I love fresh starts. I love starting a new sermon series. I love opening a fresh Moleskine. I love starting a new book. This is why I love the New Year - It means a fresh start. Each change of the year provides a helpful reminder to bring prayerful intentionality to the year to come.
If we're not careful, you and I are prone to walk through life giving little attention to the state of our hearts and the behaviors that result. We need to heed the instruction of the Apostle Paul to young Timothy in 1 Timothy 4:16 . Pastor Paul writes,
"Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching."
This is a great time for us to put this practice in place, but where do we start? Here are three steps I'm taking in determining where God wants me to get a fresh start this year.
Grab your journal, paper and pen, or a open a blank document on your computer and begin to reflect on the previous year. Where did you grow? What were some unhealthy patterns you developed? What worked well and what did not? Where did you doubt God and fail to believe Christ's sufficiency for you? This would also be a great point to take the very brave step of engaging some people in your life who know you best and love you most by asking them about the areas they believe you need to grow (Yeah, this one hurts a bit).
Here's the problem with most of our resolutions:
We resolve to change but refuse to repent.
My good friend, Pastor Joe Thorn, recently quoted James P. Boyce who defined repentance as, "sorrow for sin, accompanied by a determination, with the help of God, to sin no longer." Trying to change while refusing to repent is like trying to live while refusing to breathe - it simply won't work. It's not enough to simply reflect on the areas we need to grow and then reorder our lives. At the root of each growth opportunity rests sin that must be repented of (If you're interested in some practical help regarding repentance check out this article by Pastor Tim Keller).
Once we've reflected on our hearts and repented of our sin we can begin the work of reordering our lives. This is where we set our resolutions. What healthy rhythms and practices do you need to put in place to walk in more joyful obedience to Jesus this year? Here are the 5 resolutions I'm reordering and trusting God for in 2012...
I'm resolving to read through my Bible
I'm resolving to read 24 books
I'm resolving to write a family formation plan
I'm resolving to write 208 blog posts
I'm resolving to commit to less and follow through on more
Each of these resolutions mark time spent reflecting on my heart, repenting of my sin, and reordering of my life to bring greater glory to God, by the grace of God.
It's never too late for a fresh start. This can be the year you start fighting "that sin". This can be the year you finally make it through Leviticus. This can be the year you choose to forgive. This can be the year... This could be your fresh start.
Question: What are you resolving to do in 2012? Post an answer.