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Bleed Bible Like John Bunyan (by Matthew DelValle)

(John Bunyan)

 As I thought about the goals I wanted to pursue this year, I found it helpful to break my goals up into categories. This explains the different headings in this article. In addition, I tried to set specific, concrete, achievable goals. It is not helpful to say, “I will pray more often.” That’s abstract and undefined. It is much better to say, for example, “I will spend 15 uninterrupted minutes talking to God each day.” That’s specific, concrete, and achievable. However, I did not completely abandon general goals; I simply attached specific, concrete, achievable outworkings to those general goals. You will see what I mean as you continue reading.

So with that brief word of introduction, here are my goals for 2011:

Spiritual

  • Bleed Bible like John Bunyan. Charles Spurgeon once remarked about John Bunyan, “Why, this man is a living Bible! Prick him anywhere; his blood is Bibline, the very essence of the Bible flows from him. He cannot speak without quoting a text, for his very soul is full of the Word of God.”
     
    Last fall I began a Bible reading plan that involves reading 10 chapters a day from various sections of Scripture. It is called “Grant Horner’s ’10 chapters a day’ Bible Reading Program.”  The aim is to get a lot of Bible in so that a lot of Bible will come out. I hope to continue working through this system (which never ends!) and hopefully obtain some measure of “Bibline blood.”
     
  • Pray like I’m in a war—because I am. In the armor of God passage in Ephesians 6, we get one weapon for offense—the Word. Everything else is used for defense. Prayer is one of those defenses. It is our wartime walkie-talkie by which we communicate with our King from the front lines of battle. We are to consistently communicate with our Leader about the battle against Satan’s armies. If we don’t devote ourselves to prayer, we become susceptible to Satan’s attacks. We will let down our defense.
     
    I believe that much failure to pray happens because we don’t plan to pray. We could accomplish much more prayer if we simply planned to pray. So, I drafted a weekly prayer plan to help me achieve consistent, Christ-exalting prayer. The aim is to follow this plan and spend 30 uninterrupted minutes each day talking to God. I may split this up into two 15-minute sessions, depending on the day’s tasks. But my aim is 30 total minutes each day of the week, praising God for who He is, confessing personal sin, thanking Him for His numerous blessings, and presenting my requests before Him.

Educational

  • Continue my formal education. As of today, I am seeking to attend the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, beginning this fall. So my goals are simply to 1) get accepted into the seminary, and 2) beginmy Master of Divinity degree. Flowing out of this, I also wish to…
     
  • Avoid school debt for the fall semester. I hope to have enough money saved up when I make the move to seminary so that I don’t have to take out any loans right away. Of course, I would prefer not to have to take out any loans period, but since this is simply a goals list for 2011, I will restrict this goal to the fall semester.

  
Ministry

  • Finish off my time serving the college group faithfully exalting Christ through God’s Word. I had the privilege of doing the bulk of the teaching on Wednesday nights in 2010. By God’s grace, I hope to continue serving my brothers and sisters, who are also my dear friends, by faithfully exalting Christ with the remaining  opportunities to teach. Faithfulness isn’t measured by results; the results are in God’s hands. My goal is simply to rightly divide the Word, pray for my friends, and leave the rest to God. After this summer is over and I (hopefully) head to seminary, my goal is to…
     
  • Faithfully transfer my Wednesday night teaching privilege. When Samuel transferred his leadership of Israel over to Saul, he made this promise to the people: “As for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by ceasing to pray for you” (1 Sam. 12:23). Goal for 2011: to not sin against the Lord by ceasing to pray for my church, especially the college group. I believe the other men in the group can faithfully lead Wednesday nights after I’m gone; I am not worried about that. What I must watch for is prayerlessness on my part.

  
Personal

  • Learn practical skills from my father. My dad has always been a handyman for as long as I can remember. He knows how to do car maintenance, do electrical work, fix things, etc. In other words, he’s good at man stuff.
     
    I am not like my father in this sense. I am the kind of guy who will play the piano, compose a poem, sit and think—those are things I am naturally inclined to do. It is not my nature to tinker with cars or install outlets. But these are practical skills that I need to learn if I ever want to get married one day. So in these next months I want to spend time with my father learning how to do these nitty-gritty tasks.
     
  • Learn to cook several dishes from my mother. Yes, I need to learn how to handyman skills, but I also need to learn to cook. I have been blessed with a mother who is an excellent cook. I don’t want to lose her amazing food when I’m gone. So, the only way to keep the cooking is to learn how to do it myself. Already I have learned how to make one dish from my mom; I want to learn several more. I figure if I know how to make 6-8 dishes really well, I’ll be set.
     
  • Read 12 classics. I have never put much effort into reading what society generally considers “the classics.” Not anymore! I joined a book club along with many of my Faith friends, and we are going to work our way through a massive book list over the next decade—one classic per month. So my goal for 2011 is to read the 12 classics for this year. With diligence, I believe I can do it.
     
    My aim in reading these classics is not so that I can say, “I’ve read the classics.” My main purpose in reading these books is to sharpen my literary sensibilities for the purpose of preaching and teaching God’s Word. The classics, like the Bible, span various genres. Their authors employ different styles. By reading classics, I hope to improve my ability to read well and cultivate my command of the English language. I want to develop my literary sensibilities so as to better express God’s truth when preaching and teaching.  (See here for an excellent book that addresses the relationship between reading literary texts and preaching God’s Word.) I can think of no better way to attain these skills than to read the best literature available. That is why I am reading classics.

  
These are my goals for 2011. It will take hard work to accomplish them. But by God’s grace, I know I can do it. My prayer is that God will be honored in all of these goals and that the ripple effect of God’s work in my life would spill over into the lives of others for their good. May it be so. To God be the glory.

Other Posts in our “Goals” Series: