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Book Review: Apprenticeship with Jesus by Gary Moon

Apprenticeship with Jesus, by Gary W. Moon is a 30-Day journey of personal story, reflection, scripture, and devotional activity aimed at cultivating a renewed sense of discipleship and relationship with Jesus. Moon explains his impetus for this book as the realization that those who self-identify as “Christian” seem to exhibit little difference in their daily lives, goals, and behaviors from those who do not. Moon attempts to guide his readers into making this difference explicit by introducing a model for entering into what he calls an apprenticeship with Jesus. Believing the word discipleship has been watered-down and infused with unhelpful implications, he uses the medieval concept of apprenticeship to imply a process of learning through “co-laboring with and experiential awareness of the real presence of Christ” (229). For Moon, this involves learning to be more like Jesus by spending time with him, leaving the natural habitat of self-rule and self-sufficiency and entering into a brand new existence of friendship and obedience to Christ (23). As an invitation to this apprenticeship, Moon challenges his readers to an experience of a 30-day immersion in “stories that might help create a new vision for the possibility of life with God as an intimate, transforming friendship” (226).

The book is divided into five primary sections, each containing daily readings and activities related to a specific theme, such as “A New ‘Vision’ for Salvation” or “Living Life ‘with Jesus.’” Each daily exercise contains a personal story by the author, followed by a reflection upon that day’s topic, and then a suggestion for a personal activity such as journaling, prayer, reading a meditation, or even marking out time on a daily planner. Catering to those absorbed in the information age, Moon even offers tips on adjusting your PC’s Outlook communication device to alert you for devotional times.

While I recommend this book for someone desiring a plan to break free from nominal religion and mundane spirituality, I found two distracting components.  First, in his attempts to connect with the reader and reveal himself through personal narrative, Moon incorporates much humor.  Additionally, for most of the book, Moon depends significantly on his mentor, Dallas Willard (who also wrote the Foreword).  While I agree that Willard makes pertinent and important points, Moon’s book leaves you wishing that he would consider the contributions of many others who have contributed to the spiritual formation conversation.

The concept of this book is not unique, but is a much-needed resource. While there are countless options for month-long devotional guides, Moon offers a distinct perspective and format for the journey. He focuses each daily reading on the ideas of commitment and life-journey. At a time when nominal Christianity and misguided attitudes about Christianity are prevalent, Moon’s emphasis on human transformation as the key to discipleship (apprenticeship) is a statement well worth hearing. Moon incorporates much of himself in his story-telling, offering full vulnerability about his struggles and insights. I can appreciate his authenticity and believe a book succeeds, in part, if the reader feels like he knows the author by the end.

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