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??

Pagan Christianity

paganchristianity“Pagan Christianity” by Frank Viola and George Barna is an interesting read. I read it a few months ago, and quite honestly, I’ve been wrestling with it ever since. I haven’t blogged or posted anything, ’cause I simply don’t know what to think.

The book is written to describe the origins of many of our church traditions. By the title, you’d accurately presume that most of our traditions are heavily influenced or even completely based upon Pagan practices. This is true. The authors make a strong case and truly have their “ducks in a row” in regards to documenting these things. Here’s the problem though – just because something has it’s origin outside of the church, doesn’t make it wrong or even unbiblical. For me, these ideas expressed in Pagan Christianity, have helped me to consider and think about what practices are truly “necessary” according to the Scriptures. Acts 2:42-47 describes the things the early church concerned themselves with:

Teaching/Learning, Fellowship, Breaking of the Bread, Prayer, Filled with awe by signs and wonders (by God), Shared with one another and took care of each other, were intentional about being together, Praised God

Now, somewhere along the road, the church became much more and people began to focus on other things. Some of those things have benefited the church over the years, but that doesn’t mean they are necessary. The message of the Gospel will never change, however, the methods must change with culture.

 


 

Below is a list of the origins of many of our quote/unquote “Christian” traditions as described in the book. The authors give much more detail and do a very thorough job, but this is just a basic list. There’s a lot here so you might just want to “skim” it.


1. The church building – was first constructed under Constantine in AD 327. They were patterned after Roman basilicas/Greek temples. Before that, Christians met in homes, community centers, and Jewish temples.

2. Sacred space – was a borrowed idea from pagans in the 2nd-3rd centuries. Burial places of martyrs was considered “sacred” and when churches were built above these cemeteries – they became “sacred” too. Sacred space for the Christian is everywhere since the Holy Spirit resides in us.

3. The Pastor’s chair – came from the cathedra, which was the Bishop’s chair or throne. It replaced the seat of the judge in the Roman basilica.

4. Tax-Exempt status – came in AD313 for clergy and 323 for churches with Constantine. Pagan priests had enjoyed this privilege prior to that.

5. Stained-Glass windows – were first introduced to the church between 1081-1151 AD.

6. Gothic Cathedrals – were built according to the philosophy of Plato in the 12th century.

7. Steeples – are rooted in ancient Babylonian and Egyptian architecture and were popularized in London around 1666.

8. Pulpits – came from the Greek “ambo” which was used to deliver monologues. They arrived in churches as early as AD 250.

9. Pews – evolved between 13-18th centuries in England. (Participants became spectators.)

10. Order of Worship – Evolved from Gregory’s Mass in the 6th century and revisions were made by Luther, Calvin, Methodists, etc. Early church meetings  were marked by spontaneity, freedom, every-member functioning, and open participation.

11. Centrality of the Sermon – Martin Luther in 1523.

12. Candles – were used in Roman ceremonial courts in the 4th century and made their way into the church at the same time.

13. Lord’s supper taken quarterly – was practiced first in the 16th century under Zwingly. He also introduced the communion table.

14. Congregation standing and sitting when clergy enters/exits – borrowed practice from Roman emperors in the 4th century – brought to church by John Calvin.

15. Somber attitudes – were practiced by John Calvin and Martin Bucer based upon the medieval view of piety.

16. Guilt/Condemnation for missing a Sunday – came with the 17th century New England Puritans.

17. Long Pastoral Prayer before the Sermon – 17th Century Puritans

18. Altar Calls – were instituted by 17th century Methodists and popularized by Charles Finney.

19. Church Bulletins (and written liturgy) – came to the church with Albert Blake Dick’s stencil duplicating machine in 1884.

20. Solo hymns, Door-to-door witnessing, and Evangelism Campaigns – were started with D.L. Moody (1837-1899)

21. Decision cards – were introduced by Absalom Earle and popularized by D.L. Moody.

22. Bowed heads, eyes closed, raise your hand to respond to the Gospel – was first done by Billy Graham in the 20th century.

23. Solo/Choral music during the Offering – 20th century Pentecostals.

24. Sermons – were borrowed from the Greek sophists. John Chrysostom and Augustine popularized the Greco-Roman homily and made it a central part of Christian churches.

25. Long sermons, notes, sermon outlines – 17th century Puritans

26. Pastors (as an office) – did not exist until Ignatius of Antioch in the early 2nd century. They didn’t prevail in most churches until the 3rd century.

27. The Clergy/Laity split – didn’t occur until 100AD with the writing of Clement of Rome. By the 3rd century, Christian leaders were universally called clergy. Prior to this, clergy and laity were equal in standing/reputation/etc.

28. Ordination – evolved between the 2nd and 4th centuries and was based upon the Roman custom of appointing men to civil office.

29. The title “Pastor” – wasn’t popular until the 18th century under the influence of Lutheran Pietists.

30. Wearing your “Sunday Best” – began in the late 18th century with the industrial revolution. The emerging middle class sought to be like their wealthy contemporaries.

31. Clergy attire – began in AD 330 and was based upon Roman officials garb.

32. The Clerical collar – was invented by Rev. Dr. Donald McLeod of Glasgow in 1865.

33. Choirs – were first introduced in the church in the 4th century as Christians copied the idea from Greek dramas and temples.

34. Boys choirs – were also borrowed from pagans in the 4th century.

35. Funeral processions and Orations – were borrowed from Greco-Roman paganism in the 3rd century.

36. Worship Team – was first used in Calvary Chapel in 1965 and was patterned after secular rock concerts.

37. Tithing – was not a widespread practice until the late 18th century. The tithe was taken from the 10 percent rent charge used in the Roman empire and then justified using the Old Testament.

38. Clergy salaries – were instituted by Constantine in the 4th century.

39. Collection plates – can be traced to the alms dishes of the 14th century. “Passing” the plate began in 1662.

40. Ushers – can be traced back to the 3rd century as a “church porter,” but truly began with Queen Elizabeth I (1533-1603)

41. Infant Baptism – was brought into the Christian faith in the late 2nd century due to the superstitious beliefs of teh Greco-Roman culture. By the 5th century, it replaced adult baptism.

42. Sprinkling replaced Immersion – began in the late Middle Ages in Western churches.

43. The “Sinner’s Prayer” – was first used by D.L. Moody and popularized by Billy Graham’s Peace with God tract and Campus Crusade’s Four Spiritual Laws.

44. The term “Personal Savior” – spawned in the mid-1800s by the Frontier-Revivalist influence and was popularized by Charles Fuller (1887-1968).

45. Lord’s Supper – was condensed from a full meal to just bread and a cup in the late 2nd century as a result of pagan ritual influences.

46. Sunday School – was created by Robert Raikes from Britain in 1780 in order to educate poor street children. They were not given religious instruction, but a basic education.

47. Youth Pastors – developed in urban churches in 1930s-40s as a result of seeking to meet the needs of a new sociological class called “teenagers.”

 


 

Now, that’s a lot to take in. Viola and Barna (the authors) are very intentional about saying that just because these traditions are not rooted in Scripture, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t practice them. For me at least, they do however, raise the question, “What are the practices which are necessary in our culture?” And what would a church look like if it focused only on those things deemed necessary? If a church wants to focus on “teaching/learning” as the Bible describes, what is the best way to do so? In years past, Sunday School was the answer, but what about today? What avenue is best in our culture?

What about a building? Could a church function and be healthy without a building? The answer is absolutely “Yes!” It did quite well without a building for it’s first 300 years. But in our culture, a building is just assumed. Could a church actually be more healthy without a building? What provisions would need to be made? What else would need to happen to function without a building?

Anyway, as you can see, these ideas and their implications are huge. I haven’t gotten it all processed out, and probably won’t for a while. I just wanted to share some of it here and see if you guys have other ideas or thoughts. Please respond. I’d love to know what everybody else thinks.

Baby Making

Lookin_at_daddyI listened to a sermon by Voddie Bachaum the other day and was struck by something he said. He explained that 75%-88% of American so-called Christian teenagers abandon their faith by the time they finish their first year of college. The average Christian parents in America have 2 children. This means that it takes 4 Christian adults to bring one successfully into the next generation. Which also means that (subtracting new conversions) Christianity is declining at a rate of 75%-88% in only one generation. Voddie continued his argument saying that Germany is already being called a Muslim nation by the Muslims because by birthrates alone it will be a Muslim country in just a few years. Evidently, the Muslim faith is doing much better than American Christianity in regards to how many children are being born and how many are adopting the faith of their parents.

Voddie, also reminded me of the Scriptures which describe children as a blessing and as arrows in a man’s quiver. It is through his children that a man can have the most impact on the world. Yet, most Christians believe that having 2 and at the most 3 children is plenty. The excuses they raise have to do with finances and the size of their houses and yet just a generation ago, our grandparents raised many more children in homes that most of us would consider too meager today.

Is it Biblical to choose material things over children? What would a family be like if they had to share more things in the home? Would our marriages be stronger if we made more babies? Would a more demanding home life provide the accountability and challenge that a father really needs to be the spiritual leader of his home? Could it be true that if we raised large families, they might be more healthy? What if we saw children as a blessing instead of a nuisance that has to be endured for 18 years? Would we have more children? Would Christianity look differently? When did the “perfect family” become the “perfect little family?” Could the church be revived if men and women went forth and multiplied? Leonard Sweet says that every cell in the human body recreates itself every 7 years and that when it stops recreating, it begins dying. What if the same is true of the Body of Christ? What if we were baby makers? Just some ideas I had after listening to Voddie. What do you think?