A Challenge for 2008

I would like to present you with a tough but exciting challenge for 2008 . . . but let me back up a little! 

This past two months I have been somewhat restricted in my activities because of a ruptured achilles tendon.  After 4 weeks in a fiberglass cast and now another almost 4 weeks in a cast boot I am still using crutches to get around and spending much of my time with my foot propped up on a pile of cushions.  At first it was a bit of an adventure to have family and colleagues helping me with such basic things as opening doors or carrying a cup of coffee.  But the adventure aspect wore off quickly and I found myself in a complaining mode.  I didn’t complain to God openly but in my heart there were the sulky "why" questions – you know what I mean! 

I tell you this for two reasons.  First, because I have been so restricted I have found myself with much free time on my hands with only a few options available for filling those hours.  So I have been taking some of my own advice (found here) and have spent considerable time reading and re-reading the book of Hebrews – aloud.  Secondly, the personal result of that exercise has been for me to come to view my torn achilles as a blessing and not a curse.  For the past few weeks I have been soaking in the wonder of who Jesus is and what he has done for me (for us).  Normally I find I can fill my hours with so many good things that I rarely take the time to meditate on the Word in any more than a passing attempt.  Lately I have been "allowed" all the time I need and that has been a blessing.

So back to the challenge for 2008!  I would like to encourage you to carve out the time and space necessary and read the book of Hebrews 12 times this year – once a month – and read it aloud.  The ideal would be to read it in its entirety in one sitting but if you cannot do that break it into two or three chunks and read it that way.  Here is what I would encourage you to do:

  • Make 2008 a year of coming to know Jesus better.  Many years ago when I was a young student at Prairie Bible Institute a visiting speaker, Dr. J. Sidlow Baxter, encouraged us to read the Gospels "pictographically" – in other words with the express purpose of seeing Jesus as the gospelers pictured him.  That is the challenge I pass on to you – read Hebrews pictographically – with a view to seeing Jesus anew.  The writer to the Hebrews himself speaks of Jesus in this way.  In 2:9 he writes, "But we see Jesus…"   In 3:1 he enjoins his readers to "…fix your thoughts on Jesus…" and in 12:2 he exhorts, "Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith…"  Jesus is the centrepiece of Hebrews.  My prayer for you is that you will come to see him afresh this coming year – that you will rejoice in the wonder of who your Savior is, what he has accomplished for you and who you are because of him.
  • Take your time – don’t hurry.  Allow the writer’s passion for Jesus to permeate your soul.
  • Read expressively.  Try to read Hebrews the way the writer intended it to be read.  At first you may not find reading aloud the most comfortable thing to do – but try it – I believe you will like it!
  • Notice how Hebrews weaves a wonderful tapestry of descriptions of Jesus’ person and work, exhortations to live fully in what Jesus has provided, cautions that we not take lightly this marvelous salvation and examples of others – both faith-filled and faith-less.
  • Don’t give up!  This is not an easy challenge – but you will find it very worthwhile!

As the year progresses share with me and other readers of this blog  what you have seen.  Feel free to add  comments to this post.  Return here throughout the year and encourage and be encouraged – that is what the writer of Hebrews tells us to do.

But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. (3:13)

…let us encourage one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching. (10:25)

I will place a 2008 Challenge link in the sidebar (under Special Topics) so that you can return here easily.  May God richly bless you this year and may you daily rejoice in the wonder of this Hebrews benediction:

May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

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4 thoughts on “A Challenge for 2008

  1. Ellen

    Thanks Loren and you too Jim! I have been also amazed at how time passes and is so enjoyable as I spend time re reading the word – the stories we grew up on and were amazed at as children and am still amazed at. We have a wonderful God and I too want to know JESUS better and see Him anew.

  2. Jim

    Thanks, Loren!

    It is so true! How little time we really spend in God’s Word on a daily basis until He has to take us aside in some way to “refresh” & “refine” & “rejuvenate” & “re-focus” our view of Him! I find getting into God’s Word is captivating and can really take time. Sometimes having been in God’s Word, I end up looking at the clock, wondering where the time has gone as I have spent time with One Who is both timeless and to Whom a clock is unimportant. To Him the relationship is where it is at, and that takes time, concentrated, dedicated time. Well worth the time & effort in the end, but we don’t often see that side of it till we get to that point.
    God bless your day, bro!
    Love & prayers,

  3. Henry Armstrong

    Terima kasih atas tantangan ini (we are in Indonesia at present) I am looking forward to learning more about the Saviour as I read Hebrews this way! I will endeavour to pass this challenge on to our Indonesian brothers … will try to translate some of it. blessings. henry

  4. K Naylor

    I was challenged over 20 years ago to read through the Bible regularly – not with a set or daily plan, because when we deviate from the plan, it’s easy to chuck the whole thing – but regularly. Since then I have read through the Bible over 28 times and I love the bird’s eye view that it gives me.

    The last few years I’ve added another part – once the NT is done, I choose a book to read in whole (or half per day depending on how long it is) every day for a month.

    I like the Hebrews idea. I’ll make that my NT book for this year. I have found that there is nothing like reading long passages over and over again to get a clearer understanding of God’s heart.

    Thanks for the challenge.


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