areas:
- Context: Taking one verse and writing about it alone can be difficult as it often fails to consider the context. More than most, the author considers context, but perhaps not to the level that is sometimes needed for proper understanding. This is further accentuated by the way in which she sometimes spiritualizes rather than parallels the stories for modern interpretation (i.e. noting that the problem when sending spies into the land was not the problem with the land, but how they saw the land, and thus denying some of the core insights).
- Convention: Unfortunately, the reflection questions offered are conventional. More specific or thought-provoking questions would be helpful to readers.
- Conjecture: At times the author offers unwarranted conjecture (such as her interpretation about events when Sarah sent Hagar away, suggesting that it was because she was not a willing/happy participant in Sarah’s plan and was likely beaten). Unfortunately, even in cases when these moments of conjecture may be possible, they are not always probably and only serve to advance the author’s intentions.
- Confusion: Finally, Short offers points that contradict one another. At one point she notes the need to have our faith constantly filled by something/someone outside of ourselves (truthfully, I am still struggling to figure out what she means by this). However, just 20 pages later she notes that God weans our faith so that we can feed ourselves.
Each of these individually are concerning, but at the root of each of these is Laurie Short’s view of God, which seems to be lacking. Readers can see this low view of God in an earlier devotion in which she mentions that God sometimes fails people. Yet, we must be very cautious and realize that God does not fail people, only that he fails to meet our expectations of Him. There is a great difference in these two mindsets and one’s inclination towards one says much about what he/she thinks about God.
40 Verses to Ignite Your Faith may have been written with good intentions. Frequently, the author offers some practical and clever insights, but in an effort to find ‘fresh’ words, the author steps over the line of biblical fidelity. The result is a book that leads readers astray and cannot be fully recommended.
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Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher at no cost to me for the purposes of review. However, my review was not influenced by the author, publisher, or anyone else associated with this book and is the result of my own reading of it.