We start a new year with a renewed emphasis as the Renew Church family.
I’ll be preaching on how we can Build the Altar to God in our lives, a short three-week mini-series to commence 2017. We start with Worship (message for 1/1/17), and Community (1/8), and then our physical health (1/15). We want this to be Grace-driven effort, and mostly we want to please God (2 Corinthians 5:9).
As you consider your life in 2016 and lean into the new year, I invite you to ask the crucial question(s), and consider the direction you’ll take.
We can set goals, which can be a helpful exercise — for productivity, and any area of life, including exercise. If you’re a goal-setter, go for it.
Many people I know, mostly men in my anecdotal experience, roll their eyes when New Year’s Resolutions come up in conversation. Cynics say (or think), “I’ve tried that before … never again!” Or perhaps it’s best to keep one’s ambitions private?
In any case, let me suggest another route: envision your direction for the new year.
This way the mileposts are not bolted to the ground, but the trajectory of your life is set on course. What way will you go? What routines and habits will get you on that journey? Let’s call these routines and habits “rhythms”: ways of living and being and worshiping and serving. This is the “sacred mundane.” What direction will you go, and why rhythms of life will get you there.
When the Gospel is your reason for living, then you’ve have gospel reasons for how you plan out a life, a year, a month, a week, even a day or hour.
When I pause to consider my life’s direction, and ponder the simply rhythms it will take to stay on course, I’m at a posture of a worshiper. What in my life will worship Christ in the new year? And how will I go about it? Life becomes simplified, attainable.
From this perspective there are then a handful of essentials I’ll bring into each day, which when given priority, have the power to change me from the inside out. These are:
- Worship & Learn » how will I worship Christ through prayer and reading His Word?
- Serve & Be » how will I serve others and be in genuine relationship with them?
- Go as a Son » how will I please God the Father today in all I do?
These are the essentials, providing the values for the rhythms (routines and habits) I’ll pursue.
They flow out of an identity, for contrary to what Aristotle supposedly quipped we actually are not what we repeatedly do. WHOs come first, then DOs.
Each habit/routine/rhythm is linked to a Gospel Identity and a related question from the Gospel Grid:
- We are Worshipers and Learners » Who is God? And what has He done?
- We are Servants and Family » Who are we?
- We are Missionaries and Sons (and Daughters) » How shall we live?
One reason I suspect 2016 was so discouraging for so many is because their lives are lived backwards. That’s because it is easy — even our default mode — to start with Self, and first ask “how will I live?” And from that answer we gain (seemingly achieve) an identity. Then Self remains the reference point for considering “what has God done”? If we’re religious then His mercies and works relate mostly to how He’s dealt with me. And then those circumstances define how I think of Him.
There’s a direction for our lives, and a direction of our living, if you grasp what I’m saying.
Case in point: if I run most days (and I do), then I get to be called a runner, and relate to God has one who helps me be fit and healthy. My default mode will be to celebrate my successes running and minimize how others see my setbacks. I’ll keep Runner Self as the center and I am a Christian I’ll add something more to my already awesome life: God helps me run fast and far (from my perspective as it relates to my ability to run). But what if I lose that ability? What if I can’t run due to injury or other responsibilities squeeze out time for exercise? (Or I don’t, in other examples, keep my current job or my kids don’t achieve the success — or the behavior patterns — I so desperately need them to meet in order to feel good about myself as a parent and as a person)? Then who am I? And how will I think about God?
What if that’s all backwards?
There’s a reason why we must start with God and His spoken words …
All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall but the word of the Lord stands forever.
—1 Peter 1:24-25
Family Verses & Scripture Songs
With Renew Church we’ve been trying something new for our weekly family verses. Music is a great way to help us memorize and to have fun doing it. Our family verses are found in the Scriptures and put to song by the artists who create Seeds Family Worship. This week we will begin the new year with Seeds of Faith (Volume 2).
- links for Seeds of Faith (Volume 2): Bandcamp | Spotify | iTunes | Amazon Music | Seeds Family Worship website | all Seeds of Worship albums on Spotify | all Seeds of Worship albums on Amazon
He is the starting point. Let’s start with Him. Build your altar, not with a mirror reflecting you, but rather an eye for the one beyond that altar, to Whom you sacrifice, the one you were created to worship.
I’m resolving in this new year to face a direction that allows my heart to worship God more truly, training for more endurance on the path following His Son. Will you join me?
We are Learners (Disciples)
The word “disciple” means to intentionally impact the life of someone in the direction of being more like Jesus.