Book Review: Live Second-365 Ways to Make Jesus First

live secondLive Second: 365 Ways to Make Jesus First by Doug Bender is one of the most unique devotionals I have ever read. This isn’t your ordinary read-for-thirty-seconds-a-day type of book, neither is it a feel good, make you warm and fuzzy inside type of inspirational book. I’m not sure I’d even call it inspirational—but it is phenomenal.

I received this book before reading the I Am Second book or even understanding what the movement was about, however, after reading Live Second I am fairly convinced that the I Am Second movement is relevant and necessary in this modern, self-serving age.

Live Second is a challenge, 365 days of it, to put Jesus first. Every time I’d read a new day, I’d expect a cheesy predictable paragraph relating to the suggested reading passage. Instead, I was motivated and challenged to take action with what I’d learned. Nearly every day had a least one fabulous quote, and some days the entire text was rock solid awesomeness.

But wait, there’s more!

Not only is Live Second a 365 day devotional, it comes with a multi-faceted approach.  It includes a suggested Scripture passage (ok, nothing too exciting or different there) as well as a prayer and action steps to take what you’ve learned and apply it. Probably the coolest feature, though, is the video links included at the beginning of several of the devotionals. You can simply scan the code with your smart-device and pop up the correlating video. If you don’t have such technology, a link is included for you to type in. This book is very media-savvy.

I would say that the only downside (for some) is what I loved about it—the media features! For instance, I could not imagine my father ever reading such a book; all the hash-tags and scanning codes would drive him nuts. So, maybe not the best gift idea for grandma, but otherwise it is awesome in every way. Most importantly, it is loaded with transforming truth, something many current daily devotionals lack. I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of picking up devotionals that give me short, pat answers to big spiritual issues. I like the depth that comes in a book like Live Second. I hope and pray the multi-media additions will appeal to a younger crowd, the next generation of youth who desperately need to see what a sold out, Christ-first faith looks like.

This is a MUST have book, in my opinion. I love it.

(I received Live Second from BookSneeze for review purposes only and was not required to give a positive review. The opinions expressed here are strictly my own.)

For more info/resources on the I Am Second movement check out this website: www.iamsecond.com

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If you’d like a FREE hardcover copy of Live Second, I can help you out! Simply click HERE and “like” the page, then share the page with your friends (and if you’ve already “liked” the page, that’s fine, just share it with your friends and keep track of how many of them “like” the page because you shared it). For every “like” the page gets from you and your friends, you will be entered in a drawing to win the book. Let me know how many of your friends have liked the page and I will add that many entries for you in the drawing. Winner will be chosen on Friday, January 4th so there is plenty of time to share and get a bunch of entries! Any “like” received on the facebook page from the time this review is posted (now) will be entered.

So, what is YOUR word?

psalm143“What will you do?”

As I’ve heard sermons, read books, and sat through lectures throughout the year, I’ve heard the voice of the Spirit resounding loud and clear, “So, what will you do about it?” God has strategically batted that ball back to my side of the net over and over—spurning me to embrace an active faith, and it makes me uncomfortable. But then I remember a prayer I uttered, albeit not well-thought through at the time, for God to make me uncomfortable. Really, that prayer should be right at the top of the list of “things you don’t ask God”, right behind praying for patience or a spirit of forgiveness. Well, I’ve learned my lesson—God answers prayers for sure, especially the character building ones.

At the start of 2012 a friend of mine posted a blog about a challenge (read it here: MY One Word), a challenge to ask God about what “word” to focus on for the following year. That sounded neat, so I gave it a go. I cheerfully got on my knees and asked God what my special word for the coming 2012 year would be, I anxiously listened, hoping to hear prosperity, success, purpose, or anything along those lines. Instead, after a few moments of silence, I heard “perseverance”.

“Um, Lord, really? I mean…really?” Some of my friends were getting words like “go” and “action” and I got perseverance? I didn’t like it; I wanted to take back the prayer. What was God thinking, anyways? I had always been somewhat known for starting things and losing interest over time, eventually abandoning the project or idea. But looking back on 2012, I can see how God used the trials of one of the most difficult years I have faced to break my pride, provide me with ultimate spiritual freedom, as well as teaching me self-discipline and yes, perseverance.

I would be lying if I said I wasn’t happy to start a new year, because even though it’s just another day on the calendar, somehow turning the page and writing a new number (2013) just feels like a fresh start. I’m looking towards 2013 with great expectation—expectation in God’s revealed will (HIS Word) and not my own clever ideas. I still haven’t prayed about the new word for next year, but I’m not as scared about it as I was last year. Looking back I know that no matter what, God knows what He is doing and I can really, in fact, trust Him in all things, even the hard, painful, and uncomfortable things. That no matter what the situation, His character is constant, even if I’m not feeling like it is.

His character is constant, yes, perhaps the biggest lesson I learned this year. My character? Not so much. Which is why the prayer, “Lord, change me” has been cried out more times than I can accurately recall.

So, mingled in with words like illness, death, betrayal, loneliness, slander, hatred, consequences, loss, depression, despair, relapse, and uncertainty have been the words of truth—healing, restoration, freedom, hope, peace, purpose, fulfillment, grace, mercy, understanding, and love. All of the awfulness has actually taught me how to be an optimist of sorts. An optimist in God, not in myself. An optimist in His character, not in my ability.

I’ve asked, He has answered, and none of His responses were as expected. Through all of this I am learning that maybe, just maybe, He really does know better than I do.

“Teach me to do your will, for you are my God; may your good Spirit lead me on level ground.” Palm 143:10

What theme has God brought to your year? What “lesson” have you learned through trials or blessings? Post your comment here or join the discussion on facebook.

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profilepic3Rebecca Aarup is an author and freelance writer. She is also a health columnist for The Christian Online Magazine, a contributing writer for Encourage 365, creater of S.E.R.V.A.N.T. Sisters women’s ministry (online), and has written devotionals/studies/articles for a variety of publications. She just released a new Bible Study The Word: Six Lessons from Psalm 119 which is available as a free download on her website or in print form from Amazon. Beyond writing, Rebecca is a wife, home-schooling mom, and Bible student at Liberty University. She lives in Glendale, Arizona with her husband Chris and 5 year old, Samantha.  You can read more from Rebecca by subscribing to her blog (it’s free) and following her on twitter and facebook.

The Challenge

“The law shall be his constant companion. He must read from it every day of his life so that he will learn to respect the Lord his God by obeying all of his commands. This regular reading of God’s laws will prevent him from feeling that he is better than his fellow citizens. It will also prevent him from turning away from God’s laws in the slightest respect.” Deut. 17:19-20 (The Living Bible)

I recently read an article in InTouch magazine (Dr. Charles Stanley) about a woman who cut apart and re-bound her Bible into 4 sections to help her read through it easier. Admittedly, holding the Bible in my hand and thinking about reading through the whole thing-cover to cover-seems rather daunting unless it’s divided into little bite-sized pieces over the course of a year.

Thinking what a fantastic idea this woman had, I was also convicted about my own scattered reading plans. God spoke to me there and challenged me to read from Genesis 1:1-Revelation 22 in one week. No, that wasn’t a typo, I said one week. My first thought was, how will I ever find time for that? But God is bigger than my excuses and quickly brought to mind many things I could give up for one week to accomplish this goal.

Taking on this challenge has been one of the best experiences I’ve encountered in God’s word. Reading through the books in order has opened my eyes to things I’ve never understood before. Stories are making more sense read in context. And by context I don’t mean the 12 verses surrounding one verse, but the books surrounding other books. For instance, many people (including myself) avoid the book of Leviticus. Granted, it’s not the “easiest” read, but is important since “the whole Bible is given to us by inspiration from God and is useful to teach us what it true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives; it straightens us out and helps us do what is right.” (2 Tim. 3;16-The Living Bible)

There was something so inspirational and special about reading the Bible continuously. I can’t adequately describe it other than to recommend doing it.

I wrote a 30-day Bible reading plan (understanding very few would be able to devote a week to it) and am challenging you, my friends and lovers of the Word, to ask if God would have you do this. It is a challenge, I won’t say it’s not. Prayerfully consider if God would have you do this or perhaps adapt the plan to suit your needs.

The average reader can easily accomplish this goal in 2-3 hours per day. I’ll list some tips I’ve employed to help me read the word in one week that will help you read it in one month. You may want to consider using a different version than you normally study from in order to provide a new experience. I chose a paraphrase (The Living Bible) so it reads more like a novel. This is for reading, not studying, so don’t get too hung up on the translation.

1-Get up an hour earlier or go to bed an hour later. (It’s only one month-a worthy sacrifice indeed.)

2-Listen to the Bible on audio while you drive, cook, clean, shower, etc. You’ll find there’s a lot of time for your ears to be working while your hands are busy.

3-Avoid the temptation of social media-the articles, cutesy pictures, posts, statuses, and other time-consuming reads. You’ll find those things add up quickly. 5 minutes here and 5 minutes there is an hour before you know it. In an hour you could have read several chapters in the Bible.

4-Give up the news or other programming you consistently watch on television. Even one or two shows is an hour or more that you could be reading.

5-When you are reading the Bible at length you will discover things you want to look up and research. Avoid the bunny trails! Keep a note-pad handy and write down the verse/subject so you can study it at a later time, once you’ve reached your reading goal.

6-Finally, don’t read just to read! Read the Story to grow in your relationship with Jesus and ask Him to open your eyes to new things each and every time you begin. He will answer that prayer and your eyes will surely be opened more than you’d ever imagine.

I can’t wait to hear your testimonies and pray you will be encouraged and strengthened in your journey. Who knows, maybe you’ll like it so much you’ll decide to do it a couple times every year. I know I’ve been inspired to do as much. Please let me know in the comments if you are going to be taking this challenge so I can be sure to pray for you!

Through the Bible in 30 Days

Day 1: Genesis 1-40

Day 2: Genesis 41-Exodus 30

Day 3: Exodus 31-Numbers 3

Day 4: Numbers 4-Deuteronomy 8

Day 5: Deuteronomy 9-Joshua 15

Day 6: Joshua 16-1 Samuel 7

Day 7: 1 Samuel 8-2 Samuel 17

Day 8: 2 Samuel 18-2 Kings 12

Day 9: 2 Kings 13-1 Chronicles 29

Day 10: 2 Chronicles 1-Ezra 4

Day 11: Ezra 5-Job 11

Day 12: Job 12-Psalm 10

Day 13: Psalm 11-51

Day 14: Psalm 52-92

Day 15: Psalm 93-133

Day 16: Psalm 134-Proverbs 14

Day 17: Proverbs 15-Ecclesiastes 12

Day 18: Song of Solomon 1-Isaiah 32

Day 19: Isaiah 33-Jeremiah 6

Day 20: Jeremiah 7-47

Day 21: Jeremiah 48-Ezekiel 31

Day 22: Ezekiel 32-Hosea 14

Day 23: Joel 1-Zechariah 5

Day 24: Zechariah 6-Matthew 28

Day 25: Mark 1-Luke 14

Day 26: Luke 15-Acts 10

Day 27: Acts 11-Romans 16

Day 28: 1 Corinthians 1-Galatians 6

Day 29: Ephesians 1-2 Timothy 4

Day 30: Titus 1-Revelation 22