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Great Expectations for the New Year!

I want to live an Intentional Life.

"So, do you have any New Year's resolutions?" he asked, right after I said I wasn't really into making them.

"Well, ha - matter of fact, I do!"

"And...?" he looked over at me expectantly.

"I guess they are more goals than resolutions," I replied. "And they break into two categories, spiritual and physical, which of course, includes the mental."

I'm not positive, but I think he rolled his eyes.

Some New Year's resolutions can be clearly seen--like when my gym is busier; people want to get in shape, lose weight. But I submit to you the desires we have for more in our inner lives are far more important than the ones that others can see. When we get intentional about growing our private lives with God, this is the stuff that changes destinies, legacies, mental well-being and sometimes the very eternities of people.

Destinies, legacies? Is that a stretch? Not at all. Do you ever stop to consider your destiny, your legacy? hmmm... If you are a parent or grandparent or have influence at work or in your extended family, then you have the opportunity to imprint others, encourage them toward good, to connect them to the God who created and loves them, wants to have relationship with them. Legacy, destiny... eternity?

In the last Morning Briefing, [ challenged you to consider takeaways from 2023 and your personal growth in 2024 through a life lived more closely aligned with Christ, just as Paul said for himself, "living means living for Christ."1

With regard to personal growth, I suggested two areas: spiritual and physical.

In a world that oft seems out of control, we actually have far more control than we exercise--things of the highest importance, such as disciplines that grow our knowledge of and trust in Christ. Here's the thing--each and every day, we are going to go out and live it, and for me--well, I want to live it well and I know I will if I go with God. Involves mindfulness.

First, there is no greater way to grow spiritually than to

>Read God's Word. for it contains the very words of life

My #1 goal for this year: read through the Bible again. Last year, I listened using the app the Bible Recap, but this year I found The Everyday Bible, NKJV, paperback. Each day has an Old Testament reading, starting in Genesis, then a Psalm, a passage from Proverbs, and a New Testament reading--interesting, doable, taking about 15 minutes to read. The Purpose? Get an overarching view of God's plan(s) as he revealed to us in the Word, seeing how everything/all of it points to Jesus.

David expressed the value of the Bible so simply: Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.2

My #2 goal is to memorize more scripture. The discipline of memorization alone is beneficial for the brain, but when the subject matter is life-giving, divine truth, what a win! Once memorized, the particular gem is accessible anytime and anywhere, such that if my back is against the wall in a task or situation, I can recall this: "I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength."3

Second component of spiritual growth: connect with God in prayer,

>Praying to the Lord each morning. 

I love how simply David expressed this priority- In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly.4

we will look a little more closely at prayer in next Morning Briefing.

And then let's talk about Physical growth.

What a treasure we have been gifted in our physical bodies!

My #3 goal for 2024 is to exercise daily, taking care of the gift of life I have been given. Again, this requires discipline, which includes getting proper rest, good nutrition and regular exercise, including a cardiovascular workout 4 - 5 times a week with a duration of a minimum of 20 minutes each time. [hey, you walkers - make sure you get your heart rates up, and maintain the intensity]

Check it out: in February, a good-size group of us walked all over Israel--greatly facilitated and enhanced by being in shape!

In April of this year, 40 or so of us will walk in the footsteps of Paul in Greece and Rome - again, being in shape will empower us to walk with ease! No matter if on the steps of the Acropolis in Athens, on the Isle of Patmos (where John wrote Revelation), or walking Mykonos, or Rome for that matter! I do not want any physical limitations to hold me back so much as is within my power. How about you?

[by the way, 6 spots opened up on this tour because of unexpected/expected babies coming! Want to join us? Link: Cannot wait! Folks from six states]

Finally, my #4 goal is to grow my mind, improve my thinking. If it is true that we become what we think about, then our thoughts are very critical to our well being.  Let us determine to pay careful attention to our minds, as well as our bodies and souls.

How to grow your mind, better your thinking? Desire to ‘be transformed by the renewing of your mind’.5  That means choose to radically change for the better by refreshed thinking patterns.  Yes, choose to think about that which is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable….6   Do not be a victim of your thinking; get a hold of it.  

Some ideas: 

1) make wise choices in what you let into your brain--limit your time on the 24-7 news cycle, on social media--all of it, Prime, Netflix, etc. So much of this content is deleterious to your thinking and well-being; at best, it just wastes time.

2) memorize scripture - it renews and transforms your mind, opens new neural pathways in your is always there for your recall

3) read good literature. C. S. Lewis, anyone? J.R.R. Tolkien? When is the last time you went to the library? What a brilliant concept is the local FREE library!

4) listen to inspiring podcasts like this one: Summit Ministries.

Think rightly! Inform your thinking. Be ready to give a defense for the hope that lies within you.7

Come, let us reason and purpose together to grow in this new year of life we have been given!

'Want to smile? Click this link, flash mob in Birmingham, Alabama: Every Praise, Powerful.


1 -  Philippians 1.21

2 -  Psalm 119.105

3 - Philippians 4.13

4 - Psalms 5.3

5 - Romans 12.3

6 - Philippians 4.8

7 - 1 Peter 3.15

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