The Amy Hammond Hagberg File:
Reviewed by Carol Kurtz
How Do You Know He's Real : Celebrity Reflections on True Life Experiences
Amy Hammond Hagberg
"From professional actor to NFL player, we all need to know God is real. These leaders share how their lives have been changed by Him and how yours can be, too."
How Do You Know
He’s Real?: Celebrity Reflections
on True Life Experiences with God
How Do You Know He’s Real?: God Unplugged (youth edition)
Celebrities are role models, whether they want to be or not. In these two books athletes, actors, music artists, and other famous people tell of their own true-life experiences, testimonies and miracles. Each essay sheds light on what God means to him or her, and how they have come to the realization that He is. There are many ways to know God is real – experientially, Biblically, and solely by faith. Including all three, Amy Hammond Hagberg has compiled these personal anecdotes into an adult and youth version. Both are insightful and entertaining.
We see the up-close-and-personal ways these people find strength in God, and how that strength has affected their lives and careers. Besides the obvious difference that one book has ten more reflections than the other, each book has some stories in common and some that are unique. They cover a lot of the same topics, but each has a few unique subjects, too.
In the adult book (which has 34 stories), Billy Ray Cyrus tells about the voice of God leading him through the birth of his career in music and acting and what his top priority in life is now. He candidly shares how uncomfortable people were when he wore a Jesus shirt to the Grammys, and how he found ways to share his faith, culminating in finally making a Gospel album. .
Each essay includes a photograph of the featured celebrity. Between some chapters are one page side bars with Scriptures and explanations of the tenets of faith. They provide a foundation of understanding to the reader who might not be familiar with Christianity. There are plenty of Christian music artists and bands in each book, as in the True series for teens by Irene Dunlap (Zondervan).
Noel Paul Stookey (the Paul of Peter, Paul, and Mary) tells us how in 1968 he discovered the love of his Creator. In 1969 he was led by God through an interesting chain of events to start singing on the steps of the Berkeley college campus. It made no sense, as no one was there when he arrived. It ended up being a peaceful mini-concert that thwarted a riot by drawing people’s interest away from a demonstration.
Jenny Boucek, a former WNBA player, is assistant coach of Seattle Storm. Her reflections are about the process she’s lived through, leading her to her faith. Through the brief, but relevant, messages the team chaplain gave before each game when she was playing for the WNBA in Cleveland, she really began to understand God’s word.
Each entry can be read alone, but when you read a few at a time, you start to see the fingerprint of God as He moves in people’s lives. You see the seemingly insignificant roles Christians play in people’s lives, and how they are used to draw others to Him. It’s fun to read about famous people and what they have seen God do, but it’s also inspiring to see that the leadings of the Holy Spirit may seem insignificant at the time, but truly have eternal value when we obey them.
Similar to The Games Do Count by Brian Kilmeade, the youth edition (which has 44 stories) begins with Jeremy Affeldt, a major league baseball pitcher for the Colorado Rockies. He excelled in sports at a Christian high school but became proud and rebellious. It was his counselor at school who revealed to Jeremy that God wanted to love him and help him succeed in life. It was here, in his junior year of high school Jesus became real to him in every area of his life.
Snowboarding Olympic medalist Shannon Dunn-Downing, known as the “Queen of the Halfpipe” has retired to raise her two boys. She tells how she found snowboarding the first year it was allowed in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, where she lived as a teenager. She learned that there is a difference between being raised in a Christian home and accepting Jesus Christ personally.
Only a few entries truly answer the question How do you know He’s real?, one of the best being by Jontez, a pop/R&B musician. He boldly states, “Three things happened in my life that have convinced me that there is a God, that He is real, and that I have a personal relationship with Him.” The three are truly life changing and miraculous. It would be nice if more entries were like this. But all the entries portray God in each person’s life, as they know him to be. And that makes for a very interesting read.
From professional actor to NFL player, we all need to know God is real. These leaders share how their lives have been changed by Him and how yours can be, too.
Carol Kurtz Darlington is a certified personal trainer and a certified group fitness instructor who works with people who want to lose weight as well as those who just want to enjoy better health. She enjoys empowering and encouraging others to reach their health and fitness goals, feel better about themselves in the process, and enjoy more energy to stay active in all areas of their lives. She is the founder of Totally Fit With Carol, a Christian weight loss website featuring workout videos, health tips, exercise advice, and more. She loves her morning cappuccino and her beloved grand-dog. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling and haunting Starbucks.