“Is it possible to make a resolution this year and truly keep it?”
Yep, it sure is. As Nicole and Mom reminded us last week we start by “righting those wrong resolutions” and “picking one.” But we still need help to keep our resolutions.
I remember a field trip that I took to the Baltimore Science Museum when I was in junior high. (Yes, here is a picture of me participating in an electricity demonstration—thus the crazy hair! Please try and ignore the outfit.)
There were a variety of experiments that you could watch and participate in—some, like the electrical experiments, were more hazardous than others. An oft-repeated phrase to the children watching was: “kids don’t try this at home.” Why? Because kids can’t safely perform complex science experiments on their own. They need help.
A similar warning should be issued to all of us when it comes to keeping our resolutions: “Don’t try this on your own!” Any resolution, big or small, is impossible to keep without the help of the Lord. If we try, it will simply blow up in our faces—like a science experiment gone awry. We are dependent creatures. We cannot take our next breath without the Lord granting it. What makes us think we can keep resolutions on our own?
But the Lord is gracious and eager to help us. I love the words of Charles Bridges on this subject, “Take one step at a time, every step under Divine warrant and direction. Ever plan for yourself in simple dependence on God. It is nothing less than self-idolatry to conceive that we can carry on even the ordinary matters of the day without his counsel. He loves to be consulted.”
Did you hear that? “He loves to be consulted.” Start right now. Take that one, God-glorifying resolution and consult your gracious Father. Ask Him to help you carry out this task. Ask Him for the strength to be diligent and faithful. Depend upon him for the grace to accomplish all that He has set before you. And watch Him work!
PS – Oh, and stay tuned for an important book club announcement coming later today.
We are grateful to God for the following update on Dr. Mohler’s health from Dr. Russell Moore:
I just left from visiting Albert Mohler at the intensive care unit of Baptist East Hosptial here in Louisville. I am glad to report that he is doing much better than he was when I spoke to the radio audience of the program about this at 5:05 PM.
While his situation is still very serious, it seems that the doctors have his treatment well underway and he is recuperating well. Pulmonary emboli represent a serious concern under any circumstances but it seems that RAM is responding excellently to the treatment. We can all be grateful the doctors found this development so quickly.
The President is talking and in good spirits. Despite his incredible pain and having just lived through the scare of his life, he was actually able to discuss a book I brought to him the other day about, of all things, the life of Wendell Willkie.
Dr. Mohler still needs your prayers, as do Mary, Katie, and Christopher, so please don’t stop them. But I am happy to say that I think his treatment is going well and I expect that he will be back to his life as normal sooner rather than later.
We will not be posting Friday Funnies this evening.
My dad has requested that we ask you to pray for his good friend,
Dr. Al Mohler. Here are the details from Dr. Mohler’s website:
Mohler’s health has sustained a setback. Over the past 36 hours Dr.
Mohler has suffered from unrelenting pain. This unusual degree of pain
signaled concern for the attending physicians and prompted additional
tests this afternoon. In the past hour these tests have revealed that
Dr. Mohler is suffering from pulmonary emboli in both lungs. His
condition is quite serious and he has been moved to the intensive care
unit of Baptist East Hospital in Louisville, KY for immediate treatment.
Please make this a matter of urgent prayer. Thank you once again for your concern and support during these days.
“Is it possible to make a resolution this year and truly keep it?”
Absolutely! And now that we have righted our wrong resolutions, we should eliminate most of them. That’s right. Let’s reduce our resolution list down to one. Let’s choose that single area where we most desire to grow in godliness.
But there are twenty ways I should be growing right now, you might protest.
That’s true for all of us. But what’s also true is that we can’t change in every area all at once.
Author and speaker David Powlison makes this insightful observation:
“We are simple people. You can’t remember ten things at once. Invariably, if you could remember just ONE true thing…you’d be different. Connect one bit of Scripture to one bit of life…. Apply one relevant thing from our Redeemer to one significant scene in your story. Bring one bit of the Bible to one bit of your life….You can’t deal with it all at once. Scripture never does…. Life goes one step at a time.”
So we see that the mark of true spirituality doesn’t require ten giant steps forward. One step at a time is sufficient. In fact, you could argue that choosing one area for growth in godliness is an expression of humility. It’s a humble acknowledgement of our serious limitations as “simple people”.
And what’s more, growth in one area almost always affects every other area of our lives. So rather than lament about the twenty ways we need to grow in godliness, let’s be encouraged that as we isolate just one and devote ourselves to change in that area, by the grace of God it will affect the other nineteen.
Oh, and one more thing. We need to make sure our resolution is specific. “Overcome anger” is too vague. However, if we choose to take the next 30 days to memorize and meditate on Eph. 4:29 – 5:2, list the circumstances that tempt us to anger and pray about and plan how to respond humbly at those times – now that would be a detailed resolution!
“Is it possible to make a resolution this year and truly keep it?”
Yesterday, Mom made the bold assertion that “yes” it is possible to truly keep our New Year’s—or any other—resolution. Before we look at “how,” we must first consider why, so often, our resolutions don’t have the shelf life of a gallon of milk.
For starters, they might be the wrong resolutions—by that I mean self-exalting instead of God-glorifying.
In his book, A Godward Life, Part 2 (p. 62), John Piper cites a newspaper article based on a book entitled The Body Project. The author examined young girls’ diaries from the 1800’s to the 1900’s and found that “In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, girls’ diaries focused on ‘good works’ and perfecting the character. In the 1900’s, the diaries are fixated on ‘good looks,’ on perfecting the body.”
Now of course, it’s not wrong to resolve to lose a few pounds or to take better care of our bodies, which are, indeed, temples of the Holy Spirit. But if “good looks” or any other goal is driven by selfishness, or a desperate grasp for glory and attention, we are merely resolving to sin against God.
If James 4:6, “God opposes the proud” means what it says (and Scripture always does), than God is actually opposing our efforts instead of blessing them. No wonder we fall flat on our vain little faces!
“But…” as James 4:6 goes on to say, “[He] gives grace to the humble.” If we depend upon God to do good works and perfect our character in order to reflect His glory, we can anticipate His grace to blow life into our feeble efforts. By His power, we can sustain our resolutions beyond the “best if used by” date.
I recently read that “experts in the New Year’s Resolution field estimate that 25 percent don’t make it past Jan. 8.”
Now I certainly don’t think it takes a band of “experts” (whoever they are?!) to figure that one out. We already know it’s true just from talking to others and reviewing our own track record for making and breaking New Year’s Resolutions.
So what will it be this year? Are we going to once again join the 25 percent group who doesn’t make it past Jan. 8? Maybe you’re discouraged because it’s only January 3rd and your resolutions have already bit the dust. Or possibly you identify with my friend who purposed to start this New Year off by getting up early and overslept the very first day. She and I had a good laugh about it when she told me.
Or could it be different in 2007? Is it possible to make a resolution this year and truly keep it? The answer to this question is “YES”! Now, that’s a bold assertion, I know. But there are some simple and specific ways to make a resolution that we can actually stick to. And we will take the next few days here at girltalk to talk about them. We hope you will join us for this discussion.
Today, for most of us, is the first day back: back to school, back to work, back to every day life. And if we’re tempted to complain, let’s bite (and then loose) our tongues with the Psalmist’s exhortation “This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalm 118:24).
Here are several links for you to ponder on this day the Lord has made:
Thinking about reading through the Bible in a year? By subscribing to one of the ESV Bible’s daily reading plans you can have your daily portion delivered straight to your computer. I’m considering the “listen to the Bible in a year” option.
Donald Whitney writes that: “Even those most faithful to God occasionally need to pause and think about the direction of their lives. It’s so easy to bump along from one busy week to another without every stopping to ponder where we’re going and where we should be going.” If that description rings unpleasantly true, ponder Dr. Whitney’s “10 Questions to Ask at the Start of a New Year.”
Are you facing trials in this New Year? Consider these four faces for a new perspective.
This past week, Brian and I took a few moments to pray through the “Year’s End” prayer in The Valley of Vision (p. 204). Then I prayed the “New Year” prayer in my morning devotions (p. 206). As I reviewed the events of this past year I was freshly overwhelmed with gratitude to God for His underserved goodness this past year.
God’s past faithfulness gives me hope for this New Year. “I launch my bark on the unknown waters of this year…” the prayer reads, “with thee, O Father, as my harbour, thee O Son, at my helm, thee O Holy Spirit, filling my sails.”
I don’t know what this year holds. It may be a test of prosperity, like the one before. Or it may be a year of suffering and difficulty. Even now I think of friends who are in the midst of heart-wrenching trials. The coming year truly is a river of “unknown waters.” And yet, as I embark on this brand new, unexplored year, I know that I am not alone. I am with God. Comfort, peace, and joy are mine!
“And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:20
It’s so hard to pick our most popular Friday Funny of the year. But this video from my friend Kimm is still one of my favorites. Here’s how I introduced it back in April:
One of the many things I love about my friend Kimm from Philly, is that she always makes me laugh. During my recent busy season she sent me the following video clip with this email: “Here—this is my treat to you….cause you are workin’ sa hard.” I hope it makes you laugh as hard as it did me!
See you in the new year!
for Nicole, Kristin, and Janelle
Our final “Year in Review” post is from Mom. If you know a bride-to-be who hasn’t read this post, make sure to show it to her!
April 19, 2006
Modesty on Your Wedding Day
Last September, when CJ and I had the privilege of going to The Bible Church of Little Rock, CJ spoke on the topic of modesty. At the conclusion of my husband’s sermon, the church’s worship pastor, Todd Murray, presented an additional appeal in his closing remarks. He urged all girls to consider modesty even when shopping for formal attire and wedding dresses. His words were laden with care and compassion, yet they carried an appropriate soberness. We felt Todd’s exhortation was too important to be heard only by the girls of his church, so we asked if we could post his words here at girltalk. He graciously agreed. Let’s listen in and be challenged by one pastor’s heart and plea to the women of his church:
Ladies, please don’t forget to apply these principles of modesty to formal events and weddings. In recent years, I have become increasingly grieved by the immodest dresses of both brides and bridesmaids at the weddings that I officiate. I have observed a number of young ladies in our fellowship who have dressed modestly all their lives appearing on their wedding day in extremely provocative dresses, exposing more of themselves than on any other day of their lives.
I assume the best about what is going on in the hearts of these young women. I don’t think that they went to the wedding dress shop determined to be provocative. No doubt, they just wanted a dress that would be elegant on this day that they have dreamed of all their lives. When a bride and mother set out on their expedition to find a wedding dress, they are, quite naturally, thinking like… women! Unfortunately, there is no one in the shop who is thinking like a man! I’d like to make a radical proposal, girls. Why not take your father with you to the wedding boutique? If that thought is just too much for you (or your Dad!) at least consider taking the dress out on approval and allowing your dad to see it before you make your final purchase.
Here are a couple of questions to ask yourself when shopping for a wedding or bridesmaid’s dress:
Does this dress reflect the fact that a wedding ceremony is a holy service of worship and not a fashion show?
Can I picture myself standing in this dress, for an extended period of time, just a few feet from my pastor as he opens the Word of God and leads me in my solemn vows?
Pastor Todd Murray isn’t the only one concerned about immodesty at weddings. I know the pastors of my church share this concern as well.
Having three married daughters, I know the challenges involved in finding modest wedding attire. However, with a lot of time and effort, it can be done! As Todd mentioned, the dad’s role is crucial in this process. CJ helped our girls by providing guidelines for appropriate bridal wear and giving final approval to their choices. Quite simply, the standard of modesty and self-control didn’t change. Here are some criteria CJ gave to the girls:
1. Find a wedding dress with a neckline that completely conceals any cleavage.
2. Avoid dresses without sufficient covering in the back.
3. Strapless gowns or dresses with only spaghetti straps are revealing and thus do not serve the men in attendance at your wedding.
4. A modest gown should not be excessively tight and draw unnecessary attention to your figure.
Once again, we hope these specifics assist you in evaluating modest bridal and evening attire. However, please be on guard against the temptation to be self-righteous toward those who choose differently. If you think a bride is dressed immodestly, her wedding day is not the appropriate occasion to comment on her dress! Simply rejoice with her in the goodness of God displayed in her marriage.
And if you are preparing to get married, we hope these thoughts serve you in your effort to plan a ceremony that brings glory to God. May He give you much joy on that special day!