New Year’s Resolutions

scrabble-resolutions.jpgWell, we are more than a week into the New Year. Many have made some type of resolution, most likely regarding self-improvement. According to a 2015 Nielsen poll, health and wellness are the typical top priorities for U.S. consumers.  “Staying fit and healthy” came in at 37%, with “lose weight” coming in a close second at 32%. Enjoying life, getting fiscally fit and spending more time with family and friends rounded out the top five. While some report that only about 41% of people even make resolutions, nearly 80% of them will fail in maintaining their resolutions by the second week of February.

Interestingly among the top ten resolutions, there is nothing overtly spiritual about them. As the Apostle Paul addressed his son in the faith, Timothy, he encouraged, “On the other hand, discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness; for bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come” (1 Timothy 4:7-8, LB). If you are one who makes resolutions, do you focus only on the present life value of a resolution or do you think of the eternal life consequences, too. If you’re goal is to live a healthy and long life, what will be the eternal payoff for living longer here? Will you be spending that life building heavenly treasure or earthly treasure that will burn up? If your focus is on financial goals, are they focused on your own security or to benefit others and investing in ministries that will help people grow in their pursuit of God, as well?

It is easy to be temporal in our goals and resolutions. However, I was reminded of the long view as I reread a devotional passage last week. Over the years, I have used W Glyn Evans’ book, Daily with the King, as a daily prompt to prayer with my wife. The January 5th devotion was especially appropriate as one sets the course for his year, his life, and his eternal life, for that matter. Here are the points of his writings for that day (with the exception of the last two, scriptures are my addition).

I will, by God’s grace and power, keep the center of my life adjusted strictly to God’s will, and let God keep the periphery any way He desires. (Matthew 6:33)

I will seek holiness (which results in wholeness), without which no man can seek the Lord, at all times. Wholeness is God-centeredness, the “one thing needful,” the “one thing I desire and seek after,” the “one thing I do.” (1 Peter 1:14-16)

I will not pray for peace, power, success, or fruit, for they are by-products of a relationship, not its conditions. They are God’s responsibility, not mine. (John 15:5)

Neither will I seek promotion, honors, recognition, or acclaim, for they also are by-products and therefore outside my sphere. Nor will I resent others to whom God gives these tokens, but I will praise God that His will has been done in them. (1 Corinthians 3:5-9)

I will no longer strive ambitiously for ends, for God’s purpose is process, not destiny. I never hope to arrive but rather to continue with God in an eternal adventure, the result of which is a continual knowing of Him who is the”end” God seeks for me. (Matthew 25:23, Galatians 4:9, Philippians 3:4-11)

I will accept the fact that the self-life is not only displeasing to God; it is His enemy. When self reigns, I am at war with God, and that leads to frustration, anxiety, and misery. I will therefore crucify the self-life and be at peace with God. (1 Peter 2:11-12)

I will realize that when all is said and done, I owe my daily overcoming to this one, solid fact: “Christ lives in me” (Galatians 2:20). Therefore, I can say honestly, “Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:57)

May God prosper you in your commitments this year, giving you perseverance to follow-through with the physical, intellectual, emotional, relational, financial and, most importantly, spiritual disciplines that will payoff in eternally rewarding ways.

Points to Ponder:

  • What steps do you need to take to center your life on God’s will?
  • Do you agree that peace, power, success and fruit are by-products of a relationship with God and not things for which to pray?
  • Are you seeking for “ends” or satisfied with being in the “process” of continually knowing God?
  • Where is self reigning in your life rather that God ruling?

Weekly Photo Challenge: New

Michelle W. issued this week’s challenge with multiple options. I chose to “highlight a new person in your life, and all the possibility that relationship contains.” More accurately, it is new “persons.” My oldest daughter gave birth to twins (her third daughter and first son) last week and we were able to see the New Year in with them.

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Baby Girl

Whit's grasp

Baby Boy

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Not to happy about leaving the hospital

We feel so blessed that my daughter had a wonderful pregnancy and was able to carry the twins to 37 weeks, allowing the babies to be fully developed and needing no time in the NICU. If fact, they were able to go home 36 hours after delivery.

As to the hopes and possibilities that these new relationships hold, I can hardly do better than what my daughter wrote in a post on the Fort Worth Moms Blog of which she is a regular contributor.

For you, I don’t desire that you be the most popular, the most athletic, the most beautiful and talented. Because those things, little boy and little girl, are fleeting. My last borns, there are better things if you want them.

For you, my third girl…I pray that your sisters and your brother will be your best friends on Earth, as your dad and I are best friends with our brothers and sisters. I hope that you will dance to the beat of your own drum and remember that YOU have been uniquely created to grace this world the way you are.  When people compare you to your big sisters, don’t listen. You are YOU. You are not them. When your friends are chasing after boys, I hope you remember that if a boy is worth it, he’ll chase after you. You don’t ever need to play dumb or pretend to like sports or worse, give your body away when you don’t want to. Wait for a guy who is like your dad: valiant, good, smart, and funny. Don’t settle for anything less. It’s worth it. I promise. When you choose a career someday, follow your heart-even if it lacks prestige or money. It’s ok to be adventurous and do the things no one thought you could do. You come from a long long line of determined women. You are able, baby girl.

For you, my only boy. I never knew I wanted a boy, until I saw you dancing around on my first sonogram. You looked like nothing more than a little pea, but I knew in my spirit, you were my boy, and that made me happier than you will ever know. I pray you are strong and confident; you’ll need to be with those three crazy big sisters. I pray that you’ll look after them, even though they are older. You will learn young that we women, can be sort of crazy…sort of emotional, and so you will foster the art of compassion. It will serve you well all of your days. I pray you will pursue truth and justice and respect and that you will be a strong force of goodness in this family and in our world. And that you and sweet baby sister will be the best of friends for all of your days. I cried one day thinking about the woman you will someday marry. Choose wisely. Choose a woman who is strong and smart and not afraid to speak her mind. It will be hard, but it will be worth it. Work in a job that makes your spirit fulfilled…no matter the paycheck. Do what you love.

It has become my tradition to take a picture of each of my newborn grandchildren with them grasping my thumb. With the exception of our grandson, who died at birth last summer, the tradition has continued with the twins. The grid below represents each of our six grandchildren, beginning almost five years ago. The pewter hand represents our grandson, who was about the size of the 1 lbs, 6 oz child, whose hand was the model for the key chain that promotes the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.
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Click HERE for more examples of “new.”

525,600 Minutes

The musical Rent had a catchy number called “Seasons of Love.” Using the number of minutes in a year, it asked “how do you measure the life of a woman or a man?” As the title implies, the song ultimately says that a life is measured by the love that is shown in that year. The writer got it right in these lyrics:  You know that love is a gift from up above / Share love, give love, spread love / Measure, measure your life in love.

Of the 525,600 minutes in a year (527,040 minutes of 2012 because it’s a leap year), how will you spend them?

Last Sunday, we talked about the importance of using each moment of 2012 in ways that demonstrate your love for God and others by making some commitments to use every moment to the fullest. In particular, we can use our time wisely if we live as Christ modeled in these five areas:

  • Seek reconciliation in a broken relationship (Ephesians 4:26)
  • Spend more time with God each day (Luke 6:12)
  • Serve someone else (John 13:35)
  • Share your faith story with someone (Matthew 28:19-20)
  • Surrender to God the part of your life that you’ve held back (Matthew 19:21)

Each of these actions are motivated by a love from God…for God and for others. Perhaps this is a good list to keep in front of us this coming year, asking God every day (in that extended time with Him) to help us use every moment of 2012 for His glory and to demonstrate His love in all of our relationships.

Pay careful attention, then, to how you walk—not as unwise people but as wise—making the most of the time, because the days are evil (Ephesians 5:15-16, HCSB).

I look forward to spending some of our 527,040 minutes together this next year and hope to see you on Sunday!