Primal by Mark Batterson (Group Blogging Project Chapter 4)

Cover of "Primal: A Quest for the Lost So...

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You are jumping into chapter 4 of a group blogging project of Primal: A Quest for the Lost Soul of Christianity by Mark Batterson.  Scroll to the bottom of the post for the list of previous and future chapters.

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Chapter four really has one point, that Batterson hits from a variety of sides.  The point is that in order to find the lost soul of Christianity we need to become more aware of God working in the world.

There are three ways that Batterson comes at this.  One is wonder.  We wonder at the greatness of God.  Sometimes our wonder is from interacting with nature.  My wife blogged a picture and poem earlier this week that is a great illustration of this wonder.  We are vacationing at the beach.  She told me it is easy to sense God’s wonder when she looks into the ocean or looks at a mountain.  But most of the time we forget to see God’s wonder in the greatest of his creations, other people.  (The second theme of her post is that we are here for a short time (which is why her picture only has a ghosted image of me in the surf.)

I think we inherently understand the wonder of nature.  We may not get out to nature often but almost all of us have experienced wonder in nature at some point.  Often we are too busy to really pay attention, so we miss out on what wonders God has for us.  I think placing ourselves where we can experience wonder is the point of Batterson’s section on Epiphany.  Epiphany is not something we can control.  We cannot tell God to appear to us when we want him to.  But we can open our eyes, open our heart, and work to see God’s heart for the people around us.  I believe God wants to speak to us.  But we also have to want to hear from God.  If you want to read more about hearing from God.  Bill Hybel’s recent Power of a Whisper (my review) is a great start.

Once we have an Epiphany, and sometimes it takes several Epiphanies for us to really get the point, we become God Conscious.  Batterson likens this to the point when he fell for his wife.  Suddenly he was always conscious of her being around.  He looked for her, tried to impress her, wanted to talk to her.  I am not sure this is a great illustration.  Because we all know that the honey moon phase dies down eventually.  It is not that we no longer love our spouse, but that the honey moon just cannot last forever.  We have to learn how to love and participate in the rest of the world.  So I would like a different illustration.

Throughout this chapter Batterson has illustrations of people that just don’t get it.  The colorblind do not see all of the wonder around them.  Those without much knowledge of the body fail to see the depth of wonder that it contains.  Those that have not gone outside and experienced ‘real nature’ miss out on the wonder that is in this world.  Clearly, all of us lose a sense of wonder and it has to be re-ignited.  I need to bring romance back into my marriage and be intentional about it.  But that does not mean I really want to go back to the dating phase.  I like the marriage phase.  I do not think we need to go back to our first moments of conversion in order to expand our sense of wonder.  (Although remembering has some real purpose.)  Even if I wanted to go back to dating, I cannot.  We have passed that stage, to want to go back without being conscious of the reason why, is chasing something we cannot have.  (I the think chasing this sense of wonder in marriage is the reason some fall into affairs, we confuse the honeymoon phase with real love.)  So we must seek God and his wonder, at a deeper level, with more knowledge, more expectation, more awareness that God really wants to communicate his greatness to us.

What is the balance for you?  How can we seek God and his wonder, without chasing something that is already past?  Or have I missed the point?

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9/20 – Chapter 1 – Justin Piercy

9/21 – Chapter 2 – Rob Mcquery

9/22 – Chapter 3 – Chris Goforth

9/23 – Chapter 4 – Adam Shields

9/24 – Chapter 5 – David Norman

9/27 – Chapter 6 – Jenny Wilburn

9/28 – Chapter 7 – Ben Woodard

9/29 – Chapter 8 – Lance Martin

9/30 – Chapter 9 – Jay Caruso

10/1 – Chapter 10 – Phillip Gibb

11 Comments

Great thoughts Adam. It is for sure a tough balance. Totally agree that seeking God with a greater knowledge of Him can lead to an even greater sense of wonder, and I resonated particularly with this phrase you used:

“So we must seek God and his wonder, at a deeper level, with more knowledge, more expectation, more awareness that God really wants to communicate his greatness to us.”

I think there’s a lot to be said for having a greater expectation of wonder. Using Marks analogy of a museum, patrons going in with the expectation of seeing something amazing are more likely to appreciate the exhibits than those who go in with the expectation of filling time in a boring museum. Likewise, knowledge of the works of art really help us to approach pieces with a greater sense of appreciation, and depending on the piece, maybe even awe.

However, there is something to be said for the flip side as well. Jesus talks about having a child-like faith, and thats somewhere I was expecting Mark to really go with this chapter, but didn’t. Also I think an attempt to reduce God into too many pockets of expectation and knowledge can actually reduce our sense of wonder, leading us down roads that aren’t so great, ending up in numbness, routine and apathy.

I have a friend who has an autistic daughter. They are followers of Jesus, and she sees the wonder of God’s creation in everything, the tickle of the grass in her feet, the whisper of the wind in her ears, she is tuned on a sensory level to experience the creation of God more transparently than the rest of us, although with less knowledge and arguably less conscious awareness.

I guess I’m saying that I agree with you, and yet I disagree. Seeking God with an increased awareness and understanding as time and life goes on is essential to spiritual growth. But I’m not sure it’s right to abandon the pursuit of a childlike wonder simply because it is “past”.

Maybe the problem is we’re talking about trying to impose boundaries under why and how we seek the wonder of God. Thoughts?

    I get your point. I guess what I am trying to argue against is not seeking after a childlike faith, but seeking after the last spiritual high. I know people that keep trying to relive a past spiritual high.

This was a jammed packed chapter. Thanks for taking it on.

To me, I think that we need to set up stones in our lives where we can point back to, remind ourselves and tell others of specific things that God did for us in our lives. All through the Bible this practice is used, but I think that we need to continue this practice. Maybe we don’t use physical stones anymore, but one of the reasons i blog is so that I can have a record of God in my life. I try to look back once a year at my posts and remind myself of what God did for me.

A couple other takeaways/reminders from this chapter for me:

1) We use such a limited range of our main senses. Our hearing, seeing, smelling are so precise and in some cases so limited. The range that is outside our natural senses serve as a reminder that God is outside our logical.

2) We get just a small glimpse of what that 30 minutes of silence is going to be like when we view the wonder of God’s creation. Wow.

Last, I think that we too often we try to fit God within our laws of physics. The simple fact is, that he lives outside those laws. Why do people try to limit God to only that we can comprehend? We try to left brain God too much and forget that he exists outside of that logic and reasoning.

    I agree about limiting God to our own concepts. I think it is mostly Christians that do this though. Some non-Christians want to limit God. But many Christians limit God. I am not all that concerned by non-Christians, they don’t have a relationship, or even claim to have a relationship with God. It is those Christians that want to limit God, and their explanations of God to be very literal. Sometimes I think we need to just say, I don’t know, but God is more than what I can explain.

I loved this chapter. I never seem to be able to exhaust the thought of how awesome God is. The interesting thing (and I thought Mark did a great job of explaining it) is that as we reflect and awe at the wonderment of who He is then our lives change. Great job Adam on giving us an explanation on this incredible chapter.

    Thanks Ben. For me, the issue is slowing down to actually remember that my own issues do not overwhelm my awareness so that God is pushed out. Not so much because I lack wonder (although that is the case sometimes) but because I lack time and attention to absorb the wonder.

Epiphanies tend to be temporary and contextual. So we can’t rely on them. But we can leverage them – when they happen take the opportunity to appreciate God and to document it so that it can be remembered (we so easily forget).
Personally, I find the principle of “Where you Heart is, There your Treasure is” is so true in all the gadgets and cameras and computers I read about and wonder about. I find a new video camera unbelievably wonderful because I keep wondering about it.
Imagine if we wondered about God more often; wondered on His Word, the Great Commission and the things that break His Heart. Then I think that our eyes would be more open and our hearts more aware of this Primal Wonder

My 5-year-old’s questions are always bringing the wonder of God to my doorstep. My a-ha moment for today was when my husband came home from the park with our son and started telling me about Daniel asking why God made the earth out of dirt. Their conversation became pretty funny, but I will not subject you to it all. His simple question made me think about dirt. I mean, it’s just dirt, right? We walk on it all the time and think nothing of it. We wash it off our cars and get mad when the kids track it into the house — but look at all the things God has done with it! God made mountains, hills…well, a whole planet and even a man with dirt. Jesus added a little spit and used it to heal a man’s blindness. Dirt has nutrients that grow trees, flowers, crops and grass. Dirt is home to ants, worms, and many other critters. I mean dirt is some pretty amazing stuff and according to my 5-year-old it makes the earth fly around the sun right.

I guess wonderment is not something I lack. Loved this chapter.

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Primal Chapter 5 – Seventy Faces | david norman blog dot comSeptember 24, 2010 at 11:36 am

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