sydney-harb-firework-blogIt’s New Year’s Eve and we’re sitting around the restaurant table, playing simple improv theatre games to pass the time while waiting for our meals to arrive. Then one of our kids starts thinking about 2019, and for once, perhaps the very first time, we start talking about what we what to keep and what we want to be different in 2019.

I’m astonished when one of the kids shares that their goal is to keep inviting their friends to youth group, hoping some will come regularly, others to step up into youth church as well.


 It wasn’t her only goal, there were other ambitions as well, but it was a great reminder of what’s really important in life…

...'from the mouth of babes'…right?

My goals were far less grand.

Things like cracking on with a video series for preschool age kids. It’s been on the back burner for a while, breaking my heart…so in 2019 I want to get back on the horse and give it more than just a kick start.

Often people have personal well-being or health goals like:

‘I want to quit smoking’, others ‘alcohol’.

What about turning away from specific sin?

What about quitting gossip, slander, covetousness, non-contentment, jealousy, anger, hatred?

How often do we target our character, our godliness?

If only to be a sporting hero, we’d wash that sin away and rebrand overnight.

Australia’s summer has been rocked by the poor performance of our national cricket team against a top Indian line up. One of the main reasons for our lack luster batting has been the loss of our two best batsmen, Smith and Warner. They were banned from playing for 1 and 2 years respectively for ‘cheating’; scuffing the cricket ball up with some sandpaper to try and win advantage against South Africa.

But now, nearly one year later, out they come with TV ads telling us they want to ‘take responsibility’ and ‘come back better than before’…all the while earning lucrative sponsorship money through the advert!

I never knew repentance could be so profitable.

For most of us, it’s just hard slog.

We may not be forgiven by those we’ve hurt.

Our progress may not be noted.

We don’t have a PR machine to spin us into the people we want others to believe we have become.

I don’t normally set New Year’s Resolutions, how about you?


Goals are different.

Without aiming for something, we’re bound to hit our target, right? i.e. nothing.

I don’t want to hit nothing…do you?

Last year I didn’t put much thought into it. I knew what I wanted to do but didn’t set myself any specific targets. Maybe I just didn’t feel enough control over my circumstances to set concrete goals. I remember making that decision not to make a decision all through 2018 and regretted it.

We still did good things.

For example, Anton did a new devotion series in James, then we even revisited it with your help and tweaked it up a few notches, now we’re going to expand on it and take it up few more notches. It’s exciting, teaching kids the Bible verse by verse. Wow!

But in retrospect, I’d rather set some specific goals for 2019 and reach for them, risking the disappointment of missing those targets, than not.

Without specific targets, I found myself getting business done, but without the focus, pressure or edge needed to drive me.

So, this year, I decided ‘enough of that’.

Would you like to join me?

Here are some ideas or goal areas for you to mull over before 2019 gets too far underway:

Personal godliness goals?

Outreach goals?

Leading the kids in God’s word, prayer and godliness?

Ministry Project?

Generosity and Hospitality?

Financial goals?

Fitness goals?

Travel goals?

Employment goals?

Home building goals?

Now some of these you may like to drop or add to. It’s not really a well thought out list.

But let’s scan through it together, shall we?


Some you might like to already tick…or are easier than others, like the ‘Home’ goal. Maybe you can see a plan to save enough to build a deck on your house or landscape the garden or put a deposit on an apartment.


Some goals might be project based, like starting a new holiday kids club at church or a weekly ministry event at your home for your kids to invite their friends over. Maybe like me, you want to make a video series for preschoolers…and finally get it out there.


You might like to open your home more, give voluntary time to some charity or donate more money to some worthwhile areas that you know are worthy or that you might ask God to put on your heart. We’ve got a weekly open home on Friday arvos for our kids’ friends, with dinner, then they head up to youth group at church. That’s a winner and a keeper for 2019. The only question is, how we can expand the invites.


What sort of fitness do you want in your life? Are you going to run that half marathon this year? Do the mini-Triathlon or just join a weekly cycling club? Maybe like me, you want to surf at least once per week and keep the family walking regularly, so you can take on some overnight hiking trips while the kids are still ‘family orientated’.

Personal Development?

What about that art course or pilates class? Me, I’d like to continue with some improv classes and even get back to singing lessons.


Money might be tight, so does that mean you won’t travel anywhere this year?

Can we set a goal to travel cheap…a budget for an old stinky holiday house by the beach where we cook our food on barbeques using the council run, button operated, never hot enough, always dirty hot plates? But the sunsets are amazing!

Or can we finally wangle that trip to walk the overland track in Tasmania?

Probably you’ve already got this one nailed as it takes pre-booking lots of stuff, so maybe it’s …how we gonna pay for it!?!

How are we going to lead the family in godliness, prayer and Bible reading?

Do we need to freshen things up? Where are the kids not engaged? How can we reignite their spiritual growth?

We talked as a family about this and reviewed the year together. We talked about the highlights.

The family helps me work through Anton’s videos, giving input and using them to spark conversation as well. One thing is clear, working through books of the Bible, reading chunks and not jumping all over the place has been a winner. Whether it’s been slogging away reading the narratives of 1 and 2 Samuel or focusing on a few verses at a time like in James, using Anton’s ‘Unpolluted’ devotion videos, these practices and formats we will continue to develop and improve upon in 2019.

But let’s not miss the godliness goals in our own lives.

What are we going to repent of in 2019?

Frustration…not turning to prayer and instead getting angry…comes to mind.

How about you?

PS: Sign up for a Free trial lesson from Anton’s ‘Unpolluted’ Family devotion series in the book of James, right here!

and get your kids into reading and interpreting the Bible for themselves, verse after verse in 2019.


PPS: Here's a link to an article written in dec 2018 talking about Steve Smith taking responsibility for his failure as Australian cricket captain

and here's the annoying PR ad being run between every over of the cricket! Gutsy calling io January


Photo by Padraig Treanor on Unsplash