Awakening Faith: Daily Devotions from the Early Church

Awakening Faith: Daily Devotions from the Early Church


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Awakening Faith: Daily Devotions from the Early Church by James Stuart Bell

In simple, updated language, Awakening Faith by James Stuart Bell provides a year of inspiring readings drawn from the earliest teachers and writers of the church—the Church Fathers. In every reflection you will be refreshed by deep wells of wisdom and spiritual insight.

“In the age of Twitter and Facebook, where glib sayings abound, one yearns to read some deeper wisdom about life and faith on a regular basis. Well, here you have it, a compendium of wisdom, devotion, and biblical insight from some of the most thoughtful and faithful Christians from the early eras of the church's history. And in Facebook sized posts. That's a nice change of pace!”

Mark Galli, editor, Christianity Today

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780310514879
Publisher: Zondervan
Publication date: 10/22/2013
Pages: 400
Sales rank: 664,102
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 8.10(h) x 1.40(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

James Stuart Bell, Jr., is a former director of religious publishing at Doubleday, executive director of Bridge Publishing, and executive editor at Moody Publishing. The writer, editor, or compiler of more than 140 books, he owns Whitestone Communications, Inc., a literary development agency, and makes his home in the western suburbs of Chicago. Bell is married with four children.

Patrick J. Kelly received his bachelor’s degree in english and philosophy from Boston College, and a master’s in systematic theology from Wheaton College. He lives and works in the suburbs of Chicago and is a serving member of College Church in Wheaton, Illinois.

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Awakening Faith: Daily Devotions from the Early Church 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 12 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was excited to read this book from Zondervan Publishing in exchange for my review. I am always looking for resources to incorporate into my daily devotions to grow in faith and knowledge of God. This book provides a year of readings taken from many individuals considered to be the early Church Fathers. The book provides 366 readings that each begin with a passage of Scripture, then a written passage from an individual considered to be an early Church Father. Included at the conclusion of the book is an index of the authors (complete with a few sentences describing each individual and detailing the pages of readings attributed to each individual) and an index for the Scripture passages used. I have not read all 366 readings, but I have read many. There is beauty in the words of these men from the early days of the church. All of them lived during a time when "many Christians were being killed for their faith and when doctrinal controversies threatened to split the church" (found in the introduction). Despite the fact that they faced serious physical, economic, and emotional threats they understood the importance of theology, of following Christ, of running the race to completion. Their exhortations and their wisdom about Jesus Christ, the Church, the Bible, salvation, service, stewardship, holiness, prayer, etc. will greatly enrich your devotional time and your spiritual life as you meditate on them. I was a little disappointed. The book is set up almost to be a devotional book, but not quite. In a time where many, many, many devotional books abound that use wise sayings, or lukewarm Christian principles as the basis, it is even more important that a devotional book use the Bible as the basis. This book almost fits into that category. While the readings included are full of rich wisdom (see the following paragraph for an example), the opportunity to take these readings even further for the good of the reader is almost wasted. I saw almost, because the book itself is not a waste. It is actually very beneficial.I just have to include my favorite reading, number 171, by Augustine. "There is a place in the church for the chastity of the virgin, for the temperance of the widow, and for the modesty of the married. Indeed, all her members have their place, and this is where they are to follow Christ, in their role and in their way of life. They must deny themselves; that is, they must surrender themselves to Christ. They must take up their cross by enduring whatever pain the world brings for Christ's sake." How excellent are these words?  A word of careful warning: do not use this book in place of the Bible for devotional time. Use it in addition to deep study of the Scriptures to propel deeper consideration of the principles within the readings. In addition to this, be sure to use discernment in reading through each one. Always return to the Bible to affirm that the words each individual speaks are true.  I received this book for free from Zondervan Publishing via Cross Focused Reviews for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
PreacherDoug More than 1 year ago
There’s a consistent problem in modern life, whenever modern is for you. That problem is this: we tend to think that we are the smartest people to ever life. No one else has had the same problems or come up with the same solution to those problems. No other generation has figured out what we know—it was refreshing to hear a conversation recently about the plethora of “Gospel-centered” books and how we come across as if we discovered the Gospel in the last decade, when the Church has been around for two millennia. It’s not healthy. Into that problem comes a few good ideas. One of those ideas is to reach out and read from prior generations. That can be intimidating to tackle in one fell swoop, but a good way is to take little bites and see what has been said in ages past. If you couple that with the excellent idea of daily readings to help draw us nearer to God, then you can accomplish this by picking up James Stuart Bell’s Awakening Faith. It looks like this: Now, let’s be honest with our credits. Bell did not truly write Awakening Faith. He wrote the introduction, and he selected the writings, but these daily devotionals were written by people like St. Patrick or the Venerable Bede. I am uncertain, based on the information in the book, whether or not Bell did all the translating or if he worked from existing translations. That does not particularly matter to the value of Awakening Faith. You have here a year’s supply of devotionals developed by the giants that stand in the early years of church history. I cannot find a bad day among them all, and I will enjoy reading and rereading this for years to come. If there is a fault to find here, it is more the fault of history than of Bell. There is a reason that these are all devotions from the Early Church Fathers. No women are featured in the writings, but the well is pretty dry to draw from in that slice of time. So, again, it’s no fault of Bell, but it’s worth noting. More a reminder of the missing half of wisdom from the last two millennia than anything else. In all, though, do not let that scare you away from Awakening Faith. Keep in mind that these Early Church Fathers wrote before over verbosity became a virtue, before printing presses. These men say more in a page than most of us say in a blog series or a book. Grab a copy for yourself and for a history-minded Christian friend. Note: free book from Cross-Focused Reviews in exchange for the review.
JViola79 More than 1 year ago
Over the last year, I have found myself desiring to read and learn more of the thought and writings from the Early Church. So when the opportunity to review Awakening Faith by James Stuart Bell was offered, I quickly accepted. This is a daily devotional with 366 entries in the collection from 69 different Church Fathers. In the back of the book is included a brief biography of each one which I found both informative and interesting. There is also included a Scripture Index. This book is an excellent compilation of early church fathers. Each devotional includes a Scripture and is written in updated language making it easy for the reader to comprehend and apply. I found each devotional to be full of wisdom, spiritual insight and give much food for thought. It was refreshing to read thoughts that were not in keeping with the trendy writing styles of today's authors but were timeless in their presentation. Some of the topics covered by the various writers are: holiness; prayer and devotion; thorns and thistles; the Church; our spiritual inheritance; and service and stewardship. There were many writers that I recognized but some I had not which made for engaging reading. It is amazing that while each of these were written a long time ago, they are applicable for today's day and age. The presentation seemed similar to that of blog posts which drew me in immediately. Some of the thoughts that spoke to me included: Be Subject To A Mentor. Learn how to listen to at least one individual at first, who speaks harshly but with healing words. (Clement of Alexandria) Wounds Of Love. So we ask that we might know you better and more fully, and that you give us nothing but yourself. (Columbanus) The Way Of Light. Accept as a blessing whatever comes your way, knowing that nothing ever happens outside of God's sovereignty. (Barnabas) The Richness Of The Psalms. When we read it, we find a medicine to cure the wounds caused by any of our passions. (Ambrose) The cover to this book is beautiful making this a great book to give as a gift. It is a wonderful resource that would be greatly appreciated. ****I received this book for free from Zondervan via Cross Focused Reviews for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.
InHisName More than 1 year ago
This book really came at the right time. I have very much enjoyed reading it. I love that time when it is quiet in the house and the kids have gone to bed - and I can read, study and reflect. This is a great devotional. The language is very easy to read. The messages are timely. Each devotion is one page long - so easy to read before heading off to bed. Really wonderful messages. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
One of the concerns facing the current condition of the Church is a lack of connectivity with other believers. We huddle into autonomous church buildings or disconnected denominations and close off our communication from other Christians. We also insulate ourselves from those outside our circles and we suffer relationally, as well as intellectually. The truth is that there is much to be learned and gained from our Christian brothers and sisters, both now and throughout history. This is one of the many reasons that I am thankful for books like “Awakening Faith” by James Stuart Bell. This book is a gold mine of wonderful devotions from the Early Church period. Each page is a window into the faith that has stood for millennia. The Christian reading these daily offerings will be blessed, encouraged, and educated by those that have been so critical in establishing the foundations of the church. The reader will find these devotions to contain enough of an excerpt to get the mind and heart moving but not so much that the focus is on the book. Topics are included, as well as biblical references to encourage some more thought on the topic being discussed by the Church Father. This is a book that will be one of you favorite devotions to have by you in the morning. The only areas of criticism are that the writings being used in the devotion are not referenced. The reader cannot go and read more by this particular writer. I would hope to see this addressed in a second edition. I would also hope to see better indexing. There is some in the back but I felt that having a few paths through the devotional would have been nice (and simple enough). To move through the devotional by topic, by author, and chronologically would have been a vast improvement to the indexing of the devotions. That being said, this book is well worth your time and money. You will be using it for years to come. If you are looking for a devotional that breaks out of the typical mold then you will want to consider “Awakening Faith”. Zondervan provided me a copy of this book for a fair and honest review. This was not an effect on the review that I have written. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The genre of daily devotional reading is one with an overwhelming number of entries of varying quality, but in Awakening Faith, James Stuart Bell (with Patrick J. Kelly) provides a unique and edifying offering. As the title indicates, Bell has assembled 366 readings from the Early Church Fathers, discussing a variety of topics related to the Christian life. In addition to providing short daily expositions on the Scriptures, Awakening Faith serves to introduce readers to the writings of some of the earliest Christian thinkers and leaders. Each daily entry begins with a Bible verse (or two), followed by a reading from a Church Father that either references/alludes or has a thematic connection to the Scriptural passage. The selections have been updated into modern language for improved readability. The selection of authors is diverse, ranging from the highly-esteemed, such as Athanasius and Augustine, to the unknown, such as Pseudo-Chrysostom and the author of The Letter to Diognetus. Some of the included authors, such as Origen and Commodianus, are known for having problematic teachings, but as Bell notes in his introduction, the selected readings were chosen to "showcase those things they emphasize that today's evangelicals do not, generally to our detriment." At the end, the book contains brief biographical notes for each of the included authors. Many of the book's readings focus on Christian virtues and personal holiness, often in the form of exhortation. Each passage is limited to a single page (though some extended passages are split over multiple days), which makes for a short but substantive read. Overall, I found Awakening Faith to be a very useful devotional collection. In the introduction, Bell makes a brief but cogent argument for why modern evangelicals should make a point to familiarize themselves with the wisdom of Christians from eras past. For those with limited (or even non-existent) knowledge of the Church Fathers, this book would serve as a great point of introduction. And even for those with previous experience reading the Fathers, these readings are both encouraging and convicting. As Bell observes, these writers were committed to the Scriptures, and their works overflow with explanations and applications of the Bible. That grasp of Scripture, combined with the exhortation to piety and holiness, provides a model that modern readers would do well to emulate. I also appreciated how the Fathers had a completely different outlook than I do, and I often found myself stopping to ponder their words in ways I might not have if they were modern authors discussing similar topics. I had no real complaints about the book, although a couple of improvements could be made. First, the book identifies only the author of each selection; it would have been helpful to include the specific work from which it was taken (even if relegated to an appendix). Secondly, the heading for each page lists the topic addressed, such as "Holiness" or "The Church"; it would have been useful to have an index of all the topics and associated selections. Neither of these omissions detract from the overall quality of the book. In sum, if you are looking to pick up a book of daily devotional reading, are interested in learning more about the early Church, or both, Awakening Faith: Daily Devotions from the Early Church is highly recommended. (Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for providing an unbiased review.)
Shopgirl152ny1 More than 1 year ago
This is an insightful and inspiring devotional with hundreds of years of wisdom from church fathers. It was interesting to learn about more of our church history and to read their insights into the Bible. Each devotion is a page with a Scripture verse written out. There are bios of each of the writers in the back, about sixty total. Some of the names I recognized, such as Augustine, and others were unknown to me. The language is quite easy to understand. This is a beautiful hardcover with a dust-jacket and ribbon bookmark. It would make a wonderful gift for yourself or someone you know! I received a free copy of this book from Cross Focused Reviews in exchange for an honest review.
MommyBugg More than 1 year ago
I remind myself often that my little ones are not so little; that one day I will have all the quiet time I long for, me and my Bible. In the meantime I need to enjoy my time with them; hang onto that joy and share God’s word as much as I can that they heart and mind may grow more and more in love with Him each day. We use devotionals. I never use them as a stand alone; some days it feels they are though. So I was thrilled to be able to read Awakening Faith. I love the early church fathers; such wisdom and depth in their words. So much of the power and truth that is so lacking today. I also enjoy the history that is woven into their words. And this devotional is no different. It reminds me of the power of His word; it helps to strengthen me on those days when I am so very weary. I have learned and continue to learn much of the early church. Many names never before heard – there is a handy appendix full of details about the various church fathers; a list of scriptures indexed within too. Often I find devotionals to be soft and fluffy but this one is a gem. In fact this is one you keep close and read again and again gleaning much each time. Right now those days come often. Much to do. Preparing for family and friends. Baking and gathering; crafting. This is a season full of busyness. Let us not lose our faith and our Lord though in this time.
The_JourneymanBS More than 1 year ago
A Review of Awakening Faith: Daily Devotions from the Early Church, by James Stuart Bell with Patrick J. Kelly I'm a history buff - all kinds of history. I'm especially interested in church history and the history of theology. Therefore, I was overjoyed to hear about this book and to add it to my library. The average Christian is ignorant of faith history outside of Bible times (and even in Bible times!)  If they know anything at all about history, the average protestant Christian thinks God stopped acting when the last apostle died, and started doing things again in the 16th century. By use of the term "ignorant" I do not mean stupidity; but just lack of knowledge. Frankly, there is not much happening in most churches that could provide that knowledge, but this book can be a great help in that direction. God was doing a lot back then, and those believers have a lot to teach us. The book consists of 365 daily devotional readings drawn from writers who lived during the first 8 centuries of Christian history, i.e. from the end of the 1st century until about 900 AD. The writers include the greatest theologians, pastors, martyrs, apologists and founders of movements from the formative period of Christian life and belief. Topics include prayer, faithfulness under trial, community life, holy living, spiritual disciplines, fasting, and the Trinity. There is even a statement on justification by Basil the Great that sounds like it was written by Martin Luther! If you are not familiar with Clement, Tertullian, Cyprian, Augustine, Chrysostom, Leo, Benedict or Cyril, here's your chance to get acquainted, Yes, there are a few statements in the book that I do not agree with and consider to be theological errors, but the overall quality of the book more than compensates for those passages. I have underlined many passages and have been quoting them on my blog. What a treasure trove! Each entry is only a page in length, and thus easy to read. The appendix gives brief biographies of each writer cited, and there is also a Scripture index. I wish the specific work by each author had also been cited, but interested students of church history can easily search citations out via the Internet. The hardcover version of the book I read even comes with a handy ribbon bookmark to help you keep your place. I have enjoyed reading this book, and look forward to consulting and using it for a long time to come. Five stars indeed!
Patroclus More than 1 year ago
Awakening Faith fills a much needed void in today's Christian culture by giving us a brief glimpse into the writings of the first seven centuries of the church fathers who have gone before us in our faith. For a culture that remains so focused our ourselves and self-help material, reading from the church fathers' reminds us that we worship God as a part of "a cloud of witnesses" that spans throughout history and across the globe. It also reminds us that God is a "God of the living," and that the input of those "living" Christians who have gone before us are just as valuable as contemporary Christian writers. Awakening Faith is a collection of 366 daily readings from a wide range of about 70 different church fathers. Each entry is a page long excerpt from a specific church father, which contains a title header and a relevant Scripture passage along with the text and author below. In some cases, if the excerpt cannot be limited to single page entry, there will be a part 1 and part 2 so that you can get a full understanding of the text broken into sections. These page entries are well formatted, and make it easy for you to read just a little each day from saints ranging from Tertullian, Justin Martyr, and Clement, to later greats such as Augustine, John Chrysostom, Basil, and Benedict. If you are unfamiliar with the church father for the day's reading, there is a helpful index listing of the different church father's in the back with a brief (one paragraph) biography of each. There is also a Scripture index in the back. Overall, this is a great introduction to get Christians reading the early church fathers - for which I heartily applaud Bell & Kelly. My one qualm with Awakening Faith is that there is absolutely no citation of the work, chapter, or page from which these excerpts come - only a listing of the church father's name. For the average reader, this may not be as big an issue - but as someone who wants to read more of the church father's than just the excerpts, this is a travesty. It may be easy for those who are familiar with the church father's works to recognize where the text comes from, but if I were to give this to someone and they enjoyed a passage from Ephrem the Syrian, they would have no help whatsoever in knowing where they could read the context of the passage. The editors could have easily added at least the work cited (if not book/chapter/etc.) after the church father's name, without sacrificing any aesthetic appeal or creating any formatting issues. I am not sure if this was the decision of Zondervan, or Bell & Kelly - but I do hope future editions will remedy this problem - but until then I can only give this work 4 stars. (To be fair, in the biographical index in the back, under some of the church father's there is a listing of some of their works - but even this is partial and gives no direction for further reading on specific passages used in the entries). Note:I received this book for free from Zondervan via Cross Focused Reviews for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
altalbert More than 1 year ago
I'm not usually into supplementing along with my devotions, mainly because I tend to get distracted by books enough as it is, so I try to focus only on the Bible. But this past week I incorporated a book, "Awakening Faith" by James Stuart Bell, into my devotional time. I just read a couple or a few (depending on my time frame) each day. I have to say, I really enjoyed these devotions. The back copy states, "In the age of social media, where glib sayings abound, one yearns to read some deeper wisdom about life and faith on a regular basis. - Mark Galli". That is certainly true about this book. You will run across familiar names of faith in this book, such as Augustine, but I didn't know many of the men referred to throughout this book. Fortunately, the author includes a short snippet about each writer at the back of the book. It was so interesting to read about these men of great faith. I definitely recommend this devotional. The devotions are short but contain a lot of wisdom. They are easy to understand but they make you think. Very well written. Thank you to Cross Focused Reviews and Zondervan for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.