Several years ago while my wife and I were exploring the idea and the possibility of being called to plant a church a good friend of mine recommended a book by Mark Batterson called "In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day: How to Survive and Thrive When Opportunity Roars" He thought that it would be good reading and applicable to our situation at the time. I never got around to reading the book until now when I got the chance to review the book for the Blogging for Books program that I am a part of. I can honestly say that I wish I would have read it when my friend recommended it to me. I think it would have spurred me on in our church planting journey even more. Not to say that I didn't need it now...in the midst of the church planting journey, in the midst of the struggles, doubts, wondering if I heard God right, the ups and the downs, the joys and the pain, and everything in between. I certainly can relate to the book and I am appreciative of the words contained within this book that helped me to refocus on that original burning in my gut that I felt those years ago when thinking, dreaming, and praying about leaving an established church to plant a new faith community without the security of knowing whether we would make it or not, whether I would have a salary or not, and whether or not this dream would become a reality or a nightmare.
The book is based around a pretty obscure passage of Scripture found in 2 Samuel 23:20-21 which says, "Benaiah son of Jehoiada, a valiant fighter from Kabzeel, performed great exploits. He struck down Moab’s two mightiest warriors. He also went down into a pit on a snowy day and killed a lion. And he struck down a huge Egyptian. Although the Egyptian had a spear in his hand, Benaiah went against him with a club. He snatched the spear from the Egyptian’s hand and killed him with his own spear." Batterson then proceeds to get behind the Scripture to the human drama underneath. He spends some time drawing out the human emotions associated with chasing a lion into a pit on a snowy day. He tries to get into the head of Benaiah and he unpacks the risk, challenges, uncertainty, and "craziness" of actually running towards the lion instead of away from the lion.
There are 9 chapters in the book in which he expounds upon the story of Benaiah and how Benaiah lived a life of risk, adventure, uncertainty, trust in Yahweh, and dependance that resulted in a lion skin on his wall, and becoming one of the main body guards to King David.
Here are some quotes that stood out to me in the book:
"The biggest risks are the greatest opportunities"
"Lion Chasers are proactive. They know that playing it safe is risky."
"I have a simple definition of success: Do the best you can with what you have where you are. In essence, success is making the most of every opportunity."
Probably (for me) one of the best quotes from this book is this one, "I wish I could tell you that every lion chase ends with a lion skin hanging on the wall, but it doesn’t. The dot-com dreamer is successful beyond his wildest dreams, but the guy with political aspirations lost the election. However, both of them are lion chasers in my book.What sets lion chasers apart isn’t the outcome. It’s the courage to chase God-sized dreams. Lion chasers don’t let their fears or doubts keep them from doing what God has called them to do."
“Too often our prayers revolve around asking God to reduce the odds in our lives. We want everything in our favor. But maybe God wants to stack the odds against us so we can experience a miracle of divine proportions. Our impossible odds are a way to way to experience a new dimension of God´s glory.”
"Maybe it's time to stop placing four-dimensional limits on God. Maybe it's time to stop putting God in a box the size of what our brains can figure out and contain. Maybe it's time to stop creating God in your image and let Him create you in His! The more we grow, the bigger God should get. And the bigger God gets, the smaller our lions will become."
"Lion chasers defy the odds – and make their Father proud!"
"Don't let 'mental lions' keep you from experiencing everything God has to offer. The greatest breakthroughs in your life will happen when you push through the fear. The defining moments will double as the scariest decisions. But you've got to face those fears and begin the process of unlearning them."
"If you study the teachings of Christ, you’ll realize that learning wasn’t his primary goal. His primary goal was unlearning. He was reverse engineering religious minds.”
"Lion Chasers experience the same fear as everyone else. I bet Benaiah was afraid of the boogeyman as a kid. But Lion Chasers have learned to face those fears. They have unlearned the fear of uncertainty, the fear of risk, the fear of looking foolish, and the countless other fears that hold them back. Their faith has been defragmented. They don't necessarily know more than other people. But they have unlearned the fears that kept them captive. And they all did it the same way: by chasing their fears instead of running away from them. They exposed themselves to the very thing they were afraid of."
"The cure for the fear of failure is not success. It's failure. The cure for the fear of rejection is not acceptance. It's rejection. You've got to be exposed to small quantities of whatever you are afraid of. That's how you build up immunity."
"If you take a second to reflect on your life, you'll discover that the greatest experiences are often the scariest, and the scariest experiences are often the greatest."
"Maybe it is time to quit running and start chasing. Try something new. Take some risks. Start doing somethings that are worth recounting in jaw-dropping detail."
“Truth be told, the alternative to fear is boredom. And boredom isn´t just boring, it´s inexcusable!”
Boredom is the root of all evil. – Soren Kierkegaard
“Are you living your life in ways worth telling stories about?”
"Opportunities often look like insurmountable obstacles. So if we want to take advantage of these opportunities, we have to learn to see problems in a new way- God's way. Then our biggest problems may just start looking like our greatest opportunities."
“Maybe prayer is less about changing our circumstances than it is about changing our perspective… Maybe we need to quit praying safe prayers.”
“Lion chasers challenge the status quo. They climb cliffs, move to foreign countries, and build boats in the desert. Lion chasers are often considered crazy, but they are able to do these things because they aren’t afraid of uncertainty. They don’t need to know what is coming next because they know that God knows. They don’t need explanations for every disappointment because they know God has a plan. Lion chasers refuse to settle down because they want to experience every divine twist and turn that God has in store for them.”
I'm sure I could continue with more and more quotes that resonated with my soul, my experience and especially our journey over the last 2 years of planting Veritas. But I wanted to end this blog with two more quotes. These two quotes I had heard several years ago while reading through various books related to Church Planting, missional church and missional communties. The first quote is from D.H. Lawrence which says, "‘the adventure has gone out of the Christian venture’" And the other one is from Paul Coelho which says, "the ship is safest when it’s in port. But that’s not what ships were made for." These quotes plus reading this book from Mark Batterson has renewed my commitment to living a missional life in our neighborhood, to taking risks as a family and as a community of faith, and to chasing our lion of planting Veritas and realizing the vision of being "A Missional Community of Authentic Worshippers."
"I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review"