Faith Goals (A.K.A New-Years Resolutions)

I know, I know. Everyone sets resolutions. Even fewer seem to keep them. Lose weight, run more, be a better husband/wife/parent. And then January 15th hits and we wonder what on earth happened. Well, I don’t know. This blog entry (by Thomas Nelson Publishers CEO, Mike Hyatt) shows you how to make your goals stick.

I’m not sure the best way to make your goals stick. Everyone is different. But I know how I’m going to attack them to at least add an element to them that will help me persevere.

The Bible speaks a lot about faith. Two passages have been brought to my attention lately. Romans 14:23 says “. . .anything that is not from faith is sin” and Hebrews 11:6 says “Without faith it is impossible to please [God]. . .” As a pastor my entire life is supposed to be about faith. Better yet, Christians are supposed to live lives of faith. But I find myself trapped in comfort and conformity. There is little in my life that has faith in it.

While reading J. Oswald Sanders’ Spiritual Maturity I was struck by this idea on faith: “Faith always involves risk. If there is no risk involved, no faith is necessary.” I know this, but I don’t implement it. There has to be something to lose if I am living in faith. There is something unknown.

That’s what makes goal-setting and resolutions so hard for me. I feel like I am simply just hammering out some ideals and hoping to attain them. But, honestly, who cares if I lost 10 pounds? Who cares if I eat out one less time a week? Who cares if I read 10 more books or take a vacation to some place I’ve never been? Exactly. Whether I do it or not, I’ve lost nothing except a little pride (which I need to lose regardless).

Faith is based upon a belief in something. Namely, for the Christians, the belief that Jesus has paid the penalty for their sins. But that begins a life that is based upon faith. So the question I am asking myself in 2011 is what do I believe from God’s Word and what am I going to do because of it? You may laugh when you realize that these look very similar to New Years resolutions, but when I incorporate into them a belief, then I kick it into the realm of my Christians life. And then I realize that if I am not actively living out my beliefs, I become what I don’t want to be. Note* I am not trying to trivialize these t

So here you have it! My faith goals for 2011.You’ll see (1) the belief, (2) the action, (3) the hope in doing the action.

  • Because I believe that Jesus is revealed in the Scriptures and that they are His revelation to a lost world I am resolved to read through the entire counsel of Scripture by the end of 2011 and memorize the Book of Ephesians by the end of June, 2011.By stepping out in this, I am expecting God to challenge, move, and change me from His Word in ways that I have not seen. I am expecting that I am faced with making radical decisions for my God that I did not expect to make. I anticipate encountering Him in new ways and being able to have the Scriptures a more central part of my conversation.
  • Because I believe that God wants me to love Him with my whole life, including my mind, I am resolved to read at least three books a month (yikes!). My hope in this is that God grants me a greater knowledge of the world around me, a better appreciation for writing, and an increased desire to love Him with my mind.
  • Because I believe that my family is my most important relationship after my relationship with Christ I am resolved to be with them at least four nights a week. Bible studies in our house don’t count. My hope in this is that I grow in my ability to be a self-sacrificing husband and father, and that our family grows together in Christ, and that we gain a hunger for Jesus together that we could not have had separately. This may make my family look different, I have to be okay with that.
  • Because I believe that God wants me content only in Christ I am resolved to not have a soft drink in 2011. You may laugh at that one (I do), but I cannot say “no” to these things. It’s not just a diet problem, it’s a contentment problem (read: idolatry). If I cannot do without soft drinks for 365 days I have bigger problems than just my diet. In stepping out in this, I am hoping that God stirs up a greater affection for Him in me. I hope that it also unearths greater idols in my life that may be painful to pry away, but that will be well worth it.

Believe me, there are more I want to put here, but won’t for time’s sake. You may think there isn’t much “risk” here, and you might be right. But the one thing that is at risk is this: an ordinary life. If I want my mind to be more like Christ, my family to be more like Christ, my health to be more like Christ, and my ministry to be more like Christ, I need to risk my current contentment with “the way things are.” In making these goals I am hoping to see God do great things in my life, ministry, and marriage; and I am concerned that uncomfortable changes may come (or at least what is considered uncomfortable at first)—because who really likes change?

So there it is, for the watching world to see. I hope to update you as the months go on and let you know where I stand.

Happy New Year!