Good questions for a new year

its a brand ne w year is it the same old you_tIn my reading this morning I came upon a startling quote by Jim Elliot, who,  this week in 1956 was killed by the Auca indians when he was attempting to share the gospel with them. Knowing that his venture into the South American jungle was dangerous, he was reported to have said, “When it comes time to die, make sure all you have to do is die.”

Perhaps you, like me, struggle with putting a few things off. Elliot’s 15 words are a wake up call. Would you live this year differently if you knew you didn’t have this entire year to live? Here are  10 questions from Don Whitney to alert you to where some changes need to take place.

1. What’s one thing you could do this year to increase your enjoyment of God?
2. What’s the most humanly impossible thing you will ask God to do this year?
3. What’s the single most important thing you could do to improve the quality of your family life this year?
4. In which spiritual discipline do you most want to make progress this year, and what will you do about it?
5. What is the single biggest time-waster in your life, and what will you do about it this year?
6. What is the most helpful new way you could strengthen your church?
7. For whose salvation will you pray most fervently this year?
8. What’s the most important way you will, by God’s grace, try to make this year different from last year?
9. What one thing could you do to improve your prayer life this year?
10. What single thing that you plan to do this year will matter most in 10 years? In eternity?

I’m looking to find some time alone and prayerfully consider these questions. Perhaps you should do so as well.


Diagnosing your spiritual health…

The first week of January is filled with hope. Past struggles and personal failures seem to be fading with our final singing of Auld Lang Syne. But I have found that my personal challenges don’t seem to disappear with the new calendar year. They stubbornly refuse to leave without a fight, and before long the facade of hope begins to crumble as I find that these old friends from my past year never really left at the stroke of midnight.  They want to follow me into the new year.

I was reminded recently that prior to planning for the future, I need to take a good look at where I am presently. That’s good advice-especially when it comes to spiritual matters.

My good friend, Nicolas Ellen reminded our congregation of that truth yesterday with his message entitled Ten Questions to Diagnose Your Spiritual Health. Here are the questions with the accompanying Scriptures.

1.Do you hunger for the presence of God? (Psalm 42:1-2)
2. Are you increasingly being governed by God’s Word? (Psalm 3:1-3)
3.  Have you become more loving or less loving towards others? (1 Corinthians 13:4-8)
4.  Are you growing in your usefulness to God? (1 Peter 4:10-11)
5. Do you grieve over your sin or are you excusing your sin? (2 Corinthians 7:10-11)
6.  Who have you been living to please? (2 Corinthians 5:9,15)
7.  How Have You been spending your time? (Ephesians 5:11-21)
8. What do you truly treasure in your heart? (Matthew 6:19-21)
9. Do You functionally trust in the Lord or do you functionally trust in yourself? (Proverbs 3:5-6)
10. Are You longing for the return of Jesus Christ? (1 John 3:1-3)
So maybe our plan for the next year should include a time of evaluation on where we fell short in the past year. In that way our New Year’s resolutions make for more effective change and not just lofty platitudes of false hope.