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Stripped Clean: Down to Nothing but the Cross

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Stripped Clean, by Jeff Storm, is a devotional created  for ages 13 and up. The back cover reads,” Take a guilt-free, life changing look at what you have… what it means… and discover how to tread lightly in the world as the steward Jesus calls you to be. Oh, yeah: and don’t get too attached to this book. As you change, it changes too.” The book is set up in 63 quick devotionals. It follows Ecclesiastes, or as it is coined,  “Solomon’s research journal.” It puts Solomon’s words into direct reflection of a teen world today.  The book’s  goal is to peel away the layers that stand between us and a passionate relationship with Jesus.

This book is awesome by design.  Each devotional has a creative title, and fun artwork. It is about 8″x 5″ and is spiral bound and right from the cover page instructs the reader how to “destroy” the book (Ecclesiastes 3:3) –each of its 128 pages is designed to be torn out,  folded, ripped, written on, and even burned.  It says, “This devotional is an active reminder of getting past or getting rid of the layers we put between us and Jesus everyday.”    I personally love the design — the tactile destruction of the book — especially for young middle school boys. It would definitely keep any group of teens engaged! It was a very easy read, and lived up to its guilt-free promise. The author never hesitates to point out his own struggle with pulling away from Jesus when the layers of stuff get in the way.  This helps teens to understand that this a journey we are all traveling and we will make mistakes.   The message is very clear and has real “light bulb” moments.

Many of the devotionals could be used for younger age group as well, but I do want to caution leaders and parents that there are a few chapters on tougher subjects, like pornography.  This particular subject  is  approached  honestly and tackled head on, stating that, “watching porn corrupts your relationships right now, and it also damages your relationship with you your future wife.”  The subject of sexual sin is broken into gender specific devotions, hitting the above mentioned topic of pornography with the boys and the subject of self-love and respect for girls.  Both are done tactfully and truthfully.

This book is so wonderfully written that I wish I could go back and reference topics as they become relative in the daily struggles of  gossip, loneliness, and temptation.  Some of the “activities” can be a little embarrassing, especially from a teen perspective. For example,  teens are asked to wear a sign for a day that says “What do you think of me?”   They could begin to skip over the activities. Although one of the first instructions the book gives is to get a bible, “one you’ll actually read”,  I wonder how many teens will actually open a bible to read the scripture reference.  At the same time, I love the fact that the verses weren’t listed, and it would encourage teens to open a bible and read!

Stripped Clean is a fresh approach to bible study. Overall, it is a well written, out-of-the-box approach that will definitely have kids  rethinking their priorities and refocusing their lives on Christ.   What an awesome way to give a teen a true heart for Jesus!  It would be an excellent way to start each ministry year. This book is published by Group and Simply Youth Ministry.  It is available for $9.99 at group.com or amazon.com. Group.com offers a discount for quantity orders.

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