August 2012 / Independent / 225 pp.
Amazon links: paperback.
A large-format, biblically-oriented Christian book divided into 365 daily readings, and intended to be read at home? That sounds very much like a recipe for a daily devotional, and in truth, Daily Fight by C. Wayne Hays could suitably be given that label.
But in a field of introspective and occasionally sappy devotionals, Daily Fight distinguishes itself. Starting from the title and the martial imagery on the cover, this book is a robust call to full-orbed Christian living.
Daily Fight tackles spiritual warfare month-by-month, from a variety of angles. Several of the months are devoted to a particular book (names in Genesis in January; the Book of Judges in August; 1 Corinthians in November, for example). Others are more microscopic: the entirety of February is devoted to Psalm 23. Still others take broad swaths through heavy topics relevant to vibrant faith-full living, such as June’s “Eschatology of Hope.” May meditates upon Names of the Trinity.
Pastor Hays does keep one eye on the Church calendar: April focuses upon death, resurrection, and judgment, and December keys on Advent and Christmas themes, with a generous helping of quotations from significant names in Church history.
Avoiding a privatized devotion, Pastor Hays targets nearly every aspect of active Christian living over the course of the book: the responsibilities of fatherhood, the gift of work, the gift of celebration, the Christian response to suffering and death, thinking and living counter-culturally, Church life, civil order, and a great deal more. Drinking deeply from the well of Scripture, Daily Fight provides a practical mandate but avoids the pitfalls of mere moralism by remaining emphatically Christ-centered.
Throughout, Pastor Hays walks a precarious line, aiming to provide solid food and depth while at the same time retaining intelligibility for younger hearers. It is a difficult task, but Hays is an experienced pastor, and does it well, although fathers will likely want to explain some aspects further for younger children.
Along with text, each month is assigned a song, including historic hymns (e.g. “Beneath the Blood-Stained Lintel,” “The Son of God Goes Forth to War”) and sterling metrical psalms (e.g. Jarman’s renditon of Psalm 98). There are also several more recent compositions, mostly by the author’s son Marc Hays, along with a cameo from Jamie Soles (“No Other Gods,” song of the month for September, which covers the Ten Commandments). A bonus CD contains renditions for all the songs of the month. (The CD is available by sending in a coupon printed in the back of the book.)
Whether you are new to family worship and want to get your feet wet simply by reading something solid, or you are an old hand at leading your family devotions and are looking for a good starting point for expanded discussion, Daily Fight will make an excellent choice.
Verdict: A solid 4 stars.
Amazon links: paperback.