REFUEL: An Uncomplicated Guide to Connecting with God
From personal experience and what he has heard from parishioners, Doug Fields knows the final results of New Year’s and other resolutions to read a Bible chapter a day or the Bible through in a year or pray for 15 minutes every morning. The “ought-ful” motivation for “devotional time” often gets bogged down, and the resolution becomes mired in guilt.
In REFUEL: An Uncomplicated Guide to Connecting with God, Fields --- teaching pastor at Saddleback Community Church in Mission Viejo, California (the church pastored by Rick Warren) --- briefly lays out an alternative approach to spending time with God.
The opening chapter starts with an engaging anecdote about Fields’s teenaged son’s first week owning his first car. The son asks dad for extra money because he has run out of gas. He had no idea that a car required so much fuel; he didn’t understand how fast the tank emptied. Fields quickly turns to a spiritual parallel --- how quickly we spiritually run out of power, enthusiasm and connection to God. When we realize we’re running on fumes, we may turn to alternative fuels that prove unsatisfying --- food, work (or busy-work), shopping, music (or noise), anything other than God. Or we let the guilt --- over running out of gas --- further deplete us.
After setting up the problem, Fields proposes solutions that draw us to an ongoing, empowering connection to God. Solutions involve finding frequent, maybe very short, silences during which we can reach out to God and God to us. “My appeal is to stop within your normal schedule. Simply allow for small margins of stop in the midst of daily life. I want you to learn how to create pauses --- each day, several times a day, where you stop, become quiet, and connect with God.” Becoming quiet --- turning off the music, the phone, the TV, the DVDs --- is a critical part of the piece.
This is a simple book with a simple message. It ultimately is about prayer and Bible reading but, at least for starters, in small bits. “Try reading a few verses and read them over several times. Don’t read for speed; read for depth.”
The last chapter summarizes some characteristics of the life and times of Jesus’ biblical apostles, characteristics that compare to contemporary times and might well apply to readers who desire a closer relationship with God.
It bears repeating: this is a short book. There’s no need for it to intimidate a book buyer or receiver, if you choose to give it as a gift.
--- Reviewed by Evelyn Bence
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