January Challenge – Start Something Good

2011-year-resolution-400x400HOW CAN WE HELP EACH OTHER START SOMETHING GOOD?

At City Pres, we recently started trying to work on one new thing each month as a personal goal or challenge. In November, we talked about being thankful every day. In December we talked about giving more than usual – a tip, a thanks, taking out the trash without being asked, etc. Our idea is that  we could try to help each with a small thought or change each month and that might add up. We also might either get snowed under and just give up. Or we might get self-righteous and puffed up. But we also might see ourselves changing a bit over time as we think about and work on our character – instead of just wishing we would or could.

Our January Challenge is going to take advantage of New Year’s Resolutions. They’re easy to make and easy to break. They’re also easy to make fun of and thus not even attempt.

One of the doctrines we believe in is that of sanctification. Read what the Westminster Shorter Catechism says about it:

Q. 35. What is sanctification?
A. Sanctification is the work of God’s free grace, whereby we are renewed in the whole man after the image of God, and are enabled more and more to die unto sin, and live unto righteousness.

That means – among many other things – we say yes to good things and no to bad things. In perhaps archaic yet vivid terms, we mortify the flesh and vivify the Spirit. 

It means at least – we try. It’s not supposed to be easy. It’s tough. The devil, flesh and world and not letting go very easily. 

Will fulfilling your New Year’s Resolutions make you a better person? 

No – no in the sense that it’s not like you get a million righteousness points when you stick with it. It’s not like you now get to make fun of everyone or lord it over them or that Jesus likes you any better because you lost a few pounds or prayed every day. We’re not doing it to earn anything as if we don’t have it already. 

Yes – Sloth is a huge problem. Obesity is a huge problem. Gluttony is a huge problem. Greed is a huge problem. Just because we don’t want to earn our righteousness doesn’t in any sense mean that we shouldn’t pursue righteousness. You will feel and do better if you have better character traits and life skills and disciplines. 

So let’s take the January Challenge to sign up and do something. Obligate yourself. Try something new. Start small. Just start showing up but show up every time. If you miss a time, then show up the next time. Show up at the gym. Show up at the table with your Bible. Show up at a CityGroup. Show up at church every Sunday of 2015. Show up by doing something you want to do that will make you feel better. 

– Work out 5 days a week in January. It can be 5 minutes a day. It can be starting walking around the block or downloading the Couch to 5k app. It can be joining the gym and getting a trainer.

I started at the Crossfit gym closest to me last January because I needed to try something. I didn’t know if I would like it or if I would stick with it. It cost a lot. I was embarrassed. I was the most out of shape person there.

Read this It’s Not Supposed To Be Easy post. Sorry that it has some bad words in it. Skip over those parts.

If you have something else you love, invite others and tell us about it. Join a running club like this one in Norman, OK. Start riding your bike every day – get one from John Quigley. If you’re in OKC, start doing yoga here. Join the Y.

– Read the Bible every day in January. I’d recommend you buy and start with a One Year Chronological Bible. Of course you can follow the readings and download a chart. If you’re a person who can do that then go for it. But for many of us we just need to have the book on the right page and then go to the next page when the date says and have it all laid out for us. If you get behind, it’s okay. Start again and catch up. Or take two years. This is a great book to read.

– Pray. Let’s try to pray every day. Even just for one minute. Don’t worry about what formula you should use or if you’re praying correctly or not. Talk to God and tell him what you’re thinking and feeling and worried about and ask him to help guide you.

– Go to church. I’m sure it sounds self-serving for me to say this, but it’s a part of the showing up. Over and over. Every Sunday. Yes there is sickness and there will be trouble. Of course. Try to make it. If you miss, then come again the next Sunday. There are a lot of ways to help once you get to church (serving, greeting, friendliness, participation, etc), but getting there in the first place is what I’m talking about here. If you don’t like your church, then find one you do like and go there.

– Read a book this month.

– Read and support something that will help you think like Christ and Pop Culture. This is a blog that has a ton of interesting articles every week about the intersection between the church and culture. It engages. It thinks. It interacts.

I know we all may fail at many of these. But we’re not failures. Try again. Try something different. Show up the next day. Ask for help. Text someone. Meet someone there. Ask for new ideas. Let’s help each other and celebrate when we see people/friends/family pursuing the good and saying no to the bad – because Christ is real not because self improvement is for its own gain.

Headshot 2 Nicole Hager