Making 2018 a Year of Gratitude

I am one of the 8%. No, that’s not some new-fangled financial classification; it’s the percentage of people who keep their New Year’s resolutions according to Forbes Media. I haven’t kept every one perfectly, but I do prayerfully make them each year, and it’s amazing how much I’ve learned along the way. My resolutions run the gamut from not texting while driving to reading the Bible in a year to never defending myself (now, that’s an eye-opener). This year I’m making 2018 a year of gratitude.

By now you’ve certainly heard about the physical and psychological benefits of gratitude. But here’s one benefit that Psychology Today won’t be listing in their top seven: gratitude is worship. It is one of the primary ways we are to be reminded of and to relate to our loving God who gives us every good gift. Want to be more connected to the Lord? Let your needs drive you to Him and let your blessings draw you to Him

My pastor talked about resolutions this morning; that’s how I learned I’m in the 8%. And one thing he stressed was that making or keeping a New Year’s resolution doesn’t earn you anything; not favor or affirmation or forgiveness or salvation from God. In fact, it can become a stumbling block if you are making it for any of those reasons. Everything we do should be motivated by love – for God and man, including our attempts at self-improvement. If I look a little more like Jesus at the end of this experiment, if my spirit becomes a bit more thankful, that is my loving obedience and a sacrifice of praise.

I know I should be grateful for every breath I take, but as with anything that is continual, gratitude can become invisible, banal, even boring. Therefore, I’m going to keep a gratitude journal. There are many ways to do this, and I will let you Google them for yourself, but I’m going to keep one online that I share with a friend. I am also going to write a line or two every single day. I know myself, and those things will help me keep up.

Here are a few tips for you to consider as you think about the topic of resolutions.

  • Make your resolution simple. It should be able to be stated in one sentence and you are more likely to keep it if it doesn’t require major changes to your routines.
  • Make a commitment to your resolution. Make sure it’s something you believe in and really want to make a part of your life going forward.
  • Track your progress. Have some way of noting your success. Mark it on a calendar, keep a log, put a chart on your refrigerator.
  • Invite others to share your resolution. See? I’m taking my own advice. God gave us community for accountability and encouragement. Take advantage of that.
  • View your failures as part of your success. If you don’t keep your resolution perfectly, don’t quit! In fact, you haven’t really owned a new habit until you can fail and get back on track again.

We always pray for you, that our God may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power, so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Thess. 1:11-12)

To that end, if you are one of the 60% of Americans who doesn’t already have a New Year’s resolution, I invite you to join me in making 2018 a year of gratitude.


Related Material:

Keeping a Gratitude Journal (Crosswalk)

Ann Voskamp Audio on Gratitude

A Prayer of Gratitude by Scotty Smith

New-Year-Ready?

New YearIt’s too late to ask you if you are ready for Christmas; you’re probably just exhaling. But in case you think you’re off the hook, let me ask you: “Are you ready for the New Year?” Have you thought about a resolution or resolved not to make one?  Have you already started your new diet – or are you bulking up in anticipation? I don’t mind if it’s a diet you have in mind, but I would like to suggest a few more meaningful changes for the coming year.  

Your body is precious and holy, but it’s probably the least important thing about you. Your heart, mind and will are going to belong to you in eternity, so why not give them some consideration in 2016, too? Here are a few suggestions to get you started, but I’d love to hear your ideas. Hit reply above or use the comment section at the bottom of the page (depending which page you are on).

MIND:

  • Learn one new thing and stick with it for a year. Whether it’s art, knitting, language, scuba, history, yoga or cooking, take a class. You can teach yourself something like calligraphy or gardening, but you lose part of the benefit without other learners. Here’s an example of a lovely, little place with some interesting classes in the Orlando area. Check out classes at your local community college. Your library or local craft store may offer classes, too.
  • Read through the Bible on one of these plans – or make your own.
  • Read through the Old Testament in a year. (This one is hard to find.)
  • Memorize Scripture. You have a whole year, so memorize an epistle or a psalm or one verse a week – or something! Do it with your kids or a good friend. If you find this very difficult, use songs to help you.

HEART:

  • Humility – resolve not to defend yourself for a whole year. You’d be surprised how often this comes up.
  • Gratitude – keep a gratefulness journal every day.
  • Grace – confess one sin every day and record what you learn about yourself.
  • Generosity – give something away every day, a word, a favor, a piece of clothing, a bus token.
  • Encouragement – encourage someone verbally every day.

WILL:

(Here’s where you get to list that diet.)

  • Exercise. Good for your heart, mind and will. Develop a realistic plan, and make a chart you can check off.
  • Eating habits. Instead of dieting, you might want to eat less fast food or eat one meatless meal a week or stop drinking sodas.
  • Driving. Love others well: don’t text or email and drive. Get a hands-free phone device if you don’t have one. Get someone else to keep you accountable – it’s SO tempting!
  • Addiction. If you are struggling with anything in this category, join a 12-step group in your area. Nothing has been proven to work better, and nothing is cheaper.
  • Prayer. A forgotten art, a neglected power. Use a journal if it helps or read a great book by Tim Keller or Paul Miller to get going.
  • Bedtime. Many people suffer from poor sleep hygiene and some measure of sleep deprivation. Change your habits for the better.
  • Missions – make a plan now to go on one mission trip by the end of the year. Research; save money. Or support a missionary you know or a child overseas. Be actively involved.
  • Counseling. For all the issues and problems you don’t know how to tackle, find a good counselor and let them help you work through it. If your problem isn’t too serious and/or you are a hard-worker, you may be able to make real progress with only one or two sessions a month. If your problem is marital, suggest this to your partner. They might just be delighted, but go, even if they don’t go.

You are God’s instrument. Don’t try to play the flute if you’re a trombone. And you can always play a better trombone. I’d love to know what you are planning for 2016. Whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him. (Col. 3:17)


Outside Content:

An interesting book by Jen Hatmaker with a few more ideas.  You could read this one with a small group of friends.

Start Now! By Paul Tripp