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Friday, April 21, 2017

"This Changes Everything" (Jaquelle Crowe)

TITLE: This Changes Everything: How the Gospel Transforms the Teen Years
AUTHOR: Jaquelle Crowe
PUBLISHER: Wheaton, IL: Crossway Publishers, 2017, (160 pages).

Very often, people would think that only bearded individuals with white hair are the authors who could come up with wise words and reliable reading. We might presume that only adults are qualified to talk about adult matters. For things of theology and Christian living, we might even reserve the domain for scholars, theologians, great preachers, or popular pastors. This is one reason why this book defies such old paradigms. Written by a gifted 19 year old girl who simply has this pure love for Jesus, this personal journal of Jaquelle Crowe makes it a refreshing contribution to the way God can work through all individuals, including teenagers. Writing with herself and the teen in mind, she focuses on eight core themes with regard to how the gospel can transform the teen years. In Identity, she reflects on the Apostle Paul's life changing transformation in which he treasures Christ; devalues everything else; having faith in Christ alone; knowing Jesus; willing to suffer for Him; and becoming like Jesus. The gospel changes her life through this identity in Christ. Live for Jesus. On Story, Crowe begins with a description of her first movie, starring herself! Gradually, she confesses that it is only significant when she sees it being connected to the larger story.
She then launches into a storytelling mode, paraphrasing the origin of creation in Genesis, to the promise of the Saviour; and subsequently, the coming and resurrection of Christ. We learn about sin being bad but grace being greater. We learn about the importance of following just one Master. On Community, she ponders about Church and despite the negative sentiments surrounding the word today, she confesses the we need the gospel to change our ideas about Church. Christ loves the Church. The gospel is about the community. It is about doing things together. It is about being a family. Crowe makes a powerful statement as follows: "God doesn't call young people to attend as spectators; he calls us to invest."  Ditto! It is a great reminded that Church is for all and it is important to do things together as one body. She goes on to list down a series of things that teens can do, that if they claim to love Jesus, do whatever it takes to show that. One way is to love the Church. I like the map of things to do on putting this love in action. On Sin, it is easy to identify the big sins like murder, theft, adultery, etc. What about the lack of guilt? What about the reluctance to live a holy life? What about the lack of desire to read the Bible? She then supplies five things to fight sin: 1) Feed on God's Word; 2) Repentance; 3) Hate Sin; 4) Humility; and 5) Be Accountable to those who love us. Following this, Crowe looks at Spiritual Disciplines like Spiritual Reading; Memorizing the Word; Prayer; and Evangelism. On Personal Growth, Crowe offers tips about discernment, what we read, how to evaluate music, the 3Ps to listening to sermons; etc. On Personal Time, she begins by recognizing how short life is. That coming from a teenager! That's something. She confesses some of the things that teenagers tend to waste time on. Most of all, we waste time when we get busy with all the wrong things for all the wrong reasons. Redemption comes when we give our best; enjoying God's gifts; sacrificing the idol of comfort. Finally, on Relationships, she reflects on relationships with parents, siblings, friends, and those of the opposite sex.

I must say that this is a delightful book on Christian Living for the Teenage Soul. Written in a simple and clear manner, it is about one teenager seeking to share the compassion and love for Jesus with people her own age. She infuses lots of her own journeys and experiences to ponder, to question, to pique our curiosity in such a way that we would want to join. The chapter about Church is definitely one of the most important reminders. For all the negativity and the historical baggage of some bad examples, many in the West have dismissed the Church's relevance and influence without much consideration. In bringing everything back to Jesus, we are reminded that we need to see the Church, and all other parts of our world from the lens of God's love in Jesus. The crux of it all is the basic questions: Who are we living for? It is a world in which many default to everybody for themselves paradigm. Sacrificial living is unheard of. We need to be reminded and we need role models to show us that. Jesus is that Person who has demonstrated what true love is. If we claim to be followers of Jesus, we need to show the way. Some other useful questions that adult, parents, and leaders in Churches could address with regard to teens are as follows, to teach teens on:

  1. How to know God for ourselves?
  2. How to live a life for Jesus?
  3. How to make wise decisions for ourselves?
  4. How to discern?
  5. How to be real and safe in an online world?
  6. How to relate to people in an offline world?
  7. How to think about sex?
  8. How to make friends of the opposite sex?
  9. How to think about hard things?
  10. How to tackle the tough realities of life?
These and many more could be dealt with. For a start, read this book.

Rating: 5 stars of 5.


This book has been provided courtesy of Crossway Publishers and NetGalley without requiring a positive review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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