I chose to review "Laughing with Sarah" not only because the description on the back (I'm a sucker for the anyone who is willing to admit that faith is a journey), but, also, being a minister of a small home church that is discussion-based, I love when books add a group discussion section into the book.
Perhaps my hopes were a bit high!
Jennings' book is a collection of sermons on differing topics. The best word I could use to describe this book is pedestrian. It is a feel-good devotional. Now that is not a bad thing by itself. However, Jennings is very very illustration heavy. He is constantly using a story from a book, movie, or some other media source. These start to feel less than genuine. Very few of the stories are personal and thus, I 1) never felt I formed a personal connection with this author and 2) It simply began to overshadow any Biblical texts that he might use. In this case, I also could not form a connection with the topic or text as well as it always seemed to fall short of anything really meaty!
Don't get me wrong. There are some good illustrations in there. A couple I have flagged for any occasion I may need them. However, they will have to be used sparingly and naturally connect with the text. Yet even the good illustrations are easily glossed over by the sheer number that he chooses to use. I neither think that this makes for a good sermon, nor a good devotional.
I will admit that my wish and disappointment came from whizzing through the Biblical texts. I wanted something much more to chew on. I would have loved for him to spend more time on the texts he chose and given some background that would tie it all together; something that would make a connection between the text and the topic stick with me. Instead I am more likely to be faced with a topic and a short pop-culture illustration that comes to mind.
I understand that this book will be good for some people. If you like, for instance, "Guideposts" magazine with their inspirational stories, than you would probably find this book enlightening and soothing. This is neither a condemnation of either publication, simply an observation (I used to love "Guideposts" growing up).
However, if you want something with a bit more meat on it's bones... something that truly inspires conversation (the discussion notes did not inspire much to talk about in my trial), then perhaps this is not the book for you.
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