Today is January 4, 2017.
I’ve seen more people out jogging than usual. My Facebook feed is full of “New Year, New You” stuff—whole 30, exercise tracking, etcetera. (For tips on goal-setting, click here). I haven’t seen much on Bible reading plans or daily prayer, but I realize such things are of a more personal nature. Nobody wants to be perceived as boastful; none of us want to be grouped with those self-righteous Pharisees…
However, as Christians, our lifelong goal should include growing closer to God and endeavoring to love others as Christ loved us. To achieve these broad goals, the training of the mind is essential.
I’m going to share two of my 2017 goals with you and I hope they enhance your own endeavors.
Note: These goals are not made so I can check some self-righteous box; I make these little goals to help me in the larger, more nebulous aims—to know the Lord, to be more like Christ, to renew my mind. As humans we love to talk of doing grand things, but we don’t always reach for them with deliberation. These are just baby steps… little leaps toward a larger purpose.
Goal#1: Spend a minimum of 10 minutes each day writing what I have learned from the Bible.
For the past two years, much of my daily reading has consisted of listening to the Bible. Since I tend to be a speed-reader, I would often miss details in my reading because I would inevitably find myself skimming ahead to my favorite parts. Listening slowed me down. It took me about eighteen months (give or take) to go from Genesis to Revelation. It shouldn’t have taken quite so long, but I would listen to certain books or chapters multiple times because I found them confusing or because I wanted to meditate on what was being said. I loved it. When I completed Revelation, I tried a “plan” and found myself frustrated. I couldn’t meditate because I kept falling behind.
Please do not misunderstand me—plans are valuable. My spouse just started one. Each of us learns and retains information in different ways. The crux of all this is to discover how you can daily read God’s word and dig in with all your energy. We read to become educated. We read to be transformed. We read to know the Lord.
Find what works for you and devote yourself to it.
In mid-October, I began working my way through Romans with one goal—to see what it taught me about God. I moved on to First and Second Corinthians. I listened to each book multiple times, but I didn’t always have time to write down my observations.
The goal for 2017: set aside 10 minutes each day to review the passages I’ve listened to and write down what it teaches me about God and/or any pertinent lessons.
If you’re curious, I started in Genesis again. I’m team-teaching the second and third-graders this quarter and we are studying—you guessed it—Genesis. It will likely take me all three months to hash my way through Genesis, but as long as I’m doing it every single day, I will be meeting my goal. I am also beginning my daily readings with a Proverb corresponding to the day of the week and a Psalm. I’ll be writing my observations on those as well. I hope to have read through Proverbs twelve times by the end of the year, and Psalms about two and a half.
Goal #2: Memorize Chapters.
If you’ve been here awhile, you know this was my goal last year.
I bombed it.
I renewed my efforts mid-year, I tried listening to it multiple times, writing down chunks, but I fell far short of my goal.
It was one of two goals last year that remained incomplete. I could make excuses about why I failed, but truthfully, I just didn’t make it a high enough priority. I did successfully memorize Hebrews 12.1-6, but I never made it to the end of the chapter.
Goal for January-February: Hebrews 12
Other chapters I’m interested in memorizing:
I’d like to memorize all six, but in light of my experience last year, I’m aiming for three. If I get three done, I’ll go for four and so on. My strategy will be the same, write them down, and enlist my kids and my spouse to quiz me regularly. For more tips on memorization, check out 5 Benefits of memorizing scripture (and 4 ways to do it!)
What are your plans for growing ever closer to the Lord in 2017?
Please share and encourage us in the comments below!