Book Review: Jesus the Hero Family Devotional


“The Christian family was the bulwark of godliness in the days of the puritans, but in these evil times hundreds of families of so-called Christians have no family worship, no restraint upon growing sons, and no wholesome instruction or discipline. How can we hope to see the kingdom of our Lord advance when His own disciples do not teach His gospel to their own children?” ~ Charles Spurgeon, Morning and Evening

It may be that of all the spiritual disciplines that fell into decline throughout the decades of so-called “cultural Christianity” in the American church, that none has had such disastrous a consequence on culture in its absence than the demise of family worship.

In answer to this desperate situation among households across denominations, Dr.David Prince along with Jon Canler (General Editor) and his Ashland Avenue Baptist Church family, of which Dr. Prince is senior pastor, have provided the church at-large with a valuable resource that promises to re-introduce, re-engage, and re-ignite the practice of family worship with their publication of the book, “Jesus the Hero Family Devotional” (JTH).

JTH is a paperback volume published by Ashland Avenue Baptist Church and is available for purchase online at Amazon.com. While Dr. Prince is the primary author, one of the unique qualities of this family devotional is the contribution made by members of the Ashland church body. This means that the reader has the joint benefits of a devotional written and compiled by a teaching professor at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and material provided by lay authors who possess a variety of life and educational experiences. In this way, JTH is truly a devotional by the family and for the family.

The material design of JTH is intended to foster consistent family devotion throughout the week, with five concise units of study with two “off days” built in. The benefit of this is a clear commitment to family discipleship with a fair amount of grace for those unexpected intrusions to the family calendar. In addition, each unit of study is concise, and does not require large amounts of time to successfully complete. This is encouraging for larger families in which any twenty-minute exercise naturally turns into thirty or forty, and for those families who are just getting started. In short, JTH is a logistically accessible devotional for families of all sizes and backgrounds.

Saving the best for last, no review of JTH would be complete without a mention of the actual material. In the opening quote from the great Baptist preacher, Charles Spurgeon, he wrote of concerns for instruction, discipline, and the impartation of Gospel truth to the family and in particular, the children of any household. If these issues presented the church with a dilemma in Spurgeon’s day, how concerning must they be now?

The content of JTH may be the most exciting feature of the book. Dr. Prince wrote in his foreword, “Christ is the one in whom God will ultimately sum up the entire cosmos (Eph. 1:10) … The Jesus the Hero Family Devotional is an attempt to help followers of Christ in the task of summing up all things in Christ right now” (p.5). As the title makes explicit, JTH is a Christ-focused work that seeks to connect the biblical storyline in both Old and New Testaments to the reader’s life in such a way that application is true to Scripture with material suitable for all ages. In this way, the reader can be confident that what they are receiving is a biblically faithful aid along the road of family worship.

JTH is a book that any pastor, biblical counselor, or small group leader should be familiar with and prepared to recommend to any family under their care. There can be no doubt as to the spiritual growth that families stand to experience as they pursue Christ together. New families with little ones or teenagers ought not be discouraged as they implement this discipline for the first time, but should trust that as they gather in the living room or around the dining table, that God will honor their time in his word and Jesus the Hero will be among them.

A review copy of "Jesus the Hero Family Devotional" was provided to the reviewer (Joshua Waulk).