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

Zondervan / 2013 / Hardcover

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Product Description

In Awakening Faith, author James Stuart Bell presents a collection of warm-hearted exhortations to a joyful, faithful Christian life written by some of the most significant teachers of the church's first eight centuries. Avoiding dry theology in favor of spiritual insight and practical relevance, Bell's compilation features gently updated language and an eye for modern application.

A Scripture reading accompanies each of the 366 entries in this collection, along with brief biographical sketches at the back of the book, making Awakening Faith a wonderful yearlong introduction both to the Church Fathers and to the kind of Christian life to which they continue to call God's people.

Product Information

Format: Hardcover
Number of Pages: 384
Vendor: Zondervan
Publication Date: 2013
Dimensions: 8.00 X 5.25 X 1.40 (inches)
ISBN: 0310514878
ISBN-13: 9780310514879

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Publisher's Description

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 

Author Bio

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.


Product Reviews

3.8 Stars Out Of 5
3.8 out of 5
4 out Of 5
(4 out of 5)
4.3 out Of 5
(4.3 out of 5)
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4.3 out Of 5
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Displaying items 1-5 of 5
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  1. Age: 35-44
    Gender: female
    3 Stars Out Of 5
    a deep devotional
    June 18, 2014
    Age: 35-44
    Gender: female
    "Awakening Faith: Daily Devotions from the Early Church" by James Stuart Bell with Patrick J. Kelly is a day by day year long devotional compiled of writing and prayers from leaders of early Christianity. Each day has a scripture, prayer or message, and the author. Most of the authors I had not heard of. I have been Christian all my life, but am not anywhere near what you would call a scholar. Though the language has been updated, the messages are still told in historical fashion. The reading can get a little dry sometimes if you are not used to it. These stories go in pretty deep with their message. If you are looking for a light hearted quick read for daily devotion, this is not the book for you. If you want to go deep and to the root of the early church beliefs, than have at it. I received this book for free from
  2. 4 Stars Out Of 5
    Go deeper in your devotionals in 2014 ...
    December 28, 2013
    Quality: 4
    Value: 4
    Meets Expectations: 4
    Are you searching for a new daily devotional for 2014?

    Would you like something better than the almost cheesy, positive-thinking philosophy, more-platitude-than-biblical-thought devotionals written by rock star pastors? Would you be interested in something with a little more theological depth that can actually challenge your thinking and your living?

    If so, let me point you to "Awakening Faith" by James Stuart Bell, with Patrick Kelly (published by Zondervan).

    So what is it that makes this book something of depth and value as a devotional? Simple answer: it's comprised of 366 writings from the early church fathers. These guys were a little more thoughtful and sober in their writings than many of the guys who write today. The early church fathers weren't worried about building a "platform," expanding a personal brand, amassing an audience for book sales, or becoming popular so they could go on the conference speaker circuit. They were primarily concerned about teaching Christ, as is evident in the content of their writing.

    Each page of the book begins with a scripture verse, followed by a short writing from one of the early church fathers. It could be notes about the church from John Chrysostom, thoughts about holiness from Clement of Rome, ponderings on forgiveness and holiness from Leo the Great, or teaching about how Christ shares our suffering from Augustine. The topics are multiple, as are the church fathers, but each takes you a little deeper than a daily platitude.

    In the back of the book you'll find a paragraph-length "bio" on each of the church fathers included in this devotional. In addition to providing you with thoughts to awaken your faith, this book is an easy way for Christians to get a simple introduction to the men who provided spiritual leadership to the church in its early days.

    "Awakening Faith" provides a refreshing new depth to short devotional reading. Why not pick up a copy of this book and spend the year learning from the early church fathers? It just might really do something to awaken a deeper faith in you.

    I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their book review bloggers program. 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."
  3. Dallas, PA
    Age: 55-65
    Gender: female
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    Awakening Faith
    December 10, 2013
    Dallas, PA
    Age: 55-65
    Gender: female
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 5
    Who knew? I certainly didn't. What a rich legacy those of the early church have left for us! And it's been all but lost to the majority of the believers in modern times. Lots of reasons for that loss, but this isn't the place for listing them.

    What it is the place for is to appreciate what Bell and Kelly, along with all those that make this sort of work happen, have done for us. The introduction explains a little about the Church Fathers and what some of their concerns were, how they understood their life and times, and some of the encouragement they offered. A short biographical sketch of each of them is included at the end of the book. I found that very helpful in placing them in their respective time frame. Polycarp was very early and Maximus the Confessor about 500 years later. One of them even had contact with Attila the Hun---in a positive sort of way.

    Although I have not read every entry, I can say that this is definitely a worthwhile book to buy and savor. I have decided to use it as a devotional for myself. (Thank you, Zondervan and Booksneeze.) The depth and breadth of these writings is so different from what I've seen anywhere else. And I've looked and read a lot lately.

    Only thing that might have been nice would have been to include from which of the volumes the devotional reading was drawn since there are an entire shelf full of the writings of the Church Fathers, but that's just the school girl part of me talking. That in no way detracts from what was written.

    Yes, I do recommend this devotional book without reservation.

    This book was provided to me by the publisher via Booksneeze in exchange for this review.
  4. Indiana
    Age: 45-54
    Gender: female
    3 Stars Out Of 5
    November 16, 2013
    Age: 45-54
    Gender: female
    Quality: 3
    Value: 3
    Meets Expectations: 3
    With this book, readers are provided a collection of daily devotions from some of the earlier founding fathers of the Christian church. There is a short devotion for each day of the week on a various topics, but there is no real continuity of theology in certain matters. Also, the source for these daily brief writings is not given. I thought there needed to be more cohesiveness so as to create less confusion for the general reader. Let's face it, this could be a daunting and some might say difficult undertaking to read these early writings. I wanted more information on where these writings came from, and I think others might too, especially if they are interested in learning more about the early church. I think the idea of presenting readers with thoughts of early church leaders is interesting and would encourage readers to research more about this interesting subject.

    There are some inspiring and wonderful pieces I very much enjoyed reading, and I also liked the wide time period chosen (7-8 centuries) as well as the cultural or ethnic backgrounds of the writers. I found the brief notes in the back of the book about each author interesting and informative. I also liked that the readings were short and fairly concise, so it was easy to take away what I wanted or needed from a particular days' excerpt. Very important to me was the use of Scripture with the writings and the thoughts about the Scripture and not the other way around of using Scripture out of context to fit an author's viewpoint. The rating I assigned is based on my opinion that some readers might take all of these writings as biblically and theologically sound when they all are not.
  5. 4 Stars Out Of 5
    A Beneficial Addition to Your Library
    November 2, 2013
    Quality: 4
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 5
    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."
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