Welcome to the new year! I’m a few weeks late. My year began with a funeral for a close relative and lots of work so, I didn’t write this post on the first.
Regardless, I would like to share a few of my personal goals with you as we start this new year. I hope you all are refocusing your hearts and affections on Christ this January.
As you prepare to serve and witness in your areas of influence this year, it can be hard to get going without serious intent. Below are a few of my recommendations.
Make a schedule for getting into the Word. I don’t mean 7 am to 8 am every morning, but something that says I want to read about this much every day or study through these books in this amount of time. Study one book each month. If you haven’t read the Bible cover to cover, start there. Then be intentional. If you miss a day, don’t get discouraged. Double up the next day.
Read books relevant to the world right now and your mission in it. Read books that lead you to understand and love Christ more. Biographies are great for this purpose. Many people have grown their passion for a particular ministry through reading about another who carried out a similar vision. I have some recommendations for your reading list.
- Spiritual Equipping For Mission – Ryan Shaw
- This book covers the spiritual foundation needed to thrive as a missionary and not succumb to burnout or discouragement. Often people begin ministry in their own strength, hoping to accomplish big things but lacking the spiritual power and endurance that only comes from a thriving relationship with Christ. I am just finishing this book. I wish I read it years ago!
- Hearing Heart – Hannah Hurnard
- This small book is a quick yet powerful read about how God develops a hearing heart in His children. “One thing which new converts find most difficult of all, namely, how to experience a personal, intimate, vital relationship and fellowship with the Lord Jesus Himself, so real that He controls and directs their lives. They depend so much upon other Christians and lean on them for support, finding it so difficult to hear the Lord for themselves. Yet He said, ‘My sheep hear my voice.”
- Rethinking Sexuality – Dr. Juli Slattery
- This book highlights the reality that what you think about sex begins with what you believe about God. It displays how the pain of sexual brokenness can point us to the love and grace of Jesus. Sexuality and sexual brokenness are not a problem to solve but as a territory to reclaim.
Step out of your comfort zone and reach out to a new community– the homeless, the deaf, foster children, women in a crisis pregnancy, or the elderly. Seek opportunities outside of your norm.
In this area, I have been building my ASL skills in the hopes of better communication and wider opportunities with the large deaf population in Haiti.
If my ability to spend large amounts of time in Haiti diminishes this year, I plan to seek local ministry opportunities. Whether we are in the place that we most want to be or not, our witness remains. (Acts 1:8; 1 Chronicles 16:24)
Surround yourself with good music. Good music consists of two things– biblically accuracy and making a beautiful sound. What we put into our minds comes out. Make sure to be feeding on good things. Here are a few of my current favorites.
- The Blessing – Elevation Worship
- This song is a beautiful reminder of the blessings stored up for believers. There happens to be a great cover of this in Haitian Creole as well by Rodberry Jacques.
- Cover The Earth (cover) – Sabine X Salil
- This song is about the need for God’s presence to fill the earth in this dark time of brokenness and seeking comfort in Him.
- Reaching Out – Isabella Hixson
- “When your hope is fading, and the stars refuse to shine, though you’re stumbling in the dark He knows right where you are when the waves are crashing, and your burdens drag you down, He is waiting there for you, His hand is reaching out… so reach for Him.”
- Faithful Now – Vertical Worship
- This song proclaims the belief that God is still who He says he is when we don’t see it. He was faithful and will continue to be.
- Jerusalema – Master KG
- Though this song is in an African language, it includes Christian lyrics about looking for our homeland. I love how fun it is. Upbeat and great for dancing.
Set healthy boundaries for electronics. Consider a break from social media or leaving altogether. Often the fruits of having an online social life are discontentment, less real relationships, the feeling of competing with peers, and wasted time. Though the internet has value as a tool, the positives rarely outweigh the negatives. I got out of social media one year ago now and have not regretted it one bit. I am here to say it is worth it! It is refreshing to have days of electronic fasting or limiting time here and there. It does a lot of good for face to face relationships too.
I would love to hear your thoughts, goals you have made for the new year, or your book and song recommendations. Comment below.