The Journey: A Traveling Companion Through the New Testament Book Review & Book Tour Giveaway

This morning, I have a religious memoir/devotional in our featured book review post. Check out The Journey: A Traveling Companion Through the New Testament, read my thoughts on the book, learn about the author & enter the book tour giveaway at the end of this post. 

Book Title:  The Journey: A Traveling Companion Through the New Testament by Debbie Johnson
Category:  Adult Non-fiction 18 yrs +,  293 pages
Genre:  Memoir, Religious, Inspirational
Publisher:  Convenant Books
Release date:   2019
Content Rating:  G. No obscenity, violence, sexual content

“With the New Testament in one hand and Debbie’s guidebook in the other, you will experience the Christian journey to be an exciting venture–though not one for the fainthearted.”                               
Dr. William W. Klein, Ph.D. Professor of New Testament, Denver Seminary         

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About the Book

At a time of unprecedented crisis in our lives comes an inspirational book, THE JOURNEY: A Traveling Companion Through the New Testament by Debbie Johnson, who has spent decades as a mission worker, and is the founder DenverWorks, a nonprofit dedicated to helping the unemployed find work. Whether you are a Christian, religious, or irreligious, Johnson’s contemporary interpretation of The New Testament will inspire all who read her book.

Years ago, Debbie took a glorious six-week backpacking trip to Europe. Now she takes readers on a metaphorical trek through the New Testament, filling her backpack with a year’s worth of inspirational items. For Debbie, her destination is love, plus the sense of “mission accomplished” in her life’s work.

“Maybe this is a time for homebound people (all of us) to read through the NT,” says Debbie who begins her journey as Christ began his, when he met two sets of brothers and said, “Follow me” and eventually there were 12 friends, the 12 apostles. Jesus was no longer by himself,” says Johnson and got to experience the strength of friends. “My best friends and I remind each other that we are never alone, even though some of us live hundreds of miles apart.” Here are some of her many useful and inspiring key insights:
  • Love of God versus Love of Money. In Matthew 6:19-34, she quotes Jesus: “you cannot serve both God and money.” Johnson explains that Jesus did not say you can’t be materially wealthy, as some interpret that quote. He just said you can’t serve two masters, so you have to choose which one wins your heart. Johnson explains further that you should be responsible with money. “I never saw a passage that says, “though shalt not make money,” “she says. “It’s all about what we love the most.”
  • Neighborliness Matters. Romans 13:8-14 tells us that how we treat our neighbors is essential to living fulfilling Christian lives. Half of the Ten Commandments address being a good neighbor. No killing, committing adultery, stealing, slandering, or coveting. We’re to love our neighbors as ourselves, meaning we need to love ourselves sufficiently enough to love them. If we can love our neighbors, even the unlovable ones, then we’ve fulfilled The Law as Christ commanded.
  • What to Wear Today. We’re to put on, says Debbie, a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. We’re to bear with one another and forgive each other. We’re to put on love. We’re to let the peace of Christ rule in our hearts.
  • We Are People of the Day. We’re people of the day, so we need to act like it, even in this long in-between time. We’re to be sober and faithful and loving and hopeful, encouraging one anther and building each other up. We’re to appreciate our coworkers and leaders. We’re to live in peace.
  • The Journey with Our Partners. “My best friends and I remind each other that we’re never alone, even though some of us live hundreds of miles apart. And for all of us who believe God is real and in a relationship with us, we’re never apart from him either. Our beautiful challenge is to understand that fact more and more, experiential. Life takes an enormous amount of personal strength. Jesus spent a lot of time in conversation with God to gain strength. And if Jesus needed that, how much more do we need it! But we can also draw strength, counsel, wisdom, and emotional safety from each other.” (Matthew 4)
  • Solid Foundations. Luke 5:12-6:49 is full of rock-solid teaching about building life on a firm foundation. Building a rock-solid life isn’t about sharing his words and then going about our business. It’s about acting on those words. Not intending to act on them, but literally acting on them. The words are powerful and life-altering, but not easy. Nobody ever said building a life on a solid foundation would be easy, just worth it.
  • The Gift. Romans 3:23-24 just might be the best gift in the whole wide world, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” In other words, we can lay our burdens down—our guilt, regrets, little sins, big sins. The reason? The gift. The gift of unmerited favor. Some people spend their whole lives striving for approval trying to be good enough, when all along, God has said all we have to do is have faith. All we have to do is ask God for the gift.
  • Practical Matters (1 Corinthians 16). Christianity is hard. G.K. Chesterton said, “Christianity has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and not tried.” But we can do this. There is a way to follow Christ in good times and bad times, in heavenly matters and practical matters.

In trying times such as these, Debbie Johnson’s THE JOURNEY will brings readers daily inspiration and comfort for themselves and their families.

My Review

The Journey Takes Readers on a Unique Trip Through the New Testament. The author offers readers short passages that would be perfect for use as a daily devotional reading--with personal stories and relevant, inspirational content to inspire readers. I enjoyed the author's conversational tone, especially the takeaway messages she presented as thoughts to store away in your "journey backpack." With a format that is part memoir and part Bible study--the author shares a very inspiring trip through the Scripture of the New Testament.


Modern Insights, Hope, and Inspiration. I think we all could use a daily dose of hope and inspiration from time to time. Frequent readers and those who study the New Testament will still find value in the author's work. Scripture becomes very relatable through the author's stories and her voice. Additionally, each passage has the potential to guide the readers' day as the author offers a "theme" word for reader reflection at the end of each passage.  


Would I Recommend The Journey: A Traveling Companion Through the New Testament by Debbie Johnson?  I enjoyed reading the book as a daily devotional. I struggled a bit to reflect on the author's suggested "backpack" words and thoughts as they seemed vague and broad at times. In the end, I think the open-ended reflection word(s) became my favorite part of the book. I found it very useful as I began to apply the themes, in terms of the author's guidance on the various Scripture passages, to the current needs of my own day and life. I think readers seeking the opportunity to revisit the New Testament with modern eyes and considerations will enjoy spending time with the author in The Journey.

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About the Author
Debbie Johnson is the author of two previous books, A Pocketful of Seeds and Lessons Learned from the Bottom of the Stairs: A Story of Faith and Resilience with Randy Milliken. She graduated from Ouachita Baptist University (BME, MME) and has done graduate work in social work at the University of Denver. In 1995, she founded DenverWorks to equip the unemployed in her community. She led the organization for ten years before engaging in international ministry, first as the vice president of Programs at the Dalit Freedom Network and then as executive director of India Transformed. She grew up in Little Rock, Arkansas. Today she and her husband live on a farm in Colorado with two dogs and a bunch of chickens.

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