Resolutions for 2018

A few of the MCC Bloggers have ideas for resolutions for the New Year. Take a moment to think about how any of these might benefit you–you only have one 2018 after all!
 
Resolution number one: Find Jesus! Whether you know Jesus or not, this advice holds true.
 
If you don’t know Jesus, seek him out. He is waiting to be found by you. The best place to start is in the 66 books that make up what Christianity calls the Bible, and probably the best books within the Bible for your search are Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Ask the pastor and/or church leaders, or check the church’s website, to confirm that they consider the Bible to be their primary source of truth about Jesus. You can always find Jesus by talking to him through prayer, but without searching in those first two places, you may hear from someone other than Jesus in response to those prayers; someone who would like to be God, but who is not God. Other places to search are among friends who know him, and other books that are available. The best thing to know is that, if you are truly seeking him, he’ll know, and he will lead you to find him.
 
If you do know Jesus, the answer is still to seek him out. He is waiting to be found by you. Chances are you’ve only found him in the most spiritual part of your life; your Sunday worship, Bible study groups, and other faith-based experiences. But Jesus wants you to find him in your every day; in what you may consider the most mundane parts of your life. Seek him in the morning, when your day begins; not just in a Quiet Time experience of Bible-reading and prayer that is over in 7 minutes, but from the moment your eyes open. Find him first! Set your thoughts on him before you get out of bed. Find him in the kitchen as you have breakfast. Look for what he’s doing in your life and the lives of your
family members. Find him on the drive to work, even if he’s in the passenger seat and you don’t let him “take the wheel.” Find him at work, and consider what he’s up to amongst your co-workers. Find him when the work day is done, in your chores and entertainment time. Find him in your dinner conversation, and ask those around the table if they’ve found him this day too. Seek him in the evening, as your day ends. Close your eyes with your thoughts on him, and invite him into your dreams. Days filled with Jesus found, is the best possible way to start… and continue… a new year.
 

Resolution number two: Purge! Get rid of it and live on less.

As I take inventory of the many things that my husband and I have accumulated in the past three and a half years of marriage, I can’t help but think, “Why do we have so much!?”
 
I want to live simply. And while buying a house can feel a lot like inserting roots, both my husband and I know deep inside, this too is temporary.
When I lived in another country, I had to be prepared to be mobile. The recommendation in fact, when I first moved overseas, was to reduce my possessions to two suitcases. Anyone in North America might gasp at the idea, except maybe those Tiny House Nation folk. I did leave a couple boxes of childhood memories in the US, but everything else was gone. It was a glorious feeling to know that I was flexible to whatever the Lord might ask of me, because I didn’t have anything to hold me back.
 
Could this be the point of a great purge? We need to be able to be free to movement when God calls. Like Abraham, Moses, the shepherds, the wisemen… It seems I can not think of many people that God had called to stay.
 
The purge is for us to be free again—free to move when God calls.
 
So take a moment or two to take inventory of all your things and think hard, “Is this something I can actually use? Is it better in the hands of someone else? Will this be a possible roadblock to God’s call in my life?”
 
In all my experiences of getting rid of excess, I have never regretted it.
 
Resolution number three: Stop it.
 
This year you need to shut up and sit down. Seriously. Stop it. Now. You do too much, think too much, talk too much, worry too much, plan too much, fantasize too much. Stop it. I guess I should I stop it too. Geo needs to shut up and sit down.
 
We are seldom, if ever, quiet. Maybe our mouths are closed, but our minds are whirring. The television is off but our device is fully operational. There is no stress in our lives, but we aren’t being still. This is to our detriment. When we are never quiet, don’t put the device down, don’t slow down, and don’t think our anxious and habitual action may be and probably is, symptomatic of hiding, self medication, ignoring.
 
Dr. Kathy Koch, the founder and President of Celebrate Kids and author of Screens and Teens in an interview with WORLD News Group stated that silence “rests the brain, restores contemplative, refective thought, and there is a body of research that suggests that when we’re quiet, wisdom comes to the surface.” She and the interviewer go on to work through examples of how we see this truth worked out in daily life. We have all had that “aha” moment while driving quietly in the car, taking a shower, during exercise, or laying in bed. That quiet cultivates something in your brain. Heck, the double helix model of DNA (a massive scientific discovery) was realized not in the middle of an experiment, but in a lucid moment as one of the scientists laid half awake in his bed. Aha!
 
Quieting the mind brings a profound rest to the soul and gives God space to speak. “Be still and know that I am God” is the admonition of the Psalmist in the Bible. A story in 1 Kings, a book of history in the Bible, speaks of God talking to a man in a whisper not in the noise. Give God a chance to talk to you this year.
 
Some steps, or resolutions, to consider:
  • Set up technology free zones: windows of time, spaces, where you purpose to not have electronic devices.
  • Schedule a daily walk. Set aside 5, 10, 15 minutes to walk around the block or the apartment complex before or after work, when you have a lull during your day.
  • Wake up early. Some of you are already hate this suggestion, but mornings are special. For whatever reason, it is a special time of day when the world is quiet, but you still have structure of the coming day.
 

Resolution number four: Spend more time counting your blessings.

How does that old hymn go?
Count your blessings – name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord has done!
 
Have a notebook handy wherever you take a break – while the morning coffee is dribbling, while you eat lunch, waiting for an appointment, while the bath water is running, before you turn out the light and go to sleep – and jot down blessings that come to mind. It doesn’t matter if you wrote it down yesterday…if it blesses you again today, write it down. Spouse, sure; kids, probably 😊; warm house; plenty of food…these are great blessings. There are little blessings too, and that’s where you will see how God delights in you (Zephaniah 3:17). The “little” blessings are the very personal ones that may only mean something to you…and God knows that.
  • The smell of brewing coffee on a chilly morning.
  • The flowers in the vase are going to look great for another day.
  • Someone told you that you did a good job when you thought no one even noticed.
  • An old song you love plays on the radio.
  • A misplaced item turns up.
  • When the dog curls up next to you and sighs in comfort.
  • A little problem worked itself out without your involvement.
  • New shoots on the plant you’ve been nursing.
  • A smell takes you back to a happy childhood memory.
What little things has God put into your day, wanting to please you? Don’t you think He’d be pleased if you thanked Him for His efforts? When you count your blessings, you are saying “thank You” throughout the day. And gratitude opens us up to joy. “For it is not joy that makes us grateful; it is gratitude that makes us joyful.” (David Steindl-Rast)
 
I’ll bet that you could name five things right now that blessed you today. Have you said “Thank You”?
 
 
Happy 2018 everybody!

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