by Dr. Paul Hardy
Founder and Executive Director– Recovery for Life Ministries
I don’t know about you, but I love the New Year. All of the prospects of newness spring up - new opportunities, new changes and new starts.
Many people make resolutions that lock them into something specific during the new year. Stop smoking. Lose weight. Go to the gym. Speaking of the gym, I went there the other day. Here it is, at the end of the year, I realized that I have pretty much kept my commitment to go and work out systematically. Hard as it is sometimes, over all I have kept my 2012 commitment. Now if we talk about how much weight I’ve lost in the last year, that’s a different issue. I didn’t lose, but I didn’t gain either.
So, recently, a group of guys got together and we asked each other to draft our 2013 “growth plans.” This usually consists of goals and strategies to provide a competitive edge to do more and work harder. This approach will not do for me this year.
My plan is to GROW this year. Somehow, I have to believe that is your true desire as well. Yes, goals should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-sensitive. (SMART). Yet, if our attitudes are right and we go for the heart source of change, outcomes with be natural, organic if you will.
So, let’s think through a few principles of spiritual growth that anyone could follow.
David said, "I’m an olive tree, growing green in God’s house. I trusted in the generous mercy of God then and now." Psalm 52:8
So, let’s grow together in 2013.
GROW by Glorifying God.
Consider this Scripture:
They began rejoicing and glorifying the Word of the Lord; and as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed. Acts 13:48
There is something healthy and therapeutic about focusing on someone else above ourselves. Removing selfishness causes us to be free to think of others, their needs and situations. Becoming God-centered is a life-changing experience. As well, giving God the credit for what He has done and is doing for us puts Him is His rightful place in our lives.
Ask Yourself this Question: How will my thoughts grow? We will need to cultivate the discipline of focusing our thought life around God and godly ideas.
We are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:5
Ask Yourself this Question: How will my words grow? When sharing words that build people up we grow and help them grow as well. Who can you speak up for in the next year? Who can you help lift up from a deep well of pain and shame?
Speak up for the people who have no voice, for the rights of all the down-and-outers. Speak out for justice! Stand up for the poor and destitute! Proverbs 31:8-9
Ask Yourself this Question: How will my Actions grow? By doing those things that please God, in the name of Jesus with a thankful heart our actions will have purpose.
Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father. Colossians 3:17
Grow by Resting in Christ.
Ask Yourself these Questions: Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion?
Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Matthew 11:28-29
Doing things our own way is exhausting. Trying to please God through religious work is even worse. When we learn to rest, a transformation takes place. God provided a Sabbath rest weekly for his people. Yet in our busyness, we rest very little. We need to take time to reflect, think through our lives and just stop and let the world keep spinning.
Ask Yourself these Questions: What can you do differently to provide yourself time to rest this year? Will it be a spiritual retreat? A daily devotional reading? Or better yet, learning to rest in Him moment by moment?
Grow by Organizing our Lives.
Consider this Scripture:
I organized the orders of service for the priests and Levites so that each man knew his job. Nehemiah 13:30
Nehemiah knew the power of delegating. We may not be able to clone ourselves, but we can share responsibilities and enlist people’s help to accomplish more. There is great merit in becoming organized in such a way that someone else could do your work. One of our greatest mistakes in organization is trying to be all and do all. There may be numerous people around us who would enjoy helping with tasks. I find that when I ask someone to help me with a task that is hard for me to complete, I enjoy the fellowship and more gets accomplished.
Ask Yourself this Question: What can you do to get help from others to accomplish your goals?
“Walk with me and work with me. Watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. . . keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” Matthew 11:30
People had to walk in biblical times. They walked everywhere. There were few other options. Walking is healthy and can be good for the mind. A “spiritual walk” is an invitation for Christ to accompany us in every step, walking with Him in these “unforced rhythms of grace.” This mystical concept of walking with Christ or walking “in Christ” is the adventure we all long for.
Are you ready to trek out into the adventure of a lifetime? What will your first step be?
This blog article was written by Dr. Paul Hardy, a champion for the cause of broken and addicted people. For the last 12 years, he and his wife Suzie have dedicated their lives to helping people break free from the bondages of addictions and compulsive behaviors. Together, they founded Recovery for Life, a non-profit that ministers to over 300 people a week in the Virginia Beach, Tidewater area. He is also the Director of the Life Counseling and Recovery Center of Eastern Virginia. Visit their Recovery for Life website (formerly Recovery for the City)