Every Year around this time I read through my journal entries of the year before.
What I learned through this exercise this year…
1. Clearly it was an eventful year – and I felt it in my soul
b. announcement of my succession plan
c. turning 60
d. the wedding of my daughter
2. There are themes that recurred throughout the year
…in general terms…
a. longings and desires I circled and prayed hard for
b. joys and blessings that I don’t want to forget
c. frustrations about myself and nagging things I want to change!
i. physical, financial, relational and spiritual
Simply…in 2015 it’s clear … I don’t want to stay where I am.
· side note: I also discovered all my past journals back to 1993
· If there is an overall theme it’s that: I want to change!
I want as T.S. Eliot suggests…another voice…
For last year's words belong to last year's language
And next year's words await another voice.
T.S. Eliot,Four Quartets
I want to be a different man…I want a new voice…a new expression of who I am…and it appears I am not alone in that wish…
It seems a lot of people are in the resolution business…
1. Enjoy life to the fullest.
2. Live a healthier lifestyle.
3. Lose weight.
4. Spend more time with family and friends.
5. Save more, spend less.
6. Pay down debt
from google.com (actually the most googled questions from last year at this time)
1.how to get rid of stress
2. how to make kale chips
3. how much water should i drink to lose weight
4. how to write a resignation letter
5. how to cook lentils
6. how to cook cabbage
7. how to write a letter of recommendation
8. how to cook collard greens
9. how to steam broccoli
10. how to crochet a beanie
So, for those who want to change we bring you this month “I will…”
· In November – I wonder (dealing with our intellectual struggles)
· In December – I wish (focused on our heart’s desires)
· Now in January – I will (5 weeks seeking to tame our will…our resolve to change)
We are going to focus on 5 areas
1. I will focus on my relationship with God (I will bolster my soulish part of me)
2. I will seek to strengthen my marriage
a. side note: as I looked back over past years I noted how many times this came up!
3. I will get healthy and work on my body
a. the perennial resolution
4. I will strengthen my family
a. note to younger families: time flies…marry a daughter and you will realize how you cannot waste a minute.
5. I will get my finances in order
a. again…to the younger ones…get yourself here for this!
Let’s begin today where we should…with our relationship with God.
Jonathan Edwards – early colonial days of America (1700s), preacher, revivalist:
Resolution One: I will live for God. Resolution Two: If no one else does, I still will.
· STOP here for a moment:
o have you considered how crucial this is to everything else?
o your relationship with God informs EVERY part of your life
o in it are the resources to every other desire!
o …and…it, of course, extends beyond mortal life to eternity
· God can no longer be a relic of your past
· God can no longer be one of many options on the weekend
· God can no longer be an afterthought
You must determine along with Jonathan Edwards – I will live for God!
· In a minute I’m going to show you the steps to get there…
· but a heads up…at the end of the service we will be doing baptism
o come as you are…we have clothes for you to change into!
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. 2 Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Hebrews 12:1-3
1. you are…“surrounded by great cloud of witnesses
a. cloud indicates number/size and proximity
b. Who’s watching you? (witnesses) =
i. giants of our faith past (Hebrews 11) –- Abraham, Moses, Rahab, David, etc.
1. will this man/woman pick up the flag?
ii. previous generations who have preceded you:
1. parents, relatives
2. mentors and coaches
iii. generations coming behind
2. the whole next generation right behind you
c. will you meet their expectations or will you disappoint? Will you show the way or make them find other role models? They are all looking and waiting…
That’s not intimidating is it? So will you…?
2. “let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles”
Let’s talk about sin…shall we?
How few there are who have courage enough to own their faults, or resolution enough to mend them. Benjamin Franklin
a. are you sick and tired of your sin?
i. then you need to throw off – renounce, lay aside
1. things that “hinder” = weight or mass
2. sin that “entangles” = besetting
Like what? What are those sins?
…old school: The 7 Deadly Sins: pride, envy, gluttony, lust, anger, sloth, greed
Or maybe it’s more helpful to examine my own updated list of the
The 7 Deadly Sins (2016):
Lying : you don’t even see how much you do it do you?
Self-medication : alcohol, medication, food, any number of things to control your world.
Rage : emotional reactivity, hair trigger anger, instant retribution when you are crossed
Procrastination : deliberate laziness to avoid accusation
Victimization : blame displacement: “everybody is out to get me”. Life is a battle against me. There are conspiracies everywhere.
Self-indulgence: lack of restraint ; yolo inspired excess; overspending; eyes bigger than your stomach extravagance: sometimes wanton wastefulness
I’m sure you’d have a different list but these are the sins I see around me and in me! and they must be renounced! …they must be thrown off!
Suggestion: Practice confession. Practice journaling. Practice heavy duty prayer and maybe even fasting!
3. “let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”
a. Your race is not my race…your destiny is not mine…
Let me remind you of this…You are God's masterpiece, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for you to do. Ephesians 2:10
b. Find that destiny and persevere in it!
Suggestion: This kind of perseverance is really only possible with someone cheering you on. We have just the thing for you:
The Way of Discipleship – an intentional time-bound relationship focused on learning and embracing eleven practices essential to following Jesus.
4. Finally…will you turn your gaze to Jesus? “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus”
Look, you will not become the person you want to be simply with a resolution. Or even with practice and hard work. You must surrender your life, either for the first time, or anew to Jesus Christ.
· the author and perfector of our faith – he is ground zero for your soul
o He endured the cross so that your sins could be forgiven and you be given a new slate.
o And he did it to give you and example…so that you will not lose heart!
If you want to live for God …You must lose the sin, yes. You must practice confession, yes. You must find a discipler, yes… BUT FIRST AND FOREMOST:
Surrender your life to Jesus…and we have got the best way for you to do that!
BAPTISM! Let’s do it!