New Year, New You

Do you ever feel like you are not enough?

 
Like you may be in a position at work (or church) and you just don’t feel you are “Christian” enough. Maybe you find yourself at the crossroads of life and have a life changing decision to make. Your first thought may be “What if I make the wrong choice?” The next thought might be, “God, I’m not good enough, strong enough or wise enough to do what is before me.”
 
Let me start out by saying that you aren’t alone in feeling this way. I personally have this feeling often, and it’s been a recurring theme throughout my Christian walk. I also know that other Christians – yes, even pastors, elders, deacons, board members and worship team members – also struggle with this feeling as well. No one is immune to self-doubt.
 
Let’s be honest about this feeling of inadequacy. It stinks and can make us feel worthless.
Here’s the truth about this feeling: it’s a lie the devil wants us to buy into. Decide and make this declaration right now with God: “God, it’s a new year and I want to be a new me.”

No matter how much the world around you tries to beat you down or tell you that you are not good enough, it’s never enough to overshadow this fact – you are a new creation and a child of the One True God.

 
When God sent his son Jesus to live among us and then die on the cross, we were given the ultimate gift. Through this gift, we have a personal relationship with a God who will give us the power to rise above the lies of the world and find strength and confidence to accomplish what he lays before us each day.

As we are now into the New Year, be encouraged! This is a new year and you are a new you.

 
Fortunately for us, the grace, love and mercy of God allows us to be a new person each and every day. Just like the following song says: Your grace so free, washes over me. You have made me new now life begins with you.
 
This couldn’t be any truer about our lives when we put our faith and trust in Jesus Christ.
 
Author: Ryan Bivins
 


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New Year’s Resolutions Worth keeping

I can hear the audible sigh already. New year resolutions – why bother?
 
Here’s the thing… often we trip over them because of our internal baggage. We start out with good intentions, only to end up in self-sabotage.
• We want to be gentler on ourselves, but continue with negative self-talk
We want to start (fill in the blank), but have no plan • We want to change a behavior, but don’t deal with underlying, contributing emotional issues • We want to get out of debt, but don’t really want to do what it takes • We want to take steps towards a goal or a dream, but allow fear to hold us back
 

What if we made our internal lives a priority this year? What if we focused on what we can do to build our character and energize our spirits instead of yearly external resolutions? A rich internal life makes us a better, more mature person. After all, everything trickles down from our inner lives anyway. This is why God makes the “heart” a priority – for all attitudes, behavior and external issues begin there.

To help you jumpstart, consider these four resolution ideas that will help build your inner life – resolutions that may be worth keeping.

1. GROW YOUR ROOTS

We can’t pour from an empty cup, so we need to pay special attention to soul care. Soul care is neither selfish nor complicated, and it’s absolutely essential to our spiritual lives. Remember, if we’re not learning we’re not growing. We must be intentional about building in regular time to commune with the Lord alone.

Colossians 2:6-10 And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness. Don’t let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ. For in Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body. So you also are complete through your union with Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority.

There are many ways to grow your spiritual roots, in pursuit of loving and honoring Jesus while becoming mature in the Lord. Consider adopting this one practice – it could change your life:

Embrace Solitude This is very hard from some people, but a necessary part of growing deep roots. Get alone with God and just BE. Rest in His presence. Meditate on a small portion – even just one verse of scripture – and quiet your spirit. Be still. Be silent. Listen. Allow the Holy Spirit to speak and minister to you. Give Jesus your anxious thoughts. Even if you have a bunch of kids (or grands), find time even if it’s 15 minutes a day. Your spirit will be renewed and your roots will grow deeper. This is not about doing – it’s about abiding in His presence.

2. PURSUE MEANINGFUL CONVERSATION

There are so many talking heads out there competing for our attention – so many opinions and so much noise. Our society seems to have gone off the deep end, reinforcing a general lack of respect for one another, common sense restraint and selfishness. This kind of rhetoric only fosters more division and suffering. Generalized statements tend to throw shame and blame around, solving nothing.
 

When was the last time you had a truly respectful, meaningful dialogue with someone? How about your spouse?

Can you do it even if you don’t agree on all points?

This year, we can purpose to really listen without agenda or bias. Seek to understand first. Ask questions and resist going on the defense. Respectful dialogue fosters mutual respect, clarity and reconciliation. As Christians, we need to be the example in this area. Otherwise, how will others know we are different?

James 1:19, 20 Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to get angry. Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires.

James 3:2 Indeed, we all make many mistakes. For if we could control our tongues, we would be perfect and could also control ourselves in every other way.

3. PRACTICE KINDNESS

Because of God’s gift of kindness to us, we can be free of the bondage of sin and death. Because of His kindness, we can be adopted into His family. One of the fruits of the Spirit is kindness (Galatians 5:22), and practicing this fruit is proof of a transformed life.

Ephesians 1:7 He is so rich in kindness and grace that He purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins.
 

What are some ways this year you can practice kindness? How can you show kindness to not only those you love, but those you struggle with? How can you practice kindness with yourself?

James 3:13, 17 If you are wise and understand God’s ways, prove it by living an honorable life, doing good works with the humility that comes from wisdom… the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and the fruit of good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere.

2 Corinthians 6:6 We prove ourselves by our purity, our understanding, our patience, our kindness, by the Holy Spirit within us, and by our sincere love.

4. START ONE NEW THING

We get busy with our routines, families, service, work and so much more. Often we forget to replenish ourselves and do things that energize us personally. No one can do this for you – only you can make the choice to recharge.

What brings you joy? What energizes your spirit? It could be breathing in the peaceful air of a woodland hike. Perhaps it’s heading to an art gallery or botanical gardens to breathe in beauty. It could be creating something with your hands. Maybe it’s growing in your craft, journaling in the park or simply making a standing coffee date with someone that makes you laugh.

Figure out one good thing that energizes you and schedule it into your life. Don’t feel guilty about doing it either! Everyone needs a recharge and when that happens on a regular basis, everyone benefits.

So, which resolutions will we make a priority this year? If we build our inner lives, it will grow us and impact the world around us in deeper ways. With God’s help, we can focus on what matters in this new year.
 

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The Ultimate Do Over

People often use these phrases…

I wish I could do ________ again!
If I only had another chance to do _________.

Today, it’s… I want a Do Over!

I remember when I was on the 6th grade basketball team. I got to start the second half of the game. We all lined up for the tip off and I got the tip. I dribbled down the court for a layup… and missed! My teammate Tommy came to my rescue and got the rebound.

Then he told me I was shooting at the wrong basket! Boy, did I want a do over!

Remembering this experience caused me to think of God and His amazing love for all of us- no exceptions.

God sent His only son to be a sacrifice on our behalf. Through His sacrifice- and our acknowledgement and repentance of sin in our lives- we would have salvation thru the Lord Jesus Christ. This is our do over!

Acts 2:21 says
And it shall be that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord (talking of Jesus) will be saved!

This is the ultimate do over for us. But thank God the reality is this:

God extends do overs to us every day.

 

Knowing this, shouldn’t our goal be to be more like Jesus every day? I know we will fail at times, but our heart’s desire should be to live like Jesus every day.

Proverbs 21:2 says
Every man’s way is right in his own eyes but the Lord weighs the heart.

Psalm 63:8 says
My soul clings to You; Your right hand upholds me.
 

Every day our desire should be to…

Thank God for every breath we take
Thank Him for every blessing we receive
Thank Him for every obstacle we experience
Worship Him for every do over His love allows us.

I know this: our God is not a liar.
He has promised He would never forsake us, especially in those times when we have failed Him.
He is there lovingly and graciously forgiving us, promising to give us a do over. Thank you Jesus!
 

How many times has God graciously given you a do over?

Take a moment right now to thank Him for his mercies- new every morning- and His unfailing love that sustains you through each new day.
 
Author: 
Ken Drew
Loving husband, dad, granddad and Elder at Faith Assembly

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Fasting and Prayer

It is January, which for our church is the month we set aside as a time to pray and fast.
I have to admit something. Last year when Pastor Jon asked us to join in with him as a church, I was a little reluctant.
 
With the fasting part- not the prayer part.
 
However, now I can say during that period of time…
 
I personally was drawn closer to the Lord
I was able to join my church family in seeking God’s direction for our church
I was able to seek God’s direction for my life in the months to come
This year I feel better prepared spiritually, mentally, and emotionally to move into a period of fasting.
 
Consider these questions as we pray and fast this month:
 
Is fasting necessary for today?
Jesus Himself encouraged his followers to fast.
Matthew 9:15 says, “The time will come when the Bridegroom will be taken away from them; then they will fast.”
 
What kind of attitude should we have when we fast and pray?
I believe we need to have a humble heart and open hands when we fast.
The fast is directed to God (not man), bringing humility and openness to His guidance.
 
What is the benefit of fasting?
The spiritual discipline of fasting can be a tool God uses to…
Draw us closer to God, causing a deeper in relationship with Jesus
Convicts us of areas in our lives that perhaps have too large of a hold on us
Makes us aware of unhealthy life patterns that need addressing
Brings about humble confession
Shows us what He has for us as a church, renews personal and congregational vision
And so much more…
II Corinthians 4:16 says, “though outwardly I am wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.
Now grant you, I do not think that I am wasting away, but I can say I am being renewed day by day!”
Amen!
 
As we enter into fasting and praying together,
let’s seek God’s face for direction, encouragement, and a desire for a deeper love for Him during this time.
 
Let’s come together and support each other.
May God bless you all greatly as we seek and serve Him together.
 
Author: 
Ken Drew, Elder at Faith Assembly

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Commitment of Steel: How About Those New Year Resolutions?

Every January it seems like everyone turns to thinking about commitment. New resolutions are considered and pledged.
Lots of folks consider making a new commitment, but never do because they assume they’ll fail anyway.
So why try?
 

This January, we will most likely see a glut of opinion pieces written on how to make and keep new resolutions… and even what to do if we fail. They’re intended to encourage us to not give up- press on- be patient- and imagine the reward at the finish.

Today, I’d like to offer a perspective on one way those commitments begin to break down in the first place.
These thoughts came when I was pondering Jesus’ temptations in the wilderness,
and pondering nearly 3 decades of ministry experiences with people.
 

We find our story in Matthew 4. Right after Jesus was baptized by John, the Holy Spirit descended upon Him, and His Father speaks some of the most reassuring words a son could hope to hear. Matthew also says that Jesus successfully completed the 40 days and nights of fasting before the tempter came to distract Him (Matt. 4:2).

After so much spiritual accomplishment, one could think that Jesus would be immune to temptation,
and indeed Jesus was able to resist the evil one and give us His example to follow.
 

And still, I’m intrigued by the timing of the tempter.

So, here are a few of the nuances that got my attention.

First, the enemy of our souls loves to attack when we’re tired and vulnerable.
This seems obvious since the attack came after Jesus’ 40 days and nights of fasting.
 
Second, the enemy of our souls also loves to attack when we least expect it…usually when we’re fresh and excited.
It’s as if he uses a quick jab to the face to surprise us and knock us just a bit off balance. I’ve heard boxers say they all have a game plan that seems solid until they get hit in the face.
 

So here’s a couple encouraging tips to remember:

Keep in mind that’s the enemy’s job.

Don’t allow him the satisfaction of making you feel weak or victimized.

God will use the opportunity to continue growing you in wisdom,

further grow you up in His ways, and even toughen you up in the process.

 
Remember through your relationship with Him in Jesus Christ, God has instilled Himself in you. His wisdom is in you (Psalm 119:98 & 99).
And, “greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world” (1 John 4:4).
 
In January we are discussing the theme of commitment with our adults and children.
 
We define it as this:

Making a Plan and Putting it into Practice

Based on I Tim. 4:8

For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things,

holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.

As you work through setting new resolutions and taking on good advice of how others keep them,

remember these bits of encouragement to help you keep your focus on Jesus.

With His help and in His power, you can turn your resolutions into commitments of steel.

 
 
 
 
Author:
Pastor Jon is lead pastor of Faith Assembly Grand Detour
 

 


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