Primal – A Book Review

PrimalInspired by a trip down a staircase which descended into ancient catacombs, Mark Batterson encourages Christians to be great at the Great Commandment! There, beneath the layers of 2000 years of Christianity and tradition, he imagined the ancient primal form of the Christian faith. In Primal, he takes the reader back in time and reminds him/her of the essentials of the faith. Centering on the Great Commandment (Mk 12:30), Batterson acts as a tour guide exploring the depths of genuine compassion, infinite wonder, insatiable curiosity, and boundless energy – the very ideas that sparked the first-century movement and exploded into the modern Christian faith. Hidden by 2000 years of tradition, Batterson leads the reader to rediscover and reclaim the power within them. Primal uncovers the greatness of the Great Commandment and calls the reader to join the primal force which is revealed by it’s convictions.

Primal is a very interesting read. Batterson has become a great writer and is a master at weaving together personal stories, Scriptural examples, psychological research, and scientific evidence. He also knows how to turn a phrase. Here are some of my favorites:

We’re not great at the Great Commandment.

It’s much easier to act like a Christian than it is to react like one.

You can give without loving, but you can not love without giving.

The mind is educated with facts, but the soul is educated with beauty and mystery. And the curriculum is creation.

Conclusion: I would recommend this book to anyone interested in reclaiming the Christian faith and pursuing with abandon the Great Commandment. Primal is absolutely the first book you should read in 2010.

More info: www.theprimalmovement.com


PS: Reading Mark Batterson‘s book “In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day” was truly a life-changing moment for me. Therefore, it’s an incredible joy and honor to have been selected to be a part of his blog tour for this book. I was sent a pre-released copy and asked to post a book review.

Three Translations and my thoughts

I read a post from Mark Batterson’s blog the other day that really stuck out to me. Here’s what he wrote:


Three Translations

Had a thought during one of the sessions today.

There are three ways to translate the Bible.  You can translate it with 1) your mind 2) your heart and 3) your life.

I think a lot of us settle for the mental translation.  But the end result is information.  And what happens is this: we learn more, do less, and think we’re growing spiritually. But not if that’s the only translation.

The second translation is emotional.  And the emotional translation may seem more subjective than intellectual translation.  But that is when our hearts break for the things that break the heart of God.  It’s not just information.  It’s transformation.  For the record, I think one person with one deeply held conviction will make more of a difference than someone with a hundred good ideas.

Finally, there is the life translation.  That is when we become a “living epistle.”  That is when the noun turns into a verb.  And that is how we change the world. At the end of the day, Jesus isn’t going to say, “Well thought good and faithful servant.” He’s going to say, “Well done good and faithful servant.”

Imagine a church filled with people who are translating the Bible with their lives!


Anyway, I thought it was a great idea. The only way that the Bible makes a difference, is when it’s made a difference in our lives. If it’s only intellectual or emotional, there’s been no real change. The whole thing also reminded me of the old school praise and worship song “Holiness.” The chorus says, “Take my heart and form it. Take my mind transform it. Take my will conform it to yours, to yours, oh Lord.” Mind, heart, and will – sounds a lot like intellect, emotions, and life to me. Anyway, if Mark were gonna preach this idea, that’d be a great commitment song.

I’m also reminded of the old illustration of marriage. A young man may know (mind) a girl and have feelings (heart) for her, but she will not be his until he commits his life to her by saying, “I do.” Maybe we could restate it this way – A man may know the Bible and have a fond appreciation for it, but until he commits to living by it, he goes unchanged.

Prayer: Lord, help me to live by Your Word and not just to know it and appreciate it. AMEN.

Tears

Tears soothe the eyes. They moisturize the dryness. They soothe. It’s a mystery to me how this works, ’cause it goes way beyond soothing just our eyes. Tears soothe our hearts. They remind us we’re alive. Tears affect our hearts, but they also express them. The greatest moments of our lives, both good and bad, are usually accompanied by tears.

This past week (Skiing in New Mexico) was the first time I left Kasen and Miranda for any real length of time. I didn’t really imagine how difficult it would be, but as the day approached, I could feel these emotions welling up inside
me. I had worked all day getting ready for the trip. I loaded the church vans with the youth that night and then went back home to finish my personal packing. I had hoped to finish early so I could just cuddle with Miranda bit and play with Kasen, but they were both in bed before I was anywhere close to being ready. Then I realized, I couldn’t find my wallet. I searched everywhere. . . . Nothing. . . .what could I have done with it? Where could it be? Oh wait. . .maybe I left it in the church van when I went to gas it up. I left the house to look ’cause I knew I wouldn’t be able to sleep without knowing. I found it in the van. My mind raced back and forth over all the things I had to do to get ready as I drove home. “I think I’m finally ready.” I thought as a unlocked the door to the house. I wasn’t all the way in the door and I could hear Kasen crying in his crib. “Yes!” I thought – maybe I’m demented for being happy he was upset, but that meant that I could go and comfort him. I picked him up gently and held him close as I snuggled into the rocking chair. I whispered to him and prayed over him as I rocked. It was such a tender amazing moment. I didn’t really expect it, but I cried. I did the same a few moments later as I laid down to bed next to Miranda and prayed over her as she slept.

It’s amazing to think about now. My son was actually comforted by my voice and touch. What an honor and privilege it is to be given that kind of influence and trust. I wonder now – was he more comforted by me? or was I more comforted by his total dependence and trust?

On Maundy Thursday, we did a small service and remembered the events of the last supper. As I told the story to our students, I cried again. Jesus loves us wholeheartedly. That night He had an intimate moment with His closest friends, and He gave Himself completely to them. Just as I had done with Kasen, I remembered how He had whispered to them and prayed over them. I was comforted by him. Was He comforted by my dependence and trust?

Tears reveal our hearts and soothe our hearts. If tears accompany the greatest moments of our lives, then our tears also reveal our values. What we cry about, is what’s important to us. I think I can live with that – ’cause that means that Jesus is important to me and that Miranda and Kasen are important to me.

Breaking The Law

During class tonight, one of the guys sitting at our table (Beto) said something that I thought was pretty insightful. We were discussing our outlines of the book of James and he said something like this:

Heart
“Do we break the law, or does it break us? It’s the standard of the law that breaks us.”

The truth is that for me most of the time it’s me breaking the law. Sometimes I don’t ever even know I did it. But sometimes, the Holy Spirit reveals it to me that I’ve done it, and then I have a choice to either let the law break me or to rebel and refuse to repent. I wonder how many times I’ve been so hardened that I’ve ignored the Spirit. I wonder how many times He knew I wasn’t even ready to admit my sin and decided not to even reveal it to me?

Prayer:
God, I wanna be the kind of guy who is broken by the law. I know it’s not a fun place to be, but I wanna chase after You and that means being broken to my own selfish desires. It means that I wanna have a soft heart which is sensitive to your subtle nudges and prods. Push me God. Let me be broken by your law, and restored by your grace. Renewed and rebuilt into the man you’ve called me to be. I believe You are working on me and trust You to do it – I’m even excited to see how it’s all gonna turn out! Thank You! AMEN!