I love a fresh start. When we would break at school for Christmas or Easter, I would always clean out my notebook (remember the good ol' Trapper Keepers?) and "resolve" to be more organized, more prepared, more like *Kelly Blank-itty-Blank_* who was a straight "A" student, had an "Add-A-Bead" necklace and Gloria Vanderbilt Jeans with swans of every color (so she was basically perfect). The problem was that despite all my good intentions, I never was committed to true change. An organized notebook was not going to be enough to transform me into a disciplined student.
for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your
faithfulness." Lamentations 3:22-23
Our pastor has been and continues to guide us through the book of Romans. The emphasis will be, as we start the new year, "The Distinguishing Marks of an Authentic Church". As we closely examine God's word he will expose the Godly characteristics of the church that he purposed and set apart through the counsel and teaching of Paul.
My first aspiration/goal/resolution/desire must be for God to reveal in me the "distinguishing marks" of a Christ-follower who proclaims the gospel and lives a radically different life because of my love for Him. I am both fearful and prayerful as I seek the Lord in this part of my life. I am always one to make the claim of how different my life should be, but I am challenged when it comes to truly setting myself "apart". The movement in church growth today depends greatly on the congregation being willing to "reach out" and "share Christ" which most often means, invite your friends to church.
I have no problem with inviting someone to church- that's actually pretty easy. But, I am under a strong conviction that while Mark 16:15, says: "Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation", I cannot rest on that by giving out open-ended church invitations. Sharing the gospel is so much greater a task. In order for my witness to be valid and my testimony to reflect Him, I pray that I shall be under constant scrutiny for selfish ambition, pride, self-preservation, and other sins that would hinder me in that process. I pray that God will build relationships where I "earn" my position of favor with them because of the revelation of Christ through me and *nothing* else. My assignment is to share the gospel and that should challenge me to the core every single day. I am anxious as I watch carefully for the opportunities in which I should be faithful in proclamation.
My next "nearly impossible" task would be in the direction of reading and devotion to God's Word. This should actually come first, as it would be the most direct way for God to reveal all the planks in my eye(s) and also present me as "prepared".
"But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander." 1Peter 3:15-16
I call this task "nearly impossible" because it is the one that I fail at most often. Surely, it is because I find so many other *very important* things to do (for the Lord).
I could type a jillion laundry list's of more "to-do's" in regard to parenting, mothering, sistering, gardening :) etc. etc. etc. But in the end, with God's word as my foundation and obedience to that, I can't fathom that the other necessaries would end up being too difficult! I am prayerful that these desires will bear good fruit.
Let's proclaim His goodness & grace in 2007!