radical response (chapter 2)

I don’t know where you are right now heart-wise. Or what your week has been like. I don’t know if you feel the wind at your back and you’re sailing full speed ahead. Or if you’ve screeched to a grinding halt and find yourself curled up in the fetal position humming.

I struggle with the tension between wanting to “make some noise” and wake people up to what Jesus has truly called us to do and wanting to “quiet the noise” and just incline my ear and heart toward him.

Still pondering and processing and pontificating. But on to Chapter 2.

I want God’s Word to be enough. I desperately want God’s Word to be enough.

Except when I don’t. When I take my eyes off Jesus, the author and perfecter of my faith. When I can’t hold up my right hand and truthfully say with the Psalmist, “God, earth has nothing I desire besides you.”

When Psalm 119 becomes one big blurry run-on because all the yourwords and yourprecepts and yourcommands and yourlaws and all the delighting and remembering and obeying and meditating…

There have been so many times in my life when God’s Word has been so precious to me. And I want that to be the rule, not the exception. I want to long for it, hunger for it, crave it. More than any food, any blog, any person, any pleasure.

I know that the times I cherish God’s Word the most are the times when it feels like all my other “securities” and “comforts” have been stripped away. I want to live my whole life stripped.

“The primary reward of the gospel is God himself,” David Platt writes (28). I want God and his glory and his Word to be my motivation for every single thing I do, say, and think. For always.

I have so, so, so, so much more to say. God is working on my heart. Chisel, chisel, chisel. No matter how much it hurts, I can’t wait to see what he reveals.

God, as we discuss this book together, may we bring you glory. Holy Spirit, will you light up your Word for us and fill us with wisdom and discernment? Will you lead us and guide us minute by minute and help us to trust you enough not to have to know what even the next day holds? Will you show us when to speak up and when to shut up? God, empty of us of everything distracting and self-focused and fill us with the power of your holy Spirit. May we bring you nothing but glory. We love you. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Semi-Important Details:

1. Please remember not to use quotation marks or apostrophes when you link to your posts.

2. If you’re in the mood to think of a unique title for your link, it helps people find it again easily (and makes us more likely to click on it).

3. In the next couple days, we’ll evaluate how the Read-Along process is going and see what changes we need to make to keep us on the right track.

So, go ahead and link to your awesome posts about Chapter 2. (No pressure to read all the posts or even to write one.) If you’d like to share your thoughts in the comments, HAVE AT IT. Start a discussion, join one already started, whatever you’d like.

And if you want a smidge of direction, here you go:

1. “We desperately need to explore how much of our understanding of the gospel is American and how much is biblical” (28). Has God convicted you of this at all?

2. If you were raised in a “conservative” church, what did you think about p. 37 where Platt states that there’s no “bow your heads, close your eyes, and repeat after me” in the Bible? (gulp)

3. “You and I desperately need to consider whether we have ever truly, authentically trusted in Christ for our salvation” (37). What do you make of that?

4. Your question here.

Guys and gals, thank you. Thank you for being here. For being a part of this. For wanting to take steps, big or little, toward Jesus. I’m honored to be hanging out with you for the next weeks. You’re something special.

71 thoughts on “radical response (chapter 2)

  1. Pingback: Radical secrets | Robin in v-a

  2. Keri

    What struck me most in this chapter is how he challenges the conservative approach to becoming a Christian. How it can’t be about simply repeating some words with heads bowed and that’s it.

    “the gospel demands and enables us to turn from our sin, to take up our cross, to die to ourselves, and to follow Jesus.” (Pg 39)

    It takes all of that. It’s not a rote prayer or a checkmark on a paper to be dropped into the offering plate. It made me wonder if we are being so irresponsible to actually lead others to believe it’s anything less than dying to ourselves and taking up the cross.

    I had to watch myself reading this chapter that I didn’t become judgemental of churches and pastors from my past. This chapter so challenges what we have become used to in church and it would be so easy to promptly point fingers (even if only in my mind) and to declare our pastors and churches part of the problem with the watering down of Christianity.

    The reality is that there is much, much work to be done inside of me and that’s where my focus needs to solidly remain.

  3. Sabrina

    I didn’t write a blog post this week because I honestly couldn’t put together what I’ve been feeling. So many emotions swirling.
    And then I read this post
    I know it’s not exactly along the lines of what we’ve been discussing but I feel it sums up why Radical has spoken to me in such a significant way (and One Million Arrows). I feel it’s because the “Church” never did, speak to me that is. I feel our Churches are failing us. I feel the true message of Jesus is lost in denominational squabbles and politics and worldly ambition. I realize of course that I’m making a sweeping statement and certainly not all Churches are included in this accusation, but would the message seem so “radical” if we had been hearing it all of our lives? Is it so radical? The message lines up with scripture, it comes straight from the Bible. So as lifelong Christians it shouldn’t be new to us. But it is. And I’m currently feeling a little angry over this fact. I feel I’ve been called to start from the very beginning, milk. I’m 40 years old with two small children I’ve been charged with discipling – I should know this!!!!! I’m rethinking everything, questioning a lot and praying for guidance. Along with my anger there’s excitement! For the first time in my life I feel like I may be heading towards if not walking along the beginning of the narrow path and for that I’m thankful.

  4. Sharon Meekins

    Hi Marla,

    I’m with Liz. Week 2 really shook me. The Lord has provided me with an incredible opportunity to serve and love on the people of Haiti. But all I can think about is how uncomfortable I am. Being in Haiti has caused me to see how selfish and prideful I really am. Is Jesus and His word enough? I want and desire it to be. I love the Lord so much and desire to serve Him in whatever capacity He chooses. But, Haiti is so hard. However, His grace is sufficient. His grace is so amazing. Marla, thank you so much for your encouragement and your prayers. Again, they mean so much. Much love to you…

    1. Marla Taviano

      Prayed for you again just now, friend. And I can’t imagine what you’re going through in Haiti. I’m in good ol’ Ohio and God is totally exposing all my selfishness and pride. May I die to self and truly follow Christ!

  5. Kathleen-NM

    Hope it’s not too late to respond, life is full. I have thoroughly enjoyed this book and am on my second time reading it through. I will only post on the highlights for me because there is so much to chew on.

    The overall theme of this chapter for me is that to embrace the gospel, we have to have a God-centered not man-centered perspective. All is for the glory of God. Until I realize the depth of my depravity and sinful nature, I will never see the need for a savior or what I have fully been given in Christ. I will never appreciate all that I have been given and continue to seek worldly pleasure not pleasure in God Himself. On page 32 Pratt states, ” the biblical gospel says you are an enemy of God dead in your sin, and in your present state of rebellion, you are not even able to see that you need life, much less to cause yourself to come to life.” This clearly shows the sovereignty of God and when we understand this there is complete freedom. Then I see that when I responded in faith it is because HE changed my heart, HE gave me the desire to seek Him, HE rescued me from the dominion of darkness. When I truly see that I have been rescued, then, I want to seek him and spend time devouring His Word, because it is life, not a set of rules to follow.

    I love to talk to people about the order of events in salvation because it takes the focus off of me! It’s not a popular topic, but once God opens our eyes, you cannot help but read scripture from a God centered view. This is where contemporary Christianity is not enough. It doesn’t satisfy. to know God in the depths is all we want, all we need. This is the narrow road. “This is why men and women around the world risk their lives to know more about him.” (pg. 39)

    Few have found it but when you connect in community with a few, it is the encouragement scripture talks about in keeping meeting together and encouraging one another, not to success, but to depth of relationship with the One who saved me. I love the Truth in scripture because it is God pursuing us, revealing himself to us, as Paul says,” when it pleased Him.” When we understand this love, we will never be the same. I would love to study the scripture for hours a day, but God has other plans.

    He has place our family in the midst of a very affluent area and asked us to live differently. Our kids are in public school and we have had to live the gospel in the middle of extreme wealth and rebellion. The opportunities have been endless and we have seen God work in miraculous ways. It has been hard, really hard. I would not trade the path because I can truly say He has given us EVERYTHING we need for life and godliness. We fight hard and in His grace HE keeps us going. This chapter was a reminder that opposition not only exists in countries where freedom is curtailed, but in our own neighborhoods in US where freedom in Christ is eclipsed by self.

    I love this book and it has been such a platform to begin discussion with people. Thank you Marla!

    1. Marla Taviano

      Wow, Kathleen. Thank you for that. I feel like now more than ever God has been exposing my utter depravity and desperate need for him. It’s not pretty and it hurts, but ultimately, it’s bringing me closer to him and giving me a greater understanding of the cross.

      You’re so right about it being hard to shine Christ’s light in an affluent area. At least in poor countries, people are quicker to recognize their need. The rich have been deceived into thinking they only need themselves. I have to really pray about loving rich people, because so often I don’t. (and besides, I’m LOADED compared to the rest of the world)

      Thanks for sharing!

  6. Dorian

    I am looking over your questions, Marla. With regard to number 2, I get his point – it’s about surrender to Lordship, not just a one time prayer. I get it. But bow your head and repeat after me is in the Bible. Several places in the OT people bow their heads in worship and Jesus said pray like this and then went on with the Lord’s prayer. There is biblical ground for people to pray when they have made a decision to live for Christ. It’s not just some made up convenience or ritual.

  7. Rebecca

    This book is really making me reevaluate a lot in my life. Have I gotten too comfortable with my life? What more can I do for God’s glory?? I really want to sit down with a bunch of folks and just study the Bible for hours–how cool is that??? Most of us (me included) feel the need to only hear a sermon for 20 minutes–a minute longer and it’s too long. But to get in the Bible for hours–oh yes, I want that!

    Prayers and blessings,

  8. Dorian

    I think “The Sinner’s Prayer” is taking a bit of a beating here. As Jesus revealed himself to each disciple, they had to make a decision to follow, a decision to surrender, a decision to begin the relationship. They may or may not have said something to Jesus at the time – that is prayer, after all. But there was a moment of decision.

    To me, that’s all “The Sinner’s Prayer” is. Jesus is not physically there and audibly heard, so one of his modern day disciples gives vocabulary to what is whelling up inside the person who wants to begin that relationship.

    As an unchurched, lost, desperate 15 year old, I prayed a prayer at an altar after I heard the Gospel from the pulpit the first time. I didn’t know the bible and I didn’t know prayer or “God talk” and I would not have had a clue what to say to Jesus. Now, you’re right, maybe I didn’t have to say anything to accompany my surrender to Him as Lord, but I’m glad I did.

    I knew then and I know now that the prayer didn’t “save” me. But my life was saved at that moment.

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  10. Liz

    Okay I just need to confess Chapter 2 got to me much more than Chapter 1. This week shook me. I don’t say this proudly but I have never spent 8 hours reading the Bible or studying His word. I would be the one who thought it was a little too hot or cold. I do pray daily (or almost daily) for God to give me a burning desire to know Him better, to spend more time with Him and guess what, He does. I pray as I go to bed for God to wake me up early enough to spend time with Him before my day starts and again He does. He will wake me up about 5am or 5:30 and my desire is to go back to sleep but I know it is God waking me up, as I prayed so I get up and have my quiet time (it is NOT 8 hours) and I never regret it. He always does His part, I don’t always do mine.

    When I read about the Christian in India who was being skinned alive and was thanking the persecutors…well I did not picture me doing that. I can picture me whining and crying and begging for mercy but not thanking them. And his wife applauded. I have to say I am a wimpy Christian, I hate to admit it but I am. Or as I have heard some of you say a comfortable Christian. So sad.

    When David Platt talked about nowhere in the Bible does it say bow your head, close your eyes and repeat after me, I have to say I have never thought about that. Yes I agree we need Him, He does not need us BUT He wants us and He loves us but we Need Him. I think asking for people to unconditionally surrender opposed to accepting Him is more appropriate but not more popular. I often look at the faces in our large mega church and know there are many who are not saved and it breaks my heart. I know there are many who are missing the point and I pray for them. I pray I am never the one who misleads them into spiritual deception. I do not want to answer for that. I do not want to be afraid to say what needs to be said because I might look stupid. I want to say whatever God calls me to say out of obedience. I need to fear Him more than I fear looking stupid. Am I there, no not at all. I am better than I used to be but not as good as I am going to be. I will never stop seeking to be more like Him, although I fall so short every day. I am glad He looks at my heart, usually. I want to want Him so much that I abandon everything else to experience Him.

    1. Ali

      I’m with ya, Liz. I am such a wimpy Christian.

      But I LOVE what you said about GOD waking you up. That is awesome, Liz. I continue to learn from you.

  11. sharon

    Well, the chapter hit home since I was raised in a conservative church and not knowing a personal Lord. I was taught you prayed for forgiveness and all was ok in life. God was up on that mountain but never came down. I remember always looking up to the high mountain but never feeling it truely in my heart. Well, in my 20’s I let Him come down the mountain for me and that heart in me has forever been changed. The only problem is I get lazy and comfortable in my lifestyle. This chapter has challenged me have that fire burning at all times and not to be comfortable. I needed this reminder!

  12. sharon

    Well, the chapter hit home since I was raised in a conservative church and not knowing a personal Lord. I was taught you prayed for forgiveness and all was ok in life. God was up on that mountain but never came down. I remember always looking up to the high mountain but never feeling it truely in my heart. Well, in my 20’s I let Him come down the mountain for me and that heart in me has forever been changed. The only problem is I get lazy and comfortable in my lifestyle. This chapter has challenged me have that fire burning at all times and not to be comfortable. I needed this reminder!

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  14. Christy @ pureMotherhood

    2. If you were raised in a “conservative” church, what did you think about p. 37 where Platt states that there’s no “bow your heads, close your eyes, and repeat after me” in the Bible? (gulp)

    First, I haven’t even finished reading the first chapter of the book (been on an action-packed vacation) but THIS has always driven me C-R-A-Z-Y. It makes me cringe when I hear it. Deciding to follow Christ is a BIG decision and we don’t just become Christians by ‘praying the prayer’ – whatever that prayer is.

    I could write a ton more but I have a sweet one-year old waking from a nap and am off to be Mommy.

    Can’t wait to finish ch. 1 and move on to ch. 2 then share more thoughts.

  15. Laura

    Some of the truths in this chapter were mind-blowing! It’s almost a little scary to think about how some concepts can become wide-spread and universally accepted even if they’re not stated in the Bible. I’d never thought about questioning the “close your eyes and ask Jesus into your heart” process, but it’s a great point that this is not what Jesus told people to do when they asked him about salvation. It’s such a paradigm-shift to think about salvation as desiring to know and follow after Jesus as opposed to a one-time decision.

  16. Dani

    Growing up in a conservative church I definitely grew up with a fear of the Lord. What I didn’t get though, until more recently, was just how much God sought me out. How much he wanted me to know him. Thanks Marla, for leading this group and for offering your insights. It’s so great to hear what He’s speaking to others.

  17. Rachelle

    1) I was raised in an “All American” name it and claim it church. I won’t reiterate my life story here…but essentially life has dealt some hard things that rocked my so-called faith and made me “bare”-it was at that time that God poured out his grace and mercy on my life. He also gave me a passion for theology…thank you Jesus!

    2)I think he’s right on. I got a good dose of Jesus when I, sadly, pressured my(then) young son about “walking the aisle”…he informed me that he was already saved. to which I replied, “oh yeah, when?” and he said, “one day while I was walking in the pasture talking to God.” gulp.

    3) again, spot on. So many people think that because they are at the top of what they percieve as “God’s Mountain” that all is well with their soul. Yet Jesus himself said that there are those that will say, we did this or that in your name. And Jesus will reply, “I never knew you”. Matthow 7:22-23

    4)my question: is there a time in your life where you hungered to read the Bible, yet your life did not reflect that desire?

    1. Marla Taviano

      Okay, I LOVE the “walking in the pasture talking to God.” Goosebumps.

      In answer to #4, I think I love the Bible now more than ever. Unfortunately, I also love blogs and social networking more than ever. And there are only so many hours in a day. And, um, I have a family. Eek.

  18. Jen Hanson

    Posted this on another gal’s blog, but thought I would re-post the idea here:

    I am struggling and wrestling right alone with many of you! I feel sick to my stomach (currently) and exited other times. I am anxious to see more of how God uses this project in all of our lives. I want it to truly change us. I want God to use the change in us to change others. My word! – How amazing would it be to see some of the Radical Read-Along gang in Heaven and say to each other, “We made it! We switched to the narrow road and here were are. It’s so good to see you!”

    My struggle is whether or not I AM or AM NOT on the narrow road – how to be sure and how to let it change my life. What a journey this has already been at week two!! Oh my.

    1. Rachelle

      I pray that you will KNOW within your heart and have it settled that you indeed are one of God’s children. Assurance of salvation. Sometimes we in the faith (the “saved”) struggle with assurance, pray and ask the holy spirit help you in this area. It can be a real hinderance when we are unsure of our own heart-just by you being here, speaks volumes that God is sovereignly at work in your life-trust that and know that you are his, adopted, not to be un-adopted.

      39neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:39

  19. Dorian

    I need to lose more weight. What’s that got to do with Chapter 2? I am motivated to read, internalize and apply scripture for many reasons. Isa 55:11 is a great motivator. We all do a lot of things and many of those things are futile. God promises that His Word accomplishes His purposes – every time. His Word never misses the mark. We don’t have to wish and hope that being in His Word and sharing His Word will do something. He promises it. I’ve been on a weight loss journey for almost a year now. The last couple weeks I really fell off. I decided just last night to forget those weeks and get right back on my plan today and I have. For those of you who look back and say,
    “I just haven’t spent enough time in the Word” or “I’ve never read the Bible cover to cover,” I challenge you to press on and start today. And don’t worry that you won’t get it or that you won’t remember it. Acts 1:8 promises that the Holy Spirit will remind you and teach you what you need to know.

    Off to my bicycle and my Bible.


    1. Rachelle

      I love it!! “We don’t have to wish and hope that being in His Word and sharing His Word will do something. He promises it”. And while we may not see this immediatley(you know your microwave expectaions) we can know by faith that it is true!! Good word.

    2. valerie

      Dorian, thanks for this. I just read a post a couple of days ago over at Angie Smith’s blog (Bring the Rain) that talked about Lot’s wife and how she was turned into a pillar of salt because she LOOKED BACK. I tend to do just what you said – beat myself up because I haven’t been spending time in God’s Word or in prayer and quiet time like I know I’m supposed to. Thank you for the encouragement to not look back, but just to press on from where I am and start today. I don’t think God means for us to wallow in guilt over the past, but to face up to it, repent, and move on! (see Ex 14:15 NIV) 🙂

  20. Rich

    Growing up in conservative Baptist meant that God was definitely to be feared. He was uncompromisingly to be obeyed. And coming to know this God meant a committed regiment of reading scripture, attending bible study, quietly praying in the morning and evening.

    All good stuff. I don’t think it led to much transformation. I didn’t learn how to hear God’s voice. I didn’t experience an overwhelming sense of awe towards God. Just terror. And even that wasn’t enough to deter me from negative and destructive behavior.

    It wasn’t until I began to see that I am the beloved of God that transformation began to settle in my heart and compels me much stronger to flee from the enemy (satan) and into the arms of my shepherd.

    I know those verses which speak to “you are God’s enemy” and I also know the ones that say “God hears your voice”(even before I “get” saved). The later draws me closer to God while the other just heaps coals of failure onto my head because I will never measure up.

    1. Jennifer

      The verses that speak to “you are God’s enemy” make it even MORE incredible that “God hears your voice.” The grace of God is even more mind-blowing in the context that we were set apart and against Him from the very beginning. He’s holy, and we’re not. Rather than causing us to feel like failures, it should lead us to rejoice that we are in Christ and are no longer condemned for our sinfulness. Praise God for being just AND merciful at the same time!

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  22. Angela

    I loved chapter 2, but I have to admit it wasn’t “radical” to me. That is what I have been taught about salvation in the two churches I’ve attended in the past 12 years.

    I remember having doubts when I was first saved about whether or not I “prayed the prayer right” or if I really meant it. It was a freeing moment many years ago when I realized that it was totally NOT about me. Jesus has done for me what I cannot and would not have done for myself. Praise him!!

    Now the important part is making sure that I don’t add to that free Gospel when sharing it with others. We need to make sure that we are sharing this freeing truth with others, not adding our own proofs to it.

  23. Jennifer

    Umm… I did something wrong, and my first blog link links to nothing. 🙁 I did it again, and it works! Could you delete that first one? I’m so sorry!

    I think we can be sure we’re saved if we long to know and pursue God. Not that what WE do saves us, but I think the fruit of true redemption is a longing to know Christ more and more. And that fruit is so totally NOT our doing but the work of God entirely! Salvation belongs completely to God, from beginning to completion, and we are just the recipients of His grace.

  24. Marla Taviano

    Good morning, folks! Several of you have told me you’d like for more discussion to happen here in the comments. If that’s you, what are you waiting for? I’m not taking on the title of Discussion Controller, just Hostess, Cheerleader and Pray-er.

    If you need a push, tell me this: How on earth can we be SURE we’re saved?

    1. Jen Hanson

      That is my biggest struggle right now (and has been for a while). I like what James MacDonald says: “If your faith hasn’t changed you, it hasn’t saved you.” While I think this is a pretty straightforward indicator, my struggle is gauging HOW MUCH change indicates the fruit of a saving faith???

      1. Christy @ pureMotherhood

        I’ve heard James say that so many times and I truly believe it but I, like you, wonder how much change is saving.

        I feel fairly confident saying that a person who ‘prayed the prayer of salvation’ as a young person but turned completely from God as an adult is not ‘saved’ as there would be NO fruit in their lives. So, am I saved b/c there is ANY fruit in my life?

        1. Dorian

          I would contend that if a person receives Jesus as Lord and Savoiur and then turns away, that whatever salvation they had before the turning away is intact. I cannot DO anything to get it and I cannot DO anything to lose it. That is the very nature of the GRACE by which I am saved. Fruit can be evidence of salvation, but fruit is not a requirement.

          1. Zach Gifford

            While I tend to agree with what you say, I struggle with that. What about when Jesus says “This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” Fruit=disciple seems to be clearly what Jesus is saying, but is the converse true? Does no fruit = no disciple?

            I know we can’t do anything to lose our salvation, but what if we never truly got it in the first place?

          2. Dorian

            That is why I began with “IF a person receives Jesus as Lord…” so I was refering to the person that did indeed get it in the first place. I’m not sure how objective a measure “fruit” is. I can look at someone’s life and say “no fruit there,” but do I really see everything? Certainly not. How fruitful am I supposed to be? Dorian fruitful? Billy Graham fruitful? Jim the Drug Addict fruitful? Sally the racist fruitful? Dunno. That’s the tricky thing tying fruit to salvation. There are levels of fruit, but only one level to salvation.

          3. Dorian

            Upon rereading the verse you cite, that’s exactly it – SHOWING yourselves to be disciples – again fruit is evidence. If I, as saved person, am bearing no fruit for some period of time for some reason, then the evidence of the salvation is not there, but the salvation remains in tact.

          4. Diane Olson

            My own experience is that I “prayed the prayer” as a child but fell away during the teen years. I don’t think my salvation was “taken away” because all the time that I lived in rebellion against God, my conscience bothered me and I knew I was doing wrong. Isn’t that the Holy Spirit not letting go? He kept wooing me to turn to him. If I weren’t God’s child…then I wouldn’t have been bothered by my sin….it would be natural for an unsaved person to sin. Just a thought…

    1. Andrea

      DITTO Melissa…I feel the exact same way. I loved Chapter 2 so much more than 1…i loved how it made me think and feel of how much of a christian i am and how accountable I am for my actions. Amen.

    2. Rhonda

      I also say “Ditto” Melissa. It is so much to take in and process. I’m truly being blessed and stretched through this book.

  25. Melissa Irwin

    Oh shoot – in my “smart” brain I know that there is an apostrophe in the word “I’ll”….but in my bloggy brain I totally forgot. Did I read your instructions? yes. Did I follow through? Well, aparantly not. #9

  26. Jen Griffin

    Amazing chapter! I had so much more to write. I may even write a part 2 this week. There were so many different topics to chew on! Thank you God for this book!! Lord, have your way in us. Open the blind eyes, unlock the deaf ears…come.

    I bet I don’t get to sleep….too much whirling in my brain!

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