Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Book Review: Hungry

Hungry: Learning to Feed Your Soul with Christ. Rondi Lauterbach. 2016. P&R. 224 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Hungry: Learning To Feed Your Soul with Christ is an amazing must-read by Rondi Lauterbach. What is it about? The simple answer is that it is about reading the Bible. The more complex answer is that it is about learning to read the Bible in such a way that you abundantly feast on the Word, or perhaps I should say the Bread of Life.

The book is not about how to check Bible reading off your list every day. The book IS about how to make the most of your time in the Word, so that whether you spend TEN minutes or TWO hours--you are FED. The book is not about how to speed read through the books of the Bible. The book is not about how to 'read like a professor' and spot all the big ideas at a glance. No, this book is all about nurturing--building--a relationship with Jesus Christ.

From the introduction by Elyse M. Fitzpatrick,
The problem is not always with knowing that we should read and digest God’s Word; the problem is with how to do it in the time that we have and to stay motivated. That’s where this immensely helpful book comes in.
Using the paradigm of cooking a nutritious meal, along with the book of Philemon, Rondi is going to help you to learn how to read and really digest the Word of Life. But that’s not all that she’s going to do. She’ll also accomplish something that most writers of Bible study books fail to do: she’ll help you to see Jesus, the true Bread, the Living Word, on every page . . . and in that, she’ll give you a unique motivation to keep on.
The book consists of two parts. In part one, "Hungry," the focus is on our cravings and desires and how while they are God-given aspects of who they are, they need to be re-tuned to crave and desire our God and Creator. (They got very messed up--twisted--because of the Fall). The focus is also on how God loves to feed--provide and care for--his children. She also writes a good deal about the WILDERNESS. In part two, "Plenty," the focus shifts to the HOW. Lauterbach uses the analogy of cooking to show us how to read the Bible and do Bible study. This involves prep-work, cooking, and eating, or, observation, interpretation, and application.

Lauterbach writes clearly and concisely. The book is also passionate about proclaiming Scriptural truths. I loved, loved, LOVED it. I would recommend it to EVERYBODY.

Favorite quotes:
Our uncomfortable feelings are symptoms of a strong desire or need for something that we haven’t yet named.
The need was met before the need was felt. In creation, God made food first, then made creatures with an appetite. In paradise, hunger is always satisfied.
We’re dependent on something outside ourselves to sustain our lives. Remember, we go to the pantry, not to our inner selves, when our stomachs rumble. This fact, so obvious in the physical realm, gets muddled when we think about spirituality. But we are not self-sustaining spiritually any more than we are physically. Our souls’ food is out there, not in here.
God is good. He creates desires that he plans to satisfy. God not only made us, he made us for himself. Our relationship with him is what is meant to feed our souls. Everything that we long for—including our longing to know ourselves—is meant to be found in a dynamic two-way relationship with the God who made us and knows us.
Knowing God, knowing ourselves, knowing that God loves us and is utterly pleased with us—Adam lost these things, and Jesus gained them.
God takes us into the wilderness to bring us to the end of ourselves. God lets us run out of answers, even out of questions, so that he can speak into our silence. It’s in the wilderness that we begin to look past our failures and see God’s faithfulness. It’s there that we spy a purposeful hand of discipline in the trackless wasteland. It’s there that we learn to call him not just God but Father.
Feeding on him means feeding on his finished work for us—his perfect obedience and atoning sacrifice. We instinctively feed on what we love. Why then would those of us who have come to love Jesus turn from our perfect food to spiritual junk food?
Coming to Jesus when I’m at my worst is so important. I must not stay away and try to clean myself up first. It’s his finished work that atones for my cravings and restores my appetite for him.
We don’t need to be surprised by our cravings. God isn’t. Spiritual cravings can take many forms—but each expresses some failure to love God or our brother. Be on the lookout for them.
True hunger is the healthy appetite that wants God first of all and, after that, every other good thing that he has made for our enjoyment.
Because Jesus has inserted himself into our story, our story has been swept up into his.
The Bible was written for ordinary people like you and me. That’s why God bothered to write it all down—because he wants us to read and understand and believe. He wrote it so that we can have faith.We study to understand what this hope is and why, unlike our other hopes, it won’t let us down. God wrote it so that we can have love. We study to see what true love looks like in the life and death of Jesus and why our love is always a response to his.
God may have sent the manna, but his people had to gather it and then boil, bake, or fry it into breakfast. In the same way, we need to learn to prepare a simple meal for ourselves from our Bibles.
To thrive, we need to understand the Bible. It is meant to be chewed, digested, and absorbed. It’s meant to form us into people who can make our toughest decisions. It’s meant to motivate us by changing our deepest desires. It’s meant to comfort us with solid hope that metabolizes slowly and keeps us steady in a crisis.
There are four elements present in some form on every page of our Bibles: God, people, the relationship between them, and what happens. You could call them the four basic food groups.
The Bible is not first about you and me; it’s about God. If we understand that, it changes two things. First, it changes how we read the Bible. We don’t start by looking for ourselves behind every sentence and situation. Instead we start by looking for God. Where does he show up in this passage? What’s he up to? We get to know God by spying on him. We eavesdrop on his conversations and watch his actions to understand his character.
Second, knowing that the Bible is first about God changes why we read the Bible. We open our Bibles not to learn ancient history or to increase our store of Bible trivia but to know a person—his character, the things he commands, the promises he makes, the mercy he shows. We need to know God so that we can trust him. We need to know him better so that we can trust him more.
To understand the story of our lives, we need to understand the story of the Bible.
The big pot is the whole story of the Bible. We need to place the story that we have prepped—as well as our own story—into the big story of the Bible. The missing ingredient is Jesus. Every page of the Bible is ultimately about him. Every page pictures him or points to him or points back to him. Without Jesus, our meal won’t taste right. He is the “bread from heaven” (John 6:32). He is the “honey from the rock” (Ps. 81:16).
Studying our Bibles without seeing Jesus in them will do us more harm than good. Does that surprise you? We often assume that Bible reading in itself is good. We may think that reading the Bible will please God. Or we may think that if we both read and obey the Bible, it will make us better people. But it won’t—not without Jesus.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

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