Monday, January 02, 2006


resolution (def'n):
a) a resolving, or determining; deciding
b) the thing determined upon; decision as to future action; resolve.

revolution (def'n):
a) a complete or radical change of any kind
b) overthrow of a government, form of government, or social system by those governed and usually by forceful means, with another government or system taking its place.

John 4:14
But the water I give them takes away thirst altogether. It becomes a perpetual spring within them, giving them eternal life.

Many of us never fully experience the fullness of life offered in Jesus because it is so unlike our regular experience. We may go to church but sometimes when we hear about what the church should look like we get discouraged. For all of our good intentions and strenuous efforts to make resolutions, we don’t approach and receive the life of Jesus in the right way.

Matthew 11:28-30
Then Jesus said, "Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke fits perfectly, and the burden I give you is light."

What we thought was so difficult about entering fully into the divine life is entirely due to our failure to understand and take the small steps that quietly but surely lead to our transformation.

All of the obstacles to putting off the old self and putting on the new one can be removed or mastered. No one needs to live in spiritual and personal defeat.

In sending out his disciples, Jesus set in motion a perpetual world revolution, one that is till in progress and will continue until God’s will is done on earth as it is in heaven. This Jesus revolution is always first and foremost a revolution of the heart. It is a revolution of character. It is a revolution that changes people’s ideas, beliefs, feelings and habits of choice.

An iceberg has 9/10 of it's volume below the surface. Only 1/10 of an iceberg is above the surface, or visible to us. When we only work on our actions, or behaviors without looking at the root cause, we aren’t working on the real issue. We are looking at only "the tip of the iceberg" so to speak. The iceberg that sank the Titanic wrecked it below the surface.

I will go on a diet.

I will get my spending habits under control.

I will be more patient with my kids.

I will be a better husband/wife, son/ daughter, brother/sister, neighbor/ friend.

I will exercise regularly.

I will pray more.

These are strictly 'above the water line' resolutions.

To make a New Year’s Revolution is to go deep under the surface of who we are; it is to go into our heart. We can’t become more like Jesus just working on our external behavior. When externals are the emphasis, deep spiritual formation doesn’t happen. The process falls into legalism.

Remember WWJD? What would Jesus do? It was popular for a while but petered out. It became too much for people because they could never do what Jesus did in any given situation if they weren’t constantly cultivating their heart moment by moment after God’s heart!

Psalm 16:7-9
I will bless the LORD who guides me; even at night my heart instructs me. I know the LORD is always with me. I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me. No wonder my heart is filled with joy, and my mouth shouts his praises! My body rests in safety.

Daily we walk with God and let Him change us. Moment by moment we walk with God.

And it all starts with our thoughts. Our thoughts either take us towards God or away from Him. Our thoughts help shape Godly feelings or ungodly feelings.

Here is a little difference between a thought, a temptation and sin itself.

Thought: “I could say something cutting about Person X to Person Y.”
Temptation: “I suppose I could. Person Y would be quite amused. What could I say?”

Sin: “I could say she waddles like a duck. I will say it- ah, but now person Z has arrived and is talking a mile a minute. Maybe later.”

Even though you didn’t get to carry through on the plan you’re still messed up. To begin a revolution is to work on these thoughts one at a time. Then in a moment of reflection, you can ask the deeper question of ‘why do I want to say something cutting about her?’

Psalm 14:2-3

The LORD looks down from heaven on the entire human race; he looks to see if there is even one with real understanding, one who seeks for God. But no, all have turned away from God; all have become corrupt. No one does good, not even one!

One thing to understand about the idea of sin is that 'sin' doesn’t mean we’re worthless, only lost.

Luke 11:39-40
Then the Lord said to him, "You Pharisees are so careful to clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside you are still filthy--full of greed and wickedness! Fools! Didn't God make the inside as well as the outside?

We want to appear perfect. We think we’re God. Hide the darkness is our motto. Augustine said that “God being God offends human pride”.

The historian of Alcoholics Anonymous titled his work Not-God because, he said, that stands as the most important hurdle an addicted person must surmount: to acknowledge, deep in the soul, not being God. No mastery of manipulation and control, at which alcoholics excel, can overcome the root problem; rather, the alcoholic must recognize individual helplessness and fall back in the arms of the Higher Power. "First of all, we had to quit playing God," concluded the founders of AA; and then allow God himself to "play God" in the addict's life, which involves daily, even moment-by-moment, surrender.

Proverbs 3:5-8
Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will direct your paths. Don't be impressed with your own wisdom. Instead, fear the LORD and turn your back on evil. Then you will gain renewed health and vitality.

Phil Yancey has quoted an alcoholic who put it so well,

I know that I can go out and start drinking today and. … have all the sex I want with all the women I want and live in a state of continued drunkenness for quite some time. But there is a catch. I know firsthand all the misery and guilt that comes along with it. And that is something I want no part of. I have experienced guilt and misery so extreme that I didn't want to live anymore at all--and that, my friend, is why I would rather not have to take advantage of God's generosity in being willing to forgive me once again should I go that route. … Plus, in my present life, every now and then I think I do manage to do God's will. And, when I do, then the rewards are so tremendous and satisfying that I get kind of addicted to that closeness to God. There is a common saying in AA: "Religion is for people who believe in Hell. Spirituality is for people who have been there."

1 Corinthians 6:11

There was a time when some of you were just like that, but now your sins have been washed away, and you have been set apart for God. You have been made right with God because of what the Lord Jesus Christ and the Spirit of our God have done for you.

When we work daily on our thoughts and feelings, our character is built up. We weren’t made for too many extended ‘highs or lows’. We can’t sustain the pace of external behavioral changes if we haven’t dome the internal work.

Ben Dean has written on the concept of the "hedonic treadmill", which refers to our tendency to adjust rapidly to good or bad events in our lives. Emotions are fleeting, and we cannot sustain emotional highs or lows indefinitely. We eventually return to our baseline. We are back exactly where we started, like a runner on a treadmill.

Here's a simple example: A friend just installed a plasma high definition television set. He predicts that his family will be excited about it for the next week. Then it will recede into the background. In time, he will take it for granted.

The following exercise illustrates the concept of the hedonic treadmill.

Recall the last time something really bad happened to you. Think about what it was and how you felt in the moment. Now think about how you felt the next day.

How did you feel one week later? What about one month later?

Did you feel as miserable 30 days after the bad event as you did when it occurred?

It's almost true that time heals all wounds.

Now repeat this mental exercise with a good event. Recall something wonderful that happened to you. How long did the glow really last? Why doesn't the glow last longer?

The following five research findings may surprise you:

1) Above the poverty level, added wealth has little relationship to happiness.

2) A comparison of life satisfaction across countries showed that once the gross national product exceeded $8000, there was no relationship between money and life satisfaction.

3) There is no relationship between money and happiness.

4) People living in sunny climates are not more satisfied than people living in cold climates.

5) Objective good health is only slightly related to happiness.

"Objective health" refers here to how sick or healthy you actually are (as measured by doctor visits, trips to the hospital, vitals signs, etc.) as opposed to how sick you think you are.

Most new year's resolutions relate to the increase of happiness, usually from having more money, possessions. They are strictly 'above the water line' resolutions. New Year's Revolutions are much deeper because they are below the water line. Consider the following questions as you view the coming year:

1. What's one thing you could do this year to increase your enjoyment of God?

2. What's the most humanly impossible thing you will ask God to do this year?

3. What is the most helpful new way you could strengthen your church?

4. For whose salvation will you pray most fervently this year?

5. What's the most important way you will, by God's grace, try to make this year different from last year?

6. What single thing that you plan to do this year will matter most in 10 years? In eternity?


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