The first book I downloaded and read on Amazon's Kindle application for the iPhone was Mark Batterson's In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day. Batterson is a fellow pastor as well as a fellow author, and his excellent book couldn't have come at a better time for me. It renewed my soul, it challenged me, corrected me, and strengthened me. I couldn't recommend it more.
Batterson constructs the book on the story of the warrior Benaiah from 2 Samuel 23, in which Benaiah jumped into a pit with a lion on a snowy day...and won! He uses that slim account to write an entertaining and practical book on "How to survive and thrive when opportunity roars."
It's filled with tremendously quotable passages:
“Spiritual maturity is seeing and seizing God-ordained opportunities.”
“We tend to rank miracles. Almost like a judge at a gymnastics competition that ranks a routine based on degree of difficulty, we rank our prayer requests. We have big requests and little requests. We have easy requests and difficult requests. But that is a false construct. The truth is this: To the infinite all finites are equal. There is no big or small, easy or difficult, possible or impossible. When it comes to God, there are no degrees of difficulty.”
“Don’t accumulate possessions; accumulate experiences.”
“If you study the teachings of Jesus, you’ll realize that learning wasn’t his primary goal. His primary goal was unlearning. He was reverse engineering religious minds.”
“So here is my question: Are you living your life in a way that is worth telling stories about?”
“Too many of us pray as if God’s primary objective is to keep us from getting scared. But the goal of life is not the elimination of fear. The goal is to muster the moral courage to chase lions.”
“Don’t let what’s wrong with you keep you from worshiping what’s right with God.”
“Here is a novel thought: What if we actually did what they did in the Bible? What if we fasted and prayed for ten days? What if we sought God with some ancient intensity instead of spending all our time trying to eliminate His surprises? Maybe then we’d experience some ancient miracles. One of the spiritual highlights of the past year was putting this passage into practice at National Community Church. We fasted and prayed for ten days leading up to the Day of Pentecost. It was during that Pentecost fast that I identified seven miracles that I’m believing God for. You’re reading one of them.”
“Faith is embracing the uncertainties of life.”
“The genealogy of blessing always traces back to God-ordained risks.”
“Easy answers produce shallow convictions.”
“Is it just me or does it seem like some people act as if faith is the reduction of risk? They act as if the goal of faith is to eliminate risk so our lives are, in the worlds of the old hymn, ‘safe and secure from all alarm.’ Have you read the Bible lately? Faith is risky business. The goal of faith is not the elimination of risk. In fact, the greatest risk is taking no risks.”
“If you were to always act in your greatest self-interest, you would always obey God.”
“We need to stop criticizing culture and start creating it.”
“Most of us want our opportunities nicely packaged and presented to us as a gift we simply have to unwrap....But opportunities typically present themselves at the most inopportune time in the most inopportune place.”
“One of our greatest spiritual shortcomings is low expectations. We don’t expect much from God because we aren’t asking for much.”
“The Aramaic word for prayer, slotha, means 'to set a trap.' Prayer helps us catch the opportunities God throws our way.”
“In the business world, missed opportunities are called ‘opportunity costs’....Far too many people think of righteousness in terms of actual costs instead of opportunity costs....[But r]ighteousness isn’t just running away from sin. Righteousness is chasing lions.”
“Too many people in too many churches look too much alike.”
“David gives us a picture of pure worship. Worship is disrobing.”
In short (too late, I know), it's a really good book. And one I think God clearly intended for me to read at this point in my life and ministry. God, help me to be faithful to the vision of this book. Give us this day our daily lions.