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Where do you draw the line?

CirclemakerToday on Stand Up, we are covering several news stories from the weekend that you may not have heard about, and we will revisit a book that is controversial, titled, “The Circle Maker.” We mentioned it last week in light of a new push by some evangelicals to get this book into the hands of its members to read it together as a church. What’s it all about?

In our first segment, we’re discussing the topic of suffering.

Romans 8:28: “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”in the midst of some kind of suffering, or you have been. We’re going to go to Scripture today, and we’re opening our phone lines.

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In our first segment, what happens when a loved one gets the news that he or she has cancer? What if that’s been you? For the Christian, we tend to ask a lot of questions of God about our strength and our faith. Why is this happening? What is Your will?

yoloWe’re going to introduce you to Scott Finch, a Texas native, who married his bride Dana in 1984. In 2010, she got the diagnosis; Pancreatic cancer. And as Christians, the couple and their three sons experienced Dana’s last 13 months of her life in the full love of Jesus. Scott has written a book dedicated to his wife titled, YOLO (You Only Live Once). Scott is now remarried and his journey is a powerful testimony.

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3 Responses to “Where do you draw the line?”

  1. lyn #

    "The book has been widely-praised and has received hundreds of positive reviews, but surely people have simply failed to understand that Batterson has committed a grave error. He begins with Honi, an character who appears in books that are not (and have never been) regarded as inspired by God. He takes Honi as an authentic character who performed an authentic, God-ordained miracle indistinguishable from the characters and miracles of the Bible, and then reads what he learned from Honi back into the Bible. Rather than interpreting Honi through the lens of Scripture, he interprets Scripture through Honi so that from drawing circles he inevitably moves to marching circles and goes to Jericho, asking questions like “What is your Jericho? What promise are you praying around? What miracle are you marching around? What dream does your life revolve around?” He even reads Honi back into church history, looking to Christians of days past and saying that they were drawing Honi-like prayer circles.
    The book’s examples and illustrations are largely drawn from his own life, from the dreams, goals and desires that he has seen fulfilled. He speaks of drawing a large circle around an area of Washington by walking around it while praying; before long he had a successful and growing church within that circle. He writes about circling a building he wanted for his church, marching around it, laying hands on it, even going barefoot on its holy ground, until it was his. Occasionally he shares examples from others so that he speaks of a friend who desperately wanted to be general manager at a certain golf course; he describes how his friend marched around the club house with his family seven times and then received the desire of his heart.

    He anticipates the critique that what he advocates is a kind of “name it, claim it” theology and insists it is not. He says, for example, “Before you write this off as some ‘name it, claim it’ scheme, let me remind you that 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.” I think he doth protest too much for what he teaches is very nearly indistinguishable. While he may not suggest praying for a bundle of cash or a fancy new car, there is no reason in the book why we would not do this. “I have no idea what your financial situation is, but I do know this. If you give beyond your ability, God will bless you beyond your ability. God wants to bless you thirty-, sixty-, hundredfold.” That sounds just too familiar.
    Finally, he speaks confidently of things the Bible simply does not say and again, this allows him to claim more than the Bible allows. For example he says, “Sometimes physical contact creates a spiritual conduit. Proximity creates intimacy. Proximity proclaims authority. Drawing a prayer circle is one way of marking territory — God’s territory.” He trumpets the value of visualizing what you want as a means to obtaining it: “When you dream, your mind forms a mental image that becomes both a picture of and a map to your destiny. That picture of the future is one dimension of faith, and the way you frame it is by circling it in prayer.” The Bible gives us no reason to believe that God consistently relates proximity to power or that there is value in visualization (though you may note that New Age teachers often make both of those claims).

    The Circle Maker is a mess. I admire Batterson’s desire to pray boldly and love his call to more prayer, better prayer, more audacious prayer. Yet so much of what he teaches is sub-biblical, extra-biblical or just plain unbiblical. With hundreds of good books on prayer available to us there is absolutely no reason to spend as much as one minute or one dime on this one." – From Tim Challies, at challies DOT com/book-reviews/the-circle-maker – where you can read his review in its entirety.

    After reading Tim's review, I see no reason to risk infiltrating my mind with this garbage

    October 16, 2013 at 8:31 AM
  2. Sheldon #

    For those who read only websites and blogs about such matters and have not read the book (entire book), the 3 Circles are the main points Mark Batterson makes in his book. Kind of like your Pastor usually has 3 points in his sermon each Sunday.
    Here they are:
    #1 Dream Big – believe that with God, all things are possible. (No brainer, but a good reminder!)
    #2 Pray Hard – “It is a habit to be cultivated. It is a discipline to be developed. It is a skill to be practiced.” _Mark Batterson (pg 86.) Obviously, a Christian habit all of us need to develop and grow in on a daily basis.
    #3 Think Long – His challenge here is to encourage people to start looking at their prayer-life with an eternal viewpoint, instead of a self-centered viewpoint.
    “One dimension of thinking long is thinking different , and prayer is the key to both. Prayer doesn’t just change circumstances; more important, it changes us. It doesn’t just alter external realities; it alters internal realities so that we see with spiritual eyes. It corrects our nearsigthedness. It enables us to see beyond our circumstances, beyond ourselves, beyond time.” –Mark Batterson (pg. 135) In other words, our prayer-life helps to shape the way we think. The more I pray, the more of an eternal perspective I get on life.
    NO WHERE in the book does Mark Batterson tell you to ACTUALLY GO OUT AND MAKE PHYSICAL CIRCLES as a prayer method. (Unless, you are talking about “old-school” “Jericho marches”, which I don’t think are bad ideas. I’ve actually walked around my city on prayer-walks multiple times in the past, and that was before I read this book. NOOOOO it’s not the circle that I made in my walking that makes any difference. It was simply what I felt God was telling me to do…so, I obeyed. All of us know that the difference make is the Holy Spirit who often works through the prayers of the believer.) NOWHERE in this book did I get the message to go out and make physical circles in the dirt, ground, air, or even dance in circles during my prayer times.
    Also, many accuse Mark Batterson of being a “Prosperity / Name-it-and Claim it-Guy” I grew up in a home like that and no way would a “Prosperity” preacher make a statement like this one in his book.
    “With God, it’s never an issue of “Can He?” It’s only a question of “Will He?” And while you don’t always know if He will, you know He can. And because you know He can, you can pray with holy confidence.” – Mark Batterson (Pg 73) (The Circle Maker)
    A Prosperity guy would tell you God WILL do whatever you want Him to do…if ONLY you just pray the right ways and do the right things.
    My point is, I don’t know where in the world you get your ideas about the purpose/ intentions of this book (Actually, I do…) but none of your suggested ideas did I receive in the reading of this book. If anything, it challenged me to have a stronger prayer life.
    Just sayin!

    October 16, 2013 at 8:09 AM
  3. Lora #

    So glad you are making a point to comment on these books, Jesus Calling and The Circle Maker

    I am looking forward to Warren Smith's book on Jesus Calling. I have not had the time to read it, but from the quotes I have heard from Warren, and some others, this book does not reflect the true nature of God as we read in the scriptures, at all. It sounds like Sarah has used some contemplative techniques, and invited in a lying spirit to influence her. Once again, it is a form of manipulation to "make oneself still and quiet, and open oneself up, until hearing". In a sense we are telling God that we are setting the rules, or creating the condition, for His presence, to be detected.
    I understand that Sarah uses "presence' with a capitol "P", which tells me most likely she has been influenced by such books as "Practicing the Presence" of God, by Brother Lawrence, who in turn was influenced by Teresa of Avila, a Catholic mystic and Carmelite nun. I have read Fire Within, by Fr. Thomas Dubay, who wrote in detail regarding Teresa of Avila. In short (and there is a great deal to say about this) what Teresa practiced was spiritism that produced demonic manifestations.

    The fruit of what Sarah wrote is a twisted concept of who Jesus is and what He did…this is always what happens when one departs from what the scripture says about the true character and nature of God. It is God's own words revealing Himself to us, and that is done through His Holy Spirit. His written word and His Spirit cannot be separated. It is very possible Sarah was never really born again, and it doesn't matter how many years she has been a missionary. No one EVER "outgrows" the Gospel. The place of the cross and how we relate to God through that… receiving His grace there…is carried with us every day of our lives here on earth. That exchanged life is always before us as we walk; we certainly do mature, we are expected to have our minds renewed. But we still inhabit fallen flesh, we still war with the flesh, and we will walk by faith in Him until we are taken home or are raptured from the earth. The true presence of the Holy Spirit bears witness to that exchanged life we live in Christ, His poured out life, and there is never any substitute for our humility and gratitude before Him.

    September 16, 2013 at 3:05 PM