WHY I NEVER “READ” THE BIBLE
My first rule of the day since February 2, 1981, after the night of my spiritual birth, is this: never skip spiritual breakfast: ever! And I cannot remember one morning (of a fruitful morning at least) in the last 40 years that I had skipped my spiritual breakfast.
My second rule of the day: never, ever, merely “read” the Bible: instead, EAT it. My spiritual hunger must have a life-changing encounter with the sole object of its supreme delight and satisfaction — the WORD of GOD — or else all is lost. Writes Jeremiah the prophet: “Your words were found, and I ate them, and your WORD was to me the joy and rejoicing of my heart” (Jeremiah 15:16, NKJ). The JOY of the LORD is my strength. Without that true joy, which must be authentic, not cooked up or faked, I am as spiritually weak, impotent, and fruitless.
What continues to spur me on to have the WORD for breakfast - to be fed by the Bread and filled with the Spirit for my thirst — is my profession as a Christian therapist. The first thing I notice is that nothing extraordinary happens in my sessions with my clients when I rely only upon my education and training, and my wits, without the life of God flowing through me, starting first thing in the morning, nourished on a heartily spiritual breakfast and also taking spiritual meals throughout the day to stay nourished and drinking in the Spirit when feeling signs of spiritual thirst and dryness, in order to stay filled with the Spirit, so as to abound in the fruit of the Spirit.
The second thing I notice is that unfruitful Christians (I make a living off of them in my counseling practice until they too become fruitful) is that they may “read” their Bibles, but they have not learned how to consume the WORD as food. Hence they arrive into my counseling office malnourished and unfruitful: angry, depressed, anxious, instead of love, joy, and peace. That also come in spiritually dehydrated because they are unlearned and inexperienced in how to DRINK the Spirit to satisfy their thirst, so as to be FILLED with the Spirit. “He who thirsts let him come to Me for streams of living water.” Jesus is not the living water; the Holy Spirit is the Water of Life; but only by abiding in the Vine do we have access to the life of God, the Spirit (see John 7:38-39).
Once I can awaken their spiritual appetite for the WORD and their thirst for the Spirit — by helping them learn what it really means to abide in Christ — I know that they will eat the WORD and drink in the SPIRIT. And when they do that it will be impossible for them NOT to abound in fruit — love, joy, and peace — as they abide in the Vine, that is, Jesus-the-Word, and drink in the sap of the Vine: the life of God, the Holy Spirit.