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Happy New Year! I hope that you and your family had a wonderful holiday season as we reflect on the goodness of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and His blessing this past year. I look forward to the great things that God has in store for each of you and the churches of the BCM/D in 2023 and beyond.

Each New Year, people around the world makes what is known as “New Year’s Resolutions.” But did you know that, according to U.S. News & World Report, the failure rate for New Year's resolutions is said to be about 80 percent? Most people lose their resolve by mid-February. When asked what a New Year’s Resolution was, one person responded, “It’s a to-do list for the first week of January.”

While the reasons vary, one of the top responses given when people were asked why their resolution failed was, “they were not ready to change.” As followers of Jesus Christ, we demonstrate the greatest change, the greatest transformation that the world will ever see. When you accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior, the Holy Spirit does spiritual heart surgery on you, and you are changed from the inside out. There is simply no greater change than that.

While it is good for us to reflect back on the past year and refocus our goals and priorities for the upcoming year, there is no greater priority than keeping Christ at the center of our lives. God’s Word encourages us to regularly reflect on our lives and focus on Jesus. Colossians 3:1-4 says:

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. 3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. (ESV)

I believe what has happened in the world today, what has happened in individuals’ lives, families lives and the culture in general is that we have taken our eyes off Jesus. Jesus is no longer the center of most people’s lives. In many instances, He is put last. Everything else takes priority over Jesus and His Church. If we desire to “seek the things that are above,” we must put a priority on the spiritual disciplines, the spiritual habits of the faith.

In order to put Christ at the center of your lives, you must make Christ the center of all that you say and do. This means practicing those spiritual habits and putting them as a priority in your lives. You cannot let the world dictate to you what to do. You cannot let the world and all of its allure and attractions be victorious. Parents, grandparents and family members need to wake up to the fact that the world is winning. We need to wake up to the fact that too many people love the things of the world too much.

Now don’t get me wrong, there are some things that are good in the world. But Christ says put them second. He says put ME first. Why? Because Jesus is the best, and as mathematicians and theologians will tell us: BEST is Greater than Good! In Matthew 6:33 Jesus reminds us to, “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” So what then are some ways that we can put Christ at the center of our lives here in 2023 and beyond?

In his book, Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life” Donald S. Whitney’s points out 12 Habits that the Christ Follower should be committed to. These habits are centered on the theme from 1 Timothy 4:7, which states, “Discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness.” They include habits such as: Scripture reading, prayer, worship, Scripture meditation, evangelism, serving, stewardship of time and money, Scripture application, fasting, silence and solitude, journaling and learning.

If we commit ourselves to these and other spiritual Habits throughout the year, we will be well on our way in keeping Christ at the center of our lives. I encourage you to take some time to do a spiritual checkup on your life. Use these disciplines and habits as a gage to determine whether you are spiritually healthy or spiritually sick. Ask yourself questions such as: Does the way I pray, handle my finances, respond to pressure, stand for truth, and express my worship, reveal that Christ is at the center of your life?

Do your thoughts of God glorify God or grieve him? Do your prayers to God bless him or insult him? Does your giving show you trust God enough to give him your offerings and believe he will meet all of your needs? If you find yourself on the unhealthy side of this spiritual check-up, ask yourself what changes are necessary to take your walk with the Lord to the next level this year. A Christ-Centered person means that you acknowledge Jesus as the ultimate authority in your life - and you voluntarily yield the control of your life to Him.

Maryland and Delaware Baptists, keeping Christ at the center of our lives is something that we should all resolve to do. When we make Jesus the centerpiece of our life, we are able to see clearly what’s truly important. That we serve a GREAT and Mighty God! My prayer is that this particular resolution will never fizzle out. The world needs to witness what true change looks like, and that can only happen when they see Jesus working in and through your lives. So let’s resolve to Keep Christ at the Center of our lives in 2023 and beyond! Amen!

Please know that I love you all and I am praying for you. If there are any specific prayer requests that you have and/or anything that I can assist you with, please do not hesitate to contact me.

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