rethinking my new year’s resolution…
It’s New Year’s Eve and that means it is resolution time.
No matter how you feel about making them, ‘tis the season.
Exercise more, rest more, eat better, read more… those are just some of the different resolutions that I have made over the years.
Some I have kept, and some I have utterly failed…like eating healthier. I love me some carbs. And chocolate. And coffee.
Sorry, not sorry.
As I contemplate what I want to resolve to do in 2019, a thought keeps coming to me and it’s this: all of my resolutions have been all about me.
Maybe they are supposed to be.
But I don’t want my life to be all about me.
As John the Baptist said about Jesus, “He must become greater and greater and I must become less and less.”
To that end, this year I am rethinking my New Year’s resolution.
Instead of resolving to do better myself, I’m going to shift my focus and concentrate my energy on glorifying God better.
I want to run after Jesus just a little more radically than I did in 2018.
I want to think less about myself, and more about loving God and loving others.
I want to make HIS GLORY my sole aim.
I want to be wholly devoted, sold-out, and passionately pursuing God in 2019.
One little thing at a time.
By making small, incremental changes.
5 minutes here and $15 there.
A series of practical acts to show my devotion to my Heavenly Father.
Daily choices to die to self, to surrender to God’s will, and to love others with vigor.
In practical ways…because that is how my brain works. My name literally means “likes to make spiritual things practical” and I do.
So here’s to a 2019 that is devoted to becoming practically radical.
I think Jesus would approve.
I just finished studying his Sermon on the Mount in the book Matthew and I believe that this kind of devotion is the overarching theme of his message. That we would stop thinking about ourselves, and start to become people who live to hallow the name of God – to bring him glory above anything else. That we would not worry about ourselves, our needs, or our accolades. But that we would be people who live rooted in trust of the provision of the father and out of that security, love and serve others with a passion that is radical.
I came up with a list of the main points in his sermon, and for each of the points, a practical step that I can take each day to pursue the kind of righteousness and devotion that Jesus taught us to have. They are small steps, but they lead to a big shift in focus toward becoming practically radical.
- Theme: Be people who are aware of our desperate need for him and who pursue his righteousness in our lives. We should diligently seek his mercy, purity and peace in all of our actions. Practical step: There is nothing that purifies us and helps us realize our desperate for God than the Word, and nothing that will give us the wisdom and strength that we need to do life like the Word. Spend 5-10 more minutes a day reading the Bible than you currently do. That adds up to almost 55 hours in the coming year and will make a significant difference in the desires of your heart.
- Theme: Be marked by radical love for others. Don’t be angry, don’t lust, don’t break vows, turn the other cheek and love your enemy are just some of the examples that Jesus gave. Practical step (pick from these options): choose to forgive someone who doesn’t deserve it, pray for your enemies once a week, do something nice for someone who is not nice to you: bring them cookies, or deliver a meal when they go through a difficult time.
- Theme: Be motivated by God’s approval alone and not by man’s approval. When you do good deeds, or give or even fast, do it in secret and not for show. Practical step: Do a 1-7 day fast sometime this year and don’t advertise it. Seek God and his will during that time, not the recognition of man for your sacrifice. If you already do a fast, increase it by one day, or do another fast a different time of the year.
- Theme: Hallow God’s name above all else in your life. Become someone who seeks him and his will above anything else on earth. All of your actions, all of your provisions, all of your blessings are given to bring glory to God’s name. Practical step: Each morning, pray and surrender your life and your day to God’s will. Ask his Spirit to come and give you the knowledge and strength you need to carry it out.
- Theme: Invest in eternity. We are called to store up treasures in heaven, and not on earth. This means that instead of striving to build up earthly wealth for ourselves, we give what we have to others in order to help them see God. It’s shifting the mindset from “my money” to “God’s money.” Practical Step: Increase your tithe by a small percent. If you don’t currently tithe, take the plunge and give 10%. If you already give 10%, increase it to 12, 15 or even 20%. We have done this and I have never regretted it. (Side note: if I ever feel sad that I can’t buy something, I say to myself: “my treasures are in heaven.” It sounds silly, I know, but it works. It resets the desire of my heart).
- Theme: Don’t worry about anything, instead trust that God is in control. Worry is a faith issue…it’s a sign that we don’t trust God and his plan. Practical step: During your morning quiet time, affirm your trust in God’s goodness in prayer. Or, decide that whenever you feel worried, you will pray and hand the issue over to God, affirming your faith that he will handle it for you.
- Theme: Don’t judge others. Be more worried about your own sin then you are their sin. It is not for us to play judge, that role is God’s alone. Practical step: Make sure your own life is in alignment with truth. If there is a bad habit, or a sin in your life, ask God for the strength to stop doing it. Admit your weakness to him, and ask for his Spirit to help you overcome its power in your life. Take the plank out of your own eye, as the Word says.
- Theme: Produce good fruit. Out of the abundance of love and grace and forgiveness that you have been given, pours it out on others. Don’t be concerned with taking care of yourself, rather trust the Father to take care of you and then love and serve those around you. Practical step: Serve others. Pack meals at Feed My Starving Children, make and serve a meal at a homeless shelter, give money to your local school for students who can’t pay their lunch account balance, or serve at your local food shelf.
There you have it! My practical steps for becoming a more radical follower of Jesus by thinking less about myself and more about God and others.
I invite you to join me in chasing him in reckless abandon in 2019…let’s be practically radical together.
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