Tuesday, November 6, 2012

A Young Man After God's Own Heart: Turn Your Life into an Extreme Adventure

"On many occasions (and I know this won't sound very spiritual), I pray while I'm running. I take my prayer list in hand, or in my heart, and start running. As I begin pounding the pavement and praying, I seem to lose myself in prayer (and, as an added benefit the pain of the jog is forgotten!)" (p.60).

This is just one of the words of wisdom Jim George offers in A Young Man After God's Own Heart. George understands boys and young men, and provides a distinctly "male" version of what faith looks like. George's book for junior high and high school guys explains what it means to be a Christian, how to develop your faith and how to handle family, friends and temptation.  He also covers setting goals and gives practical tips on studying the Bible.

George draws heavily on his own life experiences in high school, and in his careers in pharmacy and the military. He challenges young men to "Go for the Gold," by making Christ their focus, choosing to learn from family and reaching out to friends and non-Christians. He also challenges young men to enjoy group activities instead of dating one-on-one while in high school, and to read the Bible in a year. George includes an "Extreme Spiritual Workout Schedule" in the back of the book, with a day-by-day plan to read the Bible in one year.

Each chapter includes personal questions in a section called "Tough Decisions for Today," and Bible study questions in "The Cutting Edge." These questions would be helpful for personal use, but would work even better with an older mentor or in a group setting.

What I Like:  I like how well George captures the heart of boys. He shows them what it looks like to love God, but still be manly. He recognizes boys' need for adventure, challenge and risk, and inspires them to develop their faith while being the best they can be at school, home and with their friends. The book was helpful for me, as a mom, to see what faith may look like for my son, and understand differences in our natures. Sitting on the couch with tea and a Bible is no more spiritual than running with prayer list in hand!

I like the way George reminds young men throughout the book to think about their future. Although he recognizes not all people have to go on to higher education, he does ask them to work hard in order to leave their options open. He also recommends young men cultivate a love of reading, and explains ways reading can help their education and faith.

George makes excellent use of personal examples. He makes the book interesting and relevant by sharing stories from his life. Also, it is rare to find devotional books not written by pastors. Although George is a pastor now, he references experiences in pharmacy and the military. This makes it easier to relate to George, especially for guys who aren't thinking about going into ministry right now.

Finally, at last, a book cover with great action shots (football, skating, running, snowboarding) that doesn't show faces! Although photos are used, they use bright colors or black and white, and they use midsection shots, which make them appealing to guys of any ethnic background.

What I Dislike: Nothing

Overall Rating: Excellent

Age Appeal: 12 and up, but would work equally well for junior high or high school students

Publisher Info: Harvest House Publishers, 2005; ISBN: 978-0-7369-1478-9; Paperback, 206 pages, $10.99

Buy it Now at Christianbook.com for $8.49
OR Buy it at Amazon.com for $8.79.

Check out CCBR reviews of other books by Jim and his wife Elizabeth here.

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