Early this morning, as I added wood to the fire, the thought hit me, "Is it really the last day of 2013?" I realize it is a sign of getting older (time going faster), but I still feel it today. Can it really be the last day of this year? As I've pondered that question, I have spent time reflecting on the year and what God has done, what God has imparted, what God is planning for New Life in the coming year.
I've compiled a list of highlights and keywords that came to mind as I prayed over the past year. I asked the Lord to show me what He had been doing and to give insight into the next steps for New Life. I invite your feedback. Perhaps you have a different highlight and I'ld love to hear it. Here are my keywords and highlights for what God has done in 2013.
- We began the year learning about and engaging in Circle prayers. While we saw many answers, it is clear that many prayers remain unanswered at this point. Are we still praying? Have we committed to praying long, and praying hard, and praying through? Don't give up. Keep praying.
- Our building team meeting morphed into a Men's prayer gathering and we have had weekly men's prayer on Friday mornings. This has been a tremendous time of encouragement and accountability as we've met to hold one another up in prayer through the year.
- We engaged in Family prayer on Wednesday evenings. Through the year most of you have taken the opportunity to participate.
- Overall, we have prayed more this year than we have ever prayed and I see God calling us to increase our prayer efforts in the coming year.
- The church has grown numerically as we have seen several families and individuals join the New Life family of worshippers.
- The church has grown spiritually as we saw 6 new believers and 30 re-dedication commitments during our Not.A.Fan. study with our ADVANCING group.
- The women of New Life grew relationally and in faith as they participated in a Beth Moore study on the book of James.
- Through the year, many responded to altar calls for prayer, dedication and growing more in Christ.
- The building team has narrowed our options and in 2014 will be ready to make some clear recommendations for growing/building a "home" for our New Life family.
- Key Phrases and Moments
- Many families prayed together more than ever before as we walked through the 40 days of "Draw the Circle".
- Something shifted in the Spirit as Dr. Joseph Umidi declared the "grasshopper spirit" to be broken over New Life of the Shenandoah Valley.
- Fresh Bread ... the smell and message will linger with us as we remember Angie Perigo sharing with us the call to be those who take Fresh Bread of Jesus to the hurting and lost around us.
- Treasure Hunting stretched many of us out of our comfort zone and into a God-zone as we hit the streets with Fresh Bread from God.
- "Show me Your Faith" ... will remain with us as we studied through the book of James and discovered how active our faith is really meant to be.
These were a few of the highlights that the Lord brought to mind as I reflected this morning. What about you? Have you taken the time to reflect as an individual? As a family? What are your highlights and challenges from 2013? What has God been preparing in your heart for 2014? We know that God has a plan, God has your days in his hands. Are you ready for what He will call us to in 2014?
I look forward to celebrating with those of you who will be with us tonight for our New Year's eve celebration. I look forward even more to the plans God will be unfolding for the coming year.
And so, I'll close this time of reflection with a time of "projection" ... As to 2014's arrival, I say, "Welcome! God is making all things new ... and this year He will accomplish NEW things in our hearts, NEW things in our families, NEW things in the church and NEW things as we reach out to those who have yet to experience HIS love and grace. God is making NEW connections in our hearts and in our families and in our church family. God is creating NEW connections to the community and through his NEW initiatives within us, GOD is going to receive glory, and many are going to experience HIM and receive HIS love in NEW ways! Welcome, 2014!"
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