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Vital Signs. The wisdom of James for a life of faith

Bible Alive Series: Bridging Scripture and Daily Life. Vol1.
Aquila Press
RRP $19.95

I’ve had an interest in John Dickson ever since I was a young youth worker and arranged a tour of his then band, In the Silence through my hometown. So it was with relish that I reviewed his latest book, Vital Signs. The wisdom of James for a life of faith which he co-authored with Simon Smart.

The book is the first in a series called Bible Alive aiming at “bridging Scripture and daily life”.

Written in 28 bite-size, ten-minute chapters, it’s a cross between a commentary and a daily devotion. This is a daily reading you can undertake on your own, in a study group or with a friend and takes you exegetically through the book of James and then into everyday life; I suppose taking seriously James 1:22!

The book is written is easy conversational style with ‘stories, statistics, song lyrics, hypotheticals and real life drama’. It isn’t afraid to delve into the historical and exegetical issues of each reading, before going past the usual simplistic moralising and into a more reasoned and considered application of the sentiment of the text.

I found myself challenged and convicted by not so much the authors’ words, but James’ words, and I think the writers would have it no other way.

I must admit I also found myself wanting to go further and deeper after reading each chapter. They had only just whet my appetite although it is perhaps exactly what they are trying to achieve as each chapter ends with points to ponder by yourself, with a friend or in a group.

If you are looking for a book that gets beyond pious platitudes by exegeting the biblical text and wrestling that into your own life (and James is your book of choice) this is a good book to grab.

Reviewed by Paul Clark, a Minister of the Word in Burdekin