Last summer I traveled to Washington, DC to visit my birthplace with my family and take my children to explore the sites that broadened my historical and scientific view of the world. Personally, I was looking forward to a Saturday evening stroll up to Union Station and then a few block jog over to Ebenezer's Coffee House. I looked forward to worshiping with the folks at National Community Church and meeting their pastor Mark Batterson. What a powerful time I had as the oldest person in the room ...
I had been introduced to Mark Batterson through the books In the Pit with Lion on a Snowy Day and Wild Goose Chase. Mark's preaching that Saturday evening was just as powerful as his books and fleshed out in his experiences as Christian walking through the world. The opportunity came recently to participate in blog tour for Mark's new book PRIMAL: A Quest for the Lost Soul of Christianity. I jumped at the chance!
Mark opens the book with a journey to Rome and a chance visit to the Church San Clemente, named for the fourth bishop of Rome. This 12th century church was built on the ruins of its 4th century predecessor which covered the catacombs where first century Christians had gathered for worship, fellowship, and study. He then observed the following:
I’ll never forget my descent down that flight of stairs. The air became damp and we could hear underground springs. We carefully navigated each step as we lost some of our light. And our voices echoed off the low ceiling and narrow walkway. Almost like the wardrobe in The Chronicles of Narnia, that flight of stairs was like a portal to a different time, a different place. It was as if those stairs took us back two thousand years in time. With each step, a layer of history was stripped away until all that was left was Christianity in all of its primal glory.
As I tried to absorb the significance of where I was, I couldn’t help but wonder if our generation has conveniently forgotten how inconvenient it can be to follow in the footsteps of Christ. I couldn’t help but wonder if we have diluted the truths of Christianity and settled for superficialities. I couldn’t help but wonder if we have accepted a form of Christianity that is more educated but less powerful, more civilized but less compassionate, more acceptable but less authentic than that which our spiritual ancestors practiced.
Over the last two thousand years, Christianity has evolved in lots of ways. We’ve come out of the catacombs and built majestic cathedrals with all the bells and steeples. Theologians have given us creeds and canons. Churches have added pews and pulpits, hymnals and organs, committees and liturgies. And the IRS has given us 501(c)(3) status. And there is nothing inherently wrong with any of those things. But none of those things is primal. And almost like the Roman effect of building things on top of things, I wonder if the accumulated layers of Christian traditions and institutions have unintentionally obscured what lies beneath.
Each great reformation of God's church began in part by rediscovering the passion of Jesus' first followers. Mark invites us to reconsider our assumptions about what the church's authenic role in history is to be. Along the way the reader rediscovers the primal heart, soul, mind, and strength of the Great Commandment for themselves. I can't help but be committed to living with compassion, wonder, curiosity, and power among the band of sisters and brothers that are reforming the church for passionate service to God's world.
Check out last week's interview with Mark Batterson at the release of PRIMAL.
Click on the following links to purchase PRIMAL, In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day, or Wild Goose Chase:
|Primal: A Quest for the Lost Soul of Christianity |
By Mark Batterson / Random House, Inc What would your faith look like if it were stripped down to the simplest elements possible? Storyteller and pastor Mark Batterson explores the four foundational principles of Great Commandment Christianity: compassion (heart), wonder (soul), curiosity (mind), and power (strength)---and supplies a new reformation beginning for your generation, your church, and your life!
|In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day |
By Mark Batterson / Multnomah Ever been in the wrong place at the wrong time...several times? These memories leave you with an ill taste in your mouth, and nothing good seems to come from them. But what if the seemingly messy pieces of your life were actually strategically positioned by God? What if you've actually been in the right place at the right time every time? In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day will help you make sense of your past. You'll begin to connect the dots to see clearly how God has been preparing you for future opportunities. With a God's-eye perspective, you'll soon be thanking Him - even for lions, pits, and snowy days.
|Wild Goose Chase |
By Mark Batterson / Multnomah Does seeking to know God's will with certainty sometimes seem like, well, a wild goose chase? Author of the bestseller In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day, Batterson unmasks our misconceptions concerning discipleship and decision-making and urges us to dare to take risks. Topics include: playing offense, surviving shipwrecks, pursuing passions, challenging giants, and more.
Ed Stetzer works as a director of research for Lifeway, the Southern Baptist Book concern.
Richard Stearns and Lamar Vest comment in "Christians losing their way" ... let's pay better attention to poverty and justice
Rick Warren, perhaps the nation's best-known pastor, was stunned. "I went to Bible College, two seminaries and I got a doctorate. How did I miss this?" "This" is not some deep, hidden biblical code predicting the end of the world. It isn't a cipher that further elucidates the truth of the Trinity. It isn't even the formula for turning water into wine.
No, the thing that stunned Rick Warren was when he was struck for the first time by the sheer volume of verses in the Bible that express God's compassion for the poor and oppressed. Unfortunately, Warren isn't the only person of faith to be surprised by just how much God has to say about poverty and justice. Despite the fact that God's heart for the poor is mentioned in some 2,100 verses of Scripture, many of us simply miss it. In a recent survey of adults in America conducted by Harris Interactive, although 80 percent of adults claimed to be familiar with the Bible -- the best-selling book in history -- 46 percent think the Bible offers the most teachings on heaven, hell, adultery, pride or jealousy. In fact, there are more teachings on poverty than on any of those topics.
That's why when our organizations joined to create the new Poverty and Justice Bible, we made sure to select an unusual color -- orange -- for highlighting passages relating to poverty and justice. We wanted to stop people in their tracks. We wanted this simply highlighted Bible to act as God's megaphone revealing a heart for the poor, concern for the marginalized and compassion for the oppressed.
Richard Stearns' book, The Hole in Our Gospel: What does God expect of us ... The answer that changed my life and might just change the world, is a challenge from a corporate CEO transformed by the opportunity to be transformed and in turn to transform the world. Take a read ...
Seth Godin asks 8 questions that are appropriate in every season, especially as we approach the new year.
Who are you trying to please?
What are you promising?
How much money are you trying to make?
How much freedom are you willing to trade for opportunity?
What are you trying to change?
What do you want people to say about you?
Do we care about you?
(and after each answer, ask 'why?')