Every year we at Rocky Mount have a list of challenges for individuals to improve spiritual lives and service for the Lord. This year we have a list of twelve suggestions for the adults and nine for the children. I believe these will be helpful and encouraging for anyone who is willing to attempt these items. Please remember, these are not meant to be burdensome but rather serve the purpose of helping each person to grow. Choose as many or as few as you like. It is also personal in that no one is going to check to see if you did any or all of these in the year ahead. Enjoy the challenge and I pray that you will be blessed as you serve our Lord. Pastor Steve 1. Read through the Bible in 2019. This is a goal for every year. There are Bible reading charts and plans that are convenient and flexible. If you need a plan to follow, we have several in the church office. Can you give 15 minutes per day to the reading of God’s Word? Then you can do this.
2. Study one book of the Bible for yourself. Choose a book that interests you or that you have never studied and set aside a few minutes each day to study. Resources are available in the Library and Media Place at the church.
3. Word of the year is a unique challenge in that each person chooses a word and applies that word to his or her own life during the year. It can be any word as long as it challenges you to be better. I have used the word “gratitude” and others have used words like “vision”, “peace”, and “meditate”.
4. Spend time outdoors. This is not just going grocery shopping or riding in the car somewhere. Get out of the house or office and go for a walk or see some sights. Get out and look at God’s world and get to know it. Try to see or notice something new each time you go somewhere.
5. Write Thank you notes. This is being written near Christmas where thank you notes are more prominent. The challenge is to write such notes during the year for things people have done for you. It does not have to be fancy and it does not have to be for something big. Just be grateful and show it. Make it personal. (I do not recommend doing this by email.)
6. Plant a tree. If we planted a tree or a garden every year, think of how much of a blessing that would be. It does not have to be a tree. It can be a shrub or a vine. Plant something that will grow and bloom.
7. Visit some place new. This means some place you have never been. Perhaps it will be a new beach or a mountain trail. Perhaps it will be a museum or an amusement park. Where ever it is, look for something new and different.
8. Random Acts of Kindness. Each day make a special effort to do something for someone that will be a blessing to their life. It could be watering the plants, sweeping the sidewalk, sending a note, or just being helpful. Whatever the task, just do it for someone. It is more fun if you remain anonymous in doing this.
9. Maintain a blessing jar. This is a new idea for the list. Each day write down something that blessed you during the day (or at least once a week!) and fold it and place it in a jar. At the end of the year, open the jar and read the blessings just to see how God has worked in your life.
10. Create a new Family Holiday. This may sound a little strange but it will bless you. Look at your calendar and find the month of the year that has the fewest celebrations for the family. Now, mark a day in that time to have a party. Not a big party, just cookies and milk or perhaps hot dogs and iced tea. Name it after your family and just enjoy time together. It might become a truly meaningful tradition.
11. Memorize 12 verses or texts of Scripture. Choose twelve or asked for favorite verses from friends and memorize one or two a month. You can make it one a week if you are wanting a bigger challenge. 12. Make Something. This is either easy or hard for people. Find the materials you want to use and make something with your hands. You can keep it or give it away or sell it for a million dollars (don’t forget to give part of the profits to the Lord’s work!) but make it yours and do something with it. (BTW it could be something you write (poem, book) or draw (painting).
The Challenges for 2019 for children are a new idea but I believe the children will be blessed by this. Some of the tasks will require help from Mom and Dad (or grandma and grandpa!) but they are relatively simple and encouraging. Like with the adult list, these are not meant to be a burden. They are to challenge and encourage and I believe they will help each of you to grow in the Lord Jesus and to serve Him better. Choose to do as many as you would like. God bless you as you find joy in the year ahead. Pastor Steve 1. Read through the New Testament. It is hard for kids to find time to read the Bible but if you will take a little time each day you can read through the New Testament this year. Daily reading plans are available. (For a bigger challenge you could read through the entire Bible!)
2. Study a book of the Bible. This is not to become an expert in a book of the Bible, it is to study for what you can learn and use. Choose a book that is something you want to learn. Resources are available in the LAMP.
3. Memorize 26 verse or texts from the Bible. You can actually set your own number – 12, 24, 52, 365, etc. but the idea is choose to learn verses. You can choose your own verses or find a list of recommended verses.
4. Memorize the Books of the Bible. Many of you have learned them. If you know them, then learn a detail or two about each book so you can say how many chapters Obadiah has or what the longest chapter in the New Testament is.
5. Spend some time outdoors. Walk, ride, run, climb, jump, or whatever you want to do as long as it is outside, it is for fun, and you have time to see God’s creation. You can do this alone or with friends or family.
6. Write 10 thank you notes or tell ten people thank you. It can be a parent for doing something for you or a friend who just encourages you. Take the time and make the effort to thank people.
7. Make a gift for someone. It does not have to be fancy or expensive. It simply has to be something you made and something you give. It is best if it is given for no particular reason. (In other words it cannot be a birthday gift.)
8. Random Acts of Kindness. Make this one top secret. Do things for other people and do not let them know who did it. Try to do this at least twice a month. It can be so much fun you might want to do it every day!
9. Blessing Jar. Keep a jar near your bed and at least once a week write down a blessing you received. It could be a gift from a parent or friend or it could be just a fun time walking in the rain. Write it down and put the paper in the jar. At the end of 2019, empty the jar and read the blessings.