The new year and setting goals

December has slipped away, and January and new things are upon us. It’s maybe a cliché to make New Year’s resolutions, but it’s a great idea for Christians to seize political rhythms in life, or calendar things, or secular things that coincide with Christian virtues. It was not really a church holiday to celebrate Thanksgiving, for instance, but what a perfect time to stop in your tracks and make a great noise of thanks to the Lord. Mother’s Day was not really a church holiday. It arose probably from Christian impulses, but it was more a national holiday that the church embraced—because what could be more important on that second Sunday of May but to stop in your tracks and verbally, lovingly show appreciation to the women who have made such extraordinary sacrifices that all of us need to live.

Although making resolutions on New Year’s Day did not arise out of the church as a church holiday, why not go with that rhythm? The Bible says to be transformed in the renewing of your mind (Romans 12:2). That’s good to do 365 days a year, but why not use some currents in society to help our little boats be pointed in the right direction?

All of us have some bad baggage we need to dump. Every one of us has crummy, bad habits that are time wasters or money wasters that are fraying and burning up relationships that need change. Why not utilize a rhythm, a ground swell in society, to drop what you’re doing at the beginning of this new year and make a list of things you need to stop doing and a short list of things you need to start doing as part of this transforming of your mind? I’ve got some unresolved business in my own life that I need to stop doing, and I have some gaps in my life that I need to start doing or start doing better or to ramp up. So I’ll be with the rest of you guys in making resolutions, and some of them I might actually keep. But the fact that some of them might be easily made and soon forgotten does not diminish the value of pausing to assess your life and making a short list of things to ditch and another one of some things to change.

Happy New Year, everyone.

Pastor Mark Jeske has been bringing the Word of God to viewers of Time of Grace since the program began airing in late 2001. A Milwaukee native, Pastor Jeske has served as the senior pastor at St. Marcus, a multicultural congregation on Milwaukee’s near north side since 1980. In addition, he is the author of several books and dozens of devotional booklets on various topics.

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