It is coming.
It is near.
The time of we lie more to ourselves than any other time of the year. You know, those New Year Resolutions.
I like to set goals. I like a new challenge, so I always enjoy the turning of the calendar and the beginning of a new year. Like you no doubt, I have set my share of resolutions only to cave in and fail.
I want to give some simple, practical advice about starting the New Year better. It is the advice I am following as well.
But first a vital disclaimer: if you follow Christ, you are already accepted by Him. You don’t need to be better in 2012 to earn His favor, or to impress others or yourself. But, as Paul in Phil 3:1-13 made clear how the gospel changed everything in his life, including his ambition, he then wanted even more to “press toward the mark of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (v 14). So, it is normal and expected to want to be more effective, have more character, and make a greater impact for the gospel. But our motive for doing so is to bring glory to God, not to fill some void in our life Christ has already more than satisfied.
Therefore, I want to know the Scriptures more. I want to be healthier. I want to reach more for Christ, mentor better, and more than that, be a better man to my wife and dad to my children. And I am guessing you do as well. So how do we do that?
Here is the simple advice. Start now. Not on January 1. And not as some are on January 2–starting the year with a day off is hardly a good beginning, after all. Here is my process, with a few tweets thrown in for encouragement:
First, the Scriptures. Over 20 times in my adult life I have read the whole Bible in a year. I have found this to be helpful to me as a Christ follower and as a professor. It has given me a greater affection for my Lord and a greater appreciation for the centrality of the gospel in all the Bible, as this recent tweet testifies
“@PastorTullian: The Bible tells one story & points to one figure: The whole OT predicts God’s Rescuer, the whole NT presents God’s Rescuer.”
This year I did not read the Bible in its entirety and wanted to do so in 2012, so I started my one-year reading plan—last week. I am already over a week ahead. I am using the Read the Bible for Life plan you can see here. This way if I miss a day here or there, as I know I will, I will not fall behind, but will still be ahead!
In other words, I prefer setting myself up for success not failure.
Next, exercise. I am committed to doing P90X2 for 90 days beginning January 1. I have a couple of groups going for accountability, so if you want to do some form of rigorous exercise for 90 days beginning January 1 email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I officially start January 1. But I already started, sort of. I got the P90X2 package a week ago. I have started working through the exercises, not all the way through them, but to get acquainted. I have an artificial hip and have to modify some, so I am already working on that. This workout is very different, very brutal, and I love it already! If you are not in really good shape or able to check your ego and modify, stay away from this beast. But find some form of consistent workout and do two things: 1) get someone to hold you accountable. I am a coach for the social media site run by the P90X folks here, so join up for free and let me coach you. And 2) start NOW.
If you plan to exercise and/or diet (you should do both) with more diligence in 2012, by no means should you start in January. Start now. You can enjoy your family and all that food, but begin now teaching yourself that gorging is not to be confused with being godly. Get some confidence and momentum. Pick a plan (I will be reviewing P90, P90X, and P90X2 shortly) and start early.
Here is another practical tip that has been revolutionary for me: if you have a smartphone, get a calorie counting app . I use loseit.com. It allows you to have friends and hold each other accountable. Note this tweet from my friend Matt:
There are other examples of starting early, such as my efforts on a new book already begun ahead of schedule, and more importantly, a couple of major trips planned with my wife to have time with her.
Want to read more in 2012? Read that first book in 2011. Want to be more of an encourager? Intentionally encourage someone daily, and start today.
My pastor recently tweeted:
“@pastordavidsims David Sims The largest “nation” on the Earth – procrastination!”
Don’t set yourself up for failure by procrastinating the start of the new year. Start now. Get ahead. Gain momentum. Be the change you seek.
And take a few others with you.