New Year's Resolutions

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Happy New Year!

I write this blog from a condo on the beach of the Gulf of Mexico. Do not be too jealous. I’ll spend New Year's Day driving my family of five 988 miles. We’ll be in a midsize SUV with 5 bikes, Christmas gifts that could not be left behind, sea shells that smell like rotting fish, and loads of beef jerky. The trip will begin at 1:00am. I picked a bad month to quit drinking caffeine.

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It’s also cloudy here. Possibly cloudier than Pittsburgh if that is even possible in Florida.  But that is not the point. We travel to take a break from the busy and spend quality time together. I’d tell you where we are, but I do not want you to ruin the tranquility for Christmas 2019.  Football on the beach is infinitely more fun with an 8-year-old when the beach is vacant. Teaching your daughter to ride without training wheels is far safer when the bike path is empty.  Waking up to the sweetest hugs with nowhere to be makes the long drive worth it.

I promised myself I would not make New Year’s Resolutions this year. That’s cliché. Instead, I came up with 4 things that I am resolving to do in 2019. They are simple but necessary commitments for me. Included on my list:

  1. Be more spontaneous. Get up and take the family and go. Explore new places and things and don’t always calendar it.

  2. Don’t renovate anything. My wife wants a new bathroom, but she’ll have to wait until 2020 for the steam shower.

  3. Schedule more date nights. I never want to stop making memories with my best friend.

  4. Prioritize silence and stillness. Movement does not always equal gain.

Pretty ambitious huh? In 2019 I am resolving to slow down and grow my stop doing list. What’s on your list? The New Year is a fitting time to make changes and think about what lies ahead. 2019 will be an exciting year for Orchard Hill. I am particularly excited about the Strip District grand opening in the newly renovated Saint Elizabeth’s Church.

Numbers 13-14 teaches us the right way to plan a New Year. The family of Israel had left slavery in Egypt by God’s miraculous works. As they walked toward the Promised Land, God told them to send 12 spies into the land to see what it was like.

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The spies returned with a report. They described an abundant land that spelled prosperity for an agrarian society. Caleb and Joshua said: “if the Lord is pleased with us, he will lead us into that land.” Meanwhile, the other ten spies led the people into a rebellion saying things like, “they are stronger than we are,” “Why is the Lord bringing us to this land only to let us fall by the sword,” and “If only we had died in Egypt!” How melodramatic.

Because of their unbelief, God made a pronouncement: the Israelites must wait 40 years in the desert, until that entire generation died, before they would go into the Promised Land.

The Israelites didn’t like hearing that. So, they did what I probably would have done: “Now we are ready to go up to the land the Lord promised!” They grabbed their weapons and “in their presumption they went up” against the Canaanites. Needless to say, their plan fell flat.

First, they thought they couldn’t do it with God. Then they thought they could do it without God. What is our lesson? The size of the challenge is less important than whether God is with you. As you plan for 2019 – are you doing it on your own strength or are you depending on the God who can overcome any challenge?

Your New Year’s Resolutions may have some ambitious goals. Or, like me, your Resolutions may be to slow down. Either way, set your goals and pursue them with God in focus. Trust in His power and you are guaranteed to make 2019 the year with no regrets.


Joel joined the Student Ministry team in August 2010 to work primarily with Middle School Ministry and currently serves as the Campus Pastor at Orchard Hill - Strip District.

Prior to coming to Orchard Hill, Joel served as a youth pastor for three years in the Chicago area. He graduated from the Moody Bible Institute and received his master's degree from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.

Joel has 3 kids that are packed full of energy. He enjoys chasing, playing, dancing and being silly with them. Joel and his wife, Amy, do not know how to sit still in their Bellevue home.