Real Solutions Not Resolutions: What Things Will You Really Change This Year?


Image by Dawn Ritchie

The new year has come with cheers, shouts of glee, kisses, and flying confetti. The starting over of the calendar is a majestic happening. It may even be divine. The new year itself is none of these things on its’ own nor is another monotonous rotation around the sun anything to be pleased about in of itself. The renewing of the year is a reflection of the renewal that has come to our hearts and lives through the blood of Jesus Christ and his forgiveness.

And as we begin this new year, many of us have no doubt made several physical resolutions. I know I have. Gyms across the nation are no doubt packed to the brim with people determined to shed those unwanted pounds. And no doubt McDonald’s is taking a hit from all those people resolving to lay off the fast-food.

Even fewer have made the commitment to read the Bible over this year, having purchased a one-year-bible just for this purpose.

The unfortunate reality is, however, that these resolutions will fail.

The one dieting will stop working out and the person committed to reading the scripture will slip back into their neglect of God’s word, collecting dust under the bed.

These people will fail for one solid reason: A lack of lasting self-control.

I know this because I am one of these people.

Every year I have made resolutions and though having the best intentions, I never stay the course through the whole year.

What would my year look like if I actually lived the way to which I have resolved?

My New Years Eve was filled with laughs as my wife and I enjoyed the friendship of close friends—but no meaningful resolution had come to mind. As we sat around the fire on that brisk night, I stole a few moments to reflect on what I actually wanted this year. How would I change my life for the better?

Of course the typical weight-loss and better-health. But how could I make this last? And what is my life missing?

I realized that my life needed a general deeper devotion. Sure I read the Bible regularly, attend church and serve. But I want something more. Something radical.

Our lives are in progress. And progress looks very different throughout our lives. I need to take the next step and take it to the next level. We all do. And while this may look differently for each one of us, mine will be a great experiment quite difficult on body, soul, and mind.

I have resolved to fast.

Not the sort of fasting to which I have done in the past, drinking coffee, soda, or juice throughout the day only to say “that was nice” by dinner time. To be honest, I gave up because I was too weak of mind and lacked true commitment. I felt some heavy conviction this last Ramadan (the Muslim month of fasting) when countless men and women, in devotion to a God whom I am convinced does not exist, fasted from all food and water during the day for an entire month. Why can I not make it through a single day focusing on Christ, the perfect image of the true God?

For this reason, I have resolved to fast on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I am not sure if I will succeed every week, but I am confident that a year of fasting will reorient my mind and body on the spirit and on the things Christ is doing in my life.

Pray for me.

I have resolved to study the scripture.

Since becoming a true follower of Christ, I have always been committed to the scripture. I was just never committed as deeply as I should be. I have always been a “New Testament Christian”—that is, one who only reads and studies the New Testament. I have read the Old Testament years ago but have not really looked back since. I found it irrelevant and boring. But the truth is I need to read and study it. I began a reading program on YouVersion a few weeks ago which will take me through the Old Testament. And it has already been fruitful and encouraging. I really recommend checking their reading plans out and you can even follow my readings and notes.

Inspired by something Mark Driscoll said once, I have also resolved to spend the next six months studying the gospel of Matthew and the following six months studying the gospel of Mark. The idea is to study a book of the Bible for six months, reading every commentary and pouring over every verse. At the end of six months you should be an expert on the contents of this book. After some thirteen years, one would be an expert on the New Testament. One could be an expert on the entire Bible in thirty-three years. It is a lengthy investment but ultimately worthwhile. And for those of you with “less time left,” the Bible can be studied in seventeen years if a book is studied for three months (plenty of time for those willing to study).

The truth of the scripture is worth the investment.

I have resolved to be more bold.


I am a passive person for the most part. For those that I am unfamiliar with, I am not as bold as I would like to be. And in general, to my fault, I do not speak up for the gospel of Christ or against evil the way that I should. While I despised the annoying Christians who spoke out in ridiculous ways against my college professors while in class, I have to admire their boldness. I want to speak boldly for Christ at the coffee shop, at school, and among friends. And this boldness first starts with stepping out of the Christian bubble more often. I want to go to a gay bar. I want to go to the club. And wherever else people of our culture spend their time. I want to befriend, love, serve, and boldly present the gospel in my city.

Breaking my social barriers will be difficult, but the gospel is worth the discomfort.

There are, of course, many other things in my life which I want to change but these are my top three. The first step may be the most difficult. Look deep within your soul and ask how you should change your life this year.

What resolutions have you made?

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  • Everything you said is pretty darn true, Jon. I'm a very devout exercise-aholic, I'm in and out of the gym at least 5 to 6 times a week and on the days I'm not in the gym I'm rock climbing or hiking or doing something of the sort. Every year I see the gyms packed on Jan 1st and by mid March they are empty again. I suppose this always puzzled me, because fitness for me was always so important, looking and feeling good, pushing yourself to the extreme to see what can be accomplished, but I'm guilty of letting my faith fall by the wayside. I realized before the new year that my faith had run into apathy, I talk about it in my Sanctification post. It struck me, I'm a man with a past, and a muddy one at that, and it was Christ that saved me from it, and from myself, but I couldn't go more than 2 days without forgetting to read the scripture? I was convicted. So like you I've loaded the You Version bible on my phone and am pushing through the epistles right now. I think this is a lot like when I first started exercise, it has to become habit, and for that to happen I need to remind myself that any effort to make it so for my Lord is worth the struggle and pushing other daily activities aside. Thanks for the post, Jon, great as usual.

  • Jonathandkeck

    It's true. It's all in habit. But I also think it is a guenuine change of thinking in one's thinking—from food to spiritual discipline. As always, it is great to hear your thoughts!

  • It most definitely is a change of thinking! Thats where that habit comes in. Its where we used to have course language, and we get into the habit of watching what we say. Suddenly one day we realize we've been watching what we say because its a reflection of Christ, not because its just the churchy thing to do. We show the difference that Christ makes in us by the choices we choose to make!

  • Pingback: Feeling the Monastic Call: Deploying Ancient Practices of Christ-Following : Jonathan Daniel Keck()

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