As dawn breaks here in Wisconsin and I look out at the sun coming up over Lake Michigan on this the 1st day of 2013, I’m grateful for many things.

I’m grateful for being alive today. In this generation. At this time. In 2013. There’s something about a New Year that makes you look back and look ahead, and as I do that today I feel privileged that I am alive. Today. Although there are many challenges in the contemporary world there are so many opportunities. This is a good time to be alive!

I’m grateful for the gift of hospitality and this special week that we’re spending with our good friend Iain as our post-Christmas break in the US begins to draw to a close. We’re staying at 206, his wonderful home and are appreciating the opportunity to rest, relax, eat and sleep well and have fun.

I’m grateful for my family and for all they mean to me, and for the privilege of loving them and being loved by them. It was great to gather in the kitchen here at 206 at midnight and hug and commit the year ahead to God in prayer.

I’m grateful for my people – for the people of York and of the North of England – to whom I belong. It feels like ‘the boundary lines have fallen to me in pleasant places’ (as it says in Psalm 16:6). God loves us with a passion and I know that despite our waywardness he wants me and others to cry out to him for the people of the North for his plans and purposes to be realised.

And I’m grateful for being a follower of Jesus. Being a disciple of Christ gives me meaning, hope, joy and real purpose. Living for him truly is the way of life and love. And as I go into 2013 I really do want to grow as a disciple. I want to get to the end of this year and feel like I have matured. That I’ve done what Jesus has told me to do. That I’ve said what he’s told me to say. That I’ve gone where he has sent me.

At The Belfrey where I serve as Vicar, I believe that 2013 needs to be a year of significant growth in discipleship. Without strong disciples we will struggle in our relationships, in our marriages, in raising our families, in finding fulfilment in our work, in being generous with our finances, in loving our neighbours, in sharing the love of Christ. Without strong disciples the forces of secularism and negativity will continue to prevail. Without strong disciples we won’t fulfil God’s call upon our lives – as individuals and as a community.

That’s why I’ve taken the decision to rename this blog my Discipleship Blog for 2013. I want it to be a helpful tool for making and nurturing disciples of Jesus (Matthew 28:18). To help with that my eldest son Ben has given the blog a fresh look using a new WordPress theme with a simple and easily navigable layout and a bespoke clean header. Ben has also done a similar job with my Leadership Blog so the two now have a common look but are also clearly distinguishable. Thanks Ben!

As David Watson, previous Vicar of St Michael le Belfrey wrote: ‘A disciple of Christ is a follower of Jesus. He has committed himself to Christ, to walking Christ’s way, to living Christ’s life and to sharing Christ’s love and truth with others.’ As you look ahead to 2013, why don’t you commit yourself with me to intentionally grow and mature and develop as a follower of Jesus? Why not ask the Lord to help 2013 be a year of real growth in discipleship for you? Come and journey with me and many others – as we follow Christ in this great journey of discipleship in 2013.