Book Review: Primal

I really appreciate WaterBrook Multnomah sending me a free preview copy of Mark Batterson’s new book Primal: A Quest for the Lost Soul of Christianity.  I got a ton out of Mark’s first two books In a Pit With a Lion on a Snowy Day and Wild Goose Chase.  Mark is the Lead Pastor of National Community Church and has a heart for developing leaders.

As believers that are completely indoctrinated in “Christianese”, we tend to complicate things.  In Primal, Mark Batterson points out that Jesus kept things simple.  He called us to “Love God with all of your heart, soul, mind, and strength.”  The very heart of Christianity is wrapped up in The Greatest Commandment.

In Primal, Mark Batterson explores the four elements of Great Commandment Christianity: compassion, wonder, curiousity, and power.  Along the way, he calls you to be a part of God’s reformation, starting in your own life.  Without a doubt…this should be first book you read in 2010 if you are looking to radically reconnect with the Savior who desires for us to know Him and make Him known.

Here are some of my takeaways from the book…

  • “When all of the rules and regulations, all of the traditions and institutions, all of the liturgies and methodologies are peeled back, what’s left is the Great Commandment.  It is Christianity in its most primal form.”
  • “Many Christians settle for simplicity on the near side of complexity.  Their faith is only mind deep.  They know what they believe, but they don’t know why they believe what they believe.  Their faith is fragile because it has never been tested intellectually or experientially.”
  • “The heart of Christianity is primal compassion.  The soul of Christianity is primal wonder.  The mind of Christianity is primal curiosity.  And the strength of Christianity is primal energy.”
  • “Communion is a pilgrimage back to the foot of the cross.”
  • “Does your heart break for the things that break the heart of God?”
  • “I’m afraid that the Western church has tried to engage our culture mind-first instead of heart-first.  But minds often remain closed to truth until hearts have been opened by compassion.  There is certainly a place for logical, left-brained explanations of faith.  But compassion is the ultimate apologetic.  There is no defense against it.”
  • “Have you ever experienced a sympathy breakthrough?  A moment when your inclination to hate was overcome by your will to love?  A moment when proactive compassion overrode reactive anger?  A moment when you cared more about someone else’s pain that your own?  Those are the moments when you recapture parts of your soul that you have lost.  Those are the moments when you learn what it really means to love God with all your heart.”
  • “In my experience, it’s much easier to act like a Christian than it is to react like one.”
  • “The blessings of God are never ends in themselves.  And if we use a blessing selfishly, the blessing actually turns into a curse.  The blessings of God are always a means to an end.  And the end is a blessing to others.  We are blessed to bless.”
  • “My motivation to make more is so I can give more.  John Wesley may have said it best: “Gain all you can, save all you can, give all you can.”
  • “The most important decisions you make are pre-decisions.  Pre-decisions are the decisions you make before you have to make the decision.  And they help you make the right decision when you have to make a tough decision.  If you don’t make pre-decisions, you’ll end up making lots of bad decisions because you’ll cave in to your circumstances instead of sticking to your convictions.”
  • “Think of the tithe as an income ceiling.  It’s a way to saying 90 percent is enough.  And honestly, it is the only antidote to greed that I know of.”
  • “There are moments when loving God with all your heart won’t make financial sense.  But those are the moments when you need to give hilariously, ridiculously, generously, and sacrificially.  It won’t add up.  But God will multiply it.”
  • “What if, instead of sound quality or lyrical creativity, our litmus test for worship was a heart that breaks for the things that break the heart of God?”
  • “In its most primal form, worship is wonder.”
  • “The emotions we experience don’t reflect external reality; they reflect internal reality.  We don’t see the world as it is; we see the world as we are.  So wonder, or the lack thereof, simply reveals what is in our souls.  If our souls are full of wonder, then life is wonderful.  Why?  Because you see with your soul.  And when you see with your soul, everything becomes a reflection of the glory of God.”
  • “Meditation is the mechanism whereby one-dimensional knowledge becomes two-dimensional understanding.  But it doesn’t end there.  Obedience is the mechanism whereby two-dimensional understanding becomes three-dimensional faith.”
  • “In the Western world, we make a distinction between knowing and doing.  But there was no such distinction in ancient Jewish thought.  Knowing was doing and doing was knowing.  If you didn’t do it, you didn’t really know it.  Knowledge isn’t enough.  Truth must be translated with your life.”
  • “Loving God with all your mind literally means loving God with all your mind.  It means managing your mind.  It means making the most of your mind.  It means loving God logically and creatively, seriously and humorously, intuitively and thoughtfully.”
  • “The quest for the lost soul of Christianity is a quest driven by questions.”
  • “Holy curiosity isn’t satisfied with easy answers.”
  • “The church ought to be the most curious place on the planet.  We ought to be a safe place where people can ask dangerous questions, but all too often we’re guilty of answering questions that no one is even asking.”
  • “The goal of learning is to expand our God-given imagination so we expand our appreciation of who God is and what God has made.”
  • “Creativity is a dimension of spiritual maturity.”
  • “We need fewer commentators and more innovators.  We need fewer critics and more creators.  We need fewer imitators and more dreamers.”
  • “Christianity was never intended to be a noun.  And when we turn it into a noun, it becomes a turnoff.  Christianity was always intended to be a verb.  We’ve got to act on God ideas.”
  • “Faith is not faith until it is acted upon.  That is the litmus test.  Faith without works is dead.  So is love without energy.”
  • “Vision is the cure for sin.  A God-given vision keeps us from decay and disorder.  It energizes everything we do.  And turning that vision into reality is one way we love God with all our strength.”
  • “So don’t just point out problems; be the solution.  Don’t just criticize what’s wrong; do something right.  Quit living as if the purpose of life is to arrive safely at death.  Go after a dream that is destined to fail without divine intervention.”
  • “The last reformation was a reformation of creeds.  The next reformation will be a reformation of deeds.  The last reformation was symbolized by one central figure.  The next reformation will be led by millions of reformers living compassionately, creatively, and courageously for the cause of Christ.  It will be marked by broken hearts and sanctified imaginations.  And the driving force will be the love of God.  A love that is full of compassion, wonder, curiosity, and energy.”
  • “Compassion, wonder, curiosity, and energy are nouns.  It’s our job to turn them into verbs.  It’s our highest calling and greatest privilege.”
Are you ready to dig in and find the lost soul of Christianity?  Pick up your copy of Primal here and while you are at it…pick up a few extra copies to give away!

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