Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Book Review: If

Ever since I read Mark Batterson's book, In a Pit With a Lion on a Snowy Day, I've been a big fan of Batterson's writing. In 2014, I highly recommended his outstanding book, The Circle Maker, about praying circles around our problems, dreams, and goals. Thus, when our library acquired another title by this Christian author, I signed up and waited for my turn to come around.

If you've read other books by Batterson, then entering the world of this book, If: Trading Your If Only Regrets for God's What If Possibilities, is pretty much a deja vu experience. There were countless times when I felt like I'd already been there, heard that. Indeed, it feels like a variation on a theme. The same theme Batterson follows time and time again - God wants us to dream big (because small dreams diminish God's return), step up (because nothing is impossible with God), and follow hard (because He is most worthy of our devotion). Chase your lions into a pit. Circle your dreams with prayer. Trade your regrets for His possibilities.

At times the book feels like the author simply wants a platform to promote his own great accomplishments and dreams. While he does acknowledge God as the source of every success, he does wax on about his successes a fair amount. He has his favorite sayings, that is for sure. But, all in all, he has good things to say and he promotes a God agenda rather than a self-agenda.

I did glean some beneficial quotes from the book:

Batterson quotes Goethe, saying "Treat a man as he is and he will remain as he is. Treat a man as he can be and should be and he will become as he can be and should be."

Once again, Batterson seems to nail things with clever turns of phrases: "God wants you to get where God wants you to go more than you want to get where God wants you to go. And God is awfully good at getting us there! So take a deep breath and relax. He is ordering your footsteps, every single one of them. Your job is simply this: 'Keep in step with the Spirit.'"

"Almost like your checking account, your suffering will one day be reconciled."

"The next time you have a need, try sowing a seed at your point of need."

"If you do little things like they're big things, someday God will do big things like they're little things."

"What if everything in your past is God's way of preparing you for something in your future?"

My library copy came with a copy of the accompanying 76 minute DVD and a participant's guide (think workbook). While I did not take the time to watch the DVD or work on the exercises in the workbook, I do think it would be a beneficial task. One of these days, I'll follow Batterson's advice and chart an extensive bucket list of dreams and goals.

In the meantime, I appreciated the pep talk to pray more, fast (something I haven't done often enough), delve into Scripture (to reframe my mind after the mind of Christ), and believe in His promises and His love. I enjoy his writing style, even though my husband kind of pooh-poohed the book, saying "another author encouraging people to think God wants them to do BIG THINGS when all He wants is their heart." Of course, he didn't take the time to read the book before making that assessment. If you are looking for something new from Batterson, you might not find it here, but if you appreciate inspiration to dream big and live hard for God, then you'll benefit from this book.

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