My wife and I went hunting several days but didn't get anything. As we were sitting in the blind on the third day, we held hands, bowed our heads, and prayed out loud that the Lord would provide a buck for us to have food. Within half an hour, out walked a buck, and the Lord blessed us with 50 pounds of venison. Considering the hunting license, ammunition, and so forth, it was about a dollar per pound.
This past Sunday, we went to church with my wife's family, and the service was very nice. We celebrated communion together as a family, which was meaningful. The pastor preached on pursuing righteousness. He made the point that during this life, God is molding us into the image of Christ, based on Romans 8:29. It won't happen instantaneously at the end of my life, it happens consistently day-in, day-out. He encouraged us, according to 1 Timothy 4:7 "... discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness", to grow in the practice of 10 spiritual disciplines:
- Bible Intake (2 Tim. 3:16-17)
Study? Pondering? Memorization? When? Where?
- Prayer (Col. 4:2)
When? Where? How?
- Worship (Rev. 5:13)
Daily? Lifestyle? Corporate?
- Evangelism (Acts 1:8)
- Service (John 13:17)
Exercise of spiritual gifts? How?
- Solitude (Luke 4:42)
- Learning (Mark 12:30)
Is coming together with the Body of Christ a privilege or a convenience?
I need considerable improvement in my prayer life. I need structure, and I need to pray consistently and persistently. With respect to worship, I need to incorporate praise into my daily routine. I want to consciously worship God with my attitude (uh-oh) and actions, all day, every day.
Frankly, I need to be more intentional in evangelism with my friends and coworkers. I need to be careful about what I say and how I act so that I am always reflecting the person of Christ around them.
Over the course of this past year, I have felt confirmation from respected Brothers and Sisters that the Holy Spirit has given me gifts of teaching and encouragement, and I need to grow more in the Spirit-led exercise of these gifts, to build the Body of Christ.
Stewardship is tough. That's why we have a bunch of obese Americans buried in credit card debt. It is easy to intake calories and easy to spend money on credit. I know it seems cliche, but I do need to eat a healthier diet, and I need to practice consistent physical exercise. My wife and I tithe, and we support ministries beyond the tithe, but I think we need to give more money to support the Kingdom of Christ around the world, especially Voice of the Martyrs. With respect to time, I need to be diligent about getting enough rest (which includes, but is not limited to sleep).
I have also grown in the practice of fasting this past year, but I still don't understand it. But I think as I continue to avail myself to the Holy Spirit through fasting, He will continue to guide me and grow me, so I need to consider how I may grow in fasting.
Solitude is something that is difficult in our society. Recently I have realized that my wife and I both very much enjoy the outdoors, but we rarely get out. I think solitude could be easily incorporated into getting outside and enjoying the Lord's creation.
I have several books on various topics that I read hit-or-miss. While I don't want to get side-tracked with good-intentions, I do think I could incorporate a few minutes of learning-reading into my daily routine. I think this would be helpful.
I think we Americans significantly under appreciate community and fellowship, mostly from our emphasis on individuality and personal freedoms. I think we need to get together more often, discuss tough subjects more transparently, and our community definitely needs to celebrate communion more often.
Heavenly Father, by your grace, please lead me to grow more rapidly into the image of Christ this upcoming year. Please help me with my attitude; I need the mind and heart of Christ! I am so selfish and proud; please deliver me and humble me. Lord, I praise you because you are able to defeat the enemy, and you will defeat the enemy! I know this because of the person and work of Christ Jesus, in whose name I pray. Amen.