Wednesday, September 28, 2011
Midweek Links - and a Radical Book Review!
By now, many of you have probably heard of the book Radical. It's been read in churches and book groups since being published last year and has been changing the way a lot of folks I know think about living their faith. Out of curiosity, I picked up this discussion of what it means to take up one's cross and follow Christ, and I'm very glad I did. This is one of those books that will convict readers and change how people pattern their lives for God.
It's obvious from the beginning that the author wants Christians to get back to living out biblical principles. He points out that following Christ's calling does not look like the classic American dream of moving up the corporate ladder and attaining material success, differing only from their neighbors by politely warming a pew on Sundays. The contrast between how the gospels describe Christ and call us to follow Him and how we actually do it is a stark one. The author not only points that out very clearly, but he backs up his allegations with Scripture.
Platt also excels at reminding his readers of the larger world in which God has placed them. We live in a world filled with poverty and with people who have not had a chance to hear and respond to God's Word, and the author vividly explains why this is a terrible thing. Even more importantly, he uses Scripture to remind us all that people unreached by the Word of God is not simply a terrible problem for others to solve. This is something that we are explicitly called upon by Christ to address and we are to, "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations..."(Matthew 28:19a)
As a homemaker, whose primary ministry is tending the home, what does this book about having an impact on the world mean for me? It certainly helps reinforce the importance of what every homemaker does. We live our lives not just for ourselves or even just for our families, but to serve God and to have an impact on the world for Him. And it's this purpose that gives our lives meaning and that allows us to bless our families rather than making life an endless round of pointless drudgery.
When we think of books on homemaking, we often will discuss books on the practical how-tos of housekeeping, cooking, gardening, raising children or strengthening marriage. Radical doesn't fit into one of these neat little categories. However, if you need to renew your sense of purpose and if you're looking for practical ways to (1)bring that purpose home to your family and (2) to inspire your family to go out into the world and serve God, then this is exactly the book you should be reading.
Platt not only discusses why we need to shift our focus and live as we are instructed to live in the gospels, he has a one-year plan to help families get on track. You can follow along with that plan HERE.
First and foremost, Platt wants readers to commit to praying for the whole world over a year. I've done this in the past and it really changed my view of the world and gave me a better sense of the greatness of God and His plan for the whole world. My favorite resource for world prayer is Operation World. They have books, CD-roms and other materials that you can use to pray for every nation in the world.
I highly recommend Operation World as a resource. They cover every nation of the world and give specific information on countries and on items that should be of concern to Christians when praying for these nations. Not only will you learn a lot, but for parents, this is a wonderful way to bring our faith into geography lessons with homeschooling or to reinforce and expand upon what your children learn in geography classes in schools.
Platt next challenges readers to read the Bible in a year. Spending time in the Word and reading all of it is something important to every Christian's life. After all, how can we follow God if we don't read what He has told us? I've used the Bible reading plan found on the calendar at Bible.com and found that very helpful.
You've heard the saying "Give until it hurts?" Well, in this book, we are challenged to pray and to sacrifice some of our luxuries so that we might give to a cause. There are many, many Christian causes that one can give to and you can screen charities on Charity Navigator. They do have a setting that allows you to search for religious charities and I know that various ministries I support or have supported are listed here. I couldn't find a good source for researching Christian ministries and charities specifically, but if someone knows of one, I would love to hear about it in the comments.
Perhaps most challenging for many people, Platt calls on readers to spend time in another context. I know that going outside one's comfort zone can be scary, but seeing God at work in the world truly is eye-opening whether you go overseas or whether you serve domestically in a local homeless shelter or other ministry. Imagine what you can teach your children about God if this is done as a family! There is now a search engine that lets one search out short term missions projects, and many churches also sponsor their own trips. For domestic opportunities, you can often find ideas by speaking with your pastor or searching local church webpages.
Lastly, we are reminded of the need to commit ourselves to "a multiplying community." So, what in the world is this? Simply put, we need to commit ourselves to a church and to be connected to that wider community of faith. We need to care for one another in community and lift one another up just as we are instructed in the Bible.
I know this is longer than my usual Midweek Links, but I wanted to share this fabulous book with you and also point you to resources that will help you implement what you read.