charles h dyer
Thirty Days in the Land with Jesus
A Holy Land Devotional*
by Charles H. Dyer
Charles H. Dyer invites us to take a guided tour of the life, ministry and homeland of Jesus Christ. His passion for making scripture come alive by contextualizing the events in the life of Christ gives the reader a new-found appreciation for the gospel writers and a strengthened faith as their faith in Jesus is strengthened and they learn over and over that every word of the Bible can be trusted.
I’ve never been to Israel, but this book is so beautiful, alive, and meaningful, that I almost feel as though I have. Dyer is an excellent author who’s style is personal, captivating and exciting. He writes as a tour-guide would speak, pointing out details that many would overlook to show the historical, geographical and personal significance that each location holds. He helps us to see the accuracy and trustworthiness of scripture, and encourages us to put our lives into the hands of the Jesus we read about in the Bible.
In the introduction to the book Dyer encourages the reader to read the book “slowly, deliberately, thoughtfully” and I’m very glad I took his advice because it would be impossible to process the weight and meaning of all that he presents in one sitting. It’s not that the amount of information is overwhelming, or it is told in a dry way, but that there are so many “wow!” moments along the way. There were days that brought such powerful new insights to familiar scriptures that I ended up setting the book onto my lap and pondering the significance of what I just learned. Dyer brings to the reader knowledge which only a master student of the scriptures with first hand knowledge of the Israel would be able to give. I know and love Jesus more as a result of reading this little book.
That said, it took me until day eight to fully appreciate this book, for two reasons. First, there were some days that the photograph seemed disconnected from the content of the chapter. For example, on day 4 Dyer spends paragraphs describing the geography of Nazareth and then shows a picture of a tree. Yes, he mentions a tree on the next page, but it’s not photo I was hoping to see – also, why isn’t the picture on the next page?
My second issue was that I couldn’t figure out who the intended audience of this book should be. The devotional portion of each day seemed light compared to the heavy content I just learned in the chapter. I have the feeling that a new Christian will appreciate the simple devotional portions but won’t have a full appreciation of the content, while a more mature Christian will eat up the geographical insights but be disappointed by the devotional applications.
Despite the disconnected content, I do recommend this book as a valuable resource and plan to pass it around to those who want to know more about trusting the Bible and the life of Jesus.
* I received a free copy of this book through the Moody Publishers Blogger Review Program
I don’t know why this never occurred to me before, but it wasn’t always hot and sunny while Jesus walked the earth. Maybe I’ve seen too many pictures of Jesus standing in a sunbeam or walking along a desert road, but it never really crossed my mind that Jesus would have been cold. I tried to find a picture online of Jesus walking in the rain, but couldn’t. Even during the “great storm on the sea” where Jesus is walking on water, He doesn’t even get wet!!! I saw Jesus making rain, and Christians in the rain, but not one where Jesus stands with chattering teeth, soaked to the bone, rubbing his arms to keep warm, about to sneeze, while trying to deliver a message with a stuffed up nose. [I wish I knew how to draw so I could create such a picture — anyone out there got the mad skilz to help me?]
Jesus Got Cold?
Why was this such a big revelation to me? Probably because, like many Christians, I forget that Jesus was fully human, living in a real world. Because of my love, respect, and awe of Him, it’s easy to think of Him curing the blind man, calming a storm, walking on water, ascending into the clouds… but Jesus with a cold… that’s somehow harder.
This happened today as I was reading a book I’m reviewing for Moody Press called “Thirty Days in the Land with Jesus” by Charles H. Dyer [full review coming soon]. He pointed me to John 10:22-42 which begins like this, “At that time the Feast of Dedication took place at Jerusalem. It was winter, and Jesus was walking in the temple, in the colonnade of Solomon. So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, ‘How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.’ Jesus answered them, ‘I told you, and you do not believe.'”
Dyer points out,
“Jerusalem is a beautiful city, but late December is not always the best time to visit. December through February are the coldest–and rainiest–months of the year…. The days can be dark, damp and dreary. And if there’s a cold, biting wind pushing in from the Mediterranean, you can quickly become chilled to the bone… And that’s why, in John 10, we find Jesus…’walking in the temple in the portico of Solomon.'”
An Excuse to be Grumpy
What Dyer had probably meant as background to the narrative he was telling about Jesus, I took as a powerful point. I know that Jesus suffered, “was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief” (Isa 53:3), and “has been tempted as we are” (Heb 4:15), but I forget sometimes that those temptations included regular days when he had every excuse to be grumpy, selfish and whiny — like I am sometimes.
Of course we don’t know for sure, but it seems logical that in John 10 Jesus is cold, wet (after walking there), and surrounded by people who are being grouchy and pushy. How many times has he already told them that He is the Christ? Dyer points out that He had told Nicodemus (a Pharisee) he was the Son of God (John 3:16), told the woman at the well He was the Messiah (John 4:25-26), publicly told the religious leaders He was the one predicted by Moses (John 5:45-47) and had told a whole crowed that they should believe in Him and that He had existed before Abraham had (John 8:56-58)! It’s not like He kept it a secret!
I don’t know what His tone was when He said “I told you…”, but I know what tone I would have had!
I TOLD YOU A MILLION TIMES! *ZAP WITH LIGHTNING* I’M COLD! I’M SICK! I’M GOING HOME!
I was amazed by Jesus again this morning. Amazed at His love, grace, and how much He can identify with me. I’m also amazed at how much I’ve been forgiven for, and how much more sanctification I need!