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Friday, July 17, 2015

"A Trip Around the Sun" (Mark Batterson and Richard Foth)

TITLE: A Trip around the Sun: Turning Your Everyday Life into the Adventure of a Lifetime
AUTHOR: Mark Batterson and Richard Foth
PUBLISHER: Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2015, (208 pages).

In evangelism, one popular question that is used to trigger interest is: "If you were to die tomorrow, do you know where you'll be going?" In Christian Living, believers often ask themselves whether there is more to life than just doing the routine stuff day in and day out. In this book, authors Mark Batterson and Richard Foth ask the reflective question: "If you can re-live your life, how would you have lived?" In a book that spells adventure, risk-taking, and faith ventures, readers encounter page after page of living not just in anticipation of the eternal life promised by God in Jesus Christ, they learn to live out perspectives of eternity on earth to live freely as people as if there is an even more wonderful tomorrow. For Richard Foth (aka Dick), "loving in the hard times is the best kind of living." For pastor Mark Batterson, if he could relive his own life, he would "risk more, reflect more" and "die young at a ripe old age." While it is designed to excite readers to take the plunge of living in faith, it is also a personal revelation of the authors' reflections on life and their passions for life in Jesus.

Both authors take turns to tell their stories. In risk taking, Dick looks back at his own life with retrospective wisdom like seeing how the newer generation grow up in an entirely different context from his early years surviving World War II. He knows how much his past had shaped him and concludes that God had created us all with "an adventure in mind." When he met his co-author years ago, he saw an adventurer. Mark recalls how his own grandfather had first planted the excitement of adventures in the 60s. Unfortunately, Mark's sense of adventure broke a precious fossil his grandfather owned but in the aftermath, he experienced a shower of grace and love from his grandfather who affirmed that he is more precious than a broken fossil. The book gradually combines the two authors' experiences into exciting lessons for readers. Lessons like the importance of accumulating experiences rather than material possessions. Lessons on cultivating creativity and doing things rather than simply keeping the status quo. Lessons that spell out the alphabet of life that highlight that life is not about doing things for others or for self; it is living with others and with God. "With" removes the individualism out of a potentially harmful source of deceit and pride. Lessons like learning to look for all the right things people do, to build people up instead of self-accomplishments. The greatest risk is no risk at all. We learn about the fear of failures that inhibit risk taking, and are reminded of the successes of many others in the past that rose out of many failures in the first place. There is no such thing as no-failure inventions. Behind every success is a long list of failed experiments and ventures. There are some interesting snippets of wisdom.
  • On doing things together: "Goals are a way to go after things and live life to the fullest. When you are going after a goal together, with people you care about, it cements a relationship unlike anything else." (81)
  • On Loving People: "Love people when they least expect it and least deserve it." (88)
  • On the Pursuit of Happiness: "Happiness is a by-product of holiness." (104)
  • Priorities: "Don't sacrifice your family on the altar of success." (114)
  • Being Great: "True greatness is being great at the greatest commandment." (122)
  • Christian Living: "Live as if Christ was crucified yesterday, rose from the dead today, and is returning tomorrow." (172)
  • Trying: "It's never too late to be who you might have been." (192) 
Every experience is unique. As the chapters unfolded, I sometimes wonder when will the authors ever stop adventuring. Yet, the pages ooze with the adrenaline of adventure. Mark remembers the words on a cup that imprints Mahatma Gandhi's words: "Live as if you'll die tomorrow. Learn as if you'll live forever." He takes both the living and the learning to heart. Other lessons include true success being sowing the seeds of succession, and to help the next generation do more and be more for Jesus. Every chapter seems like a journey around the sun, meaning the temperature of excitement rises every time a challenge to tackle the sun is issued. While some people spend money and time to travel to exotic places far away to experience some adventure, this book shows us that we do not have to depend on those expensive trips to be adventurous. We can live every moment adventurously. We can take on challenges with faith, not fear. We can live as if there is an even better tomorrow. We can learn like children in the candy store of life. Perhaps, there is a subtle encouragement to all readers, especially for those of us who follow Christ. A Trip around the sun has a very important goal for Christian Living: That every trip, every adventure, every faith venture be a trip with the Son.

Rating: 5 stars of 5.


This book is provided to me courtesy of Baker Books and Graf-Martin Communications in exchange for an honest review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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