It's a NEW YEAR! A fresh slate. A blank canvas. I love the coming of a new year...there is so much hope and excitement. And as we all know, a perfect time for setting goals. This year, I would like to:
- Draw closer to Jesus by spending time in intimate conversation with him DAILY.
- I want to depend on Him to be my lifeline throughout the day...which means I need to pray a lot! Nothing is too small or too trivial for Him to be involved. His throne room is open to me 24/7. My desire is to meet with Him in the early morning hours, and I've committed to not getting on my computer or reading anything else until I have done that.
- Read through the Bible in one year.
- I really love The One Year Bible...and have succeeded in reading every day so far. I love that there is a reading for each day, and I truly feel that the passage I read that day is specifically for me on THAT DAY. The format of the OYB (Old Testament, New Testament, Psalms, Proverbs) is really nice. It's also available online.
- Walk/run at least 30 minutes a day and to spend time outside daily.
- There are so many benefits to working out every day, but it's been at least 4 years since I did it regularly (before Bella). I'm 31 years old, and I'm starting to feel like it. I'm determined to get back in shape! I'm 3 days in...and I feel goooooood. Sore, but good.
If I am to succeed at these things, it will take a mindful effort and prayer. Not just "hoping" that I can follow through. I love how the Forerunner Commentary describes "self-mastery":
Self-mastery is self-government, or self-control, the foundation of a strong godly life, growth, and producing fruit. If a person cannot govern himself, if he cannot master his passions, he will certainly not have a good relationship with his fellowman or God. His life will likely be marked by major excesses.
A person who has self-mastery is even-handed, and his passions are under control. He makes proper use of his drives and desires, and his manner of life is not one of extremes. A person reflecting this quality will be making steady progress in growing into the perfectly balanced character of Jesus Christ.
If I cannot "master" a certain area of my life, it will lead to excess in that area. Concerning my goals, if I do not spend time with God daily, my relationship with my family and friends suffer. My not-so-lovely traits slowly start to surface...and I am overcome with an "excess of self". If I do not read and meditate on His word daily, my heart and mind become stagnant and indifferent. I start to display an excess of sarcasm, impatience, and worry. If I do not exercise, my BODY will be in excess of pounds and stress.
On the other hand, if I CAN master my "self" and follow through with these goals...it says I will have the "foundation for a strong godly life, growth, and produce fruit". Yes!! Show me the FRUIT! :)
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. Galations 5:22-23
I love how The Message has interpreted this verse: But what happens when we live God's way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely. Galations 5:22-23 (The Message)
Who wouldn't want those things!? It's amazing to me that God wants to give those things to us...all we need to do is ASK and follow hard after Him. On a side note, if you're looking for an amazing Bible study on the fruit of the spirit, check out Beth Moore's "Living Beyond Yourself". It's available online...complete with videos.
When you are passionate about something, it doesn't have to automatically be a bad thing. However, there is a stronger possibility that your passions could become a problem in your life. For example...the Internet is a wonderful resource and networking tool...however, it's so easy to get sucked into hours and hours of endless clicking. All of this clicking creates discontentment with our current life and slowly lures us away from our families and responsibilities. At that point, it becomes a "major excess" that needs to be mastered.
Discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness; for 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. 1 Timothy 4:7-8
I love this passage in Timothy...because it reminds me that although I want to get my body healthy this year, my spiritual health is infinitely more important. Not that eating healthy and maintaining an exercise regimen isn't a good thing...it's just not of eternal importance. I want to spend twice as much time exercising my mind in my relationship with Christ than I spend exercising my body.
I think it's also a good idea to PRACTICE denying yourself of indulgences...to become better at mastering the "self". Yes, you COULD have dessert after your meal...but why not consciously decide not to, and focus on thoughts of self-discipline instead? Yes, you COULD spend your money on a new X, Y, or Z...but why not fast from spending if for nothing else but to make your mind sharper...becoming the master of your passions.
Our culture screams the opposite of this to us every day. Buy now! You deserve it! Bigger and better! More, more, more! EXCESS is our country's middle name. Walk the opposite direction of the world and focus on what Jesus said about these things:
Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. " Matthew 16:24
Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me.” Mark 10:21 "If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. " Matthew 5:29, 30
"But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified." 1 Corinthians 9:27
Off we go...a new year, renewed passions, and a self to be mastered. Weeeeee!
Photo credit: Flickr Creative Commons/monkeyc.net