Thursday, December 30, 2010

New Year's Resolutions

I scrolled down FB yesterday morning, and I came across my friend Derek's status update.  He wrote,

I want God to do something amazing in my life in 2011! This New Year I want to take advantage of every opportunity God gives me to show how great He is; then I know I'll see Him do something amazing in my life. My highest and greatest purpose as a life-long follower of Jesus Christ is to spread the greatness of God regardless of the circumstances of life...
It got me thinking, and I asked myself, "What do I want to see God do in 2011?"
And that forced me to ask another question, "What does God want me to do differently or change in 2011?"

I believe in a powerful sovereign God who does all that he wills, but I also believe in personal choice.  I don't believe we are automatons, and I do believe God empowers us to do the things we might not necessarily do and to choose things that please him instead of things that please ourselves.

I stopped making New Year's resolutions when I was a teenager.  Really.  There didn't seem to be much point.  No matter what I put on the list, I had lousy follow-through.  No follow-through actually.  And so I just quit.  In those days, and for a long time afterward, I avoided things that made me feel like a failure.  And I didn't understand the value of grace or the importance of commitment to a journey of change.

This year, however, I think I want to try again.  There are some things I need to change in my life, and I think now is a good time begin incorporating some new patterns into my life.

Once I started journaling, I had a hard time stopping.  In fact, I thought of new things all day long.  I'm thinking a super long list probably isn't a great idea and may be a path to failure, so I want to pray about these things and which ones to begin adopting.

  • Exercise - I exercised regularly for over a year before I started working full-time, and I felt great.  As I age, there are other benefits, also important.
  • Eating healthy - Also before I started working full-time, I adopted the South Beach Diet guidelines.  I lost weight and felt great.  Duane and Caitlin obviously didn't need to lose weight, but they also felt great.  Let's face it.  I'm not getting any younger.
  • Lose 15 pounds.  I'm not sure I have a lot of control over this one, but if I do the two things above, I probably will lose weight.  
  • Continue blogging.  I'd like to commit to 300 posts this year.  That may be ambitious.  I have 242 for 2010.  And I need a new theme.  I am a very themed person.
  • Submit articles to a publishing company.  I have to figure out how to do this.  And it might not happen until after the thesis is done.  But it needs to happen.  It's time.
  • Finish the thesis!  I want to commit to a schedule for getting this done.  I always operate better when I have deadlines.  
  • Commit to putting myself out there to find work.  When I'm done with the thesis, or maybe before.  
  • Fast regularly.  A plan, a schedule, something I can actually do would be good.  
  • Have people over to dinner regularly.  Even though I'm busy with school.
  • Spend quiet time with God.  I generally do my devotions in my room, and sometimes the TV is on.  Sometimes I stop to look at FB.  I want really quiet time so I can listen to God's voice and not just my own.  No computer.  No noise.  No distractions.  To do this one, I need to find a space and a time to commit to.
I can change lots of things in my life.  Assuming I have willpower and commitment and find people to hold me accountable.  However, I don't have control over everything.  I can change the way I eat and the way I move, but I can't guarantee good health for me, for Duane, or for friends and family.  I can learn how to submit articles to magazines and then send them off, but I can't make publishers decide to print my words (and pay me).  I can finish my thesis and graduate, and I can write a brilliant resume, but I can't move the hearts of college administrators to hire me to teach their students.  I can commit to spending time with God, but this isn't a bargaining chip for hearing God's voice or seeing church growth.  

And so what do I want to see God do this year?  
  • Fill me increasingly with his Spirit.  
  • Continue working in the life of Duane.  I am grateful he is a man of God.  I'm grateful that he listens to God.  
  • Work in the lives of my children.  And the lives of friends and family.  I long for God to lead and guide, to heal wounded hearts and bruised relationships, to free people from their past.  
  • Grow Newbreak.  All of Newbreak, but specifically, Santee.  I love this little church and the people in it more than I can explain.  And I think numbers are great, but I'm most interested in spiritual growth, commitment to loving God and worshiping him with hearts and actions.  Numerical growth normally follows spiritual growth, but numerical growth without spiritual growth doesn't last long.  And it doesn't change lives.  
I'll be thinking and praying about this more today.  I plan to make a list later today.  Or tomorrow.  Today I'm still on vacation.  

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