Embracing the new


We bought the television from Kmart in Taylors in 1988. Long before flat screens, this set included turn knobs and required antenna wrapped around screws. I watched many shows on that set at home. My mother – not one to be abreast of the latest technology – just got rid of this set one month ago. I surprised her with a new flat-screen television in early December, and we unplugged the old set that served our family for thirty years. 

Moving into another year involves letting go of old things and embracing new ones. For me, the first weeks of January include getting my mind in gear as I shift from the holidays into the winter of another year. I find it helpful to embrace disciplines in January, turn my mind into preparing for productivity, and set my spirit to seek the Lord afresh.
Here are five suggestions for moving forward:

1. Make time to pray.

January offers a good time to retool my prayer life. Spend extra time in prayer and Bible meditation. Ask the Holy Spirit, Prepare my mind and spirit to walk with Jesus this year. Lead me in Your will and purposes. Let Your Word find a fresh home in my heart and your hands.

2. Make plans to grow.

I ask, "What are some good books I am going to read the next few months to help me grow spiritually and intellectually?"  One man said that there are only 2 things that will make you different 5 years from now than you are today - the people you meet and the books you read.  So, choosing good books to help our growth is essential.

3. Get organized.

As the decorations come down, I decide afresh what in my life and family needs to be tackled organizationally. As taxes loom on the horizon, January seems a good time to gather appropriate financial records.

I also ask what other areas need attention. Maybe you should work on a new system for your personal calendar, remembering birthdays of loved ones, storing addresses, planning a family vacation, or preparing to shop efficientiently.


4. Review.

January offers a logical time to review big-picture items from the previous year. I take some time to reconsider my journal entries from last year, asking the Holy Spirit to show me anything He wants me to remember.

Ask questions as you review: Are there recurring themes in my life from last year? What promises from God’s Word meant the most to you? What were you trusting God for last year? What failures did you experience? Review any areas of neglect or disobedience. 

5. Set goals and move forward.

As you have done numbers 1-4, ask the Lord to help you set goals for 2020. Just like moving forward with a flat screen television meant letting go of the old set, we have to let go of some things from 2019 – good and bad.

We didn't achieve every goal from last year. We made some poor choices. We have room to grow. But, we made progress in other areas and learned valuable lessons.

Where do I want to take my family this year? What books will we read as a family? What's a plan for leading some family devotions this year? How can I intentionally build into a meaningful relationship? What work skills do I need to add or improve? How can I better use my time?

As we learn from the past, let’s set our focus to learn new things from the Lord, trust Him today, and accomplish His purposes in our lives in this fresh year. As Dr. Donald Whitney writes, “Even those most faithful to God occasionally need to pause and think about the direction of their lives.” 

(Dr. Rhett Wilson Sr., a freelance writer and editor, former pastor and adjunct college professor, lives in Lancaster with his family. He graduated from Presbyterian College and pastored three churches for eighteen years in Laurens County. Check out his sites at www.rhettwilson.org and www.wilsonrhett.com.)

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