New Year’s Resolutions

This week’s Pastor’s Journal is by our pastoral intern, Barry Barton.

“Inch by inch, everything’s a cinch,” goes a popular saying. Do you find this principle true in your life? It appears to be a truism, but motivation also plays a crucial role. 2013 will shortly be upon us and each new year is a time for reflection on what has taken place (good or bad) in our lives the past year and a time for nervous excitement regarding what the new year may bring or not bring. This is also a time when many people will commit to several “new year’s resolutions.” This is a very healthy thing to do as it puts hope, desire, and faith onto paper—and hopefully into action.

One thing that helped me tremendously in the past is not to forget the small steps in achieving such goals. This is the “inch by inch” approach. A great way to grow spiritually in Christ is to pick a favorite devotional and read each day’s devotion in the morning or evening. My favorite Christian devotional has been Oswald Chamber’s My Utmost for His Highest. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been blessed and challenged by this book. That each day’s entry is only a few hundred words makes it quite easy to read.

Other self-help books can also be extremely helpful. Another life-saving book for me is The Language of Letting Go by Melody Beattie. These books are not necessarily for everyone—pick something that fits who you are and where you’re at in your life. Ask God to lead you to something that will challenge and excite you, then stick to the plan as best you can. You might also want to track your progress on your calendar or in a journal. The Hollywood Adventist Church’s book club is currently reading Martin Luther King, Jr.’s amazing book, Strength to Love. I read it in my Christian Ethics class. I HIGHLY recommend that each church member read this book in the month of January and be a part of our book club.

One goal of mine this year is to re-read the entire Bible. I think it will be easier because I have Bible software which breaks the entire Bible down into daily readings. So the “inch by inch” approach can work here as well. I also want to read the massive book version of Les Misérables (not just watch the current movie in theaters or listen to the musical on CD). In fact, I just read the first chapter about Monseieus Myriel. Woohoo! What makes it seem easy is that each chapter is approximately two to five pages in length. Seeing short, bite-sized chunks is a whole HECK of a lot easier than seeing the book in its entirety—a whopping 1,463 pages long!

Our motivations can sometimes be vastly different from God’s plans for us. What are we trying to ultimately achieve from our “New Year’s resolutions?” Are we selfishly motivated or are we governed by loving ourselves, others and God? This year, be sensitive also to the things that are not achieved. God is looking to lead us in spite our failures too.

May God bless us this coming year!

—BARRY