Jump Start # 2007
Romans 6:4 “Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, in order that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.”
A new year! New calendars, new goals, new plans, new resolutions and hopefully a new you. Often it takes something simple, like the beginning of a new year to lead a person to take inventory, to reflect and to make changes. Business do this. Churches do this. Individuals do this.
There are two fundamental avenues that lead to changes.
First, there is an unhappiness about where one is currently. One doesn’t like what he sees in the mirror. One isn’t satisfied with what they see in their bank account. One doesn’t like the direction things are going. One realizes that they are getting older, but not getting any better. People that just love where they are in life and what is going on, most likely will not change. But when one is not happy with their marriage, their family situation, their attitude, their habits, then they will begin to make necessary changes.
The world likes us to pass over such thoughts. The world tends to think shallow and superficial. The world is into now, not later. Fun is in and serious thinking is out. Do you realize that the majority of Americans did not read a single book last year. Why spend the time with a book, when you can watch a video? Books are long. Books take time. Books are tiring.
Second, when there is hope for better things, then the steps of change begins. If a person doesn’t like what they see in the mirror, but they really believe that there is no hope in losing weight, then they won’t. The same goes with spending and saving habits. The same goes with changing attitudes, lifestyles or making the marriage stronger. One may not like where they are at, but unless they really think there is hope for change, they will stay miserable.
Remember the Peanuts cartoons and comic strips? There was a boy named “Pig Pen.” He was always dirty looking and a cloud of dirt surrounded him. Some are just like Pig Pen. They realize the dirt but they know it won’t do any good to take a bath or to put on clean clothes because they will just get dirty again. Instead, they accept that they are that way and make the most of it. In time, those around do the same. We say, “Oh, that’s just dad,” and that becomes an excuse for rude and obnoxious behavior. Rather than changing, he’s accepted as he is even though he continues to offend and hurt people.
Sometimes a person can be overwhelmed by how much they need to change and the task seems impossible. The person who wants to lose weight, really needs to lose 80 pounds, but that’s nearly impossible. Another person looks at their retirement savings and the need another 400,000 to reach their goal. How? It seems like a mountain to climb. This is why so many quit their resolutions by February. A whole year seems too long. They give up. I just can’t do it, they tell themselves.
Our verse today talks about walking in the newness of life. These Roman Christians had been baptized. That act alone did not change their current course in life. It had to come by a determination within them. Driven by their faith and love in the Lord, they would walk in a new life. New thoughts. New friends. New habits. New thinking. Better ways. Better hope. Going from the old to the new is hard. Old habits and old friends are very comfortable. But they also kept us in a place where we do not want to be.
Here are some practical suggestions. Steps to a new you and a new life.
1. Make a list of three books that you want to read this month—in January. One book, is a book of the Bible. The other two books are books that will help you. Books about communication. Books about parenting. Marriage books. Leadership books. Think this over for a moment and write out three books for the entire year. Then start reading. Stay with this. Find what works. Some like a real hardback in their hands. Others like the electronic books. Either way, by the end of the month you will have read three books. By the end of the year you will have read 36 books. Amazing!
2. Take thirty minutes every day to walk. It’s too cold to walk. Walk around your office, the mall, or, just the inside of your house. Thirty minutes. Not long. Don’t worry about the number of steps or the distance, just take a 30 minute break and walk.
3. While you are walking, think and pray. Think about how you can help others. Think about where you are spiritually. Think about what needs to be done. Pray. Pray while you walk. Pray with thankfulness. Pray for God’s will. Pray for the church. Walk and pray. Every day. It’s not hard. It’s just a matter of doing so.
4. Get to services. Get there all the time. Get there when you feel like it and get there when you don’t feel like it. Get there with your Bible. Learn something every week. Make this a habit. Some of you are doing this and you can tell the great value and help this is. Others need to work on this.
5. Write a financial budget. Some do this and live by it very well. Others let money slip through their fingers. Now that Christmas is over, the bills start coming in. Without a plan and without a budget, some will be paying for Christmas throughout most of the year. That’s no way to live. Write out a plan and stick with it. This will help you make adjustments and this will allow you to beef up your savings. If it’s not in the budget, then you don’t spend. That’s hard, but that will make a difference.
6. Have periods of the day without social media. No phone. No email. No Facebook. No twitter. No Youtube. No TV. What will we do? Talk. Read. Do things together. The way some are these days, you’d think that their phone was a third arm. It’s always with them and they are always using it. If folks can spend so much time talking on the phone, you’d think they could talk to one another without the phone. Share. Connect. Grow. Learn. God knows the value of communicating. This is how He chose to deliver His message and will. He could have sent Videos, but He didn’t. He spoke. His words were written down. They were read. There is something about that! You ought to try that.
Change. Resolutions. Hope. It starts where you are and it is built around the idea that things can be better. Will they? That’s up to us.