I would highly recommend Mark Batterson’s “Primal: A Quest for the Lost Soul of Christianity.” I was fortunate enough to receive a special pre-release copy from Multnomah Books. You can purchase the hardback edition for under $13 at Amazon.com (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1601421311/ref=s9_simp_gw_s0_p14_i1?pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_s=center-2&pf_rd_r=0TV4BQESJARSHKJF21YF&pf_rd_t=101&pf_rd_p=470938631&pf_rd_i=507846) or directly from the publishers at http://www.randomhouse.com/catalog/display.pperl?isbn=9781601421319.
I am a huge Mark Batterson fan. He is an emerging leader out of our affiliation that I look to for creativity, conviction, and courage. He is a gifted storyteller and masterful wordsmith. That being said, I was anxiously awaiting the release of his third book. Though I thoroughly have enjoyed “In a Pit” and “Wild Goose Chase” (which, in my mind, show that he is getting better and better as a writer), I was hoping that he would use this new installment as a way to branch out a bit from his previous themes. He has a tendency to become a bit redundant and, like myself or any other communicator, tends to drift towards that which he is most passionate about. Now, this perception of him being a tad repetitious might be from just being “Battersoned-Out” so to speak – I have read his books, drawn from his messages, watched his videos, and even heard him first-hand at a couple of leadership conferences. Even so, I was hoping that this book would be one that would hit on new elements, share fresh narratives, and focus on different Scriptures. I am excited to announce: This is the book that I was looking for – and in my mind, his best one yet.
My favorite chapter was the one that focused on loving God with one’s whole soul – a chapter that Batterson titled, “Seventy Faces.” It is in this section that he quotes J.I. Packer suggesting, “Any Christian worth his salt ought to read the Bible from cover-to-cover every year” (Batterson, 74). Mark Batterson was stopped in his tracks after reading this challenge – convicted to his very core. He went on to admit that he had gone through a season in life where, “Bible reading had become synonymous with sermon prep. [He] was reading it for what God wanted to say through [him] instead of what God wanted to say to [him]. And [his] soul suffered because of it” (74).
The Psalter wrote, “I have more understanding than all my teachers, for your testimonies are my meditation” (Psalm 119:99, ESV). Can I say that about myself? T.S. Eliot proposed, “Everything we eat has some . . . effect upon us. It affects the process of assimilation and digestion; and I believe that exactly the same is true of anything we read” (75-76).
I have come to the conclusion that, regardless of my official title or role in life, what I find purpose in is simply to preach the gospel, cast vision, and build teams. However, I can quickly confuse what I do with what I am supposed to be. Those tasks do not define me. Somewhere along this journey I compromised my core. One value that has driven me in my adult life has been to be one that is based on the bible. I have a genuine love, respect, and humility for the Scriptures. It probably started by waking up early in the morning only to find my father out in the living room reading his own bible. That passion was only fostered by the time one of my youth pastors, Neil King, pulled me aside when I was just a seventeen year old student, to tell me that he saw my interest and ability to handle the bible and he encouraged me to develop that gift. This desire was only magnified when I selected my major at Northwest University to be Biblical Literature. I wanted, so very badly, for my life and ministry to be centered around the Holy Word of God.
Yet, if I was honest with myself, recently I fell into the trap of reading my bible for reasons that were less than the Author intended. I can be guilty of studying the text with the sole objective of seeking out something to say to someone else. A sermon. A leadership lesson. A blog. A story to tell my child. I am all for becoming a more effective communicator. I want to grow daily in my ability to bridge the truth of the gospel with the troubles of the culture. I want to become a better storyteller, expositor of the Scriptures, presenter, writer, vision-caster. I want to preach as many times as I am given opportunity in as many places and venues that I am allowed to. I want to write a book one day. I want to pastor my own church in the future. However, that was never intended to be the thrust of my human existence nor the driving force in the relationship that I share with Christ. I was called to meditate on the bible. To think on it. To dwell on it. To wrestle with it. To trust it. To obey it. To make those very instructions and ideas a reality in the world that I live. I am determined to make my way back.
Official Description: 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.”
Official Biography: The author of “Wild Goose Chase” and “In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day”, Mark Batterson serves as lead pastor of National Community Church in Washington, D.C. One church with nine services in five locations, NCC is focused on reaching emerging generations and meets in movie theaters at metro stops throughout the D.C. area. Mark has two Masters degrees from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Chicago. He and his wife, Lora, live on Capitol Hill with their three children. http://www.markbatterson.com