Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Hope people enjoy this lecture on the Sermon on the Mount.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

"Radical" Upsets but Inspires

David Platt's book is called Radical: Taking Back your
Faith from the American Dream. At time of writing, it stands at about 90 in Amazon sales rank. That means that out of the over seven million books on Amazon, this title is selling only ninety places away from number one! It's flying off the shelves.

I heard about it from a number of people who said they were reading it and found it provocative and even life-changing. After a certain number, I decided I didn't want to be the only one who hasn't read it.

Platt is a preacher in a southern mega-church near New Orleans. He has strong connections with missions, and has traveled quite a bit to missions works in Africa, Asia, and elsewhere. His strongest sections come from the comparisons he makes between the hard-core thirst for the word and for ministry in developing countries, and the consumer mentality that predominates in too much of the American church--something with which anyone who has done much work in these ministries is quite familiar.

Reviewers that hate his book are those who argue that being rich and enjoying it is a good thing, and they resent his suggestion that we should give up all to follow Jesus. So he has the right kind of enemies! People I've talked to who feel impacted by the book feel that way because he dares to call into question the soft, bourgeois assumptions that penetrate all of us who live in such luxury and wealth.

I found the book stirring and exciting at a number of points. I'm even hopeful that if a book worded this strongly can command the kind of attention it is, maybe some will be able to read my own book on the western church that should hit Amazon next week. (Right now, you can only buy it from Xenos or me).

I think it's important, when writing on the church, that we tell the truth about where we're at, and what the Bible says. But at the same time, we need to include positive ideas for change, and to his credit, Platt has stories of extraordinary sacrifice by wealthy Americans that clearly show our case is not hopeless. I hope my piece will be judged to be positive rather than negative as well.

I'm not into the lordship rhetoric Platt brings, and his approach is somewhat individualistic--everyone decides to do a ministry somewhere, but it's not cohesive. Much of the giving might be un-strategic, like giving an inner city poor person your video game box. But I'm not going to pick at his points, because I think this is good book. He calls for outreach, disciple making, and simple living. All good. All needed.

It kills me to wonder how many American readers will actually do what he suggests, like capping their income and selling their possessions to give to the poor. Many are reading it, but will any act on it? According to him, some people in his church are acting.

Anything that could stir people the way this one has must be saying something right. Read it.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Acts 19 4 stories Part 1

This series of four seemingly unrelated stories were selected by Luke (with Paul) to tell us something about the remarkable revival in Ephesus. What is the common thread? 5 part series

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Why Pleasure seeking Fails

Just like today, the hedonists seeking self-gratification were able to see their need for Christ.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

More Evidence

The evidence that rampant materialism and wholesale rejection of moral norms and rising narcissism is destroying young people continues to mount.

Martha Irvine's article for the Canadian press
is an article on a recent study headed by Jean Twenge, a San Diego State University psychology professor, and five other universities. The study is based on over 77,000 student who took the MMPI test in 2007 and during the Great Depression in 1938.

The changes measured were striking. On mental health problems, "five times as many students in 2007 surpassed thresholds in one or more mental health categories, compared with those who did so in 1938."

They also documented greatly elevated levels of "'hypomania,' a measure of anxiety and unrealistic optimism (from 5 per cent of students in 1938 to 31 per cent in 2007," and depression, which went from
from 1 per cent to 6 per cent.

Twenge said the most current numbers may even be low given all the students taking antidepressants and other psychotropic medications, which help alleviate symptoms the survey asks about.
Twenge earlier documented similar problems in young people today in Generation Me: Why Today's Young Americans Are More Confident, Assertive, Entitled - and More Miserable Than Ever Before.
"Several studies also have captured the growing interest in being rich, with 77 per cent of those questioned for UCLA's 2008 national survey of college freshmen saying it was "essential" or "very important" to be financially well off."
Twenge has a website about her new book, The Narcissism Epidemic which documents the current shift affecting both students and their parents in America.