Top five suggestions for a happy new year

January 3, 2011

In juxtaposition to all of the stories we have read this week that heralded the top events of 2010, I would like to look forward instead, and offer five suggestions fora happier and healthier new year.
1. Read the Bible with a plan. Those who read a Bible without a plan often fall victim to the ludicrous “open and point” method. Imagine reading a novel that way, every day reading a different paragraph from a location chosen at random. You would understand the plot of the novel about as much as you will the Bible. Pick one book of the 66 and read it through, at whatever pace you desire. Think about it. Ask questions of the text, such as, “What does this tell me about God? What does this tell me to believe? Or do? What do I need to change?”
2. Join a church. You say you are a follower of Jesus, but you don’t go to church? That seems more than just a little bit odd. Think about it: there were no letters in the New Testament written to “The un-churched Christians of Corinth.” Saying you love Jesus but hate the church is like saying you love your wife’s face but hate her body. Let me know how that works out for you. I dare you to start tomorrow with a new commitment to going to church. Pick one that you have heard good things about from Christians you trust, and then go there for six weeks straight. You cannot judge a church on its merits after just one visit.
3. Pray. This is not a substitute for doing the first two on the list, but is a powerful companion. In fact, we should read the Bible prayerfully and pray biblically. Prayer is one of the best ways to really get to know God. Paul Miller writes, “If you are going to enter this divine dance we call prayer, you have to surrender your desire to be in control, to figure out how prayer works. … I often find that when God doesn’t answer a prayer, He wants to expose something in me.” Andree Seu writes of prayer, “You don’t have to be good at it. All you have to be is desperate without Him.”
4. Learn to say, “I was wrong.” We were going through a teaching on this at church once and the speaker told us to turn to our wives and practice saying, “I was wrong. Will you forgive me?” One man said to his wife, “I was not as right as I normally am.” He was kidding, but there is truth in our humor, isn’t there? It is hard for us to admit when we are wrong, but healing of relationships often hinges on this act of humility.
5. Go to the offender first. When someone has wronged you, you have two choices that are healthy. First, you can let it go. The Bible says “The discretion of a man makes him slow to anger, and his glory is to overlook a transgression.” Second, if you cannot let it go, you must go to the offender and no one else. Jesus said, “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone.” Do you see the pattern? You go to him. You go to him alone. You tell him his fault. Singular. “If he hears you, you have gained your brother.” There is not much sweeter than reconciliation.
My prayer is that this year is your best one yet.