Blogging is a vulnerable act of radical writing. Never underestimate how terrifying it is to bare your soul for anyone who happens to put in the right search words to Google. This is one of those vulnerable posts where those of you who know me may snicker to yourselves and make some snide comments. Go ahead: I’m going to deserve it!
But I have also learned that stating something publicly is often the tipping point to dredging up the determination to follow through. So…
I finally figured out that I am happier when I am traveling, in some ways, because my world fits in my backpack and my suitcase. On rare trips there may be a tote bag. That’s it. No bookshelves, no clutter piles, not laundry piles, no corners in out-of-the-way rooms waiting for me, condemning me. It’s a lesson I had better take to heart. If there’s one thing I’ve learned its that God often speaks in those inner longings of your heart, the half-heard and half-feared whispers.
I need less stuff.
Other people need more stuff.
I need to spend more time and money helping the other people get the stuff they need just to live.
Another truth in establishing any new habit — and less stuff would truly be a new habit — is to smart with a small victory. I’m combining these two habits and blogging my first challenge. Hopefully in a few days I will also blog my first victory.
I will clean out my makeup drawer and reduce it to only what I usually shove in my travel bag for a longish trip. Then I will only replace those items (when they are used up), not add to their number.
That’s it. Nothing profound today, just a glimpse of where my life is.
Bonus: This is a quick post I found on how to actually clean out the makeup drawer. Why reinvent the wheel? http://www.luuux.com/node/2930066
What an amazing weekend!
Some of the details will have to wait for another post, but I was so privileged to go and tour a completed and running safe house for girls rescued from trafficking. It is the only Christian safe house in the state of Florida. And while I was humbled at the dedication it takes to run the house, I was also overwhelmed by its simplicity.
You see, this wasn’t a huge home. It was pretty average. And they didn’t have ten and twenty girls. They had two, with room for five. And these two houseparents were not specialists trained for trafficking. They were parents who answered the call to love on two girls in a radical, unconditional way. The overwhelming part was this: it was all so doable.
And yet there is only one Christian safe house in the state of Florida.
This has got to change, and you and I are the ones who have to change it.
Later in the weekend David and I were at a weekend retreat sponsored by the Luis Palau Association. If you don’t know who Luis Palau is, click this link or google his name. We heard so much over the course of the weekend that confirmed what God was saying. This is our job to do, and so we need to prepare.
Luis was speaking on Abraham and his willingness to sacrifice Isaac, his son. True worship, he said, involves sacrifice. We are called into the world to tell others that Jesus loves them more than they could imagine, more than they’ve been told. He loves them so much, that nothing they have done could keep him from heaping even more love on top of them. He loves.
But for someone to hear that message, others must sacrifice. As Luis said, “Someone must pay the price. Someone must sacrifice to do the work.”
My mind flashed to the safe house.
I don’t know what it is going to look like yet, but that someone is me. That someone is you. These girls need a place to heal and be restored.
This is our sacrifice.
I’ve noticed a spike in traffic to my book review of Radical, by David Platt. This makes me unbelievably happy, because it means that somewhere there are folks out there who are just discovering the journey to being a radical Christian, a Christian whose life is sold out for the kingdom.
So for those of you I thought it would be interesting to look back on my year post-Radical (the book, not the concept!) and see whether or not the book actually did impact my life like I thought it would. Here were David Platt’s goals for the one year challenge:
I know it is kind of skipping ahead, but do you want to hear the one year challenge?
- Pray for the entire world.
- Read through the entire Bible in one year.
- Sacrifice your money for a specific purpose.
- Spend your time in another context.
- Commit your life to multiplying community.
I looked at that list last year and quaked. I look at that list this year and quake. But not quite as much. So in the spirit of utter transparency, here’s how my year went in light of the one year challenge.
- Pray for the entire world. I’m tempted to say, “Yes, of course I did. Lord, heal the entire world.” But the kind of country by country praying that David Platt encourages fell by the wayside after about two weeks. Which, not coincidentally, is about the length of time most New Year’s resolutions last. What did remain for me, however, was a focus of praying for the countries with which I came in contact. When a piece of news hit the broadcasts, I would go to the Operation World website to read about that country’s challenges and pray for them. A friend has left to travel the world fighting human trafficking, and every country she goes to also gets researched. So bottom line on challenge number 1? I’d give myself a solid B-.
- Read the Bible through in one year. This challenge alone has changed my life. I found a daily reading plan online that separates the Bible into genre types (wisdom literature, history, prophecy, gospels etc.). Every day you read a different type of genre. By following the plan for a year I have, indeed, read the Bible in a year and am onto my next year. Now there may be a few dropped days, but most of the time I made those up. The day you read the Psalms is usually pretty light, so I used it for makeup days. Part way through through the year I began reading with my journal open and my ears more open than ever before. Transformational. Now, this reading is the first thing I do when I flop into my soft chair at Starbucks. In a way, God, is my morning coffee date! Bottom line on this one? A+.
- Sacrifice your money for a specific purpose. Sacrifice? Yes, we’ve intentionally denied ourselves some of what we would have previously spent, and have chosen to use it for kingdom purposes. But after a year, I can’t call it sacrifice anymore. It’s an amazing privilege. We have not narrowed our giving to a specific purpose, though I notice “themes” in our giving choices. There have been some other really cool decisions in light of radical generosity in our lives, too, but I’m not going to discuss them here. Bottom line? An A, but I have a huge desire for extra credit!
- Spend your time in another context. Nope. Failed. Some of my family succeeded in this one, but not me. With this one exception: I did choose to get out of my contexts in my own culture around town at times. Still, not enough. This needs to be a goal for next year. The best I can say is that Radical opened my eyes to my ethnocentricity (big word!) and to the fact that I have NOT gotten out of my home context in a very long time. Maybe that’s progress, but I still give myself an F.
- Commit your life to multiplying community. Multiplying community IS my life. It’s what I love to do. Over the course of the year David and I have noticed that one of our strengths seems to be connecting people, whether it’s across church campuses, across the community, our across the country. I expect to see more of that in the years to come as we personally transition from one phase of life to another. Bottom line? Let’s say a B+.
So how is that? There’s so much more that I would like to do, so many ways I let myself down this year. But many of those action points can be directly traced back to reading Radical. For one book (among so many that I read day in and day out!) to actually effect a change in my day to day habits is a stunning achievement. Even in the areas I’ve not done as well as I might, there is an awareness of a still, small voice reminding me that there is more to life than my day to day concerns.
Getting ready to read Radical? Go for it! Even the smallest changes you make in your Christian life will push you toward being a Radical. But there’s a warning: you will never shop the same, eat the same, read the same, watch tv the same, or even travel the same. Be ready for the adventure!
You and I can choose to continue with business as usual in the Christian life and in the church as a whole, enjoying success based on the standards defined by the culture around us. Or we can take an honest look at the Jesus of the Bible and dare to ask what the consequences might be if we really believed him and really obeyed him.
If Jesus is who he said he is, and if his promises are as rewarding as the Bible claims they are, then we may discover that satisfaction in our lives and success in the church are not found in what our culture deems most important, but in radical abandonment to Jesus.
Radical, by David Platt
There is a longing inside us — if we are honest — to discover that life is about more than it seems. I’m not willing to believe that life revolves around our next vacation, our next goal, the next business meeting. Are you? If you are about ready to go on a quest for that deeper meaning, then pause long enough to read the new book Radical, by David Platt. But be forewarned: it will mess with your mind and maybe even your life.
David gives us glimpses into people whose hearts and lives are sold out in radical devotion to Christ. Sometimes those people do crazy, counter-cultural things like living BELOW their income so they can give away more for the causes in the kingdom that stir their hearts and minds. Sometimes they actually sell it all and move. Sometimes — more often — they reorient their lives so that their values and their energy and their time all work toward the kingdom, rather than creating conflicting values in our day to day life. But it takes courage to step out of the rat race and choose a new path.
I could not help but think that somewhere along the way we had missed what is radical about our faith and replaced it with what is comfortable. We were settling for a Christianity that revolves around catering to ourselves when the central message of Christianity is actually about abandoning ourselves.
Abandoning ourselves is easier said than done. It costs to follow Christ the way he demands to be followed. Indeed, if you read the Bible carefully, he often tried to talk people out of following him! But the rewards for those who do…”We will discover that our meaning is found in community and our life is found in giving ourselves for the sake of others in the church, among the lost and among the poor.”
And that was only chapter one, folks.
Honestly, this book is not that long, but it reminded me that I am a member of the worldwide, global, historical church. It reminded me that there are billions (with a B) of people out there who have never heard the story of Christ and his amazing gift for us. It reminded me of the mystery and joy of a God who takes it all and gives back oh so much more!
Maybe this is why we fill our lives with the constant drivel of entertainment in this culture — and in the church. We are afraid that if we stop and really look at God in his Word, we might discover that he evokes greater awe and demands deeper worship than we are ready to give him.
David sums up his book with a radical one year experiment. He introduces it by saying this:
Real success is found in radical sacrifice. Ultimate satisfaction is found not in making much of ourselves but in making much of God. The purpose of our lives transcends the country and culture in which we live. Meaning is found in community, not individualism; joy is found in generosity, not materialism; and truth is found in Christ, not universalism. Ultimately, Jesus is a reward worth risking everything to know, experience, and enjoy.
I know it is kind of skipping ahead, but do you want to hear the one year challenge?
- Pray for the entire world. Get an aid such as OperationWorld and literally begin praying for everywhere around the world in this one year. You’ll be amazed, he says, at the way prayer opens our hearts and minds. Jesus asked his disciples to pray not for the poor and the sick, but for the people who would go to them. He wants us to pray for people to go to the countries you will learn about. Great family project.
- Read through the entire Bible in one year. “We have settled for far too long for “Bible lite,” both as individual Christians and in the community of faith. We have adopted a Christianity consumed with little devotional thoughts form God for the day…” Imagine the power of praying around the world and reading the Word for an entire year! Do you think you would be transformed at the end of that year?
- Sacrifice your money for a specific purpose. Pick a concrete project and devote every dollar you can to it for one year. Set a cap on your lifestyle for this one year and get involved with changing your world personally through your giving.
- Spend your time in another context. This is the one we’re all afraid of, isn’t it. Go. We have to change our context and go. He suggests that if we could just give 2% of our time (roughly one week) to changing our context and bringing the Gospel to the world, it would revolutionize the other 98% of our time.
- Commit your life to multiplying community. Find a place within your body of believers to make disciples and support each other. “If the radical, simple living we see Jesus talking about were more common in the church, it would be much easier for us to live simply as well…give liberally, go urgently and live dangerously together.”
That’s it and that’s enough. It’s more than enough! I have to be honest with you, I don’t know if I can live up to that one year commitment. But I’m pretty sure I’d like to try. In the best of all scenarios, David and I would find a group of others committed to making that hard climb. Seems easier to do together, doesn’t it?
Radical, by David Platt. Download it on your Kindle App and off you go. Let me know what you think!