Tag Archives: New Year

New Year, One Word: Ephphatha

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Christmas if finally over (but not if you’re Orthodox). I couldn’t be happier! As much as I like Christmas, I often spend the season in a hectic, frenzied state of busyness. Boxing Day (December 26) is a day of relief for me, I wake up internally screaming “I made it through the holidays!”.

The countdown is on to the new year and for me that means choosing a new “word” and bible verse to carry me through 2017. This year I’ve chosen the word Ephphatha from Mark 7:34. It is an Aramaic word meaning “be opened”. The entire story surrounding this word can be found in Mark 7:31-37.

2016’s word was grace. I learned a lot about this verb during the year and it saved me from engaging in too much bitterness, anger, impatience, and negative thoughts. I certainly wasn’t a perfect example of grace, but having this word continuously on my heart and mind brought me closer to God and helped me engage in mindfulness. This one word allowed me to question why I was feeling the way I did, taking moments to pause and act in grace towards people who angered or frustrated me. It helped me on more than one occasion to accept the doors that were closed to me in the present and in the past as gifts from God and He continued to steer me towards my calling and my personal goals.

I learned about the word Ephphatha from a Catholic retreat centre close to where I live. I wondered why a retreat centre would have such a difficult name for their ministry, but I also believed that if they chose such a difficult name, there had to be a significant reason behind it. After reading the story in Mark 7, I knew this was going to be my One Word for 2017.

Be opened. I don’t know what that word meant for the man in the gospel story other than him being able to hear and speak and I don’t know what it will mean for me during this upcoming year. What I do know is that being opened to what God has to say is frightening for me. I’m the type of person who always wants to know what is ahead, what is going to happen, and exactly how it is going to happen. Without all this information I wallow in fear and make every effort to control whatever I can in my environment.

If you haven’t heard of One Word or the concept of choosing one word to guide you through the year, I highly recommend you check out the websites below and consider praying to God to give you a guiding word and verse for the year.

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The end of the year is a great time to do some self-inventory and reflection to see where you are at in various areas of your life: spiritual, financial, self-care, work/career, family, friendships, and relationships. It’s all too easy to reach the end of yet another year without having intentional growth, meaningful experiences, and fulfilled goals.

Here are a few online resources if you’d like to live intentionally during 2017:

My OneWord http://myoneword.org/

One WOrd365 http://oneword365.com/

Get Busy Living -Your Year in Review

http://getbusylivingblog.com/pdf/Yearinreview.pdf

New Year for a New You: 7 Days of Reflection and Renew

http://www.marketyourcreativity.com/2016/12/new-year-new-7-days-review-2016/

Level 10 Life and Level 10 Goals

http://www.bohoberry.com/level-10-life-explained/

Goal Setting for Christians – How to Spark your New Year Goals

http://sunsparkleshine.com/goal-setting-new-year/

 

 

2014: God’s New Year’s Resolution

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2014 Spiritual Resolutions         

Happy 2014!

I hesitated on starting the 2014 with a blog post about the new year or the traditional topic of new year’s resolutions. I felt guilty about writing on the subject of creating goals and making resolutions, because 2014 began completely off track for me.

I don’t make New Year’s resolutions, I no longer believe in them. I used to start each year with a list of habits I was going to change, goals I was going to achieve and everything else I had expected to successfully accomplish that year. Each year I failed to commit to my resolutions and any of them that were achieved happened by chance, and were not intentional.

By February of each year, I had usually forgotten what my resolutions were to begin with.  During my undergraduate years, I developed a habit of reviewing my goals and commitments every September, January and May; the start of new semesters in our school calendar. With each review I realised how much I had failed to accomplish what I had set out to do.

In December 2013 I sat at my desk each day reading multiple business books, time-management books, books on life management for adult ADHD and books on S.M.A.R.T. goal achievements. Multiple Amazon purchases later, I realized that what was missing from my goal planning was God.

Proverbs 16: 2-3 (NIV)

“All a person’s ways seem pure to them, but motives are weighed by the LORD. Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and He will establish your plans.”

I naively made my plans, not realizing that all our plans need to be surrendered to God and offered for His blessing.

God Has A Plan

I’m not going to give you tips on how to make and keep New Year’s resolutions, but I will encourage you to give all your plans and goals to God, no matter what time of the year you make them. Seek first and foremost the will of God and remember the individual gifts, talents and callings He has blessed you with. Let these be your guide when you make goals for yourself.

  • Start with prayer, asking God what He would like you to accomplish for this year.
  • Ask God’s Holy Spirit to speak into your life as a guide to where you should be headed with your life.

Pray for a revelation of what might be preventing you from being able to achieve your goals. Could it be poor time management, envy, discouragement, laziness, disorganization, not caring about life, waiting for luck to find you? Are you waiting on God to make some miraculous cloud separating, thunder n’ lightning bolt revelation? Well you might be waiting for a while, because God rarely works with this method. You are more likely to be able to discern God leading you when you take time to be in His presence; praying, quietly and patiently as you follow his promptings.

APPLICATION:

When it comes to spiritual discipline and personal development; I firmly believe that each person has to find a method that works for them. We all have different learning styles, personalities and life circumstances. Thankfully there are plenty of resources available for Christians who want to develop their spiritual formation and make personal changes. Gathering books and DVD’s can become costly after only a few purchases, so if you are not in  a financial position to own a library of material, there are other options. Free resources are available at your local public library, your church library, joining a small group study at your church, and free resources from websites.

“You cannot fulfill God’s purposes for your life while focusing on your own plans. ” 
― Rick Warren, The Purpose Driven Life: What on Earth Am I Here for?

My prayer for you, is that 2014 will be a year of inviting God to be a part of all your goals, hopes and dreams. Blessings!

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