If You Always Do What You’ve Always Done…

I just watched the University of Georgia score another touchdown against Alabama increasing their lead to 20-7. That’s the good news. The bad news is that I happen to be at a restaurant which is playing a rerun of the college football national championship game. I happen to know that Alabama came back to beat Georgia, so I don’t think the outcome of the game I’m watching today is going to change what I know to be a sad history.

Do you ever do the same old thing hoping for a new outcome? We do it all of the time. We eat the same fattening food hoping that this time we can enjoy calories without consequences. Unfortunately, it’s no different this time than it was last time. We pull out plastic to pay for something we shouldn’t buy promising to pay it all off at the end of the month. The problem is that we find that we have more month than money. That happened last month, too. We walk precariously on the pinnacle of temptation hoping that this time we can maintain our resolve and not fall into sin. Oh, well. Our resolve doesn’t seem to be any stronger this time around as it was last time.

Here’s the lesson I’ve gained by sitting here watching Alabama slowly come back on Georgia and take the lead. If you want the outcome of the game to be different, you’ve got to change the plays. What plays do you need to change in your life so that today is not a rerun of yesterday?

 

Which Way Should I Go?

How many of us have ever struggled with discerning God’s direction for our lives? I think I just saw everyone’s hand shoot into the air. I really don’t think that God has made His voice so indiscernible and will so elusive that knowing His will should be so difficult. Maybe the problem is not with God. Maybe it’s us. My church is currently involved in a fall spiritual growth emphasis, and we’re using Craig Groeschel’s book, Divine Direction, as our small group study. His book is AWESOME. It will possibly make my best book of 2018 choice. I am also preaching a short series to go along with the study. The first two messages are posted now, and the third should be up by the end of the week.

In my first message, I emphasize the fact that we are writing our life’s story every day that we live. I’ve got to confess that at times in my life, I have written a few lines carelessly. I wish I could find the delete button and re-write a few pages. While I can do that with the books I write, I can’t do that with the life I’m living. My life’s book is permanent as it’s written, and so is yours. Our challenge is to think ahead to what we want the final chapters of our lives to say. Is the chapter you are writing today going to get you to those final chapters you have envisioned? The chapter we are writing today will determine the chapters we write tomorrow because we are becoming today who we will be tomorrow. The choices and decisions we make today determine everything about our final chapters.

Stop and take a little inventory. Think ahead to what you want in that final chapter of your life. If the decisions you’re making today or the sentences being written by your current actions will not get you to your desired conclusion, you’ve got to change your story now. You can’t wait a year or two. I encourage you to consider what changes are needed now so your story has the best conclusion years from now.

 

What On Earth Am I Here For?

bookWhy am I here? Has that thought ever entered your mind? Are you fulfilling the purpose for which you were made? A couple of Sundays ago, I shared a story about my wife and I getting on the wrong road while in route to my grandmother’s house in Florida. Because we missed the turn, we spent an extra two to three hours in route to Ft. Pierce, Florida. What would it be like to take the wrong road in life but not discover your mistake until your life was over? There are a lot of important topics for us to consider, but this one is right up at the top. As I look back over my life, I have made so many mistakes. Some of them were a result of ignorance, others came from obstinance, while still others happened simply because of sin. I can’t go back and change any of my failures from the past. I can, however, change the mistakes in my future that have not yet been made. One of my favorite poems is this: “I can’t go back and start over again, but I can start from here and make a brand new end.” Are you willing to start today to change your destiny? Over the next 40 days, I plan to share several blogs a week to challenge us to think about our real purpose. I encourage you to pick up a copy of Rick Warren’s book “What On Earth Am I Here For?” and read a chapter a day (It was formerly called “The Purpose Driven Life”). Read my blog and share some thoughts as we journey together. I would love to hear from some of you who have already started this journey. You may have read chapter two today (which is the chapter you should be on if you started the journey with the SonRise Baptist Church family on Sunday). What are your thoughts so far? Have you been to small group yet? Is God doing anything special in your life so far? You may have read “The Purpose Driven Life” a while back. How did God use Dr. Warren’s book in your life when you read it the first time? I look forward to hearing from you.

Quit Hurting Yourself

Beetles_TreeThe most interesting headline of the day is, “Beetles Kill George Harrison Memorial Tree.” The pine tree that was planted in memory of the former Beatles star, George Harrison, in Griffith Park, was killed by pine beetles. The irony is not lost on anyone, and the story made me think of the truth with which we all live: we are our own worst enemies. I know the illustration breaks down a little, but it does make me reflect upon the fact that in many circumstances, I am hurting myself with attitude choices, lack of personal discipline, and choosing to, sometimes, live a life out of balance. What do we do to stop the attack before we too are destroyed?

First, we must acknowledge that we are hurting ourselves and be specific with the lifestyle choices we are making that cause us personal damage. Most of the time, we do not get past this step because we are not willing or able to be fully honest with ourselves. Can you admit that a particular habit is really harmful? Can you acknowledge that you cannot overcome your addiction without outside help? Will you agree that your eating habits are killing you? This step of admitting should also include admitting our failure to God. Repentance is a critical part of the change we want to experience. Admitting our failures and frailties is an important part of the process to healing and personal victory.

The second thing we must do is replace the harmful activity with something that is helpful or God-honoring.  I remember when I was a child that I was having a hard time getting an ugly thought out of my mind. My mother told me to replace it with something that is good. I think this is the message of Philippians 4:8: “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” If we are going to follow this admonition, then it means there are some things we should choose not to dwell upon. Thinking about things is not our only downfall. We need to also change our actions. If I am eating foods that are harmful, then I need to make a conscious choice to change my eating habits. If I have a habit that is hurting me spiritually, emotionally, or physically, I must replace it with something that is helpful and wholesome.

A third thing that will help us is accountability. Sometimes we find the strength we need to chart a new course by simply telling someone else of the changes we are going to make. That resolve can be strengthened even more when our friend or family member asks us about our commitment over the next days and weeks. This is part of the strength of real community. We actually share our strength with someone else by holding them accountable to the commitments made.

Are you attacking yourself? Now is the time to stop. While other steps can be added to give you victory, these three will certainly put you on the road to a new you.