Morning Glory Devotional By Juanita Bynum Pneuma Life Publishing, 268 pp.If you consider a devotional book to be nothing more than a pleasantmorning diversion, a 10-minute spiritual Pop-Tart to start your day, thinkagain. Juanita Bynum's "Morning Glory Devotional" is, in the author's words,"not some sweet, neat, nice little treat." Not hardly. Its purpose is to help readers "devote yourself totally to God." She encourages us toseek the face of God early in the morning when we're "fresh and untamperedwith."Bynum, a flight-attendant-turned-prophetess, is a rising star in charismaticcircles as both a dynamic evangelist and gospel vocalist. She's cut records,written books, and frequently shares a podium with T.D. Jakes and othercharismatic bright lights.Bynum's "Morning Glory Devotional" and its companion volumes--a gift book, aprayer journal, and a collection of scriptures for meditation--are aimed atthose who already know Christ but lack spiritual maturity. As the authorputs it, "this book is not for babies."Writing in a strong, imperative voice as behooves a prophetess, Bynum exhortsher readers to "stop being sad, pitiful, and downtrodden." In anotherchapter, she writes "cut out all the filth and junk that has taken a hold ofyour life." To balance the many "don't do this" passages are others thatexplain what to do: "Pour out your heart to Him, and He'll pour out Hisspirit on you."Such a heavy emphasis on the things you-you-you need to do wears thin. Thereis little sense of what we, as a church, need to do, or what she as a womanof God needs to do. Confession and self-disclosure are in limited supply inthis devotional. Yet, like the prophets of old, Bynum sticks touncompromising exhortation as her call to action.A chapter on how to "Bless the Lord" provides wise counsel for those whofeel close to God while in church but lose that sense of Him in theireveryday lives: "Bless the Lord while you're washing dishes the same way youbless Him while in the choir stand, and you'll have church. The church isalready in you. Your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost, so believe me,any time you want to have church, you can have it."
Despite the personal tone and passionate wording of "Morning Glory," Bynumis not calling her followers to a faith built on emotional expression, butto one based on consistent obedience to Christ. "Emotionalisms mayentertain, but they cannot change a thing." Nonetheless, Bynum writes withsuch emotional fervor and conviction, it's clear she's out not to entertainbut to engage her readers: "Can you feel your living water? Can you feel it?Come on, hit your belly and sing, 'Spring up, O well.'"No lengthy, complicated compound sentences for this author. Her writing isterse and to the point: "Begin to birth change in your life. Push yourself.Break out. You can make it." Though she speaks in exclamation points, sheseldom resorts to using them as punctuation. Instead, strong verbs do hershouting for her.In one of her most powerfully prophetic--anointed, if you will--chapters,"Making the Second Decision," the writing is as fresh and eye-opening as thesubject matter. The chapter instructs us about going on with God, beyondthat first decision to know Him, to that second decision to serve Him nomatter what. It is about moving beyond the natural to the supernatural. Itis about going to what Bynum calls "the other side." She makes it clearthat God does the moving; we are merely to say, "yes, I'm willing," turning ourbacks on those old temptations of the flesh and spreading the gospel at anycost.Some readers may take exception to several references to asking for, evenexpecting, wealth as a by-product of spiritual growth. But for those who arestruggling financially, such promises of material blessing may offer amuch-needed word of encouragement and hope.Bynum's approach can be summed up in this straightforward admonishment fromthe chapter on purging and purifying: "it's either holiness or hell; thereis no in-between." Elsewhere Bynum defines iniquity as anything that doesnot have God in it. She cautions, "If you think that sounds just a tad toostrict, fine...just watch yourself." Consider yourself warned.