New Year brings optimism, challenge, opportunity for growth

Dr. David L. Chancey's picture

The savvy, creative experts in the advertising industry understand the impact of key words in getting consumers’ attention. Can you guess their favorite word used most often in advertising campaigns? It’s not sale, or clearance. It’s the little word new.

What a powerful word! We like the sound of something new. We feel a sense of hope and opportunity, especially when it applies to a new year. We like the freshness that comes with taking down last year’s calendar and putting up a new calendar. It’s as if we’ve been given a gift of 365 brand new days to use or lose. We’ve been given a gift of life and of time. How will we use it?

A man stormed into a newspaper office and said, “I want to see the guy in charge of obituaries.” The clerk pointed to a rookie reporter and said, “Over there.”

The man approached with much irritation said, “Young man, my name appeared in the obituaries this morning, and as you can see, I’m as alive as you are. I want you to do something about this. I want you to print a retraction in tomorrow’s paper.”

The young reporter looked at him and replied, “Sir, we don’t print retractions in the obituary column, but I’ll tell you what we can do. I’ll put you in tomorrow’s birth announcements, and you can start all over.”

In one sense, a new year brings a fresh start. Out with the old and in with the new. We miss a real opportunity when fail to take stock of our lives, evaluate strengths and weaknesses and set a positive direction for the next twelve months.

Edith Lovejoy Pierce said, “We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year’s Day.”

Henry Ward Beecher said, “Every man should be born again on the first day of January. Start with a fresh page ... on the first of January, let every man gird himself once more, with his face to the front, and take no interest in the things that were and are past.”

What is your direction for 2014? What bad habits do you need to drop, what bad memories do you need to leave behind, and where do you need to improve to be a stronger you?

How are you doing spiritually? Don Whitney is a seminary professor in Louisville who founded the Center for Biblical Spirituality. In the spirit of Haggai 1:5, which says, “Consider your ways,” Whitney asks some pointed questions to help us create some spiritual momentum for a new year. I encourage you to get alone with God as you reflect on these questions and apply them to your life:

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

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

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

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

5) What is the most helpful new way you could strengthen your church?

6) What is the single biggest time waster in your life and what will you do about it?

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

8) What’s the most important way that you will try to make this year different from last year?

9) What one thing can you do to improve your prayer life this year?

10) What single thing that you plan to do this year will matter the most in ten years?

11) What’s one thing you could do this year to enrich the spiritual legacy you will leave to your children and grandchildren?

12) What book, in addition to the Bible, do you most want to read this year?

13) In what area of your life do you most need change, and what will you do about it?

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[Dr. David L. Chancey is pastor, McDonough Road Baptist Church, Fayetteville, Ga. The church family gathers at 352 McDonough Rd. and invites you to join them this Sunday for Bible study at 9:45 a.m. and worship at 10:55 a.m. Visit them on the web at www.mcdonoughroad.org and “like” them on Facebook.]