Cirlce Maker

Circle Maker – The Solution to 10,000 Problems

By: Mark Batterson (@MarkBatterson)

I am currently reading The Circle Maker: Praying Circles Around Your Biggest Dreams and Greatest Fears and it is blowing my mind! I was skeptical at first until I read this:

“Before you write this off as some “name it, claim it” scheme, let me remind you that God cannot be bribed or blackmailed. God doesn’t do miracles to satisfy our selfish whims.”

After reading that quote I was completely hooked on this book and what Mark Batterson had to say. I needed this quote and I wish it was on the front cover. I was just waiting for the line about “Open thy wallet unto heaven and pray that it be filled and it shall be.” I then realized this book is a tool to teach us how to pray.

Here are a few highlights I have made so far:

  • Bold prayers honor God, and God honors bold prayers. God isn’t offended by your biggest dreams or boldest prayers. He is offended by anything less. If your prayers aren’t impossible to you, they are insulting to God.
  • We pray out of our ignorance, but God answers out of His omniscience. We pray out of our impotence, but God answers out of His omnipotence. God has the ability to answer the prayers we should have prayed but lacked the knowledge or ability to even ask.
  • I don’t always know if He will, but I always know that He can.
  • There are moments in life when you need to stop pleading and start praising.

 

200 Pomegranates and an Audience of One: Creating a Life of Meaning and Influence

200 Pomegranates and an Audience of One: Creating a Life of Meaning and Influence

By: Shawn Wood (@shawnwood)

I don’t remember how I came across this book, but I am very glad I did. It was just the spiritual pick me up I needed when I found it. I wasn’t really sure what to expect going in, esspecially from the title. My wife loves pomegranates, I on the other hand, am not a fan. I know their a super food and I should like them, but they’re not for me. Super foods is not what this book is about, but it did give me an appreciation for the beauty of a pomegranate.

The book dissects a story from 1Kings, which I either missed or glossed over in all the “begots” and “son ofs”. It’s the story of  a bronze worker, Huram of Tyre. Huram was a craftsman who was asked by King Solomon to help construct the temple in Jerusalem. How he went about his craft, he created art and is an inspiration for us.

Author Shawn Wood lays out in the book that we are all artists. Whether we play an instrument, paint, or raise our kids. We are an artist performing for an audience of one.

“No longer is art limited to painters and musicians. Each one of us is an artist, endowed by our Creator with skills and talents that can make our world a more beautiful.”

Since we’re all artists, Shawn explains through Huram’s story we a have a mandate as artists, the five essential components of life-artistry:

  • Get great at something
  • Do something with that talent
  • Invest yourself in things that will last and that others will benefit from
  • Work for an audience of one, because sometimes our best work is seen only by God
  • Finish what you start If everyone is an artist then life itself is a grand work of art.

“The problem is many of us are trying to get great at the wrong things— and some of us are trying to get great at everything. We battle to become great at so many things that it seems like we focus on things in which we are not proficient to the exclusion of that one thing that is really our gift. We will have the opportunity to be good at many things in our lives, and most of the time “good enough” really is good enough. But in a few areas of our lives, God really does equip and call us to be great.”

Like I said before, I needed this book right when I got it, God knew I needed a reminder that I was right where He wanted me. He’s placed me where I can be GREAT for Him. I could work anywhere (maybe not a hospital, I’m squeamish) to provide for my family. I may not be good at it, but I’d be good enough. Well God is not satisfied with “good enough” from me in the area of my ministry and is empowering me to be great.

“But in order to get great at something, it seems that God intends for us to build upon the foundation of skills and wisdom that he has given us, and not just daydream of skills and talents that we wish we had. He intends for us to use the greatness that he has given us to serve.”

For many years I had thought God had called me to be a great audio guy. To use my skills of mixing and technology for His glory, which is true, He wants me to do that. Those skills were just what I needed to get in the door, He wants me to serve Him by serving His people. Suddenly realizing that I am honing my skills not for my benefit but for God’s glory. It’s a real eye opener!

“There comes a point in your life where you have to decide if you will continue to live a life centered on yourself or if you will make the difficult choice of investing in things that will last.”

The book is a short and an enjoyable read. It’s under 150 pages, so it really sets you up for success on mandate number five: “Finish what you start…” 

Read these few verses below about Huram’s work:

“First he cast two pillars in bronze, each twenty-seven feet tall and eighteen feet in circumference. He then cast two capitals in bronze to set on the pillars; each capital was seven and a half feet high and flared at the top in the shape of a lily. Each capital was dressed with an elaborate filigree of seven braided chains and a double row of two hundred pomegranates, setting the pillars offmagnificently. He set the pillars up in the entrance porch to The Temple; the pillar to the south he named Security (Jachin) and the pillar to the north Stability (Boaz). The capitals were in the shape of lilies. (1 Kings 7: 15-22)”

Much like the “Begots” I would have just passed right over this scripture. Shawn writes:

“God, through the writer of 1 Kings, relates the minutia of each and every one of Huram’s actions. Why does it matter how intricate these carvings were, and what the exact size of each bowl was, and where the pomegranates were located, and that there were two hundred of them?”

It matters because God cares about the details. God, did not create the Heavens and the Earth and say, “eh, it’s ok” no He said it was good and He cared for every single detail, even ones known only to Him.

Needless to say this book changed my ministry mindset. It made me realize why I am doing what I’m doing and that God wants me to not take pride in my work but to take pride in Him for who I’m doing the work for.

Go and get this book, unleash your inner artist and ask yourself:

“What are you creating?”

 

Chasing Francis – A Pilgram’s Tale

Chasing Francis by Ian Cron (@iancron).

It’s a historical novel, where fiction is mixed in with historical facts and people, much like Victor Hugo’s “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,”  is a 19th-century example of the romantic-historical novel. This book follows a pastor on a pilgrimage, rediscovering and reinventing who he is, based on his encounter with the living memory of  St. Francis of Assisi. My understanding of Saint Francis before reading Ian’s book was that he was the patron Saint of animals. This story opened my eye’s not only to the life of an amazing servant of the Lord, but gave me a new perspective on the Catholic church.

This book caused much internal reflection in my own life, as I was engulfed into the story line of Chase the main character. Chase is a church planter who’s church plant became a mega-church. However the God he thought he knew, the one he learned about in seminary was not the one he was preaching about. He was losing his faith. His emotional and spiritual burnout calumniates in an impromptu moment during a Sunday morning sermon, an outburst  from the podium earns him a forced sabbatical.

Chase finds himself in Rome, with his cousin Kenny, a Franciscan monk. Kenny wants to lead him on a spiritual pilgrimage, following in the footsteps of  St. Francis of Assisi to find how Jesus lived. Kenny expalains a pilgramgae as:

 “Think of it this way,” he continued, “a pilgrimage is a way of praying with your feet. You go on a pilgrimage because you know there’s something missing inside your soul, and the only way you can find it is to go to sacred places, places where God made himself known to others. In sacred places, something gets done to you that you’ve been unable to do for yourself.”

Through out his time in Italy, Chase begins to really find out what he believes deep down. He wrestles with the fact that his faith is more knowledge than actual faith. As he spends his time walking in the footsteps of St. Francis and learning from the history oozing out of Rome.

Overall I found this book very intriguing and helpful in my own life as I walk my faith journey. St. Francis believed that the gospel message should be ever present in our lives. It questions some of the status quo of the modern church.

“Francis didn’t criticize the institutional church, nor did he settle for doing church the way it had always been done. He rose above those two alternatives and decided that the best way to overhaul something was to keep your mouth shut and simply do it better. It’s like Gandhi said: “Seek to be the change you wish to see in the world.” 

Francis was so much more than a friend of animals as I had learned growing up. He was a friend of God, he was a student of God, and a sold out follower of Jesus Christ.

“Francis’s strategy of ministry-simply read the gospel texts and live the life you find on its pages. What a concept. I wondered what Francis would say if he were the main speaker at a church-growth conference. Would anyone take him seriously?” 

Live the gospel out loud. That sums up St. Francis’ calling.

The book is a great story, that presents a compelling picture of a saint of the church who has an age old message for the church of today. Francis dared to believe that Jesus meant what He said.

Here are some quotes that really stood out to me:

“Francis had no new theory to offer, but an old practice-the practice of Jesus Christ.”

“The Bible is the story of how God gets back what was always his in the first place. People are looking for a story that can explain the way the world is.”

“Francis, your genius was that you read stuff in the Bible (like the Sermon on the Mount) and you didn’t spiritualize or theologize it. You heard Jesus say, “Happy are the peacemakers,” so you got up every day and embarked on a new peace mission. My usual approach is to read the Bible, try to understand what it’s saying, and then apply it. Your formula was the reverse. You applied the Bible and then came to a fresh understanding of what it actually meant. What a concept.”

“If someone insists on labeling me in the future, I’d like to be known as a `come-and-see’ Christian. If someone asks me what kind of church I belong to, I want to say, `a come-and-see church.’ Come and see how we love the poor, come and see how we give dignity back to those who’ve lost it or given it away, come and see how we encounter God through every spiritual practice at our disposal, come and see how we love one another in community, come and see how we stand for peace and justice, come and see how we’ve been freed from consumerism and have become radically generous, come and see our passion for beauty, come and see how we defend the earth, come and see how we preach the gospel at all times and when necessary use words. Come and see-and perhaps after a while you’ll decide to join us in the story we’re living in.”

I highly recommend this book. It takes the reader on their own spiritual pilgrimage without leaving the comfort of the chair their reading in.