Saturday, September 15, 2018

The Near Journal - Book Review

This review is DEFINITELY overdue…. Like a month overdue. I really and truly apologize to the author Jacob Vandenbark, but I have been trying to get my life together! I started a new job and it has been ABSOLUTELY HECTIC. I haven’t had much time for reading, let alone blogging!

But anyway, before I forget, I have to tell you all that I received an advanced, complimentary copy of “The Near Journal” for review purposes. The following review is my opinion and not coerced or compensated in any way.

So, about the author…
Jacob Vandenbark:
Jacob started this journal because he needed it himself. He'd always struggled to have a consistent daily quiet time, and when he used prewritten/themed devotional books he always felt that all he was doing was reading and answering some questions - and was still neglecting prayer, memorization, and growth. So he set out to build himself something that would help him have an excellent daily quiet time - without telling him what to read, study, or learn.
Draw Near Co. and the Near Journal were inspired by James 4:8 - "Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you."
God is there, always waiting to help us - but sometimes we have to take the first step. That is what Jacob always had the most trouble with, taking that step and putting himself in a position to draw near to God. The Near Journal was developed to make it easier for people to draw near to God so he will draw near to them.
Jacob is passionate about getting this tool into the hands of people who need it. For every 4 Near Journals that sell, he donates 1 to a youth group for free. So, when he sells 20 journals he ships a box of 5 out to a youth group; 100% free of charge.
You can add your youth group to the list to receive free Near Journals at

So, on to my review…
I LOVE journals! Journals help me focus my reading, THINKING, LEARNING, PRAYING, MEDITATING, etc. I have always been a fan of journals. And this one is no exception! First of all, I love the founding scripture, “James 4:8 - "Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you." The only way to draw closer to the Father is to know more about HIM! What better way to know more about Him than to focus and spend more time with Him. And that is what this journal helps you to do.
PictureThe journal’s main sections are
The journal provides the reader with foundational scriptures to focus on. The journal has PLENTY of pages for you to write your thoughts, feelings, and anything else. I LOVED the fact that the journal contained Thought and Reflection prompts and sections. This section of the book gives the reader sections to write down your thoughts and feelings, sections to write down prayers for your self and for others and it also gives you a section to write down what you are thankful and grateful for. So the book does a great job of helping the reader to focus and spend quality time thinking about and analyzing areas of their life. I also ABSOLUTELY LOVE the fact that he is giving journals to youth groups! I have seen youth groups, youth pastors, youth organizations preach AT youth, and the youth ignore them. I think this is a way for the youth to internalize and individualize what they read and feel about God's word. It will give them a chance to evaluate the word for themselves and see how HIS WORD is working in their lives! KUDOS!!!

There were two major things that I did NOT like about the journal.
#1 – One of the major focus’ of the journal was scripture memorization. I understand the concept of repeating something enough, committing it to memory so you know it and can recite it. However, I have learned over the years that just because someone can memorize, recite backward and forwards, and know EVERY word of scripture DOES NOT necessarily mean that they live or even believe the scripture. Anyone can memorize some words. That doesn’t mean that you really understand it or even care about it. But I do understand what the author is going for with committing the word to memory.

#2 – I ABSOLUTELY HATE the fact that my advanced complimentary copy was a digital copy! A true journal is something that you carry with you, you flip open and jot things down in as the Spirit reveals things to you. As you think of questions you jot them down for further exploration later. It just is NOT the same on a digital copy on a computer, tablet, or phone.

 All in all, I would give this journal a solid 8 out of 10! I thoroughly enjoyed using this journal, and with my life in its current state of flux, the journal did and still is helping me focus on God's love and favor. THANK YOU JACOB VANDENBARK!! I needed this right now!

To learn more about The Near Journal and Draw Near Co., visit the website or follow on FacebookTwitter or Instagram.


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