If you have never read any of Gary Thomas’ books then this is a great first one. Gary Thomas is one of my favorite authors, having written some of the books I consider to be the most influential on my Christian walk (including Sacred Pathways, Sacred Marriage, Not the End but the Road, Beautiful Fight, and Authentic Faith, just to name a few!) – in fact, he’s one of my top five favorite Christian authors. So it should come as no surprise that last year when I read a post on Facebook by Gary Thomas that he was looking for volunteers to offer feedback on an upcoming book I jumped at the opportunity – and was ecstatic when I was chosen to participate. So, that’s my disclaimer…
Here’s the deal: in Simply Sacred Thomas creates a devotional book with daily readings, one for each day of the year. The selections are taken from his other books, essentially offering a sampling of some of Thomas’ best works. For those who are turned off by books of this type, though (and by that I mean books that are simply selections of other works offered in devotional format), I have to honestly say that this is by far the best type of book like this that I have read. Where as other books take selected readings and seem to randomly scatter selections across the year, Thomas’ and his editorial team obviously put a lot of thought and effort into selecting the passages for each day’s readings, making sure they are connected thematically and also ensuring each day’s reading doesn’t leave you feeling like you read only an excerpt and now you find yourself needing more. Not only are the daily readings the perfect length for a short devotional, but they also each contain a punch that lead you to a deeper and more reflective walk with the Lord. Additionally, each month focuses on a particular topic, but never in a forced way like someone was trying to make a particular reading match a particular topic – everything flows naturally from one reading to the next, much better than any other book in this style I have ever read (and I’ve read several).
Since receiving my autographed copy from Thomas (there’s another disclaimer), Melissa and I have been using it for our daily devotional every morning – and the short readings have led us to have some great early-morning discussions (however brief they may have to be at times!). I can also say that while reading the manuscript last winter it opened my eyes to some of Thomas’ other works – motivating me to go and find some of the books I hadn’t read by him and they are now in my personal library (and I’ve started working through them!). That’s why I made the comment that this book would be a great introduction to Thomas’ work. If you’ve never read anything by him you could read through this devotional and as you found certain passages that speak to you it would allow you the opportunity to go and read the full book from which the excerpt is taken since each day’s reading records the source for the day.
So, I’m giving this book a 5/5 stars and will tell you to go and get yourself a copy – it’s something you can read slowly without feeling like you’re going too slow (since it’s designed to take you a year to go through), and yet at the end of the book I believe you’ll find you have a much deeper relationship with the Lord as you meditate on Thomas’ words. For the record, I did receive a complimentary copy of the book in return for my honest (and not necessarily positive) feedback on the daily readings while it was still in manuscript form.