2017-07-12
Morning Glory Devotional
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." Despite the personal tone and passionate wording of "Morning Glory," Bynum is not calling her followers to a faith built on emotional expression, but to one based on consistent obedience to Christ. "Emotionalisms may entertain, but they cannot change a thing." Nonetheless, Bynum writes with such emotional fervor and conviction, it's clear she's out not to entertain but 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 is terse 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, she seldom resorts to using them as punctuation. Instead, strong verbs do her
shouting 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 the subject matter. The chapter instructs us about going on with God, beyond that first decision to know Him, to that second decision to serve Him no matter what. It is about moving beyond the natural to the supernatural. It is about going to what Bynum calls "the other side." She makes it clear that God does the moving; we are merely to say, "yes, I'm willing," turning our backs on those old temptations of the flesh and spreading the gospel at any cost. Some readers may take exception to several references to asking for, even expecting, wealth as a by-product of spiritual growth. But for those who are struggling financially, such promises of material blessing may offer a much-needed word of encouragement and hope. Bynum's approach can be summed up in this straightforward admonishment from the chapter on purging and purifying: "it's either holiness or hell; there is no in-between." Elsewhere Bynum defines iniquity as anything that does not have God in it. She cautions, "If you think that sounds just a tad too strict, fine...just watch yourself." Consider yourself warned.
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