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Archive for Saturday, January 12, 2013

Faith Forum: Do you make spiritual New Year’s resolutions?

January 12, 2013

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The Rev. Shaun LePage, pastor, Community Bible Church, 906 North 1464 Road:

Make resolutions daily instead

Yes and no.

Yes to “spiritual” resolutions. A resolution is “a firm decision to do something.” So, resolutions can be good or bad. Every day, people make firm decisions to do something selfish, illegal or stupid. Usually, though, resolutions are good.

But people often aim too low when they make resolutions. A poll I read showed 95 percent of those who intended to make New Year’s resolutions were not making “spiritual” resolutions. Their resolutions were physical: lose weight, stop smoking, get more sleep, etc.

These are good, but spiritual resolutions are better! The Bible tells us, “Bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.” It’s a huge mistake to focus only on the stuff of earth and ignore the things that last forever. There is nothing more important than knowing God. Nothing more valuable than “being rich toward God” (Luke 12:16-23). So make spiritual resolutions.

No to “New Year’s” resolutions. The problem with New Year’s resolutions is that years don’t come around often enough. The kind of life Jesus asks His followers to live requires daily resolution. He said, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily and follow Me.” God calls us to a life that is more like a “walk” than a sprint. One step at a time. Moment by moment choosing God’s way rather than our own. So make daily resolutions.

Consider making this spiritual, daily resolution: Start by reading the Bible and asking God to show you what He wants you to know and believe. Then ask Him how He wants you to use your time on planet Earth. Then make a firm decision to do it.

— Send email to Shaun LePage at shaun@community-bible.org.

Rod Hinkle, a pastor at North Lawrence Christian Church, 647 Elm St.:

Resolutions require strategies

Spiritual New Year’s resolutions are entirely appropriate and often necessary, not only on Jan. 1, but on any day of the year. We’re assuming “spiritual resolutions” are based on knowledge of God’s will and informed by a study of his word, the Bible. Through the study of God’s word, and often through insights a fellow believer shares, we come to understand that we are not behaving in an acceptable manner, engaging in sinful thoughts, harboring a bitter, unforgiving attitude, or missing the joy of a calling God has placed on our lives.

This discovery of new truth is the work of God and will be welcomed with gratitude. Perhaps the greatest story ever told about resolutions is one Jesus shared, recorded in Luke 15:11-32, which we call the story of the Prodigal Son. He left home with his inheritance, spent it in sinful living, ended feeding pigs, came to himself, repented of his sin and made this resolution: “I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you...”

“I will” — that’s resolution. But our “I wills” need help. If we are truly serious about making changes in our lives, we will need help. We need someone to come alongside us first to hear our commitment and then to keep us accountable. So God gives us his church, or some mentor in it. And God comes alongside us, too, in the person of the Holy Spirit to enable us to keep the resolution.

Yes, spiritual resolutions are necessary in everyone’s life. But if we are going to keep the resolutions we make, we must devise a strategy. As the Prodigal son planned, “I will go back to my father,” perhaps you will need a daily Bible study plan, a specific time each day to pray, or a small Bible study group — a support group, and an avoidance strategy. Just maybe, maybe you will need to apologize to someone or seek their forgiveness. Maybe God is calling you to volunteer, to give yourself, your talents and your service to others.

Yes, make those resolutions and with God’s help, keep them. You’ll be glad you did.

— Send email to Rod Hinkle at Preachrod45@aol.com.

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