Zeal without knowledge is like flammable gasoline with no container.
Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for [Israel] is that they may be saved. For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. (Rom 10:1-3)
Knowledge without zeal is like a beautiful car with no gasoline.
Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. (Rom 12:11)
Both knowledge and zeal are indispensable elements for walking with God.
Many, many, many books have been written to help us acquire accurate knowledge of God and his will for our lives. Not nearly as many have been written to help us keep the spark of godly zeal alive in our hearts, which is why I’m so thankful for Phillip Shumake’s new book, Lifelong Zeal: How to Build Lasting Passion for God.
“I was baptized just a few years ago, but I already feel less on fire. What can I do to get my zeal back?”
Sound familiar? Shumake uses a wide variety of personal stories and Biblical accounts to illustrate the challenge of discovering, feeding and maintaining zeal for God that doesn’t fizzle out. He identifies five traits that repeatedly stand out in Bible passages addressing zeal, each of which is essential for fueling your spiritual fire:
- Courage—without it, zeal becomes paralyzed.
- Energy—without it, zeal becomes worthless.
- Diligence—without it, zeal becomes disappointing.
- Wisdom—without it, zeal becomes deadly.
- Loving service—without it, zeal becomes selfish.
The three core components every fire requires? Heat, fuel, and air. When all three are together in sufficient quantities, a chain reaction takes place, and a fire will naturally ignite. If any of these elements are taken away, the fire will just as naturally die out. What does your spiritual fire depend upon?
- God—your ultimate heat source.
- Christ’s character—your perfect fuel.
- Purity—your optimum environment.
Lifelong Zeal is all about the how. If you’ve ever enjoyed a campfire, think for a moment about how it was built and used. What was the first thing you did to get it started? Once the fire was lit, how did you use it? You likely used a process similar to this:
- Prepare a place
- Get a lighter or match
- Arrange your firewood
- Shield it from the wind or rain
- Cook some s’mores–Yum!
- Share its heat
- Stir the coals
Lifelong Zeal points to and elaborates on the same steps in a spiritual context to build zeal for God that doesn’t fizzle out.
- Prepare your zeal
- Ignite your zeal
- Fuel your zeal
- Protect your zeal
- Use your zeal
- Spread your zeal
- Tend your zeal
With those seven steps as the framework of the study, Lifelong Zeal (113 pages) has 22 lessons, each containing a key verse, four or more pages to read, side-column extras to spark your thinking, discussion questions for personal or classroom use, key thoughts for reflection, prayer recommendations, and a call to action to help you apply the lesson. The Table of Contents and sample chapters are available for download. Tools for teachers are also freely available—25 Ways to Keep Students Engaged and PowerPoint slides.
Endorsements for the book include:
“An excellent and comprehensive study! Every disciple needs to read Lifelong Zeal.”
– David Banning
“If anyone was ever born to write a book on Lifelong Zeal, it is Phillip Shumake. We really need this material, not just where I preach, but everywhere. Somewhere in this book you will see yourself and find the help needed to rekindle your fire for the Lord and His work.”
– Jim Deason
“Perhaps the best tool I’ve seen for helping us face Jesus’ challenge to live with zeal except the Bible itself. It provides a wonderful visible picture of what it takes to make zeal grow in your heart and scripturally explains every step.”
– Edwin Crozier
I also highly recommend Lifelong Zeal for your individual study, adult Bible class, college-aged class or a challenging teenage class (most teenage classes need to be challenged along these lines). Your zeal for God doesn’t have to fizzle out over time. It can grow deeper and more mature. Lifelong Zeal can help.