“I have observed the power of the watermelon seed. It has the power of drawing from the ground and through itself 200,000 times its weight. When you can tell me how it takes this material and out of it colors an outside surface beyond the imitation of art, and then forms inside of it a white rind and within that again a red heart, thickly inlaid with black seeds, each one of which in turn is capable of drawing through itself 200,000 times its weight–when you can explain to me the mystery of the watermelon, you can ask me to explain the mystery of God.” ~ William Jennings Bryan, famous for his role in the 1925 Scopes Monkey Trial
Inspired 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.
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.
I wrote a post quite a while ago called “Lions Little Boys and Me” that talks about the difference between boys and men. There’s quite a bit which leads me to the conclusion that, “Boys live life trying to prepare for when Satan attacks them, and men live planning their attack on the lion. It’s the difference in living life defensively or offensively. Another BIG difference is that boys get attacked by a lion they never see, but men . . . CHOOSE THEIR LION.”
I’ve been reading another book lately called “In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day” by Mark Batterson. Somehow these ideas converge and mean something very powerful in regards to leadership. It’s not intended to be a book on leadership, but “In a Pit” is exactly that. It’s based off an obscure little Scripture in 2 Samuel 23:20 that describes a man, Beniah, who actually chases a lion into a pit. What is it in a man that would make him react in this way? This is what Batterson wrestles with. When broken down, he suggests that these kinds of men, these lion chasers are men who:
1. Defy the Odds
2. Face their Fears
3. Overcome Adversity
4. Embrace Uncertainty
5. Take Risks
6. Seize Opportunity
7. Look Foolish
These are exactly the kinds of qualities I’ve been reading about in all these leadership books. These characteristics are those of the leader. Throughout the book Batterson tells many stories about his own journey into leadership and how God has used each of his experiences to shape him into the man he is today.
In comparing this to my post from a few years ago – I can’t help but think that God is using this to stir something in me. What is the lion that I’ve gotta chase? Could it be this dream of planting a church? I want to be a man who chooses his lion and then chases it down (trusting God) without hesitation. I believe that God will continue to reveal these things to me as He sees fit. When I’m ready, He’ll show me more. I guess I’m excited to know more now though (that patience thing rears it’s ugly head again).
Prayer: Lord, give me patience, but let me keep this passion/excitement that’s burning inside for You and Your plans/desires.
I have always been drawn to an adventure. There are so many things I want to experience in life – all of which seem like adventures to me – I wanna bungy jump, skydive, scuba dive the great barrier reef, go spelunking, maybe even heli-skiing. I want to see lions, elephants, and kangaroos in their natural habitat. I’d love to travel to see all the wonders of the world. I want to write a book someday, and drive over 150 miles/hour on the autobahn. I want to run with the bulls, and go on a cattle drive like on City Slickers. I want to fight Darth Vader off with my light saber. (OK – maybe that one’s a stretch) I would love to be able to risk everything I have in order to be a part of something God called me to. Something like planting a church. I want to do it all. I want to get to the end of this life and feel like I had done all there was to do.
Here’s the good news for me!
J. Oswald Sanders says, “Vision leads to venture, and history is on the side of venturesome faith.” (Chapter 8, pg 57, Spiritual Leadership)
Mark Batterson writes about this kind of risk-taking faith in His book “In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day.” He talks about how the Biblical definition of faith and the worlds definition seem at odds. Usually when you hear the word “faith” being used, it’s in terms like: “He is so faithful to the Word.” “She stood her ground against those guys and stayed faithful to our traditions.” It’s usually used in some sort of defensive stance, but the Bible talks about faith in very different terms. Batterson calls our attention to the parable of the talents. “Well done, good and faithful servant.” is spoken to the guys who took a risk. Faith is offensive rather than defensive. The play-it-safe guy was called wicked and lazy. Faith is actually defined as risky!! Now that makes me happy. That means the life that I’ve always dreamed of is actually what God is calling me to. I hope I get to the end of life and God says, “Well done, good and faithful (risk-taking – hyper-hopeful – crazy – what-were-you-thinking? – Jesus-believing – go-after-it-all – offensive – gutsy) servant.”
Pray that my wife can live with me.