Radical: Lessons from David Platt’s book

David Platt’s book “Radical” has been a great book for me! As Miranda and I have struggled this past year with our finances, (I’m still looking for a full-time job) we’ve learned much about what it means to trust in the LORD for our needs. We’ve learned new spending habits (well…non-spending habits). And we’ve both been feeling called to give more. It’s a crazy time to begin feeling this calling so strongly, ’cause it’s also the time where we’re pinching pennies more than ever before. This book has really pointed out some of the things we’ve already been learning and made the concepts much more concrete. Even in the midst of unemployment, we are choosing to work on some of these principles and to give in spite of our situation. After all, as Platt explains, “I don’t think God will ever say, ‘I wish you would have kept more for yourself.'” Anyway – pick up the book and read it. You won’t regret it. Well. . . maybe you will regret it temporarily as God interferes with your “American Dream,” but in eternity, you won’t regret any of it.

Here’s the video preview, and below it is a list of my favorite parts of the book.


My favorite parts of Radical:

Jesus’ spent his life with 12 guys. He ran people off who were “ready” to follow Him. When he finished His ministry there were only about 120 who were actually doing what He asked of them.

Luke 9 – Jesus turns 3 different people away saying, (1) “You’ll be homeless.” (2) “Let someone else bury your dad.” (3) “Don’t even say goodbye to your family.” – Jesus persuaded them NOT to follow him. David also tells a story about one of his mentors who began a talk saying, “My goal tonight is to talk you out of following Jesus.”

Quote: “The modern-day gospel says, ‘God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life. Therefore, follow these steps, and you can be saved.’ Meanwhile, the biblical gospel says, ‘You are an enemy of God, dead in your sin, and in your present state of rebellion, you are not even able to see that you need life, much less to ’cause yourself to come to life. Therefore, you are radically dependent on God to do something in your life that you could never do.”

Requirements for discipleship include: Hate father, mother, sister, and brother. Hate even your own life. Carry your cross and follow Jesus. Give up everything. Drop your nets, your careers, your families & friends. – Compare this to the modern: Admit, believe, confess, and pray a prayer after me.

Quote: “This is where we come face to face with a dangerous reality. We do have to give up everything to follow Jesus. We do have to love Him in a way that makes our closest relationships in this world look like hate. And it is entirely possible that He will tell us to sell everything we have and give it to the poor. . . . We rationalize these passages away. . . And this is where we need to pause. Because we are starting to redefine Christianity. . . We are molding Jesus into our image. He is beginning to look a lot like us. . . And the danger now is that when we gather in our church buildings to sing and lift up our hands in worship, we may not actually be worshiping the Jesus of the Bible. Instead we may be worshiping ourselves.

The cost of discipleship is high, but the cost of non-discipleship is even higher. “Consider the cost when Christians choose to ignore Jesus’ commands to sell their possessions and give to the poor and instead choose to spend their resources on better comforts, larger homes, nicer cars, and more stuff.” David tells a story of 2 headlines side by side: (1) “First Baptist Celebrates $23 Million Building” and (2) “Baptist Relief Helps Sudanese Refugees” ($5,000 – not even enough to get a plane into Sudan.)

Matthew 13 – Sell everything to purchase a the field with the treasure in it. No matter how crazy people think you are for selling all your stuff, you sell it anyway, ’cause you know about the treasure that awaits you in heaven.

God hates sinners. (Ps 5:5; John 3:36)

Story: Preaching Professor who takes students to graveyard and asks them to speak over the graves and call people from the ground to rise up and live. After some awkward moments, he reminds them that this is the exact thing God has called them to do – call the spiritually dead to life. Only God can do such a thing.

Quote: “God beckons storm clouds, and they come. He tells the wind to blow and the rain to fall, and they obey immediately. He speaks to the mountains, ‘You go there,’ and he says to the seas, ‘You stop here,’ and they do it. Everything in all creation responds in obedience to the Creator…until we get to you and me. We have the audacity to look God in the face and say, ‘No.’

When Jesus says in the Garden of Gethsemane, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me.” He is NOT speaking of the cross, but of the “Cup of wrath” (2nd Cup in the Passover). He is not fearful of the cross, but is sweating blood as He considers all of his own Father’s wrath, for all of mankind throughout the centuries being poured out upon him.

Story: Preacher describing the wrath of God in this way: Imagine your standing a mere 100 yards away from a dam which is 10,000 miles high and 10,000 miles wide. The dam breaks and the water rushes toward you. In the last moment, a hole opens up at your feet and swallows all the water. At the cross, Christ drank the ‘cup of wrath’ which was meant for us.

Quote: “Suddenly contemporary Christianity sales pitches don’t seem adequate anymore. Ask Jesus to come into your heart. Invite Jesus to come into your life. Pray this prayer, sign this card, walk down this aisle, and accept Jesus as your personal Savior. . . We have taken the infinitely glorious Son of God, who endured the infinitely terrible wrath of God and who now reigns as the infinitely worthy Lord of all, and we have reduced him to a poor, puny Savior who is just begging for us to accept him. Accept him? Do we really think Jesus needs our acceptance? Don’t we need him?”

Matthew 7:21-23 – Not everyone who says to me “Lord, Lord” will enter the kingdom of heaven. – Jesus was speaking to the religious people. Many people will be shocked.

The only proper response to the gospel is much deeper than a prayer, a “decision,” or an intellectual assent. It is a total surrender to an infinitely worthy Savior Jesus. “We are saved not just to be forgiven of our sins or to be assured of our eternity in heaven, but we are saved to know God.”

Quote: “Where in the Bible is missions ever identified as an optional program?” It’s for everyone. No one can say, “I’m not called to missions.”

We like to interpret Scriptures how they suit our own preferences. For example: When it comes to the responsibilities given to us in the Great Commission (Matthew 28), we say it’s just for the people who are “called,” but when Jesus offers to give rest to the weary and burdened (Matthew 11:28), we claim it’s for everyone. We like the “abundant life” verse (John 10:10) and claim it as our own, but write off Acts 1:8 (“you shall be witnesses”) as something only for those who are “called.” Or we rationalize it saying, “Well Jesus was only talking to the disciples.”

We should listen to Scripture in order to reproduce rather than just to receive. It’s the difference between watching a football game as a fan or watching like a coach watches – examining the opposing team’s formations and strategies so he can be better prepared to use what he learns when they play again.

Materialism is a blind spot in American Christianity, much like slavery was. Christians in the future will look back on our generations and probably be ashamed of our selfishness.

Wealth can be a barrier to God.

Story: John Wesley makes a purchase: [Wesley] had just finished buying some pictures for his room when one of the chambermaids came to his door. It was a winter day and he noticed that she had only a thin linen gown to wear for protection against the cold. He reached into his pocket to give her some money for a coat, and found that he had little left. It struck him that the LORD was not pleased with hos he had spent his money. He asked himself, “Will thy Master say, ‘Well done, good and faithful steward?’ Thou hast adorned thy walls with the money that might have screened this poor creature from the cold! O justice! O mercy! Are not these pictures the blood of this poor maid?

We should put a financial cap our lifestyles.

Quote: God won’t ever say, “I wish you would have kept more for yourself.”

Quote: “A radical lifestyle actually begins with an extraordinary commitment to ordinary practices. . .” (Prayer, Bible Reading, etc)

How we could start over and build our lives on the necessities rather than the luxuries? In America, we think things are necessities that others would consider luxuries.

Quote: “We can stand with the starving or with the overfed. We can identify with poor Lazarus on his way to heaven or with the rich man on his way to hell. We can embrace Jesus while we give away our wealth, or we can walk away from Jesus while we hoard our wealth.”

Quote: “Franklin Roosevelt was emphasizing how Americans will postpone immediate gratification and even endure hard sacrifices if they are convinced their future will be better than their past. Americans are willing to take great risks, he said, if they believe it will accomplish great reward.” I’m not sure this holds true anymore. Seems to me like Americans have a tendency to always go for immediate gratification.

We like to say that there’s no safer place to be than in the center of God’s will. What if God’s will was the most dangerous place to be? Would we still want to be in it??

Here’s another post which was inspired by this book: Troop Carrier or Luxury Liner?

Matthew 10 – God even takes care of the sparrows. Why wouldn’t He take care of us??

RePost: Tyranny of the Urgent

Creative Commons License photo credit: Pulpolux !!!On the rush to lunch+

I posted this one other time back in 2007, but was struggling with some of the same issues today. I thought it was worth reposting:

Charles E. Hummel writes, “We live in a constant tension between the urgent and the important.” He talks about a cottonmill manager who said, “Your greatest danger is letting the urgent things crowd out the important.”

These ideas describe my life perfectly. I can rush from one great ministry event to another without ever meeting with God. I can work my fingers to the bone serving God and never experience Him. I can get so busy with the work of God, that I don’t really ever “work.” (I’m of no use to God). We must be very careful about priorities. A leader must be intentional about deciding what things are important and he must devote time to those things even if other “good” or “urgent” things are put aside. The “good” can be the enemy of the “great.” What’s that old saying? “If the devil can’t tempt you, he’ll make you busy.” He’ll do whatever it takes to render the believer useless. If the leader doesn’t set his calendar, then the calendar will run his life for him. Each of us is gonna be held responsible for being the steward of our time so we can’t let our calendars run our lives – we’ve got to decide what’s important and what’s not.

Thanks to Mike Mathews, my father-in-law, I first learned of Hummel’s essay “Tyranny of the Urgent” quite a few years ago while doing a Bible Study called, “Growing Strong in God’s Family.” It was truly a life-changing article for me. You can check out the full article (only 4 pages) here: “Tyranny of the Urgent”

The Other Shore

When Edouard (tropical storm) came through Lake Jackson last week, Miranda and I left and went to her parent’s house in Pearland. We weren’t overly concerned, but didn’t want to risk anything since it was threatening to be a hurricane. Anyway, we packed a few things together and took the dogs with us too. On the way home, I was thinking about a song by David Wilcox called “Farthest Shore.” The lyrics talk about he and his wife going swimming in a mountain lake. They say,

“We dove right in, keeping just what we were born with, our memories, knowledge and our dreams.
As I swam away from our possessions, I imagined they were gone forevermore,
and for once, I was glad that all I treasured, would still be with me, as I reached the other shore.
Let me dive into the water, leave behind all that I’ve worked for, except what I remember and believe.
And when I stand on the farthest shore, I will have all I need.”

Anyway, I was glad that night too ’cause everything that I treasured most was right there with me in the car. Miranda made a great point too when I told what I was thinkin’ about – she was happy that the things we cared about weren’t things at all – it’s nice to know that our stuff doesn’t control us and that we’d still be happy without it all.

I guess ultimately, what I realized is that God is enough. It’s nice to know that we could pack everything important in a car ’cause that says something about our priorities. Of course, Job went through the real test  – even losing the people who would have been in his car.  Not sure how I’d handle that one – but you know, one step at a time. This was a significant step for me.

Lord, thank you. Thank you for showing this to me. Thank you for the freedom that comes in knowing this. Make me more like You. Help me to treasure the things that You treasure. I know that there will be a day that I come to a new shore and as long as You’re there, I know it’s gonna be great. AMEN!

PS – Mom, I hate to say it, I would have lost all the family pictures you gave me. I’m hoping to get them all scanned into the computer later this month. Maybe after I graduate.

Conflict & Reconciliation

ConflictMatthew 18:15-20 – If someone sins against you, then you are responsible for going to them to explain how they’ve hurt you and seek reconciliation.

Matthew 5:23 – If you have sinned against someone, then you are responsible for going to them seeking reconciliation.

I can’t help but notice that we are personally responsible for all of our relationships – even if someone has wronged us. No matter who has sinned – we are personally responsible. If we as Christians would practice this, we’d have both parties coming to each other simultaneously seeking reconciliation. Does that ever happen? I’d say it’s pretty rare – most of the time at least one of the parties wants to hold a grudge or be bitter about it all. Have you ever heard anyone say that so and so didn’t handle this or that biblically ’cause they didn’t come to me about it. According to these Scriptures, the person saying that is just as much in the wrong. The one instance I’m not sure about is this – what if you know someone has a problem with you – there is broken relationship, and they are accusing you falsely. If they don’t come to us (which doesn’t happen very often) then are we responsible to go to them? When we haven’t sinned?

Romans 14 talks about this stuff too. Verse 13 says, “Don’t put any stumbling block in your brothers way.” It’s critical to realize that this is talking about “stumbling” in regards to their relationship with Christ. It doesn’t apply to someone being offended that you wore jeans to church. In issues of preference, we are to accept one another without passing judgment (14:1) and yet still lovingly defend our own position (14:16) – always remembering to “make every effort to do what leads to peace.” (14:19)

It’s interesting to me that we are each responsible for maintaining good relationships in regards to sin and hurting one another (which has to do with division in the body), but in other areas we are instructed to live lovingly an humbly in  the tension of different viewpoints and preferences. It makes complete sense really – it’s all about priorities and keeping the main thing the main thing.

Rock Band Priorities

RockI saw a man carrying a “Rock Band” video game box in a stroller today. It wasn’t a big deal, but his wife was carrying their baby in her arms. I’m sure he’s a good dad, and I’m sure it was just more practical since the game box was heavier than the baby, but it just struck me funny. It just didn’t seem right. I’m sure someone else will watch me one day doing something similar with Kasen and they’ll question my intentions too. I’m just wondering when that will be? Has it already happened? What kinds of things do I do that people watch and make judgments about? Do they judge me in this sort of way, or do they see Jesus in some way? I wonder if someone was watching me watching him? What would they have thought if they could have read my mind?

Man God, I need you. I’m pretty messed up. Help me become who You want me to be.

A “B”

I love my school! It has been a huge change for me over the past year to get into all these new habits of studying for school in addition to all my normal studies for my job and teaching and all, but it’s been good. I feel like I’m learning how to think again. I’ve really been challenged both in my thinking/theology and in my scheduling/priorities.

This week for example has been really crazy. I just left La Porte FUMC this morning at 6am so I could come to class today. I normally attend the evening class, but this week is UM ARMY week and so I’ve got other commitments (I’m leading worship and doing programs) tonight and decided to come to the morning class. Anyway, this is also the last week of class this time around (Acts and Paul’s Epistles), which means that all our homework and stuff is due next week. Up until this summer, I had straight “A’s” for all my classes, but I took my first “B” last time ’cause I just didn’t have time (because of my summer schedule) to finish all the work.

It appears that this class is gonna be the same. I could probably really push forward and get the “A”, but I also have a life outside of school (Remember, Miranda is pregnant) and so I’m just gonna have to settle for the “B” again this time. I love all this stuff, and it’s really good for me, but my bride and having some time with her has simply got to be my first priority – besides, a “B” is still a good grade. I’m really hoping that once the summer is over, I can get into a more regular routine again and get back to the “A’s” I used to get.

Theology 3330 – pt 01 and 02

06-10-17Pt 01
Check out this picture of me as a little kid. I couldn’t get out of that bucket without knocking it over and crawling out. I had gotten in a little too deep for my own good. (I’m not even sure how I got in there. – Probably, with a little help from my Dad. – By the way Lord, is that what You do with us? Encourage and help us get into places where we’re gonna have to learn to rely and trust in You to help us out?)

Hmm. . . That’s about how I’m feeling today about school. I guess I’m a bit overwhelmed. I feel like I’ve got lots of homework to do and not a lot of time to get it all done. If I were a full-time student, it wouldn’t be a problem, but since I have a full-time job as a youth minister and also volunteer as a worship leader. . . .there’s just not lots of extra time in my life. I especially want to protect my marriage. It’s important that I’m involved in these things, but even more important that I’m involved and connected with my beautiful bride. Last night, she watched some TV (one of her favorite shows – Studio 60) and I would normally have snuggled and watched with her, but I had to work on my homework. It’s only one night, but when you multiply this out over time, it all adds up pretty quickly. I don’t ever want my bride to feel neglected, and she’s a “quality time” girl when it comes to her love language. If it comes down to choosing between my wife and this class, there really is no choice at all – I will choose my wife. I just hope it doesn’t come to that.

Prayer:

Lord, help me to be diligent in my relationship with You and my wife. Show me how to balance my time so that I can accomplish everything that You’ve called me to. Anytime something changes in my schedule, I’ve had to rework all this out, and You’ve been faithful in the past with these kinds of things. I’m trusting in You to show me how it can be done this time too. Lord, You really are so very good to me – even the opportunity to be able to take part in each of these things is a testimony to Your goodness. Lord, give me a grateful heart, instead of this negative, I-can’t-do-it-all attitude that I’ve been feeling lately. The truth is that by Your Spirit, I can do everything You’ve called me to, and I should be grateful that You’ve called me to so many things – Thank You for inviting me to be a part of Your work in all these areas.

Lord, I also ask for you to guide me in my relationship with Miranda. Let me cherish every moment I have with her, and teach us how to live together with these new schedules of ours. Bless her in her ministry at SLP, and use her to build bridges between the school and the church. AMEN!

Pt 02
OK – so my new school (College for Biblical Studies) is requiring me to keep a journal. I haven’t been faithful at keeping one daily for a few years, but I do enjoy it when I have done it. I’m not sure how often they really want me to write or even the topic they’d like me to write about so I’m just gonna put my thoughts about class down here until they tell me otherwise. I’ll be in class tomorrow, so maybe I’ll get more details then.

06-10-16 01My first class is Theology 3330. We’re supposed to read a book called “Major Bible Themes” by Lewis Sperry Chafer and answer a bunch of questions and also write a book review on another book – “Dispensationalism” by Charles Ryrie. I haven’t begun 06-10-16 02“Dispensationalism” yet, but my friend Hans (who is attending DTS in Dallas) says it’s a great book and that Ryrie is an incredible theologian. I’ve focused this first week on getting back into the habit of doing homework and answering the questions from the other book. So far I’ve finished the first 10 chapters and here’s what I’m thinking:

I don’t feel like I’ve really “learned” any new concepts. By reading this book, I feel like I’m learning some new language and terminology to speak about these concepts. Anyway, I must admit I’m a little disappointed. It’s probably good to know these terms, but the truth is that I don’t wanna be the guy who speaks over everyone’s head. I want to be able to explain these same concepts with regular language. I’m also disappointed because I’m really hungry to learn right now, but I’m not learning any new concepts. Of course, my prayer is that there is more to come, and I do feel confident that we’re just kind of laying a foundation for deeper things.

Click

06-06-29Miranda and I saw the movie “Click” the other day. It was not as funny as I thought – more serious – of course anything with Adam Sandler has some funny stuff too. Anyway, it was a better movie than I expected. Makes you really think about how even the small, boring, or “not fun” things in life are important. Made me think about treasuring every moment I have in life. Even the parts I hate – like watching “So You think You can Dance” with Miranda.

I Wanna Be a Chimp

06-02-22 01I guess Justin’s a cow so I decided to join in on the fun – no – here’s an article I found that really spoke to me about how I treat Miranda – well, how I treat most other people too. I get way too interested in accomplishing my task and don’t pay enough attention to the people I’m with. Jesus always focused on people. Women and even chimps are better at this than I am.  (By the way Baby, I’m sorry for the times I’ve paid too much attention to getting stuff done, when I should have just wanted “to be with you.”)

Here’s the article:


Men, Women, Chimps, and Scientists by Dave Brisbin

Women and their men. I see them all the time. Airport terminals are a good place to watch. The roles, the emotions, the language is universal.

I see a young couple from the moving sidewalk coming toward me hand in hand. One of them has just arrived. I can’t tell which; the small case he carries is non-descript. They talk. She is smiling. Looks up at his eyes, back forward again. Up. Back. So much is said with her eyes. I can only imagine. I watch him. He is talking, but looks forward; she alternately at him and back ahead. What I see in her eyes he hasn’t seen as long as I watch.

 

They pass, and I watch their backs. I see her profile tilted up to his face, but only the back of his head—minding the tiller. I’ve seen this before. Why is it so much easier for women to know where to look? Where to keep their eyes? Moving through their lives with their eyes fastened to the sides, on the eyes of those who travel with them—their men more intent on destination, the negotiation of the journey. And how do women keep that look in their eyes as they search up into the profiles of their men?

 

06-02-22 02Last Wednesday night we got a video of scientists trying to teach human language to apes and dolphins . . . . . a segment stays in my mind. One man, a very famous scientist, spent three years raising an infant chimp and trying to teach him sign language. He named the chimp Nim. Nim did very well. Learned several hundred signs. But funding ran out, the project was disbanded, and Nim went to a zoo or something like it. After reviewing hundreds of video tapes of his sessions with Nim, the scientist concluded that Nim was only imitating his teachers and hadn’t really learned anything. Put a big dent in the chimp-teaching business for awhile.

Several years later the scientist went to see Nim. Hadn’t seen him since funding ran out on the project. In clinical voice over, he wondered if Nim would remember him. The video camera caught Nim walking with a trainer just as he caught sight of the scientist. Immediately chimp screeches filled the TV speaker at the rate of about three per second as Nim threw up his arms and sprinted, as well as chimps can in their loping way, for the scientist who got down on his haunches and braced for impact.

Nim leapt into the scientist’s lap and threw his arms around his neck. Chimp arms being what they are, they almost went around twice. All this time and for as long as the camera held on Nim and the scientist, chimp screeches never stopped or even slowed down, chimp teeth big and bright as the scene cut.

And I kept hearing those screeches, and I laughed and smiled and my eyes stung a little all at the same time because the scientist thought that Nim learned nothing, and Nim thought that the scientist was his father, or brother at least. Because the scientist was looking ahead at where he was going. Nim was looking at him.

I’d rather be a chimp than a scientist.

 

I’d rather be a young woman watching her man’s profile than a young man watching the road.

 


How weird is that? We get so caught up in getting everything done and even a monkey knows the most important thing in life is our relationships. I wonder how many times I’ve broken God’s heart by worrying about “getting things done” when he just wants me to “be with Him?” I wonder how many times I’ve done that to Miranda?