Resolute Resolutions

ResolutionsChristmas is now past, and the sights and scents of the season have been crowded into the pages of history by the hopeful sounds of labor pains announcing the imminent birth of a new year.  Among these sounds are the voices of the optimistic and determined who announce their resolutions for the new year.

Some will achieve the goals they’ve set for 2020, while the not so resolute will bury theirs beneath the dust pile of defeat.  A few words from the wise might hint at the difference between the two:

  • Procrastination is the bad habit of putting off until the day after tomorrow what should have been done the day before yesterday. ~Napoleon Hill
  • For the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” ~Steve Jobs
  • Kenneth Chenault, CEO of American Express, planned for success. Before he left his office at the end of the day, he would jot down the top three things he wanted to accomplish the next day.
  • The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Tony Robbins has said that the key to directing your life, is to recognize and control your consistent actions: It’s not what we do once in a while that shapes our lives, but what we do consistently.

To reach your goals, I suggest you need to perceive to achieve:  Identify what you are already doing and use it as a cue to prompt the appropriate action. Your daily routine is a good example:

  • After I pour my first cup of coffee, I will walk on the treadmill for 15 minutes.
  • Before I take my shower, I will do 10 pushups.
  • While I am eating breakfast, I will _____________.
  • When I take my coffee break, I will ____________.
  • Before I go to bed I will read ____ pages in a book.

If you are considering resolutions and goals to help you change and rearrange your life, I applaud your effort and leave you with two more quotes to serve as motivators:

  • Arthur Ashe: Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.
  • Thomas Edison: Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.

Let us search out and examine our ways,
and turn back to the Lord. ~Lamentations 3:40

Just Like My Dad

Like_Father_Like_SonYesterday was the first day of 2016, and it’s the day that many people announce their resolutions for the coming year.  I you read this blog yesterday, you know that I encouraged you to “join me in making at least this one resolution for 2016:  I will be a disciple who glorifies the Father by abiding in Christ.”

I based this resolution on John 15:7-11: “If you remain in Me and My words remain in you [that is, if we are vitally united and My message lives in your heart], ask whatever you wish and it will be done for you.  My Father is glorified and honored by this, when you bear much fruit, and prove yourselves to be My [true] disciples.  I have loved you just as the Father has loved Me; remain in My love [and do not doubt My love for you].  If you keep My commandments and obey My teaching, you will remain in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and remain in His love.  I have told you these things so that My joy and delight may be in you, and that your joy may be made full and complete and overflowing.”

When I was studying this Scripture, I read the Amplified version, and it offers some interesting concepts related to our resolution:

  • This first item is the one that caught my attention: Jesus said, “I love you just like My Dad loves Me.”  This is an eternal, never-ending, and unfailing love.
  • The word “remain” is used several times. In many versions of the Bible, it appears as “abide,” and the idea isIf you abide in Jesus, and His words take up residence in your life, you will attentively observe His teachings and strictly maintain a walk that is in step with Him.
  • An obedient life is a prerequisite to answered prayer.
  • Remaining or abiding is not a Sunday experience, but a lifestyle.

When you think of the 4 points above, I hope you realize that joy, not happiness, is the focus of each of these.  Jesus said, “I have told you these things so that My joy and delight may be in you, and that your joy may be made full and complete and overflowing.

The Bible only uses the word “happy” or “happiness” about 30 times, while “joy” and rejoice” are found around 300 times.  You will never find true contentment in the contents of merchandise that has been neatly packaged and gift wrapped.  It is not the result of the final score in one of the many football games played at this time of the year, and its not found in the empty promises of politicians.

Joy can’t be purchased and it’s not the victim of circumstances; it’s the fruit of a genuine relationship with God that perseveres.

Even though Paul had been arrested and jailed, he had learned to be “content” regardless of his situation, and He said: “Rejoice in the Lord always.”

I hope you use these 4 points throughout 2016, so you can be “disciple who glorifies the Father by abiding in Christ.”

Lion Kings

cecil-the-lionEven though it paled in comparison to the 897 million searches in November that focused on the terrorist’s attacks in Paris, I still find it interesting that the top story in July was the story of Cecil the lion and the 32 million searches for information regarding the death of this King of the jungle.  While some people saw the circumstances of Cecil’s death as being tragic, the death of another lion has been triumphant.

In the book of the Revelation, Jesus is referred to as the Lion of the tribe of Judah.  His death on the cross was not a defeat; it was a triumphant victory, and people began to understand the significance of His death and the magnitude of His power when Jesus rose from the grave. lionj

As you move forward into the new year, I encourage you to:

  • Join ranks with the Lion of the Tribe of Judah and wave His banner high.
  • Keep your life in perspective by measuring the temporary with the eternal (Romans 8:18, 28).
  • Claim the promise that God gives you victory through Jesus (I Corinthians 15:7).
  • Find strength or you journey by walking in step with Jesus (Matthew 11:28).

I encourage you to join me in making at least this one resolution for 2016:  I will be a disciple who glorifies the Father by abiding in Christ (John 15:7-11).

Goodbye Christmas and Hello 2016

hope-at-christmasWhat remains of Christmas?  Is the shredded paper in the curbside container all that’s left?  Is it the December delights that have been boxed-up with your dazzling array of decorations and stored neatly away until the arrival of Holiday Season 2016?

Since people quickly become bored with nativities and Christmas trees, how is the story to be told these next 12 months?  After hearing Silent Night sung for the thousandth time, how do we keep its message fresh and lively?

Christmas is more than the ashen remains of empty platitudes, it’s the colors and hues that imbues the message of Emmanuel:  God is with us!  Not just Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, but every day:  His daily presence is His eternal present.

As you count down the final days of 2015, I hope your thoughts will be more than the fantasy of Star Wars, the NFL, and college football.  I encourage you think about the message of Christmas.  May it live in you and remain as the joyful refrain of hope, and a message that refines you and defines you throughout the coming year.