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Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Step It Up A Notch

Well, here we are January 3rd 2012.  I was beginning to think the day would never get here, but alas it always does.  It is that first real day after the holidays.  Don't get me wrong I like the holidays as much as the next guy.  From the end of November till the very first of January everything is different.

The food is different
The schedule is different
The weather is different
The spirit is different
The whole world just seems different

It is probably this phenomena that heightens the yearning of a new year.  We finish Christmas and find a New Year staring us in the face and we find ourselves thinking, "You know this year I want to be different." Because somehow "different" takes on a very pleasant quality in December.

Some people make a list every year outlining the way they intend to be different, the way they know they ought to be, a better way.

Some people claim they don't make lists.  I don't completely trust those people.  Do they really exist?  Oh, they may not write their list down, but do they really not have a list; even mentally?  Do they somehow manage to escape the common lot of man and the yearning that accompanies each new year to do better? to be better?  OK, they probably exist somewhere, somehow.  I think they are the minority.  I can't prove it I just feel it......strongly!

There is something about a new year that fills us full of hope and just a good ole' fashion "can do" attitude.

But then today comes!

It is usually on the 2nd of January, unless like this year New Year's day falls on Sunday then the day gets pushed back a day to the 3rd.  It is the day when things get back to normal.  We go back to work, school, pay the bills, start thinking about having the valve cover gaskets replaced on the car and the tires replaced on the truck and thinking too bad I don't have all that money I spent on Christmas.  We have to start dealing with the boss again and it seems his or her festive mood must have accidentally got put on Santa's sleigh and ended up in the North Pole (I've been there, such a place exist).  After a month of feasting I'm not too excited about a year of self-imposed famine, more commonly known as a diet.  Already we are feeling like, can I really keep the list?  Have I over committed myself?  I have probably been too hard on myself!  The "can do" attitude is already slipping in the direction of the "who cares" attitude.

I don't really have to read my bible though in a year.
I'm not that overweight.
I get exercise going to and from the car.
Why read about it when I can watch a documentary about it.

Funny what a difference a week can make.  From I need some work to I pretty much have it all together.

I like list.  I like a challenge.  I don't want to adopt the attitude I fail therefore I will not challenge myself.  I do fail, sometimes miserably.  Even in failure I learn some valuable lessons.  1.  I am weak and frail.  2.  I need to have patience with others weakness and frailty.  After all we are all basically the same.  Our weakness and frailty may reveal itself differently, but it is what it is and we all battle it.

I challenged myself to read the bible through last year, and I did!  I finished a month early.  I would have read my bible a lot last year and most every day but it is not likely I would have read it through without the commitment to do so.  I enjoyed it.  This year I'm going to read my bible through twice.  A year ago I would not have believed that was likely.  This year I know it is possible.  Only the passing days will determine if it happens.  If it doesn't I'm pretty sure I will at least read it through once.  I want to as Spurgeon said, "bleed bible".

My lists of years gone by probably mark more failures than successes.  That's OK.  Not that I am OK with failure, I despise it in myself as much as in anyone.  But even failure means you tried!  Trying is better than not trying.  Success never came in the absence of a challenge.  There have been some success over the years.  Successes that would not have happened had it not been for the self-imposed challenge.

I have a list this year too.  I'm not telling you what it is.  It's really none of your business ;-)  And you won't help me reach the goal.  You will just see me fail and secretly delight that you are not the only one that fails.

I have shared my goals with three people.  My wife and two of the men in my church.  My wife can be brutally honest.....ouch that hurts kind of honest!  Is it possible to be brutal and loving at the same time?  She is!  But at least she is my wife and she already knows that I am a frail, weak creature, so my failures do not surprise her in the least.  Two of the men in my church know.  I don't want them to see me fail, but they probably will on some level.  But really they already know I am just mortal flesh anyway.   I need to quit fooling myself....  I have told others my goals before in hopes that they would help hold me accountable.  They haven't.  I'm pretty sure they didn't because they were struggling with their own goals.  Sometimes we don't ask people questions because we don't want them asking us questions.  So incorporated into my objectives for this year is the commitment to volunteer an update every couple of weeks.  That way they don't have to ask me about something specific but just mention that it has been a while since they have seen an update.  Update, what update?  Oh, that update!  Now I either have to  fudge the truth or be honest and do better.  I hope I never opt for the former.

This year at the church I pastor we are going to emphasis a Determined Discipleship.  I encouraged my people on Sunday to "step it up a notch".  I told them I was not asking them to sell all they have and give to the poor, but just to step it up a notch.

That is what I hope to do!  That is what I must do!  And if I fail, I will fail trying!

Philippians 3:14 - I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

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