Madison Church

Renewed Fervor for Personal Growth and Faithful Living

December 30, 2023 Madison Church
Madison Church
Renewed Fervor for Personal Growth and Faithful Living
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

As each new year rings in, many of us find ourselves reflecting on promises made and the tenacity of our faithfulness to keep them. This episode is for those of us pondering the resolutions of yesteryear with either a sigh of achievement or a pang of forgetfulness. I, Stephen Feith, get candid about my own hurdles in staying true to my commitments, and I extend an invitation for you to voyage with me into the essence of metanoia, the transformative alignment of our hearts and minds with the divine. We take a leaf from the enduring patience and humility of Simeon and Anna, two biblical beacons of devotion, whose stories offer us a mirror to our spiritual pursuits as we stride into 2024 with renewed fervor.

Amid the festivities and cheer, we find profound wisdom in the lives of those who waited with bated breath for the Messiah. Simeon and Anna, those prophetic voices from the Gospel of Luke, serve as testament to a faith that transcends time and status. Their encounters with the Holy Family are more than just narratives; they are revelations that beckon us to see the universal resonance of Christ's message and the inevitable joys and heartaches of a life committed to faith. These accounts are not mere footnotes in history but pivotal moments that echo through our own lives, guiding us on a path of recognition and anticipation for what God has in store for us.

As we usher in another chapter of our lives, the pursuit of balance becomes ever more critical. In this episode, I address the challenges of nurturing our well-being in a world that demands more of us than we can sometimes give. The metaphor of a plant needing careful tending stands as a powerful reminder that we too require sunlight, water, and good soil—care for our mind, body, and spirit—to truly thrive. Together, we contemplate how to cultivate spiritual growth, foster community connections, and contribute to the lifeblood of our surroundings. With the Madison Church's vision of a life-giving tree at our core, we embark on this journey of personal and communal flourishing, ready to face the year 2024 with hearts and hands joined in health, hope, and harmony.

Support the show

If you enjoyed this episode, consider subscribing to Madison Church on your favorite podcast platform. Your feedback means the world to us, so please take a moment to leave a review and share the podcast with your friends and family.

For inquiries, suggestions, or collaboration opportunities, please reach out to us at help@madisonchurch.com.

For the latest updates and behind-the-scenes content, follow us on social media:

New episodes are released every Monday, so mark your calendars and join us weekly!

If you'd like to support the show, you can make a donation here. Your generosity helps us continue to bring you meaningful content.

This podcast is intended for general informational purposes only. The views expressed by the hosts or guests are their own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Madison Church. Any reliance you place on such information is strictly at your own risk. For detailed information regarding our terms of use and privacy policy, please visit our website.

Thank you for being part of the Madison Church community! We appreciate your support.

Speaker 1:

Welcome to Madison Church. I'm Stephen Feith, lead pastor. I'm so glad that you're joining us this holiday weekend, as we're online only for the last time until Memorial Day. So I'm glad that you're joining us. And if you're watching this at a later date, this message is initially coming out on New Year's Eve, which means that for those watching it live, they're thinking about New Year's resolutions. Many of you, I know, are planning or preparing to make a substantial change in your life, and I want to discuss those in a moment, but first I want to talk about what you did this year. I mean, that seems like a good place to start.

Speaker 1:

Before we start thinking ahead, let's evaluate on what happened in 2023. So let me know in the comments or in the chat room what did you resolve to do in 2023? Do you even remember? If you can't remember, my guess is it's because you failed, because you didn't follow through that whatever substantial change you were going to make, you did not make and I'm not picking on you at all, because if you were to ask me what I resolved to do in 2023, I would have to tell you I have no idea because I did not follow through. I am with you if you do not remember and congratulations to those of you who can remember, who did follow through with it. But for the rest of us, who don't remember, what we resolved in 2023.

Speaker 1:

2024 is a fresh start. It's new. Just because we had a bad year, it doesn't mean it has to be a bad year again. And just like if you had a good year, it doesn't mean next year is going to be a good year. We have to be intentional about the choices we're making. So, as we think about 2024 and we think about resolutions, what are you resolving to do in 2024? Let us know once again in the comments or the chat room, because we'd love to know. If you're not sure, you haven't really thought about it. You're like oh wait, tomorrow's New Year's Day, I should have a resolution.

Speaker 1:

I looked up some of the most common New Year's resolutions in the United States to help you maybe make a decision. Many people the most common resolution is to exercise more, so that could be part of your resolution. Or some people just want to lose weight. Other people wanted to get their finances in order. They either wanted to give more, save more, get out of debt, create a budget and stick to it. But a lot of people have financial resolutions. Other people want to have a little bit more, a little bit better of a time next year. They want to travel more, they want to work less, and I can really relate to that, because that is my 2024 resolution. I want to work a little bit less and spend a little bit more time at home. As we're thinking about resolutions, I don't just bring it up because it is a new year. I bring it up because we make resolutions all the time.

Speaker 1:

As Christians, as followers of Jesus, we are constantly changing, and that's because Jesus tells us to Jesus says repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near. Over and over again in the Gospels, and that word repent is a Greek word, metanoia, which means change your mind. Jesus doesn't just say follow me. He does say that, but he says change your mind, change how you think about this, change how you think about that. And so throughout the year, we go to small groups, we go to Sunday morning gatherings, we meet with people. Between those events, we're constantly changing our mind. We're constantly resolving to do different things.

Speaker 1:

There's a question I ask at the end of every gathering at Madison Church. I say what has God been saying to you Perhaps it was through the prayer, through a song, a song lyric, a Bible verse, the message I ask us every time before we go into communion, before we take time to we take time to reflect, before we leave what has God been saying to you? I'm asking you the question how is God changing your mind? And I ask then a follow-up question, which is what are you going to do about it? Because just because we hear God speak, just because we know what God wants, doesn't mean we're going to do it. And I always want to put the pressure on us, a healthy pressure, to consider what we're going to change, what we're going to resolve to do as a result of what God has said to us.

Speaker 1:

And I bring all of this up to begin with today because the people we've been learning about in our series Christmas, according to Luke, they've been people who have resolved to be faithful and humble long before they had to. They were faithful and humble before an angel of the Lord came to them and appeared to them and told them. This is what God says. They were faithful and humble long before Luke writes about them. They resolved to be that way. If you remember, zechariah and Elizabeth, an elderly couple waited a lifetime for a child. They're in their 60s when God appears to them and says I'm going to give you a child. And then God appears to marry a young girl who's engaged to be married and says you are going to be the mother of the Messiah. And then we read about the meeting of Elizabeth and Mary and the meaning, the profound meaning, of those two expectant mothers meeting. In the past two weeks, we've seen or read about the birth of John and then, last week, the birth of Jesus and the extraordinary births of both of these children.

Speaker 1:

Our study throughout this series has revealed to us the unexpected ways that God doesn't just make promises, but the unexpected ways that God fulfills the promises in our lives, and it shows us a host of characters who had to have the courage to accept these divine callings. And, as such, we have learned. Today, as people who live in Madison, wisconsin, in 2023, going into 2024, we have learned lessons about humility and faithfulness, and so I hope, for the past month and a half, you have been resolving to be more humble, you've been resolving to be more faithful, you've been resolving to be more Christ-like, and today we're going to continue that trend of learning as we read through the Gospel of Luke. And so, if you want to follow along, we're going to Luke, chapter 2, verse 22. And Luke is going to introduce us to two more characters. As I mentioned last week, we talked about the birth of Jesus, and now Luke is moving us from Bethlehem to Jerusalem with Mary and Joseph. Those were the characters, the people in the story that we have been following, and he's gonna show us, through introducing two new characters, that God continues to fulfill promises in unexpected ways.

Speaker 1:

And so, beginning in verse 22, we read then it was time for their purification offering, talking about Joseph and Mary, as required by the law of Moses after the birth of a child, so his referring to Jesus, his parents took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord. The law of the Lord says if a woman's first child is a boy, he must be dedicated to the Lord. So they offered the sacrifice required in the law of the Lord either a pair of turtle doves or two young pigeons, and so this couple had this baby Jesus in Bethlehem. Now they've gone to Jerusalem because the law required it, and what's just amazing to me is that they continue to be faithful, they continue to be humble. They continue to be obedient, even after seeing the miracle.

Speaker 1:

I think the tendency for a lot of us is we pray and we pray and we pray, and when the prayer is answered we tend to move on. We tend to forget God's goodness or God's faithfulness until we need God again. And Mary and Joseph they show an alternative version, an alternative path. They remain faithful and humble. They do all of the things that Jewish men and women and kids were supposed to do after having a baby. Mary would have been ceremonially unclean for having a baby and needed to make a sacrifice for that, and the law also told them that if her firstborn child was a son, that he needed to go to the temple to be dedicated to the Lord. So they're kind of knocking two birds out with one stone by taking this trip to Jerusalem to make the necessary sacrifices.

Speaker 1:

And what I think is really most remarkable about this story is that they just had a new baby, they just had all of these incredible things happen and they get on a donkey or a mule or they travel by foot to Jerusalem. And for those of us with kids, even living today with all of our conveniences of modern technology, we know that taking an extended trip with our kids it's hard and it is stressful. Those airport dad memes and clips and reels are for real. It is just stressful to do it. And they did it 2000 years ago with a newborn baby, so just absolutely amazing. I just wanna point that out in the story. Don't skip that part. And Luke lets us know an important detail, which is that they sacrificed a couple pigeons or a couple turtle doves, and the substantial part of that detail is that this was the cheapest and most affordable offering that they could make and it was only allowed if that was all you could afford.

Speaker 1:

You see, even before Jesus, when all of the folks were living under the old covenant and you needed to make sacrifices, god made a provision for those who were impoverished and poor, those who couldn't afford a bowl and those who couldn't afford a goat. I mean, if you could afford those things, god wanted your best, make no mistake about that. But then there were people like Mary and Joseph who simply could not afford it. For God to be inclusive and think about them. God creates provision in the law that says hey, just because you're poor, just because you can't afford it, doesn't mean you can't be part of what I am doing and you can't take part of the sacrifices. And so they had a little bit and they offered everything they had, and so doing, I think, it continues to highlight their faithfulness, their humility and their obedience. And so this is where they're at they're in Jerusalem, they're at the temple, they're making sacrifices.

Speaker 1:

When there's a man in Jerusalem named Simeon. He was righteous and devout and he was eagerly waiting for the Messiah to come and rescue the Lord, the Holy Spirit was upon him and had revealed to him that he would not die until he had seen the Lord's Messiah. That day, the Spirit led him to the temple. So when Mary and Joseph came to present the baby Jesus to the Lord, as the law required, simeon was there and he took the child in his arms and praised God, saying sovereign Lord, now let your servant die in peace, as you have promised. I've seen your salvation, which you have prepared for all people. He has a light to reveal God to the nations, and he is the glory of your people, israel. Jesus' parents were amazed at what was being said about him, and then Simeon blessed them and he said to Mary, the baby's mother this child is destined to cause many in Israel to fall and many others to rise. He has been sent as a sign from God, but many will oppose him. As a result, the deepest thoughts of many hearts will be revealed and a sword will pierce your own heart. And so Simeon, just like Zechariah and Mary, expects that God will deliver Israel. Almost every Jewish person living in that era believed that God was sending a Messiah at some point to redeem them.

Speaker 1:

Luke doesn't tell us a whole lot about Simeon. We truly don't know a lot about him. But Luke does say that he is righteous, he's devout and he is spirit-filled. I mentioned a few weeks ago, several weeks ago, that everyone Luke introduces to us he's going to know as being spirit-filled in these first few chapters. And so Simeon is spirit-filled and the Spirit has already been working in and through Simeon, speaking to him. For example, the Spirit tells Simeon you're not going to die until you see the Messiah. That's one thing. Another thing is that the Spirit of the Lord leads Simeon to the temple that day. For whatever reason, simeon wasn't going to go to the temple that day, but it is by the Holy Spirit that he is there that day and now, I imagine at this point in time.

Speaker 1:

Mary and Joseph are fairly used to weird things happening to them. They're used to angels appearing and angels talking to them. They're used to being pregnant by the Holy Spirit and giving birth even though they're a virgin. They're used to all sorts of weird things happening and yet we're still told that they find it amazing how Simeon responds to their child. So apparently they hadn't seen it all yet. Simeon is there, led by the Holy Spirit, and apparently the Spirit has indicated to Simeon that this child, this baby, with this couple, this poor couple that can't afford to sacrifice the bull, that this couple, they're the parents of the Messiah. And Simeon comes over and he holds the child and he begins to worship God and to prophesy. And it's this amazing moment, as we have seen so far with Elizabeth and Mary and Zechariah, how the Spirit moves and they're moved to worship and they're moved to praising God and they're moved to visions.

Speaker 1:

And you can kind of tell that something changes, because Simeon goes from worshiping God and that this baby is the Savior of the world to kind of taking this somber note and looking at Mary and warning her this isn't going to be sunshine and rainbows, it's not going to be all good. It's not going to be all health and wealth, that your child that's bringing you so much joy as kids bring their parents is going to pierce you. He uses that analogy of a sword. He says, mary, that this child is going to pierce your own heart. That he's the Savior of Israel but he's going to divide Israel. That he's the good news, but some are going to rise and others are going to fall. He tells all of this which this is the first time Mary is hearing any of this because when Gabriel comes he doesn't mention any of the bad stuff that's going to happen. Gabriel says you're going to have a child, it's going to be great.

Speaker 1:

And Simeon is the first one to indicate that the message of Jesus, that Jesus's life, death and resurrection, is going to be polarizing for many. It's a reminder for you and I today that following Jesus isn't easy, that it is challenging, that it doesn't mean you're not going to experience pain and suffering, it doesn't put you outside of the scope of experiencing evil in your life, that following Jesus is great and it's how you live life to the fullest. But it also comes with unique challenges For them. 2000 years ago, the unique challenges was for the religious elite who had the Old Testament memorized. They were following all of the hundreds and hundreds of rules that they had to follow. What was hard for them was that the message of Jesus, as we're going to come to find out, is going to challenge the traditions and the religion that they had, and they could not get over it Because who they thought God was wasn't who God is and because they expected the Messiah to come wielding a sword. Many people missed him, but others did not Remember.

Speaker 1:

Simeon says others will rise, and those who will rise were political, social and economic outcasts. There were tax collectors and there were fishermen. There were nobodies, there were women and there were the elderly. Those were the people who rose because God's grace and this message of good news is for everyone, not just the good people, not just the people who are good enough, but those who weren't. And, as such, jesus would reveal truthfully what was in their hearts. And, mary, he says this is gonna cause you pain as well.

Speaker 1:

It's at this moment when Anna, a prophet, was there at the temple. She was the daughter of Fanuel from the tribe of Asher, and she was very old. Her husband died when they had only been married seven years. Then she lived as a widow to the age of 84. She never left the temple, but stayed there day and night worshiping God with fasting and prayer. She came along just as Simeon was talking with Mary and Joseph and she began praising God. She talked about the child to everyone who had been waiting expectantly for God to rescue Jerusalem, and when Jesus' parents had fulfilled all the requirements of the law of the Lord, they returned home to Nazareth and Galilee. There the child grew up healthy and strong and he was filled with wisdom and God's favor was among him. So, similarly to Simeon, anna is someone that is called Devout.

Speaker 1:

We don't know a whole lot about her and you might be one of those people who've been paying attention to the Holy Spirit thing the last few weeks. Well, luke didn't explicitly mention she was filled with the Holy Spirit, and that's true. He didn't explicitly say it, but he implicitly did, because in Judaism, in early Judaism even, they associated the gift of prophecy and being a prophet with being filled with the Holy Spirit. Honestly, you can fact check me. Go in the Old Testament, people who had the gift of prophecy or considered prophets were always spirit filled. And so by Luke saying Anna, who is a prophet. He is indicating implicitly that she is also spirit filled. We're told that she's old she's at least 84 years old and that she lives in the temple. She never leaves their church. She sleeps their day and night, and not because she's working or because she has a job there, but because she's fasting and praying. She is waiting for the Messiah and it's here, as she fasts and she prays and she's waiting for the Messiah, that she's led to Mary and Joseph and Jesus in Simeon and she knows that this child is the Messiah. As a matter of fact, it says, she goes around and starts telling everyone that he is the Messiah. She's kind of like the first person in the temple to go around and point people to Jesus, to announce the good news to those who were present. So Anna does that in her 80s, becomes one of the first people to proclaim that Jesus is Lord.

Speaker 1:

Luke mentions now, as he is getting ready to move us on to a different part of the story, that Joseph and Mary. They do all the things that the law required. They did all of the things that good Jewish people did, and then they don't go back to Bethlehem, they don't go back to where the census was taken back to where Jesus was born. But they go back to where they had been when the angel had originally appeared to them, where they were living in Nazareth. And that is where Jason is going to pick up next week as he concludes our series. And as he does, we're leaving behind Simeon and Anna. We're leaving behind Zechariah and Elizabeth. Joseph is going to fade into the background of the story. Mary's prominence in the story is gonna diminish, as with every passing page, and Jesus and John will soon take the main stage, but I don't want to leave them just yet.

Speaker 1:

These aren't just stories of people that helped us better understand Jesus and John. They are, but they can teach us a lot about ourselves as well. I mean, think about it. We read only a couple sentences about the biggest moments of their lives. We got to see their highlight reels. But what about all the time before the highlight reels? What about all of those pages of story that we don't get? That Luke didn't include, that no one thought to write about, all of those insignificant years of living life, all of the behind the scenes footage? I mean, think about it.

Speaker 1:

We're told Simeon was waiting to die. He sees Jesus and he declares to God God, you could take me now. So apparently he was pretty old, he was ready to go and he finally meets Jesus. What about his whole life? What about Anna, who was 84 years old and was waiting expectantly, humbly and faithfully and obediently to God? Don't forget Zechariah and Elizabeth. They were only in their 60s by the time God answered their promises. They waited faithfully, humbly and, again, obediently, behind the scenes, long before God did something in their life worth writing down.

Speaker 1:

But it wasn't just them. It was generation after generation of Israelites and Jewish people who were waiting for the Messiah to come, people who were born, lived the full life and died without seeing Jesus. Many people. We don't know their names, we don't know their stories, but many people who waited faithfully, humbly and obediently. And now, today, as we look inward at our own lives, we find ourselves waiting. And it's not for the birth of Jesus that's already happened but on this side of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, we wait for His return. We are told that Jesus will return and perhaps we'll be here when he returns and maybe we'll be with Him already when he returns.

Speaker 1:

But how do we prepare ourselves as we're backstage at the moment, as we're living our behind the scenes life, so that when God does show up and does do big things, we're ready, so that when God does reveal to us we're at a milestone, we're at the top of the mountain and God does show up, we can continue to be faithful and humble and obedient. How do we do that? What do we need to resolve to do? What do we need to resolve to stop doing? Which makes this time of year and this particular message potent for all of us today as we consider resolutions and changes we want to make in 2024.

Speaker 1:

And I understand if you're skeptical or cynical and you say, man, don't, most people, like by February, fail the resolutions, and I can't argue against that. Yeah, like 80%, 90% fail, but that means that 10% or 20% of people don't. That means that there are people right now it could be you. You're watching and you're listening and you're about to make a decision, and that decision is going to lead to a plan and that plan is going to lead to changes in your life that will change the trajectory of your life. And even if it's not most of you, it's some of you, someone who is listening right now.

Speaker 1:

And I want to take a moment for those of you who are feeling burned out or over busy right now, and I want to talk to you specifically for a moment. You've just got to disrupt what's going on, and I say that as somebody who I started the talk by saying my resolution for 2024 is to not be burned out and not to be over busy. I say that as one of you, author, john Mark Comer, writes in his book the ruthless elimination of hurry. The solution to an over busy life is not more time, it's to slow down and simplify our lives around what really matters. I know, if you're busy, you're like me and we think that if we can only have eight days during the week or 25 hours during the day, we think that I'll just skip a meal to work or I'll just stay up a couple hours later and eventually those exceptions, they just become the norm to us. And Comer says you know, the solution isn't more time, the solution isn't skipping meals or staying up later or waking up earlier. It's not quitting some other things, but rather it's focusing and aligning our lives around what really matters. And so, as you consider your resolution for 2024, for those of you who are busy and you're tired and stressed out and kind of running toward the end of what you have to give.

Speaker 1:

I want you to think about what you need to quit in 2024. I want you to realize right now that you don't have to sacrifice your family on the altar of work anymore. I mean, you can. You certainly can. You can continue to do what you're doing and continue to make those sacrifices, but you don't have to. It's a choice that you're making and you get to make right now. You don't have to over commit and you don't have to under deliver. You don't have to say yes to everything only to follow up and disappoint someone later. You have that choice. You don't have to struggle to take time off, to refuel, to have those meals and to relax. You can have time for what actually matters in your life. But it's going to require you saying no to some things that are important to you and it's going to require you quitting some things that are important to you.

Speaker 1:

And I'm not talking about your faith. I'm not saying pray loss. I'm not saying pray loss, read the Bible loss, engage in faith, community loss. I'm not saying don't sign up for a small group. Actually the opposite, and Comer would agree with me, he would say that if you're quitting those things, you're not aligning your life or lives around the thing that matters most, and that is God and your faith in Jesus. And so, as you consider what you need to quit, consider also what you need to step up into, and you might have noticed that I've gotten this little plant. It's usually on the floor If you've ever joined us in person. We have plants on the floor, but you know I haven't taken biology in about 15 years.

Speaker 1:

I'm certainly not a plant's man, as I've learned they're called this week, but we can see a parallel in the plant and our own lives, and if this plant represents a healthy person, you know it's blooming. It's green. By the way, it's fake. We got it at Ikea, but it does make for an ideal prop and illustration. But real plants require several elements to thrive. It requires sunlight. That's where plants get its energy to grow through photosynthesis.

Speaker 1:

It doesn't just need the sun, though. If it just gets sun and that's all, it's going to dry up and a lot of plants are going to die. But it also needs water. We need to water this plant, but it also doesn't matter if it's getting a ton of sun and if it's getting a ton of water, if the soil is no good. You see, plants and growing plants. It's complicated. It takes a lot of energy and thoughtfulness that goes into it Thoughtfulness that I can't explain to you because I haven't taken biology in a long time.

Speaker 1:

But just like how this plant requires sun and water and good soil, how we do as people requires a lot of care. It's not just physical exercise and balanced diets that we need. We do need those things. It's not just therapy and sometimes medication and moments of meditation and mindfulness for our mental health that we need. We do need that as well. But just like how the plant needs sun and water, we need to be planted in good soil. We need to take care of our souls, we need to take care of our spirituality and just like how, if we take away one element from the plant, whether it's the dirt, the sun or the water, the plant will suffer. If we don't take care of ourselves mind, body and spirit our holistic selves will begin to fail. I don't want to see that happen for you. Our elders don't want to see that happen for you. The community at Madison Church doesn't want that to happen for you.

Speaker 1:

We've developed a spiritual formation process at our church to help you get the nutrients that you need to thrive spiritually as you connect with God and each other. We've tried to make it as simple as possible. We say it's all about growing spiritually, gathering together and giving back. If you've gone around and you've looked at other churches and this isn't a slam to them, but it is a focus to what makes us a little different is that when we grow spiritually, it's about our connection with God. But we're not just going to focus on our connection with God. Some churches, that's all it's about is connecting with God. But we want to also focus on community and connecting with other people, other Christians. But it's not just about that, because a lot of churches do that right, you connect with God and you connect with others. But it's also about giving back to the world. It's not just about me and you and God, but it's about helping make a tangible difference in the lives of our neighbors and our coworkers and our family and friends.

Speaker 1:

And so, as you think about making a resolution, I want you to evaluate your own life right now when you think about connecting with God. How is that going? Is there a gap? Is that sun that you're not getting in your life. So perhaps in 2024 you need to resolve to read the Bible a little bit more often or to take more time to pray. Maybe you've never been baptized before. It's time to make that a priority. It's time to resolve that.

Speaker 1:

Maybe your faith with God is going great, but there's no connection with other believers, and we know that there are over 70 instances in the New Testament in which we're instructed to do something, to be humble and faithful and obedient with one another. You just simply cannot do faith by yourself, and so maybe what you need to resolve is to clear open a weeknight so that you can be in a small group. Maybe it's some conflict going on with you and someone else and that needs to be resolved in a biblical manner. Maybe you just need to get outside of the small groups and outside of the Sunday mornings and take someone out for a coffee or a meal to develop a spiritual friendship at our church, and maybe things are going great with you and God and you and the people at our church.

Speaker 1:

Then I need to challenge you to think about how you're giving back. How are you giving back with your finances and volunteering? Do you ever use your influence for Christ and His kingdom. Perhaps that's what you need to resolve, and I know that, as I'm saying this, it's easy to evaluate and say this is the area of my life that needs to be better. But how do we make sure that we are successful not just till February, but beyond February? As I already mentioned, most people, most of us, fail.

Speaker 1:

Well, the first thing is to identify that goal. What is it that you want to do and is it reasonable? If you've never read through the Bible before, it may not be reasonable for you to do it in 2024. But maybe reading through the New Testament is. If you've never volunteered before, maybe saying I'm going to volunteer every other week is too big of a bite to take off, but maybe volunteering once a month is completely possible. So first have specific, have realistic goals, then write down those goals, but not just the goal.

Speaker 1:

Write down a plan. So, for example, if your plan is to be more generous in 2024, get specific. How do you want to be more generous? And write down the plan. How are you going to give? How much are you going to give? What are you going to give and how frequently are you going to give. What changes do you need to make in your budget and your lifestyle for this to happen? You begin to write those things down and finally have support the people who come to Madison Church, who are watching, listening online right now.

Speaker 1:

We're a community and we don't just mean that because it's like trendy to say. We really do walk alongside one another and so when you fail or when you fall down, we're not here to judge you, to point or to laugh. We're here to offer a hand and to extend a hand and help get you back up on your feet, because we don't want your resolutions to fail. We want to see you thrive. As a matter of fact, that's why we chose the logo that we chose.

Speaker 1:

I designed the logo before we started the church and maybe you've noticed it and you've wondered what it means. It's a tree and you probably picked that up, but you also probably noticed that there's a DNA strand as the trunk of the tree and when I was designing it and praying about our church and what symbol would identify us, I chose this because I wanted it to be in our DNA that we would be life giving and just as a plant represents life, our symbol represents life and it was going to be in our DNA. We're going to be life giving and we were going to be healthy. And so the symbol every time we see it, is a reminder of who we are as a church community, and it really takes all of us. It's not just up to me and it's not just up to our leadership. We'll do hard work to protect our culture and to continue to inject aspects into our church community that helps us be faithful and obedient and humble and life giving and healthy, but it's up to all of us.

Speaker 1:

Madison Church is the sum, it's the average of every individual here. We need you and you need us. We need each other. And so, as we move forward into 2024, let's remember that the health of our community isn't just up to one of us, but it's up to all of us. That's not just up to you, it's up to me. And it's not just up to me, it's it's up to you. We all have a part to play. We all have responsibility and creating a life giving and healthy environment for other people in Madison. And so, in this upcoming year, while we're making individual resolutions, can we collectively resolve to take care of one another? Are you in? Will you be part of our community and to help others thrive Not just physically and not just mentally, but spiritually. In 2024, let's purposely choose health, let's consciously choose to be life giving, because at Madison Church, our well-being is a shared responsibility and our collective vitality begins with each of us.

New Year's Resolutions and Faithfulness
Simeon, Anna, and the Promised Messiah
Choosing to Thrive in 2024
Building a Healthy and Thriving Community