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Friday, June 13, 2014

All In-Student Edition by Mark and Parker Batterson Review

***Zondervan provided me with a free copy of this book for reviewing purposes***




What's it about?
Halfway is no way to live. Quit holding back. Quit holding out. It’s time to go all in and all out for God. The good news is this: If you don’t hold out on God, God won’t hold out on you. If you give everything you have to follow Jesus, you’ll receive amazing spiritual rewards. But this reality also comes with a deeper truth: Nothing belongs to you. Not even you. In All In: Student Edition, Mark and Parker Batterson explore what going all in can mean for your life, sharing unique illustrations and unforgettable stories, as well as compelling accounts of biblical characters. Throughout, they demonstrate the amazing things that can happen when you surrender to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Mark Batterson writes: “When did we start believing that God wants to send us to safe places to do easy things? Jesus didn’t die to keep us safe. He died to make us dangerous.”

Mark Batterson is a well known Christian inspirational author.  In this book, his teen-age son joins him as co-author.  Here's their official bio: 
Mark Batterson serves as lead pastor of National Community Church in Washington, DC. He is the New York Times bestselling author of The Circle Maker, as well as In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day, Wild Goose Chase, Primal, and Soulprint. Parker Batterson is a high school student at St. John’s College High School in Washington, DC. The Circle Maker: Student Edition is their first father-son book. Mark is married to Lora, and Parker has two younger siblings, Summer and Josiah. The Batterson family lives on Capitol Hill with their dog, Mickey.
What OBM thought:  I'm not sure what I thought, to be honest.  There were parts of the book that I really liked.  They use strong Biblical examples of people who lived a radical faith for God.  They are probably evident to you in some of the chapter titles: Climb the Cliff, Build the Ark, Throw Down Your Staff.  Each chapter generally has a Bible example and a current life example of people demonstrating the kind of wild, crazy, insane, All In, God following that the book is encouraging students to do.  But personally, I thought they hit it a little too hard...like upside the head with a sledgehammer hard.  I struggle with us giving the upcoming generation the message that if they aren't doing something crazy for God, they aren't doing enough.   Isaiah 30:15 says, "'For thus the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel, has said, In repentance and rest you will be saved, In quietness and trust is your strength.” But you were not willing."  That crazy, All In calling of living "dangerously" is for some, but not for all.  God calls each of us to the work He has for us.  For some, that is being a mom, for others, it is being an accountant, for others, it is being a missionary to lost tribes in Africa.  We should always be willing to follow God, but it is in rest and repentance that He works...quietness and trust is our strength.  I will never be strong enough to do all that God has for me to do...not with Him leading me and working through me.  I need to be "All In" with an attitude of subjection and willingness, but content in all circumstances, even if the life I'm called to doesn't involve defeating the Philistine army single-handedly.  Dorcas's faith was as beautiful to God as Esther's.  They were called in dramatically different ways of serving,but both did the job God had for them to do.  I fear the message we are sending to today's youth is being a Dorcas isn't good enough.  That it's not enough to love your God and love your neighbor, you need to be doing something RADICAL.  And that is why I have hesitation about this book.  

Here's what my son (16) and daughter (14) thought:

Scott:  It was pretty good.  (Pressed harder though, he can't tell me anything about the book other than that it was "about God".  That's not too surprising since he has short term memory issues, but if it had made the impact the authors hoped, he would have undoubted remembered a bit more than the fact that it was about God.)

Mimi:  It was okay.  They repeated the same idea over and over in a chapter.  I liked some of the stories, but they told too many of them to get the same point across. (Asked about the book's impact she said it did not inspire her to any sort of greatness because she found the repetitiveness irritating.)

My final thoughts:  The book is just too hard hitting for my taste, and could have made the same impact as a five paragraph essay.  Basically it's, "don't live safe-God saved you to live dangerous, have 20 seconds of insane courage, climb the cliff, build the ark, throw down your staff, don't play defense, take a stand, grab your oxgoad and go!"  You get the idea.  Every few paragraphs is a new command to DO something.  I want to like this book, I really do.  I know The Circle Maker and Wild Goose Chase are highly respected by people whom I highly respect, so his other books must be good, and that's what encouraged me to review this one...but it's just tooooo demanding of a radical life with the implication that being still and knowing God is not good enough.  You can't just be His hands and feet to your family or your neighbors, you have to go big or go home.

You can buy All In-Student Edition from Zondervan for $12.99.


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