Alabama Gazette - The people's voice of reason

2022 – Make It The Best Year Ever (Here is how you do it!)

 

January 1, 2022 | View PDF

Get Outside

I recently read that the average person spends 93% of their life indoors! Wow! That is unbelievable. And sad. That means that if you live to be 100 years old, you will have spent 93 of those years indoors and only 7 years in God’s amazing and beautiful creation. God created us to be outside and to enjoy His creation. Our souls need it. Our bodies need it. Our minds need it.

In the 23rd Psalm we witness one of the most important ways God soothes our souls, “He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside still waters, He restores my soul.” In other words, God often soothes our souls in the great outdoors.

The Psalmist also writes, “Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let the sea resound and all that is in it. Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them, let all the trees of the forest sing for joy.” – Psalm 96:11-12. See all the references to nature?

In the Gospels, we see that Jesus spent most of his time outdoors and often taught outdoors too. He taught from a boat. He taught on the shores of Galilee. He taught in the fields. He often referred to animals and wildlife as he taught because people could see those sheep, birds, crops, vineyards and trees from where they were sitting.

When he wanted to rest and rejuvenate, he would usually go to a remote place in the wilderness or the desert. After his baptism Jesus headed to the wilderness to be alone, mediate and pray. “Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness.” Luke 4:1.

For me, I have to get outside to detox and feel my soul relax. I guess that’s why I have always enjoyed backpacking, camping, hunting, fishing, canoeing, sailing and golf. Being out in God’s creation just fills my cup and restores my soul. I feel closer to the Lord in the wild places.

In 2022, I am going to do something good for myself. I am going to get outdoors more often than I did in 2021. I want to encourage you to look for ways to enjoy the outdoors more often in 2022. Soak up some rays at the beach. Go for hike in the mountains. Take a walk in the neighborhood. Read a book on your back porch. Go fishing, hunting, backpacking, golfing, skiing, boating or enjoy some outdoor sport.

Build Margin

Build some margin into your schedule so it is not slammed full. We fill our schedules, because we are worried that we won’t get everything done we need to get done in a certain period of time. But Jesus warned us about worry. “Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of it’s own.” – Jesus, Matthew 6:34

When you put things on your calendar give yourself some space in between activities, meetings and events. Here is one piece of advice I have tied to follow to help me in this. Plan your time with family, rest time, vacations and reflection time first and get it on the calendar. Then you can add the things you need to do and have to do for work and your profession. This will give you margin which will protect you and make you even more fruitful in your work because you will have built healthy margin into your schedule.

Try it in 2022. Build some healthy margin into your lifestyle so that you can breath and enjoy what you are doing without racing to the next thing and the next thing. I believe you will discover that you will be more fruitful in your work and happier in your life!

Build margin in your life and put it on your calendar in 2022!

Have Fun

“God created everything for our enjoyment,” says Paul in 1 Timothy 6:17. Did you know God wants you to have fun? He wants you to enjoy your gift of life! So, make it a priority to have some fun in your day, your week, your month your year.

You need to figure out what drains you and what fills your tank. The things that fill your tank are usually things that you enjoy doing and are fun to you. Imagine your body is like a big reservoir full of liquid energy. Near the bottom side of that reservoir is a hole with a hose attached that is letting that liquid energy flow out of you as you give of yourself to your spouse, children, family, work, ministry or service to others. It may be that all those things you are giving yourself out to are good things that you should and ought to be giving to.

However, if you are giving out of that reservoir all the time and you are not replenishing it, what is going to happen? It (you) will eventually drain out completely. So, you must find ways to replenish the energy in order for you to be able to continue to give of yourself to others you love and to the causes you care about. Ideally, you can discover how to tap into that which gives you energy and passion so that your reservoir can continuously be refilled so you are eventually giving out of your overflow instead of draining your reservoir.

If you and I will learn to make having fun a priority for our mental, emotional, physical and spiritual health, I believe we will discover that we can live healthier and happier lives, and we will begin to live and give out of the overflow! So, what do you love to do? How do you like to have fun? Plan it. And put fun stuff on your calendar for 2022.

Well, there are several ways you can keep filling up your reservoir as you begin to live and give of yourself out of the overflow. Get outside. Build margin. Have fun.

And here is one more.

This one is often neglected but is most important….

Engage in Worship

The Bible makes it clear that worship of our Creator is a top priority:

“Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord.” – Psalm 150:6

“God is spirit, and his worshippers must worship in Spirit and in truth.” – Jesus, John 4:24

“Do not neglect gathering together for worship as some people do…” – Hebrews 10:25

Those who regularly attend a religious worship service, according to one recent study, live longer and healthier lives. One study reported that you could add four years to your life by regularly engaging in worship. CNN stated in a study they conducted that, “Doctors are increasingly aware of the importance of religion for the well being of their patients.”

But here are the facts. Churches had a whirlwind year along with everyone else in 2020 and things still aren’t back to normal. Even before the pandemic, however, worship attendance was dropping rapidly across the USA. Regular weekly worship attendance is down from 45% in 1993 to 27% in 2020. Less than 20% of Millennials attend worship, and Millennials are the majority of the country now. Churches are averaging about 37% of their pre-covid attendance with some are reaching as high as 50% to 60%. To sum it up, worship attendance has been declining for several decades and the pandemic just accelerated it.

While churches may be adjusting to new worship attendance practices, the truth is that people are still hungry for God, want to know their purpose and many want to grow spiritually. Engaging in worship and being connected with a church family that empowers and encourages you can make all the difference in your life.

Therefore, I want to challenge you to make engaging in worship and connecting with a church family on a regular basis a top priority for yourself and your family. In our church family at Saint James Church, I have witnessed countless times where families in our church go through a crisis, a challenge or a death and our church family surrounds them with prayer, support, care and love as we seek to offer hope, help and hospitality. I have also seen our church family on a regular basis joyfully come around people and families to celebrate a birth, a wedding or some other important milestone.

Conversely, I have also known many people who have no church family and often suffer alone through a tragedy, a crisis or a death. It is so sad to witness this, but it happens all the time. I honestly do not know how people make it through crisis, tragedy and loss without a loving church family around them. They do not know what they are missing. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

God designed us to do life together in a community of faith. Please prayerfully consider engaging in worship and connecting with a family of faith if you do not already have one. And if you have a church family but rarely attend, then make it a priority to re-engage. You are needed and you need them too. More than you may know!

Blessings,

Dr. Lester Spencer, Lead Pastor

Saint James Church

 

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