Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin (Psalm 51:1-2). Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. […]
Double Blessing: How to Get It. How to Give It by Mark Batterson (Multnomah/Random House; 2019)
This is the latest book by Pastor Mark Batterson, who has written several bestsellers, such as The Circle Maker, Chase the Lion, and Whisper. As evidenced by the title, this book is about blessing — both the kind that we receive from God and the kind believers can pass on to others. Starting with the premise that blessing is God’s default nature toward us, Batterson splits the book into two parts — to describe what the blessing of God is and how we can perceive and receive His blessings. And the second part hammers home the real point of this book: That blessings are lavishly given to believers as God’s children, but after receiving blessings, we are to take our blessings and use them to bless others.
In the first section, the author starts with the story of Elijah and Elisha, and how Elisha had the audacity (and faith!) to ask for a double portion of the blessing that Elijah had received from God. And then he was granted his request by God and did many mighty and gracious blessings to people inside and even outside ancient Israel. From here, Batterson takes readers on a quick journey through the Old and New Testaments to highlight how the blessings of God are a thread found throughout Scripture. Batterson offers a beneficial description of how to think about God’s blessings — “Blessings are like an umbrella. An umbrella doesn’t change the forecast. Life will rain pain…But the blessing of God does provide covering of sorts, an extra layer of protection from the elements.”
The author then goes on in the rest of this first section with a word study of the meanings and applications for the Hebrew word for “blessing,” along with providing examples of characters in the Bible — like Jacob and Zerubbabel; and historical figures like Abraham Lincoln and Charles Spurgeon. He chose these characters to illustrate that blessings from God do not deliver us from all evil, for all of these men suffered in some catastrophic ways in their lives, but the blessings came later after wisdom and faith were matured through these difficulties.
In Part Two, Batterson focuses on our giving of blessings to others. He summarizes that this way: “God has blessings for us in categories we cannot even conceive of. [And]… it is our job to steward those blessings by flipping them for others!” So, using examples from the founding of his church in Washington, DC — National Community Church — as well as stories and applications drawn from real-life events and biographies (along with neat scientific facts and trivia, which I find fascinating), Batterson shows how God means for His blessings to us are to be given for the sake of others. The author impresses on his readers that as we learn to grow in gratitude from the blessings we have received, God will also enable us to become more generous in giving to others in three categories — time, talents, and treasure.
Batterson’s writing is sincere and positive, and his lessons and encouragements are both engaging and entertaining. In reading this book, I certainly learned a lot about God’s desire to bless, what blessings really are, and how to maximize our blessings by sharing them with others. And as we do so, God blesses even more! I highly recommend this book!