Radical Reading

Radical_cvr:Mechanical File I recently finished reading David Platt’s book Radical and I can say without hesitation that it is a total game changer! He’s brilliant in terms of being so up front and clear about the gospel and what God requires of us but at the same time he writes so plainly that it just makes sense.

While the book is fairly short, it took me a while to read it because I had to continually stop and think about what I was reading and how to digest it all. The main idea is that we need to be radical in our faith, we need to understand our purpose for being on this planet and our true calling… it does require some processing. He does talk about selling our belongings and moving overseas but in a way that it makes sense. Is the point of life attaining material possessions?

I appreciated it because Platt does emphasize that this whole world is temporary and there are billions of people alive on the planet who do not know God. What other reason are we created than to tell the world about Jesus? If that is the point, than why are we so reluctant to do that? Why has being comfortable become so important to us?

Platt writes about different missionaries who “lost” or rather “gave” their lives serving Christ. Something clicked with me.. the idea that yes, if we are called to serve God in a radical way.. and our lives are to be lived in constant daily obedience, then when God is done with us, rather when we have accomplished all we need to for Him .. He’ll just bring us home. It’s kind of cool. So really all that matters on this earth is how we are serving God and obeying Him in our lives.

Platt also spends much time talking about who Jesus really is and what it means to follow Him completely.. radically. He talks about giving to the poor and needy, about helping the needs around us and the needs overseas. He ends the book with a challenge.. a challenging challenge but one that could be accomplished in a year. The challenge has seemingly easy elements such as reading the bible and praying for the entire world to more complicated and uncomfortable parts like taking the gospel somewhere for a week. Imagine, if every person who claims to be a Christian attempted a challenge such as this one.. we would be a force to be reckoned with.

I highly recommend this book although must warn you that it will make you delightfully uncomfortable and stir up things in your heart that will require you to look at your life in a totally different way.

P.S. If you want to hear David Platt talk about his book … click here. And after you’re done that.. go buy a copy!

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Thanks eh!

one thousand gifts

I do love jumping on a good bandwagon but sometimes I’m a bit late. I have heard Ann Voskamp’s name around and lots of chatter about her book One Thousand Gifts. I wasn’t really listening when people used to talk about her because I just figured it was some sort of Christian buzz and for the past while I wasn’t really into reading things that would challenge my outlook and viewpoint, much less my faith.

Anyway when I was home in Canada one morning my mom read me one of her blog posts on the New Year and it made us cry and I was hooked. I wanted to hear more. And so I downloaded her book and got right into it.

I love her approach to living a life of gratitude and have never realized how spiritual it is to give thanks. The importance of giving thanks in the good times as well as the bad times. Being able to look at life through a lens of gratitude is something I am going to work on doing this year. I think that whole thing goes along with being really awake. Awake enough to notice the things for which we should give thanks. Looking at the details of every situation and coming away from them with thanksgiving. Powerful stuff.

So true, my life is very different from Mrs Voskamp’s life but I find that her message is strong for anyone in any stage of life. Her idea of making a list of a 1000 things I’m grateful for is something I can do as a single, school teacher living in Tokyo. I definitely recommend her book and her other writings. They definitely change a girl’s perspective and even though I was late jumping on this bandwagon, I’m so glad I did!

P.S. I must admit that after reading her book I suddenly want to marry a farmer, live on a farm and raise and homeschool half a dozen kids. Who knew?

Not Entirely Miserable

Les Miserables

I fell in love with the soundtrack to Les Miserables years and years ago. I think I was about 11 or 12 years old and would listen to it over and over and over again. I remember I used to clean my room to it. Yep, a general room cleaning took the entire musical.. I was a messy child. I remember going to see it for the first time when I was 14 and being completely blown away, tears streaming down my face and feeling so completely affected by the musical. Later, I saw it in the West End several times and continued to be shaken and impressed and affected each time I saw it. So of course when I heard that they were making a film version, I immediately declared that it would become my new favourite movie and counted down the days until I could see it in the cinema.

When I saw it for the first time, I wasn’t completely impressed but I think it just took me back a bit. I was impressed by how they filmed it and the whole thing in general, but growing up hearing Colm Wilkinson as Jean Valjean, it took a while to adjust to Hugh. And going from the stage to the screen has its own difficulties.. so for whatever reason I wasn’t totally gripped the first time BUT I went again this weekend with some friends who had not seen it and I fell in love with it again.

As I sat in my seat, feeling all those feelings well up inside me again I started to think about why it is so powerful! I know there has been a lot of talk about Les Mis and the story and the spiritual significance as of late. Yes, it’s a story of forgiveness. Yes, it speaks volumes about life and love and purpose. I think I was struck by the fact that it so clearly shows humanity. It shows our flaws and emphasizes the importance of living life well. I also think that it reiterates our desire to be part of something bigger. Our desire for revolution. Our desire for acceptance. Our desire to fight for what’s right.

But while it shows us such big things it also depicts the fact that life doesn’t always turn out the way we want it to. Poor Fantine is testament to that. Life doesn’t always work out the way we imagine… or dreamed.

I am always moved by the last scene as Jean Valjean sits at the end of his life, he has those who have gone on ahead singing him to heaven and we see that he is a man who loved and did what he could and really did live his life well. He can leave his pain and hurt and grief behind him and find ultimate freedom and eternal rest. He made it to the end and was told “well done”. Isn’t that the ultimate goal?

As CS Lewis writes “we read to know we are not alone”.. I believe that Les Miserables is the film version of that idea.. We watch it and we realize that when it comes to our human struggles, desire for love and forgiveness and need to belong to a bigger cause, we are definitely not alone.