1. Designate a place and time for online worship.
If you do church online with us here at Grace Baptist, we offer our online service every two hours on Sunday from 9 AM to 11 PM. Your schedule may be different from one week to another, but as much as possible, pick one of these times to participate in church online. It is also helpful to find a place that is quiet, free from distractions, and so on. You want to have the optimal setup for meeting with God in worship and hearing from His Word. You may want to sing aloud during the music, and there is time for prayer. Every part of church online is enhanced when you have a quiet spot in which to worship the Lord.
2. Prepare your heart for worship.
Preparing your heart for worship is a good idea whether you are doing in-person or online worship, but it can get lost more easily with church online. You can prepare your heart for worship through prayer: "Lord, I am about to enter into a time of worship with church online; speak to my heart through the message and the musical worship. Use this experience to draw me closer to Yourself." You can open to the passage of Scripture that is being preached that day and begin to meditate on it. Here at Grace, we are in a series through the Old Testament. The passage immediately following last week's passage will be today's passage. You can find it easily and begin to read through it. It is great to silence your electronic devices, shut your email, close your Facebook and social media feeds, so that you can focus on the time of worship. This is a big reason we encourage people to log onto https://GraceFay.org/Online. We don't have a list of unfiltered videos to show you just as soon as church is over. You can focus on the content of the online worship service.
3. Download your notes and complete your connection card.
Each week, we upload notes to our website on the church online page so that you can download those and follow along. We leave room in them for you to jot your own notes. This is a great opportunity to make notes for topics you want to study in the future in your own devotional time. It may also be that you come across a question that we do not answer in the message, and you want to email it to us after the service. The Digital Connection Card is an essential way for us to minister to you as a church. We believe God calls the church to do more than just provide you with a video worship experience once per week. We are called to give you opportunities to use your spiritual gifts, to pray for and minister to you, to disciple you and help you grow in your journey with the Lord, and to hold you accountable to the obedience to which God calls all of us. The Digital Connection Card is a tool that assists us in fulfilling that calling while you are unable to attend in person.
4. Develop a plan for returning to in-person church.
STEP THREE: Consider Your Own Health and Wellness.
Once your spiritual priorities are in place, and once you have taken into account the needs of your loved ones, you are now ready to make resolutions concerning your own overall health. Some people may wonder if it is wise to put self last. After all, when it comes to caretakers, if they do not take care of themselves, they cannot take care of those who depend upon them. You can readily see that discernment is required. I would respond by simply equating self-care in those contexts as a part of serving others. At the end of this post, we will look at how all of these considerations fit together.
When I encourage you to think about your own health and wellness, I am speaking about every aspect of your life – physical, emotional, and financial, for example. Did you see your doctor for your physical this past year? If not, you might consider doing so this year. Did you have a regular exercise regimen that you followed under the supervision of your doctor? If not, this can be the year that you start exercising regularly. I was the guy who did not like to dress out for PE. I was fat. Not chubby – fat. I was self-conscious about dressing out for PE, so I didn’t do it. This led to a lifetime of being overweight, and I do not blame anyone but myself. But without boring you with these details, let me let you know that I enjoy exercising now. If I can move from where I was to loving physical activity, you can to. A personal trainer might be the answer to get you moving. Your financial health – are you in debt? What can you do to reduce it? Can you ask for a raise at work? Can you take on another job? Are there side gigs that you can pursue to increase your income? How is your retirement savings growing? Will you have enough retirement income when you get to that point? Are you generous toward the Lord’s work? Are you tithing to a local church? Do you honor God with the first fruits?
These are just a few questions to get you thinking about possible resolutions. I would issue a word of caution at this point. You will probably not fix every problem in your life and the lives of your loved ones and the world around you over the next twelve months. You do not want to bite off more than you can chew, to use a worn-out expression. Set goals that are achievable, goals that challenge you but are still within reach. Even if you cannot turn every situation around this year, you can make baby steps toward the solutions. For many things, you can get yourself in a position to solve it completely next year or the year after. For example, my weight was so out of control, it will be another 1.5-2.0 years before I get where I want to be.
How all of this fits together. Once you have sketched out a list of resolutions for these different areas, spend some time thinking about how they relate to one another. For example, when you love the Lord your God with your financial resources, the Word of God promises that God will honor those who are good stewards and who worship the Lord through giving. I have blog posts that explain why the Bible does not promise wealth to everyone who gives to a ministry. But a different principle is clear. God can do more with your 90% than you can do with the 100%. Your financial health is tied to your worship life in giving to God, and all of this is tied with your overall health as it can lead to less stress. If you cannot complete all 200 resolutions on your list, pick the dozen that put checks in the most boxes. Are there resolutions that bring you closer to God, while bringing you closer to your spouse, while improving your own personal health?
For example, “God being my helper, I will start a devotional time with my wife each day in which we read Scripture together, share with one another what God is doing in our lives, how we can serve one another better, and pray together.”
If you would like specific guidance on any of these topics or in making your new years resolutions, please get in touch with us through the digital connection card at https://GraceFay.org/Online
Happy New Year!
STEP TWO: Think about Others.
Once you have identified some measurable goals in the spiritual column, you are ready to look at your relationships. After God, people come first – before profits, before self, and so on. If you are a married person, your spouse is your top consideration. Have you asked your spouse what resolutions they think you should consider making? “Honey, as you live with me and see every part of my life, what are some areas in which I could be more like Jesus?” You could have a conversation about some resolutions as a couple and resolutions specifically related to your marriage. In the New Year, we want to travel together on a mission trip. We want to learn something about each other every day this year. We want to read these books together. We want to tackle (or finally complete) this project together. We want to put the other spouse first every day by asking the question, “Can I do anything to serve you today?” How different would your marriage be at the end of the coming year if you were to put these ideas into your own context?
If you are not married, look at the relationships in your life – whether you are involved with someone or are happily single. Which relationships make your relationship with Christ easier and which make it more challenging? Is there anyone in your life who draws you away from Christ? Are you in a position to disciple that person? Are you likely to give in to them rather than move them toward Christ? There may be some relationships you are not supposed to bring into the New Year. Let them go tear someone else down. If they are not going to change, you can give them over to the Lord. Certainly, I am not talking about walking out of a marriage. I am someone who does not believe that divorce fits God’s intentions for the permanence of the marriage covenant. But people who are bad influences on you, if they are not going to change, should be marginalized in your life, so that you can soar with Christ in the new year.
The important thing here is that you are obeying Philippians 2:4, "Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others." Of course, if you are your family's breadwinner, you will have to earn an income, but that is part of what you do to love and serve your family and glorify God as a provider. The previous verse (Philippians 2:3) begins, "Let nothing be done through selfish ambition." So many times, our resolution making begins and ends with self and self alone. A biblical approach begins with God, then thinks about others, and puts self dead last.
Our Lead Pastor is the writer behind this blog. We pray it ministers to you for the glory of Christ.