Five better ways to be in 2014: learn something new

Top 'o the morning to you. Let's do this new year thing right. In the first few weeks of 2014, you'll find me posting five times on better ways to be in the new year. Each of them hinges on the knowledge that "the Lord is here," that the ongoing presence of Jesus in us causes us to live and interact differently with ourselves, with our world and with those closest to us.

Post #1: choose empathy over sympathy.

Post #2: put the Word in. 

Now for post #3: learn something new.

What exactly does it mean to love God with all your mind (Luke 10:27)? Greek Keys says this word, dianoia, means to exercise the mind—the imagination, mind or understanding. 

Maybe some of us are exercising our abs and our glutes, our hamstrings and our biceps, but how many of us are loving the Lord our God by exercising our mind? Do iPads and computer and video games count? Are your mental grooves so well-worn that it hurts to think about stretching your mind?

What new groove in 2014 might help you exercise your imagination and your mind, and in so doing, to tune yourself to the pursuit of God and his love and truth?

Last night, I picked up the guitar after putting it down for over a month. With only 8 weeks of group lessons, I was able to play three or four songs.

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My brain is stretching in new ways, my fingers becoming more nimble, the chords becoming easier. Knowing that my Creator creates, and that he has made his imagebearers to do the same, I'm drawn to learn and to grow in both my keyboard and my piano playing. (I've even read that thought processes improve after playing.) So I emailed the guitar teacher and promptly requested eight lessons for the first few months of the year. I'm picturing less TV and more music, a development that can only help in stretching the mind and bringing callouses to the fingers!

In addition to making music, I'm signed up for an online biblical Hebrew course with a teacher in Jerusalem to start in June. And I'm in a book club that's stretching me theologically and relationally to pursue God's kingdom in every area of my life.

Even simpler, I have a list of books I want to read in the New Year that's being compiled on my office desk. Growing. Stretching. Trying. Risking. Loving God with my whole mind. Being adventurous enough to want to participate in his Kingdom wholeheartedly by using the minds he has given us.

The only barrier to learning something new that truly paralyzes? Fear. This used to call my number every time. But after I turned 40, I realized that failing at something counts as learning. So now we are left with no excuses. I may fail spectacularly at trying to learn biblical Hebrew in 2014. But even if I do, I'm willing to guarantee I will have learned something, stretching my mind in the process.

Are you in? How will you love the Lord with all your mind in 2014? What new thing are you planning to learn?