Sunday, December 20, 2009

Primal gets down to what really matters: Book review

Mark Batterson just keeps getting better.

Primal is his latest effort and he doesn't disappoint. I always learn something when I read his books. Especially in the areas of science and history. Mark cultivates my passion for learning because he is such a learner himself.

But I also am challenged to live my faith more authentically and passionately. In this his fourth book, I am specifically challenged to love God more thoroughly: with my heart, soul, mind and strength.

Mark takes the Great Commandment (Matthew 22:37) and breaks it down. After all, it's the summary verse on how to follow Christ! He ends the book calling for another reformation for Christ-followers to simply be "great" at loving God with all that we are.

Mark is so real and humble in his writing. I feel like I know Mark better after reading one of his books. Mark writes from a life well lived, as well. It's one thing to write stories from your life. But it's another to live so fully. His stories teach directly and indirectly. He isn't wasting time. He's living fully for Christ and taking his family with him. Mark, you inspire me!

For example, I learned about parenting in this book and it wasn't about that. (Relevant to parenting, sure. But reading between the lines I was thoroughly challenged as a dad)

So thanks, Mark, for sharing your journey with Christ with me. And thanks for investing in pastors like me by giving away free copies of your book. That's so cool! Great blog too. www.Evotional.com

This was book was provided for review by WaterBrook Multnomah.


Be Astonished Again

We have a tendency to complicate Christianity. Jesus simplified it: Love God with all of your heart, soul, mind, and strength. If we are to live out the essence of Christianity, we must commit to being great at this Great Commandment.

In Primal, Mark Batterson explores the four elements of Great Commandment Christianity: compassion, wonder, curiosity, and power. Along the way, he calls you to be a part of God’s reformation, starting in your own life.

As Mark writes, “Is there a place in your past where you met God and God met you? A place where your heart broke for the things that break the heart of God? Maybe it was a sermon that became more than a sermon. Maybe it was a mission trip or retreat. Maybe it was a vow you made at an altar. In that moment, God birthed something supernatural in your spirit. You knew you’d never be the same again. My prayer is that this book would take you back to that burning bush—and reignite a primal faith.”

Primal will help you live in light of what matters most and discover what it means to love God. It will help you become great at the Great Commandment. 

40 Loaves: Book Review

I was hooked from the beginning. Baker asks great questions in this daily devotional style book. Questions like:

* Why don't I have more faith?

* Why am I so bored with Jesus?

* Why are Christians so hard for me to like?"

He asks the questions that everybody is thinking but afraid to ask. And he wrestles with them out loud with authenticity. 

Baker doesn't preach in this book. He shares his insights (which are great) and he challenges you to live rightly. But he does so with humility. 

Each day is about 3 pages (more than manageable for those who aren't big readers). He writes in an easy prose that is filled with stories but not without meaty morsels of truth.

Each day also has some thought-provoking questions that encourage you to personalize that day's reading. Then he follows that with a prayer. Some are from history and some are his.

I personally find myself being challenged in my walk with Christ in many of these chapters. I am already recommending this book to others. If you're finding your walk with Christ dry, I recommend you supplementing your time in the Bible with this little gem. It's a great way to jump-start your reading through the Bible.

Note: This book was provided for review by the WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group.

Here’s a summary:

“Why don’t I have more faith?”
“Why am I so bored with Jesus?”
“Why are Christians so hard for me to like?” 

There are many questions we’re not 
supposed to ask when playing by the religious rules. It makes people uncomfortable. So why is it that Jesus invited questions and even asked some of them himself? What is it that you’re afraid to ask God? It’s a risky prospect to begin asking–but far riskier to continue simply trying to get by without knowing. Author C. D. Baker asked himself 40 soul-searching questions which started a conversation in his heart and ultimately showed him more about God than He ever expected. 

Can we become more honest with who we really are and find who God says He really is at the same time? Come
 indulge yourself in daily readings with an honest exploration of your secret fears and thoughts, and know that you will always be welcomed in God’s unconditional love.

Search me, O God … and know my anxious thoughts.
–Psalm 139:23 NIV

Thursday, December 17, 2009

iShine: Because He lit me up!

It's not just Christmas trees or houses getting lit up this season. People are too!

Recently we heard from 8 yr old Megan Coker boldly share her faith in front of her church family. She's ready to get baptized because she's not ashamed to follow Christ publicly. That's what I call shining brightly!

Megan doesn't have a seminary degree or years of experience following Christ. And nobody is shining for her. She is shining. It's really that simple.

She told his disciples, "You are the light of the world...let your light shine before men; that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven." (Matt 5:14-16)

"Let your light shine" not make your light shine. We don't actually shine. God shines through us. He is light and it's supernatural. Let it happen this Christmas season. Let your friends, family and neighbors see your light. Then they will see your good deeds and praise God. Isn't that what we live for?

Let the light out!