I was on vacation with my family the other week. We were out driving and my girls saw a Christian bookstore. Hey, you don’t have to ask me twice. So we stopped. One of the books on the bestsellers shelf was a title called All In by Mark Batterson. I was intrigued. I had never read anything by Mark Batterson before, but was vaguely aware of him. I’ve seen his book “The Circle Maker” quoted in a few places online, so figured I’d give this one a whirl. I own a lot of books, many of them unread, so I try to practice a little patience when it comes to buying books. But something felt a little different this time. It’s almost like the Holy Spirit was telling me to buy this one. And I’m so glad I did.
All In is one of those books where you can almost figure out what the book’s going to be about just from reading the title. In this case, it’s about making the decision to go “all in” with your faith, just like pushing all your chips onto the table in a game of cards. Once you go “all in”, you will want to go “all out” by living a life of radical faith in the “all in all”. You stop holding back and start giving your all for God, living a life that will impact the world for his kingdom and his purposes.
While the general message of the book is pretty straightforward, Batterson has a practical down-to-earth, everyman sort of writing style. It is easy to read, but don’t let that fool you. This book is loaded with wisdom that can only come from a faith that has been lived and tested in the real world. But most of all, Batterson’s passion for his faith is contagious. I don’t know how anyone could read this book and not get fired up.
The book has several great illustrations from the Bible as well as from the author’s own life. Faith is not a thing of mere theory to Batterson. Rather, he lives out his faith in the day-to-day. And that is very refreshing to read. The concept of “rim huggers” and “cliff climbers”, taken from the story of Jonathan in the Bible and Batterson’s experience hiking in the Grand Canyon, is an image I will carry with me for a long time. I was also inspired by the stories of radical giving, including stories from Mark’s own life, as well as businessmen who literally gave God everything they had.
Now there is one tiny little “grain of salt” I would have to add about the book. Batterson is a preacher, and that shines through, mostly to good effect. He is a master at one-liners, such as “If Jesus isn’t Lord of all, he isn’t Lord at all.” But at times, it feels a bit formulaic, kind of like a sermon series. And most of the faith examples in the book revolve around Batterson’s church. That is to be expected, but for someone not part of that particular church it makes for a hard storyline to follow.
Overall, this is a wonderful book. This would be a great read for a new believer wanting to take the next step. I would also suggest this book to anyone who feels a little stale in their faith and wants to reignite their passion for God. A recommended read for sure.