Wendy Speake: If we really want to develop a hunger for the feast of God’s Word, it starts with, before we even open our Bibles, let’s open our hearts.
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John Fuller: Wendy Speake is joining us today on Focus on the Family and your host is Focus president and author Jim Daly. Thanks for joining us, I’m John Fuller.
Jim Daly: John, today we’re going to talk about something we may not think a lot about: feasting, and not just like a Thanksgiving kind of feast or Christmas feast but feasting on the Word.
Jim: And I love that metaphor, I guess, because we should be doing that. I think sometimes we’re anemic, if I could say it that way. We don’t feast enough on the Word of the Lord, and then allow it to penetrate us and put it into play, right? To- to see our own story in God’s Word. And that’s what we want to talk about today. You know, John, just to set this up for the listeners and the viewers, you know, Focus, we’ve got five core areas that we’re trying to connect with you on: evangelism and discipleship, which is like today’s program, marriage and parenting, advocating for children, that’s our option ultrasound effort and foster care effort, and then engaging the culture. How do we engage the culture winsomely and in a way that, uh, promotes the gospel and promotes God’s truth even in the face of resistance.
Jim: So those are the things we’re always to bring in here on the broadcast. And today, we’re going to talk about the journey of being a follower of Christ.
John: Right, and Wendy Speake is, uh, an author. She’s a speaker. She’s really passionate about coupling God’s Word with, uh, testimony, with life and connecting God’s Word to your life. Uh, she has a great book, uh, that we’ll be covering some of the content in, uh, today. It’s called The 40-Day Feast: Taste and See the Goodness of God’s Word. And, uh, this is an excellent resource. We would commend it to you. You can find out more about Wendy and the book, uh, on our website. The link is at the focusonthefamily.com/broadcast.
Jim: You know, John, uh, as we kick off here and before I introduce or welcome Wendy in, w- with scripture, here’s a great example where, if we only read the Word but we don’t do the Word, we’re in a bit of a trouble, I believe, with the Lord because in James 1:23-24, it says, “For if anyone is a hearer of the Word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. He looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like.” What a description.
Jim: So, in other words, the way you know you’re rooted in Christ and doing his work is when you’re doing his work, right? (laughs) Not just looking like you do the work.
Jim: So, I think that’s a good reminder as we kick off today. Wendy, welcome in.
Wendy: Wow, you know, that was such a great introduction. I’m like, “Wow, we could just camp out on that last bit that you said.”
Wendy: There is a following through and being a doer of the Word, but then we could talk about the fact that, as we truly engage in God’s Word, God does the doing in us.
Wendy: And if it truly has taken root, that manifestation, like the fruit of his spirit, should start growing on the laurels of our lives, right?
Jim: Yeah, absolutely.
Wendy: And in the meantime, until we are more patient, until we are thinking about others above ourselves, there’s still so much content in God’s Word about how to actually live it out. So, there’s work for us to do on the outside as we live more like Christ.
Wendy: And do what it says. And then there’s work on the inside as he grows us and transforms us as we abide in his Word. I mean, it’s just … it’s a-
Wendy: It’s a mystery and it’s also clear. It’s just wonderful.
Jim: Yeah, and it- it’s life-long.
Wendy: Yes, it is.
Jim: I mean, that’s one of the things, too, is you … in my opinion, I don’t think you ever arrive to perfection. We’re constantly battling being in this life and being sinners saved by grace.
Jim: And, you know, you can get pretty far along in that continuum, I believe. You know, I love the older great-grandmas and great-grandpas that just seem to have it all together, right? They’re just so calm and so, uh, deep in the Word of God.
Jim: And it’s so wonderful to see. Let me ask you, uh, the consumer problem we have in our culture. And we’re going to cover a few of these areas that influence how we read the Word and apply the Word. And certainly culture pours into this. I mean, we get distracted. We get busy. We get influenced by things that pull us away from reading the Word and doing the Word. So, how does it affect us?
Wendy: Yes. Y- you just said, “How we do it,” and I think that the bigger problem is that most of us don’t engage with it. And there are a number of reasons, and I think that that cultural pull is one of them. I think that we have so many things at our fingertips. From the things we eat and drink to the phones that we, you know, scroll through incessantly. Uh, I’m reminded of Jesus’ invitation to come to him when we’re weary and heavy laden. And he is the Word made flesh, and so I think that that’s a really good, um, analogy for us here. Why do we not go to the Word when we are weary and heavy laden? I think it’s because there are things right there at our fingertips that feel more immediate, can get the job done, give us that fast dopamine release. I can reach out to a friend. I can text a friend. I can look at people who are quote, “friends” online, but I don’t really have relationship with.
Jim: Yeah, no connection.
Wendy: But somehow I get filled up in a way that didn’t really fill me up, and I can- I can drive through Starbucks and get another sweet latte, and I can go to Amazon Prime and binge watch another show. But the invitation is, come to me. Come to the Word made flesh.
Wendy: And come to the Word. And I will give you what you need in this life.
Wendy: So are- you said, we’re consumers. And yet we’re malnourished. You used the term “anemic.”
Wendy: And why is that? And I think that number one is, we’re consuming the wrong stuff.
Jim: Right, amen. That’s so true. Let’s get into this idea of feasting. I think some people … and I- I know people. I know family members of mine who have embraced Christ and believe in Jesus, but that application is hard when they read about a metaphor of feasting in the Bible or goats and sheep and it- it doesn’t come too easily for, how does that apply to me? Um, and that’s just, I think, understanding. I mean, I- I’m not sure, but in that feasting table, how do we, um, those that are eating steak versus those that might be eating soup.
Jim: How do we nurture them into a deeper part of the meal?
Wendy: Right, um, sometimes it takes discipline to develop a hunger.
Wendy: And so we have to actually acquire a taste. And it’s hard to acquire a taste when we’re not feasting, and it’s hard to acquire a taste when we’re reading it that’s more like checking a box. And so I tried to, during this 40, uh, daily devotionals, become really practical. I don’t want to just talk about, that we should. I want to give some help in, “Okay, but let’s do it.”
Jim: Yeah, the, I want to.
Wendy: Here, it- let’s do it, though.
Wendy: And so, there are three practical things that I suggest. And it’s kind of like a bookend and the middle. It starts with asking the question, “Am I here to hear from the Lord this morning? Am I here to taste and see that he is near, that he is good, that he is speaking to me? That he has something that he wants to communicate to me? That he wants to shape me into the imagine of the son he loves? Is that really about to take place? Is that really available to me right now?” One of the chapters in the book that I love so much is that I had a pastor named Pastor Keating in Escondido, California. And he would take the podium and he would put a hand on either side of the podium, look out at the congregation, and ask that question. “Did you come to hear from the Lord this morning?”
Jim: (laughs) Mm-hmm. That’s good.
Wendy: And then he would take a pause and we would all sit there like, “Oh. Yeah, that is why I wrangled my kids up. Herded them like a bunch of cats into the car seats and-”
Wendy: And made all this effort to get here. I have come to hear from the Lord. And so, I- I love to think of coming to God’s Word. If we really want to develop a hunger for the feast of God’s Word, it starts with, before we even open our Bibles, let’s open our hearts.
Wendy: Let’s open ourselves up with that question. Why am I doing this?
Wendy: Do I want to taste and see how good he is? Is he here? Is he actually going to meet with me? And you got to slow down for that question.
Jim: So true.
Wendy: To answer it.
Wendy: And then there’s reading it slowly. Learning to read it slowly. That doesn’t mean you have to read a big chunk of scripture. It doesn’t mean you have to do the most deep, inductive Bible study. And then at the back end of it is asking questions at the end. What did I learn about God?
Wendy: What did I learn about myself? And how do I, back to our original point. How do I live differently as a result?
Jim: Right, and that’s a good application of the- of the book, and what you’re looking for people to experience, which is wonderful. I want to roll back to a couple of things, though. One is a- a pretty profound statement that you made that y- you loved going to church because you felt you were loved at church.
Jim: I mean, that- that’s pretty profound.
Jim: I’m not sure everybody understands that, or if everybody experiences that.
Wendy: Yeah, I don’t think they did.
Jim: It’s certainly should be what they experience, but not always happening.
Wendy: No, I think it was special that I had that experience, and I know that others have. A lot of people have Bible wounds, I call them, or church wounds. I mean, that’s a topic that’s actually being honestly addressed in churches. Um, how do we not inflict (laughs) those wounds in a culture that is so, uh, counter-biblical.
Wendy: Um, how do we become a people like Christ, embracing people within the church? But I was, at- at a very young age, I was taken to church. I mean, from the beginning.
Wendy: Um, and there was a woman named Ruth Gosting, and she would … she had the squeakiest little high-pitched voice.
Wendy: And she would say, “Oh, Wendy, I’m so glad you’re here.”
Wendy: And everything about her voice, her tone, her face.
Jim: All inviting.
Wendy: It communicated she actually was glad I was there.
Wendy: It’s hard to not be happy you’re there, too, when somebody’s happy that you’re at church. And so, she- she would sing in her wonderful voice. “Yes, Jesus loves me, the Bible tells me so.” But I believe Jesus loves me, the Bible told me so, because Ruth loved me and told me so.
Wendy: And my mother loved me and told me so. And so I was surrounded by people that told me that God loved me and this love message was communicated through his Word. So, why wouldn’t I want to open it up as a child?
Jim: Yeah. W- Wendy, you said something a moment ago I want to come back to, because people experience things differently.
Jim: Um. But that whisper of the Lord, that nudge. Uh, I think so often, boy, in our marriages, in our parenting, as Christians, we tend to want the thunderstorm. Want to see the lightning. Uh, maybe even in the direction we need to go in our lives, right? So we’re pleading for the Lord to speak very loudly to us so we don’t miss it and we get it. And oftentimes, the Lord is in that nudge spot. It’s not going to be an overwhelming hand-clapper of a- of a voice that you’ll hear in your thoughts or, y- you know, in your spirit. So speak to that slowing down that you mentioned a moment ago, reading the Word, and sitting and asking God, “How does this apply to me?”
Jim: And then waiting to hear something from him. And what does that look like?
Wendy: Yeah. I mean, I- if there is one Word that I would describe how to read the Word, it would be the word “slow.”
Jim: Why not? Where are you going? (laughs)
Wendy: Well, I went, um, oh, it was about four years ago. And, uh, I went to Israel. And it was really cool. I was there with a couple of other authors, and, um, just deep, insightful, Jesus-loving, gospel-loving women. And, um, as we went … we had a wonderful tour guide. As we went from one location to another, he would say, “Okay, Wendy, you read this. Anne, you read this. Ruth, you read this.” And he’d pass back the microphone and we would read from the Word pretty much at kind of a set up for where we were going next. And, um, but every one of us, every time, he would yell out as we started to read, “slowly.”
Wendy: “Read it slowly.” And it was jarring, so we would start again, trying to read it slower.
Wendy: And then he would do it again. He would put his foot on the brake a little bit as he was driving and raise his hand off the steering wheel and say again, “Slow down. These are God’s Words spoken to you.”
Wendy: And that is the why behind slowing down. God, again, before you read the Word, are you re- am I really here to hear from you? And then during it, wait, God, these are your words. You speak to me from your Word. I don’t want to miss it. I don’t want to miss it. What do you have for me? I mean, what-
Jim: Pretty simple.
Wendy: What are you telling me about you?
Wendy: That I don’t want to miss? What are you telling me about me that I don’t want to be blind to? And what do you want to communicate about what it looks like to now do what it says? If I rush it … l- let’s go back to the feast metaphor. If I gobble the feast, if I ingest it without digesting it, I’m going to end up with a bellyache. Right? I’m going to end up with more-
Wendy: Indigestion than anything else. But the same is true when we’re reading God’s Word. We’re going to end up with more indigestion than transformation.
Jim: Oh, yeah. Good metaphor.
Wendy: So let’s slow down.
John: Yeah. We’ve got Wendy Speake with us today here at Focus on the Family, and, uh, your host is Jim Daly. I’m going to, uh, recommend that you get a copy of this, uh, terrific 40-Day book by Wendy. It’s called The 40-Day Feast: Taste and See the Goodness of God’s Word. We’ve got details at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast or give us a call, 800, the letter A, and the word FAMILY.
Jim: Wendy, uh, we stopped there, which the right follow up in the book, uh, the acronym for FEAST helps us to figure out what we need to do. So let’s go through that. FEAST, and I’ll go really slowly. (laughs) No, I’m teasing.
Wendy: (laughs) Slowly. Uh, you know, and I think that, um, I think F right now is just my favorite of the acronym.
Wendy: Before we dive into, again, even how to do this, it starts with the why, and like I mentioned, the why is a who. This is about friendship with God. That God would create us to be in friendship, to be in fellowship, to be in relationships with us.
Jim: Which is what he wants. Yeah.
Wendy: That he would then extent friendship to us in the garden. And that’s a feast. Like, before he made us, he planted what we needed to feast. A literal feast with him.
Wendy: He planted fruit-bearing trees. Self-propagating root systems. Filed the Earth with, uh, with animals. He prepared the feast before he even created man. And then he created man and invited him into friendship, fellowship, feasting. And so that’s the F, is before I even begin to feast on God’s Word, I start with, “This is an invitation into friendship.” This is a person to engage with. We read the Word not to know the Word but to know God. We read the Word to not know about Christ but to be in relationship with God through Christ.
Wendy: And so let’s start with that F. A friendship, a fellowship, before we even get into the rest of the feast. E, okay. Now we’re going to do it. We’re going to eat it.
Wendy: That means you’re reading it. You’re consuming it. And that doesn’t mean you have to be on a fast-track and read a lot each day. It can be verses, it can be passages. It can be a chapter or a short book of the Bible. So then you do the, slowly. Read it slowly. Eat it, consume it. But then you don’t want to hurry off into your day, right? Let’s keep the pace, because we don’t just wan to ingest it, we want to digest it, too. So, A is for applying it, and it’s back to those questions. Simple questions. God, what are you telling me about yourself? What are you telling me about who I am in light of doing relationship with you, or avoiding relationship with you? And then, how should I live differently given what you’ve just told me in your Word? And then, let’s see. We have F, fellowship, E, eat it, A, apply it. S is savor it. And this is, again, and I mean, we could use the S for slow. Take it with you as you go. Don’t just check that box and run into your day and forget. But savor it. If there was a verse or a- a topic or even a word that leapt off the page into your heart, don’t forget it. Savor it, meditate on it. Jot it down on a Post-It note. Shove it in your pocket or your purse. Pull it out. And then, as you savor it, commit to that T, which is, be transformed.
Wendy: God’s Word isn’t meant to distract us for five minutes, 15 minutes in the morning so we feel like good Christians. It should make us look more like him and less like us.
Jim: (laughs) That’s true.
Wendy: We want to be transformed. We want to be, as you mentioned, doers of the Word, not just readers of the Word. So commit, then, as you savor it, as you mediate on it to then allowing it to transform you.
Jim: Hmm. Wendy, it- it can sound so simple, but it has to, you know, you read the Word and I’m hearing you clearly. Then you have to let it change your heart and it has to affect you.
Jim: So that you are different because of your relationship with Christ. I think it’d be helpful for- for some that may struggle with that, again, back to that story. How do we do that? What are the- the ways, if you struggle, if a person is struggling with … I read the Word every day, but I- then I get up on my way with my- my life and my job and …
Jim: I don’t really apply it. There’s times at work I maybe should say something or I feel the nudge of God to say something and I don’t. So, how- how do you consistently, then, apply the Word and- and know that you’re doing it?
Wendy: You know, I think it’s possible to get in the Word and not let the Word get in you.
Wendy: And we want that. You know, there is a, uh, a very familiar verse. “I have hidden your Word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” And I think we could maybe, uh, translate that into, “I have let your Word get into me so much that I’m shaped by it.”
Wendy: It doesn’t leave my mind. It doesn’t leave how I live. It’s in me. I still have all my natural tendencies, but it stops me from following my natural tendencies. It’s in me. I- I love that. “I’ve hidden my Word that I might not sin against you.” It’s like hearing God’s voice from within when we close our Bibles, we can’t close the Bible.
Jim: Right, it’s- ’cause it’s in you.
Wendy: It’s in you.
Wendy: And so God speaks to us from our … the pages of his holy communication, and then we can’t get him to shut up.
Wendy: Because he’s still there doing it as we take him with us.
Jim: Yeah. The dry spell. Let’s hit that one.
Jim: Because people do hit a- a patch, and I’ve done it.
Jim: You know, where you’re busy. Things, the load of life takes over and you’re not mindful enough to say, “Okay, slow down. Let’s make sure we’re reading the Word.” And, you know, uh, you just hit a patch where, Lord, are you there? Well, where have you been? Is what he would say (laughs).
Wendy: Right, and that’s the question.
Jim: “I’m always there, but I haven’t seen you lately.” Uh, address the dry spell and how to correct that.
Wendy: Dry spells can occur for so many different reasons. I mean, it- it can be, I’m just so stinking busy.
Wendy: It can be, I’m just so stinking happy. I’m not in touch my need, right?
Jim: You’re content. You’re full.
Wendy: And- and you can even feel close to God until you’re not so close to him, because you haven’t been spending time with him. And then there can be, for some people, they have a hard time spending time in God’s Word when things are difficult. For me, that’s when I’m actually oftentimes more drawn to his Word. I think of the woman with the issue of blood. I got issues. And I’m fighting my way into his presence. I’m pushing people out of the way to get to his presence, and I do that in his Word. So there can be lots of different personalities that encounter God’s Word for different reasons, which means there are lots of different p- personalities and reasons why we fall out of our- our- our habit of sitting with him and feasting on his Word.
Wendy: If you find yourself in that season, back to, um, those two words about how, um, you know, are we reading it as a discipline or are we reading it ’cause we’re hungry. If you have found that you’re actually not hungry, you’re not alone. Go back to the discipline of reading God’s Word.
Jim: Yeah, and Wendy, I- I- I think right at the end here, it’s maybe, I don’t want to simplify it to a temperament issue. I tend to lean that way.
Jim: Because I- I know myself, you know, I know how I’m wired and what God, the bent that God has given me. I’m extroverted, I could get distracted very easily, those kinds of things. I- I think, to end here, it’d be good to address kind of the two bigger audiences of how we read the Word.
Jim: And apply the Word. One, I would say, is right with you. They get it. It’s Jean. Jean is right with you. You know, had that hunger, had that discipline, apply it to your life. Do it regularly. If- if not daily. And then, the other camp which may struggle, especially if they hit a storm, they don’t necessarily move into the Word to find sanctuary, to find safety.
Jim: It feels to them kind of counter-intuitive, when we know it’s not. That’s where you want to go. Uh, but speak to that, again, that personality that may not, in the storm, feel like the harbor is doubling down with the Word.
Jim: And doing more in the Word so that you feel, uh, that you’re in a safe place even though everything’s going crazy in life.
Wendy: Yeah. Let me go back to that same scripture of Christ’s invitation. Come to me. Come to me. We know that Christ is the Word made flesh and his invitation was a very simple, “Come to me.” Um, I know that this is counter-intuitive. I know for most people that have that have not tasted and seen for themselves that they can say, “Yeah, I know that’s the right Bible school, Sunday school, Christian answer is to spend time in God’s Word, and I- it’s not that I don’t want to, I just never learned how. Or I never developed the habit.” I just want to invite you with Christ’s invitation. Try it.
Wendy: And so my invitation is to get a copy of The 40-Day Feast not because it is the feast but because it just might awaken your appetite for the feast that is the Word of God.
Jim: That is well said.
Wendy: And I have you at the end of every short chapter read a chapter of the Bible.
Wendy: Feast on it. And answer those three simple questions. You’ll develop a little bit of muscle and a little bit of hunger and as we say goodbye on day 40, you’ll be ready to really feast.
Jim: Yeah. Well, there’s a promise, and, uh, if that’s where you’re at, get in touch with us. We want to be there for you. You know, we have caring Christian counselors.
Jim: Who can help, as well. Along with many, many resources. Over 45 years, I think we’ve covered the gambit on what you might experience in this life. But this is a great, um, again, a great tool to learn the discipline of feasting on the Word of God. The 40-Day Feast, and if you can support the ministry and be part of the ministry, helping others, that’s kind of Christian, right? Um, we’ll send it as our way of saying thank you for your partnership in that way. And if you can do that monthly, that’s great. One time gift is fine. If you can’t afford it, we’ll get it to you because we believe you need to be in the Word of God. So get in touch with us, is the key there. And, uh, let us help you.
John: When you reach out, uh, donate generously as you can and make sure to get a copy of the book by Wendy Speake, The 40-Day Feast: Taste and See the Goodness of God’s Word. You can donate and get the book when you call 800, the letter A, and the word FAMILY. 800-232-6459, or stop by focusonthefamily.com/broadcast.
Jim: Wendy, again, thanks for being with us. This was really good.
Wendy: I always love talking with you guys. Talking about the Word.
Jim: (laughs) That’s good.
Wendy: And, uh, inviting listeners to join us.
John: Yeah. Well, join us again next time as we hear a touching story from a military widow and remember those who died serving our country.
Heather Gray Blalock: He said, “Leave them be, ma’am. That kid died so your kids would have the privilege to play. He’d be honored to serve them.”
John: On behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team, thanks for joining us today for Focus on the Family. I’m John Fuller inviting you back as we once again help you and your family thrive in Christ.
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