radical response (chapter 5)

Typing this post from my “new” computer. Gabe decided he’d rather loan me his MacBook Pro indefinitely than be on perpetual tech support call for my ridiculous Dell laptop that refuses to do any number of things I ask it to do.

Anyway. Chapter 5? ROCKS. Of course I realize that some of you are fed up with this book (and David Platt and all your fellow readers-along). Others of you aren’t fed up so much as overwhelmed. And still others are so far behind you wonder if it’s worth it to keep going.

It is so worth it.

I’m going to write a couple (or three) posts this week on different aspects of this chapter, because I have so much to say. (Shocking.)

*One thing I’ll chat about later is how Bullen (the African guy at the beginning of the chapter who wants to impact the world) reminded me of a teenager we met in Cambodia (and his older brother). Two young kids, fresh out of high school, already impacting the world for Christ.

I don’t want to make this post all about the buzzwords and catch-phrases that appealed to my personality, but I’ll be honest that there was a lot that resonated with me. Like Jesus inviting us to join him on the “surprisingly simple journey” of spending our lives for others’ good and God’s glory (87).

And the “general vagueness” that exists when we start trying to make Glorifying God a real, tangible, in-the-flesh thing instead of just a nice sentiment.

I’m with David Platt when he “marvels at the simple genius” of Jesus “simply, intentionally, systematically, patiently walking alongside twelve men” (93). And when he reminds us that disciples aren’t made overnight. And that there’s no effortless formula for impacting the world for God’s glory. (Darn it.)

Instead of a formula he gave us people and said, “Live for them. Love them, serve them, and lead them. Lead them to follow me, and lead them to lead others to follow me. In the process, you will multiply the gospel to the ends of the earth” (93).

*I’m also going to come back to this quote that just floored me: “Disciple making is not a call for others to come to us to hear the gospel but a command for us to go to others to share the gospel. A command for us to be gospel-living, gospel-speaking people at every moment and in every context where we find ourselves” (94).

Wow. Zers.

And what did you think about this: that “we will multiply the gospel only when we allow others to get close enough to us to see the life of Christ in action” (99). Did that part scare anyone? How comfortable are you with people getting close to you? The real you.

The teacher/nerd in me loves the idea of “the world as a perpetual classroom” (99).

And the exhortation to be a reproducer not just a receiver (102). Gulp.

*And oh my goodness, we could spend all day on how “in our Christian version of the American dream, our plan ends up disinfecting Christians from the world more than discipling Christians in the world… Disinfecting Christians from the world involves isolating followers of Christ in a spiritual safe-deposit box called the church building and teaching them to be good” (105).

Oh. My. Word. Ouch. Ouch. Ouch.

So, basically I’ve shared none of my own thoughts and just parroted all of my favorite quotes and ideas from the chapter. But that’s okay. Because I’m looking forward to dialoguing with you this week about what YOU think of all this.

Here’s what I’m dying to know:

1. How are you struggling with “bringing glory to God” in real, tangible ways?

2. What are some ways you already feel God calling you to make disciples?

3. How could you take steps toward becoming more of a reproducer than a receiver?

4. Do you find yourself (and your kiddos) isolated from the world in a spiritual safe-deposit box? How can we break open that box?

5. Share something God has done in your life/heart in the past few weeks as you’ve read.

I’m really excited to get chatting with all of you. Looking forward to learning from you and growing with you this week!

*The asterisks are just to remind me which points I wanted to elaborate on in the next few days.

45 thoughts on “radical response (chapter 5)

  1. Keri

    Well, I promised you I would fulfill my commitment to the Radical challenge and I am determined to do just that. I was horrified to find I was so far behind, but it is forcing me to read the chapters again so I can actually write an appropriate comment and it is hitting me completely different this time around.

    Wow….this chapter. I find myself suddenly in a life where I am surrounded by people of such extreme belief systems. Buddhists, Muslims, Hindi….they are all a part of my normal life here. What I have been wrestling with in reading this book and living my new life is how flippant Western Christianity is about their spirituality. (Don’t be surprised if you read this in a blog post….it has been stirring around in my head so much it’s probably inevitable) The fact that so many Christians don’t ever move beyond the altar experience and aren’t necesarily encouraged to do so by any other Christian in their life. How much discipleship and teaching needs to happen just among the people at “home” let alone the rest of the world. Myself included. I see people here embrace their religion…..they practice it and in some cases they wear it and it’s all for a god or an idea of a god that offers no grace or mercy. That does not offer an eternal life. We’ve been given all of that and more and yet we treat it with such carelessness.

    I’m rambling.

    The part that hit me the most is the very first part of the chapter where Bullen tells David that he’s going to impact the world. And he means it. I remember feeling that way and I’m horrified by how that fire has dimmed. I get so sidetracked by envy for those whose ministries bring them enormour notoriety. It’s a constant battle for me to know that if I am going to totally be sold out living my life for Christ alone then that means being excited with whatever God has called me to do. That watching other’s ministries and success takes the focus completely away from what God would have me do. He has called me to do His will…..I am honored to do so whatever that may look like. It’s being humble enough to know that “impacting the world” may mean the immediate people in my life and I need to be excited about that. Honored that God would call me to even that small task.

    I guess that this chapter has made me reflective about my own attitude and has spurred me on to do a better job being a disciple. I don’t know that this comment even makes any sense. I just want to do a better job of representing Him. Of showing Him to others. I have a lot of work to do.

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  3. Pete Ahlstrom

    Hi Marla –

    Am not quite sure how this works, other than being a study of “Radical.” Which sounds like an excellent book, though I’m basing that on things you and Melissa Irwin have said.

    How are we trying to do what God wants? The thing he laid on our hearts some years ago was studying the Bible to see what it really meant by “Love your Neighbors.” 3500 verses later, we have a study up on the Internet at http://www.sparkleofnature.com, and we hope that will get published as a book in the not too distant future. (Meantime you or your group are welcome to look at it).

    He’s also impressed us to move – which we’re still working on. Have to sell our mfg home first, and for enough to allow us to actually move.

    Meantime? He impressed us that, while we’re getting ready for that, we should minister to the kids in our neighborhood. There are a ton of them, many from dysfunctional homes.

    So our 2 kids have been watching a couple of them before school, and inviting them in afterwards. Sometimes they stay and take part in our family prayers and listen to our Christian music. We’ve made a DVD for each of them with some of their own favorite Christian songs. It’s been a mix of touching moments, very frustrating ones, and funny ones (“Don’t pray for my mom’s boyfriend; I don’t like him.”)

    Best wishes for your blog.

    Pete

  4. Marla Taviano

    Thank you SO much to everyone who’s chiming in! I love hearing what God is teaching you–and how you’re putting it into action!! Keep the good stuff–and the not-so-good stuff–coming!

  5. joyce

    I haven’t dropped off the face of the earth here either. I’m still reading, still processing. I’m glad you’re writing and others too and those posts help me. I am sifting. I will say that the bit about bringing God glory spoke to me this week. I’m in a Women’s Bible study on Tuesday mornings and we’re doing Beth Moore’s Breaking Free. This week’s hw had us looking at what glorifying God means in a practical sense so my mind and heart have definitely been there recently. The ‘visible manifestation of God’s presence’ was a phrase I picked up on in looking at some of our scriptures…do people see God present in me? Forget about strangers for a minute…how about my very own family?

    Also, in watching the miners being rescued I was really overcome with the urgency of life…that it is fleeting…that we don’t know what a day will bring…that I need to worry more about the people around me and their salvation and less about how uncomfortable those conversations sometimes make me. This has always been true but something about this story just brought it home. I feel like I’m always waiting for the right moment, the right time in my life-schedule-whatever to act and if anything Radical has ‘pricked’ me and convicted me in the sense that I need to quit thinking so much and start doing.

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  7. Genie Blazi

    Safe deposit box…yep, I think I’ve been there. For so long we have been known for our “don’ts” and I want to be known for our “do’s”. I want my kids to be known at their schools as the kids who live for Jesus as opposed to “the kids who don’t do anything ’cause they are Christians”. I think God is broadening our box quite a bit…my husband is going to Ecuador in April to visit the area where our church is going to plant a church…can’t share this on my blog since the church folk don’t know yet:)! I am stoked and can’t wait to start giving to this…and not just giving but going. My kids will go…we will work with the people…we will love on them…and our little box will prayerfully not be so little anymore. I so want to be known for what I do…

  8. Jaclyn K

    First Marla I havent dropped of like a fly lol but I have been struggeling with posting my thoughts on the webisphere. I so appreciate your willingness to share your thoughts as I have been using them and those of everyone else to shape my own.

    1. How are you struggling with โ€œbringing glory to Godโ€ in real, tangible ways? I wanna be radical and it seems every time I am something hits me like a ton of bricks and I’m scrambeling to get back to radical. This week I had the opprotunity to share the gospel in an unlikely place to kids in an urban area. In chapter 5 when Platt talkes about not just talking about it but being about it, it really hit home. Its not enough to be “good” but to have a heart to live for Jesus.

    2. What are some ways you already feel God calling you to make disciples? I know God called me to teach where I teach but I think I am also being called to disciple some of the people closest to me. I feel Gods pulling me in all kids of directions…Guatemala??? So I’m trying to be still and listen to how he really wants to use me and be open to it.

    3. How could you take steps toward becoming more of a reproducer than a receiver? I tell me students are you faking it or making it. I don’t just want to be a person who goes to church and looks the part of the Christian. Church isn’t some glorified social club afterall. I want to be “making it” into more disciples of Jesus.

    4. Do you find yourself (and your kiddos) isolated from the world in a spiritual safe-deposit box? How can we break open that box? I plan on volenteering in the urban community and taking my kids. Wed we are going to collect cans in our neighborhood and going to take them to the soup kitchen. I want my kids to give back even at a young age to glorify Jesus.

    5. Share something God has done in your life/heart in the past few weeks as youโ€™ve read.
    made me more aware

  9. Susan J.

    I want to contribute, but I’m not sure what to say. I’m a little ahead, so these are just general thoughts, not necessarily on chapter 5. I’m glad God is working in my life and I hope he continues to do so for the next 70 years or so! I’ve definitely been praying more lately and my heart has begun breaking for the needs around the world. I’ve been praying specifically that God will make my heart break for the lost of the world, not just the physically needy. I’ve been seeing/hearing adoption stories everywhere these days. My heart has always leaned towards adoption, but it’s always been when we have a bigger house and/or more money. I think my husband is open to this, but with the same kind of restrictions that I just mentioned. I’m praying that God will open his heart toward pursuing a child through adoption if that be His will. We’d love to go on a mission trip, but again, it’s an issue of time and money. One of these days we’re going to just have to step out in faith and let God provide. Again…lots of prayer. Meanwhile, how to live day by day? What does the future look like? It’s kind of open right now. I want to take steps in the right direction.

  10. Joel McLaughlin

    Good stuff!

    I think we Christians are getting too wrapped up in being afraid of offending people sometimes. Now I am not saying we should be in your face with unbelievers, but we need to at least be SEEN! We always point to the Church and say well you are always welcome rather then introduce people to the gospel right then and there. We need to desperately get back to that and do it in a friendly way. Don’t go out and protest things. Go there and share the word of God. Period.

  11. Dani

    I agree with others that this chapter is also my fave so far. If I just slow down long enough to not let life go by me in a blur I’m finding I see ways all around me to bring glory to Him. I’m sure I’ve still missing tons of opportunities this week but am praising him for the ones I have seen and have actually responded to. I was also struck by the thought of Christ starting the world’s first “social network”. Platt didn’t say it like that but that’s what I thought of. Kind of amazing that 12 guys, without the use of the internet :), spread the Word across the world.

  12. sandee

    This is an awesome chapter. Last week it was all I could talk about….And seeing how discipling my four kiddos is so central to this. Its messy, but boy, I do not want to miss out on it. Not sure if I can post this week on it. I am in the middle of some heart issues and financial issues, and much pulling my mind and thoughts …but this chapter is worth the whole book…and worth the pain and tension I felt on the first four chapters. (Good tension, tension I needed, but feeling lost as to what to do.)

    This chapter is starting to show the what to do. My biggest take away is God works in small. He poured himself into 12. I don’t need to worry about how I can reach millions…unless he shows me how. I focus on small. The ones in my life now….the ones I can walk alongside and disciple. Be faithful in the few and then see what God does.

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  14. Rachelle

    1. My biggest struggle with bringing glory to God is simply not knowing what this should look like in everyday, hum-drum life.

    2. I feel especially called to disciple my children to have a love for the Lord and a deep compassion for people. I also feel called to simply stop and pay attention to the people God has placed in my life; so many times I want to overlook my neighbor as I scramble to take the Gospel to the “ends of the earth”.

    3. I become more of a reproducer when I realize that I have something valuable to give others; according to the grace that I have already been given.

    4.I have broken the “safe deposit box” by realizing that my children do not belong to me. They are God’s. I trust that he will gaurd their tender shoots.

    5. And she laughed…Sunday Clyde (the husband) was sharing some of the vision he feels God calling us toward…and I laughed! It was because a few years ago I never dreamed that God would bring us on the journey that I am beginning to see unfold. I have always felt called to adoption (Clyde not so much) but as we’ve read through Radical, Clyde has realized that it is in his heart too! We applied with our state CYFD last week. Now awaiting God’s direction as we take this first step of obedience.

      1. Rachelle

        Thanks Marla! At moments I feel scared to death and I think, “I didn’t really hear you say that God, right?!” We’re excited too, knowing that this plan is way bigger than what we even comprehend-please pray for us as we step far out of our comfort zone in seeking God’s purposes!

  15. Nina

    1. Not knowing what to do. Feeling alone. I want there to be a group that I can join. I work full-time and my time resources are limited. So I’m praying for God to open my eyes to how He can use me NOW, in my current situation.

    2. I am applying to be an advocate for Compassion international. Three weeks ago, I would never have had the courage to do such a thing. And I’ve already talked to my pastor and am scheduled to do a presentation to the congration on Compassion. (Scary!!)

    3. See above. I am nervous about the whole transition because I am a former atheist who has just recently come back to the church. It feels uncomfortable stepping into a “feeding” position when I’m so aware of my need to be fed. So I need to be careful about that.

    4. Re: a spiritual safe-deposit box … No. I never fit in very well with “church culture,” so that hasn’t been an issue for me.

    5. Honestly, I am late to the party and only just started reading this book. If I can find the time (and I’ll do my best), I’ll post my thoughts on each chapter on my blog. But God has definitely been opening my eyes, more and more, to the plight of the poor and the orphans of the world. Stumbling upon Platt’s book, and your blog, is just another manifestation of that.

    I just discovered your blog recently–thank for your insipiring words, and for your honesty in your writing.

    1. Marla Taviano

      Wow, Nina. Thank you so much for your transparency. I’m so glad you found the Read-Along, and I’ll be praying for you as you talk to your church about Compassion. That’s just awesome.

      And don’t tell my older 2 daughters, but Nina is my all-time favorite name in the history of the world. ๐Ÿ™‚

    2. Jen Hanson

      Oh Nina, how I can relate! I work full-time too and need to stop dreaming about the “someday when I have time to serve” and start letting God use me here and now.

      Also – I’m doing a Compassion Sunday at my church too! (This weekend!) I hope yours goes wonderfully!! Just share your heart and don’t worry so much about a “presentation”.

  16. Natalie

    Can’t wait to read all your thoughts, Marla. I loved this chapter!

    1. This was actually the topic of one of my homework assignments for a Bible study I am involved in. The author came to much the same conclusions as Platt. We glorify God when we are able to make Him/His character shine through our lives. The only way I see that increasing in my life is through His Word and prayer as He conforms me into His image more and more.

    2. I wrote a little about this in my post today. He has given me the opportunity to minister to a family with many needs from our school. I pray my service to them is fruitful.

    3. Wrote about this, too actually ๐Ÿ™‚ I am looking forward to listening to the next message at church with the intention of being about not only to apply to my life but also to be able to teach the concepts from God’ Word to others!

    4. Yes and no. We’re working on it. Again talked about this in my post, too!

    5. He has certainly shaken me up in my faith. He’s reminded me of the radical nature of the gospel and of His commands to believers. He’s shown me the oh so not radical nature of my walk. He’s giving me the tools to respond to the radical gospel with radical abandon!

  17. Sharon

    Why Not? The question of why not is an easy one. Who likes to step out of their box or comfort zone, especially in today’s society of judgement. It is easy to say it is not your spiritual gift and leave it at that. But… we will always be given what we need in stepping out of our comfort zone if we have the faith. This chapter is reminding me of my comfort zone and little box I live in and need to shake it up. I prayed reading this chapter gives me the courage to take the steps needed to reach out to others at work and my neighborhood. I have started by joining choir(ugh) and going to invite others to the performance. Help, I so have a hard time with this! Thanks Marla for your encouragement!!!

    1. Marla Taviano

      I’m so proud of you, Sharon! I love that you joined the Christmas Choir, and I’ll pray God gives you the courage to invite everyone you know! I think it will be a GREAT way to reach out to your co-workers and neighbors.

  18. Brooke

    God has called me to serve in the most scary mission field of all – my home & the home of my in-laws. Scary because its not a “I’m feeding the hungry” kind of mission trip. I’ve put a roof on a house in Memphis, in the 90+ degree heat in the bad part of town. I can promise you that I’d rather do that than be Christ to my MIL any day of the week!

  19. Melissa

    I am so with you…I would have written a book if I had touched on everything that was going on in my mind and heart while reading (and re-reading) this chapter. Maybe I will break it down into a few more posts or maybe I will hit my prayer journal and work some things out with God. Convicting with a capital C!

    1. Marla Taviano

      Good point about hitting your prayer journal. So many of my thoughts on this will never go any further than my journal. (and some that I’ve shared I probably should’ve left there!) ๐Ÿ™‚

  20. Sandra

    I lost another friend yesterday (3rd one in last few months) and instead of sad, it’s making me want to be more bold and active. I want to be present, connected, and creating and serving. I have to work on the other part where I’m feeling angry at others. Those that aren’t’ stepping up. I want to help but they aren’t’ letting me in. I have to learn to pray instead of trying to push or influence. Even by trying to set an example isn’t’ working, so I think I have to double-up my prayer time ๐Ÿ˜‰ maybe triple…..

    1. Jaclyn K

      Sandra, its so hard to loose someone you love. I admire your positive attitude. I know when I lost my friend last year I was lost in despair. It was only by God’s grace that I made it back. While I did find some relief in my head that she was in heaven my heart was heavy. I pray you have even a small opening to share God’s message with the people you love and that they would be open to recieve it:)

  21. janelle

    One more: smile
    A quote from Livi or Ava….” Mom said, if we like dirt we will like Cambodia”…….It just hit me as I read your post… ” if you like dirt….you will love each individual human….. God created”

  22. janelle

    to let others see JESUS CHRIST in me…. ?
    ” to love like you have never been hurt.” ….Satchel Page…….to love those that drive me nuts…to let them get close to me enough to see that I ( through JESUS CHRIST) love them. That truly takes the blood of JESUS CHRIST…but if we are to give them JESUS ? Then we need to give them JESUS….self can not love like we have never been hurt…flesh reaction – Hurt = retreat.
    Jesus = draw close….that is my challenge to “live out…the Living Bible/Word”

  23. Jen Hanson

    1. Struggling with all the ideas I have (or want to have?) but not having (read: making) the time to execute them.
    2. I’m going to Uganda in March (!!!)
    3. I’m hosting a “Compassion Sunday” and my church next week to try and get some sponsors for some amazing kiddos in need.
    4. I am totally guilty of wanting to stay “de-sanitized” from the world and the people in it. I can’t imagine how much worse it would be if I had kids. ๐Ÿ™
    5. Still churning…. lots of thoughts, opinions, ideas, still very little action.

      1. Jen Hanson

        He is!!! I’ll be posting a blog about it soon and then keeping everyone up-to-date with some simply AWESOME stuff we are going to be doing to raise support. So excited!!

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