Is “Jesus Calling” a wrong number? (Book Review)

From time to time people have asked me to review books. I read many for research, and wish I had the time to write reviews that would be worthy of helping someone glean insight. I am glad that there are talented writers with discernment who can help people decide if they want to delve into a book that might introduce ideas that are slightly off the narrow path of biblical doctrine. Over at Steak And Bible, Julia has sent me an excellent review of the very popular book, Jesus Calling: Enjoying Peace in His Presence by Sarah Young. There are some serious concerns to share.

Christians, especially women, are eating this up. As of six months ago the book has sold nearly 3 million copies. There is also a Jesus Calling: 365 Devotions For Kids , Jesus Calling – Teen Edition and the Jesus Calling Devotional Bible under the same franchise, and those are selling like ice cubes in July as well. Here is an excerpt from Julia’s blog. Make sure you read the entire review here:

Cover of "Jesus Calling: Enjoying Peace i...

Is Deception Calling? A review of Jesus Calling by Sarah Young

…Young writes that “One morning as I prayed, I visualized God protecting each of us. I pictured first our daughter, then our son, and then Steve encircles by God’s protective Presence, which looked like golden light. When I prayed for myself, I was suddenly enveloped in brilliant light and profound peace…”

This sounds very similar to New Age and Occult accounts. Visualization is a popular occult practice because practitioners believe that they can create reality by imagining it into existence. Let Us Reason Ministries and others have warned about the “Christianization” of such practices. Slapping a “Christian” label on a pagan practice does not make it acceptable to God. The Bible actually warns against divination, witchcraft (Deut. 18:10-12) and adopting pagan religious practices (Matt. 6:7 “But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.”)

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34 Responses to “Is “Jesus Calling” a wrong number? (Book Review)”

  1. ali #

    Such a timely article. My daughter only yesterday told me she had received a copy of Jesus Calling and was anxious to read it. I was familiar with God Calling, and was not sure if the two were alike, so I made no comment.

    And now I know they are.

    Thanks for the article.

    July 5, 2012 at 2:13 pm
  2. Cindy #

    Thank you for writing about this book. So many of my friends read it and cling to its words now more than they cling to God’s Word. We left a supposed “bible-teaching” church over issues that stemmed from this book. We were deemed “closed-minded” and “legalistic” by that pastor, which we found incredibly sad. The parts of this book that I have read made my skin crawl because they sounded so New Age – Jesus as a “cocoon of light”, etc. I pray that the eyes of my friends will be opened to see this for what it is – heresy – and get back to reading the Word of God.

    July 6, 2012 at 7:13 am
    • Susan #

      Cindy – the very first entry I ever read started with this phrase – “Find your security in God alone!” I also remember things like “Emmanuel, God is with you!” as well as “His Spirit is with you and in you.” This is not heresy but very much in accordance with scripture. I don’t believe that Jesus Calling is leading people astray – anything that turns someone to his precious word can only draw people closer to his precious kingdom!

      November 14, 2012 at 9:49 pm
    • Hi Cindy. Gods’ blessings on you. I listen to a lot of preachers/evangelist and some – even though they are Spirit filled & speaking the truth I must test it in accordance w/ Gods’ Word & the Holy Spirit in us. If I feel anything negative, I search it out in Gods’ Word & pray. The Holy Spirit search out for you. I don’t listen to all men of God or agree w/ them. God made us all in His image & we are all unique. Many books I lay down, for me inspire me. I must be careful not to judge. What doesn’t bless me may certainly bless the next guy or gal. A child of God in church today gave testimony. When he finished the book, “JESUS CALLING”, many years of nicotine addiction gone. What’s good for the goose is not always good for the gander. Numbers 6:24 – 26, “the Lord bless thee, and keep thee: The Lord make thy face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: the Lord lift up His countenance upon thee, and give thee peace”. God bless you. Love in Christ, Samuel.

      March 17, 2013 at 11:26 pm
  3. Susan #

    I’ve used Jesus Calling as my morning devotion for two years in a row now. I never really paid attention to the intro and was not familiar with her story. What I am familiar with is this – each day leads me to scripture that serves as a daily reminder that Jesus is with me! I am a born again believer in Jesus, and I have developed a closer relationship with him because of the SCRIPTURE that accompanies each entry. God’s Word will not return void. It certainly hasn’t in my own spiritual walk.

    November 14, 2012 at 9:46 pm
  4. Judy #

    I’ve used Jesus Calling in devotional time and it always points me to Jesus. I love the references to scripture. God uses a lot of imagery in the scriptures. Just because the enemy chose to copy and misues imagery doesn’t mean we throw out all imagery. We need to use discernment.

    November 25, 2012 at 8:46 am
  5. Mary #

    People are different and should embrace what works for them as long as they are not judging or harming others. Diversity is beautiful. Viewing the world with new eyes can be stimulating.

    December 14, 2012 at 9:46 am
  6. Jeff #

    Sorry, your “review” is itself heretical. The devotional is a great resource that quite clearly helps millions of readers grow in Jesus. The idea that “visualization” is somehow evil is infantile. Without a vision, the people perish. We all visualize things. As believers we do it in the context of our relationship with Jesus. Pagans also pray and dream. Should we quit those as well?

    January 2, 2013 at 8:26 am
    • Jeff, your comment has inspired me to post a new article on this topic:
      Is “Jesus Calling” in your library?

      January 2, 2013 at 1:23 pm
    • Sharon #

      I know that there are pros and cons to every situation, but I find it discouraging, when Christians decide they can judge. That is the worst example, we can set for our fellow Christians, and esp. non Christians. I read my Bible every day, and I find other sources that help me on my day to day path toward a closer relationship with my Lord and Savior. He walks with me, and talks with me, and I know He is with me. AS I study, I have often kept a journal of my day to day experience that results from my relationship with God. This book is just that, someones journal that reflects their experience with God. The Bible is full of stories that tell of many men and God relationship journeys. I gain from those stories; if God was a help in those days, then surely, He will be my help. To say that this author’s stories are “new age”, is a judgement. Surely, if the NEGATIVE REVIEW of this book, keeps one person from gaining in their walk with God, then it is worse for one to read this article, than the book, which inspires a closer walk with God. Just for those reading this review, I do need to add one very important fact, not mentioned in the review. EVERY daily devotion is followed by several relevant scripture! We are surrounded by many evils in this world that are clearly evil, and we need to speak against them, but this isn’t one of those evils. Let’s not waste our time tearing down that which binds us to the ONE that can lift us out of despair! In His Love

      January 11, 2013 at 9:30 pm
      • Howard #

        1corinthians 5:12
        What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside?

        January 3, 2014 at 1:21 pm
  7. Janet Williams #

    Jesus Calling is being passed to women in prison as a ministry. Many were lead to the Lord. Sarah simply shares her quiet time with Jesus and shares what Jesus is speaking to her. Following every reading are Scriptures to look up in your Bible. This book helped me tremendously when I went through three years of trial and suffering. It is a kind word, uplifting, and a blessing. I have given cases of this book to women who
    are broken and hurting, and it has blessed them. Jesus is calling each of us to spend time with Him on a daily basis. It is an encouragement for many. I have read my Jesus calling every day after reading my Bible for several years. It always seems to speak to the core of my situation. It is amazing and I would recommend it to anyone who wants to share time with Jesus.

    January 20, 2013 at 8:40 pm
  8. Marie #

    I sat in church pew on Sunday mornings looking at the empty chair placed in the front of the church, on the raised platform beside the pastor’s pulpit stand. The old wooden chair was empty and we (the pew sitters) were all told to “visualize” Jesus in that chair as we sat throught the one hour long service. This was a part of the Henry Blackaby’s “Experiencing God” Bible study the church was conducting at the time. In this study Mr. Blackaby recommended this exercise to teach how we should conduct ourselves if we could “see” Jesus with us. So I searched the Scriptures to find the passages where believers are commanded to “visualize” Jesus or seek to hear His audible voice. I could not find any for faith comes by hearing and not by sight. After studying new age practices and philosophies after having a demonic experience (slain or drunk in the spirit complete with seeing bright lights and hearing audible voices) in a charismatic church system, I discovered that all of these practices to try to earn a closeness to God, are in fact of the evil one. I was deceived into believing that my experience was of God, causing tremendous problems in my marriage because I wanted to keep going back to this church system to have “more” of God and experiencing that tremendous peace that accompanied this new age practice. I want to emphasize again, that I was deceived. Just because I “felt” total piece, saw incredible bright colored lights, heard a voice say audibly “I love you,” does not mean that this was from God, my Father. This happened in a church building with a pastor leading the cause….he was a divorced man who believed he could hear from God and then pass on “personal words of prophecy” to all who stood before him. I had never experienced this form of church service ever in all of my years growing up in the church system, so this was exciting, exhilerating, and I felt a growing sense of hyper spirituality and elitism because god had chosen me for this experience. Since reading my Bible, meditating on the Scriptures, studying the cross refernces for each passage, and through a life of prayer, God, the Holy Spirit, has become my Teacher in whom I place my trust.

    March 18, 2013 at 9:13 am
  9. Carol #

    A friend of mine has given me this book in the hopes that it will lead me to Jesus & God. It has done so. It is a review like this which is more inclined to put me off Religion. I think Jesus calling is beautiful and will lead many to the Lord.

    May 2, 2013 at 4:37 am
    • Rose Doddato #

      Carol, I got saved from reading Norman Vincent Peale’s book, Power of Positive Thinking, which is not a book that I would recommend to ANYONE now that I have been a Christian for 30+ years. There was on small bit of truth in that book that changed my life. But there was a whole lot of error in it as well…though I was oblivious to it back then. At the time though, God did use it because there was nothing else in my possession with ANY truth in it. I had no Bible. One small truth from that terrible book kept going around in my mind and finally brought me to my knees. God can use anything when He is ready to save a person. My case proves it. But, all the same, I would never recommend a book like that to others, nor would I recommend this one because, though it may contain some truth, it can also lead people astray into a false gospel. Once a person gets saved, the very best book to read is the Bible. You don’t need anything else. I do read Christian books from time to time, but always with a discerning eye…does it line up completely with what the Bible teaches? If it contains error, why continue reading it when I have the Word which is flawless.

      Would I eat a cookie, no matter how delicious it appears to be, if I knew there was a little bit of poison in it? A little bit can still hurt me.

      May 2, 2013 at 12:25 pm
      • I would just say first, AMEN, and second, it wasn’t the Norman Vincent Peale book that saved you at all, but only the power of the Holy Spirit. Glad you are here, Rose!

        May 2, 2013 at 1:24 pm
        • Rose Doddato #

          That is exactly right, Amy. It was the Holy Spirit completely and was truly a miracle. Thank you for your kind words.

          May 2, 2013 at 8:35 pm
  10. Karen Velasquez #

    my only real issue with the book is the first person point of view. In her first person writing she is indeed adding to the bible in a way that I stopped feeling comfortable with. This is a tough call. I am director of women’s ministries at a large church and we have a big Jesus Calling group. But writing as if you are able to speak for Jesus in a first person way seems somehow to be wrong. I’m struggling with this.

    July 8, 2013 at 8:56 am
  11. I agree with Karen about using the “first person” point of you. I feel very uncomfortable with that, as well as the introduction describing her “experiences”, rather than conviction and repentence leading to salvation. Maybe i am missing something in her testimony…I know a lot of Christians feel very blessed by her book, but I had to put it aside.

    August 12, 2013 at 9:14 am
  12. Peggy #

    The first time I picked up the book and read from it I felt very uneasy. Of course the concept of Jesus speaking to us and starting our day with loving words from Him is irresistible, because what Jesus loving, born again believer wouldn’t want to hear these comforting words from Him? Or for that matter, anyone who may be seeking Him? The mere thought of this could melt my heart. I love Him so much, and when I’m reading Scripture sometimes the love is so great my heart actually burns. But I must say ~ with a heart that I always pray daily, will not be deceived ~ I think that this is a dangerous book. Please hear me out. This Jesus in “Jesus calling” is not the Jesus of the Bible. So, although it may be leading drones of people to Jesus ~ which Jesus are they being lead to? I can’t recall the date of this entry, but it begins with, “Let me control your mind.” This one literally sent a shiver up my spine. Through Scripture we have the privilege to come to know Jesus in such a precious, personal way. When we pray for the Holy Spirit to teach us and I ask Him, “Please take me to Jesus. I wish to see Jesus….” ~ He will do it. I can never in my wildest dreams, imagine that MY Jesus of Scripture, would say things like, “Whisper my name. Let me control your mind.”
    Sorry. I’m not buying it.
    If Sarah Young’s writings are authentic, then for heaven’s sake~ the bible needs to be reopened and rewritten because this is divine! But if they are not….then it’s just a very sweet lie. And the most dangerous lies are the sweet ones.
    Blessings everyone. Please just open your bibles. Jesus is there. The real Jesus.

    October 6, 2013 at 1:53 am
    • Beckie Peterson #

      I was given this book by a pastor friend and managed to get thru a couple of months of it. It never quite felt right to me. And the more I tried to do it, I even started discussing it with a friend who was reading it as well and it just got harder and harder. it was just stuff that didnt seem Jesus like to me.

      October 22, 2013 at 10:54 pm
  13. Peggy #

    *word correction. Throngs of people, not drones. Sorry about that, it was very late. 🙂

    October 6, 2013 at 8:07 am
  14. Hi, I would like to tell you of my experience with God Calling. I bought it thinking it would draw me closer to Jesus Christ. I was even given a copy of it for a Christmas present, but said I already had a copy. I began reading it and there is definitely a “draw” to read it. I became very frustrated and thought, “who is she, that Jesus speaks to her in such a way?” I took the book and threw it in the garbage. This book is not MY JESSUS CHRIST speaking. it is some other voice. The BIBLE is enough for me and through it I get to know and hear the truth. Thanks, Carol.

    October 20, 2013 at 6:01 pm
  15. Peggy #

    2 Timothy 4:3
    “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.”

    October 23, 2013 at 7:16 am
  16. Christina #

    I also have been heavily involved in the occult and am very wary of books that may be “false Christ’s”. Yesterday I realized a book I was very much into was demonic. But the examples were obvious (I just hadn’t gotten to those points yet). There are many things that may seem demonic because the enemy is a counterfeiter. For example, after renouncing the occult, I thought all meditation was wrong. But no, the bible tells us to meditate. Eastern religions have twisted mediation. Let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater. I haven’t gotten all the way through Jesus Calling, but I know I feel more focused on the peace of Jesus. And for some of us who feel that God is “mad at us” this is a great comfort to remind us to put our trust and faith in Jesus. This is not a book that points to works, or anything outside of grace or faith. It does not take our eyes off of Jesus. It centers squarely on Him.

    October 28, 2013 at 10:18 pm
    • Christina #

      Okay, ignore my post above. I read Steak and Bible’s review – yep. I am throwing out the book and the Jesus Calling Bible. I am frustrated at the Christian book publishers and Christian book stores who publish and sell these books! Now I have to go through my whole library!

      October 28, 2013 at 10:26 pm
      • That’s wonderful news, Christina! Julia at Steak and Bible wrote this review, and it has been helpful to so many. I want to also alert you to a brand new book releasing in November from Warren B. Smith (former New-Ager), titled: “A Differnt Jesus Calling.” We will be interviewing him in a few weeks. Hope you can tune in!

        October 29, 2013 at 8:19 am
  17. Rebecca #

    I am a Christian, have been since I was 14; now 41. Grew up in a conservative Baptist church and am thankful for it. I have just gone through the most horrific year of my life. More pain than I ever thought I could experience. Had days I could hardly lift my head to look at our precious loving Jesus. Jesus Calling carried messages for me on many days and led me back to my bible on several occasions…. So to those who don’t believe we should ask for Jesus to guide our pen or speak to us personally…Does that mean all of those beautiful Christian songs that bring us to our knees and glorifying the Lord, are to be thrown in the garbage and burned as well? For I am pretty certain that before the artist who wrote each of those songs began to write, he or she stopped and asked our precious father, “Please guide my pen with your words”.

    November 14, 2013 at 5:05 pm
  18. Rachael #

    So many people I know are just spellbound with the Jesus Calling devotional but from the very first passage I read, I felt a strong sense of rejection. I wasn’t sure if it was because it is written in first person or if I was decerning an underlying problem. Now I have confirmation – thank you!

    November 27, 2013 at 6:51 am
  19. Marie #

    There is one revelation that God, our Father has shown me since becoming His child, having experienced great trials and tribulations at the hands of the religious, and knowing that victory which is found only in our LORD Jesus Christ….and that is this…..

    “If I have to read another book penned by men/women to experience love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control, then I know by the leading of God, the Holy Spirit, and all of these are counterfeit, for the true fruits of the Spirit come only from One source, and that is God, the Father, God, the Son, and God, the Holy Spirit. For not one man has walked this earth sinless and with a pure Holy God Honoring agenda.”

    I know from personal experience, for I too have bought many a book seeking answers to life’s problems of living, that there is only One who has all the answers, and that is our precious LORD Jesus Christ.

    We are so desperately lacking here in America, for our desires seek men’s opinions and words of knowledge above our Holy Scriptures and the flesh goes to great lengths to defend their favorite human icon.

    May God forgive us for what we have become, “a nation of human idolatry.”

    November 27, 2013 at 7:58 am
  20. Obviously the genuine Word of God is irreplaceable but I have found Jesus Calling to be a great compliment. I understand the criticism this book has gotten as it may appear that Sarah Young is in a sense “re-writing” God’s Word. However, I do not believe this is the case.

    I believe the author is merely writing what she has learned from reading scripture and prayer. I do not believe that she intends to be speaking for our Lord. The first person tone of Jesus is a unique way to express her thoughts and it should be taken with a grain of salt.

    If anything this book helps remind me that Jesus is with me everyday.

    December 1, 2013 at 2:47 pm
  21. Marie #

    I’ll stick to the Bible, the God inspired Word, for my devotional time with Him. He never steers me to the left, nor the right, and is always faithful with His Truth.

    And if I err, then it will be on the side of our Father, Who art in Heaven….and He reminds me that Jesus will never leave me, nor forsake me. Amen.

    December 1, 2013 at 3:49 pm
  22. Tracy Meadows #

    My sister, a New Age believer (all religions lead to the God within, except for Christianity and the need for salvation in Jesus), was given Jesus Calling as a gift from a friend. She loves the book, but has rejected the saving grace of God in Jesus Christ for decades. Her love of this book apart from who Jesus is what led me to seek Christian reviews of this book. Have to agree that she should try the Bible before a devotional book… I am afraid to ask her if she has found salvation, the last time I suggested that we are all sinners in need of salvation, she didn’t speak to me for a year.

    January 16, 2014 at 12:52 pm
  23. Vita #

    I have been both a Christian Bookstore employee & owner for 33 years. I read “Jesus
    Calling” every day, & find it very inspiring & helpful, especially with some of my anxiety issues. It also reminds me to “Practice the Presence of God” as Brother Lawrence did, and which I need to do more. I know there are “heresy hunters” out there who criticize the book, but I think they are being overly sensitive. There is NOTHING in “Jesus Calling” that Jesus wouldn’t say to us!

    January 25, 2014 at 12:08 pm