All In - A Book Review

All In is a new book by Mark Batterson.  I have not read Marks previous books, though I did glance over Wild Goose Chase.  I was drawn to this book, like most books I read, by the premise.  Being All In for Jesus Christ sounds like the kind of book I wanted to read. 

When I first dug into the book, it seemed at times somewhat cliche.  Some of his statements would make great bumper stickers.  In fact, I think some of them might be.  I had to set that aside though and dive into the meat of the book. 

I dog-eared quite a few pages after that.  One of those pages talked about the church being a verb and that we are called to charge!  That resonated with me.  Another page that got marked up was talking about how the prophet Elisha set fire to his plowing equipment and disposed of his oxen, going all in with God and following Elijah!  That call to part with the past and make a clean break, moving forward with Jesus Christ, had me taking stock of my own commitment to God.

One story he shares had my eyes watering.  I thought maybe it was just me but when I read the 2 pages to my wife, she started wiping her eyes as well.

By the end of the book, I found myself challenged to plunge deeper into my relationship with God, to not be afraid to step out despite how it looks, and to embrace the adventure of faith in Christ.  Not bad.

All in is due to be published in Sept. by Zondervan and should be added to your reading list.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze.com® book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. 


Get Out

"On the Plains of Hesitation bleach the bones of countless millions who, at the Dawn of Victory,
 sat down to wait, and waiting - died."  William A. Lawrence

I love this painting by the late James E. Seward.  He is one of my favorite artists.  This depiction of Peter stepping out of the boat is quite encouraging.  Usually I see this Bible scene (Matt. 14:22-33) depicted with Peter already sinking and Jesus reaching His hand out to lift Peter back up.

However, before that happened, Peter WAS walking on water.

He got out of the boat, in faith, and began walking towards Jesus.  It was only when fear and doubt crept in that he began to sink.

Those other 11 guys, they stayed in the boat.  Maybe some were scared, doubtful or even amused at Peter's boldness.  One thing they all had in common...not one of them joined Peter in stepping out of the boat! 

If I had been in that boat watching Peter do what I saw Jesus doing--walking on water--, I would have forever asked myself, "What if?"

What if I had gotten out of the boat?  What would have happened?  Would I have sunk, or walked in faith despite what I saw around me.  Those thoughts might have even turned into regrets.

Who wants to live a life of regrets?

Peter may have been impulsive.  He might have spoken without thinking.  He definitely was not afraid to step out in faith and out of the boat when most people would say his idea of walking to Jesus was impossible.

Not only did he walk to Jesus but after Jesus did lift him back up out of the water, he walked WITH Jesus back to the boat.

I for one want to live a life with no regrets.  I want to walk in faith to and with Jesus.  How about you?


I finally "GET" Paul

The Apostle Paul.

Greatest Missionary Ever!

A Learned Scholar.

Wrote the Majority of the New Testament.

Totally Unrelatable.

I just never got Paul. 

Don't get me wrong, I enjoy his writings and am currently walking through 1 Corinthians as part of my devotions.  However, of all the people we read about in the Bible, I found Paul to be the one I related to the least.  He always seemed to be on another level. 

From the time of his conversion as recorded in Acts and through each of the books the Lord led him to write, I found Paul to be someone I could not relate to.

That is, until recently. 

I was reading through 1 Cor. 2.  In particular, I was reading verses1-5 which says, "And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom.  (2)  For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.  (3)  And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling,  (4)  and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power,  (5)  so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God."

I know Paul had a thorn in the flesh. (2 Cor. 12:7)  I also know he was not afraid to speak up, even confronting the Apostle Peter when he needed it.  He butted heads with some and spoke out against sectarianism and legalism.

Sometimes you read the Word of God and things just click.  While reading 1 Cor. 2:1-5, I always focused on verse 2.  In fact I have quoted that verse often and made it my own determination as well.  This time I was struck by verse three where Paul mentions how he came to the Corinthians...in weakness, fear and trembling.

There is an image of Paul I had not seen before.  Weak, fearful and trembling.  Now those were things I could relate to.  He also said that his message was not in words of wisdom.  All this was so that the people's faith would be in the power of God, NOT in the wisdom of men.

This passage encouraged me.  Ever since my head injury, I have felt weak, fearful and trembling when sharing God's Word.  To know that God used Paul DESPITE those feelings and grew the Corinthians' faith through His (God's) own power gives me renewed hope.

God can use anyone.  He can use weak and fearful Paul.  He can use me and He can use you!

Be encouraged.   


The Possibility of Peace


Life has a way of wearing you down.  The daily up and down grind can make you feel as if you are on a roller-coaster as you deal with physical, emotional and financial issues.

I was reading 1 Corinthians this week as part of my regular devotions.  I didn't make it past the 3rd verse of the 1st chapter.  That verse says, "Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ." (1 Cor. 1:3)  It's a wonderful greeting Paul gives in his letter and it got me thinking how great it would be if we greeted each other with grace and peace today! Peace seems to be lacking in so many lives, yet God is a God of comfort.

I looked up the word peace in the dictionary and I found two definitions of peace that resonated with me.  The first one is a state of calm and quiet.  The other is freedom from disturbing thoughts or emotions

Both are fitting descriptions.

A state of calm and quiet.  Probably the thing we think of most when we think of peace is quiet.  Just a chance to take a time to rest and relax. No worries, no distractions, just quiet.  Jesus often went away with the Father for some alone time.  Sometimes the crowds followed Him and sometimes He got alone but He never stopped setting aside time for rest.

How often do we set aside time for rest?  There is always something to be done, someone who may need us, demands on our time.  We give in to every whim of life.  Why not set aside time to refresh?

Freedom from disturbing thoughts or emotions.  This definition is one I am struggling with the most.  I can't just turn off my mind and rest.  I lay in bed and the days activities run through my mind as I recall the good and the bad while planning the next day.  I too often recall the hurts of life and the conflicting emotions that come up as I try to do what's right and yet so often do the wrong thing.  (Romans 7:15)

So I come back to this greeting in 1 Corinthians.  As I read this verse, I was also reminded of Psalm 23.  Particularly I am drawn to the verse that says, "He leads us beside still waters."

There is truth in that verse.  This past year has been an...interesting...one.  I've taken some hits in unexpected ways, seen God bless me in others and through it all...through the worst of it...I can say that I know His peace.  It is a peace that truly passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7), and yet it is undeniably His peace.

So my wish for you, my greeting, is that of 1 Cor. 1:3, grace and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.


5 Questions With Jim Galvin

Welcome to 5 Questions With.....

Today's guest is Jim Galvin.

From his website: Jim is an organizational consultant specializing in strategy, effectiveness, and change. He is relentlessly focused on releasing the potential of leaders and organizations.

As an author, Jim has written many best-selling books and instructional resources. He has won the C.S. Lewis Medal Award for Children’s Literature three times and has been honored by the ECPA as a Gold Medallion Award finalist fifteen times. His products have been translated into more than thirty-seven languages around the world. He is most well known as the co-creator and co-senior editor of the best-selling Life Application Study Bible.

His latest book is “I've Got Your Back."  

OK, let's get to it:

1.Why did you write I've Got Your Back?

The editors of Christianity Today asked me to write it. Ten years ago they were noticing that Millennials entering college at that time had little interest in learning about leadership. They foresaw a growing leadership vacuum in the Christian world when Baby Boomers would begin to retire. They could find no textbook that would help college students formulate a solid theology of leadership. Writing a book like that was a big challenge for anybody. I tried to get out of it, but eventually felt that this might be something that God wanted me to attempt. The project ended up taking ten years to complete. I tore up the first manuscript to start over from scratch because I had made the classic error of writing for my peers instead of my target audience, young adults. The book is composed of a leadership parable in the first part and a concise theology of leadership in the second part.

2. One of your characters in the book says, "The more you sweat in peacetime, the less you bleed in war." Can you explain what you mean by that?

That is a military saying that means the more you practice and drill at home and on your base the fewer mistakes and casualties you will experience when you engage in real combat. In the story, Jack, the mentor, was answering the complaint that his application assignments were getting harder and harder each week. For us, we also need focused practice if we expect to lead or follow well in stressful situations.
3. What does it mean to "follow well"?

If you create a five-point scale with following poorly at the bottom and following courageously at the top, we should want to be a good follower in every area of our life. We can’t follow at level 5 all the time, but level 4 also represents a follower who is fully engaged. So following well means following at levels 4 or 5 in every area of your life.

Do you have to be a leader to understand this book? 

The book is primarily about followership. It so happens that leadership and followership are two sides of the same coin. The book is written for anyone who lacks confidence in leadership and also for those who want to develop their leadership abilities by connecting truth from the Scripture on what it means to lead and follow well.

5. What do you hope the readers take away from the book?

If you want to be a good leader, then you first have to learn how to follow well. First, the required character development is identical.  Second, the role of the leader is to help others follow well.  How can you help someone else follow well when you don't know how to do it yourself?  If someone displays leader behaviors and nobody follows, did any real leadership actually occur?  Followers, collectively, have real power.  If you have average followers, you need to have a good leader.  But if everyone is focused on following well, you can easily get by with an average leader. 

Thank You Jim!

If you get the chance, check out Jim's website here and the book website here.  Make sure to pick up a copy of I've Got Your Back.