A friend of mine posted to my Facebook page Alice Cooper’s song Salvation. I must admit I was a bit shocked at how spiritually sound the song was and the sense of longing really spoke to me. I didn’t know that he was a Christian and I was really surprised when I listened to a number of interviews in which he made no bones about his being a follower of Jesus.

One of the great weaknesses in my life, and I have many, is being critical of what people say. Somehow I always seem to think the worse when celebrities and sports figures start talking about their faith in Jesus. I look at the pictures of women half naked and men posing in macho poses and I think, “you’ve got to be kidding.” Surely these people are just pretending or at the most are superficial believers.

But who gives me the right to judge my fellow believers? I am sure that plenty of people could come to similar decisions about my Christian experience if my life was under a microscope. What we need is support in our walk with Jesus and not people picking holes in our profession of faith and belittling our commitment to Jesus.

Too many Christians feel bad enough about their experience. They feel guilty for failing to live up to the standards they set for themselves and beat themselves up for their failures. Other Christians just can’t believe that God can forgive them for the total mess they made of their lives.

Still other Christians believe that they can never be forgiven for they’re on again and off again relationship with God. And many Christians live in a world of rejection, discouragement, disappointment and failure because of the spiritually abusive church system they belong to or have escaped from.

So, why would a Christian who faces the problems and discouragements that often come their way need me to pile on shame and guilt? How often we meddle in other people’s problems giving our opinions as if they had some royal decree, feeling smug in our advice regardless of the pain inflicted on the person we tried to help.

My resolution this coming year is to be an encouragement to my fellow travellers. I don’t want people to ache because of something I’ve said or done. Like said in a previous blog I really want my life to matter this coming year. I want God to use me to touch the lives of people in a positive manner and bring encouragement and hope to everyone who struggles with their faith. And I believe you want that for your life as well.

I’ve decided to get my life back into perspective. How am I going to do that? I’m glad you asked.

1. It is time I took my health seriously. I have MS, kidney stones and a tumor on the pituitary gland. I’m put on 25 pounds and hardly ever exercise. I’ve decided to exercise every day and listen to my friend Mary more often regarding my diet.

2. The reason I’ve gained so much weight and don’t exercise is because I am not a disciplined person. So this is the second decision I’ve made for my life. I am going to make the time for my health and cherish my time getting myself into better shape instead of dreading it.

3. My spiritual growth is going to become more conformed and organized. I’ve been working on three different books for a long time and I think I will actually work on completing one of them this year.

4. I am going to make prayer, study and sharing the gospel priorities this year. My friend Harvey has inspired me to become more active in sharing my faith. I was stunned to read that one person in North America converts to the Christian faith for every one hundred church members. It takes a hundred Christians to find one person who needs Christ. This must change.

5. Finally, I am asking God to make me a more loving and compassionate person. I long to love Christ, my family, my friends and my neighbors more than I do. And that includes losing my critical spirit.

For many of you this might sound like a silly list because you already find your spiritual journey surpassing my goals but that is fine. Each of us can grow regardless of our present relationship with God.

My prayer for each of you this coming year is to give more of yourself over to God and challenge Him to use you as He sees fit. Let each of us simply say, “Here I am God, use me and direct me as you see fit.” What are your dreams for this coming year? Where do you want to be emotionally, physically and spiritually this time next year?

May God lead and guide each of us on our journey and may the Holy Spirit use us to touch the lives of others.

* Please continue pray for the persecuted Christians around the world – they need our support as brothers and sisters in Christ. Some of their stories can be found at  http://thebeggardanced.com/nine-oclock-club/