Primal Review

22 12 2009

Any word that follows “primal” takes on a new aura of mystique and raw power. So, “Primal Review” sounds much more daring than “A Review of Primal.” The new book “Primal” definitely falls in the first category, hence the blog title for Mark Batterson’s “Primal.” (Order today at this link)

I was one of the lucky bloggers selected for the “Primal” blog tour. So, being a follower of Batterson’s blog, and loving his catalog of books (“In A Pit With A Lion On A Snowy Day,” and “Wild Goose Chase,” must reads), this was a great opportunity. It even felt like Christmas came a little early when the pre-release copy arrived 🙂

I was turned onto Batterson earlier this year at the first Catalyst event on the west coast. I picked up the first two books and dove straight in. What I really like about Batterson’s writing style is he always looks for ways to apply the knowledge. In fact, my best friend Chad and I frequently reference the “Wild Goose” as we apply those adventure principles to our journey. Batterson’s new book “Primal” is no different. The back jacket of the book really captures the heart with the statement:

Our generation needs a REFORMATION. But a single person won’t lead it. A single event won’t define it. OUR REFORMATION will be a movement of reformers LIVING COMPASSIONATELY, CREATIVELY, COURAGEOUSLY for the cause of CHRIST.

This reformation will not be forn of a new discovery. It will be the REDISCOVERY of something old, something ancient, SOMETHING PRIMAL.

Batterson takes a deep dive into what he proclaims is the primal essence of Christianity. This concept is drawn from the Great Commandment captured in the conversation Jesus had with the scribe as the Saduccees were drilling him. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” (Mark 12:30). Batterson has a great quote, which I find all of his books are full of, that amplifies the importance of this verse. “We can’t afford to be merely good at the Great Commandment. We’ve got to be great at the Great Commandment.

The sub-title of “Primal” is, “A Quest For The Lost Soul of Christianity.” This quest is fueled by love. It takes you on a journey through these four primal elements:

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.

Like most of Batterson’s books, “Primal” is built in chapters that are easily digested. Don’t let that fool you though, they are packed with great perspective and knowledge. If you like to underline when you read and take notes, get your pen ready! The book is broken up into the four primal elements mentioned above. The way the Great Commandment is stated makes for a great climatic build in the book. It begins with a Heart, primal compassion. A Heart that we receive first, then give out in compassion. It ends with Strength, the primal energy. Strength that we receive, then live out in the name of Jesus. The flow of these primal sections in the book puts an explanation point on the soul Christianity…taking it from a mild-tempered noun, into an adventure as a fearless verb!

Primal is an amazing picture of simple truths applied to real lives. Batterson captures these truths in life portraits from his experiences with family, friends, church planting, church leading, and world leaders. He has a flair for science and history. Batterson starts each chapter with a quote from someone that applies to wisdom ahead. If you are a twitter-head who likes tweeting quotes, yes I’m guilty, this book is packed full of them.

What I really love about Primal is the perspective. It’s the new perspective on timeless truth. It’s not an abstract truth pulled from several scriptures ladened with heavy theology. No, it’s straight from our savior Jesus captured in the Gospels of His disciples Mark and Luke. These primal truths are the block and tackle, everyday stuff, basics, nuts and bolts, instructions that we breeze right over. Or we get some of right more than others.

There is a reason super bowl championship teams are champions. They apply the principles of winning football every week. They practice the rudiments. They live and breath the key principles. They apply them in game-time. And most importantly, they build dynamic plays off of the foundational rudiments. So it is with these primal commandments. They can be applied in the most rudiment way and build into the most amazing life application where God’s glory and power is displayed.

Batterson has a great quote in Primal. It’s one of those that will stick with you. It really captures what I was trying to paint with the football analogy:

The quest for the lost soul of Christianity always leads us back to the Bible. But rediscovering the wonders of Scripture requires more than reading. That’s where the quest begins, but that’s not where it ends. Not if you want to get it into your soul. You have to meditate on it. Then you have to live it out. Meditating on it turns one-dimensional knowledge into two-dimensional understanding. Living it out turns two-dimensional understanding into three-dimensional obedience.

The new reformation is coming! I’m not just saying that because I drank the primal kool-aid Batterson served up in this book. I have the honor and privilege to work for the number 1 independent Christian Music label in the world, Integrity Music. I can say from first-hand experience that the reformation has begun…and like Batterson claims in the last chapter, “Amo Dei” will be the rallying cry. English translation, “Love God.”

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.

If you haven’t picked up Primal, go get it now. You won’t read the Great Commandment the same ever again. It will take you out of where you are and encourage you to go where Jesus called all of us.

Okay, so this blog well exceeds my normal length…pushing over 1k words. I could go on for a thousand more…but I may loose ya 🙂 I will continue the quest to unpack more wisdom nuggets packed in this book over my 10 Primal Days in January 2010. Until then check out more here at the official Primal movement.

Breathe In & Smile Out,


Beautiful Mess

25 10 2009

I’m convinced God gives us kids for at least two reasons. First, so we can feel the unconditional agape love He has for all of us…and second, so we can really practice following Him, applying His instructions at home before we take it to the streets.

Here’s my picture of that lesson I learned yesterday…one I would like to call “Beautiful Mess.”


Now, it didn’t start so beautiful…I must confess. It was early morning…the first cup of coffee had not been enjoyed…and my little helper was not listening to the instructions…coffee was all over the counter…he was getting frustrated…i was getting frustrated…did I mention I didn’t have any coffee yet :-0 So, here is a picture of where it could have turned the wrong way:


This is where the application part of the life lesson comes into play. Ethan was not happy that he couldn’t get the 8 scoops of coffee in the filter without the beautiful mess. I wasn’t happy that my coffee was going to take another 15 minutes if I chose to have a teachable moment for both of us. But I took the time to hug my lil’ buddy, encourage him, help him clean up the beautiful mess, and walk him through the 8 scoops a couple more times. In the end, he felt a father’s love in a tangible way….and we both celebrated with smile and some coffee brewing:


I don’t share this to give myself some big pat on the back. Believe me, I get it wrong more times than right…especially if I haven’t had any coffee 🙂 I share this because in the end it painted a picture of the love from our Father who created us. Our Father who loves us in the beautiful mess. Our Father who wants to come alongside us in the trials, the stress, the failures, to gently help us clean it up and try again. He comes to comfort, not condemn. He comes to encourage, not discourage. He comes to lift up, not put down. He comes to instruct, not destruct. He comes to experience life with us, not bring death. He comes to help us persevere so there can be celebration with every accomplishment.

Such a simple lesson, yet when you see it unfold before your eyes it becomes one I know I could do better outside the four walls of my home. I believe every mess has a beautiful side to it. I believe we are called to see that beautiful side so we can have the right perspective. So we can see beyond and rise to help people live beyond. To the place where all things “work to the good of those who believe and are called…”

Eugene Peterson captures it best in the Message translation of Romans 8:26-28:

“Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.”

Breathe In & Smile Out,

The Church of Convenience

12 12 2008

If you don’t believe the Church in the U.S. is like a sleeping giant that needs to be woken up…and we could end up a dying giant and disconnected like the church fell in Europe…then take a look at these stats:

Some of these stats are staggering…out of 44,000 churches in the U.S. less than .5 percent show growth of 10% or less. The giant is dying! And in our little Baldwin County, there are 100,000 un-churched residents…waiting to be invited to a church…..waiting to be involved….wanting to make a difference in their life if just prompted.

It’s true about our culture here in the land of the free. We are a nation of convenience….we are a church of convenience in so many ways. Is it the 20/80 rule? Are there 20% of the people doing 80% of the work! If we don’t feel comfortable, we are so quick to move on…move out…and do what we want to do. This revelation came to fruition when the couple I ran into at Sams after church had come to our service before…but decided not to come back after the pastor said “if you join this church you are going to serve.” They didn’t like “the way that came across…”

I almost fell out of my shoes…. That’s when i casually mentioned that there were 100k people in Baldwin County who needed someone to serve! The bottom line is God has always intended to fulfill his plan through the church…yesterday, today, and tomorrow. You gotta to be in church and serving for this plan to be realized in your life.

One last parting thought, I’ve been struck by a small group study I did about a year ago. This was from Rick Warren, basically a sequel to the 40 days of purpose…titled the 40 days of community. My lasting impression from the truths in that study was, IT IS NEVER CONVENIENT TO BE A CHRISTIAN. If it is, then you aren’t living out God’s plan!

Breathe In and Live Out,