Young has become a lucrative brand while granting almost no interviews and making no author appearances. Hobbled by Lyme disease and other health problems, she mostly sticks close to home. There are almost no public photographs of her, and she will not talk by telephone. The October issue of Christianity Today, which is like the People magazine for evangelical Christians, contains a long article that seems to float the possibility that Ms. Young writes, in the voice of Jesus.
I accepted the limitations of infancy under the most appalling conditions — a filthy stable.
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That is from the devotional for Dec. Young, who graduated from Wellesley College in , is married to a Presbyterian missionary and has two children and two grandchildren. She is in the process of moving to Tennessee from Australia. Jesus Calling Deluxe edition 9.
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Jesus Calling Women's edition Jesus Today. But also unlike many of today's bestselling writers, Young suffers from debilitating health conditions. She says the ongoing issues, which never have been properly diagnosed, prevent her from spending time in the spotlight.
- “JESUS CALLING” BY SARAH YOUNG.
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In some senses, that's just the way she likes it. Away from the celebrity status that a best-selling book could afford, Minchew says, Young spends her time doing what she loves: praying and listening. However, Jesus is one of the few calling Young; she is not available for interviews, whether in person or over the phone. After offering CT an exclusive phone interview, Young eventually declined to participate due to additional health setbacks. She later agreed to answer some of CT's questions for this story via e-mail through Minchew. That's when Minchew took over as publisher of Thomas Nelson's gift books division and just before sales skyrocketed.
Over that time, Minchew says, she and Young have become "very dear friends," Skyping often and e-mailing almost every day. Such a relationship with one's publisher is one more Young rarity. That love manifests itself in Young's practice of journaling, through which she has collected—and later published—messages from God for decades. Young became a Christian as an adult after studying at Francis Schaeffer's L'Abri in Switzerland, where she says she first experienced the presence of "Sweet Jesus.
Following her conversion, she earned a degree from St. Louis's Covenant Theological Seminary, where she met her husband, Steve. Together they worked as Presbyterian Church in America missionaries in Japan for eight years, during which Young gave birth to two children. In , after Young completed a counseling degree from Georgia State University and shortly after she began journaling , the Youngs moved to Australia to work with Japanese immigrants. Margaret Thatcher, whose husband ministered with Young's husband at Henderson Memorial Presbyterian Church in Perth, describes Young as gentle, interesting, and generous.
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The two women attended ministers' wives breakfasts and worship services together, but Thatcher says Young stayed in the background. But he became more and more quiet until in the end, he realized that prayer is listening. To any healthy person, Young's life may indeed seem isolating. In , Young wrote in a support letter that she sometimes felt as though her skin had "been stuck with a needle or like someone has set fire to it.
The pain is so bad I get dizzy. She battled two co-infections of Lyme disease including a seven-year misdiagnosis of chronic fatigue syndrome and mild to severe vertigo throughout her entire service in Perth. As a result, Young says via e-mail, she spent much of her time "living in one room in our home in Perth for about 20 hours a day. Not anymore.
This spring, the Youngs moved from Perth back to Nashville—Young's hometown—partially to seek medical treatment. Now that she has returned permanently to the States, Young told CT in a separate, personal e-mail, she is looking forward to spending more time with her two grandchildren, Elie and John, who live in North Carolina. But even though she plans to stay busy as a doting grandmother and praying author—she currently is writing another yearlong devotional in the same format as Jesus Calling —the health setbacks continue. However, Young also has written that her illness may be part of a spiritual struggle against her family's missionary work and her writing.
Young wrote that she struggles to overcome the "trenches of adversity. She credits that book to the fact that she faced the hopelessness of a serious illness. That hopelessness is common to many Americans, Young says in the introduction to Jesus Today. And it's one reason many readers say they feel more connected to Jesus after reading her books: They help people feel Jesus "right where we are.
Christians throughout the centuries have accepted the idea that God speaks to them, but the specific discipline of listening prayer hasn't been an evangelical strong suit. If book sales are any indication, though, Jesus Calling has reignited a fire for the practice—as well as debate over the dangers of it.
As a result, they have no reason to assume that God does not respond when they engage him in interactive conversation; that's what real prayer is.
If you made a stack of all the copies of Jesus Calling sold, it would be more than miles tall—the distance from the bottom of the Mariana Trench to the top of Mt. Everest over 11 times. Young told CT in the e-mail through Minchew that her method of listening involves meditating on Scripture and spending quiet time in prayer—"listening and then writing what I feel he is placing on my heart".
But if it's that simple, why is Young's take on listening prayer in Jesus Calling , especially the book's claim to contain the actual words of Jesus, ruffling feathers among theologians and scholars? Ben Witherington, professor of New Testament for doctoral studies at Asbury Theological Seminary, says Young's writings aren't prayer at all. The Bible defines prayer as a human-generated activity toward God, he says. If humans do receive a genuine, new word of revelation from God, that's a specific spiritual gift—and not one usually associated with theologically conservative, Reformed Presbyterians.
But it isn't the same as prayer. It could be that Young is the recipient of this particular gift, but the reassuring words of Jesus Calling don't seem that revelatory. Young's writings are "nothing that [she] couldn't have gotten from just reading the New Testament," he says. Michael Horton, J. He says Young's emphasis on each reader's personal, private relationship with Christ is well intentioned, but the practice could be dangerous because God has not promised to speak to Christians individually.
As a result, Horton says, Christians should be concerned about the book on two different levels, in terms of both the method Young uses and the content of her book. Young exhorts readers, in the "voice" of God, to "focus your thoughts on Me" and to "think about who I AM in all My Power and Glory; ponder also the depth and breadth of My Love for you. A close walk with Me is a life of continual newness," Young writes in Jesus Calling. But he indicated that it is wrong for Young to portray her thoughts as if they were the real words of Jesus Christ.
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In fact, regardless of whether it's biblically sound, it's an entire book built on falsehood. According to the book's description, the book is a daily devotional based on what she heard from God in her quiet times. A publicist for Harper Collins responded to Alcorn's criticism when contacted by The Christian Post, by pointing to Young's explanation in the introduction to her devotional.
In the introduction, Young says, "I decided to 'listen' with pen in hand, writing down whatever I 'heard' in my mind.
Sarah Young Still Hears Jesus Calling | Christianity Today
I was not listening for an audible voice; I was spending time seeking God's Face Psalm nkjv. This new way of communicating with God became the high point of my day. Of course, I knew my writings were not inspired — as only Scripture is — but they were helping me grow closer to God.