Sunday, December 30, 2018


   The New Year is upon us and as we look back over the last 12 months, it is a good time to reflect on what worked for us and what did not.  

     The million dollar question is, "What do yo plan on doing differently next year to grow in Christ?

This question does not assume you had a bad year or failed your goals, this question simply acknowledges real growth comes through building on success and learning from failure.  As a believer in Christ, the goal should be growing in your faith, becoming more like Jesus and developing your God given gifts of service.  Hopefully, you implemented some spiritual pursuits which helped in this endeavor, over the past year.

         If something worked for you, continue the practice.  Just as important, do not make the same mistakes, learn from them.

Here are some Biblical guidelines to successful goal setting:

Micah 6:8 - What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness and to walk humbly with your God?

         Setting realistic goals is the key to success in any endeavor. Setting reasonable goals allows you to experience success, while setting ridiculously large goals will lead to discouragement. If you have never read through your Bible, setting a goal to read the whole thing in a year is a realistic goal.  Deciding to write a commentary on the whole Bible when you have not read it all, may not be very realistic.  Deciding to get involved in local outreach is a realistic goal, winning your whole city for Christ may be a bit outside your reach. 

Psalm 127:1 - Unless the LORD build the house, the builders labor in vain

Understanding God's supernatural empowerment to accomplish His goals for you opens the door to unlimited possibilities.  Saying, "I want to reach a million souls for Christ this year" may seem a bit lofty, but if God chooses to work through you and you follow His lead, why not. The only caveat is: make sure your goal is God's goal. Nothing will lead to failure and frustration quicker than running ahead of God.  

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 - Two are better than one, because they have a good return on their labor, if one falls down, the other can help him up... though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves, a cord of three strands is not quickly broken

Surround yourself with those pursuing the same purpose.  For instance, if you are planning a trip to Alaska, do not partner up your preparations with a guy planning a trip to Hawaii.  The Hawaii guy will have very different preparations and chances are, you will hinder one another.  If your plan is to read through the Bible in a year, find others with the same goal and hold one another accountable.  

Proverbs 24:16 - For the righteous falls seven times and rises again

Everyone of us experiences setbacks.  The Apostle Paul had a goal to reach Rome to preach.  If he gave up when he was imprisoned in Jerusalem or shipwrecked on the Island of Malta many books of the Bible would not have been written.  Paul did make it to Rome and had fruitful ministry there, the path was not how he envisioned, but the goal was met.

      Even if you do not have a specific goal beyond knowing God better, pursue knowing God with all your heart.  Psalm 37:4 - Delight yourself in the LORD and He will give you the desires of your heart.

What do yo plan on doing differently next year to grow in Christ?

What are your goals for the new year?  Do not plan to fail by failing to plan. Get together with your Father, who loves you, and get His plan, set some goals and watch God do His thing.

Now, go live as Christ... and give the devil hell!

Wednesday, December 19, 2018


       Went to a garden party to reminisce with my old friends
       A chance to share old memories and play our songs again
      When I got to the garden party, they all knew my name
      No one recognized me, I didn't look the same
           But it's all right now, I learned my lesson well.
You see, ya can't please everyone, so ya got to please yourself
                                                                     - Rick Nelson

            If you are my age or older, you probably remember this catchy little tune from Ricky Nelson circa 1972.  Garden Party's chorus easily gets stuck in your head: But it's all right now, I learned my lesson well. You see, ya can't please everyone, so ya got to please yourself   This was a pretty common sentiment in 1972, essentially, look out for number one. Who is number one?  Why ME of course!
             What a self destructive societal plague this sentiment is!  Imagine a world where a majority of people are serving their own best interests and everyone else be damned?  Well, you don't have to imagine it, look no further than Washington DC and you can see Ricky Nelson's words in action.
            This is not just a Washington DC problem.  If you are honest, fear of consequences govern more of your better behaviors than altruism.  No, I do not believe everyone is a miscreant, but then again, what would a day free of consequences mean for you?  
                      What would your life look like if you were suddenly Bill Murray in Groundhog Day, if you knew tomorrow would reset everything and nothing you did today would be remembered, except by you?  If your mind is running wild with possibilities you may be a miscreant at heart! 
                       Who are we really, when no one is looking? Do we all pretend to be better than we are for fear of exposure? Can your friends and family see the real you?
                    The problem is, we are all tainted with selfishness because of a Garden Party from hell almost 6000 years ago.  In the Garden of Eden, Adam traded God's protection and provision for a chance to please himself.  This resulted in Adam realizing he had made a grave error. Adam's attempt to hide from from God was futile.  Adam's children have been trying to hide from God ever since.  

                 Adam's attempt to please himself ended in abject disaster.  Not much has changed in 6000 years.  The Bible has a good deal to say on this topic:   Jeremiah 17:9  The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?      
 Proverbs 14:12  There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.   Our attempts to take care of number one will always leave us unsatisfied, frustrated and disillusioned.

             The remedy is putting God first: Proverbs 3:6-7  In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD, and turn away from evil.  Following God's method will lead to fulfillment, peace, joy and satisfaction.  

     No one spent more resources and effort in pleasing self than King Solomon.  In his winter years, he looked over his life and realized the futility of all he pursued. Solomon came to this conclusion: Ecclesiastes 12:13-14  The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil. 

      It's true, you can't please everyone, so you should try to please the Lord. You have an audience of one and what He thinks is all that should matter.

Now, go live as Christ... and give the devil hell!!