The advent of a new year is not only a marker of passing time but a traditional opportunity to give up bad habits and launch a fresh start with renewed resolve. Judging by the volume of Nutrisystem, Weight Watcher and Jenny Craig commercials on TV this time of year, everyone is consumed with shedding the tonnage accumulated over months of sloth!
Physical fitness is a good thing but often the more important spiritual fitness is completely overlooked. Rolls of unsightly Spiritual cellulite may keep us from achieving what the Lord needs us to be doing. Out of shape believer’s drained, disconnected and distracted will be useless to the King. While not ready for the Olympics in either category, I do have some hardcore, New Year’s fitness tips percolating and hope you will take them to heart and then relay your ideas for additional ones I overlooked.
*Burning Daylight– Believers need to assess how we are spending our time and jettison those time-suckers that have no true value or kingdom purpose. Time is getting shorter by the day to achieve our portion of the Great Commission. We need to get crackin’! (Matt. 28:18-20: Ephesians 5:16; Col.4:5-6)
*Rose-Colored Glasses– Too often Christians go through life thinking everything will continue as it always has. Tomorrow will be just like it was today…there is no need to be concerned. I’m saved. I’m going to heaven, therefore I don’t need to get bogged down with any depth that may cause offense to others or cause me to feel bad, fear for the future or worst of all, feel a need to repent and change! Your rose-colored glasses may be keeping you from rightly assessing the times. Take them off and keep your head on a swivel. (1 Peter 4:7; 1 Thess. 5:6-9; Rev. 3:2)
*Don’t just wear the name tag– We’ve all been to big luncheons or work functions where everyone is wearing one of those peel off –stuck-um name tags. These helpful identifiers in the short term acknowledge that we really don’t know any of these people. If you are merely checking a box by showing up for an hour Sunday morning’s, perhaps you are just wearing the name tag. Christianity as described in the Word is an action word. Paul tells us this is essential to not neglect coming together with other believers (Hebrews 10:25) especially as we see “the day” approaching. I don’t know about you but I see that day approaching!!!! Meeting with fellow Christians is not intended to be a personal B-12 shot to feel good for an hour, nor is it intended as a mere educational Bible lesson. That regular gathering is supposed to be a full-blown nutritional edification of the Body through praise and worship to the head, Jesus- and uplifting operation of the necessary Gifts of the Holy Spirit in order to uniformly have us operating in top shape, ready to go back out and DO something for the Kingdom that week. Are you just wearing the name tag or are you ALL IN?
*Speed Dating is not a relationship– this is related to the item above, but is more personal than what is happening with the full Body of Christ. Like online dating, speed dating removes participants from the vagaries of life, immediately getting down to brass tacks. All involved presumably want romance and relationship but with no wasted time. In five minute increments a large pool of people can intensively meet others of the same mindset and decide whether or not they are attractive to one another. You may eventually find Mr. or Mrs. Right in this fashion, but real relationship is still a long ways down the road!
People in REAL relationships know one another. It takes extensive time and effort, laughter and often-times pain, hugs and lots of forgiveness. Those people trust one another because of this knowing. They know what the other likes or dislikes. They know what hurts that person or brings them joy. True relationship takes time to develop and slugs through good times and bad. It involves talking, sharing and listening. It is based on expectation and long-term planning. Do you have an acquaintance or a real relationship with Jesus? This year get into the Bible and stay there. Get praying, praising and listening. If you haven’t done so, ask Him for the filling of the Holy Spirit to empower that relationship and all you do.
Relationship- real and deep, overflowing and MORE- is what we want with Jesus, the Messiah.
*Don’t leave home without it! This is the hook from a vintage American Express ad campaign. The inference being that if you don’t have anything else, their amazing credit card will solve your problems. Christians often think that once saved, they can’t be harmed by Satan’s ploys. Accurate, viable teaching on spiritual warfare is often scant or completely lacking in our churches. If we couldn’t be effected by the dark side then why was Paul so adamant about always putting on, not just partial bits, but the full armor of God? This line item is related to the first whereby many are just coasting along without much cogitation on nor understanding of the times. We must keep our head in the game. We must not neglect preparing for successful tactical warfare or Biblical eschatology to adequately prepare for what is coming. Don’t leave home without the full armor of God! (Ephesians 6:10-18)
*Testimony– One isn’t required to be a doctoral Bible scholar to talk about Jesus. Tell others your story. Not only how you came to know Jesus as your Savior, but what He does for you every day. If statistics are true, there are scads of people out there who are lonely, riddled with fear and anxiety, depression and hopelessness. (1 Peter 2:9)
Remember, each one of us was headed for hell before someone told us about the awesome power of the blood of Jesus. You hold the key to snatch people- your friends, neighbors and family- out of hell’s handbasket. We are called to tell people our story! Don’t make it harder than it is supposed to be. This year, just tell people your particular, awesome story and let Jesus do the rest! (Revelation 19:10)
It’s a new year, it’s a new day and it’s OK for Christians to evaluate, reassess and change things that have gotten whonky. We are NOT SUPPOSED to look like the rest of the world! Dump your delicate, offended feelings. Forgive people that did you wrong. Repent, get rid of the stupid things that waste time, money and effort. If you have addictions or stuff weighing you down, now is the perfect time to deal with them. Jesus came and died to set us free—so get fully free from those things. Choose JOY.
It is healthy to evaluate the way we live our lives from time to time. We should make sure that we haven’t grown accepting and easy with sin. We need to assess and pray that we are attending the local church where the Lord wants us to be and coming under wise and Godly leadership.
In 2018, determine to be totally tuned in to the heart of God, equipped and ready to roll. We are burning daylight-get moving!