New Years has come and went; so are the resolutions many of us do not keep. Perhaps you made some resolutions, maybe not. Either way, I want to encourage you to restart by doing what I have done the past few years: choose a one-word goal.
In 2015, I did my first one-word goal by choosing to focus on hope. That year I learned a lot about hope, I gained a strong foundation on the topic, and I have since built on the theological virtue.
Following hope, in 2017 my word was peace. Unintentionally peace has been my one-word goal for the past two years because I took multiple years to develop a solid foundation with the word. Now that there is a solid foundation, there is also room for peace to grow in my heart, which I look forward to explaining in future posts.
In 2019, however, it’s time to transition from the one-word goal of peace towards the foundation of a new one-word goal: The theological virtue, faith.
Faith became my 2019 one-word goal after watching a montage of Billy Graham videos. At one point in the video, in his famous North Carolina draw, Graham addresses Phil Donahue with these words,
“You have to come by faith…you’ll never be able to reason it out. If you try to reason it out, you’re sunk!”
Graham continues further, but just these words to Donahue echo into my soul with a haunting feeling that faith is the area where I need to grow for 2019.
For years I have had a reasoned faith. Be it seminary, the Army Chaplaincy, or apologetic groups, my “faith” has been very cerebral. Now we should learn about the truths of Christ found in scripture. We should study to show ourselves “approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.” Yet an over-emphasis in this area creates a legalistic and rigid faith that attempts to minimize God to a set of impersonal rules. The rules then become an idol.
Similarly, when we develop a faith apart from scripture, we begin to dismiss sin by claiming it’s “normal.” We create a God in our image by relying too much on society’s misplaced values and fads than scripture’s timeless principles. In other words, culture or imagination becomes an idol with this approach.
Both approaches then require a response. Both methods need balance. This balance is found in the rhythm of God’s grace.
Admittedly, I have worshiped God primarily through facts, books, and knowledge. As a Chaplain mentor repeatedly told me in 2018, “You are out of balance. Yes, it’s impressive the depth of knowledge and understanding you have, but you need to balance it with other areas.” A faith where both scripture and relationships are an emphasis is where I will find my best balance and rhythm.
From faith, I will be able to relate and love people in new ways. For starters, I believe faith will allow me to extend the benefit of the doubt more to people. Faith will allow me to apply my thirst for knowledge into new foundations for holistic worship. Foundations that I believe will allow me to…
- Worship the Lord in new ways that spark the imagination,
- Choosing to be Spirit-led to do ministry and to make decisions where God is glorified than relying on my studying and planning,
- Experience His grace relationally with others,
- Take more prayer walks that will deepen my faith, while giving me great exercise,
- Continue to learn the ukulele and then include it as apart of my devotions from scripture,
- Pray for others better,
- Step out in faith to follow God’s leading in ways that may not make sense, except with an eternal perspective,
- Share the Gospel with people who do not know Jesus,
- Disciple others into a Biblical understanding and love for Christ,
- Encourage these disciples to share Christ through a fusion of their testimony and scriptural authority,
- Better trusting the Sovereign God who I study to do far more than any learning can accomplish,
- …and so much more, with Christ than “for” Christ!
It’s important to remember that there will always be a part of Christianity that is supernatural. But that does not mean that faith should neglect scriptural authority either. No, faith should be a balance between scripture, a relationship with the Lord, and a relationship with others. Neither scripture or relationships compete against each other. Instead, they complete one another.
As a result, while my past approach to Christianity has been overtly informational; my one-word goal now seeks to counterbalance my spiritual equilibrium into a better rhythm. A rhythm where I rest, relish, and rely faithfully on Christ; a faith with Jesus and not just for Jesus. That’s the foundation I seek to accomplish for my one-word goal of faith in 2019. Pray for me and as I begin this journey.
As you pray: What then is your one-word goal for this year?
 Karen Swallow Prior, On Reading Well: Finding the Good Life through Great Books (Brazos Press, 2018). 121.
 Ibid., 105.
 2 Timothy 2:15