There’s something about the New Year.   It gives you a sense of a fresh start, another chance.  Not quite a “do-over,” but it’s an opportunity to take a look at our lives and do some things differently, or, redouble our efforts to accomplish something that’s eluded us in the previous 12 months.  Quitting smoking.  Eating better.  Spending more time with family and friends.   Making that trip.

I expect the #1 New Year’s resolution probably involves exercise.  Getting in shape.  And that’s made me wonder whether Jesus had six pack abs.   The gospels don’t tell us, but do you think Jesus was into physical fitness?  Was he a runner?  Maybe he bumped into those disciples on the road to Emmaus when he was out on his morning 5 mile run.  Maybe he took swims in the Sea of Galilee and hikes in the hills around Jerusalem.

Getting more exercise is definitely on my personal resolution list.  But I also want to do more to be in good shape as a Christian — and I wonder if you’ll join me.   I want to make the habit of beginning each and every day in prayer.    I realize that mornings may not offer quiet time of solitude for everyone.  But even if your day starts out busy (or even crazy) with getting kids to school, preparing last things for work, finishing up homework, etc., I invite you even then to take a couple minutes — in the bathroom if you need to! — and begin the day with a word of prayer.   “Thank you God for this day.  Help me make you Lord of my life.  Use me, guide me, strengthen me, encourage me. Amen.”   Or other words.  Or just be silent before God for a few minutes.  And then step out of the bathroom and begin your day.

Join me in reading the Bible.  Pick a book in the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) or New Testament that you haven’t read before, or in a while.  If you want, check out online a “read the Bible in a year guide” that will give you different suggestions for how to read through the Bible in 12 months.   Treat it like you’re going on an expedition for the year!  God is speaking to us thru these verses.  Go ahead and explore and listen.

Look for ways each day to live out those 2 great commandments to love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength — and then to love your neighbor as yourself.   How would that affect your driving?  How you treat your family?  co-workers? friends?  total strangers?

As with any physical exercise, all the above calls for repetition.   But you may miss a day, forget, be too tired, whatever.  Don’t worry about it.  Just pick it back up the next day.  Like other efforts at getting in shape, there may be times we get discouraged.   A great aid then is to get encouragement from a friend.  That, by the way, is what the church is all about.  Encouraging one another in the faith.  We may give encouragement one day.  We may need it the next.

Sound like a plan?   Happy New Year!