As the new year begins, I've decided to commit once again to a few "New Year's Resolutions." And I'm a little ashamed to say that these resolutions are... the same as last year. I'm sure I'm not the only one who hasn't always been able to keep the resolutions that seem so easy at the beginning of the year. So, as last year, I am going to be challenging myself to participate in the "Radical Year," as written by David Platt in "Radical" (read it!). The goal: to follow Christ radically. Through this year, I want to become irreversibly abandoned to Jesus.
Second, I'm resolving to pray for the whole world. Doing this will take some discipline, as I'm going to pray country-by-country through the book "Operation World," which I highly recommend for every family. I posted this last time, but it's just as important now. In regards to praying for the whole world, David Platt wrote: "In a world where more than 4.5 billion people are without Christ... we
have to begin somewhere. In Matthew 9 we see [Jesus] surrounded by the
multitudes and moved with compassion because they were 'harassed and
helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.' So He turned to His disciples
and said, 'The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the
Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest
field.' I would have expected him to immediately start giving orders to
his disciples. 'Peter, you go to that person. John you care for that
guy.' But that's not what he said... When Jesus looked at the harassed
and helpless multitudes, apparently his concern was not that the lost
would come to the Father. Instead, his concern was that his followers
would not go to the lost. Now think about it. What happens when you and
I take these words from Jesus and put them in a world where more than a
billion people have still not heard the gospel? A fundamental reality
snaps into focus: we are not praying. This the the step that you and I
are most likely to overlook and yet the one that is the most dangerous
for us to ignore."
Additionally, I'll be sacrificing my money for a specific cause. This part of the challenge I actually did complete last year (don't ask me how I couldn't read the Bible, but I could sacrifice money!). You can read more about the details here. Last year, I sacrificed money for the cause of world hunger, not spending a single dollar unnecessarily, but donating it to world hunger causes. This year, I'm going to spend every dollar I can to giving Bibles to those without them in the countries that need them the most. Last year, I gave physical food. This year, I'll give spiritual food - food that will sustain a person for life and give them the greatest benefit that can be gained: Jesus.
Fourth: Spend my time in another context. David Platt challenges us to spend just 2% of our year with going to those in need of the gospel, going to another context, another place, another country even. Lord willing, I'll be spending a week in Mexico, and possibly several months in another country later in the year. It should be easy for me to get to the other context, but I have to challenge myself to really live out of my context while I'm there, stepping out of my comfort zone to share the greatest message ever given. As I wrote last time, "Sometimes we debate about whether we should simply use the money we
would spend on a missions trip to give to the people there, but Platt
writes of a time he went to Sudan and spoke with the people. The people
expressed thanks for generous giving from donors in America, but then
they asked, 'Even in light of all these things that people have given
us, do you want to know how you can tell who a true brother is?" "How?"
"A true brother comes to be with you in your time of need.' Monetary
giving is essential, but spending our time is even more so because
through going, we share the personal, relational love of Jesus."
Last, commit to a multiplying community. This is where having a strong and multiplying church family comes in. David Platt wrote on this: "The reality is, we need community in order to follow Christ radically.
I am convinced that one reason many of us have not taken radical steps
in our giving, for example, may not be so much because we love our
possessions as it is because we fear isolation. We get convicted about
our way of living when we look at the Bible, but then when we look at
one another, we assume it must be okay because everyone else lives this
way." I need to surround myself with people who are committed to following Jesus at all costs, as the Bible calls us to do.
If I can do this, 2012 will be a year of, well, radical change. I want to leave this year completely different than I am entering it. I want to love Jesus more, know Jesus more, and obey Jesus more. It might be difficult; in fact, looking at last year's attempts, it will be hard. But Jesus called us to take up our cross and follow Him. I can't speak for you, but as for me, I want to follow Jesus wherever He goes, and I don't even want to be able to turn back.
Please pray for me. Pray that this year will make me irreversibly abandoned to Jesus.