Resolve

A new year is upon us. Again. And again, many of us may be thinking about change. Perhaps breaking a bad habit or forging a good one. You may be looking to discover the healthier “me,” becoming the best version of yourself that God made you to become. Often our goals are about spending more time with family or less time at work. Others commit to kicking a tobacco habit or to stop using credit cards. Some even write down goals about spending more time in the Word of God. I am confident that you can achieve the good and godly goals that the Spirit lays on your heart and that you set yourself to.

I know that I would like to eat a healthier diet, exercise more regularly, lose weight, and once again fit in my “someday” jeans. Do you have a pair? Or maybe there is something else that you hang to, hoping that someday you may achieve some nebulous goal, but never really making any long term commitments… The truth is that many of us, most in fact, make “resolutions” every new year. We write down goals to eat healthier, to lose weight, to exercise more, to be better husbands or mothers. In reality,  most of us set lofty and admirable goals every January, and the great majority of us fail before Groundhog’s Day.

Why is that? Three reasons initially come to my mind. The first reason we fail to reach our new goals is a matter of priorities. When a goal is so unimportant that we are willing to wait until a turn of the calendar to begin pursuing it, often waiting months, it is not a priority for us. What is a priority is our complacent conquest of comfortable normalcy.

The second reason we fail to reach our goals is a function of habit. New habits take 90 days to become entrenched into our behavior. This has two implications: First is that you may have already inadvertently formed a bad habit of delay and procrastination by waiting 90 days or more to begin. Yes, delaying the pursuit of your goals is as much a habit as the daily pursuit of them. Even making excuses for failure becomes a habit. Second, you really need to stand firm in the pursuit of your goals for 3 months before they become an engrained habit. Cling to your goal through March, with a daily reminder of what you are striving for and why.

The third is one of resolve. In Daniel chapter 1, the great man of God was a mere young man taken captive by the conquering Babylon. Rather than giving in to the pagan and evil practices that his captors were trying to force upon Daniel and all the captives, Daniel resolved or “purposed in his heart” to seek God. As a result, every dilemma of conscience Daniel faced was easily decided by considering his resolve. God also poured favor upon Daniel as a response to Daniel’s resolve toward God. In the New Testament, Paul often writes about this purpose of heart, using phrases like: stand firm in your faith, putting on the whole armor of God; straining toward the prize heavenward in Christ Jesus; and fight to lay hold of the eternal life.

I pray that as you examine your goals for this new year of your life that you would not delay, that you would resolve in your heart to reach your God given goals. Stand firm, strain daily, and fight to overcome our complacent conquest of comfortable normalcy.

As for me, I am seeking a healthier me: physically, emotionally, intellectually, socially, and spiritually. But most importantly, I am purposing in my heart to seek God with everything I am, that He may lead me and teach me to be a man after His own heart.

Lead me in Your truth and teach me, for You are the God of my salvation. Psalm 25:5

Let us go up to the mountain of the Lord that He may teach us His ways and we shall walk in His paths. Isaiah 2:3, Micah 4:2

Commission of the Church

I have been wrestling with the topic for this article over several days. I have started writing many times, adding one or two sentences before deleting them to begin again. Do you remember the times when doing so would have meant removing a sheet of paper from the typewriter and inserting a clean sheet?

I almost did it again. I nearly laid my finger on the ←backspace key to start again. Progress. It comes in ways we rarely expect, it is often resisted fervently by some, and it always comes.

My dad tells me a story of his childhood. He was cranking the telephone (yes, he had to do that before using the phone), when a lightning storm rolled in. Lightning struck the telephone line somewhere nearby by, sending a surge toward the house. A ball of lightning rolled out of the phone, across the floor, and up into the stainless steel sink. Talk about a shocking experience.

I am only 21 years younger than my father, but I have never had to crank a phone to be able to use it. I have never seen a ball of lightning roll across the floor. In fact, when I was a teenager, I had my own personal phone in my bedroom. The phone had a clear plastic case that allowed me to view the electronics inside. And while I had to plug the phone into the wall to use it, I never had to turn a crank.

Today, most of us carry a phone in our pocket (or on our waist). The phone does not have a lever to crank and only needs to be plugged in long enough to charge a battery. We can now communicate long distances while on the move. We can even carry on a phone conversation with a friend on the other side of the country while we race down the road at 70 miles per hour.

Many of us even have a smartphone, a powerful computer and phone in one. Remembering the size and cost of computers only 20 years ago, this is truly incredible! The ways in which the telephone has changed over the past 60 years has been amazing! The truly amazing thing is, more than they have changed, phones still work on the same principles.

I speak into small microphone. The microphone captures the vibrations of my voice and uses a magnet to convert those vibrations into electrical signals. A speaker on the other end receives the electrical signals and decodes them into sound waves. The phone still works on the same principle it has worked on since Alexander Graham Bell’s famous first words.

In like manner, the commission of the church has not changed. Jesus great commission to the church is recorded in Matthew 28, Mark 16, Luke 24, and Acts 1. In this commission, Jesus commands the church to preach the Gospel (repentance and forgiveness of sins in Christ’s name) to all nations, to baptize those who have repented and believed, and to make disciples. As the principle behind the phone has not changed, the commissions of evangelism and discipleship from Jesus will never change. The Gospel message (repentance and forgiveness of sins in Christ’s name) never changes. Baptism in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit never changes.

The message does not change, the principles do not change, but the “phone” may change.