Chase the Lion – Mark Batterson

chase-the-lion-mark-batterson-mobile-wallpaper-lion-and-textJust over five years ago I posted a review on Mark Batterson’s In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day. Last week I finished reading a follow-up to it called Chase the Lion. The newest offering used In a Pit with a Lion as a literary springboard and continued looking at Benaiah as well as several other of David’s Mighty Men written about in the Old Testament.

The byline of Chase the Lion is this: If Your Dream Doesn’t Scare You, It’s Too Small. Through the pages of the book Batterson refers to David’s mighty men, followers of Jesus from scripture and history and contemporary Christ followers who live out this Lion Chaser manifesto.

As I was reading the book, I would mark quotes that stood out to me and then dog-eared the page so I could find them later. Upon concluding the book, I saw that I had a number of pages with bent corners. Batterson knows how to turn a phrase and pack a punch in a sentence of two.

On page 70 he had this good reminder for those who are chasing a dream God has given them: “We overestimate what we can accomplish in a year or two, but we underestimate what God can accomplish in a decade or two. If you’re discouraged, zoom out. you can’t just dream big; you have to think long.”

Good reminder.

One of the more powerful parts of the book for me personally was near the end when he wrote about the importance of thinking long-term when it comes to the work we are doing in the kingdom of God. Sometimes (or perhaps most of the time) we think about what God is doing for us or for those around us. On page 171 Batterson wrote, “We think that what God does for us is for us, but it’s never just for us. It’s always for the third and fourth generations. We think right here, right now, but God is thinking nations and generations.”

He shared several examples how men and women who lived and served generations ago are still impacting people today. Whether is was planting a church, starting a scholarship, launching a ministry or introducing someone to Jesus, Batterson showed how God used the efforts of previous men and women to impact third and fourth generations.

What a great picture to have in mind as we serve today. To think that the work we are doing now has the potential of impacting or grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren is both humbling and inspiring.

Batterson’s encouragement throughout the book is to continue to Chase the Lion. Whatever God has called to do, our task is to remain faithful and allow Him to take care of the results.

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Baptism at a Creek

Alicia baptismI had a “first” last night. I’ve done baptisms in churches, in lakes and in swimming pools. Yesterday I had the opportunity to baptize one of the ladies from our church family in the creek behind her family’s home. Seven of us made the hike a few hundreds yards through their backyard to the creek, waded across ankle-deep water until we got to the spot where the creek was deep enough and then had the baptism. It was quiet and beautiful.

When I called the woman regarding her decision, she shared that she had been attending church with her family and reading her Bible on her own and was lead to this next step in her walk with Jesus. Her husband had been baptized in the creek and she wanted to do the same thing. While I know that a lot of creek baptisms have taken place, this was unique for me.

Her husband did share that someone from his family was a preacher and told the story of the time they had the break through the ice to perform a baptism. Glad it wasn’t that cold for us!

Her decision, along with the baptisms we experienced at camp the week before, have reminded me again that God is the one that moves people to decisions and He is the one that changes hearts. Whether through the example of a friend, spending time alone reading God’s Word or being taught His truth by someone else, God is the One who brings about change. We simply make ourselves available to be a part of the process where He decides to use us.

Raising Jesus

Now that Thanksgiving is behind us, most people – and churches – are focusing on Christmas. Last Sunday kicked off our latest sermon series and it is taking a look at the Christmas story. One of the cool things about this sermon series is that several churches in our area will be preaching from the same text each week. As we worship and study at WCC, there will be four other congregations examining the same piece of scripture.

The message this past Sunday focused on Mary and Joseph and how they responded to God’s call to be the parents of Jesus. Joseph, because Mary was pregnant outside of marriage (which was punishable by stoning), wanted to divorce her quietly. When the angel appeared to him, the Bible tells us Joseph was obedient.

Mary, when the angel appeared to her, was understandably taking by surprise that she would be chosen to carry God’s Son. When the angel explained God’s plan, she submitted to it – “I am the Lord’s servant. May your word to me be fulfilled.” (Luke 1:38)

In his message, our pastor made a great point. (He said it probably wasn’t original with him, but I’ll give him the credit). He pointed out that Jesus learned obedience and submission from his mom and dad. As an adult, Jesus was obedient to His Father – to the point of death on a cross – and he saw that attribute in His earthly parents. Jesus was also submissive to God’s will – an attribute He saw in Mary and Joseph.

While Mary and Joseph weren’t perfect, they were an example of obedience and submission as they fulfilled God’s plan for their lives. It’s interesting to think how their example impacted their son, Jesus, as He was growing from a young boy to a man who would give His life for us.

A Long (Like Really Long) Obedience

I was listening to a podcast from Mark Batterson and he was using Noah as an example of someone who was all in – totally obedient to God.  Several times in the book of Genesis it says this about Noah – “Noah did everything just as God commanded him.”

The story of Noah and the building of the ark is probably one of the better known Old Testament events.  While we probably cannot fully comprehend the magnitude of the project, we know Noah and his family built the ark, filled it with animals of every kind and lived in it while the world was destroyed by a flood.

What Batterson mentioned in his podcast was a tradition regarding Noah and the ark.  The tradition states that Noah first planted the trees he would use to build the ark, waited from them to grow, sawed them into planks and then built the ark.  No one is quite sure how long it took to build the ark, but most conclude it took several decades, even up to 100 years.

Whether that tradition is true or not, Noah displayed a long obedience.  He not only built the ark – just as God commanded – but also gathered the animals and cared for them in the ark.  In a time where we want results now and continually have to seek to be patient, Noah shows what a long obedience looks like.

Batterson made the observation that obedience to God makes life more complicated, not less complicated.  I imagine that the larger the ark became and the addition of all the animals (along with a world-wide flood) made life more complicated for Noah.  Yet he remained obedient.  May we strive for the long obedience despite the complication is may bring.

Chose You For You

My YouVersion reading has me in the Old Testament book of Deuteronomy.  Moses is recalling what the Lord has done for the people and Israel is preparing to take possession of the Promised Land.

Moses reminds them of what God has done on their behalf and how, if they remain faithful to God, He will remain faithful to them.

In chapter 7, the people of God are reminded of why God picked them.  I think they are words we need to hear, too.

Deuteronomy 7:7-10:   7 The Lord did not set his affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples.8 But it was because the Lord loved you and kept the oath he swore to your ancestors that he brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the land of slavery, from the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt.9 Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments.

God did not love Israel because they were the biggest or the fastest or the strongest.  In fact, they were none of those things.  God loved them despite their shortcomings and was faithful to them.  The same is true for us – God doesn’t love us because of anything we do or are.  He has chosen to love us and will be faithful to continue to love us…to a thousand generations.

Reading these verses reminded me of a song I heard on the radio by JJ Heller. The chorus says, “I will love you for you.  Not for what you have done or what you will become.  I will love you for you.”

Good reminder that we are loved by God for who we are and our faithfulness to Him is a response of His faithfulness to us.

God-aware

I have been trying to be more God-aware (if that is a real phrase) in just the daily happenings of life.  I have been challenged by some authors I have read this year to see/hear/experience God within our daily activities.  God wants to speak to us; He does speak to us…we just have to listen.  I don’t always do real well with that, but I am trying.

He is always showing up – or at least, I think He is trying to show up – in our lives.  Through a prompting in our hearts to do something, an encouraging comment left by someone on Facebook (can God really use Facebook to speak??), through unexpected gifts and various other means.  I do want to be more God-aware.

This past week I was doing something quite mundane – ironing my shirt (I don’t like wrinkles) – and felt like God impressed something on my heart.  Trying to be more God-aware, I’ve been trying to sort through what exactly He is trying to say.  It’s both challenging and cool at the same time.  Imagine, GOD – the God of the universe- is trying to get our attention.  Are we aware?