A New Year’s Resolution
is a tradition, most common in the Western Hemisphere but also found in the Eastern Hemisphere, in which a person resolves to change an undesired trait or behavior.
Did you make a New Year Resolution? The statistics say about 45% of us made a New Year Resolution.
What did we resolve?
The top 5 are:
- Lose weight
- Get organized
- Save more and spend less
- Enjoy life to the fullest
- Stay fit and healthy
And the good news is that 75% of us keep the resolutions we make! Well, at least we will for the first week, and mostly for the second week, but we do start to fail rapidly after that. By the end of the year only about 8% will still be resolute in our resolutions.
That begs the question, if so few of us are successful why do we make them to start with?
Where did New Year Resolutions get their start?
Let’s take a look back in history to answer that question. Most of the historians believe the idea of New Year Resolutions started with the ancient Babylonians. It seems that their resolutions tended to revolve around paying off their debts and then returning what they had “borrowed”. Actually these would not be bad resolutions even today. Then later the Romans picked up the idea of new resolutions each year and began counting the beginning of the year as January 1. Since their New Year’s party was a celebration honoring the god Janus and involved a lot of heavy drinking, the early Christians shied away from those celebrations. So, for a while in history the Christians didn’t make New Year resolutions and associated the practice with paganism.
During Judaism’s New Year, Rosh Hashanah, through the High Holidays and culminating in Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement), one is to reflect upon their wrongdoings over the past year and both seek and offer forgiveness.
By the 18th century here in the US the Puritans also thought the New Year partying was too much and they encouraged instead taking time to reflect on the previous year and contemplate what would make the next year better. This of course led to making new resolutions to do things better or differently in the new year.
Later, at Watch-night services, many Christians prepared for the year ahead by praying and making resolutions.
Why do we make resolutions?
Well, if you are a Christian and take a little time to reflect on your walk with the Lord and your relationship with people around you, it is likely you see a few things you wish were different. We all do. Life is busy and we get distracted by all of the craziness of the every day. In the struggle to live we can easily fall into routines that may help us survive the day, but they don’t help us grow spiritually strong month by month. Making resolutions is a great way to keep things on track and to re-direct areas where we have drifted. Unfortunately simply making resolutions and having good intentions doesn’t insure these things will happen.
5 Steps to Making Resolutions More Effective
Putting action points in place is a great place to begin. A pretty good exercise for all of us would be to rest, reflect, re-evaluate, review and resolve to make a change when necessary. All of this should be done prayerfully, always asking God to show you what He wants you see.
Stop. Set aside a time to cease striving, relax, and breathe deep. Find a place, not just once a year but maybe once a month, turn off the noise of this world and listen to the silence.
Ask yourself the following questions.
What happened last year, or last month, or even last week?
What happened in your relationship with God?
What happened in your relationship with the people God has placed in your life?
What could you do to improve those relationships?
Every week review your resolutions. It is easier to make small frequent directional changes than it is to make large annual u-turns.
Determine ahead of time to make a change when necessary. Make up your mind to make a difference in your daily life that will make a difference in the way you love God and love people.
Wrapping it up
Personally I believe there are two key resolutions that everyone needs to make. These two shape all of the rest and shape our entire lives.
Study the Bible.
Do what it says.
For many people Bible study can be intimidating. Questions like “Where do I start?”, or “How often do I read it?” often come to mind. For years David and I were on staff with Precept Ministries, they exist to establish people in the Word of God. I would highly recommend their studies to help take the struggle out of Bible study. Precept Bible studies are designed to guide your Bible study step by step. Click here to check out their website.
This year make just two resolutions
Study the Bible & Do what it says!
Does this sound familiar? (click here)
Have you ever felt like you were in a box and desperately needed out?Perhaps this box was a box of someone else’s design . I am not talking about a physical box necessarily but one constructed with rules and laws someone else made and held together by very strong emotions.
Recently I found myself trapped in one of those boxes. I was simply strolling along in my thoughts, meditating on the goodness of the Lord and the journey He has taken me on. A journey like nothing I could have even imagined where I’ve climbed the highest of mountains, stood breathless amazed by the view and captured by the euphoria of it all. And yet while on that same journey found myself pulled into the deep unfathomable depths of discouragement, swirling, swirling headed for despair.
As I was contemplating the mountain tops and how quickly you can plummet to the depths and how it is possible to pull out of the plunge, God spoke in that still small voice. I pressed in so I wouldn’t miss what He was saying, “Tell them what you have learned.” I ponder that for a moment, and I ask “What I have learned?” “Yes the things I’ve taught you, teach others also.”
I’ve learned a lot over the years, just what am I to share? And again I hear His voice, “those things that enable you to pull out of the plunge.” I began contemplating what those were.
In the middle of this time of contemplation David and I were writing a blog on Spiritual Disciplines. It’s really a shame that is not emphasized in our church’s much, but is key to the spiritual growth of believers. Jesus and Paul have a lot to say on the subject so imagine how surprised I was to hear the lid slam shut on a box that, up until that point, I didn’t even know existed.
We found ourselves in a dark and suffocating place, where the walls kept squeezing relentlessly waiting to hear us cry “Uncle”! I was frustrated and kicking at the sides for all I was worth. The harder I kicked and the more I tried to explain, the more pressure the hand that was clamped over my mouth exerted and the louder the hissing was in my ear. The voice that claimed to be protecting the family of God from wolves in sheep’s clothing, yet at the same time accusing us of being “one of them”.
At the point of exhaustion, I sat down, sucking in air and not wanting to let any escape.
It was then that once again, I heard that still small voice. Lest I run the risk of being stuffed back into a box I had previously been trapped in I admit, I believe God spoke to me. He said “Don’t let them distract you from what you know to be truth and what I’ve told you to do and stuff you into their box. Stand firm in the truth you know, it doesn’t need defending and you’ll never convince them otherwise.”
You know them. They are self appointed guardians of a truth of their own understanding. They make up rules and dare you to break them and when you do they go straight for the juggler ready to take you out before you even know what hit you!
But isn’t that what the Pharisees did? Throughout His entire ministry the Pharisees followed Jesus around trying to cram Him into a box that they had designed, with special attention paid to the details.They had created their own rules, 633 to be exact. They dared Jesus and His disciples to break them.
But break them they did! He
- healed on the Sabbath.
- ate with tax collectors.
- touched the coffin of a dead man when He raised him from the dead.
- spoke to an adulterous Gentile woman.
- prepared and ate grain on the Sabbath.
- didn’t wash hands before eating.
Jesus valued people over man made rules! He came to rock their world and kick the lids off man’s homemade boxes. He came to set the captives free!
Boxes come in all shapes, sizes and colors. Some are designed according to:
- How you should look or act
- What you say, not only verbally but in writing as well
- Where you go
- Who you hang out with
- What church/denomination you are a affiliated with
- What Bible translation you use and the list goes on………….
Do any of these look like boxes you have designed? Yes, I did go there. You see if we aren’t careful we all have the potential to create boxes. That is one of those things The Lord has been teaching me and wants me to teach others also. :)
So be on guard lest you find yourself designing your own line of boxes!
Let’s start a conversation! Share with us a time you found yourself inside another person’s box!
When the decision was made to do Genesis this fall I was a little bummed. After all how many times do you need to study creation? I already knew what God created and when, what else is there to learn? But as usual, God spoke and reality set in – There is always something to learn in scripture no matter how many times you study it. I found that we/I are so familiar with the first verses of Genesis that we don’t give them the attention they deserve. So with that said I am going to share some thoughts from Genesis 1:1-5.
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. – Genesis 1:1
In the beginning God ….
The name for God here is Elohim – “el” means mighty, strong; the “im” ending is a plural ending, but has a singular verb. God (plural) created. So what? You may ask. The trinity (God, Son and Holy Spirit) was present at creation! Holy Spirit (Genesis 1:2) Jesus – John 1:1-4, 14-18; Heb 1:1-3; Col1:15-17, Rev 4:11 (more…)