Review: All In, by Mark Batterson

All In, by Mark BattersonAll In, by Mark Batterson (Zondervan, 2013)

The subtitle of this book is “You are one decision away from a totally different life.” The decision? To go “all in” with God, holding nothing back. Author Mark Batterson breaks this down to not just “all in” but going “all out” for our “all in all” in an “all or nothing” way.

Brief anecdotes (personal, friends, historical and biblical) illustrate the book’s central theme that God is calling Christians to more than we may realize. Many of us have settled for less. We’re “in” the Kingdom, but not “all in.” Just far enough to get bored, perhaps, and not far enough to find the challenges and fulfillment—the life abundant—that Christ intends for us.

My copy of All In is tagged with sticky notes of quotable lines. Mark Batterson was a preacher before becoming a published writer, and he has a gift for pithy one-liners. Here are some of my favourites, to give you an idea of the content:

Instead of dissecting Scripture, we need to let Scripture dissect us. p. 39

Our prayers tend to focus on external circumstances more than internal attitudes because we’d rather have God change our circumstances than change us. p. 119

When we take matters into our own hands, we take God out of the equation. p. 137

Mark Batterson is very persuasive in his presentation, and I found myself bracing against this. I guess I don’t really trust persuasive people, but I read this book carefully and prayerfully and did not find anything to raise a warning. Instead, I found clear teaching calling readers out of a half-lived life into full engagement with God. And I found some personally-applicable life lessons.

The author does have the common speakers’ drawback of repeating certain pet phrases, which is a plus for listeners and a minus for readers. What surprised me was the recurring use of gambling imagery: pushing chips to the middle of the table, folding, putting cards face-up etc. Even the title, All In, has a gambling connotation as well as the one I originally understood it to mean.

This book seems mostly aimed at Christians, and I’m afraid that those who reject gambling will reject the message of this book, when they might otherwise have benefited.

Mark Batterson serves as Lead Pastor at Washington DC’s National Community Church. He’s the author of the best-selling The Circle Maker and other books. For more on the author, you can visit his website: Mark Batterson.

[A review copy was received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I was in no way compensated for this review.]

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