Recently, on a radio program I have the privilege of being a guest on, the host, Johnny Ova, mentioned that we need to be asking ourselves if the message we are preaching is actually, “good news” (what Gospel means). Mark Batterson, in his book ‘Double Blessing’, explains that “…before original sin there was original blessing (cf. Genesis 1:22)”. We as Christ-followers are called to create the reality of the “double blessing” in the word. In talking about the different ways to “engage culture”, Batterson goes on to list the following ways:
- Mindlessly consume
- Pompously condemn
- Lazily copy
- Conscientiously create
Highlighting a quote by Michelangelo, “Criticize by creating”, Batterson challenges the Christian Church to “Quit cursing the darkness and start lighting candles”. In other words, throughout creating and manifesting the “double blessing”, we make the world a brighter place.
THE BLESSING OF GOD
Mark Batterson goes on to explain, “The blessing of God is the solution to your biggest problem, the answer to your boldest prayer, and the fulfilment of your bravest dreams”. Furthermore, he explains, “The blessing of God cannot be equated to external circumstances or material things. It is an internal reality – a state of mind, a state of soul. It’s joy inexpressible”. When it comes to understanding the blessing of God, it’s simple, God in His mercy and faithfulness, has plans to prosper us, and as I often make mention of, He is glorified by our living eternally fulfilling and satisfying lives. Often times, our internal reality of blessedness seems to be in contrast to our external reality of calamity or chaos. Batterson writes, ““If you let your circumstance define the way you see God you are a prisoner of perspective…but if you let God define the way you see your circumstances, you are a prisoner of hope”.
Prayer is our effective method of changing our perspectives, as well as our situations. Batterson gives great wisdom to empower our prayer lives:
“God won’t answer 100 percent of the prayers we don’t pray”.
“God honours bold prayers because bold prayers honor God”
STAND UNDER THE UMBRELLA
Mark Batterson explains that often times it would seem as though God works through a method of “set back, step back, and come back”. He cites preacher Ed Young’s wisdom, “We need to get under the things God has put over us so we can get over those things God has put under us”. We must make daily decisions to stay under the umbrella of God’s blessing by understand, paying attention to, and working with the Lord’s work in our lives. Batterson challenges us to live excellently, “Excellence invokes a blessing, and blessings evoke excellence. You could even call excellence a habit of highly blessed people.” “…to live in such a way that God is able to give us His full blessings – blessings beyond our ability to ask or imagine”.
Jesus Christ called men to follow Him, follow Him in becoming disciples, follow Him in what he came to bring, “abundant life”, and following Him in serving and healing the world around us. In ‘Double Blessing’, Batterson explains that “follow” is a Hebrew hunting term and implies intensely following after. By following Christ we are brought under the umbrella of God’s blessing. This is surely not to be an apathetic effort. Another aspect of staying under the umbrella of blessing is holding God to His word. I pray like this. If He said it, He meant is. We often cling to Lamentations 3:22-24 as a text promise us new blessings each day, a host of worship songs have been made about the Bible verse, and Mark Batterson further encourages us that “The Hebrew word for “new” doesn’t just mean again and again. It means “different”. In other words, today’s mercy is different than yesterday’s mercy, which is different than the mercy of the day before that…Each day’s mercy is a never-to-be-repeated miracle”. May we have eyes to see and ears to hear. A book recommendation Batterson made was “Peak”, specifically in talking about the “ten – thousand hour rule”, which is the principle that asserts that 10,000 hours of “deliberate practice” are needed to truly master something.
A major part of staying under the umbrella of God’s blessing is to gain and maintain a renewed mind (cf. Romans 12:1-2). Batterson cites, Louis Pasteaur’s insight that, “Fortune favours the prepared mind”. Prepare for the blessing by also understanding the importance of trials and tribulations. Prince of Preachers, Charles Spurgeon, preached that he recognised, Before any great achievement, some measure of the same depression comes over me whenever the Lord is preparing a larger blessing for my ministry”. As Batterson says, “Internal struggles and external opposition are often indicators that you’re on the brink of a breakthrough”.
GIVING THE BLESSING
If the first part of ‘Double Blessing’ was to inform us how we might lived in the state of blessedness, the second part is how we might further create that reality in the despairing world around us. I love that Mark Batterson challenges us to “Obey the dream; stop watching the clouds”, i.e., get to work!
The conclusion of the book was very much encouraging to me. The obvious charge to gain and maintain and attitude of gratitude and giving is so very vital. I appreciated the resource and will surely be looking further into ILikeGiving.com. All of that mentioned, what encouraged me the most in the 2nd portion of the book and toward the end, was how Batterson explained the importance of those who resource and serve as aids to the efforts of proclaiming the Gospel. He highlights these very necessary “patron saints”, or what he refers to as “Gospel patrons, in Scripture such as Barzallai (cf. 2 Samuel 17:27-29) and Phoebe (cf. Romans 16:1-2). These are just two examples in a long history of those who have served in such a capacity.
To bring this review to a close, I will say that I was very much encouraged by ‘Double Blessing’. Rather than seeking to bring forth some novel advice, Mark Batterson highlights what every Christian should know about how to get and give God’s blessing. May we continue to create the blessing and thus make the world brighter. Consider this charge from Batterson, “What if the joy of blessing others was the only honor we sought? What if all we wanted was to add value to others? What if our chief goal in life was to help others across the Jordan?”