Each year between Christmas and New Year’s Day I have developed a tradition. The tradition is centred around the inauguration of a new journal, and giving some thought to the theme of the coming year. Last year, as I did this, I came up with the theme ‘Adventure.’ And true to that theme, Jo and I relocated from Cardiff to Cheshire, we started building very new lives, made new friendships, chose some new values and started to bring the vision of missional community into reality through ‘The Urban House’. So, for Jo and I, 2011 certainly has been the year of adventure and I believe that we were more ready for it because of the thought and prayer put in between Christmas and New Year’s Day.
This year the words that keep grabbing my attention are ‘Values’ and ‘Intentionality.’ The question behind these two words is: What are the values that we will live by in 2012, and how do we ensure that these values genuinely get to shape the way we will live? And the answer, at least to the second half of the question, is that we have to live with intentionality. Things will not just happen. Nothing with ever simply change. Nobody ever got out of a rut by accident. The machine is perfectly designed to achieve the results that we are currently getting. If we are to experience better results in 2012 then we need to be decisive and intentional about what we will give our time and energy to over the coming months.
The carols that we were all singing just a few days ago have now faded and we will not now sing them again for at least another eleven months. Instead we all turning our attention to New Year Celebrations, and the carols are replaced by Auld Lang Syne, and for many the fear of 2012 begins to become more and more of a reality. BBC News tells us over and over again stories of austerity and double-dip recession. The worst is yet to come. As the last of the new year fireworks falls to ground, it appears that our dreams and aspirations are all going the same way. But the Bible is just simply not telling us the same message as BBC News.
Those of you who have journeyed, particularly with me, over the past 12 months will know that I have been utterly captured by the words of Psalm 1:
“Blessed is the man
who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked
Or stand in the way of sinners
or sit in the seat of mockers.
But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
and on his law he meditates day and night.
He is like a tree planted by streams of water
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither.
Whatever he does prospers.”
Now I know that approaching a new year is a very sombre time and most, if not all, of us get very reflective but I do have an observation to make that may just be very helpful to us. I have meditated on these words, on and off, for a year now, Jo and I have read other promises in the scriptures that are genuinely meant for God’s people and we have had words of prophecy spoken over our lives. But all of them are meaningless, and all of them are worthless. Every verse from the Bible, every promise from God and every word of prophecy given over our lives is utterly pointless! Unless, that is, we take a moment to step back and comprehend what we need to do, or how we need to live, in order for those words to materialise and bear fruit in our lives. This is the point of INTENTIONALITY becoming the theme for Jo and I in 2012.
I believe that the Lord is saying to us that He plans for us to be like a tree planted by streams of water (not any water but streams of living water), which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. The Lord is promising that whatever we do, in His Name, will prosper. These are highly significant words, particularly when everywhere else, in this world, there seems to be so much uncertainty. But none of these words will ever become reality unless we choose not to walk in the counsel of the wicked, or to stand in the way of sinners or to sit in the seat of mockers. It is true that God’s love is unconditional, but His blessing is far from unconditional. If we would have the Lord’s favour and blessing on our lives; then we need to live with intentionality, even and especially when people are being used by the Lord to speak words of prophecy over our lives.
My prayer for each and every one of us is that we would take some time out to remember the promises of God that we believed were for us, at some time or another. That we would remember the words of prophecy that have been spoken over our lives and that we would enquire of God what it will take to make these promises a constant reality in our lives. And then that we would live in such a way that we encounter the favour and blessing of God as we navigate through 2012.
I cannot think of a better platform upon which to engage with our communities and to bring hope to our world. Walking with God takes all the fear out of the future. The only question is: will we listen to the BBC News or the Word of God?
Thank you for being part of this journey and I hope and pray that you will have yourselves a very blessed and prosperous 2012.