Illusionist Brock Gill has been performing illusions and powerful visual illustrations for audiences for over twenty years. He has more recently dipped his toe into the waters as an author by developing a workbook for teens encouraging them to practice spiritual disciplines in order to continue growing in their faith. His premise is that each believer has two natures, our natural flesh nature, which is opposed to the things of God, and our spirit nature that runs contrary to the desires of the flesh. Galatians 5:17, among others, is the Scriptural support that he draws from for this important truth. He states that, "our spirit and our flesh are willing to eat as much as we feed them. It is up to us to be disciplined enough to know how and what to feed." (Page 9) He sets up each nature as a dog and his main point is that whatever dog we feed most will be the one that wins the struggle, hence the books title, Feed the Dog. He identifies seven spiritual disciplines (worship, Scripture, prayer, solitude, fasting, ministry, and community) that will help each Christian continue to grow in their faith and strengthen the spirit nature.
The book's layout will be familiar to those who have ever used a Lifeway Bible study resource with a brief introduction to the study, a short video at the beginning of each of the eight chapters and then questions to foster dialogue for the viewer. There are then six days' worth of devotional material for the participant's week prior to watching the next video. The devotionals have a main Scripture and several questions to get the reader to engage with the content. I cannot review the content or effectiveness of the video sessions tied to the workbook as they are were not made available for review, but I will say that not seeing them didn't make me feel like I missed anything vital. However, as an illusionist, I am quite certain that many of his points would have had a more powerful backing with the support of memorable visuals.
I will not cover each chapter in detail, but will mention two that I found important to dig into further due to the lack of focus that they often see; and that is the disciplines of solitude and fasting. Solitude is detailed in chapter five, and is very pertinent in this day-and-age of constant noise and distraction all around teenagers. There is great fear in the human condition over being alone, but solitude alone with God does not have to be feared, but should be looked upon as a time to settle and hear more clearly. Brock states on page 59 that, "the purpose of solitude is not to fill yourself up so that you are more self-sufficient, but to grow to be more reliant on God." It's a great reminder for us all, and a much-needed discipline to practice on a regular basis.
Chapter six follows with a discussion on fasting which he simply defines as, "taking a short, deliberate break from eating." (Page 68) He talks about what fasting is--the why, and the what to expect when you seek to practice abstaining from food for a time. A great reminder why, from page 70, was particularly helpful; he states, "We fast not to earn God's love, but to delight more deeply in it - to grow in our desperation for Christ." (Page 70)
Overall, I found the book well laid out, easy to follow, and written to an age group that so greatly needs it. Although it is classified as a "student" or "youth" resource, the study would still benefit anyone who sought to use it as it is not exclusive in its language or illustrations to the teenagers. I personally will be using it as a resource going forward with the teens that I minister to on a weekly basis as a Student Pastor. I would also recommend it to anyone wanting a practical guide to growing in their faith by walking in the spiritual disciplines.- Review date: 10/19/17, written by Josh Balogh of Jesusfreakhideout.com
Publisher: LifeWay Press
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