New Year’s Resolutions, Anyone?

–Winter of 2002

New Year’s Resolutions, Anyone?

How long has it been since you’ve heard anyone talk about New Year’s resolutions?  It has been years since I’ve actually penned a list of resolves that I wanted to give special attention to throughout the New Year.  This year, I’ve decided to dust off this time-honored tradition and join my fellow pilgrims who will take up the challenge of change as the calendar year rolls over to 2002.

To insure that my resolutions do not melt away with February’s final snow, I’m putting them in print for all the Revivalist family to read.  Furthermore, I’m going to pledge to you an article on each one of these areas in the coming Revivalist year.

 RESOLVED: To gain an understanding of corporate worship

My holiness tradition has taught me much.  Yet, somehow, I missed the all important matter of worship.  Since coming to GBS, I have had more opportunity to experience church from a pew rather than from a pulpit.  To be honest, that has not been an altogether pleasant experience.  In saying that, I do not blame the church, but myself.  I have approached church far too often with the spirit of a discriminating consumer (what’s this doing for me?), rather than a grateful creature seeking to praise his Creator.  As a preacher, I have found myself being more of a sermon critic than a truth consumer.  I have left church thinking, “I don’t believe I got anything out of this service,” rather than wondering, “Was God pleased with my worship of Him today?”  I fear that I’m not alone.  The single-most complaint I hear about church is the inability to worship while there.  I believe the church at large has lost the art of worship.  As for me, I want to know how to worship God corporately in a way that truly honors Him.

 RESOLVED: To enlarge my understanding of spiritual authenticity

A question that has probed my thinking for years is, “What does it really mean to be spiritual?”  In the holiness tradition, spiritual experience is given a prominent place.  So much so that we have found it easy to think that a personal momentary religious incident that leaves us ecstatic or astonished is far more genuine and satisfying than the hard work of developing spirituality.  This thinking has produced Christians who are easily destabilized if removed from spiritual feelings and emotions.  The conversion of the soul does happen in the miracle of a moment, but the making of a saint is the work of a lifetime.  Spiritual experience can be found in shallow, fickle people, but spirituality is only found in the unshakable saint who makes God’s Word and the pursuit of godliness the passion of their life.

 RESOLVED: To invest more in the relationships that matter most

Ruth and I have shared so much life in the past 23 years of marriage.  We have experienced an abundance of love and happiness.  We brought two boys into the world and parented them into fine young men.  Together we have poured an unbelievable amount of our lives into them and plan to continue doing so until God calls us home.  Together we have pastored, promoted and presided over various aspects of God’s work.  We have shared sorrows, stress and misunderstandings.  We haven’t always agreed, but we have always been committed to loving on and going on.  Ruth has allowed me to invest a huge amount of myself and time in others without complaint.  Yet, I’ve been convicted over the need to invest more of myself in her —  more encouragement, counsel and love —  more prayer and time — more of my energy and effort to build her up emotionally and spiritually.  Our relationship matters, and I want my commitment to it to reflect its importance.

 RESOLVED: To live a better balanced life

I’ve never been afraid of hard work and time-consuming jobs.  As a matter of fact, I’ve thrived on being busy.  But a well-balanced life also makes time for physical and emotional renewal.  I need to laugh more.  Laughter is medicine for the soul and body.  It can relieve tension and restore perspective to life.  I need to exercise more.  My work taxes me emotionally, spiritually and mentally— but it doesn’t keep my muscles pounded into shape!  I need to exercise more on a regular basis.  Exercise relieves stress, stimulates the mind, and reduces the body’s need for rest.  A strong body and a stress-free mind make for a more effective ministry and longer usefulness.

Sharing my New Year’s resolutions with you is one way to encourage you to make some new resolves of your own.  Our journey to Heaven must be punctuated with times of fresh wind and fresh resolve.  Why don’t you resolve right now to strengthen some resolves in your life?

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