Terra Incognita

GoosePeople cannot discover new lands until they have the courage to lose sight of shore.

Many Christians will proclaim a willingness to follow the Holy Spirit wherever He leads them until the moment arrives when they actually have to take the first steps, then we hesitate. Through the years we have become expert at all manner of excuse creation, justification and reasoning away in order to limit the Spirit’s influence on our lives. Breaking out of these cages is the subject of Pastor Mark Batterson’s book Wild Goose Chase.

Most churches and the Christians therein are constrained in their faith by shackles of their own making. The Holy Spirit calls each of into ministries that are wildly beyond our comfort zone. Rather than following the Wild Goose where it leads, we put a band on His leg and tether Him so that the apogee of His flight is well within our boundaries of comfort.

Batterson encourages the reader chapter after chapter to live the adventure. We miss out on the blessing of our calling because we fear that the Spirit will take us off into uncharted territory. Addressing this risk-avoidance in the early chapters, the pastor’s word become more challenging as he approaches the final pages. Here we encounter the calamity and upheaval that we were trying so hard to diligently avoid, but, as Batterson points out, many times our calling comes in the form of troubles. The spiritually diligent Christian will learn to read these signs and interpret the next flight pattern of the Goose.

Pastor Batterson’s books are always encouraging, and Wild Goose Chase is an excellent companion to his earlier volume, In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day. Safety-minded Christians will avoid this book at all costs. Those Christians interested in the wild, free faith that we are called to will devour these pages and not stop until they follow the Goose into the wonderful, dangerous faith that the Lord intends for His Church.

I am grateful to Multnomah Books who provided this copy for review.

Searching for Soulprints

imageOn Sunday mornings we strive to blend in with the rest of the scrubbed faces in the chairs in the auditorium. We dress nice, but not too nice so we’re not accused of being flashy. We put a smile on our face, not even hinting that there might be problems in our lives. We blend in, masking our individuality because we’re afraid of what others will say if they discover the real you.

We’re afraid because we don’t know who we are ourselves.

Mark Batterson’s new book Soulprint delves into the process of peeling back the layers of makeup that we’ve applied to make ourselves presentable to the world. Washing them away, Batterson encourages us to stand bare before God and to take our identity cues from the hands that formed us rather than the false messages we get from the world.

Using the victories and failures of King David as cairns around which to center his discussions, Mark encourages us to examine ourselves in light of how absolutely unique we are in God’s creation. Just as the shepherd David was the only giant slayer on the battlefield that fateful day, God has created in each of us a singular personality with a purpose that only we can accomplish.

The examination of David’s humility as he sheds worldly trappings to worship with abandon and zero concern for the opinions of those around him is the highlight of the book. To be so fully devoted to God that the world falls away in importance has always been my prayer, but vestiges of the fallen life remain. They remind me not to lift my hands too high, not to allow my foibles to be known, to keep the happy face required in church.  I long to dance in worship.

Pastor Batterson has done a fine job with this volume. Men’s groups will be especially well served by centering a study around this and the applicable scriptures that tell David’s story. If only a small percentage of men can shed the masks they wear in our communities, the Church and world will never be the same.

I’m grateful to Multnomah books who provided this copy for review.