10 Primal Days — Strength of Love

15 01 2010

We are called to reflect God — His compassion, His wonder, His creativity, and His energy.  You cannot manufacture those things.  You can only reflect them.  Our love for God is nothing more and nothing less than a reflections of God’s love for us.

Mark Batterson brings a unique perspective to the great commandment in this 9th chapter of the new book Primal.  He unpacks the idea of our total & complete love in the 4 areas of the great commandment as strength not of our own…but His strength.  The idea that we can never love like that without His strength of love living in us.  It totally takes us out of the equation and puts God right in the center.  We are called to accept His love.  We are called to be guided by His love.  We are called to harness His strength of love, so we can reflect and give that back.

Loving God with all our strength is living in HIs strength.  But many of us never flip the switch.  We never receive the power He promised.  And without His power, we become nothing more than theological Christians.  Our testimony is reduced to our words.  Our impact is reduced to our abilities.  And not only is that less than exciting, it’s wrong.  Without His power at work within us, we cannot accomplish His purposes.

Have you flipped the switch?  How is His power living out in your life this week? We were never intended to live it out in our own strength.

Breathe In & Smile Out,

Chris





10 Primal Days — Live It Out

8 01 2010

The quest for the lost soul of Christianity always leads us back to the Bible.  Bud 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 runs one-dimensional knowledge into two-dimensional understanding.  Living it out turns two-dimensional understanding into three-dimensional obedience.

Mark Batterson has a great perspective on living out faith in this 5th chapter of Primal.  You can’t just take in the word and not live it out.  We aren’t called to be the Dead Sea where the water only comes in and never leaves….leaving a stagnant body of water where nothing can live.

What are you meditating on this week?  How are you living it out?

Breathe In & Smile Out,

Chris





10 Primal Days — Wants and Focus

6 01 2010

The bottom line is this: your focus determines your reality. If you focus on your wants, enough will never be enough. And your heart will get smaller and smaller.  If you focus on the needs of others, you’ll discover that you have more than enough.  If you focus on the hear and now, you’ll try to hang on to everything you have.  But if you focus on eternity you’ll give away everything you’ve got.

Mark Batterson puts this all in focus as he travels through the third chapter of Primal.  This is where compassion turns into generous action.  It’s the message most preachers dread talking about.  It’s the sermon that make the congregation squirm a little.  Where we invest, how we steward these resources will have Kingdom impacts….it will ultimately have eternal impacts. What it is really about Batterson paints vividly with these words:

Faith equals God-ordained risks in the face of fear. Obedience equals God-honoring decisions in the face of temptation. And compassion equals Spirit-prompted generosity in the face of greed.

What obstacles are in the way of your generosity? Where is the Spirit pulling you to be compassionate? I believe these opportunities come everyday at some level.  I pray God will open my eyes and heart to them.

Breathe In & Smile Out,

Chris





10 Primal Days — Change of Heart

5 01 2010

The primal thought for today is around the heart.  In the second chapter of Primal, Mark Batterson jumps into the first element of the great commandment, love God with all your heart.  He details the perception problem that Christianity has in the world.  We are known too often for what we stand against rather that what we stand for.  Batterson nails it in this passage:

I believe that Scripture is the inspired Word of God, right down to the jot and tittle.  That mans that even word sequence is significant.  And when Jesus reveals the four primal elements of love, the heart comes first. 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.

He goes on to illustrate stories of in the Bible and modern day disciples who have made compassion their priority.  People who have “had a broken heart for the things that break God’s heart.” The real challenge comes when we ask ourselves what are we going to do with that heart tug! If we really love God with all of our heart what actions does that create in our lives?

One of my favorite quotes from Batterson comes from this chapter, “Anyone can put on an act.  But your reactions reveal what is really in your heart.  And if you love God with all your heart, you won’t just act like it.  You’ll react like it.” That one hits home because I can look back and see where I’ve missed the mark there so many times.  There is nothing like feeling convicted, then reacting the right way to the initial bad reaction.

It all comes with a heart connection with God. It’s renewal.  It’s restoration.  It’s a daily walk with a God who poured out His heart for us so we can pour it out for Him in our lives.  What is your change of heart that will bring you closer to the loving God with all your heart?  What steps do you need to take to pursue that God-sized heart compassion outreach?

Breathe In & Smile Out,

Chris






10 Primal Days — Primal Love

4 01 2010

Today I’m starting the 10 Primal days as promised from my review of Mark Batterson‘s new book Primal. To read the full review click here.  I’ll be taking a deeper look into the 10 chapters that make up the book…extracting some of the thought provoking knowledge nuggets Batterson packs in each chapter.

“When all superficialities are stripped away, what is the primal essence of Christianity?” That’s the question Batterson poses in the first chapter.  He concludes it is the great commandment…the primal commandment, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and all your strength.” (Mark 12:30).

The challenge is not to be just “good” at the great commandment.  Batterson challenges you to be “great” at it on all four levels; heart, soul, mind and strength.  What he calls love to the fourth power.  It’s the quest for the “lost soul of Christianity” and it begins with a venture back to where we first encountered God’s love.

For me, that encounter was 13 years ago this week.  On January 7, 1997 I encountered God’s love in a way never before…and accepted that love of Jesus into my broken heart and life.  Before making that decision, I wrestled with questions of love.  I asked God 3 specific questions about love in my life.  Would I marry my girlfreind Wendy?  Would a life-long love be found in her as my wife?  Would I still love music?  Would I be condemned to the cheesey Christian music I heard of….Stryper…Petra?  And finally would I still work in the music business that I loved?

God clearly spoke to me about those areas.  He answered yes and showed me love that was so much more.  Flash forward 13 years later and I can show you every point along the path where He was faithful to bring me along that road. At times He was picking me up.  Other times pulling me back on the right road.  All the time pouring grace, mercy and forgiveness over me.

We all have had that primal encounter with God’s love. What was yours? What passion, purpose, and calling was birthed in that encounter?  When we return to those primal elements of loving God it all comes into focus…but we have to be great at it!  Make this year one where you come back to that original fire God birthed in you as you followed the primal commandment.

Breathe In & Smile Out,

Chris