Sunday, August 15, 2010

Radical by David Platt

This book crossed my path several times before I read it. I don't believe it is coincidental that I finally read it after returning from ten days in Kenya. I was, and still am, in a place of trying to sort through the ever-widening gap between how I live and how the average Kenyan lives. In Radical, David Platt addresses a variety of challenges that face western Christians, if they are to journey toward becoming more obedient to the teachings of Christ found in the scriptures. The subtitle of Radical is "taking back your faith from the American dream." Radical is built upon Platt's observation that we, American Christians, have made Jesus into our own image and worship this Jesus that feeds and even approves of our material excesses and devotion to our entertainment, comfort, and conveniences. God's purposes are much greater than this.
I must admit that this book made me uncomfortable as Platt told of his experiences from around the world working with various churches. This book is not just a book of inspiring stories. Platt does an excellent job in pointing to scripture to back up the truths he is sharing. I am confident that my squirming as I read this book came from the conviction of the Holy Spirit in how I have ignored and completely disobeyed the teachings of Christ because they weren't in line with the kingdom I am building for myself.
Here is some chapter titles that will give you a taste of what you can expect from Radical: (1) Someone Worth Losing Everything For (2) The Great Why of God: God's Global Purpose (3) How Much is Enough: American wealth in a World of Poverty.
I was both encouraged and challenged by this book. Encouraged that there are people addressing these topics and taking them seriously and challenged that I haven't been one of those people but have a stirring desire to be counted among them.
In this post, I have included 2 videos for you to watch: a general book video and also one of David Platt himself talking about the book. I strongly recommend this book for all Christians to read. It is in an easy to read style, but the content will not be easy for anyone. I am working my way through it a second time.

David Platt has challenged his church in Alabama to what he calls The Radical Experiment (

Here are the five challenges included in the experiment:

In One Year:

  1. To pray for the entire world
  2. To read through the entire Bible
  3. To commit our lives to a multiplying community
  4. To sacrifice our money for a specific purpose
  5. To give our time in another context

Details of the above can be found in the "Overview" section of the Experiment website. If you are interested in being part of an "experimental group" at some point in the future, leave a comment on this posting and we can talk about it.

Blessings as you journey in a Radical life for for Jesus.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

The Boy Who Changed the World by Andy Andrews

Everything you do matters. This is the truth that Andy Andrews presents in his new children's book, The Boy Who Changed the World.

The story is about a boy named Norman that decides to change the world and as an adult does just that. However, the story is also about Henry, George, and Moses. You see, each of these people impacted another's life, and that person impacted another and so on. It's the butterfly effect, the name given to the principle that everything triggers an effect on something else . All of these people did something that led to Norman being able to change the world. This book is a wonderful tool to instill in children the truth that that they can make a difference in the world, even if that difference is several generations away. The things we do today impact the future. Nothing is insignificant. As you can imagine, this is a message not just for children. It is a message for grownups, too.

This book is great for kids of all ages with it's wonderful message and beautiful illustrations by Philip Hurst. All will enjoy this as we move toward doing our part in changing the world. It starts today. I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their Booksneeze books for bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16CFR, Part 255.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Two Books on Evangelism

Thousands of books have been written on evangelism, with some promising results from a particular technique or formula and others in total dependence on God's Spirit to lead. In this posting, I want to introduce you to 2 books on evangelism, both which are faithful to biblical truth regarding "going and making disciples of all nations" (Mt. 28:19).
The first book is Evangelism & the Sovereignty of God by J. I. Packer. In this small book, coming in at only 135 pages, Packer provides a sound, biblical response to the question 'If God is ultimately sovereign in the saving of men, then why is evangelism even necessary, since it is out of man's realm of power or control?'

Packer discusses human responsibility on the front end, then moves into a detailed discussion of what is meant by evangelism by looking at what it meant to the greatest evangelist of all time, the Apostle Paul. He summarizes the evangelistic message as a message about God, a message about sin, a message about Christ, and a summons to faith and repentance. But what about God's sovereignty? Packer makes it clear that God is the one who saves, but He has chosen to save by the Gospel and people must hear in order to respond, therefore or taking and preaching the message is a vital link in the process. It is not by us, it is through us. Packer speaks of the urgency of evangelism, because it enables the dead to hear and live. Because God is sovereign and we can be confident in it, Packer says we should be bold in sharing the Gospel; we should be patient, waiting for God to bring the harvest; and we should be prayerful, relying on God's power and sovereignty in all.

The second book is Marks of the Messenger by J. Mack Stiles. This is another excellent resource for anyone desiring to explore evangelism. Stiles, who lives in the Middle East, writes from the vantage point of a missionary so his book is packed with application stories and less scholarly than Packer's book. Like Packer, Stiles provides a description of the Gospel message because if the the message of the Gospel is not clear then the taking of the message to others is futile.
Stiles impacted me in his chapter entitled "On Your Guard." He says, "Losing the gospel doesn't happen all at once; it's much more like a four-generational the first, the gospel is accepted; in the the second, the gospel is assumed; in the third, the gospel is confused; in the fourth, the gospel is lost." In other words, if we assume people understand the Gospel and are genuinely saved, then the next generation will confuse the true message of the gospel, and the generation after that will have no real gospel left. In this, I saw the progression of the gospel in America.
The importance of our lives matching the message is a focal point of Stiles as well. He stresses that we should be doing good, but the goodness we do should never be divorced from the hope of sharing the gospel message. Our lives should be radical messages of Christ. So where does one start in having this kind of life?
I am not going to list them all here, but Stiles ends his book with "16 ways to demonstrate love and unity in the church and in so doing become a healthy evangelist" The first two are (1) Attend a church that takes the gospel seriously and (2) Become an actual member of a church.
I recommend both of these books to anyone wanting to explore evangelism more deeply. After reading these, you will equipped with a better understanding of the gospel message and the need for taking this message to the world,along with practical tips for living out the gospel in your day-to-day living.