Monday, January 3

What Kind of "New Years'" Resolutions?

I've often asked of the church, "A year from now, will you be where you want to be spiritually?" Or, put another way, 
When you get to a year from now, as you look back over the previous year, what will you need to have put into place in order to grow in your love and affection for Jesus Christ?
I've "lifted" the following (in part) from Church & Culture Blog. Please go HERE to read it in it's entirety. My additional comments are in [brackets].

New Year’s Resolutions for You and Your Church

It’s that time of year again.

We’re going to lose weight, exercise more, get out of debt, stick to a budget, stop smoking, save for the future and spend more time with family.

We make resolutions because we want to bring change to bear on our circumstances.  We want to improve ourselves and our quality of life.  And the top resolutions, for most people, tend to revolve around the same three poles:  money, health and family.

But what would a set of New Year’s resolutions look like for you and your church, your role as a leader, or simply as someone who wants to live a life of strategic Kingdom investment?

Though many more could be added, here are fifteen to consider:

1. Pray more.
So he said to me, “This is the word of the Lord…‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord Almighty." (Zechariah 4:6, NIV)

2. Invest in my spiritual gift(s).
Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through a prophetic message when the body of elders laid their hands on you. Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. (I Timothy 4:14-15, NIV)
3. Get more intentional about evangelism.
I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. (I Corinthians 9:22, NIV) [Be a walking testimony to your love for Christ. What we believe about Jesus WILL most certainly evidence itself, so aim to live in love for Him and you will become the most effective witness TO him].
4. Care for myself spiritually.
[I like to put it this way, "Learn the art of spiritual progress for yourself. That is, learn what does and does not help you toward Christ, and do it]. Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. (Philippians 3:12, NIV)
5. Make the tough decisions I know are best.
[No small matter here. Do what's right simply because it IS right and NOT because YOU can see the advantage in doing so. Such an attitude reveals our lack of trust in God]. And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there.  I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me.  However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me — the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace. (Acts 20:22-24, NIV)
6. Confront debilitating patterns of sin.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. (Hebrews 12:1, NIV) [It's amazing how many "Christians," instead of "throwing off" sins, drag them around, apparently because they do not realize 1) the detriment, and 2) the potential freedom that could've been theirs.
7. Do the hard work needed to build community.
If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. (Matthew 18:15, NIV) [Don't shirk your duty here, by putting it off on the leadership of the church. They have their responsibilities, true. But so does EVERY believer. And what is that responsibility? It is to maintain the happiness and holiness of the body by helping rid it of impurities. Honestly, how many really do not take sin seriously as being the greatest hindrance to our happiness? Joy is at stake].
8. Keep in touch with contemporary culture.
From the tribe of Issachar, there were 200 leaders…All these men understood the signs of the times and knew the best course for Israel to take. (I Chronicles 12:32, NLT). [I take this verse to mean that we should be aware of what God is doing in this world and go about finding ways to bring that to pass].
9. Quit comparing myself to other Christians, other leaders and other churches.
Turning his head, Peter noticed the disciple Jesus loved following right behind.  When Peter noticed him, he asked Jesus, “Master, what’s going to happen to him?”
Jesus said, “If I want him to live until I come again, what’s that to you? You—follow me.” That is how the rumor got out among the brothers that this disciple wouldn’t die. But that is not what Jesus said. He simply said, “If I want him to live until I come again, what’s that to you?” (John 21:20-23, Msg) [See also 2 Cor. 10:12].
10. Read more.
Timothy, please come as soon as you can…When you come, be sure to…bring my books,… (II Timothy 4:9, 13, NLT) [That Paul knew his surroundings is evidenced in part in Acts 17 when he pointed out the Athenian religious attitude and quoted one of Crete's poets (Epimenides?). Now, there's much we shouldn't read, but that must not deter us from good reading. "Those who will not read have no advantage over those who cannot read."]
11. Prioritize my family.
A leader must be well-thought-of, committed to his wife,…attentive to his own children and having their respect. For if someone is unable to handle his own affairs, how can he take care of God’s church? (I Timothy 3:2-5, Msg) [Here is where we might add, learn to apply the faith to every area of life and not to selected portions].
12. Refuse to use ministry to satisfy my personal ambition.
Should you then seek great things for yourself? Seek them not. (Jeremiah 45:5, NIV) [Love this verse!! 'Nuff said].
13. Love people, not just crowds.
If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate.  If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing.  If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love. (I Corinthians 13:1-3, Msg) [A good application of this passage certainly. But only one. The larger issue is the very presence of such an all-encompassing, soul-satisfying love for God that transcends and, really, defines all outer expressions of faith. No expression of faith can be divorced from heart affection toward God].
14. Be more open to change.
See, I am doing a new thing!  Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? (Isaiah 43:19, NIV) [Again, the larger issue here is not just our ability to SEE change, but the necessary virtue of submission which paves the way for its acceptance].

15. Stay focused on the vision.
They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. (Acts 2:42-47, NIV)

1 comment:

Pastor Bob Leroe said...

This is really excellent.