Book Review: Something Needs to Change by David Platt

91XundaLFLLIt’s rare for me to be torn between savoring a book or reading it all at once, but this book made me feel that tension the entire time.

Something Needs to Change: A Call to Make Your Life Count in a World of Urgent Need by David Platt is truly a MUST read for anyone who claims to be a follower of Jesus. The author’s vulnerability and honest questions are so refreshing and compelling in our current culture, even in the church, of leaders needing to be “perfect.”

David Platt tells of his trek through the Himalayas and the people/situations he experienced along the way. He talks about the poverty, the darkness, the challenges these precious people face each day. He also shares about how the church operates there and how they are truly changing the world, one life at a time, even in the face of severe persecution and other challenges. He shares such wisdom throughout the book and I have been truly challenged by his words. I don’t say that lightly. 

As I read, I was reminded of my time in North Africa fourteen years ago. I was part of an “undercover mission team” and we observed the persecution of the church there. As we heard the stories from the believers we met, we were humbled and challenged because we have it so easy in the U.S. as Christians. Reading this book made me realize how complacent I have become, and how I need to be constantly sharing the love of Jesus with others in tangible ways and with my words.

I realize that God is calling me to new heights of love for him and others. To a kind of love that goes beyond all my religious learning or sense of religious responsibility. To a kind of love only God can create. A kind of love that causes you to change the plans you might have had for your life or your family or your future. A kind of costly, uncomfortable love that’s neither complacent or content to protect yourself from the needs of those around you. – David Platt

The life Jesus called us to is not one of comfort and complacency. He called us to CHANGE THE WORLD. Are you doing that? Am I doing that? What do you want the Church to look like?

…I long to be part of a church…that is simply committed to the most important things: caring for the hurting with compassion and spreading God’s love to the hopeless with courage. I want to be part of a people who are fearlessly holding on to God’s Word while selflessly sacrificing to share and show God’s love amid urgent needs in our world. I want to be part of the church like God has designed it to be. The kind of church that can change the world. – David Platt

Please read this book. Allow God to speak to you through it. And then make changes. I know I will be reading and rereading this, and I’m already praying about what I can be doing differently because something needs to change.

I received an ARC from the publisher and this is my honest review. 

The What or The Who (Not the Band)

Last week’s sermon hasn’t left my mind much since I heard it.

The focus was on 2 Corinthians 5:14-16, 19-20.

“Either way, Christ’s love controls us. Since we believe that Christ died for all, we also believe that we have all died to our old life. He died for everyone so that those who receive his new life will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ, who died and was raised for them. So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know him now!

For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!””

‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭5:14-16, 19-20‬ ‭NLT‬‬

This passage highlights a few important things for our life on this earth:

  • Christ’s love should control us. Not influence us, but CONTROL everything we are and do.
  • We are ultimately here to help people know Jesus and to see them as He sees them.
  • We are ambassadors entrusted with this great work!

The pastor commented that so often in this life we (are taught to) stress about the answer to the question, “what am I here for?

We wonder if we’re accomplishing that which we are here to do, and we often allow that question to cause unnecessary anxiety and fear. “What is my purpose? What if I never find it?” We allow that to drive our choices and actions.

I know people who have left their “secular” career to do something more “spiritual” while missing the fact that God needed them exactly where they were to be a light for Him (#MissionalLiving).

Instead of focusing on what we should be doing, the pastor said that we should be focusing on this question: “For whom am I here?

Who, not what.

Who has God placed in our sphere of influence? Our family, friends, neighbors, and coworkers are our purpose here.

Most importantly, we should never pursue the “what” at the expense of the “who” because EVERYTHING we do is just an excuse or a platform to lead others to Jesus. Everything.

We all have gifts and strengths and we have roles to play with those gifts and strengths; and we all have stories that others need to hear. God can use any job, any situation for His purposes, if we allow Him to do so.

In closing, he encouraged us to ask God to breathe mission into our current life and circumstances instead of asking Him to change them, to be content with the what and focus on the who.


This is relevant to me in a unique way:

Lately I’ve been struggling with being content with the sales of my book. Numbers. Rankings. Influence. This part of my journey has not gone as I expected.

Before it went to press, I had a modest goal in mind, one that I deemed easily – and quickly – attainable. I poured my heart into telling Tori’s story and it is the most vulnerable thing I have ever done. Her life and the lessons learned from her life matter and I just knew that I would sell thousands and thousands of copies!

As of today I have only reached 10% of that goal. Ten.

(I don’t tell you that to make you feel guilty if you haven’t bought it – though I wouldn’t mind if you did decide to buy it! 😉 There’s a point to all of this.)

Of course, I’m humbly thrilled that ANYONE has wanted to read it, and each sale means that someone new has learned about Krabbe, about Tori, and about our Heavenly Father. THAT is what matters.

But, if I am honest, I am also disappointed because I thought I would sell more given the number of people who have followed Tori from the beginning.

I’m human, after all. Pride sneaks in when we least expect to see it. I worked hard on the book and emotionally invested myself in it, so I obviously want it to “succeed” in terms of high numbers. But is that success?

I had been trying to brainstorm how to increase sales, how to market it on a greater scale (with zero dollars) in order to get the numbers up. It began to consume my thoughts (when I wasn’t caring for babies).

And then I heard that sermon last weekend and I understood what the Lord was asking of me:

Do I really trust the God of the universe to put my book in the hands of those who truly need the message? Is it about the number sold or about the soul reading it?

As one of my favorite songs says, “You’ve brought me this far, why would I question You now?” He opened the doors for it to be published, but do I trust His intentions? Yes. I just needed to be reminded, to refocus.

It’s not about numbers, it’s not about selling millions (though that would be incredible): it’s about my obedience in telling our story and allowing God to use it as He sees fit. Him, not me.

It’s so much more than just book sales. My book is just another way – not the only way – God is using my circumstances, my story, my faith, and my life to reconcile people to Him.

I have to remember this. Daily. And whenever I am tempted to be concerned with the numbers (often), I need to surrender it all to the One who is in control. And I need to pray that He will continue to use my life for His Kingdom and glory.

That’s what it’s all about.

RYFO: Serving the Voices

  
We were introduced to RYFO about four years ago and it quickly became one of our favorite ministries ever. 

It all started with this video coming across my Facebook news feed – a collection of interviews of RYFO host homes and testimonies of their experiences. I showed it to Brennan and we knew we had to be part of this!

(See more videos here: https://m.youtube.com/channel/UCh4CyYbZK-iy1FuuBbxdmIw )

RYFO seeks to serve and care for musicians as they travel the country. Musicians pour their hearts out on stage to their fans and we seek to fill them back up.

When bands are just starting out they don’t make much money – sometimes enough to pay for gas to get to the next venue and maybe some food.

Many times they are forced to sleep in their vans – in summer and winter’s extreme temperatures – because hotel rooms are out of reach.

Fast food and snacks are the norm for months on the road. Good nutrition is difficult to maintain.

It’s not the most glamorous life when you are just starting out, but they do it because they have huge dreams and they are taking their passion on the road, sharing their music and their hearts with their fans night after night.

Because of this, a clean bed and home-cooked meals are heavenly to these bands! 

RYFO saw a need a created an ever-growing network of host homes across the country, and we are one of them! 

Brennan and I share the mindset that everything we have is the Lord’s – including our home – and we love opening our home to traveling bands. We have hosted close to 20 bands over the past few years and absolutely love the experience!

What does a typical stay look like?

We set up our basement – we can sleep 11-12 comfortably – with air mattresses and couches. There is a full bathroom and a laundry room down there, as well as all our entertainment options (TV, Wii, etc.). We leave the wifi password in plain view 😄 

We provide snacks and water bottles for them as they are often hungry when they arrive (which is often late).

How much time they come up to visit with us is always up to the band – we know they are exhausted and need privacy and rest. But the entire house and yard are open to them, and we love when we get to host.

We may not appreciate their genre of music, but we love them and serve them regardless of our musical differences 😉 We joke with our metal bands about that all the time – they are reaching people we couldn’t easily reach!

The bands will tell you that these host homes are a blessing to them, but we can attest that these musicians bless us far more! We have met some amazing people through this ministry!

You don’t have to have a huge, perfect home. All you need is an open heart willing to open your doors to these wonderful men and women as they travel the country in pursuit of their dreams.

If you are interested in learning more, check out http://www.ryfo.org/help and pray about being a host home! 

We need many more in several areas of the country, so if this sounds like you, please apply today!

Homesick

When my grandfather passed away last month after a long battle with Alzheimer’s, I started thinking about Heaven much more than usual.
We all rejoiced knowing that he was able to be himself again, to visit with so many loved ones, and – even more importantly – because he is with Jesus! 
His death brought such peace to my heart because of all he had endured over the past ten years, and it makes me so happy to know that he is whole again.

It isn’t that I’ve never spent time thinking about Heaven – I just never really wanted to go there, yet. I am young, life has been good to me, and there are so many more experiences to be had, so it was always something far in the future (I hoped) I could look forward to and find comfort and joy.

But, with Tori being terminally ill, my perspective on all of this has shifted.

The world is growing worse by the day. Evil abounds. Sin is rampant. I hate watching or reading the news because it only brings stress and frustration into my heart. The Bible’s words are yet again being proven true by the day – things keep getting worse. And we know that they won’t get any better until Jesus returns.

God has promised us that if we follow Jesus we will spend eternity in Heaven. Eternity. Not 100 years as we might live on this earth, but forever.

Given all of these things, why wouldn’t I long for Heaven?

An older song by MercyMe has been in my mind frequently over the past month and its message is so timely:

You’re in a better place, I’ve heard a thousand times,

And at least a thousand times I’ve rejoiced for you.

But the reason why I’m broken, the reason why I cry 

Is how long must I wait to be with you?

I close my eyes and I see your face 

If home’s where my heart is then I’m out of place 

Lord, won’t you give me strength to make it through somehow 

I’ve never been more homesick than now 

Help me Lord cause I don’t understand your ways 

The reason why I wonder if I’ll ever know 

But, even if you showed me, the hurt would be the same 

Cause I’m still here so far away from home.

In Christ, there are no goodbyes, 

And in Christ, there is no end.

So I’ll hold onto Jesus with all that I have to see you again…

If God chooses to take Tori to Heaven before us, as hard as that will be, there is joy even in that. 

How? She will be free from pain, from Krabbe, from this evil world. She will be safe and she will be with Jesus. And, compared to eternity, it won’t be that long until we meet her again! 

This doesn’t mean I am excited to lose her here on earth, not at all. Rather, I find such a comfort in knowing that she will be in the best possible place and that we will be there “soon” with her.

What a hope we have in Jesus, because of the sacrifice He made.

I am already homesick for Heaven and I know that if God takes our Tori home, my homesickness will only increase. 

But, I also know that our separation will be temporary, a vapor in light of eternity. And that brings joy to my heart.

“I’ve never been more homesick than now.”

(If you have questions about what it means to follow Jesus and have a relationship with Him, ask someone now and don’t delay! No one is promised tomorrow; please don’t procrastinate on making the most important decision of your life.)

Security in the Mystery

I have found that God will often use a lesson or a specific scripture passage that you read long ago but had forgotten; at just the right moment He will bring it to mind and speak to you through it.

My One Year Bible reading this week has been going through the book of Second Kings. When I got to the passages for yesterday and today, I remembered that I had heard Beth Moore teach on this lesson in September 2012. 

Looking back, everything about that conference – song choices included – was perfect for what we are facing now.

And Beth’s teaching was relevant then, but it is even more relevant today as we walk through this struggle with Tori’s health.

I found my journal with the notes from the conference and will share them below along with my current thoughts as it pertains to our journey now.

2 Kings 4:1-37 focuses on two women – one who is poor and has almost nothing, and one who is wealthy and has almost everything.

The first woman has gone through much and is now facing another tragedy. She is honest about what she’s going through. 

The second woman says that she’s perfectly fine, even though deep in her heart she has a longing that has not been fulfilled. 

The first woman is willing to ask for help and acknowledges her need. 

The second woman doesn’t ask so that she will not be disappointed. Essentially, she says “don’t mess with me” because she is so afraid that she will be disappointed.

I want to focus on the second woman today as I can relate to one of her struggles so well (not the wealthy part, haha, though we have everything we need and more. We are content.).

Here is the relevant passage:

One day Elisha went to the town of Shunem. A wealthy woman lived there, and she urged him to come to her home for a meal. After that, whenever he passed that way, he would stop there for something to eat.

She said to her husband, “I am sure this man who stops in from time to time is a holy man of God. Let’s build a small room for him on the roof and furnish it with a bed, a table, a chair, and a lamp. Then he will have a place to stay whenever he comes by.”

One day Elisha returned to Shunem, and he went up to this upper room to rest. He said to his servant Gehazi, “Tell the woman from Shunem I want to speak to her.” When she appeared, Elisha said to Gehazi, “Tell her, ‘We appreciate the kind concern you have shown us. What can we do for you? Can we put in a good word for you to the king or to the commander of the army?’” “No,” she replied, “my family takes good care of me.”

Later Elisha asked Gehazi, “What can we do for her?” Gehazi replied, “She doesn’t have a son, and her husband is an old man.” “Call her back again,” Elisha told him.

When the woman returned, Elisha said to her as she stood in the doorway, “Next year at this time you will be holding a son in your arms!”

“No, my lord!” she cried. “O man of God, don’t deceive me and get my hopes up like that.”

But sure enough, the woman soon became pregnant. And at that time the following year she had a son, just as Elisha had said.

One day when her child was older, he went out to help his father, who was working with the harvesters. Suddenly he cried out, “My head hurts! My head hurts!” His father said to one of the servants, “Carry him home to his mother.” So the servant took him home, and his mother held him on her lap.

But around noontime he died. She carried him up and laid him on the bed of the man of God, then shut the door and left him there.

She sent a message to her husband: “Send one of the servants and a donkey so that I can hurry to the man of God and come right back.” “Why go today?” he asked. “It is neither a new moon festival nor a Sabbath.” But she said, “It will be all right.”

So she saddled the donkey and said to the servant, “Hurry! Don’t slow down unless I tell you to.” As she approached the man of God at Mount Carmel, Elisha saw her in the distance. He said to Gehazi, “Look, the woman from Shunem is coming. Run out to meet her and ask her, ‘Is everything all right with you, your husband, and your child?’”

“Yes,” the woman told Gehazi, “everything is fine.”

But when she came to the man of God at the mountain, she fell to the ground before him and caught hold of his feet. Gehazi began to push her away, but the man of God said, “Leave her alone. She is deeply troubled, but the LORD has not told me what it is.”

Then she said, “Did I ask you for a son, my lord? And didn’t I say, ‘Don’t deceive me and get my hopes up’?”

Then Elisha said to Gehazi, “Get ready to travel; take my staff and go! Don’t talk to anyone along the way. Go quickly and lay the staff on the child’s face.”

But the boy’s mother said, “As surely as the LORD lives and you yourself live, I won’t go home unless you go with me.” So Elisha returned with her. Gehazi hurried on ahead and laid the staff on the child’s face, but nothing happened. There was no sign of life.

He returned to meet Elisha and told him, “The child is still dead.” When Elisha arrived, the child was indeed dead, lying there on the prophet’s bed.

He went in alone and shut the door behind him and prayed to the LORD. Then he lay down on the child’s body, placing his mouth on the child’s mouth, his eyes on the child’s eyes, and his hands on the child’s hands. And as he stretched out on him, the child’s body began to grow warm again!

Elisha got up, walked back and forth across the room once, and then stretched himself out again on the child. This time the boy sneezed seven times and opened his eyes! Then Elisha summoned Gehazi. “Call the child’s mother!” he said.

And when she came in, Elisha said, “Here, take your son!”

She fell at his feet and bowed before him, overwhelmed with gratitude. Then she took her son in her arms and carried him downstairs.

 (‭2 Kings‬ ‭4‬:‭8-37‬ NLT)

My first thought when I read this was “wow – that’s me.” 

God changed my heart about being a mother when I least expected it; Brennan and I prayed and tried for two years after that heart change before becoming pregnant. 

Those two years brought monthly disappointments as we struggled to conceive. It became difficult to hope. I never took pregnancy tests because I didn’t want to see the negative result.

As I have said before, fear is easy but hope is excrutiating. Hope requires vulnerability and trust. Hope requires faith.

Very few people knew we were trying to conceive; much like the second woman, I kept our struggles inside because I didn’t want to face our failure time and time again. I was “fine” on the outside.

When I took a pregnancy test on December 1, 2013, I couldn’t believe my eyes. God had given us a child!

My heart was so filled with joy during pregnancy (which I loved!) and especially when Tori was born (July 30, 2014). God so richly blessed us with her.

And on February 13, 2015 we found out He might be taking her away.

It has been a tough six months since she became symptomatic, and an even tougher five months since she was diagnosed with Krabbe.

And yet, our faith has only increased through this trial – not because we are certain that God will heal her here on earth, but because He has proven to us over and over again that He is good, He is faithful, He is trustworthy. 

Our desperation has brought us to a new place in our relationship with God and with each other. Do we understand why He has allowed this? No. Do we like it? Definitely not. But one thing remains true – He is loving and faithful! We choose to believe His Word and His promises, no matter what.

I don’t know if our story will end up like this woman’s story did, with her son being restored. But, I trust that God has only good things for us even if we can’t understand what is happening now.

Back to Beth’s teachings. Here are some of my notes from the points she made. I’m not sure which quotes were directly from her, so just assume they all were 😉 :

1 – Personal desperation can jar us out of secondhand stories. 

Don’t live in someone else’s story – get your own story. We were all meant to have our own miraculous story of how God has rescued and changed us. Our faith should be our own.

2 – God didn’t call us to “fine.” He called us to faith. 

Do you want to live a life that is humanly explainable, or do you want to live a life in the supernatural provision of God? Your need is your invitation to supernatural provision! If you have everything you need, you need a bigger life (this does not contradict contentment).

The woman doesn’t ask so that she will not be disappointed. She wants to be safe. She lives a little life because she will not ask. We are not called to a little life – we are called to an abundant life (Acts 4).

– We try to be faithful without the faith.

– We want to be safe; we want to be given something He won’t take away.

– We choose to live a humanly explainable life to be comfortable.

“Without faith it is impossible to please God.” – Hebrews 11:6


3 – Faith trusts that every call to forsake is also a call to take.
 

We forsake sin and take a life of peace and freedom. 

We forsake bitterness and take joy. 

We forsake fear and take courage. 

We are called to participate, to act, in God’s plan. Don’t let people stand between you and Jesus. 

“Don’t waste the harvest of failure. You will never have a better teacher.”


4 – Faith faces the fact that there is no formula. 

Formulas are our way of trying to control God. He knows we would go after the formula and results instead of the relationship.


5 – Faith rests its case on the resurrection of the dead. 

There is nothing God cannot do.

“Oh, my God, He will not delay, my refuge and strength always. I will not fear, His promise is true. My God will come through always!” – Kristian Stanfill 

Do I have enough security in God to trust him with the mystery?

Trust that He is good among the waiting.

“If God doesn’t part your sea, He wants you to walk on it.”

_____________________________

Thank you, Lord, for your living word through which You speak to us in fresh ways just when we need it.

Praying for Healing…

If I am honest, I will admit that I am very skeptical of God giving the gift of healing to people in the world today. I absolutely believe that He, Himself, can heal and often does. But, because I have seen so many phony healers in my lifetime, I am admittedly skeptical about a person having that gift.

However, we are now in a situation where only God can save our little girl’s life. So, it has made us consider things that we previously would have pushed aside.

Several people have mentioned Bethel Church in Redding, CA to me as a place that is known for successful healings and workings of the Holy Spirit. The funny thing about that is that my hometown is a little town called Red Bluff, only 30 minutes south of where Bethel is located.

Brennan and I have been praying and pleading with God to heal Tori because it would be such an incredible testimony of His power to tens of thousands of people around the world, especially the doctors who have been working with us who are experts in these fields. Can you imagine what an impact it would have for them to see a new MRI of her brain and have it be completely restored again? And to see her developing and growing normally again?

Because of the generosity of hundreds, we have the financial ability to hop on a plane to go to Bethel in person and to see my family at the same time. Please pray with us about this. We are so desperate to save our little girl’s life, but even more so, we want God to use her to change the world. For the first time in two weeks I feel overwhelmed with hope, and that is far better than dwelling on the negative.

http://www.facebook.com/prayingfortori

Redeeming Grace Church – Guatemala 2014

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God is at work in Guatemala City, and this summer our church’s team will be joining Him there! Our church is headed to Guatemala City for a mission trip! Unfortunately, I will be unable to join them as the trip will be happening on my due date 😉 However, I believe that it is my turn to be the “sender” and to help them get there, so I have taken on many of the administrative aspects of the trip preparation, including fundraising.

There are ten people from Redeeming Grace Church preparing to serve the people of Guatemala City from August 2-9, 2014. They will be going with an organization called Good News in Action – a church planting group that has been serving in Central America for over 40 years. They will be going out each day to meet people in certain Guatemala City neighborhoods and inviting them to events, sharing the Gospel whenever possible, and loving the beautiful people of Guatemala.

As a team, we need to raise about $16,000 to cover our expenses. If you are willing and able to support the team financially, we have set up an online giving page that makes it easy! Donations are tax-deductible (as long as you give us your name), and one-hundred percent of donations received will go to missions!

Please pray about supporting this cause and help be a “sender” of RGC’s team!