Happy New Year! This is the first day of 2019, which means there is only one year remaining before we find ourselves in the year 2020 (twenty-twenty). Wow! That sounds like science fiction for those of us who grew up in the previous millennium. 2018 was quite an extreme year for our family, and may be one of the toughest we’ve encountered. It was full of many, many blessings but also many trials and opportunities for God to stretch us and turn us into the people that He wants us to be. I may write about some of the things that happened this past year in the coming weeks… but then I may not. You’ll just have to wait and see.
For this year’s resolutions I wanted to change it up a bit. My resolutions this year are all verbs. Actually, present participles if you want to get technical. These are really just areas that I want to improve upon. To be sure, there are specific steps and goals within each that may or may not be listed below, but the idea is that I just want to get better. They are in no particular order, except for the opening resolution which is really the foundation of them all, and the closing resolution which buttons things up quite nicely. Without further ado, here are my resolutions for the year of our Lord two thousand and nineteen.
In 2019 I want to improve upon praying. This really is the foundation of all of the other areas, because without God I can do none of it. Even if I were able to pull myself up by my bootstraps and git’r dun, it wouldn’t be glorifying to God if it were entirely of my own strength and were not focused on the two primary commands of Scripture, to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength and to love our neighbor as ourselves. In prayer we acknowledge our need of divine guidance, wisdom, support and intervention. I think it is often too easy for me to attempt to work in my own strength, forgetting that my heavenly Father wants me to depend on Him.
Two areas under this heading are fasting and interceding. I have not fasted in quite some time, which is much to my detriment. If you have never fasted (just abstaining from food), then you should really give it a shot. For information on this topic I would direct you to Donald S. Whitney’s book Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life.
Interceding is just the act of praying for others. Whenever I do pray, I will pray mainly for my own family and then any other immediate needs of friends or extended family that I’m aware of. This year I plan to be more intentional in how I pray for the needs of others.
“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (ESV)
Being thankful is really one of the best ways I’ve found of adjusting my own attitudes. At the beginning of 2018 I began journaling one thing for which I was thankful every day. That one little act did wonders for reducing the amount of negative self-talk that I indulged in and also helped me to really experience the blessings that God has showered on me. This year I plan to renew the thankfulness journal.
“Watch out, brothers, so that there won’t be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart that departs from the living God. But encourage each other daily, while it is still called today, so that none of you is hardened by sin’s deception.”Hebrews 3:12-13 (HCSB)
Boy do I need encouragement! It is so easy to start believing that we are in this Christian life all by ourselves and that is very discouraging. Not only that, but as the passage in Hebrews indicates, it is easy for us to fall into sin without encouragement from our brothers and sisters in the faith. I have received quite a lot of encouragement from various people in my life, but I’m afraid that I do not often seek how I may encourage others. The Scripture says that we need to encourage each other daily! I plan to be more encouraging to others this year.
Meditating (on Scripture)
Blessed is the manPsalm 1:1-2 (ESV)
who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
but his delight is in the law of the LORD,
and on his law he meditates day and night.
Whenever I take the time to meditate on Scripture, the benefits blow my mind. I can read ten chapters of Scripture and that is great, but most of if doesn’t really stick with me. However, if I take just ten minutes to meditate on a single passage or verse, it stays with me the rest of the day and often fuels my walking in the spirit.
“Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her”Ephesians 5:25 (ESV)
The actual meaning of “husbanding” doesn’t have anything to do with being a husband, but I wanted to use the word anyway. So there!
On the topic of being a good husband, the Bible gives husbands a pretty high bar. I don’t think I can ever “arrive” at this one, but it sure is worth shooting for. In the midst of the craziness of 2018 I fear that I fell woefully short in this department. This year I plan to work on being a better husband to my outstanding wife.
A lot of the craziness from this past year has to do with being a father. I started 2018 being a father of four children, and ended the year being a father to six children. Yeah… crazy. This is one of the things I may be writing on at some undisclosed date in the future.
As far as the actual work of being a father, this is truly one of the most difficult tasks in my life. What a huge weight of responsibility it is to model Christ to my children. I know I fail, and often.
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.Romans 12:1-2 (ESV)
All of life should be one continuous act of worship. I am a worship leader for my church, so I am comfortable doing this on Sunday mornings, but the rest of the week can quickly feel like I am trying to herd cats. This year I plan to look for ways to reorient my days so that they reflect a heart that desires to worship the living God in all that I do.
I have never thought of myself as a leader and, to be honest, I have never desired to be in a position of leadership. However, when I look at my life it seems I am leading all the time. I lead my family as the husband and father (see above). I lead a team of volunteers in using music to worship God in church. In my work as a software engineer, I do not possess any titles of leadership, but I’m one of the “old guys” that has been doing this for over twenty years. So, there too, I find myself leading others. This year I plan to look for ways of leading better.
As a father, I feel burdened to teach my children. Mainly, I desire to teach them who Christ is and what He has done for them. I also desire to teach them how to be mature people with a Christian worldview, able to navigate the waters of life after they leave my house. I also have a love of Scripture and desire to teach others what I have learned. This year I plan to look for more ways to teach.
So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.Romans 8:12-17 (ESV)
Dying really does wrap things up nicely. In order to make progress in any of the areas above, I will need to dye to my self. It is out of selfishness that I refuse to acknowledge God and ask for His help. It is selfishness that refuses to be thankful. It is selfishness that blinds me to others needs and forgets to be an encouragement. It is selfishness that does comfortable, easy things instead of taking the time to meditate on God’s Word. Selfishness certainly makes for a terrible husband and father. Selfishness only worships me, instead of the true God. Selfishness does not lead others, but fends for me. Selfishness hoards information instead of teaching others.
Happy New Year!
I pray that you have a Happy New Year, and that God will show you more of Himself in the coming days and weeks and months.