Holy Hunger

Holy Hunger, by Margaret Bulitt-Jonas

This memoir beautifully and shockingly guides the reader through the authors struggle with overeating, and finding some measure of health and peace in community and trust.

I particularly enjoyed chapters 3 and 4, “Body Language,” and, “Putting Down the Duck,” where she describes her struggle most intently.  Other chapters deal more with her family history and struggle with other relationships.  This is probably more helpful to some, but not as much to me.

A wonderful writer, let me give you a taste of some of my favorite parts:

It wasn’t that I wanted too much, but that I wanted disparate things.  What did I really want?  I didn’t know.  I wanted everything.  I wanted opposite things.  If you’d offered me a questionnaire designed to prove what I was longing for, I’d have marked a yes in every box. [page 67]

Addiction divides the self.  The mind becomes a tyrant and the body becomes its prisoner, the target of its assault.  it’s not the body that wants another handful of peanuts or an extra slice of bread.  The body watches in wonder and sorrow.  What can it do?  All the signals of bodily satisfaction have been sent to the brain.  The stomach is pleasantly full.  The belly already presses firmly against the belt.  All is well in the body.  There is food enough.  Hunger is gone.

But an anxious greedy craving still prowls restlessly in the mind.  Addiction has its own voice.  To the body it says, “I don’t care what you tell me.  I don’t care what you want.  I’m going to keep on eating.  I want those extra bites.  I can override you.  Your voice doesn’t count.  You can’t stop me.  I’m in charge.” [p.70]

Godly Man’s Picture

The Godly Man’s Picture, by Thomas Watson, 1622

Summary:  After a brief introduction, Watson spends most of the book describing 26 characteristics of the godly before finishing with a few small chapters with practical advice on how to grow in godliness. Some chaA1u7xdFjQcLracteristics are given a great deal of attention and others very little. Throughout, Watson uses many word pictures (see “Best Quote” below as example), and emphasizes right doctrine, passionate affections and vigilant obedience in each of the characteristics. For example, when talking about zeal (starting on page 112), he begins by distinguishing true and false zeal. True zeal is characterized by proper knowledge and leads to dutiful obedience. Watson is particularly helpful in describing the love for God’s Word.

Critique: There seems to be little sense in the arrangement of the topics, and each topic stands by itself, without needing help from the others. In this sense, Picture may be used as a kind of reference tool or compendium to see what Watson says on a particular topic. If used this way, it can certainly be quite helpful.

Several of the topics are too long, such as 21, “A godly man does spiritual things in a spiritual manner,” and others are too short, such as 5, “A godly man is very exact and careful about the worship of God.” This judgment may well come from the difference in cultural situation.

Watson’s use of illustrations and word pictures masterfully bring the concepts alive. Overall, this is a volume well worth consulting over and over.

Application: I think I nearly wore out my highlighter on this book. There are so many various places where little illustrations and applications have stuck in my mind, or at least, I want them to do so. This book will be quite useful in the future, especially on the various topics. I used 9, “A godly man is a lover of the Word,” this week in preparing a sermon, to, I trust, great affect.

Further, Watson has challenged me personally, in two ways. First, and more importantly, he has challenged me to be more godly myself. Several of the topics were quite convicting and convincing. Second, he has challenged me to be more holistic in my ministry. That is, Watson sets a great example of truth, passion and exhortation all together. The light and heat of the gospel radiate from this book (I can only imagine meeting Watson personally), and that encourages me to follow his example in my preaching, teaching, counseling and other ministries.

Best Quote: How many knowledgeable persons are ignorant? Their knowledge has no powerful influence upon them to make them better . . . Absalom might boast of the hair of his head, but that hanged him; so these may boast of the knowledge in their head, but it will destroy them. P.25.

Knowing God

Summary: Christians must study God rigorously, for there is no higher calling. The Christian concept of God’s ability to be known is unique and should be a great resource, comfort and motivation for Christians. God is41KdLW3GkCL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_ known chiefly in Jesus, the incarnation of God himself, which we know through the Bible and with the illumination of the Holy Spirit. God has unchanging authority. He love and tenderness are manifested at times in his wrath and anger. His wisdom guides us. Practically, all this means that Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross for us gives us the right to be adopted into his family and have strong intimacy with the Almighty. This grace and intimacy are the resources we need to walk through life’s uncertainties, struggles, and pains.

Critique: Packer packs a punch! This dense book contains more than it seems. Packer starts with some introductory prolegomena and then launches into characteristics of God, and finishes the book with several chapters of very practical application based on the sound theology of the middle section. Each chapter, though, ends with pastoral advice on the meaning of the particular doctrine discussed, with compassion and sensitivity. There is a reason this book is so popular. Each chapter is quite separate in its thought, and they are arranged thematically, and do not necessarily flow from one to the other well. After all, they each began as separate articles in a magazine.

The section on adoption is particularly helpful, and since he wrote it, more has been written on the topic, but still not enough, I think. Some explanation and help with spiritual disciplines might make the book stronger. That is, how can we meditate on these matters? How can we feel more deeply the truths presented here?

Highly recommended.  This is a classic for good reason.  Don’t borrow it, buy it and read it over and over.

Best Quote: “But this is not to says that justification is the highest blessing of the gospel. Adoption is higher, because of the richer relationship with God that it involves. Some textbooks on Christian doctrine – Berkhof’s for instance – treat adoption as a mere subsection of justification, but this in inadequate.” p. 207.

My King

A classic.

Include your Kids on God’s Mission

What is a Missional Community?

Starts kinda slow . . . might skip the first minute or two.

Really great video, though.  Very inspiring. What do you think about this?

All is Grace

All is Grace, by Brennan Manning

This is Manning’s life story in his own words.  It is unpolished and raw.  He is honest about his addiction to alcohol, and other regrets, but the book is not simply a written confession.  It is a window into how he got to be Brennan Manning.  Good stories, easy to read.

I never met Father Manning, but I think we would have been good friends, at least, I hope, for my sake, that we would have been good friends.

Highly recommended.