New York Times bestselling author and pastor Mark Batterson believes the key to radically increasing your faith, joy, and abundance can be found in these three words: Flip the blessing.
His discovery started with a simple experiment. Whenever Batterson received a blessing, he would give a similar blessing away. If someone paid him a compliment or gave him a gift or went out of their way to help him, he would return the favor by doing something similar for someone else.
We flip the blessing by blessing others in the way God has blessed us. That’s how the blessing becomes a double blessing. It turns giving into a game—one we can’t win because God will always outgive us! It’s an ancient truth found within the Abrahamic covenant: “I will bless you . . . and you will be a blessing.”
In other words, we are blessed to bless. The first blessing is receiving, but it doesn’t end there. The second blessing is giving it away! That’s the double blessing. And that’s where double joy is found.
In a day and age where the idea of blessing has been reduced to a hashtag (#blessed), Batterson challenges readers to pursue true, God-glorifying blessing and experience an exponential impact by participating in the double blessing.
Don’t settle for half of what God offers. Discover how you can both get it and give it . . . in Double Blessing.
|Publisher:||The Crown Publishing Group|
|Product dimensions:||5.90(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.10(d)|
About the Author
Mark Batterson is the lead pastor of National Community Church in Washington, DC. One church in seven locations, NCC owns and operates Ebenezers Coffeehouse, The Miracle Theatre, and the DC Dream Center. NCC is currently developing a city block into The Capital Turnaround. This 100,000-square-foot space will include an event venue, child development center, mixed-use marketplace, and co-working space. Mark holds a Doctor of Ministry degree from Regent University and is the New York Times best-selling author of seventeen books, including The Circle Maker, In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day, Wild Goose Chase, Play the Man, Whisper, and, most recently, Double Blessing. Mark and his wife, Lora, live on Capitol Hill with their three children: Parker, Summer, and Josiah.
Read an Excerpt
Preface: Ariadne’s Thread
In Greek mythology, there is a legend about a labyrinth that was unnavigable and inescapable. Those who entered never exited. For within the maze meandered the Minotaur, a fearsome creature that was half man, half bull. Every nine years, the evil king of Crete demanded that the Athenians send seven boys and seven girls to be sacrificed to the Minotaur. As you might imagine, the Athenians did not take well to this tradition.
On the occasion of the third Minotaur Games, the prince of Athens volunteered himself as tribute in the place of other young citizens. When Theseus landed on Crete, the daughter of the Cretan king, Princess Ariadne, fell head over ancient heels in love with him. She knew that no one who had ventured into the labyrinth had ever found a way out, so she devised a rather ingenious plan. Ariadne gave Theseus a sword to slay the Minotaur and, more importantly, a ball of thread. After tying one end to the entrance, Theseus unwound the ball of thread as he wove his way through the spiderweb of corridors. After successfully slaying the Minotaur, Theseus was able to moonwalk his way out of the labyrinth with the help of Ariadne’s thread.
Life is a labyrinth, is it not? It’s full of relational twists and occupational turns we couldn’t see coming. We zig through big decisions and zag through bad ones. There are situations we get ourselves into that we don’t know how to get ourselves out of. And we all encounter some Minotaurs along the way!
Weaving your way through difficult seasons of life can feel as hopeless as trying to escape an ancient labyrinth, but there is a way out. There is a ball of thread waiting for you, but we must backtrack all the way to the beginning of human history to find its figure-eight knot.
The Austrian psychologist Alfred Adler was famous for beginning counseling sessions with new clients by asking, “What is your earliest memory?” No matter how his patient replied, Adler responded, “And so life is.”
Adler believed that our earliest memories leave a profound imprint on our souls. For better or for worse, it can be very difficult to escape their gravitational pull. Our earliest memories have unusual staying power.
Imagine Alfred Adler sitting down with Adam, the first Adam, and asking his trademark question. Adam’s early memories range from rib surgery to roaming the garden. Naming all the animals had to be an unforgettable experience, especially the pink fairy armadillo. Yes, it actually exists, and it lives up to its name! Then, of course, there was the awkwardness of nakedness after succumbing to the serpent’s temptation. And, I’m sure, subsequent nightmares of being naked in public! But none of those moments represents Adam’s earliest memory.
God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and govern it. Reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, and all the animals that scurry along the ground.”
Before original sin, there was original blessing. And so life is! That first blessing sets the tone, sets the table. It establishes the emotional baseline and spiritual trend line of Adam’s life. But it’s not just Adam’s earliest memory. It also reveals God’s most ancient instinct.
Blessing is God’s default setting—His first and foremost reflex. If you don’t believe that, you’ll doubt the goodness of God. And if you second-guess the goodness of God, you’ll forfeit His blessing.
God wants to bless you beyond your ability to ask or imagine.
There. I said it. And I believe it. The question is, do you?
The blessing of God is Ariadne’s thread, and we’ll thread that needle from Genesis to Revelation. What happened at the very beginning has more to do with your future than you might imagine. And my prayer is that this book will begin a new season of blessing in your life. Of course, you’ve got to position yourself for that blessing. And I’ll show you how to do just that. But the blessing of God is more than a mystery to solve. It’s a decision to make, a habit to form, and a mindset to establish.
I’m not sure what your earliest memory is, good or bad. But for many, memories of their earthly father do not mirror Adam’s experience. In fact, you may feel cursed rather than blessed by your family of origin. If that’s true, if that’s you, it can be difficult to conceive of a heavenly Father whose deepest desire is to bless you. There might even be a generational curse that needs to be broken. But believe it or not, God has blessings for you in categories you cannot even conceive of. If you’re going to live the happy, healthy, and holy life God has called you to, you’ve got to get that in your gut. God is in the blessing business! And as His children, blessing is our birthright.
Now, I know what you may be thinking. Am I promising health, wealth, and prosperity? The answer to that is an unequivocal no! God promises us something so much better than physical health or material wealth. Plus, some of God’s greatest blessings are blessings in disguise.
The blessing of God is not an immunity card against pain and suffering. Jesus said point blank, “In this world you will have trouble.” He Himself endured far more than His fair share of earthly troubles, including the Cross! What makes us think we can become like Jesus without going through some of the same struggles He did? But take note—this promise doesn’t end with “trouble.” Don’t make the mistake of putting a period where God puts a comma! In the same breath, Jesus declared, “But take heart! I have overcome the world.” There are sacrifices to be made—no doubt. There is suffering to endure—no question. But there is a blessing on the other side, a double blessing!
I had better add this at the outset: God doesn’t bless disobedience! God doesn’t bless pride or greed or laziness either! We’ve got to position ourselves for God’s blessing, and that’s what this book is all about. But make no mistake about it—God has postured Himself to bless you from the very beginning. And this blessing is not just the opening act of Genesis.
A tag cloud is a visual representation of textual data, showing the importance of words by color and size of font. If you tag cloud the Old Testament, I’m not sure there is a word that is bigger or brighter than blessing. In fact, blessing is a flashing neon sign! If we’re being honest, many of us have a hard time believing this because of the high volume of brutality and bloodshed before Christ. But the Hebrew word for “blessing,” barak, is put on repeat 330 times! It means “to bless the one who blesses you.” And in the New Testament, we get two flavors—makarios and eulogētos. The concept of blessing may be Greek to you, but by the end of this book, you’ll know how to get it and how to give it. We’ll explore the dimensions of blessing in much greater detail, but I want you to understand up front that blessing is the central storyline of Scripture from start to finish.
Blessed to Bless
The blessing of God isn’t easy to quantify or qualify. It is tangible and intangible, timely and timeless. It is universally offered to everyone, but the blessing of God is as unique as your fingerprint. Some blessings are as simple and straightforward as the sunrise. Others are more difficult to discern, like the blessing of brokenness. But of this I’m certain: the blessing of God is the solution to your biggest problem, the answer to your boldest prayer, and the fulfillment of your bravest dream.
As the subtitle of this book suggests, we’ll explore how to get the blessing and how to give the blessing. There is an art and a science to both. But make no mistake—the endgame is not getting but giving! God doesn’t bless us to raise our standard of living. God blesses us to raise our standard of giving. In the words of Winston Churchill, “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” That idea is as old as the Abrahamic covenant:
I will make you into a great nation,
and I will bless you;
I will make your name great,
and you will be a blessing.
I will bless those who bless you,
and whoever curses you I will curse;
and all peoples on earth
will be blessed through you.
The covenant of blessing established with Abraham is as valid today as it ever was. Why? Because God keeps His covenants! Even better, the old covenant has been updated and upgraded by what Christ accomplished on the cross. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
Simply put, we are blessed to bless. The way we turn a blessing into a double blessing is by flipping the blessing. The secret of the double blessing is simply this: the way you get it is by giving it. That is counterintuitive and countercultural, but that is the miracle at the other end of Ariadne’s thread. And you will be a bigger blessing to more people because of it.
Before we embark on this pilgrimage of blessing, let me take you on a whirlwind tour from Genesis to Revelation. Remember, one end of Ariadne’s thread must be tied to the original blessing: “Be fruitful and multiply.” The blessing of God then weaves its way from the Garden of Eden to Ur of Chaldeans where God establishes the covenant of blessing with Abraham. It is followed by a cryptic yet prophetic encounter with Melchizedek. The blood and wine offered to Abraham by the priest-king of Salem foreshadows the new covenant, and Abraham atones with a tithe of all his goods. The blessing of God survives a soap opera known as Isaac and Jacob, proving itself bigger and better than any mistake we can make. The blessing turns Jacob into Israel, who then pronounces longer and stronger blessings on his twelve sons, the twelve tribes of Israel.
During four hundred years of enslavement in Egypt, the blessing survives unspeakable suffering and indescribable setbacks. The blessing finds its voice at a burning bush on the backside of the desert, giving a man named Moses the holy confidence to confront Pharaoh. On the eve of the exodus, the blessing of God is the blood of the Passover lamb that provides a hedge of protection for God’s people and delivers them out of bondage. During Israel’s wanderings, the blessing becomes a cloud by day that gives shade and a fire by night that gives light.
While in the wilderness, a priestly blessing is pronounced on the people of God. That blessing sets them up and sets them apart. God doubles down with an elevated blessing on top of Mount Gerizim. The blessing then parts the Jordan River, fells the walls of Jericho, and delivers the hill country called Hebron.
Ariadne’s thread then weaves its way through a shepherd’s field, a fugitive’s cave, and into the Valley of Elah where David defeats Goliath. The thousand year-old blessing that David inherited from the line and lineage of Judah, finds it’s prophetic fulfillment in the Son of David, in the City of David a thousand years later.
The Lion of the tribe of Judah is birthed in Bethlehem—God with us. The blessing seems to take a wrong turn at the Garden of Gethsemane, down the Via Dolorosa, dead-ending at Calvary’s cross. But that’s where the curse is broken and the blessing is bestowed—God for us. The covenant of blessing becomes the cup of blessing, the bottomless cup of God’s grace from which we drink every time we come to the Lord’s Table and celebrate our communion with Christ. The blessing is signed, sealed, and delivered on the third day with an empty tomb. With it, a fine-print footnote the Father had not forgotten: “I will give you the sacred blessings I promised to David.”
The last thing Jesus does, before His ascension, is raise His hands and bless His disciples just as the ancient priests of Israel did. Adam’s first memory becomes their last and lasting memory. Ten days later, a second blessing was bestowed on the disciples in an upper room. The Holy Spirit was poured out on the Day of Pentecost—God in us.
What is the blessing of God? It’s God—God with us, God for us, God in us. To reduce it to anything less dishonors God and devalues the blessing. God with us is joy unspeakable and the peace that surpasses understanding. God for us is His favor, the X factor between the best we can do and the best God can do. And God in us is power, resurrection power.
Every spiritual blessing belongs to us by virtue of what Christ accomplished through His death and resurrection. And when we finally arrive at the end of God’s revelation, God’s most ancient instinct finds its eternal expression. It’s there that we tie the other end of Ariadne’s thread to the last blessing in the Bible. The original blessing becomes the eternal blessing:
Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city.
In the pages that follow, we’ll pull the thread of God’s blessing all the way from Genesis to Revelation. My prayer is that this book would be the genesis of God’s blessing in your life and a revelation of the bigger blessing He wants you to become to others.
Can I make a suggestion as we begin this journey together?
Don’t read this book by yourself. Reading it with a friend or family member has the potential to turn this book into a double blessing. Some books are best read by yourself, but Double Blessing is best experienced in community. Reading it with someone else will multiply the blessing.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I wanted to like “Double Blessing”. And there is a lot to like about it, don’t get me wrong. But I felt like it was disproportionately focused on *us*—what we can do to get more blessing from God. Surface level, that sounds great—who doesn’t want more blessing from God? But I felt the book focused too much on that, and much less on God and his glory. He is ultimately about spreading his glory to the ends of the earth...and we as Christians are invited to join in that. Yeah—seeing ourselves rightly before God is critical. Seeing self how he sees us. And making changes accordingly is also critical. But am I seeking blessing for pursuit of my own glory...or God’s? Batters on repeatedly insists the book isn’t about the prosperity gospel, far from it...but it feels like it is at times, to me. I received a copy of the book from the publisher. All opinions are my own.
Double Blessing by Mark Batterson sounds like a book preaching the wealth and prosperity gospel. However, Batterson makes clear that that is not what this book is about. Double Blessing is divided in to two parts: How to Get it and How to Give it as the subtitle states. The first half of Double Blessing talks about how to get a blessing from God by talking about God's miracles and blessings in the Bible and how they apply to today's people. Batterson encourages readers to position themselves for a blessing from God by praying but then also putting in some work on the blessing. Throughout the first part of the book, he also shares some great illustrations from his own life and the lives of other people throughout history. He also reminds readers that blessings sometimes come after difficult seasons and that we need to sometimes work to see the blessings. In the second half of Double Blessing, Batterson talks about how to bless others. As someone who generally is a cheerful giver, I loved this part of the book. I love to hear about how other people are blessed by ordinary people. At the same time, even though I love to give, I don't always feel like I am able to give due to finances or circumstances. One of the things I liked about this half of Double Blessing is that Batterson encourages readers to create margin so they can give either to churches, organizations or even randomly on the street to someone in need. He also talks about how many times people were blessed and gave by having faith that God would provide--before they even had the funds to give. One of my favorite parts of the book is near the end when he quotes Jim Elliott on page 193, He is no fools who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose." He then reminds the reader that the secret of the double blessing is simple: "You get it by giving it. This isn't a book you read, This is a book you do." Batterson concludes by asking, Whom will you bless today? How will you bless them? I like that Batterson encourages gratitude to God for what we have, a reminder that we can't take our things with us and that giving creates happiness in the end. I received this book courtesy of Waterbrook/Multnomah Publishing. All opinions are my own.
Double Blessings was a wonderful book, full of wisdom and one I will be reading over and over again. It is one I’ve already recommended to others and will continue to recommend to others. This book is great for all levels of believers and is great to be used as a Bible study with one or more others or reading alone. I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher and was under no obligation to post a review
Batterson unashamedly takes on important theological truth that many others can't explain well. Truth be told, blessing can be a dangerous topic to talk about. There is a profound truth about God in between the prosperity gospel and the suffering mentality many Christians err on. This book is thoroughly balanced with scriptural insight, wit and practical application. Two quotes that are foundational: "Before original sin, there was original blessing. . . Blessing is God's default setting." "God doesn't bless us to raise our standard of living. God blesses us to raise our standard of giving!" I received a complimentary review copy as a member of the Double Blessing launch team. All opinions are my own.
In “Double Blessing,” Mark Batterson addresses the countercultural gospel message that blessing comes to us when we are willing to give blessing away. This is not some “prosperity gospel” message suggesting that God wants to bless Christians so they can live a life of ease. In some cases, God may call us to give away much of what He gives, in order that we may receive a greater blessing. Batterson’s message is summarized in the last words of the book’s epilogue: “God wants to bless you beyond your ability to ask or imagine. There, I said it again. But by now you know the secret to the double blessing: you get it by giving it. Count your blessings. Flip your blessings. Repeat as often as possible!” God does not bless us simply for our benefit. We are blessed to become a blessing to others. If we hold on to what we receive from God as if it is ours, we end up losing the joy and blessing of giving. This is not to say that we cannot own some things, but that we must be sure that our things don’t own us. This book provides an excellent message on how to ensure that we avoid the pitfalls of grasping the blessing so tightly that we forget the One who provides that blessing, and why He gives it to us. As such, I highly recommend it! This review is based on an uncorrected proof received in exchange for my honest opinion of the book. No other gifts or remuneration were received.
Batterson is one of my favorite authors and I was excited to be an early reader for this amazing book! In "Double Blessing," pastor Mark Batterson shares his opinion on how we've misunderstood the blessings of God: "What is the blessing of God? It’s God—God with us, God for us, God in us. To reduce it to anything less dishonors God and devalues the blessing." Don't expect a how to on prosperity gospel in "Double Blessing." This book is about anything but! Often we attempt to place God in box, asking Him for what we call blessings, instead of trusting Him to supply our needs and bless us according to His will. If we are blessed with more than we can use or are given a way to bless another, that becomes a double blessing--we are able to help someone else because we've been blessed by God. It seems simple, doesn't it? Batterson writes in a relatable way and is easy to understand. He uses his years of experience in ministry, gathering examples from Scripture and applying those examples to real world situations. He walks with the reader, not using verbiage that is above the reader's head or using "Christianese." "Double Blessing" would be an amazing book to read corporately as a church, small group or even for those in the non profit sector. Don't miss this one if you've struggled with giving or receiving blessings. To give means to provide for another-and you can't out give God! I especially loved this quote: "Generosity is born of optimism. Optimism is an abundance of hope, an abundance of faith." Batterson then speaks on the boy with the two loaves and five fish and his willingness to give to Jesus, inadvertently providing for thousands with his small gift. I was an early reader, thanks to Waterbrook Multnomah. All opinions were my own and I was not required to leave a review.
RECEIVE THE BLESSINGS! DOUBLE BLESSING (How to Get It. How to Give It.) is another excellent example of Mark Batterson’s inviting and easily understandable writing style. He is the best at making readers feel as though he’s sitting beside them, talking to them instead of them just reading a book. That’s a phenomenal gift! Batterson writes “Blessing is God’s default setting—His first and foremost reflex. If you don’t believe that, you’ll doubt the goodness of God. And if you second-guess the goodness of God, you’ll forfeit His blessing. God wants to bless you beyond your ability to ask or imagine.” He continues by “threading the needle” of the blessing from Genesis to Revelation. Batterson reminds readers that “... the blessing of God is more than a mystery to solve. It’s a decision to make, a habit to form and a mindset to establish.” He writes “The way we turn a blessing into a double blessing is by flipping the blessing. The secret of the double blessing is simply this: the way you get it is by giving it. I received a complimentary uncorrected proof of this book. The opinions expressed here are completely my own and without influence.
I have always enjoyed reading anything by Mark. He has such a way of being intellectually stimulating yet at the same time use words that make even complex items seem simple. (Suggestion: Maybe he would write on Quantum Mechanics next?). I have to admit, when I saw the title of this book I immediately knew what some would think. If you've not read Mark's other books you might think he just the next in line to join the Health and Prosperity Gospel group. In no way does this book do that. Mark shows us scripturally the places where God has promised blessings to us. And he is VERY quick to point out that most often these blessings are not financial blessings. He begins showing the story of Elisha seeking a double portion of Elijah's spirit. We too can seek a double blessing of Holy Spirit power on our lives. To help us live, to help us minister to others, to help us build up the church. The blessings may come to us personally but are to be beneficial to the church and our witness. Another top notch book from a top notch preacher and writer. Thanks Mark for sharing with us about Double Blessings.
Mark Batterson shares his personal testimony of receiving the gift of a double blessing in his own life. Using Scripture, he explains the principle of the double blessing, how to receive it, and how to bestow it. God blesses us so that we may use His blessing to bless others. This book is not another health, wealth, and prosperity message. It is not a book about avoiding pain and suffering because Jesus himself said that in the world we will have trouble. It is a book about positioning oneself to receive God's blessings, recognizing His blessings, and passing on those blessings. Batterson fills his book with a healthy dose of reality, but always paired with hope. I am grateful to have received a copy of Double Blessing from Multnomah via NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion. I was under no obligation to provide a positive review and received no monetary compensation.
Mark Batterson is one of my favorite authors because he shares about the Word of God in a way that is easily understood and applicable to our lives. This book about blessings is a perfect example of that. He explains what a blessing is and how we can and are blessed by God and how, when then, can turn around and bless others! This is definitely not a prosperity book but a truly Biblical teaching on what a blessing is. He shares a lot of different stories from his own life and the lives of others to show what a blessing can look like in our every day lives. That's one thing I really enjoy about his writing; he brings us right into his life and shows us, by example, how the concept he is teaching works. I thought it was eye opening that he shows us that we don't always have a clear understanding of what a blessing really is. Again, he goes to the Bible to show us what a blessing really is. I know for myself, I probably use the word blessing way too much and not in the right way. Not that it's wrong but I now understand the full meaning of blessing. We all want to be blessed but I loved the part of the book about blessing others. There is such joy in blessing others in small and large ways and Mark's thoughts on this were so wonderful. This book is really good and I highly recommend it. I give it 5 stars. *This book was provided to me by Waterbrook/Multnomah. I received a copy of this book to review but I was not financially compensated in any way. The opinions expressed are my own and are based on my observations while reading this book.