21 Goals to Set For Yourself to Make 2021 Your Best Year Ever

Guest Blogger – Erin Gobler

If you read this blog regularly, you know how much I love talking about goal setting.

I spent years setting new year’s resolutions for myself, only to forget about them by February. And honestly, this is how so many people approach goal-setting!

When it comes to setting goals for the year, setting the RIGHT goals is half the battle.

In this post, I’m sharing 21 goals to set for yourself this year that can seriously make 2021 your best year ever!

 

21 Goals to Set For Yourself to Make 2021 Your Best Year Ever

Learn a New Skill

One of my favourite things about blogging is that I have learned SO many new skills that I absolutely did not set out to learn.

It’s really helped me to learn how much I love learning new skills and has pushed me to branch out and try learning new skills that are completely separate from my business as well.

There are SO many resources online to help you branch out and try something new.

 

Create a Monthly Budget

 I feel like money-related goals are some of the most common people set for themselves every year, so I definitely had to include some on this list!

If you don’t currently have a budget, that is honestly the first goal from this list that I would tackle.

Money is one of the single biggest stressors for people (especially millennials), and it’s one of the biggest points of conflict in marriages and relationships. So it definitely seems that getting your money under control should be pretty high on the priority list!

I went years of my adult life without creating a monthly budget. Looking back, it’s still crazy to me that I really didn’t know where my money was going every month.

Creating a monthly budget allowed me to get my money under control in a way I honestly couldn’t even have imagined.

 

Read 12 Books

I love to read so much, whether it’s fiction, poetry, or personal development books. But sometimes I just get out of the habit of it and realize I’ve gone months without reading!

I’ve started setting a yearly reading goal for myself and using Goodreads to track how many books I’ve read. This has really helped to motivate me to keep reading.

You can definitely set a goal of reading more than 12 books. I just think that 12 is a good starting point for people who don’t read super often because that gives you an entire month to finish each book.

 

Start a Side Hustle

I’m a huge proponent of having a side hustle. I started this blog back in 2014. At the time it was only meant to be a hobby, but it has definitely turned into a side hustle!

Looking back, I’m so grateful I started the blog when I did! Not only has it allowed me to earn extra money alongside my full-time job, but it has also paved the way for a lot of personal and professional development.

There are SO many options for different side hustles you can start. I recently wrote a blog post where I shared 35+ legit ways you can start making extra money.

If you’re ready to start your side hustle, make sure to check out my in-depth guide on how to start a side hustle!

 

Create a Morning Routine (And Actually Stick To It!)

I’m going to be honest, mornings have been one of my biggest struggles for…basically my entire life. I’ve never been a morning person. But I really took the whole “not a morning person” thing to a whole new level.

But once I graduated from college and started my career, I had to get up early for work every morning. And I needed to actually be awake and functional rather than being a zombie for the first two hours!

Creating a morning routine seriously made ALL the difference for me. I learned to create a routine that actually helps me to wake up and enjoy the morning rather than being miserable and frantically running out the door late every day.

Make sure to check out my guide on creating your own healthy morning routine!

 

Eliminate a Bad Habit

I think it’s safe to say we all have a bad habit or two that we’d like to kick, whether it be excessive drinking, smoking, or chronic lateness.

Let’s be real, this is a lot easier than it sounds. And most of us have probably tried and given up more than a few times. But don’t give up!

Here are some steps that just might help you finally break that bad habit this year.

 

Start a Gratitude Journal

 At some point a couple of years ago it was like a switch was flipped and everyone was talking about gratitude journals. And I promptly ignored that advice and went on with business as usual.

Then last year I was struggling with some pretty severe anxiety and was looking for solutions, and once again the idea of a gratitude journal kept popping up. So I finally broke down.

It turns out everyone was right. It’s amazing how when I’m having a bad day, something as simple as writing down things I’m grateful for can completely turn around my mood.

You can do this first thing in the morning, right before bed, or any time you’re having a rough day and need something to help turn your mindset around.

 

Spend Less Time Online

I have a full-time job where I’m on a computer most of the day, and then I go home and run an online business. So it’s safe to say I’m spending a LOT of my time online. And running a blog means spending a lot of time on social media.

One of my goals for 2021 is definitely to spend less time online. Quite often I don’t have a choice. But in the moments where I’m not working and have the opportunity to spend time with loved ones, I want to make a genuine effort to focus on those around me and get outside more rather than have my phone in front of my face all the time.

 

Eat Healthier

Eating healthier is without a doubt one of the most common goals people set for themselves each year. I’m right there with you! My eating habits are significantly better than they used to be, but they aren’t perfect (and I don’t expect them to ever be perfect).

Rather than push yourself to cut entire food groups or go on really restrictive diets, aim for slow progress and a better diet.

If you love bread and pasta and decide you’re cutting out carbs completely, how long will that really be feasible? What if instead you trade the white bread and pasta for whole grain, and swap in veggie pasta a couple of times per week? That’s not a huge change, but it would still make a difference.

Rather than preventing myself from eating foods I love, I shoot to eat clean 75% of the time, and then I feel better about eating whatever I want the rest of the time!

 

Create a Fitness Routine

Fitness is another goal to set that seems to be pretty universal. And for some people, the idea of creating a fitness routine seems SO daunting.

Here’s the thing though, your fitness routine can look literally however you want it to look.

If you don’t like running, don’t run. In fact, skip the cardio altogether it that’s not what floats your boat.

My favourite exercises are the ones that don’t feel like exercise at all! Brandon and I love biking around the city when the weather is warm. We love checking out bars and restaurants in town, so we just started biking there instead of driving.

I also love hiking, which definitely feels more like a hobby than a workout!

There are also SO many workouts like yoga, pilates, barre, etc. that are a great workout, but low impact.

Finally, your fitness routine can just consist of walking! When the weather is nice, I throw on a podcast and take the dog for an hour long walk. I get my body moving, I get to listen to a favourite podcast, and I feel amazing when I’m done.

 

Travel to a New Place

I love to travel, and I definitely don’t get to do enough of it. In 2019 my husband and I were able to take a vacation to a place we had never been before. Then, in 2020, we traveled the country in our RV. I can’t wait to see what’s in store for 2021!

If travel is in your budget for this year, I absolutely recommend making it a personal goal for yourself. And rather than visiting the same destinations you’ve visited before, branch out and explore a new place!

There are honestly so many amazing places and things to see, and none of us will be able to see them all.

But whatever your interests when it comes to travel, whether it be hiking, history, or laying on a beach, you can always find a new destination to visit.

 

Declutter Your Home

 Thanks to Marie Kondo and her new Netflix series, it seems like everyone is jumping on the KonMari bandwagon and making it a personal goal to declutter their homes this year.

I’m right there with you, and I’ve been on the declutter train for several years now.

In 2017, I got divorced and moved from a three-bedroom house to a studio apartment. That meant I had to get rid of almost everything I owned.

I thought it would be the most difficult thing ever, but it turned out to be amazing! I was honestly surprised by how much stuff I had that I didn’t need, or even really want.

Since then I’ve continued to keep an eye on how much stuff I accumulate and regularly donate clothing and household items I find I’m not using.

If you’re ready to declutter your home, try asking yourself these questions.

 

Create a Minimalist Wardrobe

While we’re on the subject of decluttering, let’s talk about clothes. You guys, I used to have SO many clothes. Clothes I hadn’t worn in years, and yet still couldn’t bring myself to get rid of.

When I finally decided to really force myself to narrow down my wardrobe, I realized I was wearing the same few pieces and the same few colours over and over again.

I’ve created a minimalist wardrobe for myself by limiting the colours in my wardrobe (95% of my clothes are black, white and gray) and limiting the style of clothes. I’ve really narrowed down what my personal style is, and I really don’t feel the need to experiment with anything outside of that!

Now, a minimalist wardrobe definitely won’t work for some people. If clothes and fashion are your passion, you’re not going to be excited about this. But if fashion isn’t a priority for you, I really recommend challenging yourself to create a minimalist wardrobe this year.

 

Meditate Every Day

I was definitely skeptical a few years ago when I saw SO many people recommending meditation for productivity and personal development.

And even after trying it the first few times, I was still skeptical. But once I really gave it a chance, it totally won me over.

I’ve suffered from my fair share of stress and anxiety, and meditation has helped me reduce these a lot.

I’ve also noticed that it has helped me improve my focus, which has been amazing. I have WAY to much going on in my life to not be focused.

For anyone struggling with anxiety, I think daily meditation should absolutely be on your list of goals to set for yourself this year.

 

Journal Every Day

I’ve been journaling on and off for pretty much my entire life. I hadn’t journaled for years but picked it back up again in an effort to control my anxiety.

Journaling has really helped me to reduce my stress and anxiety, and just learn to better control my emotions.

When I sit down to journal, I focus on identifying the negative emotions I’m feeling and trying to get to the root cause. I also focus on affirmations I know to be true in order to negate the worried thoughts I’m feeling.

If journaling is a goal for your this year but the idea seems daunting to you, I recommend picking up the Five Minute Journal. As the name suggests, it’s literally five minutes in the morning and five minutes in the evening. And even in that short amount of time, I think you’ll see a difference!

 

Drink More Water

It turns out that about 75% of us are living our lives chronically dehydrated. And I know without a doubt that I used to be one of those people.

I’ve had a lot of health-related annoyances in my life. Not to the point where something has been seriously wrong, but just enough so that I’ve always felt…well, just not great.

Once I started making a really solid effort to drink more water, I noticed a big difference. I aim to drink 100 ounces per day, and I track it religiously throughout the day.

I use the Fitbit app to track my water intake, but there are also apps like Plant Nanny that are specifically designed for tracking water.

 

Set a Bedtime For Yourself

I will be the first to admit that I do NOT get enough sleep. There are some nights where my schedule prevents me from getting to bed as early as I would like. There’s unfortunately not much I can do about that.

However, I also find myself staying up WAY too late on the nights that I could be going to bed earlier.

One of my personal goals for 2021 is to get more sleep, which means setting a bedtime for myself and actually sticking to it!

One creative way I’ve heard of accomplishing this is by using a bedtime alarm. I would set mine for about an hour before I actually want to go to sleep. That way I have time to prepare my lunch for the next day, get the coffee maker reader, wash my face, brush my teeth, and spend some time reading in bed.

In case you can’t tell, I like to have as much prepped the night before as possible because I won’t be happy having to do it the next morning!

 

Build an Emergency Fund

 You guys already know you need to have an emergency fund. But since I’m guessing a lot of you either don’t have one or aren’t putting money in regularly, I’m adding this as a goal to set for yourself this year!

Statistics show that most Americans have less than $1,000 dollars in savings, and nearly half have less than $400. Those numbers are pretty alarming, considering something as simple as unexpected car repairs could easily take out your entire savings account.

I struggled for a long time to build my emergency fund. Finally, I decided that rather than save whatever money I had left at the end of the month, I would pay myself first.

On the first day of every month, an automatic transfer takes money out of my checking account and puts it into my emergency fund.

If you’ve struggled to save, trying paying yourself first and really prioritizing your emergency fund.

Related Article: 25 Creative Ways to Save Money

 

Reconnect With Old Friends

I’m pretty lucky in that I have had the same close group of friends since I was about 16. We were a close-knit group in high school. And then many of us ended up going to the same colleges, so it was easy for us all to stay in touch and we got together pretty regularly.

After college, as I’m sure happens to a lot of friend groups, we all moved away and started our careers, and definitely didn’t spend as much time together.

Over the past year or so we’ve really made an effort to see each other more often. We’re lucky to all live in the same state where the travel isn’t too difficult. We’ve been able to make it a pretty regular thing.

I’m so glad we all reconnected! If you have a close friend or group of friends that you’ve drifted apart from or haven’t seen in a while, reach out and try to reconnect. You’ll be so glad you did!

 

Revisit Your Career Goals

When was the last time you took some time to really reevaluate your career goals?

I’m a big proponent of five-year goals for things like career and finances. But let’s be real, five years is a long time. And things can definitely change. My career goals have absolutely changed in the six years since I graduated from college!

Make it a goal for this year to spend some time thinking about your career. Consider your short-term and long-term career goals. Think about the company you work for and whether you see a future there.

In some cases, your career goals may have changed so much that you have transitioned (or want to transition) to a totally different industry.

 

Make Time for Self Care

Self-care is so important, and most of us are NOT making enough time for it!

Self-care isn’t just about pampering yourself. It’s about making time for sleep, mental health, and physical health.

Not only is self-care essential for your mental and physical health, but it’s also amazing for boosting your productivity!

If it isn’t on your list of goals to set for this year, it totally should be!

 

Final Thoughts

Goal-setting can be super overwhelming for some people. Setting the right goals is half the battle!

There’s still plenty of time to reach your goals and make 2021 an amazing year. When you’re thinking of what goals to set for yourself, make sure to include a few from this list to make your year awesome!

 

 

Kingdom Voices – Part Three

Most of the indigenous churches are not under any denomination. They are independent and small. Most of the pastors of those churches have only a little training or no training at all. Not even informal training. They just jump into the arena and start leading the church. So sometimes it looks a little out of control, humanly speaking. But I think the Holy Spirit is leading them. 

My observation is that God is going to use house churches, not the denominational churches. Most of the churches will be led by people — we would say lay leaders — who take the responsibility of leading these small churches. And that brings several challenges. Because what I believe is, no church is independent. I mean, one church is born out of the work of the believers from another church. I think in God’s Kingdom, every church is connected organically and spiritually. So, how do we best bring a structural expression of that association God has already created among these churches — a structure that would give them complete freedom to respond to the leading of the Holy Spirit without any control from the above? And at the same time, how do we have them come together and work together?

In Acts 20, Paul called together the elders from the city of Ephesus. There were house churches led by a team of elders, but they all came when Paul called them to come together. So though they were independent churches led by elders, Paul somehow connected them to each other — in a kind of hub. Eventually Timothy came and led that hub and gave them direction. But Paul created a kind of structure, a free structure, a hub model that took the gospel out in a concentric way. Paul got them to focus while he enabled them to develop. We can learn from this and do the same. 

Rev. Vasantharaj Albert

Vice-President of the Non-Denominational Association of Independent Churches (NAIC)

Just a thought to add to and interact with the above…

It could be that the elders were “elders of the city of Ephesus” and that they had oversight of the ‘Church in Ephesus.’ That these elders were not ‘in charge’ of individual house churches but were in oversight of all of the work of the Kingdom (and thus the church) in the city. That Ephesus was an apostolic center from which the gospel spread out into the surrounding provinces and regions. The churches were, to my understanding, led by regular believers who taught from the Scriptures and led the house church to which they belonged. The elders were in oversight of all of the house churches as ‘THE church in Ephesus’ and this eldership was most likely composed of members of the fivefold ministry – apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors (shepherds), and teachers. 

If you interpret Acts 20 as the Kingdom Voice quoted above did then each house church would be led by an “elder” which really is the old, traditional pattern we now have of the Church with each church being led by a pastor. Changing the words does not change the structure or give new life to an old wine skin. 

Each house church being led by a regular-type believer who has some leadership motivation (Romans 12:4-6) is my understanding of the biblical church. The ‘elders’ were in oversight of the Church in the city which would be comprised of hundreds if not thousands of small house church. 

This would make a lot more sense and incorporate the fivefold ministry into the life of the church (read: house churches in the city). 

Kingdom Voices – Part Two

There are folks who say, “Yeah, you know, this Kingdom stuff’s good. But when do we get people to the church?” Jesus established the church to get people to the Kingdom, not the other way around. The church is not the destination; the Kingdom is. And some folks in church as an institution struggle with this wider bandwidth of church expression because it doesn’t fit the categories that we’ve developed. We want to wrap it in biblical language and theological stuff, and we develop the classification of clergy versus laity and who can do what.

I’ll that it a step further and challenge our language. When we talk about planting a church, there’s no such thing. It’s the church, not a church. So when people tell me they feel called to plant a church, I generally say, “I doubt it,” you know, just to mess with them a little bit. Just to get their attention. Now, if you want to plant the church, I’m all over that. If you want to plant a church, that typically means you’re going out to plant a worship service. And a church grows up around it, and then you have a bunch of consumers again. 

Reggie McNeal                                                                                                                                                                    Missional Leadership Specialist, Leadership Network.

It seems to me that we are in a “Covid season” when God is shaking everything that He can shake so we will examine openly and honestly everything that we do and why we do it. Thus tossing out anything that is not biblical and definitely anything that is not encouraging effective soul winning and disciple-making.

The Scripture states: “So don’t turn a deaf ear to these gracious words … one last shaking, from top to bottom, stem to stern. The phrase ‘one last shaking” means a thorough house cleaning, getting rid of the historical and religious junk so that the unshakable essentials stand, clear and uncluttered” (Hebrews 12:25-27 The Message Version).

And, as the “Covid season” comes to an end – and it will – we will then not be able to return to what was. Church as it was will be finished. Business as usual will no longer work. And, in fact, the Church will be much smaller as God pulls together a powerful remnant and removes the goats from the sheep, cultural Christians from true believers, followers from true disciples. 

Kingdom Voices – Part One

A series of thought provoking short articles that I have recently come across. Although I may not agree with everything the authors state I found the articles caused me to do some deep thinking with a new perspective as I wrestled with what I read …

Meeting people at their point of need — that’s discipleship. That’s what I see as discipleship. Discipleship means reading the Bible, understanding the Scriptures, and living the scripture out alongside Jesus. It’s not, “Okay, so here are some of the things that I’ve learned from the Bible. Now let me go do it.” No. It’s, “How do I live my life with Jesus, in my context, in the power of the Holy Spirit?”

In India as a new Christian, you’re ostracized. As a new Christian, you face all kinds of persecution. As a new Christian, you have so much unlearning to do, and you can be misunderstood. So you accept these truths: I cannot do this by myself. I cannot go and talk to people in another caste. I cannot abstain suddenly from going to the temple. I cannot stay away from eating the temple food. How do I handle these situations? Who do I turn to? Jesus. He’s walking on the road, and I have to walk with Him, and when I do, He will bring these answers to my life. 

Somebody beautifully explained what following Jesus looks like. They said that the disciples, the ones that followed closer to Jesus, were the ones that had more dust on their feet because they were always running and trying to catch up. Their feet were dirtier and dustier because they had to keep up with the Master. So I think discipleship is in a way like that. You’re following your Master so closely because you want to live life with Him — in the journey that He’s taking you on, not on your journey.

So, it’s not just head knowledge. It’s not just compassionate acts of service. It’s not just a formula. No. It’s a way of life that is totally surrendered. I don’t know how else to say it. The way Paul says it is, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me” (Galatians 2:20 ESV). This is the life of a disciple. And that’s what we try to engage our new believers in, telling them, teaching them. “Yes, you come to conferences, you study God’s Word, you have to understand who Jesus is — His nature, His teachings, His principles, His idea of life.” In all of that, you learn, you understand, but the head knowledge has to translate to the heart. And even then, both the head and the heart have to completely surrender and live that crucified life. That’s discipleship for us. 

Becky Stanley

Director of Children’s Ministries, 

India Gospel League

I Am Afraid

Bill Lewis is a teacher and preacher who ministers apostolically and prophetically. Nearly 50 years of ministry is reflected in his writings. He currently lives in the State of Ohio, U.S.A. and is a friend and co-worker in the Kingdom.

I am afraid. I am not afraid. I think it is a threat and real. I think it is a hoax and a plot to manipulate. I am staying home. I refuse to stay home. You are a racist. I am not a racist. Black lives matter. All lives matter. The president is doing a great job. The president is insane. I love the president. I hate the president.

We live in a bowl of toxicity. No one is right; no one is wrong. Opinions are flying at the rate of a 100 mph fastball. No matter what you say or do; it is a swing and a miss.

Even sitting down to write this blog, (which I have put off for a long time) I am concerned to even express anything.

However, in studying history, we have as humans been here many times. Even in American history we have survived events like these time and again. Going back to the American Revolution we had folks split down the middle on issues to the point of demonstrations and  loss of life. Even a few years later the country was divided breaking into political parties and branding one another as un-American. Moving to the Civil War period the country was divided deeply and Lincoln was vilified to the end that he was assassinated. Pre World War Two, there were many Americans who thought Hitler was a great leader moving Germany out of financial collapse. Later, of course, Hitler’s true colors were revealed. When we live in that moment, it is hard to see clearly at times. History tends to sort it out years later. As they say, “Hind sight is 20/20.”

As a minister of the Gospel, the real issue comes to the wicked heart of man. Man is fallen. His nature, without redemption, is self centered, wholly carnal, hedonistic, and spiritually lost. While the world swirls around us, there is one thing that remains true; the sovereign will of God will be executed in the long run. There is a definite plan revealed in the word that brings things to a culmination. Jesus indicated that nations would rise and fall, wars and rumors of wars would persist. He said that there would one day be a false peace.

Personally, we, as believers, need to focus on principles of God’s word. We lose the power of the Gospel when we trade heavily in political parties. We become enmeshed in the platforms of the philosophical and political agendas of those parties. We slowly become more avid about the platform than the Gospel.

I am not advocating un-involvement, nor a position of disengaged pacifism. I know there are principles that must be upheld, talked about, embraced, and action taken. However, the real answer is Jesus. Seemingly simplistic, I know. Rather a pat answer you may say, maybe even trite. But contained in that simple statement is salvation, humanitarian reform, Prince of Peace, love, dignity, value, altruism in its best form. “Come unto me”…rings true today as it did when spoken for the first time.

I do not know when all this will end, but I do know that the Gospel is the best answer. Historically, America in its worst times, has been the seed bed for evangelical revival. The gospel has risen in each crisis to bring hope and restore civility. This should be our prayer and answer…Jesus.

I sincerely believe we need a move of God and thus I pray

The Times They are a Changin’

Guest Blogger – Bill Lewis, apostle, teacher

Here we are sitting at home, just watched our Sunday service on Facebook Live, singing to an empty building, preaching to hundreds of empty chairs. It is Palm Sunday and the streets are empty of Hosannas, palm branches, and children dressed in festive clothes. St. Peter’s Square is vacant as the Pope preaches. Around the world, the epidemic has changed everything.

Churches are trying to keep people together through media. There are live streams, websites, TV broadcasts, and personal notes.  Some pastors and churches are scrambling to learn new techniques as they are forced to do something to care for the flock. Computers, smartphones, and tablets are the connections to the flock in this moment. Education is forced into new territory as well. Students are now attending class via Zoom or some app similar. Google classroom has become, not the aid, but the mainstream for education. Teachers and parents are forced into a new paradigm. The church is forced into a new paradigm. The change is one from ancillary to primary. It is not just the “cool” thing anymore, it is the necessity.

Even this genre is fragile. If the grid were to go down, our system of communication would last as long as your battery, or maybe less. I have for a long time considered our modern and excellent forms of communication to be only as good as the infrastructure of the nation and world. One apocalypse of some sort would end or severely limit our communications worldwide.

I have pondered what affect does this have on our faith? Much of what we hold as the Christian faith is connected to relationships and interaction. Church is a lot more than the worship and preaching hour. It has a lot to do with the conversations before and after church. It has to do with the small group interactions that take place as service is being accomplished. It, too, has to do with the friendships that are developed and the non church get togethers that happen. With all or most of these interactions being canceled, where are we?

We have been reduced to core values. Your faith has to stand pretty much on your own initiative. You can sit in your pajamas and not interact electronically. You can veg out on the couch, sit silent, or run around screaming. No one knows or cares. (make sure your kids don’t see you) Essentially, our faith is being tested to see how real, deep, alive it is. We have no props to hold our faith up or, at least, they are very limited. We are challenged individually to maintain the faith and particularly the vitality of our faith.

To maintain in these times of isolation, we must develop regimes of spiritual discipline. They do not have to be over the top, but they have to be there. Reading the Bible regularly is a must. It can be as small as a paragraph, a chapter, or a book regularly, as in daily. Devotional books are great, but nothing replaces the exercise of reading the Bible in context. Prayer is necessary in whatever form suits you. It can be extended, isolated times of prayer, or conversational prayer that runs through the day. It can be table blessings to include the whole family or even family times of prayer depending on your approach. Add to these, reading good books, or listening to good books if you are not an avid reader, but the idea is to continue to challenge and inspire yourself spiritually. The books do not have to be tomes by theologians. They can be even secular in nature, but inspire the soul. There are great spiritual lessons in many of the good authors of novels, biographies, and history.

In some ways, we have been forced back into simplicity. I have seen more families out walking than in a long, long time. There are families engaging their children and rather than only having the 37 minutes a day with their kids as the national average indicates, many are spending hours each day with their children. The kids are probably going to miss that when they go back to school.

Our faith has been forced into simplicity as well. Once again, a walk gives time for worship of the creator. Time with family underlines the importance of those memories made with parents and children. The kids are going to always remember these weeks. For them, it will be their Pearl Harbor, their Kennedy Assassination, their 911. It will be like the blizzard of ’78, it will be the pandemic of 2020. Likewise, my hope is the church will simplify as well. It will be reinvigorated by these days. The church will rise to the challenge and not only survive, but see an amazing harvest.

The times, they are a changin’ -Bob Dylan

Isms

Guest blogger – Bill Lewis (apostolic leader, Ohio)

Racism, Nazism, nationalism, globalism, etc., etc. We are awash in “isms.” You walk down the aisle of life and you can choose from hundreds of “isms.” They are those flavors that distinguish you from all the rest of the people. You can become a part of a particular herd and find an identity. Now, your identity chosen will put you in conflict with other “isms.” You get to call them names and extremists and they will return the favor. Lines of protest and war can be formed from the “isms” of choice. You can also join more than one “ism” as long as they are not at strong odds.

We are divided by our “isms.” Conservatism and liberalism are blatantly at war right now. Supposedly each is trying to save our country while they are actively tearing it apart. There seems to be no sanity available for either side. Vilification of each other is far more important than finding commonality. The ancient art of finding middle ground is lost to the all or nothing approach of the hour.

“Isms” infect the church world as well. We have fundamentalism, pentecostalism, Calvinism, Arminianism, liberalism, legalism, to name a few. We gather in our “ism” of choice and hunker down to survive. Often we rail about the other “isms” and extol how great our “ism” is. We all have done it.

But note this, there is no “gospelism.” There is no “Jesusism.” There is no “Christianism.” Sorry for the forced misspelling to make a point. Somehow Jesus was able to present his message, draw the world to him, and not form an “ism.” His life and message is so pure and challenging that you cannot form a schism “ism.” The simple message of Jesus gets lost when we form camps of thought that exclude each other who profess Christ, but more importantly, we build walls that exclude the lost from finding the path to Jesus. “Isms” make the message of Christ narrow and defined by our prejudices. The simple message of grace is lost in the prerequisites of our “ism.”

The world sells a ton of various “isms.” However, the church should do as much as possible to avoid and tear down “isms.” The ground at the foot of the cross is level. Coming to Christ is the great liberation and is offered through faith. It is not a gauntlet of conditions. It is not a ten step program or a flurry of initiations like a fraternity pledge.

The hymn is “Just as I am, without one plea.” It is not “Just as we want you.” There is an acceptance that is going to look strangely varied as people come to Christ. They will be dragging baggage of a broken life, baggage of a former culture, and the baggage of a current situation that is difficult.

The challenge of the faithful is to avoid the “isms” that are so easy to create. Will the lost, the seeker, the broken, the addict, the fringe kids, find a place of acceptance and refuge or the narrow “ism” that you are comfortable with. If it is your “ism:” you will never see them again.

The days of telling people they are of devil for having a tattoo are gone. Telling a young woman to cover her arm in order to serve in church is ridiculous. Being offended by piercings is offensive. Do you love their soul? Do you see a soul in need of love? Or are you too busy defending your “ism?”

There is no Jesusism; just people who try to live like him.

Idealism, Just for Youth?

Guest Blogger – Bill Lewis (apostolic leader, Ohio)

I try not to be a pest with blogging. I feel that if you are too frequent in your writing, people might just ignore you. So, I attempt to be judicious in sending these out. However, an apostle friend of mine exhorted me to publish more. He was holding an article, telling me that it was good and needed to be shared. So, with a certain reluctance, I agreed to publish more frequently. Here is the article I just wrote…

 Thy Kingdom Come, Thy Will be Done, on earth as in Heaven…

I have lived my life with a certain idealism that has never been realized. I have striven for this illusive goal, and have missed the mark. I remember sharing my desire of what Christianity should be when I was about 25 with another man just a little older than me. I remember where I was. I was teaching at the Magnolia School and was in the cafeteria talking to this man. He told me that it could never happen. I walked out of that cafeteria thinking to myself, “it will happen!” I moved with determination holding forward that ideal found in the New Testament. I grew up with the people who called themselves the Restoration Movement. They were committed to restoring New Testament principles and life to the church. Yet, as the years went by, it appeared to be a thinly veiled mantra with no power or plan behind it. So many things of the NT were missing.

     Along came the Charismatic Renewal which somehow had been given that name after a few years of dynamic impact in main line denominational churches. This was birthed in Episcopal and Lutheran venues. Catholics were coming by the thousands. Conferences were held in Catholic halls of education. People came from all around the country seeking the power of the Holy Spirit. This was not the Pentecostal movement of the early 1900’s which touched people considered to be the poor and indigent. This was not the Holy Roller crowd which had gained a reputation of sorts. These were the society crowd full of pride and substance.

     In this movement, I received the missing link of my pursuit. He was the Holy Spirit. This baptism completed the ground work for a truly NT experience. The Book of Acts was a possibility. As the Charismatic Renewal was winding down and mainline churches were putting an end to acceptance, people who were being rejected or told to make the Holy Spirit only a personal, devotional part of their lives, began to form small groups and small churches to give expression to the freedom they had found. In this time, it seemed possible to form a NT church.

     However, as is so often the truth, they brought their baggage from Egypt (their past) with them. Church forms were carried over and the new freedoms were ritualized in the context of the old. New teaching emphases created what were called streams of doctrine. Faith stream, laughing stream, submission stream, plain people stream and many others were formed. Some really were not streams, but extremes.

     I am still looking for the ideal of the NT church. Looking for the Book of Acts people. I have had glimpses, short experiences with it, but so far, nothing sustainable. BUT, I am still looking and trying. I still believe.

It’s Not the Church’s Fault

Guest blogger – Bill Lewis (apostolic leader, Ohio)

The challenges of this period in history are many. Each generation has their challenges. If you were in the 1920’s, it was the Great Depression. The 1930’s had its Dust Bowl and homelessness. The 1940’s were plagued by WW2, the great loss of American lives. The 1950’s had the Korean War which bleeds into this day. The 1960’s found us ensconced in the Vietnam War which was the first war we fought not to win. To this day, we find ourselves immersed in wars across the globe. They have changed to wars of Terrorism. They are illusive, unpredictable, unmarked, suicidal. They are religious, paramilitary, and have no regard for the civilian, in fact, the civilian is the target.

With social media, our world has become more vicious, outspoken, threatening. Any person sitting behind a computer can be bold with their words, taunting, critical, vile, spouting hate, judgment, shaming. They can hide behind the screen. They can be little minded people who in anonymity appear to be big, strong, influencers. Bullying can take place with little or no consequence. And in all the world of “friends on FB,” they are alone. Creepy people are phishing for victims and outrageous fake personas are working to scam and destroy. We have wars in our homes, the attacks are relentless. The smartphone has become attacked by incessant robo calls that plague our peace. Daily we are assaulted.

The question is often asked, “Where is the church?” A far better question is “Where is the Christian?” Church is an easy target. It never seems to satisfy the atheistic, agnostic, I don’t care non-Christian. Rumors abound to the failures of leaders, true or false. Slander flows like water. Accusations that they are after your money, they want to control you, it is nothing more than a club, it is judgmental, the preacher is no good etc., etc. The church is easy to vilify and dismiss. We have to stop inviting people to church for the sake of just church.

The Christian has to be real. This is a one on one message and life. The Christian can no longer put it all on the pastor and other leaders. This is not a spectator sport. If you ask someone to come to church it should be because you are invested in that person and you want them to meet your family of faith. It is not to sit through a service. The attack against the church would rapidly diminish if we were to make it personal.

For instance, some people are rabid football fans. They eat, drink, live the sport. They watch hours of the sport, can tell the names of players, they know the stats, the predict college elite and super bowl candidates. They tailgate, they drive hundreds of miles to be there. They are fans. On the other hand, there is a large section of the population that could care. They get bored watching a game. They know nothing of the nuances of the sport. They would rather do something else. They are NOT sports fans.

We may think everyone should be a Christian. We may think everyone should go to church. The reality is there are millions who are NOT interested. They do not think of church or Christianity. They do not think about spiritual issues. They are NOT Christian fans. Sundays come and it is not different than Saturday or Friday for them. So while Christians pile into church buildings, the non’s are piling into kids sports, bike trails, camping, sleeping in, and they have no guilt, no need, it does not cross their minds.

Meanwhile, we, like avid football fans just do not understand why people do not get it.

The way you make a football fan is to show interest in your wife or girl friend or child or good friend and invite them to watch one with you. You explain the game, some of the rules and slowly point things out to them. You have lots of food, laughter, and answer questions that seem dumb to you because you know so much, but you treat the question as of paramount importance and you do not diss them for their lack of knowledge. You keep it simple. It will grow on them because they like you and want to be with you. Fanship will come much, much later.

Christians have to engage a friend. Church is probably not the first step in the relationship. You live. You share when asked. You answer simply. You are teaching the rudimentary parts of your life with Christ. Eventually, with much patience they will become fans of Jesus. Church should be a place where you take them to meet your faith family and begin to make them apart of the family. Keep them away from crazy uncle Joe, or busybody Aunt Millie. Family has some strange people in it, but with instruction and love, we love uncle and aunt.

Through the years people need people. One has put it “No man is an island.” True Christianity provides a rock of stability in the storm, it provides relationships that uphold us and expresses love. True Christianity is not about the dogma, but about the relationship with the God of the universe, his son, and his Spirit and it is best expressed in community. The church then is a gathering of people for a purpose.

When we lose purpose, we are no longer a church. We are just an organization, drifting. The church does not have to step up, the Christian has to step up!