Monday, December 31, 2012

Resolve



Resolve

A new year is upon us, so for many, that means coming up with a resolution; a change to their way of life, a bettering of oneself.

But, when I really start to think about it, I feel that I have gone about it all wrong for much too long, and that the body of Chris also misses an opportunity each year when resolution time rolls around. In the past I have made resolutions, the more recent years I haven’t really bothered with some huge declaration of the change to come, I usually have to make resolutions every day because I fail so miserably!

Thankfully I don’t see many TV commercials so I generally avoid all the ridiculous media propaganda centered on resolutions, but I’ve still seen my fair share.
There is probably a list of the top 10 resolutions made each year, and I can bet that weight loss, getting in ‘shape’, getting healthy, and other ideas about the body are pretty high on the list. Following behind are other personal affairs such as managing money better, getting something else in order, even better oneself as far as making more money, going more places, doing more things. 

Lots of other resolutions are about getting to the next place in life that you would expect to be, married, family, buying house, getting a promotion, etc .But these things are so temporary, so self-motivating, and often times, just not in God’s will for us. 

As I see person after person commenting about weight loss goals made or met, self image priorities set, I can’t help to think this just isn’t what it’s about. I do know people who are very responsible about having an exercise regime, but also have devotions and put a priority on their relationship with Christ as well, it can be done.
The Scriptures talk very little about physical health and aspiring to better or change how we look. I do not intend to dive into all of this too much, but what I’ve found is that Scripture talks much much more about our hearts, striving to be like Christ then how much we weigh, how far and fast we can run, how white our teeth are or wrinkle free our skin is.
Now of course I’m not saying no one should ever worry about their weight or aspire to better their health. I’m not condemning those who have a career in an exercise industry, or those who place a strong emphasis on being strong and physically fit. BUT, really, if that is what you are setting your entire goal for the year as, I would challenge you to read further.
The most relevant verse that speaks to this idea is of course 1 Timothy 4:7-8, “have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness, for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.”
I’ve never been much of an athlete, but I understand the rigorous training required to run marathons or to be capable of weight lifting, etc. If only as believers, we would apply such effort and self-discipline to reaching godliness. 

There have been some who would comment they just can’t think of any resolutions this year. And I can’t help but wonder again if we are really just not getting it.

Page after page in scripture you find the theme of sacrificing for the sake of the gospel, for the sake of others, for the furthering of God’s kingdom. Sacrificing is what Jesus came for. And only a week after his birth, it seems that we fall right back into our self enhancing, mindset where we really don’t care much about others. In fact, we’re willing to dedicate the next upcoming YEAR to ourselves, to looking better, getting further, getting more. It just seems so sad. 

Sometimes it seems that all resolutions are really good for is self promotion. If you make a goal to lose weight, then every week you get to tell everyone how great you did, or maybe you want to get out of debt so you share with everyone when you can cut up another credit card. These things are great, and it makes people feel good about themselves, but dare I say that Scripture also talks little about self-promotion, but rather giving glory only to Him?

In fact Matthew 6:3 talks about doing good deeds in private, so that only the Heavenly Father will know what you’ve done. The suggestions I list below, might be ones that go unnoticed by everyone but God. If you resolve to give more, then you must do so with a humble heart, not seeking any glory. If you decide to sponsor an adoption, there may be a time and place to share it with others, but if the intent is to glorify God by service to Him, then most of these things will go unsaid, unnoticed, and unrecognized. 

There have been some people lately, who have really blessed my family, and it was done privately, there was no need for a status update about it or a tweet about how great they were for helping my family, but God knows, and we know and I pray God blesses them 10 fold for the way they helped us. 

Who will be with me in making resolutions less about ourselves, and more about training for Godliness?
Who will use each new year to focus on a matter of God’s heart? Who will set aside time each day, not to run or jog or do sit ups, but to get to know God better, and have Him know them better? Who will sacrifice their time they could spend running a few miles, instead to sit with an elderly person who is sick and lonely? Who will join with me in a movement where the body of Christ looks beyond themselves and seeks out ways to help others and dedicates the new year to being a servant?

So often I’ve been guilty of being stagnant. Not really moving forward, not actively involved in ministry, not even deliberately getting to know the maker of all things better. Too often people get very caught up in ‘me and mine’. And it can seem like a good thing, yes of course your children need to be cared for, but don’t have that stop you from ministry, instead, include them!

Can’t get out? Then get people IN and be as hospitable as you can, and not just to those you know.
Here are some resolutions that would bring glory to God, further His kingdom and get the Church out of its ‘me and mine’ mentality:

1.Giving- Instead of nitpicking your tithe down to the last cent, round up to the next $10, or even resolve  to give 11% this year (if you are a strict 10% person). Yes, you can find ways to make it work, and you’ll be blessed to see God using your money in your local church. Or if your church has a huge building fund and doesn’t give much to missionaries or local ministries, split your giving and give some to the upkeep of your church (after all the utilities do need to be paid, but no church needs granite countertops!), and give the rest to a ministry that helps people locally, and give all you can!

2.Sponsor-find a family working on an adoption and commit to sending them whatever you can. Maybe it would be a one time gift, maybe you resolve to sending them $25/month till they are fully funded (which could take a year). Many people have accepted God’s call to care for orphans, and are waiting to bring their sweet child home because of the adoption costs. How can the church let this happen? Step up Bride of Christ! Resolve to do something about it!

(a blog I read and a good place thats links to adoption fundraisers is:
http://www.nogreaterjoymom.com/)

3. Know God better, Have Him know you better-Resolve  to know God better, set aside something you normally do for yourself, and spend that time in Scripture. Be known to God by going to him first. Resolve  to go to God first in everything. Before you pick up that phone, or type your status, or text everyone in your contact list, sit, pray and go before the King of Kings. You may be surprised how this can really really change things. You may be surprised how peaceful you’ll feel about something you may have gone off about a month ago. Time spent with the Lord is never wasted. 

4. Serve-Pages could be written about the countless ways this could take shape. I would encourage you to resolve to serve someone in a practical way. Lend someone your car so they can get to their appointments, make a meal for a family who has a busy household, send someone on a budget a giftcard for groceries, offer to clean for an elderly person who can’t do it themselves anymore. The possibilities would be endless! A new way to serve each day, each week even! And it doesn't have to be expensive, instead of joining a gym this year which could easily cost over $200, or becoming a member of another weight loss program, use the money to help someone! Offer to babysit, have a family over for pizza, pray for ways, God will provide them!

5. Be a better friend-Being a friend is a hefty deal. Scripture has a lot to say about what a friend is. There have been many friends in my life who simply didn’t really seem to know what it meant. Even recently, a friend has showed me just how little our friendship means because there is just no time for it. Resolve  to nurture your friendships. Everyone is busy, but a note, a card, a phone call can mean so much. Make sure your friends know how much they mean to you. Send a dear friend a note of encouragement every month, or find their favorite coffee or tea to send them, even if you can’t drink it together. 

6. Outreach-Believer, time is running short. Soon our Lord will return. Resolve to speak the gospel to 2, 5, 10 people this year, that you’ve never shared it with. Pray for opportunities to share the Good News of God’s salvation, and resolve to seize those opportunities. Plead with your unsaved friends and family to hear what the Bible says, and have compassion on them by sharing the hope they too can have. Resolve to be a more outspoken witness for Christ, resolve to let your light shine. Resolve to not be guilty of not speaking up!
 
Whatever it is, resolve to do it, and do it often. If you normally make resolutions around weight loss, think about how involved and time consuming it is. Don’t skip out on the full commitment of any of these suggestions. It’s not a one and done thing. Resolve to do it right. Resolve to do it well. And resolve to do it in the power of God so that all glory is to Him.
It’s true that there may not be much to share about these resolutions on FB or twitter, I doubt many people would say; “Hey FB! Someone cut me off in traffic today, but my resolution was to talk to God more about stuff, so I did and then I didn’t feel mad anymore!”, but wow, can you just imagine if  social media was flooded by people sharing their resolutions, and it went like this:

“I resolve to work on mending broken relations, for the glory of God.”
“I resolve to get my eating under control so I can be healthy to do the work God has set before me.”
“I resolve to putting my extra money towards helping orphans instead of shopping for clothes for myself and my family, when we already have too many.”
“I resolve to intentionally get to know God better, by talking with Him and not gossiping, by taking my troubles and concerns to him, rather than posting them online.”
“I resolve to stop doing things that destroy my testimony, hinder my relationship with God and compromise my integrity.” (This could mean not watching rated R movies, they’re rated R for a reason! They are filth and do not promote God. It could mean to turning off the radio, not knowing about the most recent events or newest hip hop songs, not mindlessly following along with your cultures past times, but intentionally seeking to be set apart. Different from the world).

Resolutions each new year can be a wonderful time to start new things, but what if we as the Church used this time to promote God’s agenda? What if the Church used the new year to intentionally resolve to do something about issues that bother God?
Make a resolution, make a resolution that counts! Happy New Year!

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