New Year…Fresh Start – An Alternative to New Year’s Resolutions

All words are tiring; no one is able to speak. The eye isn’t satisfied with seeing, neither is the ear filled up by hearing (Ecclesiastes 1:8, Common English Bible).

Back at the beginning of this series I told you, I haven’t had a great deal of success with New Year’s Resolutions over the years. If I have ever been successful with more than one resolution I can’t remember it. I also told you I would end this series by giving you an alternative to New Year’s Resolutions.

Several years ago I was walking through a Cokesbury store before they closed all their brick and mortar stores and became a strictly online retailer. It was later in the year and I saw a book on the clearance shelf. It was My One Word by Mark Ashcraft and Rachelle Olsen.

It is a great book I highly recommend. Not only is the book worth the price, the introduction is worth the price.

The book sat on my shelf until shortly after the first of the first of the year the next year. I was scheduled to attend a training event in Jacksonville Florida. I planned to read the book on the plane. When we landed in Jacksonville, it was really, really cold (don’t ever let anyone tell you it doesn’t get cold in Florida). The training was at the hotel and because of the weather, I never left the hotel the entire trip. When I wasn’t training I was in my room reading my book.

When I finished I decided on my word for the year. It was discipline. I wanted God to help me be more disciplined in my life. When I got back home (and got warm), I started a walking program and got more disciplined in my exercise.

Since that time I have used the words fit, focus and joy. This year, I have chosen the word satisfied. I need to be satisfied with what I have instead of doing what our consumer driven culture always suggests: buy, buy, buy.

Getting started is actually a pretty easy thing. Write down a sentence of about the change you would like to see in your life. My sentence was “I want to be a more faithful disciple.” At the time I began I had every intention that my word would be faithful.

Next, make a list of words that fit within your sentence. Don’t get in a hurry with this personal brainstorming session. If it comes to your mind, write it down. You may end up with a whole page full of words. I knew one person once who had two pages full. After you compile the list and you have prayed over it every step of the way, start scratching off words that don’t resonate with you. Don’t stop scratching until you have the list trimmed down to no more than ten words.

After trimming the list, grab a dictionary and look the remaining words up and get a definition. After reading the definition, if the word no longer feels right, scratch it off. Then you get a concordance and look at the words as they appear in the Bible. Keep scratching words from your list until you get it down to that one word.

I would then suggest you find a theme verse for your one word. The word may or may not actually be in the Bible. Even if it isn’t, you can probably find a synonym or something that fits the theme.

Next you want to do some things to keep your word in front of you. You can tape it to the bathroom mirror so it is the first thing you see in the morning and the last thing you see before going to bed. You might tape it in your car, around your desk at work or other places where you will see it regularly. I have even made some form of my word my password.

Then think of one thing, it can be simple, in fact that would be preferred to keep it simple, that can help you move forward with your word. This year I am choosing to journal about how God leads me on my word.

Unlike New Year’s Resolutions, you can’t fail at this one. Things might not go as you planned. You may have something in mind but God probably has something in mind too. They may not be the same. Let the word and the process run their course.

If you need more information drop me a comment. Buy the book. Work through the process. You will be better for it at the end of this year.

Tomorrow we begin a new series, a study series on the book of Matthew I call “Blessed…” I hope you will join me.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

Joy and Peace,

Copyright 2017, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved.


Spirita Spiro (Esperanza for "Spirit's Breath) is rather new in my life. But the blog is not. I began writing a blog several years ago. It lived under the title, "The Pastor Ponders." Over the years I have tried several different names and "The Pastor Ponders" always seemed to fit best. I am trying again with Spirita Spiro. For 27 years I was a full-time pastor in the United Methodist Church. This year, August 2018, I semi-retired (I can't actually retire quite yet) and began teaching social studies. It is something I have always wanted to do and if I was going to do this, I needed to make it sooner rather than later. So, I made the move. I thought with the career change there also needed to be a name change to the blog and other things, such as spiritual direction. Spirita Spiro is my attempt to share some of my thoughts. I often share what I am thinking with my dog "Bishop," but he keeps his thoughts to himself. He will even go to sleep sometimes while I am sharing my thoughts with him. The truth is, if it doesn't involve getting his ears scratched, his belly rubbed or some kind of treat, he really doesn't care. I will say this for him, he never argues with me or tells me I am wrong. So, I decided to share some of my thoughts with whoever might come across this blog in their ramblings around the Internet. I live with my wife Cindy and our little dog in Lufkin, Texas. I spent the past 27 years as a full-time United Methodist pastor. Most recently I served as pastor of First United Methodist Church in Sweeny, Texas. I have also served United Methodist congregations throughout East Texas including rural Madison County (Elwood UMC), Lovelady (First UMC) and Kennard (Center Hill UMC), Canton (First UMC), rural Smith County (Mt. Sylvan UMC and Union Chapel UMC), Grapeland (First UMC), Tyler (Pleasant Retreat UMC), Santa Fe (Aldersgate UMC), Freeport (First UMC) and Oyster Creek (Oyster Creek UMC), Diboll (First UMC), and now Sweeny (First UMC). My wife Cindy and I have been married for over 40 years. We have two grown sons. Wayne and his wife Nikki and all our grandsons (Kaleb, Noah, and Jaxon) live in Southern California. Christopher and his wife Morgan and both our granddaughters (Jenna and Natalie) live in Tyler Texas. I enjoy preaching and all aspects of preaching from research to writing to the actual preaching event. I also love writing, reading, playing the guitar as well as a bit of drawing. I have spent quite a bit of time over the past two years working with paracord on various projects, mostly prayer ropes I usually give away. I sing bass with a local barbershop chorus called The Coastalaires. I have also recently begun doing a little wood carving. I also enjoy playing with Bishop, something he likes a great deal better than listening to my thoughts. I hold an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Business Data Processing, specializing in Microcomputers from San Jacinto College in Pasadena, Texas, a Bachelor of Science in Political Science with a minor in History from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, TX, a Master of Divinity from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX and a Doctor of Ministry from Carolina University of Theology. When I was a student at Carolina, the school was in Iron Station North Carolina. They have since relocated to Manassas Virginia (Yeah, go figure, a school named Carolina geographically in Virginia). This blog is mostly devotional writing, but there are other things here too. Just about every week I will either post my sermon manuscript or a video of the worship service. On occasion, I will post something I see in society. Occasionally I write a short story, a poem, or a song and will post it here too. I will say this, my motivations for writing this blog are really selfish. I write it to get what I am thinking out of my head and onto something a bit more permanent. They say, after all, once something is on the internet it never really goes away. Still, I hope you enjoy reading it. And, should you desire, you can one-up Bishop and actually tell me what you think. Who knows, it might generate a bit of discussion between you and me and anyone else who might make their way here. With Joy and Thankfulness, Keith Sweeny, Texas May 2018

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