Last year, I chose gratitude as my “word for the year.” Not because I wanted a “word” to define everything about the year, but because I wanted to grow in the understanding and application of gratitude. It really was more of an “attribute” for the year, instead of a general theme.
I started the year by studying Psalm 103, sharing weekly posts about gratitude, and keeping a blessings book. Then life got busy and I slacked off a little… but I ended strong, with an in-depth study of Choosing Gratitude, which was perhaps the best book I read in 2013! It transformed my understanding of gratitude, and gave me practical steps to becoming a more grateful person.
I think I can honestly say I was successful in growing gratitudinally last year — though, of course, it’s an area in which we never stop growing. So this year, I chose another attribute to work on, which happens to dovetail with several of my
goals disciplines for 2014.
This year, I want to focus on KNOWING GOD’S PEOPLE.
There’s a reason we are called the “body” of Christ. We are supposed to work together to make disciples, edify the church, and glorify God. Throughout the Pauline epistles, especially, we are exhorted to mentor each other (e.g., the older women teaching the younger), to imitate those who imitate Christ, and to partner together in spreading the gospel.
But that implies that we must first know the body of Christ! We must learn not only from those in our local churches and communities, but also from notable Christians living across the globe, mature saints who have already passed into eternity, and those whose lives have been recorded in the pages of Scripture.
We must strengthen our relationships with each other, through mutual prayer and encouragement toward godly living. We must seek to understand each other, and to work together for the sake of the gospel. We must actually know, not just know about, God’s people.
How do I plan to develop this over the next 12 months?
- Getting to know Bible characters. I plan to read through Exploring People of the Old Testament and New Testament, Twelve Extraordinary Women, and Twelve Ordinary Men as a start. I also plan to do in-depth character studies of 10 Old Testament saints for my next book, using commentaries and other study tools to really “get to know” each of them. And I’m thinking about doing a somewhat in-depth study of the historical nation of Israel, since I have a study guide that covers Joshua – 2 Samuel.
- Reading biographies of notable modern-day Christians. This is one of my “disciplines for 2014,” since I want to be intentional about choosing books that benefit, rather than only books that entertain. I’m swapping some of my fiction for biographies about Corrie ten Boom, Elisabeth Elliot, Francis & Edith Schaeffer, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and some of the Puritan preachers. I also discovered this page of 26 biographical sketches which I plan to work through. I’m open to other recommendations, too… so please share your favorites with me!
- Strengthening relationships with God’s people in my life currently. This include friends across the country, as well as those in my local church. It means being intentional about calling, praying for, and encouraging one another. And it means making a point of reaching out to not-quite-friends instead of always chatting with the same three people, scheduling coffee dates and phone dates, and reaching out online if possible. Because I can’t partner with other believers, unless I first know them and am in continued contact with them.
Beyond those specific (personal) goals, I also want to do another book study here on the blog! I haven’t nailed down the title yet, but I’m considering either True Community or Relationships: A Mess Worth Making. If you have a preference, or another title to suggest that relates to Knowing God’s People, I’d love to hear it.
Ambitious? Perhaps. Beneficial? Definitely.
It will take some work, and some discipline (there’s that word again!), but I am looking forward to getting to know the body of Christ more deeply, and to experiencing the mystic sweet communion of the saints in Christ Jesus. We are all family, related through the blood of Christ, and thus we should be seeking to know and encourage each other wherever possible.
Like Paul says:
“So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord.” Ephesians 2:19-21
What other biographies can you recommend about notable Christians?
Any preferences on title – or time of year – for our community study?