Whitefish author takes a new look at devotions
By HEIDI GAISER/The Daily Inter Lake
There was a time when Christy Bower had to change her life to follow the advice from her recent book, "Devotion Explosion: Getting Real with God."
The book is filled with encouragement and advice for Christians on how they can bring God into their lives fully, rather than focusing on one prescribed "devotional" time each day.
Before writing the book, Bower, 39, had little time for God, spending several years working 70 hours a week while climbing the corporate ladder in Seattle.
She moved to Whitefish in 2004, needing a less-frantic pace and room to nurture her relationship with God. Bower found a seasonal part-time job working in a few retail establishments on Big Mountain, giving her the chance to write in the spring and fall.
"I had to slow down and find something different that was more meaningful to me," Bower said. "Spirituality is an important part of my life. It has provided me the depth and meaning I was looking for."
Her new lifestyle gave her the inspiration and the time to write "Devotion Explosion," her first book by Discovery House, a major Christian publisher. It was released in September 2007.
"They're telling me it's doing very well and they're very pleased with it," Bower said. "They want me to begin a follow-up book."
"DEVOTION EXPLOSION" is based on Bower's premise that although Christians are often taught to put aside a dedicated time for God every day, God deserves more than a "quiet time."
"The Bible says to spend our whole day with God, not just put him in a box for 20 minutes a day," Bower said.
Her previous high-stress life and a lack of connection with her own spirituality led her to a new way of looking at devotion.
"I searched for what is the right way to have a relationship with God, and realized that it's the same as having a relationship with anyone else," Bower said. "You don't set an appointment with friends and say 'we have 20 minutes, five minutes on one topic, five minutes on the next.'
"You talk to them naturally about what is occurring, and when you talk to God that way, a more natural relationship occurs."
She also wrote the book to help Christians avoid the guilt that comes with missing an "appointment" with God, and to give Christians an alternative to a dutiful approach to spirituality.
"For too many Christians, quiet time, not God, has become the goal," Bower wrote in her opening chapter. "They measure their spiritual life through their personal discipline rather than by the quality of their relationship."
THE BOOK is split into eight chapters, each focusing on a different character from the Bible and what Christians can learn through the relationship prominent biblical figures had with God.
Moses, for example, spoke to God as a close personal acquaintance, addressing him on a first-name basis as Yahweh.
"Moses had a relationship with God that was uniquely personal," Bower writes in the second chapter. "The Bible says 'the Lord used to speak to Moses face to face, just as a man speaks to his friend.'"
"Devotion Explosion" is also a study guide, with questions at the end of each chapter so people can use it as a personal study or in a small group.
Donita Toavs, a secretary at Whitefish Assembly of God, where Bowers attends regularly, read the book on her own.
"She took the idea of a Christian doing devotions, and changed it to a lifestyle," Toavs said, praising Bower's new way of looking at a familiar subject. "It changed the way I think about my walk with the Lord and prayer as a moment by moment thing, as opposed to saying 'I pray at this time and in this way.'"
THOUGH Bower's first degree was in business, her interest in spirituality led her to earn a master's degree in biblical studies from Multnomah Seminary in Portland, Ore.
She previously had written for the Christian market with her 2002 book, "Abundant Life," published by Pleasant Word of Eunemclaw, Wash., but it's now out of print.
She also has written several magazine articles for publications such as Mature Living and The Lookout.
Her job at Whitefish Mountain Resort has enabled her to pursue her passion for writing both books and magazine articles.
"The seasonal income lets me pursue my real career of writing," she said.
"Devotion Explosion" was written during her first winter in Whitefish. An agency took on her manuscript and it was shipped to about 80 publishers. Three wrote back wanting a shot at publication rights.
Discovery House was a good choice, Bower believes. The Michigan publishing house has a direct mailing list of more than one million customers, and produces the popular "Our Daily Bread" devotional guides.
New experiences have followed the book's publication. Bower has been the subject of radio interviews and even was given a designation as writer of the year by the American Christian Writers Association.
Her next book for Discovery House, Bower said, will be about loving God.
"The greatest commandment is to love with our heart, mind and soul," she said.
"How do we obey a command like that, with love being an emotion?"
Reporter Heidi Gaiser may be reached at 758-4431 or by e-mail at email@example.com