Starting Over, Again

As the New Year began, my wife treated me to a night away.  Not just to rest, but mainly to reflect on the year that was, and to think, pray and plan for the year ahead.   (Having four young kids means I “don’t try this at home.”)

Over the years, I’ve found more and more the pressing need to step back and do this bigger-picture, prayer-fueled planning and dreaming.  Otherwise, I get swallowed up in the centrifuge of daily life – the next email, the next report, the next diaper change, the next… you get the idea.  It’s easy for my life to shrink to the size of me.

At the same time, it’s easy for my planning and dreaming to be self-centered.  What can I accomplish with the resources I see in front of me right now? My goals tend to be defined by what I can do, perhaps with a little help from my friends.  And God.

This year, I’m determined to live differently.  To really trust Him to “accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20).  To that end, I decided to take each of my key ministry and family responsibilities and set two primary goals.  One is my “key” priority, the thing that has to happen for that area to be successful.  By God’s grace, I can see it happening.

But the other goal is my “dream”, the thing that will only happen if God shows up.  It’s the miracle recovery, the 90-yard touchdown pass, the… fill-in-the-blank.

As you start this new year, I want to challenge you to make some time for this kind of Spirit-guided planning.  Maybe you only have two hours, or, maybe you can get away for a night.  It doesn’t really matter.  What matters is taking God at His Word, recognizing that He wants to explode your ideas of what can happen (see Ephesians 3:20), and then stepping out in faith.

I’ll let you in on one small part of what God gave me on my night away.  Just a month ago, we held our first “International Saline” seminar in Philly where we trained 25 people to talk to their classmates and patients about spiritual concerns.  It’s an absolutely essential part of our vision for using healthcare as ministry, and we want people who receive the training to train others.  My “key” is finding two other local people to join me as trainers to form a strong foundation – a difficult goal in and of itself.  But my “dream” is that, this year, the Saline will be taught at each of our five medical campuses, another allied health campus, and that the training would spread to two other cities in the U.S.  I’m also asking God to provide the funds necessary for that and some administrative help in this area.  The only way that’s going to happen is if God Himself steps in.

So, back to you.  (Smile).  When will you carve out the time with God to talk about the coming year?  What God-sized goals might He show you?


About Bryan Stoudt

On my personal website (, I help Christians follow Jesus in a noisy, broken world. I also have the privilege of helping Philadelphia's healthcare students and professionals do this as Area Director for the Christian Medical & Dental Associations (CMDA). More information at On a personal note, I'm fortunate to be married to my wonderful wife, Sharon. Together, we have four fantastic children. In my spare time, I enjoy roasting coffee, running, reading and learning foreign languages.
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