Priorities for Progress

We all thought 2020 was going to be our year. I know i did. And it started off so well (unless you live in Australia, where January ended with almost the whole country ablaze).

As such, we’re all happy 2020 is over. But what’s to keep 2021 from being any different–or even worse?

If it is up to us, nothing. Nothing will prevent 2021 from being 2020 v. 2.0, if we are in control.

I don’t know about you, but i want to see progress in 2021. I want to see progress in my life, i want to see progress in my family, i want to see progress in the church, and i want to see progress in the world.

But what do i mean by progress?

Growth in grace. Increased knowledge of Jesus. Increased faith. The reversal of Jesus’ prediction of the end time state of the church (world?):

Because lawlessness will multiply, the love of many will grow cold.

Matthew 24:12, emphasis added

This is ultimately why i blog. I want my blog to not only challenge others and help them to grow, but i want it to grow me too. There’s no point challenging others to do the things i blog about if i’m not willing to do the same.

  • I want to help others come to a newfound appreciation of grace.
  • I want to help others better know the person and work of Jesus Christ (Gospel).
  • I want to see faith spring up anew–both in America and around the world
  • I want love to be understood biblically and practiced by Christians so that the message of Jesus will be more attractive to those who don’t yet believe (cf. John 13:35; 1 John 4:15-17).

If you’re interested in these things as well, i’d love for you to join me in this journey.

But now it’s time for my annual “spiritual”:
When i look back at my goals for 2020, how did i do?

I started out the year well, but by March 16, 2020–my first day out of work during the original shutdown–i’d given up on trying to wake up at a reasonable hour. TV and videogames took way too much of my attention during the shutdown.

I finished the Bible today, though i didn’t live in specific books like i wanted to (but i did exposit the entirety of Psalms on YouTube during the original shutdown). I finally finished journaling through 1 Timothy today. I completed 54 of 75 hoped for blog posts. I got married to the girl mentioned last year! I hardly touched anything NANOWRIMO related. I didn’t make any progress on the sequel to Stranded. I released a new album and two singles last year. I started school at Gateway Seminary and finished my first semester with all A’s. I moved out of my parents’ house. I’m still with the same church from last year.

I’d posit that i was successful in the most important areas last year. It would have been nice to make more progress on fiction stuff, but otherwise, it was a mostly successful year, despite the craziness of COVID-19.

Like i mentioned last year, it’s a good thing i don’t base my salvation on my New Year’s goals. If so, i’d be going to Hell, because i didn’t perfectly live up to my standards. Thank You, Jesus, for grace and salvation. Which leads me to look forward to 2021. Here are my goals (utilizing the same headings as last year):

Most importantly, I need to focus on Jesus.

 But my eyes ⌊look⌋ to You, Lord GOD. I seek refuge in You; do not let me die.

Psalm 141:8 (HCSB)

Due to COVID-19, i decided to exposit the entire book of Psalms on YouTube. As a result, i grew greatly last year in my knowledge of and love for Jesus. In reality, i only whet my appetite for more of Him.

As such, i want to spend much time with Jesus this year. I want to make it through the whole Bible again, but also journal my way through Psalms. I want to read a commentary on 1 Timothy for my own edification, and a thick theology volume as well: God Is Love: A Biblical and Systematic Theology.

Jesus, please help me to keep my eyes firmly fixed on You this year. My wife needs my focused leadership, and we both want to grow in You this year. While the world rages around us, keep us fixed firmly on You (Isaiah 26:3).

Secondly, I need to get outside of my own mind.

Join in imitating me, brothers, and observe those who live according to the example you have in us.

Philippians 3:17 (HCSB)

Reading took a serious hit last year. I read 22 theology-related books and 22 novels in 2020. By contrast, in 2019 i read 26 theology-related books and 46 novels.

Novels are amazing. Because Jesus taught in parables (stories), they can both teach us truths and distract us from real life. And, considering the simple fact that the book is usually rated better than the equivalent movie, i will typically choose and promote books more than movies. I need to read more in 2021: My goal is 30 novels and 30 theology-related books.

Additionally, on this point: I am going to remove social media from my phone so that i can’t be depressed by the things that are too often posted there. Social media makes me retreat farther into my introspective mind, so i will limit my time on these sites to when i have computer wifi access.

Jesus, as i put more time into learning and growing in You, please help me to get out of my head. Help me to better love and serve others as a result. I need You!

Thirdly, i need to steward well the new relationship that God has placed in my life.

My dove, in the clefts of the rock, in the crevices of the cliff, let me see your face, let me hear your voice; for your voice is sweet, and your face is lovely.

Song of Songs 2:14 (HCSB)

I’m married now. As such, my 2021 isn’t mine. It is ours. All of my personal goals are second to the health and growth of my marriage. She comes first. Granted, my growth in Jesus is first, and i hope to read through the Bible this year with her, but my massive reading goals and everything below is second to her.

However, with that said, the better i am at getting out of my own mind, the better i will be at loving my wife.

Jesus, help me to lead my wife well this year. We need you! Help us to grow in You and love You and each other better next year than we do today.

Finally, i need to be productive this year.

I saw, and took it to heart; I looked, and received instruction: a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the arms to rest, and your poverty will come like a robber, your need, like a bandit.

Proverbs 24:32-34 (HCSB)

I will keep this short.

I need to wake up at reasonable times. The better i am at this goal, the more blogging and noveling i will accomplish. There is much i want to accomplish this year:

  • Read through the whole Bible once with my wife
  • Live in Proverbs, Psalms, and Colossians
  • Journal daily: Psalms until finished
  • Blog at least 50 times this year: focusing primarily on the theme of this blog (live in Love)
  • grow in love for others: especially my wife
  • Finish Switched (at least self-publish)
  • Finish Stronger than Sin (at least self-publish)
  • Publish a study on Obadiah/Malachi from my sermons last year (at least self-publish)
  • Progress on Stranded sequel
  • Progress on a fantasy novel rewrite i first wrote at age 13
  • Release a new album
  • get a job as a pastor of a church (or youth pator)

Jesus, i know that’s a lot of stuff to want to do, but i know if i become more disciplined I can do it. Help me!

My wife and I at the Grand Canyon on our honeymoon.

What do you hope to get out of your 2021?

In this with you.

Soli Deo Gloria
Solus Christus
Pro Ecclesia

Thanks for reading.