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the man in the mirror

~~  By Anthony

Been reading a book lately. Adeye was further along than I was and kept saying how it changed her life, that it’s the best book she’s ever read (besides the Bible, of course).

I thought it was very, very good, very thought-provoking, but I wasn’t going that far. Until. I surpassed her in reading it. Then it tore my insides out. I felt like Mel Gibson in the last scene of Braveheart when he was disemboweled alive and still managed to screech out “FREEEEDOOOOM!”

As Adeye told you guys, the book’s called Radical, by David Platt. He put into words everything I’ve been feeling for the past twenty years, something that’s been building and building in me. And he adds things I haven’t even considered but are spot on with truth.

I am the proud father of seven beautiful children, four of whom have special needs. I have also been a minister, missionary, and evangelist for most of my years, but I read a book like that, and I feel like I’m useless, like my life is one big waste. I’m only being honest with all of you, most of whom I’ve never met nor corresponded with. I’m sure most of you, if I updated you on my life, would say, as many have, that I’ve been very productive for the kingdom.

But can I be real for a moment? With 147 million orphans in the world, with 26,000 children dying EVERY DAY from starvation, and with 4.5 billion people in the world (at the most conservative estimate) who are slipping down toward hell, I feel like I’ve been more interested in building my own kingdom than the Father’s.

What am I doing? Where have I been? Is the American dream a nightmare to our Father? Surely I’ve pursued it as a just cause to chase after?

I had lived in South Africa and Australia for eight years as a missionary. Prior to that, I’ve evangelized all over the world, on nearly every continent. One week being back on American soil showed me a stark contrast from what I’ve seen the past several years with the opulence and complacency I noticed right away.  In the first week, I met a Christian man to whom I shared my heart. Mind you, I wasn’t feeling holier-than-thou, but I was sharing the ache in my heart when I blurt out, “Americans are so spoiled!”

“No, we’re ‘blessed,’” the man retorted.

I was taken aback. I had never heard it put that way before. Immediately scriptures downloaded in my mind about how Israel was deliberately “blessed” by God, so that all nations can see that there is a God in heaven. Made sense. So, I let it go. That was in 2004.

Since then those words have haunted me. But I’ve never known why. Why doesn’t it sit right with me, Lord?! It’s scriptural. Why am I tormented by this man’s explanation of the blessed life in America?

While pondering Radical, it came to me. Yes, blessing is a gift from God, BUT it shouldn’t end there. He blesses us as we are pouring out our lives as a gift offering to a dying world. He blesses us as we die to ourselves so that others might live! Blessing is a means to an end, not an end of itself.

I have confused divine blessing with the American dream. One is all about being light on a hill as we rescue the lost. The other is a self-serving state of comfort for comfort sake. Where did this come from?

The Declaration of Independence mentions the famous words “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” as an “inalienable right,” or a natural or legal right. The historian Gary Wills writes this pursuit of happiness “supplies us with the ground of human right and the goal of human virtue. It is the basic drive of the self, and the only means given for transcending the self.”

But is it my right to be happy? Did God create me to be happy? Blessed, yes, but happy? The Greek word for blessed means happy, but listen to what God says will bring me happiness:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit,…Blessed are those who mourn,…Blessed are the meek,…Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,…Blessed are the merciful,…Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,…

I tell you, friends, just when you think you’ve given your life to God, He holds a mirror up to you, showing you a life that still needs to die to self.

Though I’ve never seen it, I’ve seen trailers for a cable show called “The Big C.” From what I can gather, it’s about a woman who faces her mortality every day due to severe cancer, which causes her to do senseless things she’d never dare to do when she was healthy, and to do them with freedom.

Gracious God, I want to be like that! I want to walk around in a worldy corpse so that your freedom can penetrate my soul to the fullest. So that I can dare to the do things that have scared me to do otherwise—things that are truly “radical” to me, but are simple commands to you.

If you have not yet read Radical and would like to, we’d love to bless TWO readers with a copy of the book.  Just leave a comment indicating that you would like to be entered.  You have until midnight on Wednesday to enter.