If You Only Make One Resolution…

cheese

Resolved: To eat less salami and cheese this year…

Confession: I have a preserved meat tooth. I love salami and cheese, and I really should eat less of it, because it’s positively awful for me. After every snack I can hear my blood calling out in a loud voice, “Unclean! Unclean!”

And science has proven that men’s jeans are getting 27% tighter each year. Old Navy has reinvented the words “Loose Fit” to mean “I think my sister wore these in junior high school” fit. Some of you have embraced the spandex-denim revolution, but others, like myself, are hoping that Old Navy hires M.C. Hammer as a consultant.

Actually though, I’m not planning on eating less salami and cheese. I love it too much.

However, I do have serious goals for this year. I want to grow in sharing the gospel. I want to finish writing my book. I want to memorize more scripture. I want to finish house renovations. I want to waste less time. I want to love my wife more.

About this time of year, lots of people will write articles about setting spiritual goals for the upcoming year. And I’m all for that. We’re called to strive for holiness and kill our sin. But I want one resolution to be at the top of my list, written in bold letters, underlined, and highlighted:

Resolved: To rest in and savor and understand the gospel more in the coming year.

If I don’t get this resolution right, all my other resolutions will go to pot. If I’m not rooted in God’s love for me, as displayed in the gospel, my spiritual growth will be stunted. If I’m not convinced that there is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus, I’ll be goaded by guilt. If I’m not first amazed at what Christ has done for me, I won’t be motivated to live for Him.

In the New Testament, the prescription for spiritual growth always starts with being bowled over by the gospel. Then comes works of service. If you don’t believe me, read the book of Ephesians.

So let’s resolve with all our might to rest in all that Christ has done. To begin our Bible reading and prayer by giving thanks for the gospel. To never be motivated by condemnation. To trash any hope we have in our works, and put all our hope in Jesus’ finished work.

Here’s to gospel resolutions. And now I’ll be eating some salami and cheese.

P.S. – The book A Gospel Primer for Christians is a wonderful resource to help you rest in the gospel.

  • http://www.thewarriorsforchrist.blogspot.com Caroline

    First of all, just saw the new look of the blog and i love it :) Yes, our life does revolve around the gospel.

    • http://www.theblazingcenter.com Stephen Altrogge

      Thanks for your encouragement on the new look! It took some effort, but I’m really pleased with how it turned out.

  • http://intheclearing.blogspot.com Bob

    I also love the new look. But I’m not giving up salami!

    • http://www.theblazingcenter.com Stephen Altrogge

      Never give up salami!

  • http://WebsiteURL Trillia

    Great post Stephen!

    I so enjoy your blog. I read via email so I don’t comment as much as I use to.

    My goal is to rest and get to know my Savior more through studying.

    HAPPY NEW YEAR Mark and Stephen!
    -Trillia

    • http://www.theblazingcenter.com Stephen Altrogge

      Thanks for your encouragement Trillia. So grateful that you find it encouraging. Happy New Year to you too!

  • http://journeyoffaithfulness.wordpress.com/ YellerDaisies

    So true! If I don’t constantly focus on Christ and His work done for me (and proclaiming it outloud to myself and others), nothing I attempt to do gets done. It becomes a relentless circle of legalism and I end up giving up. Oh, the glories of the cross!!!

    • http://www.theblazingcenter.com Stephen Altrogge

      Great point! “It becomes a relentless circle of legalism and I end up giving up”. What a great description of trying to do things apart from the gospel.

  • http://www.4pecks.blogspot.com Rob

    That is one of the best most transforming books I have read in a long time. Milton Vincent hits the nail on the head. May we all come to know the gospel better in 2010! Thanks for this post!

    • http://www.theblazingcenter.com Stephen Altrogge

      You’re right Rob, the book is awesome. Is everyone hearing this? Listen to Rob and go buy the book.

  • http://WebsiteURL Lorraine

    Thanks for this post Stephen – we are a salami and cheese family too – my husband being Swiss and all…

    I am encouraged by your post – and also still trying to understand the tension (as perceived by me, at least) between walking in the Spirit – really being led by the Spirit moment by moment so that my thoughts, words, and works are inspired and led by Him, rather than being works of the flesh…I have always seen a bit of a struggle here and have known folks who basically don’t even try (ie.”make every effort…” eg. 2 Peter 1:5 et al.), saying ‘you can’t do anything’ and just float through life without trying, and those who seem to thrive on “trying” and end up frustrated and defeated with failure (well, I guess we all fall into that category sometimes, eh?!).

    I would like to resolve to be more self-disciplined in 2010, esp. in the areas of spiritual disciplines – better organized and exeuted prayer life, more and more earnest Bible reading/studying, more opportunities for service/outreach ministry et al. and yes, you’re right that this “spiritual growth always starts with being bowled over by the gospel” – I’ll meditate on that a bit and see if it clears the skys a bit for me.
    Thanks

    • http://www.theblazingcenter.com Stephen Altrogge

      Lorraine – You’re right, there is a sort of tension between living in the good of the gospel, and always striving to be more like Christ. I think though, that if we’re not first grounded in the goodness of the gospel, we’ll never make real progress in becoming like Christ. Rather, we’ll always have a vague feeling that God isn’t pleased with us. The gospel frees us to admit our sins because we know that they’re forgiven, and then press on into holiness.

      Thanks for commenting!

  • http://godmyexceedingjoy.blogspot.comj Violet

    I’ll second the recommendation to Vincent’s book! It has truly transformed my life this past year. I have numbered his 31 reasons to rehearse the Gospel each day and read (together with my husband) one each day. After that I read either the prose or poetry narrative of the Gospel. I am newly amazed and energized each day at God’s wondrous grace as epitomized in the Gospel.

    • http://www.theblazingcenter.com Stephen Altrogge

      Rehearsing the gospel! I love it! Thanks for sharing this.

  • http://bondchristian.com/ bondChristian

    Oddly enough, I don’t like salami that much – I’m more of a pepperoni person. So the salami goal might be more achievable for me than you.

    The other resolution, though… well, it’s more difficult. I believe I will be closer to God next year than this year and growing closer to Him next year shouldn’t be that difficult considering my failings this year. Still, I know what you mean.

    Drawing closer to Jesus and understanding the gospel more fully should always be our goal. In fact, it should not even be a priority because “priority” implies others afterward. Growing in Christ should be the sole mission.

    That’s when the reality of it set in… at least for me. That’s when I realize how difficult but important this task is.

    -Marshall Jones Jr.

    • http://www.theblazingcenter.com Stephen Altrogge

      I agree. The task seems simple, but when you get down to it, growing in our passion for the gospel takes concerted effort.

  • http://facesoflions.wordpress.com Dave Wilson

    Stephen,

    Based on your affinity for preserved animal flesh, I thought you might appreciate a link to true cured delight — Bacon Jam!

    http://www.uncrate.com/men/culture/food/bacon-jam

    Bon apetit!
    Dave

  • JackW

    Best book I’ve read on the Gospel is The World-Tilting Gospel by Dan Phillips. Readable and comprehensive.