Monthly Archives: January 2018

2018 – Goals and Word for the Year

I had a number of thoughts of things I wanted to do this year. I had things I want to finish, things to try. I wrote them down and it looked like a big “to do” list. Then I started to group them together. I thought I had a goal but not quite. As I worked through this, I decided on my word for the year.


Somehow the Word of the Year came easier than the goals but then I began to look at my lists and my word for the year and it all came together.

My goals for 2018 are all based on growing. When I looked up the definition of grow, I realised that things need to be nurtured to grow. So I need to nurture and focus on these goals. These goals should help to determine what I do this year.

1. Grow deeper in my relationship with God

Why? God is my loving heavenly father. He desires a relationship with me and I want to grow in knowing and serving him.

  • Reading through the Bible
  • In Depth studies
  • Memorising passages of scripture

2. Grow in health and strength

Why? I need to do this so that I am a good steward of my body. I want to glorify God in this way.

  • Lose weight – getting to my target weight
  • Run another 10K and get a new Personal Best
  • Get more haircuts than 2017 (I only got my hair cut once and really I need to do it more often.)

3. Grow in my relationships with others

Why? God has called us to live in community. We are to serve one another, love one another, pray for one another. In order to do that I need to be develop and grow in my relationships. This is going to be a challenge because it includes so many people — immediate family, extended family, local friends, friends far away, supporters, and more.

  • Outings with family
  • Text and Skype
  • Coffee/Tea with friends
  • Hospitality
  • Letters and email

4. Grow in efficient and effective use of our home

Why? I desire for our home to be easy to maintain so I have time for other things. I want it to be easy to practice hospitality.

  • Declutter
  • Organize
  • Use and enjoy things

5. Grow my blog

Why? I want to use my experience and the truth of God’s Word to encourage others.

  • Write regularly
  • Create a workbook for A Fruitful Year
  • Create journaling prompts

6. Grow and enjoy my hobbies

Why? This can bless my family and others. This gives me a creative outlet.

  • Read 60 books (I have categories of books and types of books broken out.)
  • Sew 4-6 quilts (this is going to stretch me
  • Keep scrapbooking caught up
  • Less Unfinished projects

I am sure some of the things under the goal might change but keeping the goal in mind will help know what are the important things to do to reach that goal.

2 Peter 3:18 fits with my goal for the year. To grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and to bring him glory in my life. I have been writing that in the margin of my planner each week so that I can keep the goal in front of me.

What are your goals for 2018? Share some of them in the comments.


Jesus, the Fulfilment of our Desires

The goal of A Fruitful Year is to focus on abiding and bearing fruit with a focus on the fruit of the Spirit.

There are two scripture passages that are foundational for A Fruitful Year. One is John 15:1-17; this is the passage where Jesus says, “I am the vine.” The other passage is Galatians 5:16-25 which is the passage with the fruit of the spirit. My plan is that once a month I will just focus a bit on either one of these passages giving encouragement from there to keep going.

Let’s start this month with John 15:1-17. We are jumping in the middle of a book and so let’s quick get some context. The author, John, was one of Jesus’ 12 disciples. He refers to himself as “the one Jesus loved.” He is writing from his own experience with Jesus, listening to him teach, seeing the miracles, and writing so that people might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God (John 20:31).

This specific passage in John is part of a longer passage when Jesus knew he was about the die (John 13:1). This is part of that last teaching, the words that Jesus wants to leave with his disciples.

Jesus begins by saying, “I am the true vine.” There are not many vines where I live in England and so it doesn’t have the same meaning to me today. To the disciples listening to Jesus it was something that they understood. They walked through the country and saw vines. The disciples knew that vines were for growing fruit. That is the purpose of the vine.

Even more then just that bit of gardening knowledge they had an understanding of the vine in the Old Testament. The desire of everyone in Israel was to have a house with a vine (I Kings 4:25). A bit like the house with a picket fence that we might dream of today. The disciples knew these references from the Old Testament.

When Jesus said those five words, I am the true vine,  he is telling the disciples that he, Jesus, is the fulfilment of the desire for a vine. What they desire and long for can be found in Jesus. Jesus is the true vine. Think about that, Jesus is the fulfilment and our longings. Do you see that truth in what is being said here? Pause and think about Jesus fulfilling all our longing. How does that change your think about your desires?

What does a vine do? The vine is the source of life for the branches. Our source of life comes from Jesus. It is because of what Jesus has done that we have life. The nutrients for the branches come from the vine. The nutrients allow the branches to continue to grow.  The branches are nothing without the vine. The nutrients that we need to grow spiritually come from Jesus and our relationship with him.

“I am the true vine,” 

Do you see Jesus as the fulfilment of all your desires? Are you running and desiring other things? Can you find fulfilment in Jesus?

As we begin this year, I challenge myself and you to find fulfilment in Jesus. Sent your priorities to finding fulfilment in Jesus and not in getting things done.

Knowing Yourself – A Key to Success

I live with a family that plays chess. I don’t play often more like once every ten year but the other week I sat and played a game. I know how the pieces move but not much more. As I sat there, I was continually looking at my pieces and the pieces of my opponent. Since it was me playing it wasn’t long and I had less pieces than my opponent. I was trying and was considering the strength of the piece and what it could do to help me. I know that it might require a piece to sacrifice so that I could reach the goal. I lost the chess game but hopefully something that I learned in the game will be helpful.

Some of those same truths apply in our lives. We need to be looking at ourselves and knowing our strengths. We need to know the things that are opposing us that will cause us to struggle. What are some of those things that can cause us to not do and be all that God wants?

Some of the opponents that you might be facing in your own life could be:

  • Comparison – I think this is the comparing yourself to others. It could be hearing someone else’s goal and just making it your goal without thinking. It could be hearing someone share how something worked for them and thinking that will be the answer for you as well.
  • Laziness – It is simply not doing what needs to be done. Sitting around. Chilling, vegging, at times that can be good. Rest is needed but laziness is not rest.
  • Distraction – Doing all kinds of things but not doing what needs to be done. It is a bit like laziness. There is action but it is not moving in the towards the goal.
  • Perfectionism – Focusing so much on the perfect outcome that nothing gets done.

As we begin this year, let’s strengthen our offense.

  • Contentment is knowing yourself, what works for you and being willing to stick with that. This is the opposite of comparison. Know what works in your family relationships. Don’t be swayed by the latest pin that says, “This is the way to manage your laundry”.
  • Diligence is working hard. Do it. Completing the task. Do not allow laziness to take over.
  • Focus on the task. We live in a world that throws distractions at us faster than we can count. It requires disciple to focus. Focus and follow through to the end.
  • Excellence is doing the best that you can with the tools that you have. You might have limitations but take the limitations and do the best that you can.

Take some time at the beginning of the year to search you heart. Ask God to search your heart, to show you what needs to change. He knows you. He loves you. He wants you to grow.

After you have searched your heart, ask God for the help as you strive to abide in him and grow in this area.

What opponents do you face?


Goal Setting – Grow and reach the target

Ready. Aim. Wait. Stop. If there is no target, why continue to shot. You need a target. Do you have a goal? What are your goals for this year?

Maybe before we get to writing goals we need to just talk about what a goal is. Very simply a goal is something you want to achieve. A goal is something that you will work towards. A goal helps to guide your actions and decisions.

How do you decide on goals? You can’t do everything. You are limited in time and resources. So how do you decide. Here are some questions to help you:

What does God want me to do?

What would bless those around me?

What are my current responsibilities? How can I grow or improve in those areas?

What are some changes that I want do see in my life?

What is causing me stress? Is there something that can be done about that?

What do I have to achieve?

Using those questions and thinking of other things you can begin to brainstorm some ideas. Just write them all down. Some will get tossed. Some will get adjusted and some will become goals.

If you are new to setting goals, I would suggest just 3-5 goals to begin. As you complete those goals, you can add more. You can add more goals through the year.

Look at your goals. Have you prayed about these goals? Do you know why you choose that goal? What is the motivation? Knowing that your goals are what God wants will motivate you. Knowing that will help you keep going when it gets difficult.

One of the helpful things on the internet for evaluating goals is SMART.






Let me give you a simple example. In 2016 my goal was to track the number of books I read that year. I wrote the titles in my planner. At the end of the year, I knew how many books I had read.  In 2017 my goal was to read more books then I did in 2016. So based on that I knew what I am able to do if I focused on that. I do have a reading goal for this 2018 but I am still trying to decide how much time I want to devote to reading.

In 2016 my specific goal was record books read in 2016. It was measureable by looking at the list I wrote. It was attainable because it was easy to just write down. It was realistic in that I enjoy reading and value reading. It was timely in the sense that it was for the year.

Now at the beginning of 2018 I want to have a specific reading goal which I will measure by keeping a list. I am struggling with the specifics because I want it to be realistic and attainable.

Not all your goals should be goals that stretch you. I think that is why I have paused in figuring how my specific reading goal for 2018.

Goals should help you draw closer to God, encourage and bless those around you. Goals are to help you grow. Enjoy them.

My prayer for you is that this year you will grow.

Do you have goals for 2018? Are they written down so you can refer to them?


Preparing for the Journey

Have you ever had to do something that you were unprepared for? Maybe a test when you were a student. Maybe a presentation at work. I am sure each of us knows of a time when we were unprepared.

Preparation is a key to success.

Think about a gardener, he does not walk into the garden shed, reach around get handful of seeds and then just throw them on the ground and declare that he has planted his garden for the year. No, the gardener will dig up the ground, remove the rocks, and add fertilizer to give nutrients to the ground. All of that is done before any seeds are planted. For the gardener preparation is necessary for a fruitful harvest.

So is true in our lives as we begin a deeper spiritual journey. We need to take time to prepare. We need to remove the rocks which are the things that hinder us from growing deep roots. We need to add nutrients to our body and soul so that we can be ready to bear fruit.

A Fruitful Year has been designed to have a time of preparation. Use this time to prepare well.

Joshua 3 tells of the Israelites crossing the Jordon. They had been on a journey for years but now they were coming to the final steps of the journey and the reason for the journey, entering the promised land. In Joshua 3:5 the Israelites are commanded by Joshua to consecrate, sanctify, set apart themselves for God is about to do wonders among them. The Israelites need to prepare and be ready.

At the beginning of the New Testament before Jesus begins his work here on earth, God sends a messenger, John the Baptist, to prepare the way for Jesus. The people needed to be called to repentance and prepared for Jesus to come among them. God wanted the people prepared and ready.

Later as Jesus is ending his time here on earth, just before his death, he is teaching the disciples and preparing them for his death. The disciples do not really understand all that is about to happen. Jesus also says in John 14:3 that he is going to prepare a place for them. God is preparing a place for us.

Preparation is part of what God is doing. We need to view preparation as important.

Years ago, we drove from Philadelphia to Seattle, which is basically driving across the USA. We didn’t wake up one morning and decide to go on a drive and leave that day. We planned. We looked at a map. We packed the car. We bought snacks and things to keep us entertained. We were prepared for the journey. The same is true both for our goal setting and also for a spiritual journey.

Preparation is important.

As you begin A Fruitful Year, take time to prepare. Prepare yourself spiritually. Prepare yourself mentally. Prepare yourself physically. Prepare others around you.

Take time to remove the stones that are going to cause you to not grow. It might be excuses that you have. It could be how you spend your time. There are some things that you might consider stones but you cannot remove them. You will need to learn to grow around them.

Be ready for the journey that God will take you on this year as you abide in him. Be ready to see God work.

Do not overlook the time that is needed to prepare. That is part of what will help you this year.

How do you need to prepare yourself for the coming year?