Dear members and friends of Valley Park,
The New Year offers opportunity to reflect on the past and consider changes in the year to come. We often have things we remember in history and in our lives that we associate with years. We have opportunity this coming year to associate something new with the year 2020; which seems to be a year we can associate with good vision for the future.
A significant year in American history was 1776 because it is the year in which the Declaration of Independence was signed. For Americans it is a year celebrated every July 4th because it defines the freedom that we enjoy as a sovereign nation. Even though it happened 244 years ago we celebrate it every year and continue to remind ourselves of its significance.
There may be many things we easily remember by associating them with years. Things such as the year we graduated from school, got married, had children, started our career, retired, got injured, lost someone we loved, found Jesus Christ or got baptized. We can even choose a year to be a year of significance by choosing to do something new or different in a year. How will we remember the year 2020? There are things that will happen in 2020 that are beyond our control. But there are also things that could and will happen because of our choices.
Our choices made at the beginning of a New Year are often called resolutions. That is, we make a commitment at the beginning of a New Year to do something different or new. It is often the case that these commitments are seldom kept. There is a saying that promises are easily made and easily broken. However, that does not mean a resolution is a waste of time. Our life is all about decisions we make to do things. From the Christ-informed point of view, we make a decision without making promises and decisions give direction to what we do. Jesus said:
“But I say, do not make any vows!… Just say a simple, ‘Yes, I will,’ or ‘No, I won’t.’ Anything beyond this is from the evil one.”Matthew 5:33-37 (paraphrased)
Jesus wants us to be people who resolve to do things and then do what we say. Resolutions are not promises we hope to keep but carefully considered commitments we are willing to make that will promote health and change into the future. Resolving to do something different can change our life, the lives of others and end up proving our character as a person who is disciplined and reliable. We will prove ourselves as people who say yes and then act in order to keep our word.
I believe there are resolutions for every one of us that would be healthy in the year to come. It is helpful to slow down and evaluate the good and the bad within the past year. Did we manage life and relationships well in the last year or do we need to learn from our mistakes and make adjustments? If we could do last year over again, what would we do differently? A resolution might involve a decision to change something in our management of life based on our evaluation of how we managed it last year. We need to evaluate three fundamental components of our personal lives.
- Our Mind needs development. We need to be reading healthy stuff and exercising our thinking skills. This can happen on our own or in small groups where we are in dialogue with others. We need to be sharpened in our thinking by exposing ourselves to the minds of others.
- Our Spirit needs development. “Sitting at the feet of Jesus” and learning from Him introduces us to truth about the spiritual realm and things of eternal value. God intends us to walk by faith and not by sight. We need to understand what it means to set our minds on things not of this world. We should not neglect the spirit.
- Our Bodies need development. We need to be attentive to physical exercise, healthful eating and rest. In this way we are strengthened to manage the many responsibilities in this life. Everything we do in mind and spirit is impacted by the health of our body.
Managing our lives for health and wholeness is equipping ourselves to best serve God in this life with everything He has entrusted to us. Resolving to do something different or new in the year to come means evaluating the degree to which we are “bearing fruit” in this life as a result of Christ living in us as “the Living Word of God.” We need to review the Parable of the Sower and the Seed (Luke 8:4-15) and Jesus’ teaching about “abiding in Him” in order to bear fruit (John 15:1-17). Using our body, mind and spirit to bear fruit is one of our fundamental responsibilities in life according to Jesus. Any resolve to improve self must consider a resolve to use the best that we have for God.
Each one of us is different. God has designed us to make a difference in this life. The New Year offers opportunity to evaluate the past and make adjustments into the future. We are challenged to make commitments to things we will do. Consider making a commitment this year that will make 2020 memorable for the rest of your life. It is a challenge to consider.
May God bless VP in 2020. Let’s pray for great things in the life of VP in the year to come. To God be the glory.