My Goals for 2024 – Faith and God Update

I shared my goals for 2024 in a recent video here, and this is a follow-up to part of the video related to my faith in God. I mentioned these goals for this year: learning how to forge knives, buying a rebounder, getting in shape, and getting closer to God. The last subject is something that I’ve never spoken about on this Youtube channel and I’m glad I mentioned it. For some people, the less they hear about God, the more He becomes like a distant memory. So today we’re going to chat about Him!

A Lasting Impression

Words can leave a lasting impression, whether they’re positive or painful. The more often the words are spoken, it seems as though they become imprinted on us. We should be careful how we speak to others, and also how we speak to ourselves. If you’re sharing your life online in any capacity on social media, you’ll encounter a variety of comments and opinions from others – ones that you didn’t really ask for. Unfortunately, we tend to remember the negative words more than the positive. I think it’s important to focus on the positive, take in any legitimate and critical feedback, but ignore those who are just trying to bring you down.

In our current day and age, it doesn’t feel like it’s widely accepted to be a Christian. I remember when I was a teenager and everyone I saw was wearing What Would Jesus Do (WWJD) bracelets. It was almost cool to be a Christian back then, but times have changed and many people have lost both community and their connection to God.

“Prepare, prepare, prepare,” and “repent, repent, repent.” These words were spoken by an Alaskan Youtuber I’ve been listening to lately. The way he so openly speaks about God in his content is a refreshing reminder. His words had an impact, and I think that played a part in my renewed commitment to God.

My sweet cat Spud, always wanting to be close by.

Getting Into the Bible

I’ve made some changes to my morning routine, and I started to dedicate every morning to God, like I used to many years ago. Initially I started my mornings out with a church sermon, rather than watching pointless content as I get ready in the morning.

Reading the Bible after not doing so in a long time, was a bit difficult. I just didn’t know where to begin, so I would read random verses. Then, I felt compelled to start at the actual beginning – Genesis 1, with the goal of reading the entire Bible from start-to-finish.

For most people, it’s not easy to start reading from the Old Testament. To be honest, in the past, I think I would have classified it as something that may be boring or difficult to get into reading.

My mindset, my approach, and my experience now is completely and wonderfully different.

Taking Notes & Bible Commentary

I was given a beautiful journal here years ago by my dear friend Paul, and I’ve been using it to take notes on Genesis, reading through every bit of each chapter, pretty slowly.

Bible Commentaries to Check Out

Right away, I had some questions, so I looked online for some additional answers and found a website called Enduring Word, which contains extremely helpful, insightful Bible commentary. This was a game-changer for me. I also found Precept Austin which includes commentaries from a variety of sources, going verse-by-verse (providing numerous interpretations in one place).

This helps so that I am not following the word of just one person’s commentary. I’ve also found videos by Gospel in Life to be incredibly helpful, as he gives you an overview of the Bible chapter. He provides additional context and background that you may not have known about otherwise. If I get stuck, I search through commentaries and I also go to the Got Questions website for answers. I’ve also purchased the IVP Bible Commentary, which is a hard-cover book.

Starting the Day Right

My current schedule involves reading the Bible first thing in the morning before anything else. I now read through several chapters or more, then I go to the Enduring Word website & other commentary sources and read through commentaries on the same chapter, while taking notes.

I’ve found this to be extremely helpful and inspiring. It helps me to learn more about the back-story, to get extra details and a broader understanding of what I’m reading.

Check Out Expedition Bible

I recently discovered an incredible Youtube channel called Expedition Bible. If this channel doesn’t bring the Bible to life for you, then I don’t know what will! Archaeologist Joel Kramer takes you along on his adventures to actual Biblical sites, sharing context and evidence, to help you understand the Scriptures better. I am in awe of the content and of my own realizations. I was on Biblical land when I previously worked as a contractor in Iraq in 2003, without knowing it. The person who hired me to work over there, sadly lost his life on the way to the ancient city of Babylon. I had such a lack of knowledge of the Bible back then. I wrote in a journal prior to leaving Iraq that I hoped I could return someday in the future when it’s safer.

New Beginnings

It’s fitting for me to start at the beginning with Genesis, as my new beginning is starting also. The book of Genesis at this point has become a complete fascination, with each story becoming so real to me – following along with each life, each character and their travels and experiences. I’ve been into reading the Bible before, but it’s been years, and back then I was mostly reading the New Testament.

I feel like I’m reading a novel that I just don’t want to put down. As this isn’t normal for me, I know God is guiding, inspiring and teaching me.

Journaling the Word

I’ve been on a mission to buy a new Bible since the one I have isn’t my favorite and happened to be purchased by an ex when I was in my 20s. It’s a women’s Bible that contains extra notes and details, but I don’t find them to be helpful personally. They’re offering life lessons, talking about stories unrelated to the Bible. I’d prefer either a Bible with historical commentary and maps, or a journaling Bible.

I ended up purchasing a very simple black hard-cover journaling Bible. I also bought special highlighters and I even bought a variety of pens that claim to be permanent, archival pens that don’t bleed. I’m excited for when the Bible and pens arrives. It’s funny as I’ve never been excited about buying pens before! After having and using the Bible for months now, I would only recommend it to someone who really needs space to take notes, and doesn’t need any additional information in their Bible. I am happy I got it and I love using it for notes. But, if you’re looking for a Bible to provide you with background information, maps, some guidance and commentary, I absolutely love this Life Application Study Bible.

Reflection

The world is a busy and hectic place. We’re overwhelmed more often than we’re not it seems. Some people (myself included) have a tendency of trying to take care of themselves and do everything on their own. This will lead to burnout, stress and anxiety. I believe it was something that took away my peace. On reflection, I think I became selfish over the years and I stopped putting God first.

I’ve also been ashamed of things that I’ve done in straying from Him, when I’ve made certain terrible, poor, selfish choices. I know people can relate to that, in carrying the weight of such guilt around for years. We punish ourselves daily over things of our past.

Through the years I have missed God. It makes me think about how some marriages are so broken that the couple lives together yet feels such a sense of being alone. They’re in each other’s presence but they’re not together. And, it’s deeply painful. We’re making these choices with God too. He is here with me, with you. It’s our choice to be present with Him.

 

Hardships & Truth of living in the Middle of Nowhere
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MARK

Beautiful ! I too have had this rededication, Just got my new Bible . I Like Jentezen Franklin a lot and Andrew Womack really helped me understand some things in a less religious way with the healing process from illness and what prayer really is . I think you would like his healing journey testimonials , they are amazing . God Bless

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