Chasing Resolutions

I hate New Year’s resolutions for many reasons not the least of which is that I am terrible at them. You’d be hard-pressed to shuffle through the list of resolutions I’ve made over the years and find one I’ve stuck with for more than a month let alone a whole year. It just doesn’t happen, but it’s become culturally expected to have some grand plan to reinvent ourselves in the new year. I hate it.

There are a few other reasons I’m averse to the whole New Year’s resolution thing:

1). For some reason, most of us love the newness of a week, a month and especially a year. “I’ll start dieting tomorrow or after the weekend, or next month when things slow down. Starting January 1 I’m really going to buckle down and get my life organized, lose 50 pounds, get out of debt, etc.”

Steven Covey, author of the best-selling book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People made a most profound statement when he said this:

“The ability to subordinate an impulse to a value is the essence of a proactive person.”

In other words, tomorrow is not more magical than right now. Big changes start with little everyday, moment-by-moment changes. Want to organize your life? Start by picking up the clutter in one room. Want to get out of debt? Cut up the credit card today. Want to lose weight? Walk away from the Oreos. Better yet, don’t give your food nemesis kitchen real estate in the first place. Want to develop a deeper relationship with God? Turn off the TV right now and start plowing through the pages of Scripture right here, right now. Choices.

2). I love social media as much as the next guy. It’s the perfect virtual rooftop on which to shout to the world my love of cats. However, for me personally, I don’t like it for the self-centered nature it takes on when we use it to help spur on our resolutions making big proclamations for worldwide accountability. In my own experience, I’ve found deep and lasting change comes in the quiet moments when the only other Person involved in my change is the Holy Spirit Himself. No one else is privy to the information we share in an effort to put me on the right track.

3). Mainly I hate resolutions because they are performance-driven. The success of them is based on our accomplishments, what we achieve, what we’ve conquered. Instead, I believe that real change starts inside with answering the most basic question: “where is your heart?” It is with this idea in mind that I want to spend the next few weeks dissecting Psalm 112.

“Praise the Lord!

Blessed is the man who fears the Lord,
Who delights greatly in His commandments.

His descendants will be mighty on earth;
The generation of the upright will be blessed.
Wealth and riches will be in his house,
And his righteousness endures forever.
Unto the upright there arises light in the darkness;
He is gracious, and full of compassion, and righteous.
A good man deals graciously and lends;
He will guide his affairs with discretion.
Surely he will never be shaken;
The righteous will be in everlasting remembrance.

He will not be afraid of evil tidings;
His heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord.
His heart is established;
He will not be afraid,
Until he sees his desire upon his enemies.

He has dispersed abroad,
He has given to the poor;
His righteousness endures forever;
His horn will be exalted with honor.

The wicked will see it and be grieved;
He will gnash his teeth and melt away;
The desire of the wicked shall perish” (Psalm 112, NKJV).

In the exercise world, it is taught that the strength of our core, that is our abs, determines how well we perform in sports and daily activities such as gardening and housework. A strong core improves balance and posture, strengthens the lower back and of course, aids in weight loss. With a strong solid core, the rest of our muscles are able to do their jobs more effectively.

The same could be said of our hearts. With a solid foundation, that is, a heart grounded in Scripture, Godly character is formed from which flow Godly decisions in both simple and difficult experiences. This is a life-long pursuit, and I daresay the noblest of all. If you need a resolution, a goal, a new habit, chase this. For from it many of the other less meaningful pursuits will either lose their allure or find accomplishment beyond your wildest dreams because of the character from which they are built.

 

Praise Project, Week 52

If you’ve followed my blog for the last year, you know I’ve been working toward 52 weeks of praise-my Praise Project. In the beginning I wrote about how when my husband was a youth pastor he would challenge the kids on Sunday mornings to look for God-sightings that following week and be prepared to share them with the group; the idea being to concentrate on what God was doing in their lives rather than focusing on the negative things that were going on. I took that idea and decided to find one thing every day to praise God for and document those things a week at a time.

I admit over the last year, there have been days and weeks where it has been challenging to find anything to praise God for, wondering if He ‘d lost interest in me, if He was really working in my life. Always after setting myself and feelings aside, He would gently remind me of what He was doing, how He was working and encourage me to keep pressing on.

Because this is my last Praise Project I really wanted to do something different. It wasn’t until singing an old hymn in church this morning that I settled on the following Praise Project, words from the hymn “I Stand Amazed in the Presence” by Charles Gabriel (1856-1932). Singing these words this morning felt like the crescendo to the whole year of focusing on God’s presence in my life in the form of praise. I couldn’t have said it better myself, than this hymn so without further ado, I’ve numbered a week’s worth of praises within the verses of the song. Thank you for taking this journey with me this year.

I stand amazed in the presence

Of Jesus the Nazarene

1).  And I wonder how He could love me,

A sinner condemned, unclean.

2). For me it was in the garden He prayed,

“Not my will, but thine”

3). He had no tears for His own griefs,

But sweat drops of blood for mine

4). He took my sins and my sorrows,

He made them His very own

5). He bore the burden to Calv’ry,

And suffered and died alone

6). When with the ransomed in glory

His face I at last shall see,

7).’Twill be my joy thro’ the ages,

To sing of His love for me.

How marvelous! How wonderful!
and my song shall ever be;
How marvelous! How wonderful!
is my Savior’s love to me!”

Praise Project, Week 51

This week I’m praising God:

1). For safety on the road getting Abby back from visiting my mom.

2). For meeting people enduring seemingly insurmountable struggles with a smile on their face and thankfulness in their hearts.

3). For the new year ahead.

4). For the remarkable freedom to express the truth on social media.

5). For the life God has given me as wife, mother, house cleaner, blogger, writer, tutor.

6). For the unshakable love God has for us.

7). That the space between situation and response is completely my decision based on my God-given free will. I am not a robot or a victim, and neither are you.

Praise Project, Week 50

In light of the season, I’m praising God this week for all things Christmas-related:

1). For time to sleep in without guilt. I never do this, and this week I took the meaning of the word “vacation” to extremes.

2). Time with my husband and kids.

3). The Nielsons generally experience sickness at during Christmas break. This year, so far, we haven’t. Very thankful.

4). For the reminder going around the internet of what the first king-size bed looked like: the manger.

5). “And Mary said, ‘My soul doth magnify the Lord, And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name'” (Luke 1:46-49, KJV bold print mine).

6). “And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, ‘Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.’ And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child” (Luke 2:15-17, KJV bold print mine).

7). ‘Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him‘” (Matthew 2:1,2, KJV bold print mine).

I love these three passages, especially in the King James version; incredibly poetic. Mary magnified God and rejoiced in Him as her Savior. The shepherds, upon hearing of Christ’s birth, were in a big hurry to see if for themselves and spread the word. The wise men came for the specific purpose of worshipping Him. Stunning reactions on the parts of all of them, and yet all should be basic daily practices on the part of the Christ-follower. Praise God for His Word and the godly examples of those who lived throughout its pages.

Praise Project, Week 49

This week I’m praising God:

1). That I’m not the Christmas Grinch I was last year!

2). For more opportunities to share Christ with clients.

3). “Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear Him, on those who hope in His mercy” Psalm 33:18. What other belief system can say that their god has his eye on them?

4). “The angel of the Lord encamps all around those who fear Him, and delivers them” Psalm 34:7.

5). “The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart, and saves such as have a contrite spirit” Psalm 34:18.

6). “The Lord redeems the soul of His servants, and none of those who trust in Him shall be condemned” Psalm 34:22.

7). God’s faithfulness to me is not contingent on my faithfulness to Him.