Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Radical means…chapter 3

I got today’s topic from Maria’s blog. Over there you can read lots of different responses to chapter 3 of Radical. She posed the question…

How might we go about making much of our Father in this world?

In my world, one way I can “make much of my Father” is by the way I interact with and talk to people. That means strangers at the grocery store, the person who is checking groceries at WalMart, the girl who takes my blood pressure at the doctor’s office, my students, my neighbors, my family, Katie & Mary Margaret, Jay. My tone of voice should be loving to those I speak to, not demeaning.   I truly believe that the way I treat other people is a direct indication of Christ in me.

Sometimes, I do great with this with strangers and friends, and my family gets my left-overs. They should be getting my “first fruit.” I feel like these two girls are my first mission field. Am I “making much of my Father” when talking with, teaching them, living life before their eyes? Some days are better than others.

I just typed a sentence in the first paragraph that included “my neighbors.” I believe that “making much of my Father” means a little more than waving & an occasional chat by the fence. I have great intentions to do more, but so far, my intentions haven’t gotten me anywhere.

I can also “make much of my Father” by serving others, by having an attitude of service. That is no problem for me, if what is being asked of me is something I really don’t mind doing, if I can still be comfortable while doing it. However, if it involves getting sweaty, messy or stinky, I am the first to come up with an excuse as to why I can’t do it. If it might call for me to be inconvenienced, I want no part of it.

I could “make much of my Father” with my cash. Notice, I said “could.” This is hard for me! I want to use it for me, and for my benefit. It’s easy to tithe, because I never see or touch that money. When it is cash in my hand/purse, I want it all for ME. Saving to go to West Africa in May is a stretch for me. Bigtime.   (Not to mention getting sweaty, messy, etc. )

I have a feeling He is going to reveal to me more ways that I can “make much of my Father.” It truly is my desire to hang on for the ride, and be willing to do whatever He asks of me.

Maria also posed this question…

What would it take in your life to get you to a point where you’re really, truly dependent on God?

I’m still thinking on this one. I’d love to know your thoughts on this.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Radical means…week 2

Several things struck me when reading this chapter.

I, too, have been frustrated at times with the “feel good” message some seem to preach. I have left services thinking that the message that was spoken was true, about how much God loves me, and He won’t ever leave me. But I have also thought, my sins are wretched. My self-righteousness is life filthy rags to my Father. Why was that part left out? I also remember as a teenager, getting very frustrated with some adults that I had observed, and it seemed that they thought God owed them something because they had shown up at church on Sunday. I vented about it to my folks. Daddy just half way smiled, and raised his eyebrows, as if he knew something that I did not. He did. He knew a lot more. He knew that in my youth, things seemed so cut & dried to me, and that as I got older, things might get a little hazy. Now I see that, I, too, at times, have been guilty of that very thing, self-righteous attitude.

Quote from pg 28, 2nd paragraph, “we desperately need to explore how much of our understanding of the gospel is American and how much is biblical.” The last time I went on an overseas mission trip was in 2003, and I went to Honduras, and after seeing believers there living out their faith on a daily basis, I (somewhat) understand this statement. I was so disturbed/distressed (not sure of the right verb to use here) by their obvious faith & my seemingly lack of it, I talked with Dario (the Honduran pastor) and he said, basically, their faith is all they have. They cling to it, their faith is their lifeline. He said to me, “You have everything. You can live life on your own. You have no need for Christ.” and I even went on to think, “Well, do I really need Him? or do I only think I need Him when I am in a crisis?” I have to ask myself, do I practice an “American” version of the gospel, consumed with myself, and going through the motions of “religion?”

This was 7 years ago, and my walk with Christ is – I won’t say completely – but very different now. Even now, I like to think that I need Him, but really, do I? need Him every single day?

OK, back to Radical….quote from pg 41, last paragraph, “I invite you to receive it…a heart that is not only cleansed of sin but now longs for Him.” That is so where I want to be! to long for Him, for my strongest desire to be for Christ, to know Him, and be filled with Him, His Spirit & His love for others, instead of filled up with ME.

3 hours have passed since writing the above. There are two more points that I cannot stop thinking about. pg. 31 - 3rd paragraph, "The gospel confronts us with the hopelessness of our sinful condition." Two years ago in Bible study, my leader told us she had begun praying that God would reveal her sin to her. She told us that we had better not pray that until we were ready. to. deal. with our "stuff." A few months later, I began to pray about that & asked the Lord to "reveal it to me in small doses." Oh boy, was I in for it -- He began to reveal things to me like 1)unforgiveness & bitterness 2)control (wanting it, a lot more than I realized or wanted to admit) 3)pride - ironically, I had prided myself in the fact that pride was not something I really thought I struggled with. isn't that funny? and more issues to be covered another day. Reading this today has reminded me that I need to pick that prayer back up...and ask for more small doses.

Last thing - pg. 40, paragraph 1, "I pray that we will be a people who refuse to gorge our spiritual stomachs on the entertaining pleasures of this world, because we have chosen to find our satisfaction in the eternal treasure of His word." Entertaining pleasures of this world -- would that be books? movies? internet surfing? facebook? OUCH. those are my toes....

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Radical means…

ramblings & thoughts after chapter 1…

when I looked up the definition of the word radical, here is what i found:  “original;  extreme, esp. as regards change from accepted or traditional forms”

original – that struck me, because, well, isn’t Jesus The Original when it comes to the model for how we, as followers of Him, should live?

and then the next part…”extreme, esp. as regards change from accepted or traditional form” --- is the way I “do life” as a Christian based more on tradition than actually following Christ?

quote from pg 7, 2nd paragraph “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.”  That nailed me. I have just started to realize how much “being comfortable” affects so many of my daily choices.  I am just starting to see what high priority that is for me.  yikes! that is cold water in my face.

quote from pg 11, 5th paragraph “Yet the kind of abandonment Jesus asked of the rich young ruler is at the core of Jesus’ invitation throughout the gospels…Jesus was calling them to abandon their comforts, all that was familiar and natural to them.”  Do I want to have that heart? well, sure! do i, though, really?  “to abandon my comforts & all that is familiar & natural to me.”  I am sitting here trying to imagine what that would even look like for me.

last night, i asked jay what sort of things have run through his mind, possibilities of what Jesus might call us to do.  He said, giving away our savings, forsaking financial security.  then he asked me the same question, and I said, selling our house (aagh! are you kidding? this house we have worked so hard on & dearly love?) and moving to a smaller house in a “not so lovely” neighborhood, with the purpose of ministering to those who live around us.  jay then reminded me that we both know that God gave us this house, so maybe He is calling us to truly allow it to be used to minister to others in a way different than we may have previously considered -  being foster parents, or even adopting.  (can i just say here, that even typing these words makes my pulse go up? anxiety.)

so, as i was thinking about chapter 1, and conversation with jay, i also thought of a conversation i had with daddy over the weekend. he & mom have been at our house for a few days to visit.  when i asked him if he had heard of or read this book, i went & got it so he could see it.  he glanced at it, and then turned to me and said, “well, isn’t following Christ radical? isn’t that what He calls us to do? put aside ourselves & be filled up with Him?” 

when i think about it, my dad is one of the more radical followers of Christ that I know – in that he has stood by his convictions & not been conformed to the world around him.  for him, when he gave his heart to Christ, he truly gave His life to Him, gave up control.   and that is how he has lived since.

being obedient to Him, and going to West Africa this May is radical for me….how in the world can i think that i could follow Him to “abandoning my comforts & all that is familiar & natural” on a permanent basis?

please comment & tell me what you think.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Time marches on…

I have recently started following a new blog, thanks to Joy, who led me to it through http://boomama.net/.  Here’s the link if you want to have a look. http://www.marlataviano.com/family/stop-the-clock/  I have just joined her “online book study” of the book Radical by David Pratt, which we are about to go through at church.  There’s room for more! It’s not too late to join.

Anyway, In her latest post, she asked this question:

“In your current stage of life, do you find yourself wanting to stop the clock or fast forward a bit? And why?”

I was just talking with a friend about this the other day…so I posted a comment – I am usually a lurker, just read & never comment, but this time, I did, and here is what I wrote…

“I, too, want to STOP the time & just freeze everything. Our girls are 12 & 9 & I ab-so-lute-ly love it. We can play a game together, laugh at the same things (at ourselves - which I love seeing in my kids, that they CAN laugh at themselves, & we laugh at each other, too), and enjoy a (somewhat) meaningful conversation, we don't have to pack up the house to go on a trip - it's easier to be spontaneous now, we go & see movies together, like Toy Story 3 & each one of us enjoys it, and so important...we are all tall enough to ride all the rides!! (If the girls decided they actually liked roller coasters, this part would be even better, but we have hope that they will change their minds).  All 4 of us like to read, and sometimes I read aloud to the girls, but sometimes...I love these times...we all end up in the living room, each with a book.  love love love these times!

This was good food for thought. "

So now I would like to know…from both of you who read this, what about you? do you find yourself wanting to stop the clock or fast forward a bit? and why?