Encouragement for 2012

It was the summer between my sophomore and junior years in high school. I was a 15 year old boy attending the Illinois Baptist state summer youth camp. In a quiet moment one evening, during the service, I sensed God calling me into the ministry. Being in Illinois, I didn’t know there were other opportunities in vocational Christian service other than preaching. We just had full time preachers in the state; everyone else was bi-vocational or a volunteer. But I knew God was calling me into ministry. And I knew that I didn’t want to be a preacher.

I said yes so many years ago. I didn’t know what I was saying yes to exactly, but I said yes anyway. And as God revealed His plan for me, I took those steps as they became clear. I tell you this because I want you to understand I believe my calling is to God and to ministry, not to music alone. I see my role as not simply developing musicians, but developing, encouraging, and equipping disciples. It makes a difference in how I lead and work.

Because of this, I want to encourage you in your walk with Christ for 2012. While I want you to attend choir rehearsal and to be active in leading worship each Sunday morning, I also want to encourage you to continue in your development as a disciple. The beginning of a new year is a perfect time to take a few moments and take stock in where you are and where you are headed. To this end I offer a few suggestions to help you in your discipleship this year.

1. Have a quiet time each day. Spend a designated time with God. Use a devotional book. You may choose the morning or the evening, but develop a regular time to sit alone with God and allow Him to speak to you. One of the best books I have used in many years is Jesus Calling by Sarah Young. The book is written from the perspective of Jesus speaking directly to the reader. Carefully organized and wonderfully written, it is an excellent resource.
2. Choose a word for the year. Over the past few years I have done this and have shared my word with you. Many of you chose to join me last year as you selected a word as well. I hope that you found it fulfilling and challenging as the months progressed. My word last year was “strength”. God used it in many ways. I will be selecting a word in the next few days for 2012. I encourage you to do the same. And, as last year, I will offer to purchase a wrist band for you with your word printed on it to encourage you. I will be asking for your words in the next couple of weeks.
3. Consider reading the Bible through in a year. Kylie and I have decided to do this. Plans are available and I can get them to you if you are interested. Plans are also available on the web. One can be located at http://www.ewordtoday.com/year/ . If you decide to do this, please let me know so that I can pray specifically for you. As we read God’s Word, there is power that comes in our lives.
4. Find a time each week for personal worship. Sing some songs to God. Allow Him to speak to you through the music. This will also help in your corporate worship each Sunday. If the only time you are worshiping our Lord is on Sunday, you will be left many times feeling empty and wanting. What we do each week on Sunday morning is in direct relation to how our personal worship has gone in the past week.

I pray for you often. God has ordained that we would be together for this part of life’s journey. I want to make the most of it. I pray that you will do the same! May God richly bless us in 2012.

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1 Response to Encouragement for 2012

  1. mprater43 says:

    Gary, thanks for sharing I am giving your suggestions a lot of thought. I really like choosing a word for the year and that is what I will be deciding on in the next few days. As we talked over Christmas, what we are doing now is a ministry for both David and I and have some days that are very trying and others that are filled with blessings. Thanks again.

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