New Year’s Resolutions won’t change your life, but new habits will. Over the last few years, I’ve added some extremely helpful habits to my own life, and I’m working on a couple of new ones for 2017. If you’re thinking about ways to make the coming year more kingdom-oriented and transformative, here are some power tips I can gladly pass along.
- Read through the Bible in twelve months. There are schedules that allow you to advance book by book; others that allow you to read selections from the Old and New Testaments and Psalms every day. Reading the whole Bible in a year will require discipline, but it will pay big dividends. You will not only gain new insights into scripture, but your confidence will soar! For resources, click here.
- Train to be an Encourager. Nobody ever receives too much encouragement, and most people could use more. Be more intentional about noticing good things others do, times when people around you seem down and out. Make it a point to offer words of kindness or encouragement at least twice a week.
- Take a walk with Jesus. Schedule a couple of hours on a nice day to go off and be alone with the Lord. Identify a scenic park or some other uplifting location. Take your Bible and perhaps some quiet music. Spend two hours walking around, reading from the Word, journaling, and listening for the small, still voice of God. This is guaranteed to become a day you remember for years! You’ll soon schedule another.
- Stop complaining. Take this a week at a time: just promise yourself you won’t complain about anything- not even the weather. When you find yourself tempted, pause and pray or find something worthy of praise. Be relentless in shutting out all forms of complaint for one full week. Then do it for another week… and another.
- Drink more water. The Bible says wonderful things about water and even compares Eternal Life to it. Let the water cleanse your body and remind you that Jesus is truly the only water that allows the one who drinks to never thirst again. Put a few bottles of the wet stuff in your fridge and drink it three times a day.
- Take notes in worship. Write down great ideas that arise while you’re praising God. Take notes on pertinent ideas from the message. You can collect them and review them later, or you can toss them. Just the practice of writing things down will make the event more memorable and will help you listen constructively.
- Measure your prayer life and increase it 20%. Set aside a week to actually inventory how often you pray, and which times and settings are more helpful. Then set a goal of 20% more time in prayer, and train yourself to take advantage of the times of day that are more conducive to prayer. Go for variety: use lists once in a while, read from the Psalms and other prayer books, pray aloud some times and write your prayers down on other occasions. Grow your prayer life and watch your walk with the Lord become more satisfying and productive. God listens! It’s really true.
I don’t think about these things as self improvement. Rather, I see them as self surrender. I am looking for new ways to open myself up to God’s grace and allow more of his character and purposes to flow through me. It’s not about trying harder. It’s about trusting more.
There seems to be a lot more enthusiasm and positive attitudes across the USA than we’ve seen in several years. But if the only hope and change that excites us is the political variety, we’ll be crashing and burning once again before the year is done. I’m building more spiritual muscle and vision into my life because I believe God is ABLE. I hope you feel that way too. Happy New Year to all my friends and fellow disciples!
Lift up the Cross!