Radical Chapter 9

This chapter is the practical finish to the book.  So you’ve read all these and ready to be radical?  These are David’s how-to’s called the Radical Experiment.  For one year:

1. Pray for the entire world – I need to get better at this.  I pray throughout the day but I really need to have a dedicated time of prayer and dedicate a portion of it to this.

2. Read through the entire word – I read the Bible in 90 Days nearly 2 years ago and still it is one of my favorite things I’ve ever done.  I want to do this again in the next year.  I think after I’m done judging for the INSPYs in the first of December that I’ll tackle this head-on.

3. Sacrifice your money for a specific purpose – Starting the envelope system was a big part of this one so I feel like we’re off to an excellent start.  I’m still stuck on which specific purpose to go at and so far have been spreading ourselves thin.  Really need to pray with Scott on what this is going to look like.  And I have to be honest, right now, Christmas is our specific purpose and that is certainly the opposite of what he meant.

4. Spend your time in another context – I have some thoughts on this that I’m still working through. I’ve rewritten this point several times and I just don’t feel peaceful about publishing it yet.  Just suffice it to say I’m definitely going to do this in some aspect.

5. Commit your life to multiplying community – Obviously we love our church and I love bringing new people to it.

Before I say what I’m going to say next, I want to say that this book truly did open my eyes to the American Dream mindset.  To really think about the world and not just “my corner” as TD Jakes would say.  I think long and hard before I spend money.  I can rarely buy anything without thinking about how many Africans would have water instead.  I haven’t quit thinking about going overseas in some capacity.  This book IS challenging.

BUT

I have to say when I got to this chapter, I was like, oh, that’s all I need to do?  I mean, after all the dramatics through the book it just seemed so…Sunday School answer.  I don’t mean to demean what he has to say but isn’t this basically saying go to church, pray, read your Bible and give your money and time?  I mean, that doesn’t sound that radical to me.  It sounds like every single Sunday School answer I’ve ever heard the last 30 years of my life. 

HOWEVER

The difference he’s asking us to actually DO IT.

We all (well, all us “churched folk”) have the Sunday School answer but so many of us never follow through. How many of us have actually read the entire Bible?  When’s the last time you went on a missions trip or even the local homeless shelter?  Do you give above your tithes or even your tithe?  Do any of us actually pray every day?  I’m not just asking you, I’m asking me too.  And a lot of the answers aren’t pretty. 

So as I finish out this book, I’m committing to these things.

For reals.

See more over at MarlaTaviano.com

Radical Chapter 8

There are only 2 chapters of Radical left.  And I can sum Chapter 8 up pretty fast. 

Everyone is scared to go overseas on mission and be killed.  But death is a reward, not a punishment.

I’m just going to go out on a limb here and say no one wants to be a missionary not because they don’t want to do the work or they don’t care about people who don’t know Christ but because no one wants to die.  I mean, isn’t that the assumption?  If God calls you to Africa or Asia you will eventually die an untimely death?  I’m not even trying to sugar coat that because it’s the truth.  Everyone gets scared when you start talking about going overseas.  There are planes to crash,  needles to run into, jails to sit in, hurricanes and earthquakes to survive.  I mean the list goes on and on.  So many reasons not to GO.

You know that song by MercyMe Bring the Rain? 

Bring me joy, bring me peace
Bring the chance to be free
Bring me anything that brings You glory
And I know there’ll be days
When this life brings me pain
But if that’s what it takes to praise You
Jesus, bring the rain

I have to admit.  I usually don’t sing that out loud.  Because really?  Do I want anything that brings Him glory?  I mean, seriously?  Am I ready to go on the front lines of unreached Indians and be cannibalized just for approaching like Jim Elliot?  I’m not going to lie, I don’t know if my battle with fear has gotten that far.

But Platt suggests if you’d just take your lens and zoom out just a bit you’d see that the stories after these untimely deaths weren’t so untimely after all.  God uses the pain and death to bring glory to Him.  The tribe that killed Jim Elliot was eventually won to Christ by his wife Elizabeth. And that’s the catch with Christianity.  It’s not about you.  It’s not about your pain.  It’s not about your death.  You have to have a kingdom mindset and care more about others than yourself.  And when you do, death can be a reward when it accomplishes His purpose.

But I’m going to be honest and say this chapter is a struggle for me.  Because I don’t worry about me in my death as much as I worry about those who love me.  My heart breaks when I think about my kids losing a mother.  Yeah, that’s tough to even type but that’s the truth.  But if God calls me to that end, He will take care of my girls.  I know that.  In my head at least.  Maybe not in my heart yet.

It’s at this point I kinda want to throw Radical in a closet and forget that I read Chapter 8.  You too?

See what others think over at Marla’s.

Radical Chapter 6

The title of Chapter 6 is How Much is Enough?: American Wealth and a World of Poverty.  Platt spends the chapter discussing the blind spot of materialism we have and how God wants us to open our blind eyes to the poverty of the world.  To put a name to a number and if required, sell all our possessions to give to them.  I have to be honest.  How Much is Enough is not a question that is prominent on my mind this week.  God is working through the “how much” with us.  He’s using a simple envelope system to show me just how much falls like sand through our fingers and has opened my eyes to just how much that could do to help those in need. 

No, the question I’m asking is Who Is Enough?

It’s easy to sell your possessions for the poor whose greatest choice in life is which item to pick out of a garbage can to eat.  It’s easy to hand money over to a clinic that’s going to help a pregnant girl who would otherwise abort.  It even makes me happy to sell a belt so people have clean water who otherwise might get cholera.  But let me tell you, when you’re asked to give money to someone who isn’t working their fair share or who you know will squander it, it’s not easy.  The cheerful giver is nowhere to be found in that moment.  So I ask God, are they enough?  Do they deserve my very hard-earned and saved money?  Do I give it when it hurts to take out of that envelope?  And I realize only in that moment is it a sacrifice.  The world may say it was unwise and 99% of me says it’s unwise.  But if I don’t give, children don’t have necessities and babies don’t have food.

I may be being vague and that’s on purpose but I’m just struggling through giving a little right now.  At times I feel unwise and foolish and even a little angry.  And I keep asking myself Who is Enough?

But who of us is enough?  Am I better just because I’m the one holding the money?  The money is not mine and if I truly believe that I have to extend it to where it’s needed no matter the cause.

I identify with the rich man from Platt’s church who was radically selling and donating many of his possessions who said,

“I wonder at some points if I’m being irresponsible or unwise.  But then I realize there is never going to come a day when I stand before God and he looks at me and says, ‘I wish you would have kept more for yourself.’ I’m confident that God will take care of me.”

And so I give out of obedience and love for Him.  And confident that if there’s justice to be executed, He will do it.

Radical Chapter 5

The concept in Chapter 5 that has stuck with me is this:

If we were left to ourselves with the task of taking the gospel to the world, we would immediately begin planning innovative strategies and plotting elaborate schemes.  We would organize conventions, develop programs, and create foundations.  We would get the biggest names to draw the biggest crowds to the biggest events.  We would start megachurches and host megaconferences.  We would do…well, we would do what we are doing today.

Er, 4 days ago, actually Pastor Platt.  Now I’m not knocking Catalyst.  Trust me, to experience what I experienced and come away with what I did, no one will ever convince me there is not worth in what they are doing.  But that’s what we jump to don’t we?  I mean, since leaving I think that’s what I’ve been trying to do…strategize and plot and organize and just…figure out a way to make a difference.  And not saying organizations are bad either.  But Jesus gave us this clear picture of going alongside just 12 guys and changing the world.

Even through Sisterhood of the Traveling Belt I’ve learned you just need a handful of people to make a difference. (over $1,000 raised!)   It doesn’t have to be complicated.  If you yourself can just use your own talents and gifts for him it’s enormous.  I just think so many people are stuck in trying to use their gifts and talents for themselves.  They’re still stuck in attaining that American Dream.  But if we we didn’t?  What if we banded together with our friends that had the same mindset and just WERE the church?  There are no limits.  I love David’s closing comments:

A community of Christians each multiplying the gospel by going, baptizing, and teaching in the contexts where they live every day.  Is anything else, according to the Bible, even considered a church?

Man, I pray that me and you and you(!) and(!) you (!) would come alongside each other and be the church together.  I don’t need to create anything brand new.  I just need to jump in where God is already moving.  I love what my friend Dani wrote today…she’s working on being more frugal because people even at her own home church are being turned away.  I’m learning there isn’t a magical formula for making a difference.  It’s just me using my passions and you using your passions and us doing that together to meet needs we already see.  I love what Christine Caine said at Catalyst.  She said the Samaritan in Luke 10:33 had compassion and then he went and bandaged his wounds.  The passerbys before had seen the man too but they did nothing.  Christine said compassion is only sympathy until we cross the road and do something about it.  Guys, I’ve seen.  If you’re reading this, you’ve seen some of the needs.  Are we going to be sympathetic or compassionate?  Jesus says in Luke 10:37 “Go and do likewise.”

Today I printed our Shoebox labels and had the kids watch a video on it (going alongside my family).  I also volunteered to man a Compassion table at a concert next week with my friend Becky (Attention locals: Jeremy Camp/Carlos Whittaker/John Mark McMillian in concert in FM next week!).  I’m not saying that to boast but to let you know I’m not just spouting this stuff out to you.  I’m challenging me too.  What if we did stuff like that every single day and not just once a year.  You know what I think? 

We just might end up being RADICAL.

Read more Radical Responses here.

Radical Chapter 4

  • Live right.
  • Gain favor and blessings.
  • Be happy.
  • Do good in God’s eyes so that he gives you a pat on the back by blessing you.  You, therefore, have a better, happier life.  Your emergency plan grows, your retirement grows, you get a nicer house, better clothes, etc, etc, until we are sated and happy.  That’s the American way right?  Even the American, even Christian American, way, right?  I’ve been guilty of thinking this way but I’m becoming more and more convinced we’ve got it wrong.

    I think the American way gets us all tripped up because we assume first of all that our blessings are contingent on our actions.  Look, I know a lot of people that are good, good people that have hurt really, really bad.  It’s not Biblical to say our actions determine our blessings.  I mean, I know there are natural consequences and all and God’s ways do keep us out of a lot of those.  Until they don’t.  Just take a look at Job if you want a Biblical example.

    Blessings come and they go.  I don’t know why He chooses to bless us sometimes and other times we are hurting more than we can bear.  But somehow we think our blessings are meant for us to make us happier.  Period.  But I think that’s just the tip of the iceberg.  The real blessing comes when we take that and then connect it to God’s purpose.  He wants to bless us so we give him all the glory and men may know him.  And in fact, it is in the hard times when he wants us to glorify him too.  I think the list should look more like:

    1. Accept pain and blessings
    2. Give God glory in all
    3. Others see God at work

    I love the closing paragraph of Chapter 4 which is part of an email from Jamie, a lady who had just returned from Guatemala:

    All my life I have completely disconnected God’s blessings from God’s purpose, and now I realize what I had never seen.  God has blessed me to show his love to Domingo.  God has blessed me to show his mercy and grace to children in Guatemala.  This is why God has given me income and education and resources.  God saves me so that the nations will know him.  He blesses me so that all the earth will see his glory!

    So the question of the day is how do we use our blessings…income, education and resources so that nations will know him?  Well, thankfully, we’re only on Chapter 4 and there is more to come!

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