New Year Plans


This time of year most of us are thinking about the future.  We’re setting goals, dreaming dreams and planning all of the ways next year is going to be different than the last. Except for my family.  Over the New Year’s holiday we are generally recovering from a natural disaster.  

I don’t believe that any days are inherently unlucky, but if I did, I would say New Year’s Eve is our Friday the 13th.  It’s like magnet for catastrophe.  

In the past six years we have had a house fire, a water leak that ruined our living room floor and a gruesome emergency room trip when my wife lost a fight with an immersion blender.  I will spare you the details.  

As you can imagine, these curveballs played havoc with our New Year plans.  The year I thought we’d be hosting a New Year’s Day party, I found myself ripping up laminate flooring.  The year we were supposed to do Christmas with my mom, we spent hours getting my wife’s finger stitched up instead.  And the year we had the fire, it took weeks of dealing with insurance and home restoration people to get the house back to normal.  

The good news, though, is that these nasty surprises have taught me a valuable lesson about life that sets the tone for the new year.  Make all of the plans you want, but hold on loosely because you never know what the future holds.    

James 4:15-16 says “How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone. What you ought to say is, ‘If the Lord wants us to, we will live and do this or that’” (NLT).

In other words it’s better to hold on to God than whatever plans we’re making for our lives.  Our circumstances are unpredictable, but God’s faithfulness isn’t.  It’s great to have to goals and dreams, but far to better to have a God who will walk with you whatever life throws your way.   

Need a Parenting Do-Over?

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I don’t know what 2015 was like in your home, but in mine, there are definitely some things I’d like to do over.  Times I became frustrated and snapped at my kids.  Times I let our family get overcommitted and exhausted.  Times I worked too much, prayed too little and neglected the things that really matter.

How about you?  If you could have a do-over from 2015, what would it be?

The great news is that our God is a God of second chances, and third and fourth and fifth and so on.  No matter what your parenting was like last year, no matter what mistakes you made, it’s a brand new day.  Not because it’s a new year, but because you’re a new creation, and every day is new with Jesus.

Don’t listen to the voices of failure and regret.  Don’t listen to the voices that say things will never change.  Listen to God’s voice.  Listen to His promises of hope, a hope that reminds us that every day is a fresh start with grace.

So, this year, don’t commit to being a perfect parent.  Commit to being a forgiven parent, a growing parent, a dependent parent, a desperate-for-God-parent, and day-by-day, week-by-week, month-by-month, you will raise kids who will become desperate for God themselves.



Take a Step to Help Your Family Grow in the New Year

grow Photo Credit: snlsn via Compfight cc

This is the time of year when many of us go crazy setting goals for our health, our job and our finances.  But what about for our families?   Do we spend as much time thinking about our family’s spiritual health as we do thinking about how to lose those extra holiday pounds?

If our 2015 goals don’t include what we’re going to do to help our kids grow in their faith, then we need to rethink our priorities.   No other goal has as much long-term payoff as helping our kids to follow Jesus.

So, where do we start?  Just start by taking a step.  Take a look at the life of Jesus.  He invested most of His time in three sets of relationships.

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Up: Jesus had an intimate relationship with His Father God.  Throughout the gospels we see Him sneaking off to be alone with His Dad in heaven.  Jesus said, “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30).  As believers we get to share in this intimacy.

In: Jesus had a relationship with the family of God, the disciples.  In John 13:35 Jesus set the pattern for relationships with other believers when He said, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

Out:  Jesus constantly reached out to those in world who didn’t yet know God.  Think about Zacchaeus and the woman at the well.  In Luke 19:10, when Jesus said that He’d “come to seek and save the lost,” He wasn’t kidding.

As followers of Jesus it’s our job to copy to the life of Jesus by living a balanced spiritual life up, in and out, or as we say at my church, doing life with Jesus, in community, on mission.

As parents, our role is to help our kids imitate the life of Jesus as well.  So look at these three areas for your family.  Is your family living up, in and out?  Which areas are you strong in?  Where do you need to grow?

Just pick one and take a step.

We can’t change everything next year.   But do you know what we can do?  We can change ONE thing.

So what’s your one step?

Is it starting a family devotional time?  It is committing to praying with your spouse for your kids once a week?  It is guarding family dinner time so you have a chance to connect once a day?  Is it finding an opportunity to serve as a family?  Is it inviting other believers into your home so your kids can see what friendships of faith look like?

Whatever it is, just do it.  Just take a step.  Make one degree of change.  Do one thing different and watch what God will do!

P.S.  If you’d like to get started with a family devotional time in the new year, here’s one I wrote you can download for free.

You can get more spiritual parenting tips and family devotionals for your new year by subscribing here.