Friday, December 31, 2010

Our Experiment for the New Year

It's been a while since we've posted anything....the fall has been busy with lots of family and friends.

As 2010 comes to an end and 2011 begins we wanted to share what God has put on our hearts for the coming year. We read the book "Radical' by David Platt. Platt became the pastor of a mega church in Birmingham, AL when God started challenging him on what he and his church were giving their lives to. He found that the values of the American Dream (self-reliance, making much of ourselves) had become mixed in with the gospel to create an American Christian church which preaches a costless discipleship and separates the obligations of Christianity from its privileges . Jesus wasn't American and the values He preaches aren't what our prevailing American culture tell us to give our lives to. God blesses us to be a blessing to others to see the Nations reached. The gospel and our relationship with Christ shouldn't be us centered, but Christ centered first and foremost and second, others centered. To quote Radical:

The message of Biblical Christianity is not "God loves me, period," as if we were the object of our own faith. The message of biblical Christianity is "God loves me so that I might make Him, His ways, His salvation, His glory, and His greatness --know among all nations."

This rang true with deep convictions God had given us out of Gen 12:1-3 and Ps 67:1-2.

So, at the end of the book Platt gives what he calls "The Radical Experiment: One Year to a Life Turned Upside Down". In this he challenges the reader to give a year to these five things:

1) Pray for the entire world. The tool he suggests is the book 'Operation World'. It has every country listed with info and things to pray for broken out each day for the entire year. We are also going to be intentional about praying for our friends, family and missionaries we personally know as exhorted in Eph 6:18

2) Read through the entire Bible. Most people read portions, but most have never actually read the entire thing. I (Johnena) haven't actually read through the entire Bible. There are lots of Bible reading plans online.

3) Sacrifice my money for a specific purpose. Most people maybe give, but many don't give to the point of actually sacrificing anything. We give, but we don't really notice it's gone. It's just part of our budget. Ideas for this is not just a monetary amount, but giving up something that does have some financial aspect to it, but it could be something you place a value in or takes up a lot of your time that you could use for something else. Joe isn't going to spend any money on sports equipment, workout gear, races, etc. for the next year. It's not a lot of money, but it is time and something that is a sacrifice for him. We're going to give away all of our tax return. We want to show we put our trust in God for future finances instead of money and ourselves. My sacrifice is giving up cable. We don't really watch that much tv, but we do have shows we enjoy. During the time we would normally watch our show we're going to either pray, read one of the books we've picked out to read this year, work on Bible study, keep up with friends.

4) I will spend time in another context. Platt challenges one to give 2% or one week, of the next year to something outside of your normal context. His main emphasis is to go overseas, but realizes this isn't possible for some. Other ideas are prison ministry, soup kitchen, missions trip in the states. Anything to expand your outlook on life and allow God to speak to you in a new way. As most of you now know from our Christmas letter, we're going to Central Asia over Spring Break.

5) I will commit my life to a multiplying community. This challenge is to get involved relationally with other believers. This could be by joining a small group at church, a Bible study, etc. Allowing people/friends into your life to be real with them, to allow them to speak into your life, to pursue a deeper relationship with Christ together.

We are committing to these things for the next year. We are sharing this with all of you to help hold us accountable and to ask you to join us in this experiment for the next year. We'll update through out the year as to how God is using this in our lives to change us and make us more like HIM.

Our challenge to you, is to join us in this Radical experiment. For anyone who commits to implementing these 5 things we'll buy you a copy of Operation World 2010 and give $500 towards a short term missions trip (it can be in the states or overseas). We'd love to hear what you're committing to and how God uses this in your life too.

Happy New Year!

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