Ever feel like January is a bunch of Groundhog Day’s stitched together…like an iPod stuck on replay?
Perhaps you’re like me in the sense you wonder why so many are still hopping on and off the resolution bandwagon, scrambling to find the right short-term fix for their long-term “needs”.
If you can relate, then hear me out. ‘Cause today we’re going to talk about how we can better fine-tune our resolutions1 by focusing on three practical “heart goals” we can all aspire to in 2016.
Okay, okay…I know this is a “chalk” point2; however, it’s still worth mentioning considering it’s the most powerful form of communication we can experience.
Think about it: God loves us so much…He gave us a limitless lifeline (i.e. prayer) so we can dial into Him at any time…and join Him in making a difference.
I don’t know about you, but I find this [very] encouraging…knowing we can pursue God through prayer and partner with Him in His work no matter where we are or what we’re going through.
Granted, as bivocational believers, there will be times the enemy tempts us into thinking our prayers are less effective (compared to full-time ministers)…and distracts us into less frequent, circumstance-driven prayer.
However, the truth is: we can pray boldly and effectively because we’re made righteous through Christ (James 5:16)…and are equipped with a purpose and a plan that no one can strip away.
Thus, it’s important we take time to consider how God wants to use us through the power of prayer in 2016, whether it involves healing the brokenhearted…opening closed doors to advance the mystery of God…and/or shedding light on the truth of who God is (Colossians 4:3, Ephesians 5:13).
To be honest…I’m not the biggest fan of memorization; not because it’s a waste of time3, but because I’m simply not that good at it…it’s somewhat rudimentary (as a learning technique)…plus I’m perfectly content being familiar with as many things as I can.
So it should be no surprise when I say I don’t often involve memorization when studying the Word, considering I’d rather get the concept than the verbatim.
However…this doesn’t mean memorization doesn’t have a place in our spiritual walk…or that I’m even correct in my overall assessment. In fact, I’d submit it’s one of the most underrated forms of spiritual preparation (abiding + equipping).
Consider 1 Peter 3:15: “…but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect…”
At the sake of sounding cheesy, whenever I hear “being prepared to make a defense“, I immediately imagine a 19th century cowboy minister being able “draw” the words of God on demand…like John Wayne, except instead of a Winchester Model, you have powerful words of two-edged truth.
But though Peter isn’t emphasizing a particular apologetic discipline here, it can be said memorization is a worthy component to any readiness strategy, given its tendency to root head faith deeper into heart faith.
My advice? Don’t hesitate to memorize more…and take advantage of the fact there’s an app for that (See “Fighter Verses” app (right screenshot); Jeff Ling’s post for more insight here).
3) Reach out…more.
Whenever we hear “reach out”, it’s easy to think go on more mission trips or go to the soup kitchen every weekend. But in this case, when I say “reach out”, I’m talking about confidently pursuing life-on-life opportunities…in the flesh. Person-to-person…face-to-face. Yes, there is a place for online community and virtual relationship (as I wrote about a few weeks ago); however, with more of our social interaction taking place by “i-Products” these days, it’s important we commune intentionally, especially if leaving a Kingdom legacy matters to us.
Case in point: A couple years back, my wife and I talked about this issue…and at the end of our conversation, she challenged me to initiate three hangouts/phone-calls (outside my normal routine) a month for three months.
At first, I had my reservations…especially since we were in the middle of a relationally dry season. But as I started to carry out the charge, it wasn’t long before I realized this is what I was made for; this is what I should be doing more often!
I’m telling you…simply putting myself out there was a game-changer. In fact, had I not gone into “challenge accepted” mode, I wouldn’t have been able to listen, encourage, and pray God’s will/best into action the way God had for me.
You see…often times, we think we have something to lose being vulnerable and available, but once we realize this kind of withdrawal mentality doesn’t come from God, we can take it captive and ultimately discover the pure thrill of reaching out on purpose.
In light of this, my encouragement to you, friends, is to keep the foot on the gas pedal this year…to keep doing the good things you’ve been doing…just more of it.
Seriously, just imagine if we all got in on this…how many more lives would be impacted…
- As January fades into February…I find the transition to be a great time to reevaluate my resolutions. After all, when we aim to cling to what is good, we should also want to cling to what is necessary…and appointed for such a time as this…so at the end of the day, we may reach the prize to which we’re running towards
- “Chalk” point = an obvious statement worthy of mention
- Though I’d say otherwise if it’s used as a primary means of retaining knowledge