Renewal

Happy New Year to everyone! I pray this is the start of an incredible year for you. It is easy to go into a new year and keep it business as usual. After all, we have our own schedules, our own ideas, our own tasks, and habits that we have to keep doing, right?

Yes and no. At the start of a new year, we have this opportunity to refocus and re-evaluate where our attention goes in our life. We get to see how much we actually focus on ourselves more than we focus on others. Or we get to see how much we devalue ourselves in order to put others above us.

For many, new year resolutions are about losing weight, becoming more spiritual or faithful in their faith, being better spouses, doing better to make sure those we’re in relationship with know they are valued. These are all well and good to aspire to. The main thing I invite you to think about is “why?” Why are these resolutions being made? What is the motivation behind them?

John Wesley encouraged the Methodists to re-committ themselves to Jesus Christ at the beginning of each year. I have found this practice to be incredible because the focus gets back on Jesus Christ, what He is doing in us and how He invites us to participate in His work in the world. We get to be reminded we do not live this life alone, we have the Holy Spirit with us each day.

Leaders are especially susceptible to falling into the trap of believing more has to be done in order to gain more followers or become more productive. The truth is that when we keep our hearts and minds focused on Christ and His mission in the world, we see what is really important and have the chance to reorder our lives for His glory.

So as we begin this new year, I invite you to get with a group of people (you choose the size), and take time to recommit your work, relationships, your life to Jesus Christ this year. Here is a video of the covenant service you can use to worship together:

Here is the outline of the worship service, along with responses, so you can print and use on your own: http://www.seedbed.com/john-wesleys-covenant-renewal-service-for-today/

Happy New Year!

Battling the Giants

As they were heading over the field, they took cover behind some rocks and looked at the land. The land was beautiful. Everything they were promised and dreamed about. It was the perfect place for their tribe to settle down. All of a sudden, one of the lookouts spotted the inhabitants of the land. They became scared because they saw the inhabitants as “giants” and did not feel they had the ability to trust their tribe or the skills to go and win the land. So it was reported to the rest of the tribe, the challenges are too great. All but two of the lookouts were covered in fear. The two courageous ones saw the opportunities ahead and the potential.

Fear and uncertainty usually keeps us from pursing what we know we should do and be who we know we should be. So, how do you see yourself in the story above? I think we see ourselves as the fearful people and as the courageous people. It really depends on the situation.

We all have sat in meetings and have been around people who cannot see past the problem or the issue at hand. When we take this approach to dealing with a problem, we allow the problem to become a giant and appear undefeatable. What are some giants (problems) you might be dealing with at this point in your life? (debt, relational, low attendance, low funds coming in, etc.) Are these really problems? Or can we turn it around to see that most of the situations we face are really challenges that are waiting to be conquered?

The Israelite army only heard the taunts from the Philistine giant, Goliath, and saw his enormous size compared to them. But one teenager, kind of a runt, stepped out and said, “I can defeat him. God will defeat this giant through me.” Imagine what would really be accomplished if we remembered the size, power and sheer awesomeness of our God!

“for God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline.” (2 Timothy 1:7 NRSV)

We should not allow our perceived “lack” (lack of resources, lack of education, lack of personality, lack of people, etc) because God has and will provide everything we need. “By his divine power the Lord has given us everything we need for life and godliness through the knowledge of the one who called us by his own honor and glory.” (2 Peter 1:3 CEB)

There are many “giants” we face in our lives but we serve and worship a God who is bigger than any giant we may face. Just because we cannot see the outcome does not mean there hasn’t been a victory. The Israelite’s just needed to go in and possess the land because God has given it to them. The battle has been won, even before it started for us.

How will you see things in this upcoming year? As problems? As “giants”? As challenges? As victories we just move into?

We do not need to fear or worry because we have everything we need in Jesus Christ. Sometimes we should simply open our eyes and hearts to see the enormous resources at our disposal before we think about quitting and throwing in the towel.


Challenge: Read and journal about each day about what these scriptures say to you about battling and overcoming  “giants” in your life:

  • Day 1: Numbers 13
  • Day 2: 1 Samuel 17
  • Day 3: 2 Chronicles 32
  • Day 4: John 20
  • Day 5: Revelation 19

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