July is here, which starts the second half of 2013. If you’re like me, you probably wonder where the last six months went. New Year’s Resolutions could well be a foggy memory from the days of yore, but it’s not too late to take back 2013 and make it a truly remarkable year.
C.T Studd the former cricketer turned missionary put it well, “Only one life, ’twill soon be past, / Only what’s done for Christ will last.” So either you can buckle under the pressure of work, the tiredness of making it through half the year and the seeming waste of the last 6 months, or take dominion of the rest of the year.
1. Make some plans.
Proverbs 21:5 says, “The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance” What are some up-coming events, life-goals, ministry plans or devotional habits you have coming up or would like develop before the end of the year? If you knew the Lord was going to take you home before 2014, what godly legacy would you strive to use your last months to see materialise?
Whenever you create goals in any context, it’s important to make sure they’re SMART: specific, measurable, achievable & awesome, realistic and timed.
For example, “Know more Scripture” is a goal, but it’s not a very helpful goal. “Memorise 20 new Scriptures by the end of December 2013″, on the other hand, is smart. Its specific (all the details are there), measurable (when you memorise the 20th verse, you’ve met your goal), achievable and awesome (if you consider knowing God’s Word awesome, which it is), realistic (20 verses in five months is four verses per month) and timed (it has a deadline).
5 months might seem like a long time, but remember how fast the first half of this year went. Set about two or three goals for the next few months.
2. Try out a New Ministry
Life is for good works which God prepared before hand for you to walk in them (Eph 2:10). Many of us think about ministries or activities when we plan a year. Yet, as the year advances, we frequently get stuck in ruts and routines.
Make the second half of 2013 awesome and God honouring by mixing things up. Try visiting sick people in the hospital round the corner, join a mission’s trip, or make a commitment to share the gospel with someone different every month. The exact activity you choose doesn’t matter as much as choosing something that will encourage you to break your current weekly routine and introduce needs and life-giving opportunities that you wouldn’t otherwise have seen.
3. Grow in Knowledge
As well as shaking up your weekly routine, taking time out to learn about a topic, or a new skill can also help free you from preconceived ideas and open up a wealth of new possibilities to serve the Lord and your neighbour.
Many of us have topics in Scripture we would like to understand better, such as learning about the covenants, understanding why dispensationalism is wrong (J), or taking classes in a new skill we’ve always wanted to learn like “Biblical counselling” (of course it could be a something not directly related to the faith like a course in art or learning an instrument). The most common reason for not doing this is a lack of time, so try limiting activities like TV and Facebook and give yourself the gift of growth in the Word and usefulness.
If you’re stuck for ideas, talk to the elders at your local church or drop me a message.
4. Start up a journal
This will help you be more conscious of what’s really important to you.
The act of journaling in itself can help keep you focused on your intention to make the second half of 2013 grand. Reading previous journaling notes can also reveal things to you about yourself and God that you previously overlooked
If you are a Christian, that means that God is at work in your life, accomplishing His purposes. SIT UP AND TAKE NOTICE !!! Pay attention to His daily providences in your life. Those providences cannot and will not supplant Scripture, and they will always be in accord with Scripture, if truly from the Lord. But they are indications of His mercy, love and care towards you. It seems that even the puritans used journaling to record the work of sanctification in their lives.
5. Hold fast to what is good
“Examine everything, hold fast to what is good and abstain from every form of evil (1 Thessalonians 5:21-22)”. The immediate context of this verse has to do with prophecies which were part of the first century church before the Bible was completed. I am just taking the principle here and saying that you should apply it in life.
Perhaps the first half of 2013 felt like your best six months yet, perhaps you feel like the next five months are a chance for 2013 to be a bit more meaningful. Whatever the case, taking regular times to focus on what’s working right now will help you develop a deeper appreciation for all the good things that God is working in you this year.
One way of doing this is to celebrate a type of thanksgiving, writing down something you are grateful for once a week and review them all at the end of the year on a special day you set aside for thanksgiving.
Sometimes, we don’t truly appreciate everything we’ve done and experienced as God works in us, until we have a chance to reflect back on how the last few months have gone. Without a written record of our experiences, we tend to dwell on the more memorable challenges of the past, rather than things that went well or blessings. Think of how so much of the Psalms are designed to remind Israel of God’s goodness to them; we would do well not to forget His goodness to us.
What are your ideas for making the second half of 2013 splendid? Leave a comment and let me know!