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In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day: How to Survive and Thrive When Opportunity Roars

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Overview

Your greatest regret at the end of your life will be the lions you didn't chase. You will look back longingly on risks not taken, opportunities not seized, and dreams not pursued. Stop running away from what scares you most and start chasing the God-ordained opportunities that cross your path. In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day is inspired by one of the most obscure yet courageous acts recorded in Scripture, a blessed and audacious act that left no regrets: “Benaiah chased a lion down into a pit. Then, despite ...

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In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day: How to Survive and Thrive When Opportunity Roars

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Overview

Your greatest regret at the end of your life will be the lions you didn't chase. You will look back longingly on risks not taken, opportunities not seized, and dreams not pursued. Stop running away from what scares you most and start chasing the God-ordained opportunities that cross your path. In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day is inspired by one of the most obscure yet courageous acts recorded in Scripture, a blessed and audacious act that left no regrets: “Benaiah chased a lion down into a pit. Then, despite the snow and slippery ground, he caught the lion and killed it” (2 Samuel 23:20 -21). Unleash the lion chaser within!

What if the life you really want, and the future God wants for you, is hiding right now in your biggest problem, your worst failure…your greatest fear?

Story Behind the Book
“Our best days often start out as our worst days. And our greatest opportunities are often disguised as our biggest problems. You can land in a pit with a lion on a snowy day, and it will seem like the end of the road. But God is in the recycling business. He recycles past experiences and uses them to prepare us for future opportunities. That is the story of my life. And that is the story of your life. Look in the rearview mirror long enough and you’ll see that God has purposely positioned you everywhere you’ve been—even when it seemed you’d taken a wrong turn.”
—Mark Batterson

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Praise for In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day

“A thoughtful and energetic leader, Mark Batterson presses us to consider how we live out our faith in the world around us. When Mark has something to say, I am quick to listen.”
-Frank Wright, PhD, President and CEO, National Religious Broadcasters

“Mark Batterson is one of the outstanding younger leaders in the U.S. today. As a pastor, he demonstrates his gifts and character in leadership and preaching. As a writer, he communicates wisdom and hope with both energy and clarity.”
-Brian McLaren, Author and activist

“As a leader and teacher, Mark Batterson brings imagination, energy, and insight. Mark’s genuine warmth and sincerity spill over into his communication, combining an intense love for his community with a passionate desire to see them living the life God dreams for them. I appreciate his willingness to take bold risks and go to extraordinary lengths to reach our culture with a message that is truly relevant.”
-Ed Young, Senior pastor, Fellowship Church 

“Mark Batterson is one of the church’s most forward thinkers. In this book, he compels us to look both behind and ahead to discover answers to the ‘whys’ in our lives. In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day helps us make sense of this beautiful mess we call life.”
-Lindy Lowry, Editor, Outreach magazine

“Mark Batterson is down-to-earth and humble—yet constantly pushes me to grow. I follow him as a leader, admire him as an innovator, and love him as a friend. Mark has become one of the most important voices for a new generation. Anything he touches changes lives. Read this book and you’ll see what I mean.”
-Craig Groeschel, Pastor of Lifechurch.tv, author of Chazown and Confessions of a Pastor

“Mark’s passion for God and our generation is contagious. His writing is honest and insightful. Go ahead—chase the lion!”
-Margaret Feinberg, Author of What the Heck Am I Going to Do With My Life?

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781590527153
  • Publisher: The Doubleday Religious Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 11/28/2006
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 71,393
  • Product dimensions: 5.37 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.54 (d)

Meet the Author

Mark Batterson serves as lead pastor of National Community Church ( www.theaterchurch.com ) in Washington DC . Targeting emerging generations, 73 percent of NCCers are single twentysomethings that live or work on Capitol Hill. Currently one church with three locations, the vision of NCC is to meet in movie theaters @ metro stops throughout the DC area. The theaterchurch.com podcast is one of the fastest-growing church podcasts in America . Mark is also a daily blogger @ www.markbatterson.com . Mark lives on Capitol Hill with his wife, Lora, and three children.

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Read an Excerpt

Locking Eyes with Your Lion

You are responsible forever for what you have tamed.
—Antoinede Saint-Exubery

There is an obscure passage in Scripture that I doubt any Sunday school teacher has ever assigned as a memory verse. It wasn’t exegeted in any of the systematic theology classes I took in seminary. It has absolutely no bearing on any major biblical doctrines. You may have read it a few times in a one-year Bible, but it probably didn’t even make a blip on your radar screen.

Buried in the Old Testament book of 2 Samuel, the twenty-third chapter, the twentieth and twenty-first verses,
is one of the most inconceivable and inspirational passages in Scripture:

There was also Benaiah son of Jehoiada, a valiant warrior from Kabzeel. He did many heroic deeds, which included killing two of Moab’s mightiest warriors. Another time he chased a lion down into a pit. Then, despite the snow and slippery ground, he caught the lion and killed it. Another time, armed only with a club, he killed a great Egyptian warrior who was armed with a spear. Benaiah wrenched the spear from the Egyptian’s hand and killed him with it.

It’s easy to read verses like this in the comfortable confines of your home or office and totally miss the monumental acts of courage displayed by Benaiah. Have you ever met anyone or heard of anyone chasing a lion? Sure, Barnum & Bailey have lion tamers. But lion chasers? Benaiah didn’t have a hunting rifle or Land Rover. And this was no game-park safari.

Scripture doesn’t tell us what Benaiah was doing or where he was going when he encountered this lion. We don’t know the time of day or Benaiah’s frame of mind. But Scripture does reveal his gut reaction. And it was gutsy. It ranks as one of the most improbable reactions recorded in Scripture. Usually, when the image of a man-eating beast travels through the optical nerve and registers in the visual cortex, the brain has one over-arching message: Run away.

Normal people run away from lions. They run as far and as fast as they possibly can. But lion chasers are wired differently.

For the vast majority of us, the only lions we’ve ever encountered were stuffed or caged. And few of us have experienced hand-to-hand combat that forced us to fight for our lives. But try to put yourself in Benaiah’s snow shoes.

Out of the corner of his eye, Benaiah sees something crawling. I don’t know how far away the lion is—and their vision is probably obscured by falling snow and frozen breath—but there is a moment when Benaiah and the lion lock eyes. Pupils dilate. Muscles tense. Adrenaline rushes.

What a Hollywood moment.

Imagine watching it on the movie screen with THX surround sound. Your knuckles turn white as you grip the theater seat. Blood pressure escalates. And the entire audience anticipates what will happen next. Lion encounters tend to script the same way. Man runs away like a scaredy-cat. Lion gives chase. And king of the beasts eats manwich for lunch.

But not this time! Almost as improbable as falling up or the second hand on your watch moving counterclockwise, the lion turns tail and Benaiah gives chase.

The camera films the chase at ground level.

Lions can run up to thirty-five miles per hour and leap thirty feet in a single bound. Benaiah doesn’t stand a chance, but that doesn’t keep him from giving chase. Then the lion makes one critical misstep. The ground gives away beneath his five-hundred-pound frame, and he falls down a steep embankment into a snow-laden pit. For what it’s worth, I’m sure the lion landed on his feet. Lions are part of the cat genus, after all.

No one is eating popcorn at this point. Eyes are fixed on the screen. It’s the moment of truth as Benaiah approaches the pit. Almost like walking on thin ice, Benaiah measures every step. He inches up to the edge and peers into the pit. Menacing yellow eyes stare back. The entire audience is thinking the same thing: Don’t even think about it.

Have you ever had one of those moments where you do something crazy and ask yourself in retrospect: What was I thinking? This had to be one of those moments for Benaiah. Who in their right mind chases lions? But Benaiah now has a moment to collect his thoughts, regain his sanity, and get a grip on reality. And the reality is this: Normal people don’t chase lions.

So Benaiah turns around and walks away. The audience breathes a collective sigh of relief. But Benaiah isn’t walking away. He’s getting a running start. There is an audible gasp from the audience as Benaiah runs at the pit and takes a flying leap of faith.

The camera pans out.

You see two sets of tracks leading up to the pit’s edge. One set of foot prints. One set of paw prints. Benaiah and the lion disappear into the recesses of the pit. The view is obscured to keep it PG-13. And for a few critical moments, the audience is left with just the THX sound track. A deafening roar echoes in the cavernous pit. A bloodcurdling battle cry pierces the soul.

Then dead silence.

Freeze-frame.

Everybody in the theater expects to see a lion shake its mane and strut out of the pit. But after a few agonizing moments of suspense, the shadow of a human form appears as Benaiah climbs out of the pit. The blood from his wounds drips on the freshly fallen snow. Claw marks crisscross his face and spear arm. But Benaiah wins one of the most improbable victories recorded in the pages of Scripture.

A Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

Right at the outset, let me share one of my core convictions: God is in the business of strategically positioning us in the right place at the right time. A sense of destiny is our birthright as followers of Christ. God is awfully good at getting us where He wants us to go. But here’s the catch: The right place often seems like the wrong place, and the right time often seems like the wrong time.

Can I understate the obvious?

Encountering a lion in the wild is typically a bad thing. A really bad thing! Finding yourself in a pit with a lion on a snowy day generally qualifies as a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. That combination of circumstances usually spells one thing: death. I don't think anyone would have bet on Benaiah winning this fight—probably not even the riskiest of gamblers. He had to be at least a one-hundred-to-one underdog. And the snowy conditions on game day didn’t help his chances.

Scripture doesn’t give us a blow-by-blow description of what happened in that pit. All we know is that when the snow settled, the lion was dead and Benaiah was alive. There was one set of paw prints and two sets of footprints.

Now fast-forward two verses and look at what happens in the next scene.

2 Samuel 23:23 says: “And David put [Benaiah] in charge of his bodyguard.”

I can’t think of too many places I’d rather not be than in a pit with a lion on a snowy day. Can you? Getting stuck in a pit with a lion on a snowy day isn’t on anybody’s wish list. It’s a death wish. But you’ve got to admit something: “I killed a lion in a pit on a snowy day” looks pretty impressive on your résumé if you’re applying for a bodyguard position with the King of Israel!

You know what I’m saying?

I can picture David flipping through a stack of résumés. “I majored in security at the University of Jerusalem.” Nope. “I did an internship with the Palace Guard.” Nada. “I worked for Brinks Armored Chariots.” Thanks but no thanks.

Then David comes to the next résumé in the stack. “I killed a lion in a pit on a snowy day.” David didn’t even check his references. That is the kind of person you want in charge of your bodyguard. Lion chasers make great bouncers.

Now zoom out and look at the story through a wide-angled lens. Most people would have seen the lion as a five-hundred-pound problem, but not Benaiah. For most people, finding yourself in a pit with a lion on a snowy day would qualify as bad luck. But can you see how God turned what could have been considered a bad break into a big break? Benaiah lands a job interview with the King of Israel.

I’m sure the bodyguard position was the last thing on his mind when he encountered the lion, but Benaiah wasn’t just chasing a lion. Benaiah was chasing a position in David’s administration.

Here’s the point: God is in the résumé-building business. He is always using past experiences to prepare us for future opportunities. But those God-given opportunities often come disguised as maneating lions. And how we react when we encounter those lions will determine our destiny. We can cower in fear and run away from our greatest challenges. Or we can chase our God-ordained destiny by seizing the God-ordained opportunity.

As I look back on my own life, I recognize this simple truth: The greatest opportunities were the scariest lions. Part of me has wanted to play it safe, but I’ve learned that taking no risks is the greatest risk of all.

Giving up a full-ride scholarship at the University of Chicago to transfer to a small Bible college was a huge risk. Asking my wife, Lora, to marry me was a huge risk. (Of course, not as big a risk as Lora saying yes!) Packing all of our earthly belongings into a fifteen-foot U-haul and moving to Washington DC with no place to live and no guaranteed salary was a huge risk. Each of our three children was a huge risk. Jumping into a church plant with zero pastoral experience was a huge risk, both for me and for the church.

But when I look in the rearview mirror, I realize that the biggest risks were the greatest opportunities. Some of those life-altering decisions caused sleepless nights. The steps of faith were accompanied by acute fear that caused nausea. We experienced some financial hardships that required miraculous provision. And we had to pick ourselves up and dust ourselves off after falling flat on our faces a few times.

But those were the moments that I came alive. Those were the moments when God set the stage. Those were the moments that changed the trajectory of my life.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 62 )
Rating Distribution

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(38)

4 Star

(11)

3 Star

(9)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 62 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 11, 2007

    This is a MUST READ for spiritual wimps!

    Batterson puts life's challenges in perspective. He encourages self exploration through trust in God and ACTION on His principles. 'In A Pit With A Lion' is a summary of several self-help books, both Christian and secular. He incorporates the principles of Peale's 'Positive Thinking', Robbins' 'Awaken the Giant' and 'Unlimited Power', and King David's heart and spirit. A must read for one who needs the Spirit to blow out the spiritual dust of years of a broken mind or troubled heart. It has been a while since an author put me to tears. Batterson achieved it.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 18, 2012

    Outstanding Book

    Mark Batterson's In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day owes its title and central argument to Benaiah, an often overlooked person, mentioned in 2 Samuel. Benaiah, eschewing the normal response when coming face-to-face with a predator in the wild, chases a lion into a snowy pit and kills it. Eventually Benaiah would rise from lion chaser to David's bodyguard all the way to commander-in-chief of the armies of Israel. All because he was the kind of person who looked on adversities as opportunities Batterson postulates that God is calling us all to be lion chasers as well. For us to embrace our lion chasing skills, Batterson explores seven required skills: Overcoming adversity Unlearning fears Embracing uncertainty Calculating risks Seizing opportunities Defying Odds Looking foolish He mentions, several times, the importance of stepping out in faith. “Most of us want absolute certainty before we step out in faith. We love 100-percent money-back guarantees. But the problem with that is this: It takes faith out of the equation. There is no such thing as risk-free faith. And you can't experience success without risking failure.” I know I am guilty of second guessing myself and wanting to be 100% sure when I make a decision. It almost never comes to 100% certainty and I know I have missed out on a number of opportunities because I was unwilling to make the final leap of faith. This book challenges you to do just that, and does so in a very accessible and enthusiastic way. Lion chasers “recognize that the best you can do if you run away from a lion is break even. You might save your skin, but you won't have a lion skin hanging on your wall either.” What an outstanding read! FTC disclaimer: I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 17, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    What a great book!

    The title of the book caught my attention right away. It is inspiring as well as thought provoking. A lot of churches and pastors these days shy away from the Old Testament. I am so thankful that Mark Batterson chose to embrace this man's story and expound on how to apply it to our lives today.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 16, 2011

    Lion Chaser!

    Mark Batterson does an excellent job of being inspirational without being a cheerleader. This book is a perfect mixture of sound theological thought, biblical basis mixed with "ordinary" people that aspire to great things. I find his humor refreshing and necessary. Necessary because some of his insight is so deep it literally made my brain hurt.
    In a Pit focuses on a seldom used passage concerning one of David's might men named Benaiah and his chasing of a lion into a pit on a snowy day. One creature survives the tussle, of course being one Benaiah. While the thought of David's mighty men has been over played in conferences and by many a church leader, Batterson's treatment is refreshing. If you enjoy deep thinking written on an easy to digest level, this book is certainly for you. I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review. All opinions are my own.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 26, 2011

    Motivating!

    Awesome read! Encourages you to not only push beyond your limits but to pursue what appears to be unattainable. More specific-God size dreams/goals. Always aware that when you do, you set the stage for a miracle. For what is impossible with man is possible with God!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 23, 2014

    Inspirational and motivational, with a good kick-in-the-pants! M

    Inspirational and motivational, with a good kick-in-the-pants! Mark Batterson hits the nail on the head with this book - Christianity isn't about passive prayers on survival; it's about going after God's will and purpose for your life. Such a great reminder of God's power and our call to co-labor with Him. Easy and enjoyable read - I highly recommend.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 14, 2014

    Icekit

    The pure white kit loos at thunder with ice blue eyes. "Were am i?"

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 28, 2014

    Dash

    He looks at Red sadly. "They're all leaving. Do you think maybe we should too?"

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 16, 2014

    Mouse

    Mouse purrs contently and wraps her tail around his. (Thats okay, im gonna start looking for another place)

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 7, 2014

    Thunder

    "Um, h-hi. M-my name is Thunder," he stammered.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 8, 2014

    Red

    She nodded, touching her nose to Dash's ear. ~Red

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 13, 2014

    Poppy

    Jxjcfhhhvjs

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 20, 2014

    Thunder

    Mouse u der?

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 27, 2014

    Cometstorm

    Sucked in his breath

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 28, 2013

    worth 10 stars

    Read it and reread it

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  • Posted May 23, 2013

    I Also Recommend:

    An excellent book about how to get the most out of life - how to

    An excellent book about how to get the most out of life - how to really ignite your soul and live a spiritual life.

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  • Posted April 6, 2013

    In a Pit With a Lion on a Snowy Day ¿ Mark Batterson     It took

    In a Pit With a Lion on a Snowy Day – Mark Batterson
        It took me a long time to make it through this book – not because it wasn’t interesting – but because it was challenging and invited me to take risks and I wasn’t sure I wanted to do that.  Using the obscure story of King David’s friend Benaiah, who chased down and killed a lion in a pit, Batterson asks you to consider “What lion is God calling you to chase?”  This is not a book for those who want to stay in a comfortable bubble.  It is a book for those who want to be motivated to take risks for God and to answer his call.      “Points to Remember” at the end of each chapter, would make this well adaptable to a small group study for those who want to be challenged beyond the tamer stuff we typically use.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 21, 2012

    Wow!!

    This is a game changer type of book if you let it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 17, 2012

    Awsomeone

    Name......awsomeone..........awsumness level........100,000,000,000,000,000.........role........being awsum..........personality.......awsum..............loves to........be awsum

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 18, 2012

    To larkpaw

    Ceaderstar isnt here right now biut you can join at the firat result

    0 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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