You Can Count on God (Book Review)

  • Authors: Max Lucado (Adapted by Tama Fortner)
  • Publisher: Tommy Nelson
  • Buy Now
  • Synopsis: 100 daily devotionals affirm God’s faithfulness, while systematically trekking through Scripture.
  • Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of the book from the publisher, via JustReads Book Tours. Opinions expressed are my own.

Scripture Connection

Spiritual Themes

The devotional emphasizes God’s faithfulness, through numerous Bible stories and verses. Throughout, the message is clear and consistent: “You CAN Count on God.”

Format

Each of the 100 devotionals begins with a title and Scripture. Then, there are a few paragraphs devoted to a Bible story retelling (occasionally including verses from the story), followed by a brief application. Throughout the book, Lucado touches on many major events from the Old Testament, plus the life of Christ. From what I could tell, these Bible stories appear in the same order that they appear in the Bible. For example, there’s reference to the Fall of Man in an early devotion. Then, we read about characters like Joseph, Moses and Elisha. As a whole, the devotional is a quick little survey of the Old Testament, plus the Gospels.

Following the text of the devotional, there’s an offset section with a key truth to remember, a specific prayer to pray, or even a project challenge.

Devotionals are just under two pages, making for a short daily read.

What I Liked

I thought it was really neat that most of the daily key verses are not taken from that day’s Bible retelling. In my opinion, this approach really contextualizes Scripture, as the connection is made between a single verse and a slightly longer Bible story. I liked seeing the connections the author’s showcase between the Scriptures.

My favorite parts of the devotional are the “It’s Your Turn!” sections with specific writing prompts and hands-on projects. These are fun, inviting ways to engage with the text.

Some of my other favorite parts are moments when Lucado shares about his own experiences, as a child. In addition to adding interest, this also creates a personal connection with the reader and showcases Lucado’s warm, gentle tone.

Some of my favorite devotional topics were:

  • Real Success (Day 81)
    • This is a discussion that contrasts the world’s idea of success (which, for a kid, might mean scoring a homerun or acing a book report) to Jesus’ definition of success, through the story of Mary and Martha.
  • A Great Idea (Day 13)
    • Day 13 is about being made in the image of God, based on the story of Creation. I like the opening line, “You are a great idea!”
  • Tim or Jim? (Day 69)
    • This wasn’t my favorite in the sense of it being really “enjoyable,” but it was a thought-provoking, convicting one for me. Discussion centers around two very different brother. One brother invests himself in helping and loving others, while his sibling is demanding and disappointed, always expecting others to do things for him. The Scripture reference on this one is Gal. 6:10.

Respectful Critique

Within the past six months, I have read another book adapted by Tama Fortner (Roar Like a Lion, by Levi Lusko), as well as another book by Max Lucado (Anxious for Nothing: Young Readers’ Edition). I appreciated both works by these authors.

With that said, You Can Count on God is not my favorite adaptation. I have read a few of Lucado’s works over the years, and have observed a characteristic warmth and gentleness in his writing voice. I felt like I was missing Lucado’s voice, in this adaptation. I’m not sure if this was lost in translation, or if this is more of a reflection on the original (adult) version. I know the original has even shorter daily devotionals, about the length of Jesus Calling passages, with one-a-day for a year, so it’s possible that this book just reads differently, in general.

Regarding the length of the children’s devotionals, I think I would have liked devotionals to be a bit longer, for more explanation, or even a bit shorter, to better match the original. As mentioned above, the adult version has 365 devotions, so I’m not really sure how that was translated into a kids’ version– if there was direct correspondence between individual messages or not. Devotionals tended to spend a bit of time retelling a Bible story, but not necessarily with references, leaving less space for discussion. There was one devotion in particular (Day 36) that I felt really needed to be expanded. It’s about Jesus’ sacrifice and the “It’s Your Turn” challenge asks what you can “give up” for Jesus. But there’s very little connection. Am I supposed to give up something for the sake of giving up something? Am I supposed to give up a sinful habit? Overall, that day’s message just left me with a vague sense of guilt.

Concluding Thoughts

The book’s messages are concise and the devotional conveys many truths in language that is easily comprehensible to young readers. The book is also packed with references to everyday kid stuff like milk and cookies, treks to the library and sleepovers, making it relatable for kids. So, I feel like the adaptation definitely fulfills its purpose and it’s a good book. I would just be more likely to recommend either Roar Like a Lion or Anxious for Nothing: Young Readers’ Edition.

Published by Stephanie Agnes-Crockett

Hi, there! My name is Stephanie and I’m a Fresno, CA native. After studying at Biola University, I received my MLIS (Masters in Library Science) from San Jose State University. I live with my mom, poet Kimberly Vargas Agnese, and serve as her unofficial agent. We reside at MeadowArc, a food forest in its infancy. I am called to, and passionate about, purity. In fact, the name Agnes means “pure.” Before I was born, my mom felt led to include the name Agnes in her name, and in the names of her children. My full, hyphenated name includes 26 letters (but not the whole alphabet).

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