Fresh Eyes project reading schedule (Jan.)

Week one: * Sun., 1/2/2011 – Day #1. Mark 1-3. * Mon., 1/3/2011 – Day #2. Mark 4-6. * Tues., 1/4/2011 – Day #3. Mark 7-9. * Wed., 1/5/2011 – Day #4. Mark 10-12. * Thur., 1/6/2011 – Day #5. Mark 13-16. * Fri., 1/7/2011 – Day #6. 1 Peter 1:1-3:7. * Sat., 1/8/2011 – Day #7. 1 Peter 3:8-5:14.

Week two: * Sun., 1/9/2011 – Day #8. 2 Peter. * Mon., 1/10/2011 – Day #9. Matthew 1-4. * Tues., 1/11/2011 – Day #10. Matthew 5-7. * Wed., 1/12/2011 – Day #11. Matthew 8-10. * Thur., 1/13/2011 – Day #12. Matthew 11-13. * Fri., 1/14/2011 – Day #13. Matthew 14-16. * Sat., 1/15/2011 – Day #14. Matthew 17-19.

Week three: * Sun., 1/16/2011 – Day #15. Matthew 20-22. * Mon., 1/17/2011 – Day #16. Matthew 23-25. * Tues., 1/18/2011 – Day #17. Matthew 26-28. * Wed., 1/19/2011 – Day #18. Hebrews 1-2. * Thur., 1/20/2011 – Day #19. Hebrews 3:1-4:13. * Fri., 1/21/2011 – Day #20. Hebrews 4:14-7:28. * Sat., 1/22/2011 – Day #21. Hebrews 8-10.

Week four: * Sun., 1/23/2011 – Day #22. Hebrews 11-13. * Mon., 1/24/2011 – Day #23. James 1:1-3:12. * Tues., 1/25/2011 – Day #24. James 3:13-5:20. * Wed., 1/26/2011 – Day #25. Luke 1-3. * Thur., 1/27/2011 – Day #26. Luke 4-6. * Fri., 1/28/2011 – Day #27. Luke 7-9. * Sat., 1/29/2011 – Day #28. Luke 10-12.

Week five: * Sun., 1/30/2011 – Day #29. Luke 13-15. * Mon., 1/31/2011 – Day #30. Luke 16-18.

how I’ll live this year

Here are some of the things I plan to do this year as I go about living my life:

* Take up the Radical Experiment (read David Pratt’s Radical to learn more).

* Read or listen through the entire Bible, reading through the NT (Jan.-March) in the CEB (as a part of our church-wide Fresh Eyes project) and then through the OT (Apr.-Dec.) in the Tanakh translation.

* As to Bible versions, I’ll start to make more use of the NRSV and CEB this year, as much as, or perhaps even more than, I use the TNIV in personal study. The same will be true in my public ministry.

* Write and post on my blog a brief daily devotional thought and prayer through the course of my reading through the Bible this year starting tomorrow (Jan. 2).

* Post at least once each week on my blog a photo I’ve taken of something that makes me think of a specific Scripture (aka: my “picture Bible commentary”).

* Continue to divest myself of the existing (bound) books in my library whenever I choose to purchase new books, be they digital or bound.

* Choose digital over paper format whenever it is possible and economically-wise to do so.

* Most of my listening while driving this year will not be to music, but to an audio recording of the NT and to the news.

* Use Richard Foster and Julia Roller’s book A Year With God: Living Out the Spiritual Disciplines (HarperOne, 2009) as my personal devotional guide for the year.

* Read a minimum of two Christian books per month, the vast majority of them being books I already own. During the month of January I’ll read Terence Fretheim’s The Suffering of God: An Old Testament Perspective and Douglas John Hall’s The Cross in Our Context. In February I’ll read A Cross-Shattered Church by Stanley Hauerwas and Timothy Keller’s The Reason for God.

* Continue to spend at least two hours of every week “completely out of my comfort zone” and “in another context” ministry-wise.

* Pray throughout the day for one specific household of our church family, working my way through the entire church membership twice during the course of the year.

* Pray specifically for every nation of the world, using the info available through Operation World as my guide.

* Eat soup for one of my daily meals a minimum of four days each week.

* Eat quite inexpensively the vast majority of the time whenever and wherever I eat out.

* Seriously limit my purchasing of any items aside from those for which I can honestly give a positive answer to the following question: “Do I need this?”

* Continue to give away, sell or throw away some of the “stuff” in my life so as to move slightly toward a more “minimal” lifestyle and to decrease the “clutter” in my life and surroundings.

radical (9)

“Real success is found in radical sacrifice. Ultimate satisfaction is found not in making much of ourselves but in making much of God. The purpose of our lives transcends the country and culture in which we live. Meaning is found in community, not individualism; joy is found in generosity, not materialism; and truth is found in Christ, not universalism. Ultimately, Jesus is a reward worth risking everything to know, experience, and enjoy.” (p.183)

“… I challenge you to an experiment. I dare you to test the claims of the gospel, maybe in a way you have never done before. I invite you to see if radical obedience to the commands of Christ is more meaningful, more fulfilling, and more gratifying than the American dream. And I guarantee that if you complete this experiment, you will possess an insatiable desire to spend the rest of your life in radical abandonment to Christ for his glory in all the world. We’ll call it the Radical Experiment.” (p.184)

“The challenge is for one year, and it involves five components. I dare you over the next year to … (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.” (p.185)

“We are a planning, strategizing, implementing people, yet radical obedience to Christ requires that we be a praying people.” (p.188)

“… Operation World [is] an invaluable book by Patrick Johnstone that has revolutionized my prayer life more than any other book outside of the Bible. This book contains detailed information on every nation in the world … and prayer requests for every country. It also includes a prayer guide you can follow, and over the course of a year, you will pray specifically and intentionally for every nation in the world. … all of the information in the book is available free online (” (p.189)

“The second challenge in the Radical Experiment is to read through the entire Word. And I mean just that. Systematically read through the entire Bible – Genesis 1:1 to Revelation 22:21 and all 31,101 verses in between – over the course of a year.” (p.190)

“… it is more important for you to read Leviticus than it is for us to read the best Christian book ever published … If you want to know the glory of God, if we want to experience the beauty of God, and if we want to be used by the hand of God, then we must live in the Word of God.” (p.192)

“Sacrifice your money for a specific purpose. Notice I didn’t say merely ‘give;’ I said ‘sacrifice.’ … You see, our hearts follow our money.” (p.193)

“… if we make fifty thousand dollars a year, we are wealthier than 99 percent of the world.” (p.194)

“… what would it look like for you (or your family) to make intentional sacrifices over the next year for the glory of Christ in light of specific, urgent needs in the world? … Sacrifice is not giving according to your ability; it’s giving beyond your ability.” (p.195)

“First, spend your money on something that is gospel centered. … Second … give in a way that is church focused. … Third, give to a specific, tangible need. … Finally, give to someone or something you can trust.” (pp.195-196)

“A true brother comes to be with you in your time of need.” (p.198)

“So, the fourth challenge in the Radical Experiment is to give some of your time in the next year to making the gospel known in a context outside your own city I suggest you plan on dedicating at least 2 percent of your time to this task. That 2 percent works out to be about one week in the next year that you will travel and take the gospel to another context in the world, either domestically or internationally.” (p.200)

“The final component of the Radical Experiment is to commit your life to a multiplying community. … Therefore, if you are not a committed, active, devoted member of a local church, then fundamentally the Radical Experiment involves committing your life to a community of faith.” (pp.204-205)

“So what happens when radical obedience to Christ becomes the new normal? Are you willing to see? You have a choice.” (Radical: Taking Back Your Faith From the American Dream, p.216)

radical (8)

“I can imagine the looks on the disciples’ faces when … the … words came out of Jesus’ mouth: ‘I am sending you out like sheep among wolves.’ [Matthew 10:16]. … We don’t think like this. We say things such as, ‘The safest place to be is in the center of God’s will.’ We think, ‘If it’s dangerous, God must not be in it. If it’s risky, if it’s unsafe, if it’s costly, it must not be God’s will.’ But what if these factors are actually the criteria by which we determine something is God’s will? What if we began to look at the design of God as the most dangerous option before us? What if the center of God’s will is in reality the most unsafe place for us to be?” (pp.164-165)

“Are we willing, as the first disciples were, to be the first to go into danger and possibly even to die there in order that those who come behind us might experience the fruit of our sacrifice?” (p.165)

“To everyone wanting a safe, untroubled, comfortable life free from danger, stay away from Jesus. The danger in our lives will always increase in proportion to the depth of our relationship with Christ. … As long as Christianity looks like the American dream, we will have few problems in this world. But if we identify with Christ, we will lose much in this world. Jesus said this himself: ‘Everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher.’ [Luke 6:40] These words should frighten us. … See what Paul said to the church: ‘It has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him.’ [Philippians 1:29]” (pp.167-168)

“… we seem to have turned the church as troop carrier into the church as luxury liner. We seem to have organized ourselves, not to engage in battle for the souls of people around the world, but to indulge ourselves in the peaceful comforts of the world. … Are we willing to fundamentally alter our understanding of Christianity from a luxury-liner approach that forsakes comforts in the world to accomplish an eternally significant task and achieve an eternally satisfying reward? This is where Christ dramatically deviates from the American dream. … The reward of the American dream is safety, security, and success found in comfort, better stuff, and greater prosperity. But the reward of Christ trumps all these things …” (pp.170-171)

“We say, ‘Well, if I go to this place, I could be killed.’ Jesus replies, ‘That’s all?’ … The only way this can comfort us is if we have already died with Christ. … Clearly, the only way death can be a reward is if dying really is gain.” (p.175)

“… the essence … the key to taking back your faith from the American dream … is realizing – and believing – that this world is not your home.” (p.179)

radical (7)

“… more than 4.5 billion people in the world today are without Christ. As if this were not serious enough, more than a billion of these people have never even heard the gospel. So what happens to them when they die? I am convinced that this is one of the most important questions facing Christianity in America today. … If people are dying and going to hell without ever knowing there is a gospel, then we clearly have no time to waste our lives on an American dream.” (pp.142-143)

“There is no question that the billion people who have never heard about Jesus have a different kind of accountability before God than do the rest of us. Those of us who have heard about Jesus have had the opportunity to receive or reject the gospel, and we are responsible for our decision. But regardless of our relative knowledge of the gospel … all people stand condemned fundamentally for rejecting God. … ‘But now a righteousness from God, apart from the law, has been made known. … This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.'” (pp.149-150)

“If we conclude that people can get to heaven apart from faith in Christ, then this would mean there is something else they can do to get to heaven. Such a conclusion would … be tantamount to saying to Jesus, ‘Thank you for what you did on the cross, but we could have gotten to God another way.'” (p.154)

“So there you have it – the simple divine plan for taking the gospel to all peoples of the world. God sends his servants. His servants preach. People hear. Hearers believe. Believers call. Everyone who calls is saved. [Romans 10:13-15]. Now look back at this progression and ask one question: Is there any place where this plan can break down? Think about it. … there is only one potential breakdown in this progression – when servants of God do not preach the gospel to all peoples. We are the plan of God and there is no plan B. … There is not one verse in the book of Acts where the gospel advances to the lost apart from a human agent. … God clearly has decided to use the church – and only the church – as the means by which the gospel will go to the ends of the earth.” (pp.156-157)

“A soft-drink company in Atlanta has done a better job getting brown sugar water to these [unreached] people than the church of Jesus Christ has done in getting the gospel to them.” (pp.158-159)

“The question … is not ‘Can we find God’s will?‘ The question is ‘Will we obey God’s will?‘ Will we refuse to sit back and wait for some tingly feeling to go down our spines before we rise up and do what we have already been commanded to do?” (p.160)

radical (6)

“… if I have been commanded to make disciples of all nations, and if poverty is rampant in the world to which God has called me, then I cannot ignore these realities. Anyone wanting to proclaim the glory of Christ to the ends of the earth must consider not only how to declare the gospel verbally but also how to demonstrate the gospel visibly in a world where so many are urgently hungry.” (pp.108-109)

“… caring for the poor (among other things) is evidence of our salvation. … Caring for the poor is one natural overflow and a necessary evidence of the presence of Christ in our hearts.” (p.110)

“… the reality is, if you and I have running water, shelter over our heads, clothes to wear, food to eat, and some means of transportation (even if its public transportation), then we are in the top 15 percent of the world’s people for wealth. … Every Sunday we gather in a multi-million dollar building with millions of dollars in vehicles parked outside. We leave worship to spend thousands of dollars on lunch before returning to hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of homes. We live in luxury. Meanwhile, the poor man is outside our gate. And he is hungry. … What scares me most, though, is that we can pretend that we are the people of God.” (pp.114-115)

“Are you and I looking for advice that seems fiscally responsible according to the standards of the world around us? Or are we looking to Jesus for total leadership in our lives, even if that means going against everything our affluent culture and maybe even our religious neighbors might tell us to do?” (p.121)

“We saw the gruesome reality of 1 Timothy 6 playing out in our hearts: ‘People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction.’ Paul is talking here about simply the desire to be rich. So how much more does it apply to those who actually are rich? Our possessions can be deadly. They can be subtly deadly. That’s why Jesus said it’s hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. … The reality is, most of us in our culture and in the American church simply don’t believe Jesus or Paul on this one. … We are fine with thinking of affluence, comfort, and material possessions as blessings. … We think the way the world thinks – that wealth is always to our advantage. But Jesus is saying the exact opposite.” (pp.125-126)

“… if we are not careful … we will miss the point of what God desires to teach us about our possessions. … wealth and possessions are not inherently evil; they are good in and of themselves. So we don’t sell them or give them away because they are sinful. … We sell them and give them away because Christ in us compels us to care for the needy around us.” (pp.125-126)

“… as long as we are living in our culture, we will be surrounded by luxuries. So why not simply begin a process of limiting and eliminating some of them? Why not begin selling and giving away luxuries for the sake of the poor outside our gates? Why not begin operating under the idea that God has given us excess, not so we could have more, but so we could give more? Now we’re getting radical. Or maybe we’re getting biblical. … What if we actually set a cap on our lifestyles? What if we got to the point where we could draw a line, saying, ‘This is enough, and I am giving away everything I have or earn above this line?'” (pp.127-128)

“We are tempted, though, to settle for throwing our scraps to the poor.” (p.129)

“The way we use our money is a barometer of our spiritual condition. … the way we use our money is an indicator of our eternal destination.” (p.138)

“We can stand with the starving or the overfed. We can identify with poor Lazarus on his way to heaven or with the rich man on his way to hell. We can embrace Jesus while we give away our wealth, or we can walk away from Jesus while we hoard our wealth. Only time will tell what you and I choose to do with this blind spot of American Christianity in our day.” (p.140)

radical (5)

“What if we began to think, ‘How can I listen to this Word so that I am equipped to teach this Word to others?’ This changes everything.” (p.102)

“In a culture where bigger is always better and flashy is always more effective, Jesus beckons each of us to plainly, humbly, and quietly focus our lives on people.” (p.103)

“In our Christian version of the American dream, our plan ends up disinfecting Christians from the world more than discipling Christians in the world. … Disinfecting Christians from the world involves isolating followers of Christ in a spiritual safe-deposit box called the church building and teaching them to be good. In this strategy, success in the church is defined by how big a building you have to house all the Christians, and the goal is to gather as many people as possible for a couple of hours each week in that place where we are isolated and insulated from the realities of the world around us. … Discipling is much different. … discipling involves propelling Christians into the world to risk their lives for the sake of others. Now the world is our focus, and we gauge success … on the hundreds or thousands who are leaving our buildings to take on the world with the disciples they are making.” (pp.104-105)