Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Circle Maker ~ What I Think

~Below I've copied excerpts of a few book reviews, along with the hyperlinks, and then I've given my own humble opinion~

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Early on in The Circle Maker, I started to worry that Batterson was veering into “name it and claim it” territory. Like the Honi’s Jerusalem critics, I was forming the impression that Batterson was being presumptuous. But Batterson dispels this impression in a single paragraph: “God cannot be bribed or blackmailed. God doesn’t do miracles to satisfy our selfish whims. God does miracles for one reason and one reason alone: to spell His glory. We just happen to be the beneficiaries.” by George P Wood

In many ways, The Circle Maker follows in a line from two titles you may already have on your bookshelf: Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire by Jim Cymbala and Sun Stand Still by Steven Furtick.

The former comparison is appropriate because this is a book about vision birthed in prayer, though unlike the large prayer gatherings described by Cymbala at the Brooklyn Tabernacle, much of the growth at NCC began with Mark quietly walking around sections of Washington, often not fully cognizant of what he was praying for or what the answer would look like when it appeared. It was only when there was a major development in the life of the church that Mark realized that his prayers had become reality in ways he never dreamed.

The latter comparison is apt because this is a book about praying the big prayers, the impossible prayers. Since Furtick’s book is more recent, this might be a good book to read as a sequel to the Charlotte pastor’s challenge to pray “audacious” prayers. All three books are faith-inspiring, and all are written from the perspective of pastors building churches but with connection to your biggest hopes and prayer concerns. Mark Batterson also encourages readers to pray intensely and to pray continually over the long term for the big prayers that can result in big answers. by Paul Wilkinson

As much as it is inspi­ra­tional, Cir­cle Maker is also con­tro­ver­sial. The con­tro­versy begins on the first page of chap­ter one, where Mark Bat­ter­son recounts the leg­end of Honi, a first-century mys­tic whose power in prayer saves the land from drought. Some have objected to the idea of “prayer cir­cles,” because they smack of pagan­ism and super­sti­tion. After read­ing the book, it seems that Bat­ter­son is using “prayer cir­cles” as a metaphor to describe the way some­one prayers—prayers of speci­ficity, audac­ity, and faith. Bat­ter­son is an evan­ge­list for relent­less, dar­ing prayers.

I have some con­cerns with the book—a bit of sketchy exe­ge­sis here and there, a name-it-claim-it style of inter­ces­sion, and a blurry line between dreams and prayers. I frankly dis­cussed these con­cerns with Mark when I inter­viewed him today, and I appre­ci­ate his gen­uine thought­ful answers to my ques­tions. You’ll have to wait until the broad­cast releases to hear the con­cerns and Mark’s excel­lent response. By Daniel Threlfall

Yep, it’s controversial. As someone who has a healthy aversion to anything that reeks of ‘name it and claim it’, I was skeptical as well. After the first chapter, telling the story of Jewish legendary circle maker Honi who stood in a circle to pray for rain, I wasn’t convinced this book was Biblical at all. But after reading the whole book, I’ve changed my mind.

You see, author Mark Batterson doesn’t believe in the power of circles, he believed in the power of prayer and above all in the power of God who can do way more than we could ever think or imagine. His book is one big encouragement to dream big, pray hard, think long and then keep circling (= keep praying). At Youth Leaders Academy

Our problem is that “most of us don’t get what we want because we don’t know what we want . . . and secondly, we don’t get what we want because we quit circling.” I, for one, give up too easily instead of “praying through!” Talk about stupidity when we want God to provide more so we need Him less. Spiritual maturity isn’t about self-sufficiency but codependence on God. In Batterson’s own words, “And if we pray hard, our lives will become complicated and we will need to work harder. And that is a blessing from God.” By Dale Lewis

Finally, I found this critical review, but couldn't get it to copy properly so check it out for yourself. It appears this review is based off a 40 second video blurb on the study packet, rather than the critic having read the book. At EBC

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There are likely more critical reviews of the book out there; I just had trouble finding them. I just want to point out that when I recommend a book, I never believe or claim that it trumps the Bible.

Very early in the book I had the same concerns about the mystical "Honi" and was afraid the reader would be directed to place our faith in him or his teachings...so I kept reading.

After reading the book, it is clear to me that Batterson believes in the power of prayer to Almighty God, and that Honi's circle of payer for rain is metaphorical to the Israelites marching around the walls of Jericho. Honi prayed to God, not to some idol.

God is not a genie in a bottle who grants our wishes; He answers our prayers in ways that glorify Himself!

I can sum up in one sentence the message I get from the book: We don't receive because we don't ask; if we do ask, it's for selfish desires; and we don't ask because we either don't know or have forgotten how big GOD is.

And that message is biblical ~ James 4:2-3 ~ You want something but don't get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.

Bottom line, we can read all the books in the world, but the one we need to ground our faith in is the Bible. I hope I never point you away from God's Word when I share another book with you. I want everything I read to be filtered through the Spirit.


1 comment:

jodi Szymanski said...

Ecclesiastes 12:12-13

King James Version (KJV)

12 And further, by these, my son, be admonished: the of making many books there is no end; and much study is a "weariness of the flesh".

13 Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the "whole duty of man".

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