Thursday, December 30, 2010

A Radical Plan for 2011

Well, hello there, blog friends! Long time, no post. I know. That's life with a 19-month-old. I give myself credit for having my priorities in order, though!

I have 10 blog posts waiting to be typed out here. I thought about making a New Year's resolution to have at least one blog post every month. Alas, like most of my past New Year's resolutions, my plan would be doomed to failure after March! I actually gave up on making New Year's resolutions a few years ago. I prefer to make gradual, subtle changes (both at the beginning of a year and throughout the year) in order to achieve a goal that I establish at the beginning of a new year. For example, for the past couple of years, I've had the goal of becoming healthier. So, some of my subtle changes have been to switch from white rice to brown rice, from regular pasta to whole wheat pasta, etc.

For 2011, after prayer and tears (you'll see the reason for the tears below), I'm taking a more...Radical approach to planning out my year. I'm establishing more...Radical goals for myself. One of my favorite books that I read this year was Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream by David Platt. I cannot recommend this book enough!
As I read Radical, I was reminded over and over of John Piper's works. So, if you're a Piper fan, you'll probably love this book, too! Before reading this book, I had been blinded to the Truth of Jesus' command to "go and make disciples of all nations" (Matt. 28:19). When Jesus said to "go" and to "make disciples", He wasn't making a suggestion or giving us an option. He commanded us. Because I have Jesus, I owe a debt to the rest of the world. I am obligated to share Jesus with those who have never heard the Gospel, on both a foreign and a domestic basis. God has graciously blessed me with so much, and I do not want to squander what He has entrusted to me. What seems radical to man is normal (and can even be pleasing) to God.

After describing how he, his family, and his church body have made radical changes in their lives to spread the knowledge of Christ in the world, Platt ends his book with a challenge to the reader to conduct his/her own year-long radical experiment. He lists five action points: 1. pray for the entire world; 2. read through the entire Word; 3. sacrifice your money for a specific purpose; 4. spend your time in another context; 5. commit your life to a multiplying community. I have committed to conducting my own radical experiment in 2011 because I want more of Jesus in my life and because I want to repay the debt I owe to the rest of the world.

Platt recommends an organization called Operation World for assistance in praying for the entire world, and they send out daily prayer e-mails. Hey, if it's in my inbox, I'm going to read it/pray it. I'm just that e-mail conscious!

Unfortunately, I can't say that about the Word.
I am ashamed to admit that I have never read through the entire Bible. I've tried, but I never make it past Leviticus! I found a great reading plan that breaks up the Bible into a different category (e.g., Minor Prophets, Major Prophets, History, Gospels) for each day of the week, and I think that will help keep the momentum going. And I am excited to see what God works in and through my life as a result of having more of His Word in my spirit!

I don't do much for myself in the area of rewards. I am a frilly, frou-frou kind of a girl, but I don't get my hair done regularly, I don't have acrylic nails, I don't get pedicures. But, there is one treat I give myself. Coffee!!!! Ah, my drug of choice. So smooth, rich, energizing. Yes, I love my coffee, both brewed at home and chosen as a special coffee house treat. Some girls can say that they get up every morning because they just love Jesus that much and can't wait to start their days with Him. As I confessed to a close girlfriend just today, I'm not one of those girls. Don't get me wrong...I love my Jesus. But, coffee is the reason I get up every morning. My daughter is a big reason for why I get up, but I have to walk by the kitchen first because her room is on the opposite end of the house. Most mornings, the first thing I think is, "Dear Lord, if I can just get to my coffee maker in the kitchen." Platt challenged his readers to sacrifice their money for a specific purpose and pointed out that in order for it to be a true sacrifice, it would have to hurt. Um, yeah, the biggest pain in my life would be to give up coffee. FOR AN ENTIRE YEAR. Mercy, Lord Jesus. Yes, I have cried. I have cried real tears over this commitment. I know there are dark days ahead as I detox from my smooth, rich, warm drug. The specific purpose for which I have chosen to sacrifice is the building of a water well in an impoverished community. I was stunned to read the statistics of deaths and diseases associated with contaminated water in other areas of the world. It warms my heart, so much more than a cup of freshly brewed coffee ever could, and tears run down my cheeks all over again, to know that mommas will be able to give their babies clean drinking water, in a very small part because I was willing to give up my coffee for a year. FOR AN ENTIRE YEAR. Day by day, I tell myself. Day by day. You can begin praying for my poor husband and daughter now. They will surely need it.

As far as spending my time in another context, I started teaching ESL at my church while I was still reading Radical. I will continue participating in that ministry in 2011. Jon and I were also recently asked to teach the K&1st Sunday school class at church two Sundays a month. I really feel like we're in over our heads, so we'll see how long we survive! If God wants me/us to go on another foreign missions trip in 2011, I/we will respond in obedience. But, I must say that local missions opportunities are a lot more feasible with a 19-month-old in my life! Not to mention easier on my heartstrings. Oh, how I love my little bundle of cuteness! She still smells just like a package of Pepperidge Farm Chessmen cookies. All buttery sweetness.

God has placed us in a warm, welcoming church. We have so many opportunities to serve and to impact the world for Jesus. It will be exciting to see what God has planned for Mansfield Bible Church in the coming year.

So, that's it. That's my radical plan for 2011. Long-winded, I know, but all my posts are long-winded! I hope you will pick up and read a copy of Radical and prayerfully consider how God would have you to respond. And when you read, sip a cup of coffee. And say a prayer for me. And for Jon and Claire.