Thursday, May 14, 2015

A Trip Around the Sun by Mark Batterson, Richard Foth with Susanna Foth Aughtmon

This book isn't at all what I thought it was going to be. In reading the promotion pieces, I know that Batterson and his mentor, Foth, want readers to rise to the challenge of adventure living. Our lives will be richer and our souls fuller, they write. I thought we were being called to adventure for Jesus, so to speak. Perhaps mission trips or inner city work. But that was not the emphasis of the book at all.

Foth and Batterson share their own adventures and draw spiritual lessons from them. The adventures didn't have much to do with Jesus. Batterson, for example, tells of flying cross country with his son a few years ago to do the Sharkfest Swim (1.5 miles from Alcatraz to a San Francisco beach). Another was taking his son to Super Bowl XLV. Then there was kissing his wife at the top of the Eiffel Tower and visiting the Galapagos Islands with his son. Foth shares adventures like visiting the Normandy coast, lunching in the United State Senate dining room and being on an aircraft carrier.

The authors want us to grab life and squeeze every ounce of adventure out of it. It seems that going to a Super Bowl game or lunching in the Senate dining room are the kinds of adventures the authors want to see Christians rise to experience. That was confusing because the authors also say that the kinds of adventures Jesus calls us to is rubbing elbows with the lost, being in the middle of the marketplace. Elsewhere they say the adventures are going places with Jesus and friends. I finished the book being unsure of the kind of adventures the authors want us to have. I was glad to see that they do tell a few stories of other people whose adventures were truly sacrificial, showing love to others.

All of that being said, there were some aspects of the book I appreciated. Batterson writes, “Most people are bored with their faith because they are selfish.” (120) That suggests unselfish adventures would be the answer. The authors encourage us to be life long learners, reading many books. They suggest we live each day in light of eternity and that we provide experiences for our children for their emotional and spiritual growth. And I loved this from Batterson, “I want to go after dreams that are destined to fail without divine intervention.” (72)

Batterson says near the end of the book, “My primary goal in writing this book was to capture Dick's stories for posterity...” (201) That helped me understand that the purpose of the book was not what I had thought it was, to encourage readers to adventure for Jesus. Batterson has succeeded well in his primary goal.

I have mixed feelings about the book. If you like to read adventure stories, you may like the book. If you are looking for an intense encouragement to get out of your comfort zone and adventure for Jesus, you may need to look elsewhere.

Food for thought: “Another day, another adventure.” (197)
Complete the statement: “This trip around the sun I will choose adventure by...”

Mark Batterson is a New York Times bestselling author and lead pastor of National Community Church in Washington DC. He has a doctor of ministry degree from Regent University and lives on Capitol Hill with his wife and their three children.
Richard Foth is the father of four and grandfather of eleven. He has been a college president and conference speaker. He is best known as a story teller who believes that God's story and our stories touch the world. He has a doctor of ministry from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He and his wife live in Colorado.
Susanna Foth Aughtmon is a pastor's wife and mother of three with two previously published books. She assists her husband in various ministries at the church they planted in California.

Baker Books, 208 pages.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of an independent and honest review.
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