I would highly recommend Mark Batterson’s latest book titled, Wild Goose Chase. I was fortunate enough to receive two copies in a special pre-release (I have already given the second copy to my lead pastor in hopes that he might consider going through the book via a series in Spring of next year). You can read more about the book at http://www.chasethegoose.com/. The site also includes Mark’s “10 Steps to Setting Life Goals.” Copies are available at Tower Books for under $9.00 a piece (http://www.tower.com/wild-goose-chase-mark-batterson-paperback/wapi/107264129). I loved the book enough to already pre-order enough copies for my entire student leadership team.
Chapter five, titled “A Rooster’s Crow,” makes the book a must-read just by itself. Batterson challenges the reader to come out of the cage (anything that keeps us from pursuing our adventure with God) of guilt. Drawing from Pavlov’s psychological hypothesis of conditioned reflex, the author proposes that certain situations and sinful decisions have conditioned unnatural and unhealthy reflexes in our lives (sometimes minor idiosyncrasies and at other times serious personality traits). Such reflexes vary in each of us . . . for some it is alcoholism, for others it is a critical spirit (ouch), and still others struggle with their own insecurities. Guilt (whether unconfessed towards God or unforgettable within ourselves) dulls our sensitivity to the Holy Spirit and keeps us from living the life that we were designed and destined to experience.
One only has to look to the experiences of Peter to discover this truth lived out . . . “Then seizing [Jesus], they led him away and took him into the house of the high priest. Peter followed at a distance. But when they had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and had sat down together, Peter sat down with them. A servant girl saw him seated there in the firelight. She looked closely at him and said, ‘This man was with him.’ But he denied it. ‘Woman, I don’t know him,’ he said. A little later someone else saw him and said, ‘You also are one of them.’ ‘Man, I am not!’ Peter replied. About an hour later another asserted, ‘Certainly this fellow was with him, for he is a Galilean.’ Peter replied, ‘Man, I don’t know what you’re talking about!’ Just as he was speaking, the rooster crowed. The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him: ‘Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times.’ And he went outside and wept bitterly”(Luke 22:54-62, NIV). Peter’s betrayal was marked with a rooster crowing. Every time he heard that common sound (nearly every morning, I am sure) he was reminded of the terrible moment when he let his beloved Master down in his greatest hour of need. Batterson reminds us that Satan prowls around like a roaring lion . . . but maybe he is also crowing like a rooster. Isn’t that just like the Enemy to remind us of all of our past failures over and over again (even when God has graciously forgiven us)?
The chapter goes on to instruct Christ-followers in this . . . maybe God does not only teach us – maybe he spends more time re-teaching us? Maybe he is not always making things new – but making us re-newed? The greatest challenge might just be that he as to re-condition us so that we “re-act” in the image of our Lord and Savior rather than settling for “acting” like someone we are not. How many of us as self-professed disciples of Christ actually pray for those who bully us? Love our enemies? Bless those who curse us? Go the extra mile for those who force us to go the first one? How many of us actually turn our cheek when someone strikes us in the face? Everything natural within us wishes to fight back. Everything supernatural (the re-newing within us) wishes to absorb the rebellion and extend reconciliation. Imagine that, with God at work within us and through us, hatred can actually inspire love. We can actually transform a curse into a blessing. Talk about changing the world.
Do we really value loving people when they least expect it and least deserve it? I wrestle with this kingdom principle nearly every day of my life. I have a family member who hurt me in many ways for many years. There are times I am frustrated with their attitudes and actions . . . so much so that I am guilty of sometimes disbelieving that this individual will ever be redeemed. Yet, I know that Jesus has taught that we forgive seven times seventy. I also understand that forgiveness is really the only way that we ever are able to disconnect ourselves from the past. So many of us are trapped by our own bitterness . . . lost in our hurt to the point that we can no longer enjoy life. Where is our adventure? Where is our journey with our Creator? Forgiveness actually liberates us . . . and our hearts end up being re-conditioned in the process. Forgiving someone else helps us receive forgiveness from God.
Releasing our offenses towards another is nearly has refreshing as receiving restoration from Christ. The roosters were making Peter feel pretty guilty. He probably thought that his commission as a Christ-follower was null and void. That is probably why he returned to his original vocation of fishing. He had failed too many timed to be re-instated. Failure, all too often, pushed us right back into our old ways. Guilt shrinks our dreams. Grace brings about the opposite result . . . it re-vives our hearts and vision. John 20:15-17 tells the true account of when Jesus searched for Peter . . . not to reprimand him but to re-commission him. The ironic part was that the “ceremony” took place in none other than in the morning (probably right after another rooster crowed). Mark Batterson is a gifted author and pastor . . . but he also is a pretty talented mathematician. He alleges that sin without grace results in guilt while sin plus guilt becomes gratitude. The choice is ours . . . will we drown in our own guilt (past failures and hurts) or will we swim in the re-freshing waters of gratitude and forgiven es? Take some time to read the book and then go out and chase some geese . . . .
Official Summary: “Most of us have no idea where we’re going most of the time. Perfect. ‘Celtic Christians had a name for the Holy Spirit – An Geadh–Glas, or the Wild Goose. The name hints at mystery. Much like a wild goose, the Spirit of God cannot be tracked or tamed. An element of danger, an air of unpredictability surround Him. And while the name may sound a little sacrilegious, I cannot think of a better description of what it’s like to follow the Spirit through life. I think the Celtic Christians were on to something . . . . Most of us will have no idea where we are going most of the time. And I know that is unsettling. But circumstantial uncertainty also goes by another name: Adventure” (from author’s introduction).
Offical Bio: Mark Batterson is the lead pastor of Washington, DC’s National Community Church, widely recognized as one of America’s most innovative churches. NCC meets in movie theaters at metro stops throughout the city, as well as in a church-owned coffee house near Union Station. More than seventy percent of NCC’ers are single twentysomethings who live or work on Capitol Hill. Mark is the author of the best-selling In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day and a widely read blogger (http://www.markbatterson.com/). He lives on Capitol Hill with his wife, Lora, and their three children.