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Posts Tagged ‘reflection’

My social media timelines are full of reflections on 2013 and resolutions for the New Year. Here in the Vicarage we’ve had some great down time since Christmas to gather our thoughts. Whilst we’ve not been sleeping or waking up feeling like we’ve been dozing in the middle of the M6, that is. There’s something about a busy run-up to the festive season that makes you feel like you’ve been run over by a few dozen lorries.

On reflection, 2013 was pretty good here in the Vicarage. The kids grew up a bit and are still speaking to us (except when they’re watching telly, when it’s impossible to extract even a monosyllable from any of them). The encouragements in church outweighed the discouragements by a good margin.  The clutter in our hallway has threatened but not actually managed to submerge us. I gave a Christian talk which wasn’t mainly ums and ers. I wrote a book and some people have bought it. We have seen over and over that the Lord has been faithful in the big things which concern us and the small things that bug us.

As I’ve done every year for the past few, I have been going through Don Whitney’s 10 questions as I’ve reflected. I think many of the questions will be addressed in my plan to read my bible more in 2014. And I’m going to start off by following Professor Horner’s bible reading plan – a system involving reading 10 chapters a day. You can get this reading plan if you use YouBible, although one of the recommendations is to use a single bible that enables you to become familiar with the location of passages, so I’m going to start with a comfortable softbacked ESV. Obviously this is pretty ambitious and I’m sure I’ll stumble along the way. But I want to see if I can read at the pace I normally read a work of fiction – gathering general ideas and making links, not getting bogged down in the detail. One of the hazards of too much social media consumption is the tendency to skim lots in short chunks and not sit down to read and reflect. This is what I’d like to work on this year. I want to know God through his word and be filled with thoughts of him. Dave Bish offers a similar approach in a blogpost from 2012.

Resolutions in hand...

Resolutions in hand…

My other main resolution for 2014 is to knit more. And do crafty things in general. One of the things about living in a busy Vicarage, where home is the workplace and work is in the home, is that it never quite feels like everything is finished for the day. So I usually feel guilty  (to a greater or lesser extent) about sitting down to anything that’s not *really* needing to be done. Telly and the internet don’t seem quite as deliberate as taking up the knitting needles or sitting down at the table with craft equipment. But relaxing creatively is good for me. It makes me feel refreshed and there is something there at the end which makes me smile. So I have a scarf pattern, and I have taken up my knitting needles again. And the Queen has got herself a PInterest board and I am planning to join her in having a craftier 2014.

Do you have grand (or small) plans for 2014? You might like to take advantage of the free download offered by Christian Audio this month – the entire ESV bible on mp3. And if you have an Apple device, you can now download PrayerMate for free until the end of March courtesy of London City Mission. I’ve got to hang out for the Android version… If it makes a difference just for a bit, it’s worth a go. If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing badly.

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Lent is a good time for reflection and confession. Today I was reminded of this great song that helps me do just that. We learnt it on our summer Pathfinder venture and it’s on our to-be-introduced-at-church list. Alas, Sam Chaplin’s album doesn’t seem to be commercially available at the moment.

 

Two Sins

Two sins have we committed,
Two sins that we cannot deny,
We’ve turned from you, the fount of living water
And have tried to drink from cisterns cracked and dry

What fools we are, how blind we are!
Have mercy Lord, mercy on us. Forgive us Lord and help us see.
Change our hearts that we might live
For you O Lord, for you, O Lord, always

Two sins have we committed,
Two sins are plain before your eyes
We’ve walked away from the truth that brings us freedom
And have settled for those sweet enslaving lies

Two sins have we committed,
Two sins at which you stand appalled
We’ve turned from you, our glorious Creator
And have worshipped things that are no gods at all.

© Sam Chaplin, 1999.
Jeremiah 2v12-13, Romans 1.
Recorded on Sam Chaplin: You’re My Every Breath, 2001

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How have you begun your New Year? As ever, I got up far too late. It seems to me that New Year’s Eve, with its parties and staying-up-way-too-late-ness, is rather incompatible with New Year’s resolutions, which would be much better begun on a morning when I’ve been to bed at a reasonable hour.

So I’m glad that this year we have a few days where my resolution making has a little time to bed in before life gets back to normal. Hooray for Saturday New Years.

Our old pals the Teddies came over for dinner and a sleepover last night and Rev Ted and the Vicar very kindly cooked an enormous breakfast for us once we’d all surfaced. So we’ve not felt the need for lunch and I’ve been able to spend a little time instead reflecting on 2010 and praying and thinking through 2011. In this I’ve found Don Whitney‘s questions an enormous help, and there’s still time for you to read and pray through them too before the holidays finish.

There are more questions on Don’s website, but these are the main ones which I have been thinking through:

Ten Questions to Ask at the Start of a New Year or On Your Birthday

Once, when the people of God had become careless in their relationship with Him, the Lord rebuked them through the prophet Haggai. “Consider your ways!” (Haggai 1:5) he declared, urging them to reflect on some of the things happening to them, and to evaluate their slipshod spirituality in light of what God had told them.

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 ever stopping to ponder where we’re going and where we should be going.

The beginning of a new year is an ideal time to stop, look up, and get our bearings. To that end, here are some questions to ask prayerfully in the presence of God.

1. What’s one thing you could do this year to increase your enjoyment of God?

2. What’s the most humanly impossible thing you will ask God to do this year?

3. What’s the single most important thing you could do to improve the quality of your family life this year?

4. In which spiritual discipline do you most want to make progress this year, and what will you do about it?

5. What is the single biggest time-waster in your life, and what will you do about it this year?

6. What is the most helpful new way you could strengthen your church?

7. For whose salvation will you pray most fervently this year?

8. What’s the most important way you will, by God’s grace, try to make this year different from last year?

9. What one thing could you do to improve your prayer life this year?

10. What single thing that you plan to do this year will matter most in ten years? In eternity?


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