|Hungry for More of God|
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Hungry for More of God was written to whet our appetite and satisfy our desire for the Almighty. It serves up Scriptural insights with a fresh recipe whose ingredients include large portions of vivid contemporary illustrations, a pinch of professional psychological insight, a dash of humor, and generous helpings of stories and quotations from the lives and writings of Billy Graham, Philip Yancey, C.S. Lewis, Dorothy Sayers, Charles Spurgeon, D.L. Moody, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and many more. Dr. Currie's focus is on the millions of Christians who hunger for a deeper and closer walk with God. His emphasis is different than most deeper walk books, though--it's not just on our vertical relationship with God, but also on our horizontal relationship with each other. Dr. Currie shows that our horizontal relationships must be in order if we want to truly deepen our relationship with the Lord.
The Hunger is Real
But I hungered and thirsted not for those higher works, but for yourself, O Truth.
Augustine, The Confessions of st. Augustine
The expedition failed. About one hundred miles short of Antartica, the Endurance tried in vain to work its way through an immense sea of glaciers. In the following weeks, Ernest Chackleton and his crew watched as the menacing mountains of ice closed in upon their ship and pressed against her sides. Under extreme pressure, the ship's timbers groaned in pain. Relentlessly, the polar python intensified its death grip, eventually crushing the ship's ribs.
The adventure, chronicled in Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage, continued as the crew abandoned ship and put their supplies and the lifeboats on a large ice floe. In the months that followed, during their dangerous journey back to civilization, the men battled not only the elements, but also gnawing hunger, which intensified after leaving the ship.
The Endurance had provided not only their transportation but also their protection from the elements. Because their bunks were below the deck, the ship's thick walls had insulated them from the cold and the stove had provided heat. Deprived of the ship's shelter and warmth, the crew now depended much more on their bodies to generate heat by burning calories in the food they ate. Theirs was a nagging hunger as their bodies complusively craved more fuel to ward off the cold.
Under these conditions, the men developed a preoccupation with food. At the end of each rationed meal, they looked forward to the next one. During bad weather, they lay in their tents and tried not to think about their hunger. During tolerable weather, they busied themselves with chores to take their minds off their stomachs.
Their fascination with food showed in many ways. Their one cookbook was in constant demand. Each night a different man savored the privilege of pouring over it, fantasizing about the meals he would enjoy when he got home.
|Because food figured so prominently in their thoughts, it was also a frequent topic of conversation. One man had been a pastry cook, and the other men asked him many questions about food preparation. On one occasion, two crewmembers got into a heated argument about whether or not breadcrumbs should form the base for all puddings. On another occasion, one man asked the others which food they would choose if they could have any one dish. A diary entry summarized the results:
We want to be fed with a large wooden spoon and, like the Korean babies, be patted on the stomach with the back of the spoon so as to get in a little more than would otherwise be the case. In short, we want to be overfed, grossly overfed, yes, very grossly overfed on nothing but porridge and sugar, black currant and apple pudding and cream, cake, milk, eggs, jam, honey and bread and butter till we burst.
This obsession with food was not a psychological disorder. Rather, these were ordinary men keenly aware of their extraordinary need for food.
Hunger for God
Like the crew of the Endurance, many Christians are preoccupied with hunger, though it's of a different sort. These believers are hungry for more in their relationship with God. Whereas Shackleton and his men were hungry for more food because their reduced rations failed to satisfy their cravings, many Christians experience a gnawing spiritual hunger because we find that the good things in life, including love relationships, careers, and recreational pursuits, fail to satisfy our deepest longings.
Some people may think we have a fanatical interest in God, but to us this fascination seems a natural response to our spiritual draving. And while the above-mentioned activities and relationships have not met our deepest yearnings, we've discovered pursuing greater intimacy with God satisfies them.
|Evidence of hunger for the things of God isn't hard to find. It can be seen expressed in the choices made by individuals. According to George Barna's research, more than twenty million Americans participate in some form of spiritual discipline, such as a Sunday School class or a small group Bible study. Readers have purchased more than nine million copies of The Prayer of Jabez, a book that explains how to get more out of one's prayers.
The Left Behind series, by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins has sold more than thirty-six million copies. It explores what the world would be like if Christ were to return and takes all Christians to heaven, leaving behind non-Christians.
Why are these books selling so well? "I think the sales of these books points out a general hunger for spiritual things and a curiosity about them," explains Brent Bill, director of the writing colloquium at the Earlham School of Religion.
Hunger for the things of God has also changed the way organizations operate. Churches have changed. Each week, thousands attend "seeker sensitive" churches, so named because they offer worship serivces and other programs for people who haven't regularly attended church, yet recognize their longing for answers to life's pressing questions. The medical profession has changed too. A few years ago, only a few medical schools offered courses that taught how caring for the spiritual side of the patient can aid recovery. Now 50 of the 125 medical schools in the United States have such courses, reflecting the demand from patients.
What initiates the hunger pangs for more in one's relationship with God? For Rhea Zakich it was a birthday that aroused her hunger for something more. As she lay in bed on the night of her thirtieth birthday, she realized she had all she'd ever dreamed of, but it wasn't enough. She had a loving husband, and she enjoyed staying home with her two preschool age sons. Her husband earned a good income and they had a beautiful home. In addition to her family, she kept busy at church with Sunday school, choir, committees, and women's groups. Her life was full, but it didn't satisfy. She writes that there was a "...hollow feeling in me that seemed to be a hunger for something more."
The feeling intensified the next day when she went to her prayer group at her church. She's attended this group for nearly two years. Over that time she enjoyed discussing God, the Scriptures, and related subjects. She also enjoyed the exchange of pleasantries, recipes, and gossip. But this Monday morning it felt different. It seemed shallow. The group hadn't changed. She had. It bothered her that week after week they sat and talked. Rather than just talk about the Christian life, why couldn't the group do something about it?
These thoughts kept eating at her, and she hoped they'd go away. They didn't. As she finally resolved to pursue her hunger for God, she turned to God in prayer, and he led her to reach out to people in need. As she did so, she found the satisfication she'd sought.
|Dinner is Served
We're hungry for more satisfication in our spiritual lives, but how can we satisfy that craving? This book will show you how. It will explain how to get more out of your Christian experience in two key areas: greater intimacy with God and deeper fellowship with others. It will do so with a recipe that includes biblical, historical, and contemporary examples, plus a dash of professional psychological insight.
Why do I believe this book will make a difference in your life? I make that statement because of the response over the last ten years as I've shared the ideas in this book with a variety of groups, including small group Bible studies and large Sunday morning worship services, as well as radio and television audiences.
This book is written for all who identify with Isaiah when he wrote, "My soul yearns for you in the night; in the morning my spirit longs for you" (Isaiah 26:9). It's written for all who agree with Peter's response to a crucial question. When Jesus asked the disciples if they too would leave him as had many others, Peter replied rhetorically, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life" (John 6:68). This book is written for all who are hungry for more in their Christian experience, and who eagerly claim the clear comfort of Christ: "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled" (Matthew 5:6)
|Questions for Individual Or Group Study
1. Describe a time when you were unusually hungry.
2. How do you think the crew of the Endurance felt when they were rescued
and could eat as much food as they wanted?
3. What made Rhea Zakich hungry for more in her relationship with God?
4. Why does Scripture use the word "hunger" to describe our desire for God
and his righteousness?
5. Read Isaiah 55:2-3. "Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor
on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your
soul will delight in the richest of fare." Based on these verses,
answer questions 6-8.
6. What are some ways we labor for things that do not satisfy?
7. These verses portray God as one who wants us to be deeply satisfied.
How should that affect our attitude and response to him?
8. What reason do these verses give for seeking our satisfaction in God
rather than from other sources?
9. What are some good ways to satisfy our hunger for more in our
relationship with God?
10. Meditate on the following quotation from Thomas à Kempis, author of
The Imitation of Christ, "Glory not in wealth if thou have it, nor in friends
because potent; but in God who giveth all things, and above all desireth
to give thee himself."
Excerpted from Hungry for More of God by Rob Currie, Ph.D.
AMG Publishers, 2003
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