Bible Gateway interviewed Jack Alexander (@TheReimagineGrp) about his book, The God Guarantee: Finding Freedom from the Fear of Not Having Enough (Baker Books, 2017).
What is a scarcity mentality? How do people unintentionally develop that kind of mindset?
Jack Alexander: Most of us experience some form of scarcity from a young age—whether a lack of love, emotional support, or actual resources. This can easily become the lens through which we view life, yet it radically conflicts with a God who wants to be our Father and Provider. Brene Brown goes so far as to say “not enough” is the post-traumatic stress disorder of our world.
So, there is, in effect, a collision of values, prompting questions of, “Does God play favorites, or “Is he simply not powerful enough to provide bountifully for all?” These questions must be answered to have a healthy relationship with God.
What are the lessons you write about from the story of Jesus feeding the 5,000?
Jack Alexander: In The God Guarantee, I go through a 4-step “pattern of provision” that God disclosed five times in Scripture. Each time, he provided in different ways: practically, spiritually, and relationally. This pattern is rooted in relationship with him and each other.
One of the five examples of this “pattern of provision” is in the feeding of the 5,000 (Matthew 14:13-21; Mark 6:30-44; Luke 9:10-17; John 6:1-15) when Jesus took a boy’s small lunch—a few loaves of bread and fish—and fed a crowd estimated to be 15,000 (5,000 was just the number of men). We see that he did four things with this lunch:
- He took it and looked to heaven
- He blessed it
- He broke it
- He gave it
Walter Brueggemann calls these “the four sacramental verbs” of our existence. So, there’s a transcendent quality to them. In the book, I convert them to four concepts: capacity, consecration, challenges, and community. Then, I practically cover how we can live in this rhythm that God created in order to understand how he will, and does, provide.
What is God’s rhythm of provision?
Jack Alexander: We all know relationships develop patterns, some of which are healthy, and some are not. If I give my wife a list of ten things she must do every week to prove that she loves me, then I’m setting the stage for discord. Or, if every Sunday night I ask her about her schedule and how I can be involved in the next week, there’s a totally different result.
Throughout the Bible, God shows us a pattern where he draws near to us and desires that we draw near to him. James 4:8 says to “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.” 2 Chronicles 16:9 says, “for the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth that he may strongly support those whose heart is completely his.” Hebrews 11:6 tells us “that God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek him.”
So, this 4-step pattern that God gives us tells us that:
- Capacity: God created everything and everyone as “more” than what we think. Who would think that viper venom could be used to treat high blood pressure?
- Consecration: God wants to be close to us as we invite Him into the details of our lives.
- Challenges: God wants to meet us in our challenges to reveal new aspects of His character and provision.
- Community: As we lean into community and learn to “orbit” around others, we experience God’s provision.
All relationships develop a positive, life-giving pattern or a negative pattern. Our relationship with God is no different. Our provision changes as we walk with him and engage with him.
How does your book differ from the “prosperity gospel”?
Jack Alexander: Simply put, the prosperity gospel is based on the premise that you access God’s promises through positive confession (naming the promise) and expecting God to “orbit” around you and your needs to fulfill that promise (claiming the promise). It reduces God to a simple “name it and claim it” theology.
However, the biblical pattern of provision that God outlines is a dynamic journey of faith. Can we believe that everything that God created is more than we can imagine? Does inviting him in to the details of our lives, including our weaknesses, make a difference? Can challenges really work for our good and for the kingdom? Is leaning into community worthwhile or safe?
Saying “yes” to God in each of these steps triggers intimacy and provision from him. It’s a battle as we have an enemy who loves our “no’s” and desires our despair.
Explain your chapter, “The Wilderness and the Marketplace.”
Jack Alexander: We all have worldviews that deeply inform how we operate. One that I developed through a variety of difficult circumstances in my adolescence involved a distrust of environments where I had no measure of control. Therefore, the “wilderness” of loneliness and loss was to be avoided at all costs. The “marketplace,” however, represented an area that I could view rationally and orderly—especially as my career took off. It was far better than the hated wilderness!
I’ve come to see how that initial perception of the wilderness kept me, for years, from experiencing deep times of retreat with the Lord. We see that the wilderness is the first place Jesus is brought after his commissioning at baptism (Matthew 4:1-11; Mark 1:9-13; Luke 4:1-13). It’s there that Satan battled with him over his identity, over the Father’s ability to provide for him, and over his willingness to surrender to God’s plan instead of his own. It was in the wilderness that Jesus’ resolve was tested and he was prepared for ministry.
As I reflect on my own life, I’ve experienced God’s healing in profound ways as I have increasingly embraced those desolate places—when I’ve been willing to retreat out to a place that I cannot control. And, as I’ve entered the wildernesses of others, I’ve seen God do a deeper healing work in both my life and the life of others. I call this “making friends with the wilderness.”
What is a vision of capacity and how can having such a vision help transform a person?
Jack Alexander: A vision of capacity begins with the knowledge that everything and everyone is more than you realize.
Who would think sea urchins could be used to formulate new responses to Alzhiemer’s disease or cancer? Or that aspirin would come from the bark of a willow tree? Or, what about the night sky? The new James Webb telescope reports that there are billions of galaxies. We even see this propensity for seeing more in the television we watch. Many people love shows that involve “makeovers” of some kind—whether homes, or taking junk & transforming it into something beautiful, or even programs where obese people lose weight. We love to see what something or someone can become. In The God Guarantee, I ask the question, “what can you become?”
God is a God of more. Potential is about what I can become, in my own strength and on my own accord. Capacity is about God doing something special in his kingdom through me. Joni Eareckson Tada might not have realized her individual potential, but think of the capacity she created within the kingdom. Capacity is like having a new set of eyes, that allows you to see beyond the here and now.
Why is community an important part of understanding God’s provision?
Jack Alexander: Our provision almost always comes through others and, oftentimes, unexpectedly. Just as the Devil tells us that planting seeds will put as at greater risk, he loves to have us think that we’re better off alone. We’re meant to be interdependent, to function as one body. It’s how God created us. Yet, mankind is always attempting to redesign God’s ways and plans. When we exist in a psuedo-state of community, where we busily project an image of ourselves that we want others to believe, we miss out on the myriad of ways that God wants to move through others to care and provide for us.
What is a favorite Bible passage of yours and why?
Jack Alexander: I love the Abrahamic Covenant that is laid out in Genesis 12:
And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Gen. 12:2-3).
God repeatedly says I will. It’s emphatic; loving; eager. God’s excited about this covenant, even though he surely knows that he’ll be far more faithful to us than we will be with him. We should be equally excited. After all, it’s the perfect deal for us. He has our backs, God says. He’ll bless those who bless us, and curse those who curse us. Moreover, God wants us to “bless all the peoples on earth.” How beautiful is that?
But that very section of the covenant—where it talks about us blessing the world—is also a condition. A catch. As much as God promises to bless us, so we must return the favor and promise to bless others. It’s so important that God says it twice: You will be a blessing. And all the peoples on earth will be blessed through you.
That’s our role in this strange, wonderful relationship with God. If he gives to us, and we don’t pass it on, the blessing stops. He desires us and his plan is that he will bless the whole earth through us: his people!
What are your thoughts about Bible Gateway and the Bible Gateway App?
Jack Alexander: I love Bible Gateway. It’s a gift to those who love God’s Word. I use it regularly in my personal devotions. Thank you!
Is there anything else you’d like to say?
Jack Alexander: I believe that scarcity thinking, rooted in fear, breaks the heart of God. He wants so much for us, both in relationship with him and with one another. It’s easy for our relationships to more closely resemble transactions, especially in a society that moves at such a quick pace. This can present a false sense of security; all the while drawing us away from the dynamic rhythm of relationship that the God of the universe desires with each of us. I hope The God Guarantee can be a source of encouragement to draw near to the heart of God and experience the richness that comes with participating in his intimate pattern of provision.
Bio: Jack Alexander has built and led companies in real estate, business services, and technology. Two companies that he cofounded made the Inc. 500 list, and another, in which he is a partner, made the Inc. 5000 list. He is currently chairman and cofounder of a software firm called Understory, as well as for The Reimagine Group, a content company that makes high-quality media for the church market. A previous recipient of the Ernst & Young National Entrepreneur of the Year award, Alexander is also winner of six global awards in the corporate travel and hospitality arena. In 2005, he received the Family Honors Award as a businessman who made a positive impact on the American family. He is a regular speaker, coach, and board member for a number of businesses, nonprofits, and ministries. Jack lives in Atlanta, Georgia, with his wife, Lisa. They have three grown sons and three grandsons.
The best value in digital Bible study is Bible Gateway Plus! Get biblically wise and spiritually fit!