By Juanita Bynum
Pneuma Life Publishing, 268 pp. If you consider a devotional book to be nothing more than a pleasant morning diversion, a 10-minute spiritual Pop-Tart to start your day, think again. 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 to seek the face of God early in the morning when we're "fresh and untampered with." Bynum, a flight-attendant-turned-prophetess, is a rising star in charismatic circles as both a dynamic evangelist and gospel vocalist. She's cut records, written books, and frequently shares a podium with T.D. Jakes and other charismatic bright lights. Bynum's "Morning Glory Devotional" and its companion volumes--a gift book, a prayer journal, and a collection of scriptures for meditation--are aimed at those who already know Christ but lack spiritual maturity. As the author puts it, "this book is not for babies." Writing in a strong, imperative voice as behooves a prophetess, Bynum exhorts her readers to "stop being sad, pitiful, and downtrodden." In another chapter, she writes "cut out all the filth and junk that has taken a hold of your life." To balance the many "don't do this" passages are others that explain what to do: "Pour out your heart to Him, and He'll pour out His spirit on you." Such a heavy emphasis on the things you-you-you need to do wears thin. There is little sense of what we, as a church, need to do, or what she as a woman of God needs to do. Confession and self-disclosure are in limited supply in this devotional. Yet, like the prophets of old, Bynum sticks to uncompromising exhortation as her call to action. A chapter on how to "Bless the Lord" provides wise counsel for those who feel close to God while in church but lose that sense of Him in their everyday lives: "Bless the Lord while you're washing dishes the same way you bless Him while in the choir stand, and you'll have church. The church is already 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."