New Year’s Resolutions

New Year’s Resolutions December 31, 2009

Another holiday custom we might as well play: New Year’s Resolutions. A story in the Philadelphia Inquirer recounts some good ones:

"I'm swearing off e-mail on the weekends," said Matt Kinservik. "And absolutely no work on Sundays." . . .

[Mara] Gorman, a freelance writer, is presenting herself with an equally daunting challenge. "I'm going to say no less often to my kids and more often to everyone else." . . .

Carlos Mejia, a 31-year-old graduate student at the University of Iowa, plans to treat himself more gently next year. "I'm going to be more careful not to get injuries," . . . .

Tiffany Wise can list a dozen things she wants to do more of or less of next year, but she has consolidated her resolution. "I'm going to read the Bible more." The 30-year-old administrator at the Criminal Justice Center, who has dimples deep as canyons and eyes bright as stars, said that spending more time studying Scripture ought to do the trick. "If I do that, all the others will come into play." . . .

We will all agree that mere exertions of will power are generally futile, that we usually don’t keep our resolutions, that we mustn’t think we can save or even improve ourselves by our own efforts, that this is all law, etc. Still, I don’t think that rules out minor changes in habits or resolving or at least trying to do something that is, in fact, within our powers. Maybe the key is to move away from the ascetic self-improvement paradigm and consider resolutions that would increase the enjoyment, the meaning, and the satisfaction in our lives.

For example, Mr. Kinservik above who plans on swearing off e-mail on the weekends and to stop working on Sundays. Many of us tend to be way too busy. We don’t have to be Sabbatarian legalists, parsing what constitutes work or not, in order to make a point of just shutting down on Sunday, taking it as a sign of the Gospel (resting in Christ rather than working to please God), relaxing, doing what we want, and taking it easy. Who wouldn’t want to have a mini-vacation every week?

Or the woman in the story who put it so well, that she wants to say no to other people more and to her children less. She is probably like a lot of us, always agreeing to do stuff and consequently getting overcommitted and over-busy. She tries to be a good parent, being a firm disciplinarian, but because she is always saying “yes” to other people, she isn’t able to spend as much time with them as she wants to. All it will take for her resolution to succeed is a little courage and assertiveness to say “no” to things she doesn’t want to do anyway. And lightening up a little with her kids, being a little more generous and spending more time with them, which will also benefit them more than giving them a lot of “no” rules as a substitute for her active presence in their lives. All of which she wants to do anyway.

As for the Bible reading resolution. . . .I just realized that I kept at least one of my New Year’s resolutions from last year. I started doing the daily readings in the Treasury of Daily Prayer (a Psalm, Old Testament reading, New Testament reading, classic theology reading, hymn verse, prayer). I am still doing it. Not out of ascetic self-discipline but because I find it so rewarding. (Shout out to fellow Treasury pilgrims: Haven’t the readings from Isaiah been amazing?)

So do you have any New Year’s resolutions?

 


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  • One of my favorite bloggers has put up this site

    http://6changes.com/

    It is a new and better twist on making and keeping resolutions designed to instill and support new daily habits.

  • One of my favorite bloggers has put up this site

    http://6changes.com/

    It is a new and better twist on making and keeping resolutions designed to instill and support new daily habits.

  • I resolve to be more charitable and less touchy towards my fellow Lutherans–to refrain from charging that they are denying important doctrines unless there is actually a good reason to think that they are. That way, we all might, perhaps, someday, have less need of adding justification fine print to every innocuous topic like New Year’s resolutions we comment on.

  • I resolve to be more charitable and less touchy towards my fellow Lutherans–to refrain from charging that they are denying important doctrines unless there is actually a good reason to think that they are. That way, we all might, perhaps, someday, have less need of adding justification fine print to every innocuous topic like New Year’s resolutions we comment on.

  • Joe

    We bought the treasury a while back and have been intimidated by its not so user friendly lay out. Maybe that will be my resolution, to just suck it up and figure out how to use all 75 different colored ribbons …

  • Joe

    We bought the treasury a while back and have been intimidated by its not so user friendly lay out. Maybe that will be my resolution, to just suck it up and figure out how to use all 75 different colored ribbons …

  • Elaine Weiss

    I also read the Treasury of Daily Prayer in the morning and find it an excellent way to begin the day. You will gain the strength you need to help you in all your other resolutions and changes that you would like to make in your daily life. Happy New Year!

  • Elaine Weiss

    I also read the Treasury of Daily Prayer in the morning and find it an excellent way to begin the day. You will gain the strength you need to help you in all your other resolutions and changes that you would like to make in your daily life. Happy New Year!

  • For the past couple years my resolution has always been the same, read through the Bible, and the BOC. I add other things at times, but those are always on top of the list. I did it. Finished the Bible yesterday. Doesn’t matter how many times you read it, you learn something new. This year I want to read the BOC again, but it Latin, which should be a challenge as I don’t know Latin well. But maybe I will when I am done… I picked up a Latin text book last year and finished it on my own, but I think I may have forgotten more now then I knew to begin with.
    I think I like Matt C. would also like to be a kinder gentler blogger this year, but if DonS has anything more to say about baptism…:)

  • For the past couple years my resolution has always been the same, read through the Bible, and the BOC. I add other things at times, but those are always on top of the list. I did it. Finished the Bible yesterday. Doesn’t matter how many times you read it, you learn something new. This year I want to read the BOC again, but it Latin, which should be a challenge as I don’t know Latin well. But maybe I will when I am done… I picked up a Latin text book last year and finished it on my own, but I think I may have forgotten more now then I knew to begin with.
    I think I like Matt C. would also like to be a kinder gentler blogger this year, but if DonS has anything more to say about baptism…:)

  • Steve

    I would love to give the new Lutheran Study Bible a plug too, I received mine when they were released and have loved it more every day. When you add the Scriptures, and yes the Isaiah readings have been beyond wonderful, to the Treasury, and read the study notes in the TLSB there is so much for lectio, meditatio, oratio and contemplatio.

    My hat’s off to those who make it through the BOC. It is perennially one of my big resolutions but I have yet to complete it. At to in Latin, Bror E, all of my hats (and I have many) are all in a pile on the floor! My Latin self study book still looks at me from my shelf 18 inches from my right elbow.

  • Steve

    I would love to give the new Lutheran Study Bible a plug too, I received mine when they were released and have loved it more every day. When you add the Scriptures, and yes the Isaiah readings have been beyond wonderful, to the Treasury, and read the study notes in the TLSB there is so much for lectio, meditatio, oratio and contemplatio.

    My hat’s off to those who make it through the BOC. It is perennially one of my big resolutions but I have yet to complete it. At to in Latin, Bror E, all of my hats (and I have many) are all in a pile on the floor! My Latin self study book still looks at me from my shelf 18 inches from my right elbow.

  • Yes, Steve. If someone–of any denomination–wants to start a Bible reading project, I would recommend the Lutheran Study Bible. Other study Bibles tend to be on the pedantic side, but the LSB, while giving useful explanatory notes, also gives devotional notes to help the reader mine the spiritual depths of every chapter.

  • Yes, Steve. If someone–of any denomination–wants to start a Bible reading project, I would recommend the Lutheran Study Bible. Other study Bibles tend to be on the pedantic side, but the LSB, while giving useful explanatory notes, also gives devotional notes to help the reader mine the spiritual depths of every chapter.

  • Joe, just take out the ribbons if they bother you and use a bookmark. Find the date (January 1?) and just read. If you don’t want to read all of the readings, stop (though since the Bible readings are often less than a chapter and since they usually leave out the more tedious passages, it doesn’t take as long as you might think). If you miss a day, don’t worry. Pick it up again, find the day’s date, and read. You’ll be glad you did. Before you know it, you’ll have a good habit, which becomes just as hard to break as a bad habit! And you’ll enjoy what you’ll be getting out of it all.

  • Joe, just take out the ribbons if they bother you and use a bookmark. Find the date (January 1?) and just read. If you don’t want to read all of the readings, stop (though since the Bible readings are often less than a chapter and since they usually leave out the more tedious passages, it doesn’t take as long as you might think). If you miss a day, don’t worry. Pick it up again, find the day’s date, and read. You’ll be glad you did. Before you know it, you’ll have a good habit, which becomes just as hard to break as a bad habit! And you’ll enjoy what you’ll be getting out of it all.

  • Brenda

    I am also very fond of the Treasury. I have been bold to skip what I couldn’t/didn’t get to and just continue to plow through the days… I enjoy the prayer section and try to use the Litany every Wed. I am coming more and more to love it…

  • Brenda

    I am also very fond of the Treasury. I have been bold to skip what I couldn’t/didn’t get to and just continue to plow through the days… I enjoy the prayer section and try to use the Litany every Wed. I am coming more and more to love it…

  • Bryan Lindemood

    I just finished shoveling the walk and am about to sit down to the Treasury today. It has been my daily devotional since the beginning of Advent this year – and especially Isaiah over the last few days!

    I also received a wonderful Christmas gift from the Elders in my church, the new Lutheran Study Bible. I am thoroughly enjoying beginning to use it as my daily Bible. And I would recommend it to any serious reader of the Bible (aka any Christian).

    My resolution is to keep my office a tad tidier (see how I left myself a small way out of that one?) and read daily from the Greek Scriptures.

  • Bryan Lindemood

    I just finished shoveling the walk and am about to sit down to the Treasury today. It has been my daily devotional since the beginning of Advent this year – and especially Isaiah over the last few days!

    I also received a wonderful Christmas gift from the Elders in my church, the new Lutheran Study Bible. I am thoroughly enjoying beginning to use it as my daily Bible. And I would recommend it to any serious reader of the Bible (aka any Christian).

    My resolution is to keep my office a tad tidier (see how I left myself a small way out of that one?) and read daily from the Greek Scriptures.

  • DonS

    Thanks for thinking of me Bror 🙂

    It is quite an accomplishment to read through the Bible in a year — I only got about halfway through, so my resolution will be to continue on and finish up this year.

  • DonS

    Thanks for thinking of me Bror 🙂

    It is quite an accomplishment to read through the Bible in a year — I only got about halfway through, so my resolution will be to continue on and finish up this year.

  • Don,
    Be sure to get through Galatians.

  • Don,
    Be sure to get through Galatians.

  • Bryan,
    office a tad tidier then what it is now? Shouldn’t be hard, looks like someone through a tornado in there…
    But good on you with the Greek New Testament. I try the same thing, I don’t spend much time parsing words as they tried to teach me in Greek, but I still find it quite rewarding, and you pick up so much you wouldn’t otherwise. I’m almost finished, 17 chapters left. Then I get to start over.
    But hey maybe we should make a monthly pastor pub powwow part of our resolution.

  • Bryan,
    office a tad tidier then what it is now? Shouldn’t be hard, looks like someone through a tornado in there…
    But good on you with the Greek New Testament. I try the same thing, I don’t spend much time parsing words as they tried to teach me in Greek, but I still find it quite rewarding, and you pick up so much you wouldn’t otherwise. I’m almost finished, 17 chapters left. Then I get to start over.
    But hey maybe we should make a monthly pastor pub powwow part of our resolution.

  • Bryan Lindemood

    Bror,
    If you can get through The BoC in Latin in a year – then I’ll need to get a hat and throw it off too!

    The pastor pub powwow sounds like just the right kind of extra resolution to me. Let’s not wait too long in Jan. to get it started.

  • Bryan Lindemood

    Bror,
    If you can get through The BoC in Latin in a year – then I’ll need to get a hat and throw it off too!

    The pastor pub powwow sounds like just the right kind of extra resolution to me. Let’s not wait too long in Jan. to get it started.

  • Gilbert Franke

    Gene — Your comments spurred me to write the following for this New Year! — Gil

    Some Old Resolves

    I dusted off some old resolves
    to start this brand new year.
    I’m really not concerned too much;
    they’re hardly worn at all!
    I’ll neither judge another’s heart
    nor tell the tales I hear.
    I’ll live the kind of life I ought
    so I can stand up tall.
    I’ll eat and drink a little less
    and walk a whole lot more.
    I’ll spend more time in solitude,
    in worship and in prayer.
    My family will take center stage.
    I’ll really help the poor.
    And I will treat the little ones
    with greater love and care.
    It doesn’t take me very long
    to recognize my fate;
    Year after year these broken goals
    reveal a sorry trace.
    Resolve of mind is not enough
    to rectify my state:
    The very best that I can do
    is live by God’s good grace.

    – Gilbert A Franke, 12/31/2009

  • Gilbert Franke

    Gene — Your comments spurred me to write the following for this New Year! — Gil

    Some Old Resolves

    I dusted off some old resolves
    to start this brand new year.
    I’m really not concerned too much;
    they’re hardly worn at all!
    I’ll neither judge another’s heart
    nor tell the tales I hear.
    I’ll live the kind of life I ought
    so I can stand up tall.
    I’ll eat and drink a little less
    and walk a whole lot more.
    I’ll spend more time in solitude,
    in worship and in prayer.
    My family will take center stage.
    I’ll really help the poor.
    And I will treat the little ones
    with greater love and care.
    It doesn’t take me very long
    to recognize my fate;
    Year after year these broken goals
    reveal a sorry trace.
    Resolve of mind is not enough
    to rectify my state:
    The very best that I can do
    is live by God’s good grace.

    – Gilbert A Franke, 12/31/2009