Monday, January 05, 2015

Spiritual New Years Resolutions

New Years Resolutions: everyone makes them.  Even those who don't make them, resolve NOT to make them.  I, for one, think that occasional evaluation of how we're doing in life, a re-examnation of goals and direction, is a good and healthy thing.  And no doubt, many of us will resolve to live more healthy in 2015 (no more sweets, work out more, etc. etc.).  Many of us will resolve to spend more time with family, to work on our marriage (e.g. go to a marriage conference, get a weekend away with our spouse, etc.).  Some of us will make drastic changes: new babies, career changes, new education pursuits, and even new housing.

Here's another thing to consider:  what will be your spiritual resolutions this year?  If you've considered your physical health, what about your spiritual health?  If you've resolved to have a better body in 2015, what about a healthier soul?  

While we cannot control our own spiritual growth because our spiritual growth is an act of God (1 Cor 3:5; John 15:5), we are given some responsibility for our spiritual growth.  We are called to "work" at it (Phil 2:12-13); we are called to "stay near" Jesus (John 15:5); we are called to "seek God's Kingdom" (Matt 6:33).  

How do we participate in God's work to grow us spiritually in 2015? 

We do this by participating in what has been called the means of grace.  The means of grace are the ways God has established for giving his saving help to us.  They are ways He grows us.  There are several means of grace. The two biggest and most prominent means of grace are the Word and the Sacraments.  Others would add prayer, Christian friendship and participation in God's mission to that list as well.  Just being involved with a solid church means you're taking in the means of grace in some way, but let me encourage you to seek ways in which you can experience more fully God's Word, his Sacraments, prayer, Christian friendship, or God's mission this year.  Here's a few quick suggestions (most of these will involve grabbing lunch with someone who has done them):

  • The Word:  download a Bible reading plan, follow the daily office, study the Scriptures appointed for each Sunday ahead of time, listen to the Daily Audio Bible.  
  • The Sacraments:  study what the Sacraments are and what the mean, dedicate yourself to full participation in both Sacraments regularly (ask Fr. Tom how to do this) (And if you're not at a church takes communion regularly, ask your pastor about this)
  • Prayer: learn how to use the Book of Common Prayer for daily prayer, learn a short easy way to pray each day, pray daily for 5-10 people, pray with your spouse daily, pray with your family several times a week.  
  • Christian Fellowship:  ask one person at your church to meet weekly with you to read and pray together (this could be over a morning/evening run or walk), host dinners and lunches with folks at Church, host a movie watching night and then a discussion afterwards, start a book club, invite some guys/gals to play golf, etc. etc.  
  • Doing God's Mission together:  Invite someone at Church to join you in mercy ministry (e.g. working at the Storehouse for Jesus) or in prayer walking, commit to start a conversation about spiritual things each week, commit to meet a new person each week and pray for them, pray for 5 people to share the gospel with.  If you step out in faith to do God's Kingdom work, you will encounter Him in a new way.  

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