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The Bless Quest

It's December 31, 2022. A new year is right on top of us. I imagine that tonight across America, our New Year's Eve celebration will look a lot like it does each year: Times Square will be filled with people waiting for the ball to drop at midnight, fireworks will go off across our rural parts, club goers will party in our city parts, kisses and hugs will be shared with loved ones, corks will be popped on champagne, and I - I will be in bed by 10:00pm just like last year and the year before that and the year before that. Aaaahhhh! Some traditions are worth keeping! Yes, all across the country and even around the globe, we will each be keeping our traditions alive by celebrating in our own unique way the fresh start of a new year.

And it really is the fresh start that we love, isn't it? No matter how we each celebrate, I am certain that each one of us loves the idea of a brand new day dawning with no mistakes in it, no stresses, no worries, no fears. Add to that feeling the satisfaction of not only a fresh start but leaving our past behind. That mistake you made in December 2022? It's so last year on January 1, 2023,12:00am. All those problems? Those bad habits? The News Cycle of the 2020 and Midterm elections? Gone with the stroke of midnight. It's the very reason we celebrate the New Year - for the fresh start we all desire. This is why so many of us will try our darndest to make resolutions: it's a fresh start and we want to start the New Year right. As Bing Crosby sang,

"Let's watch the old year die

With a fond goodbye

And our hopes as high as a kite

How can our love go wrong if

We start the new year right?"

It's that very desire to start a new year right that caused me to begin this blog twelve years ago this month. I began this blog in December, 2010 as an attempt to journal my progress of speaking blessing and guarding my mouth from grumbling. My very first post under that old blog went like this:

Well, folks...I am starting a journal/blog about monitoring my mouth. I thought about doing this a few weeks ago, then, after the Holy Spirit brought some conviction to me today…about something that I said that I didn’t even realize was grieving to Him...I decided to jump in. I prayed about it & the Lord told me to get serious in my fight with my mouth. What better way than to start a blog, I thought. So, today I will begin to journal my progress on keeping watch over my mouth. I'm trying to get some friends on board to keep watch with me. My goal is that in a years time, my friends will see a vast difference in the outflow of my mouth; that my speech will drip with edifying Presence; that the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart will be pleasing to God (Ps 19:14) at all times. Holy Spirit, you are my source. Your words are pure. They are Spirit and they are life. I begin my steps today by declaring I desire the same: only pure, life-filled words.I'm calling this my Psalm 17:3 challenge, which simply states, "I have purposed that my mouth shall not transgress." That's a pretty good purpose. But, what I'm finding is that I have the habit of transgressing with my mouth and not even realizing it! I think that we as Christians do this: we grumble, not in MASSIVE ways, but just enough to not even realize that it's grumbling. We say something about someone, not MEAN, because, we're Christians...we wouldn't do THAT....but what we say was not really edifying, either. How much of my conversation is sprinkled with little subtleties of sin? So, today begins one of my journeys...along with others that I am on. I challenge those who are close to me to watch my words over the next year. I am sharing this with all of you so that you KNOW and will keep me accountable. If I'm not praising - tell me!

In the years that followed, I kept up the tradition of starting each year with intentionally watching my speech. However, it soon morphed into what I called Bless Quest because I didn't want to just stop speaking negative things, I wanted to bless others abundantly and purposefully. So I made myself a list of things to do to bless people and I would try to do it for a month. Some of the things I tried were:

  1. Spend at least 15 minutes writing a letter of thanks to God for all of his blessings. List as many as you can.

  2. Bless someone in your immediate family by SERVING them in someway.

  3. Bless a friend today by paying them a sincere compliment.

  4. Find a public servant today and thank them for serving our country.

  5. Bless a cashier/waitress by paying them a compliment or speaking over them a blessing

Some days I did great at my list; other days I forgot about it completely. But the point was this: I was being intentional about blessing others with my mouth and my actions. I ended up making a list of 52 things to choose from just in case I had the capacity to do it all year long instead of just a month. A few years ago, I shared this list with others so that maybe people could join in with me. I don't know if anyone ever joined in on the fun, but I still love the idea of people getting in on the action as one! How the church needs to get together and be a blessing, ya'll. Can you imagine if this was our reputation in 2023? People who are on a quest to bless others?

We know we should do it but everything in our society wars against our stamina, our passion, our nerves. We are living in a time when the spirit of this age "wears down the saints " (Daniel 7:25). Over the last 3 years, I have not been intentional about my Bless Quest. Life hit hard and, like most people, I think I was just trying to breathe and survive. But I feel the Holy Spirit challenging me to pick this Quest back up. No matter what 2023 may throw at me, I cannot lose sight of keeping blessing in my mouth. Sure, I may not track my progress like I use to; I might not have 52 Blessings to choose from each week of the year - but now more than ever - what is necessary to "survive" is simply this: I must keep His praise in my mouth. I must speak blessing, guard my mouth from grumbling, bless my enemies; yes, bless and not curse them. I believe a way we can war against the spirit that wears us down is by guarding our hearts, our mouths, and our minds. This will require us to turn off the news, turn off the phone, turn down the noise, and settle our heart on what is truly good, praise-worthy, and of a good-report (Phil. 4:8). THIS is the quest the Holy Spirit is asking me to embark on again. I believe personal and corporate victory are tied to this very important quest. The future of our nation and of the church depend on how intentional we are to be salt and light and that begins with praise in our hearts and blessing in our mouth. This stirs up faith. This stirs up love. This stirs up hope. And faith, hope. and love is the the only way to start the New Year right and to keep it right all year long.

So Let's watch the old year die

With a fond goodbye

And our hopes as high as a kite

How can our love go wrong if

We start the new year right?"

1 Comment

Jan 03, 2023

Wow I needed to hear this. I stuck in a rut and don’t know which way to go but just hearing this has given me some hope on myself. I’m not a good writer but, I do journal.

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