As nice as being happier, healthier and wealthier are for New Year’s resolutions, the ministry of Billy Graham is encouraging people to see their goals for 2009 as “an attitude of the heart” rather than “tasks to accomplish.”
The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association hopes it has come up with three New Year’s resolutions that will not prove too difficult to keep the whole year. They are: to live generously, reflect all year long, and grow closer to God.
“A list of resolutions can lead to discouragement if the goals prove too difficult to maintain. After all, lasting change begins in a person's heart — not on a numbered list or piece of paper,” writes Ann Marie Chilton for the BGEA website.
Living generously is, she says, a great way for believers to share the Gospel with their lives.
“If people are generous with their time, generous with their money, and generous with their belongings, then it's easy for others to see Christ's love lived out through their lives. And they reap the benefits tenfold through watching joy overflow into other people's lives,” she writes.
“Just as God is always generous with us, so His followers should be generous with others in everything.”
Chilton asks Christians to consider how they could be generous this year with their forgiveness, their time, their care for others, and their God-given gifts and talents.
“Live generously, and God’s love will be evident in your life.”
Putting a positive spin on the need to self-reflect, she urged people to reflect during their prayer time with God and see it as an opportunity for change.
“Reflections at the end of a year usually turn into regrets. It may seem too late or too overwhelming to reflect at this point, yet if people take time to reflect each day, then they will be able to make small changes in their lives—ones that will make a real difference at the end of a year,” she says.
“Take a moment each day to spend time in prayer. Ask God to show you the kind of person He wants you to be. It's painful to reflect on one's actions and then try to change for the better, but over time, self-reflection leads to wisdom.”
As a first step towards growing closer to God in 2009, Chilton advises Christians to memorize portions of the Word of God and spend time with Him daily by setting a devotional prayer time every morning.
She says, “A challenge to learn and recall verses from the Bible opens up the opportunity for God's wisdom to take hold in your life; so it's not just raw memorization.”
Committing to acts of service or intercessory prayer are also good ways of growing closer to God, she believes, while fulfilling another common New Year’s resolution – that of helping others more.
“Enjoy growing closer to God this next year as well as challenging yourself to live generously and reflect daily - these are resolutions of the heart.”