I was asked to review the book, “Radical,” by David Platt on my blog.  I had heard that it was a very challenging and thought provoking book and that proved true.  The very subtitle of the book, “Taking Back Your Faith From The American Dream,” suggests that the American Dream has taken my faith.  As I read the book, I realized that in some ways, I had come to desire the American Dream more than I had desired to really follow Jesus.

Platt says, “We are giving in to the dangerous temptation to take the Jesus of the Bible and twist him into a version of Jesus we are more comfortable with”

For many Americans, Christianity is great as long as we can conform it into our own image of what it should be and make it fit into our lives.  The call of Christ, however, is a call to reshape our lives into what He calls us to be and live.  Some may call living the way the Bible tells us to live “radical”.  By today’s standards, living for Christ may be quite radical from what we see in most who claim to know Christ here in America.

Without admitting it, when we approach Jesus we often come with an attitude like, “Tell me what you have to say and then I’ll decide whether or not I like it.”  If we approach Jesus in that way, we will never hear him.  We need to approach Jesus saying “yes Lord” before we even know what it is that He wants from us.  Does that mean selling all we have and giving the money to the poor or going to Africa to serve in an orphanage?  It means saying “yes” no matter what he is telling us to do, even before He tells.

Sometimes we forget that He is Lord as we read Him our list of requests and go merrily on our way.  Truth is, He is the Master. We’re not.  Yes, he wants us to come to Him when we hurt, when we are in need, and when we need healing, but He wants us to come to him as Lord with thankful hearts,  He wants us to be willing to listen to Him and obey.  He wants us in the Bible so that He can speak to us and lead us.  We aren’t leading Him.  We’re supposed to let Him lead us.  It’s easy to forget.

Platt is pretty hard on the American Dream.  He reminds us that Jesus said, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will also be.”  When we neglect the poor it shows where our hearts really are.  We are put here for a purpose and it is only for a small amount of time in light of eternity.  Let’s not live like this is the final destination.  It’s just a short “blip” on the map.  Let’s rearrange our lives or whatever He leads us to do to live a “radical” life for Him and not for ourselves.

Question:  What are your thoughts?

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Is Your Life Stagnant?

June 23, 2011

I love being in the mountains and seeing a brook or stream flowing from the top of the mountain and sitting there reading my Bible or just thinking.  There is a sense of God’s presence there to me as I watch the water flow over the rocks and down the stream.

Normal people, however,  don’t see a pool of stagnant water and feel refreshed.  In fact, I think about the opposite when my nose catches a good whif.  It makes me want to see my lunch again.  The smell is enough to make a weak stomach gag.

Webster defines “stagnant” as “not flowing in a current or stream.”  Stagnant water stinks.   When it stops flowing, the life seems to go out of it.

God hasn’t designed us to be stagnant either.  The Bible says that the lukewarm life makes God gag too. God’s mercies are “new every morning.”  (Lam. 3:19-23)  He isn’t a God that you can be in a close relationship with and feel stagnant.  He is always at work around us.  If we aren’t involved in His work and seeing it on a daily basis, it’s our own fault.  When we seek Him we’ll find Him.  When we’re too busy, we don’t take the time to look.

That’s why we always talk about taking your next step at MJLifeChurch.  We believe that no matter where you are in your walk with Christ, there is always a “Next Step” to take because God is always at work and He is inviting us to be involved with Him.

As amazing as it is to me that God is inviting us to be involved with Him in His work, perhaps even more amazing to me is that we often ignore that invitation because we get ourselves too busy.  If you’re too busy to help your neighbor, take food to a sick person, or invest some time in your church, then you’re too busy.  Even though you always seem to be moving and going, you have become stagnant in your spiritual life. …the only part of your life that really matters because EVERYTHING is tied to the spiritual.

How do you break out of the stagnant life?  Decide to make your spiritual walk the most important part of your life.  Sometimes we have to give up some things that we love for some things that we love even more.  God should have the first spot in your life.  Everything else should fit around your relationship with Him.  (Quiet time with Him, Investing in leading areas at church, helping people, etc.)

The challenge is that most people fill up their lives with work, soccer, hobbies, and everything else that they can fit in it and then try to fill the cracks with God to help them feel better about themselves.  They blow off church if they happen to be too “tired” from all of the other stuff that they have crammed into their lives.

Take an honest look at your life right now.  Are there changes that you need to make for the sake of your relationship with God?  Then do it now!  There’s too much at stake to spend the rest of your life in a stagnant state of living.