Questions are a sign of curiosity and humility. They fascinate us and often remind us of a childlike innocence. I find questions very useful in my spiritual development. They are allies and tools of growth – if they are used and used smartly.
Here are some question I find useful at the end of the year and the beginning of a new one:
What mistakes can I learn from – looking back at the last 12 months?
What relationship needs forgiving, healing or restoring due to trauma in the past few months?
What can I celebrate – looking back – and show gratitude to God and others?
What has been God doing in my life – could I sum it up in a sentence?
What regrets do I need to bring back and leave at the foot of the cross?
What habit/ hobby is my greatest enemy in time wasting and how can I change that?
What destructive habits/ hurtful attitudes do I need to change in the year ahead?
What would a dream year look like – emotionally, physically, spiritually and relational?
Whose life would I like to see changed through my actions and words in the next year, and what will I do about it?
What is my plan for my spiritual growth: Bible reading, prayer, serving, connecting?
I encourage you to take some time to ponder, pray, maybe write down some answers and even get together with a trusted friend, spouse or mentor and talk and pray through this.
Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.
Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path. Psalm 119:105
As we are approaching the beginning of a new calendar year – I try to encourage both myself and the congregation I serve to adopt a Bible reading plan for going through the whole Bible in a year.
I believe this to be important for the following reasons:
it will make us more disciplined in our ability to listen to God’s voice through His word
it will make us familiar with ‘the whole counsel of God’, rather than just our favourite passages
it pushes us to wrestle (study, ask questions) with passages and issues that are more challenging
I have tried several plans and I still find that the most helpful for me personally is a very straight forward, reading through the Bible form Genesis to Revelation. It takes 3 chapters on a weekday and 5 at the weekend to get through in a year. I tried the 3/4 different passages a day (OT, NOT, Psalms, Proverbs) and while it made it easier going when reading some harder passages, it was too disjointed for me.
Here are some other tips that could enhance your experience:
Strive to hit the right note – steering clear of legalistic guilt and a flesh-driven undisciplined life. Regular and intentional bible reading will be a battle. The deeper you get into God’s word – the more likely we are to grow spiritually and influence our world. You need to plan and persevere but not fall under condemnation if you fall behind. Just say no to the accuser and read on!
Start to write things down. Get a notebook and write. Write anything that strikes you: a verse, a thought a question…. That will enhance your experience and mark the memory. It will be a joy alter on to read through that notebook.
Be generous with what you read – pass it on via social media, a text message, during a visit or share it with your family at meal times.
Link Bible reading with prayer – I find that a Scripture-led prayer life is a much richer and it avoids the consumer approach to prayer.
For those of you with families, I would encourage you to make room in your daily family routine to read at least part of those passages together, allowing room for discussion and prayer.
I wrote this with the humility of one who fails so often at this but doesn’t give into guilt and defeat, also recognizing that personalities need to adapt to different styles.
Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. James 1:22
We had a ‘different’ kind of weekend. With the battering from Desmond (the storm), many in our region have been affected by either floods or power cuts or sometimes both. It brought back memories from my childhood experience in Romania, when we lived through scheduled power cuts and limited availability of hot water for sometimes a couple of hours a day (good luck if you lived on the top floor).
It made me realize how vulnerable we are – in spite of our apparent over confidence in the trinkets we have available in the Western world. You just don’t mess with nature’s frightening force….
It made me realize that I have no idea how hard it must be for some to be elderly and trapped, to see your beloved home become unlivable and not be able to communicate and find out how your loved ones are…
It made me realize how dependent we are on technology and how that that makes us isolated, impractical, un-creative and ultimately ‘dumb’….
It made me realize how much we fill our minds with silly distractions, instead of reflecting and engaging in relationships….
It made me realize that people still care and have a longing to reach out to others, less fortunate than themselves…
It made me realize how much I love the British calm and the humour that gets thrown in – instead of bitterness and anger…
It made me realize how resilient my congregation are, ready to do whatever it takes to be together and encourage one another….
Also, get a battery operated radio (tune into your local station), have torches, batteries, candles and a corded (is that what you call them?) phone available for these kind of events….