STRONGER: Prayer

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I recently completed some research on communication, specifically communicating with the use of our cellphones and was surprised to learn that there is such a thing as:

NOMOPHOBIA!

Nomophobia by definition is a phobia of being without a cellphone, specifically not having a cell signal and fear of low or no battery, which keeps one from the use of their cellphone. Symptoms of Nomophobia include phantom vibrations, panic attacks, dizziness, shortness of breath, nausea, sweating, elevated heartbeat, trembling, and chest pain. 

NOMOPHOBIA

Hold on…

It gets better!

I read some recent research from May 2017 that suggested adults, ages 18 to 40, are becoming increasingly addicted to their phones with habits including:

  • The average adult (18 to 40 years old) will check their phone 110 times a day
  • 12% of adults use their phones while showering
  • 44% of adults check job-related emails by phone while on vacation
  • 75% of users admit that they text while driving
  • The average user will spend 2 hours and 51 minutes a day on their cellphone..
    • That’s just shy of 20 hours a week (a part-time job)
    • That’s 80 hours a month
    • That’s 10 “working days” out of a 30 day month or the equivalent of 1/3 of your working hours spent on your phone!

For centuries mankind has been hard at work to communicate more, and to communicate more effectively. Think about it! We’ve come a LONG way from cave-wall carvings!

  • Carvings on stone and cave-walls
  • Smoke signals
  • Carrier Pigeon(s)
  • Letters by horseback
  • USPS (“snail-mail”)
  • Telegraph
  • Telephone
    • Swithboard
    • Landline
  • Dial-up Internet
  • Email
  • Mobile Phone
  • SMS (text message)
  • Social Media

Each one of these modes and methods of communication has been an attempt at communicating in various relationships, an effort to hear and to be heard.

What about your relationships with God?

How often do you spend time working on your communication with God? Listening. Seeking. Asking. Talking. Understanding. What would happen – how would your faith and your relationship with God look different if you were to intentionally invest in communication with him through prayer in the same way as an average person does communicating on their cellphone?

In Jesus’ famous Sermon on The Mount he addresses prayer first in Matthew 6 (The Lord’s Prayer), and again in Matthew 7:7-11.

“Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. “You parents—if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead? 10 Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake? Of course not! 11 So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him.

There is so much to unpack in this passage, but there are just a few that I am going to address.

First, Jesus says, “keep on”. This isn’t about being repetitive or bugging God into submission. Keeping on suggests an ongoing conversation or dialogue. It’s one that continues to develop over time.

KEEP ON COMMUNICATING WITH GOD!

Next, in relationship to “keeping on”, Jesus is going to introduce 3 active-imperatives:

  1. Ask
  2. Seek
  3. Knock

An active-imperative in the original language lets us know that we have a responsibility where our faith is concerned, that communication with God doesn’t just happen. It takes work. It requires intentionality. It demands attention. More on this later…

I want to look a little closer at the 3 descriptors that God gives us regarding our responsibility in prayer.

Before we can effectively address what Jesus is calling us to regarding how and why we should pray, we must first understand some pretty important culture and context behind Jesus’ prayer in Matthew 7. If we don’t we run the risk of taking our commitment to prayer WAY out of context!

For example…

If you read Jesus’ words in Matthew 7:7-11 out of context, it looks almost as though it reads:

“God, whatever I ask for, you’re going to give to me.”

“God, whatever I’m looking for, you’re going to help me find, right?!”

“God, whenever I knock, you’re obligated to open the door that I want entrance into!”

There are entire theologies, even a doctrine, predicated on this type of misappropriation of Scripture; whole systems, even churches, that have established themselves on the teaching that we can have whatever we want, otherwise known as “name it…claim it!”, theology because of a gross abuse of this passage taken WAY! out of context.

Just so we’re clear, God doesn’t owe us anything. He’s not some cosmic jeanie in a bottle waiting to grant us our every wish when it’s convenient for us to come to him or when we’ve reached desperation in our lives. Not even close!

QUICKLY…

In Jesus’ Sermon on The Mount, Jesus was talking with his disciples as well as a large crowd that had gathered to hear him. This was an eclectic audience with representation from multiple regions.

In Jesus’ Sermon on The Mount, Jesus spends quite a bit of time up front addressing important matters of faith and life. This sermon speaks to the heart of every follower of Jesus and tackles everything including our attitudes, our actions, characteristics of the Christian-life, relationships, spiritual disciplines, and much, much more.

In Jesus’ Sermon on The Mount, Jesus concludes his assertions with application that can only ever be realized through prayer. Think about it! You’re there at the base of the mountain as Jesus is giving the most radical message you have ever heard, a message with incredible implications for your faith and life, and a message with clear directives that would leave even the best of believers feeling a sense of hopelessness and helplessness. Come on! Jesus has just dulled out a list of attitudes, attributes, and actions that we as Christ-followers are responsible for. The problem is, none of us in our carnality has even the slightest of chance to realize these things on our own. And Jesus being fully aware of this dilemma meets us in the middle of our mental-madness (trying to figure out how we’ll ever live up to these standards of life and faith), giving us the greatest resource available to us…PRAYER! 

Now…

Through prayer…

Through the power and the presence of the Spirit of God living in us and through us…

Now we are able to realize the life that Jesus calls every Christian to live.

Let’s look a little closer at the 3 tasks of every follower of Jesus as we come to prayer.

“ASK” | αἰτέω | to request, to petition

To ask God means that we are in pursuit of him – we are intentionally engaging God in our lives. Instead of superimposing on God the selfish desires that we’ve contrived based on the standards and expectations of the world around us, we are to ask God to draw us close to him so that as we study his word, we will discover what God cares about. This can only happen if we are actively pursuing God. And this will only be realized if we are deliberate in pursuing God.

“SEEK” |  ζητέω  |  to search for like a treasure, to desire, to require

Seeking God is about active pursuit; it’s realizing that God is to be desired and sought after above all else. When we pray, especially in light of what Jesus shares in the first two-thirds of the Sermon on The Mount, to seek God is to actively look to align our priorities with the word, will, and way of God.

“KNOCK”  |  κρούω  |  to beat a door with a stick, to gain admittance

When Jesus calls us to keep knocking, he is requiring of us a very purposeful persistence in our relationship with him. This isn’t about beating the door down, forcing ourselves in, or knocking incessantly until God caves to our desires. Instead, when we continually seek a right-relationship with God through prayer, we are being persistent, continuing to stay our course of action in our relationship with God and call as Christians regardless of opposition.

Bringing my thoughts full-circle, what would happen if we were intentional about our prayer lives making prayer the first part of everything that we do, where we couldn’t do without it? I guess similar to the way we view our cellphones today? How would your relationship with Jesus look different if you were committed to prayer?

Here are a couple of quotes on prayer that I want to leave you with:

“To pray is to change. Prayer is the central avenue God uses to transform us. If we are unwilling to change, we will abandon prayer as a noticeable characteristic of our lives. The closer we come to the heartbeat of God the more we see our need and the more we desire to be conformed to Christ.” (Richard Foster, Celebration of Discipline)

“Praying with frequency gives us the readiness to pray again as needed from moment to moment. The more we pray – the responses of our Father to our requests – our confidence in God’s power spills over into other areas of our life.” (Dallas Willard, The Spirit of The Disciplines)

Check out the full message from this past Sunday!

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A Special “1-Year” Message

I invite you to take part in a brief, but very special message!

Last Sunday I celebrated my 1-year Anniversary here at Country Bible Church! In this short but important reflection, I wanted to share some of what I’m grateful for, some of what I’ve learned, and some of what I’m excited about.

I would be honored if you would take just a little time to listen in and celebrate what God is up to here at CBC!

Deadheading – A Ministry Project

DEADHEADING

I’ve shared in the past that as a Freshman in college, a friend of mine and her family owned a Rhododendron garden – they even had their own species of Rhododendron that they had created from cross pollination. It was pretty crazy, but if I’m being honest…all of the plants seemed the same to me with some different variations of color. Shows how much I know about being a botanist. (I even had to look up the word, “botanist” – HA!)

While I may have not learned much about Rhododendrons or species, what I did catch onto was caring for these shrubs. In a term that I came to know as “deadheading”, I would walk through the garden with my friend and her family, and using our thumb nails, we would find the dead sprouts or flowers and pluck them out. The reason for deadheading is so that as the shrub draws nourishment from the soil and sun so that it’s not working to give life to something that is lifeless. Instead, when you deadhead a plant or a bush or a shrub or a tree, in affect what you’re doing is helping that shrub to focus it’s nutrients and energies into the rest of the bush, limbs and sprouts that are active and alive and that can use the nutrients. It’s capitalizing on the good and getting rid of the bad.

As a Pastor, I feel that an important aspect of my ministry is to “deadhead”. In other words, it’s really quite important for me to capitalize on the gifts, strengths and experiences that God has given me while also working to shore-up my weaknesses. A part of this deadheading process for me looks like taking on an intentional process of prayerfully choosing an aspect of life and ministry that I am going to focus on working at each year.

STRATEGY

This year, with the help and encouragement of my church’s leadership team and my staff, I have chosen to work on developing a strategy designed to help me cultivate a long-term, healthy, life-giving ministry while also working to find balance in my personal life in order to honor God and seeking to become the best version of a husband and father that I can possibly be.

A part of this process for me looks like spending intentional time investigating other pastors whom have proven track records of success in both life and ministry – fellow leaders of the church that have at least 10 years tenure with the same church of 1,000 people or more, that also have a family. Why? Because this is smack-dab in the middle of where I find myself in this season!

I want to be a man of wisdom, a man that can learn from the experience(s) of those that have gone before me or that are currently navigating these incredible waters of life and leadership in the local church. Not only do I want to learn, but I want to work with my staff and leadership toward developing a long-term strategy bathed in prayer and geared toward progressing into this next season, with the end-goal in site of healthy, growing, sustainable and life-giving ministry in our local church and beyond.

GIVER OF THE GIFT

Along with my desire to learn and grow, I am hopeful that I will be able to be a “giver of the gift”. Plainly put, I want to serve others in life and ministry when they are looking at making the most of what God has given them by way of leadership in the church. Though I have done consulting and coaching many times over the years, it is my hope that I can work with our church, leadership team and staff, toward developing a culture and habit of investing in other churches and pastors – the hope of being a tremendously helpful and encouraging resource, walking alongside other ministers and ministries in seeing God’s kingdom come this side of heaven in local ministries and communities all over the world.

WHAT’S NEXT?

In considering what’s next, I have already begun working out the details with my leadership team and staff, details which include attending a few other churches, meeting with several Lead/Senior Pastors in an intentional interview, continuing to partner with my mentors, and working with a fantastic team of people to build a strategy, making every effort to see this project come to fruition. This is in no way a few day process, but will likely take months, even years, if I am to continue to learn and grow as well as carry on with encouraging, coaching, consulting with, and investing in other pastors, leaders, ministries and churches for many years to come.

I would love to ask you to be lifting me, our leadership and staff, and our church up in prayer as we begin this process and as we move into a whole new season of life and ministry together within our church and throughout our community.

Looking forward to the best days ahead!

A. Anderson

THE JIG IS UP!

In the 1800’s a new term surfaced through a prominent newspaper out of Philadelphia.

“The Jig Is Up!”

More than 2 millennia later this terminology lives on.

“The jig is up” by its very definition is intended to communicate that the truth of any circumstance or situation has surfaced despite an intentional effort to mislead others by pulling the wool over their eyes. It’s literally as to say, you’ve been found out! No more pretense. No more games. No more faking or facades. The jig is up!

This past Sunday I preached week 3 of our “Timeless Truth” series from Titus 1:10-16 and was blessed to address how, through our actions and the fruit of our lives and faith, we can absolutely determine a person’s commitment to Christ. I also had an obligation to address church splits and the byproduct(s) of a body of believers divided. Not only does a church split divide the body of Christ, it devastates entire communities!

Here is the passage from Sunday’s message:

10 For there are many rebellious people who engage in useless talk and deceive others. This is especially true of those who insist on circumcision for salvation.11 They must be silenced, because they are turning whole families away from the truth by their false teaching. And they do it only for money. 12 Even one of their own men, a prophet from Crete, has said about them, “The people of Crete are all liars, cruel animals, and lazy gluttons.” 13 This is true. So reprimand them sternly to make them strong in the faith. 14 They must stop listening to Jewish myths and the commands of people who have turned away from the truth. 15 Everything is pure to those whose hearts are pure. But nothing is pure to those who are corrupt and unbelieving, because their minds and consciences are corrupted. 16 Such people claim they know God, but they deny him by the way they live. They are detestable and disobedient, worthless for doing anything good. (Titus 1:10-16 | NLT)

In comparison to the 17 qualities and characteristics of an appointed elder in the church, God shows us 5 opposed character traits and behaviors of false teachers that are intentionally looking to divide the church and ruin the community of Christ through luring people away from the church and the truth of God.

Here are the 5 characteristics Paul calls out to Titus, that Titus is responsible to be aware of and on the lookout for:


#1  //  False teachers are rebellious

Rebellious means to “come against authority, wanting to seize control, engaged in opposition, and a defiant spirit”. We must be careful to examine the motives and intentions of those wanting to assume responsibility within the church. It is our responsibility to examine their practices as opposed to recklessly adopting their words and weigh all things with Scripture. Those that truly love God will actively set aside their own agendas, making every effort to KEEP THE UNITY OF THE BODY


#2  //  False teachers engage in useless talk

Useless talk as is mentioned in Titus addressing the people of the churches in Crete affords us the opportunity to consider 2 things:

First: Religious people like to puff-up their own ego and self-righteousness – they like to hear themselves talk and attempt to prove their worth and merit by what they say. This talk is meaningless!

Proverbs 26:4 (NLT): “Don’t answer the foolish arguments of fools,or you will become as foolish as they are.”

Titus 3:9 (NLT): “Do not get involved in foolish discussions about spiritual pedigrees or in quarrels and fights about obedience to Jewish laws. These things are useless and a waste of time.”

Second: This problem is also indicative of poor leadership; of people saying one thing with their mouth, but not following through, backing up their speech by their actions!

Proverbs 14:23 (NLT): “Work brings profit, but mere talk leads to poverty!”

2 Timothy 2:16 (NLT): “Avoid worthless, foolish talk that only leads to more godless behavior.”

Matthew 5:37 – “Let your ‘yes be yes’ and your ‘no be no!'”

In short, as Christians, our responsibility is to not get caught up in useless theological debates meant for causing division. Instead, we have an opportunity to look to create unity in the body with our words and the conversations that we’re a part of and that we facilitate. Beyond this, we also have an obligation to follow through on what we say – not making commitments with our mouths only to abandon our obligation(s) for another opportunity that we see as more beneficial to our lives.


#3  //  False teachers deceive others

These are people that like to and do talk senselessly for personal gain and their own benefit. These people are drawing others away from the truth of God by their deliberate and selfish actions.

Though there are many problems with this outright sinful behavior, the greatest damage is done in the heart and lived out through the actions of these deceivers.

Consider what the Bible says:

Philippians 2:3 (NLT): Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves.

Romans 12:10 (NLT): Love each other with genuine affection,[a] and take delight in honoring each other.


#4  //  False teachers are focused on religion

These are those who insist on religion over relationship (circumcision before salvation) and were known as the Judaizers. These Judaizers were Jews and the “religious elite” that taught how Gentiles had to obey all the Jewish laws (613 in total) before they could experience Christianity. The greatest problem that I see without stating the obvious of how absurd and ridiculous this superimposed religiosity is on people is that…IT IS NOT BIBLICAL!

Far too many body of believers and those hiding behind the banner of Christianity are doing more harm than good, leading people to believe that they have to have “everything together” before they can come to church or encounter Christ. What the heck does this even mean, to have “everything together”? It’s ridiculous and a complete manmade system of thinking so as to puff themselves up and create unnecessary barriers for the people that most need an encounter with Jesus to experience Him. STOP IT!!!

Another problem that I see with Judaizers is that this is an incredible example of religion OVER a right-relationship with Jesus; of people choosing to try and will their way to salvation rather than experiencing the GRACE of God in their lives.

Ephesians 2:8 (NLT): “God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God.”

HOW DOES GOD VIEW RELIGION?

James 1:27 (NLT): “Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.”


#5  //  False teachers do what they do for their own personal gain

In other words, these are the people only concerned with their personal gain and greatest benefit to themselves, willing to sacrifice anything to get their desired outcome. And what does the Word of God say about these false teachers?

THESE PEOPLE MUST BE SILENCED!

“Silenced” = Σπιστομιζω | verb | epistomizo | ep-ee-stom-id-zo  //  “to muzzle, to be silenced, to stop the mouth”.

One of the many responsibilities of our pastors, elders and the leaders of our church is to ensure sound doctrine and to protect against false teachers. We have a responsibility as elders to protect the flock, guide the sheep, and defend against harm and predators!

In short, what Paul is encouraging to Titus with regards to the early church(es) on the Island of Crete is to identify, call out and inform these false teachers that The Jig Is Up!

No more pretense. Masks and games set aside. We’ve identified you for who you are based on your actions and how you live your life.

What’s more is that for us as Christians seeking to honor God in all things, we must move away from mere lip-service and into a active lifestyle!

1 Thessalonians 4:1-12 (NLT): “Finally, dear brothers and sisters, we urge you in the name of the Lord Jesus to live in a way that pleases God, as we have taught you. You live this way already, and we encourage you to do so even more. For you remember what we taught you by the authority of the Lord Jesus. God’s will is for you to be holy, so stay away from all sexual sin. Then each of you will control his own body and live in holiness and honor— not in lustful passion like the pagans who do not know God and his ways. Never harm or cheat a fellow believer in this matter by violating his wife, for the Lord avenges all such sins, as we have solemnly warned you before. God has called us to live holy lives, not impure lives. Therefore, anyone who refuses to live by these rules is not disobeying human teaching but is rejecting God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you. But we don’t need to write to you about the importance of loving each other, for God himself has taught you to love one another. 10 Indeed, you already show your love for all the believers throughout Macedonia. Even so, dear brothers and sisters, we urge you to love them even more. 11 Make it your goal to live a quiet life, minding your own business and working with your hands, just as we instructed you before. 12 Then people who are not believers will respect the way you live, and you will not need to depend on others.”
For more on this subject, be sure to click the video link above and follow along as I walk us through the entire passage from Titus 1:10-16.

A. Anderson

 

 

G.P.S.

 

Global Positioning System

Originally designed by NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) by industry leading scientists during the Sputnik era, the world was first introduced to satellites that were/are able to track our positions based on what we now know as the “Doppler Effect”. As early as the 1960’s, the United States Navy began to employ GPS with hopes of effectively tracking their Submarines, which were responsible for carrying nuclear missiles.

More than 50 years later, today GPS (Global Positioning System) is a space-based radionavigation system owned by the US Government and operated by the United States Air Force to meet national defense, homeland security, civil, commercial, and scientific needs and is used globally for tracking location and in providing navigation for not only the Department of Defense and the US Military, but by civilians the world-over.

The unique function of GPS is that it gives direction(s) to a designated location based on coordinates; information about how to get where you want to go based on research, previous experience, and satellites. If you’re anything like me, more often than not, you miss a turn or lack attention based on other distractions and your GPS has to “reroute” your directions in order to achieve your destination. It happens to me more than I care to admit! Ha!!

 

Gospel Position through Scripture

On Sunday we picked up the second message in our “Timeless Truths” series; a study through the book of Titus. More specifically we worked through Titus 1:5-9:

I (Paul) left you (Titus) on the island of Crete so you could complete our work there and appoint elders in each town as I instructed you. An elder must live a blameless life. He must be faithful to his wife, and his children must be believers who don’t have a reputation for being wild or rebellious. A church leader is a manager of God’s household, so he must live a blameless life. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered; he must not be a heavy drinker, violent, or dishonest with money.

Rather, he must enjoy having guests in his home, and he must love what is good. He must live wisely and be just. He must live a devout and disciplined life. He must have a strong belief in the trustworthy message he was taught; then he will be able to encourage others with wholesome teaching and show those who oppose it where they are wrong.

As part of this message we focused on the 17 qualifications and attributes of an Elder which Paul readily identifies (takes the guesswork out) for Titus – clear instructions on what he was responsible for and what, rather, who he was to be actively pursuing in consideration of experiencing life and ministry together. Among the list of 17 included 5 prohibitions along with 12 active-expectations, including:

  1. An elder must live a blameless life (mentioned twice in the passage)
  2. An elder must be faithful to his wife
  3. An elder’s children must be believers who don’t have a reputation for being wild or rebellious
  4. An elder must be a leader, whom is a manager of God’s household
  5. An elder must not be arrogant
  6. An elder must not be quick-tempered
  7. An elder must not be a heavy drinker
  8. An elder must not be violent
  9. An elder must not be dishonest with money
  10. An elder must enjoy having guests in his home
  11. An elder must love what is good
  12. An elder must live wisely
  13. An elder must be just
  14. An elder must live a devout
  15. An elder must live a disciplined life
  16. An elder must have a strong belief in the trustworthy message he was taught
  17. An elder must be able to encourage others with wholesome teaching

The individuals and noise that we allow to speak into our lives and with which we derive our direction(s) in life based on popculture and the latest fads or trends will always leave us wondering the wilderness, constantly needing to reroute us. In short, the ways of this world – recieving our guidance and instructions from influencers this side of heaven which are separate from God’s Word, will always leave us longing for more and absolutely frustrated by our lack of clear directions and useful instructions.

Instead, I believe that we must long for and cling to our designed GPS or Gospel Position through Scripture!

I once heard an acronym to help us understand the principle(s) and purpose of the Bible:

B – basic
I – instructions
B – before
L – leaving
E – earth

So long as we are learning, applying and clinging to the very Word of God, we will have all of the direction we will ever need. No more cheap imitations and looking to the things of this world to lead us where only God is capable of taking us.

Live out your life on purpose, my friends, and focus on God’s Gospel Position through Scripture to guide, lead and direct you both now and all of the days of your life!

To hear more from Sunday’s message, be sure to click the video up-top.

A. Anderson

Grace BEFORE Peace

This past weekend we launched into a new series that we’re calling, “Timeless Truths” – a study through the book of Titus.

Greetings from Paul

“1 This letter is from Paul, a slave of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ. I have been sent to proclaim faith to those God has chosen and to teach them to know the truth that shows them how to live godly lives. This truth gives them confidence that they have eternal life, which God—who does not lie—promised them before the world began. And now at just the right time he has revealed this message, which we announce to everyone. It is by the command of God our Savior that I have been entrusted with this work for him. I am writing to Titus, my true son in the faith that we share. May God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior give you grace and peace.”

Here are some takeaways from the first installment of our series entitled, “Grace Before Peace.”

  • Much like the island of Crete when Paul wrote his letter to Titus whom was responsible for caring for and leading the church(es), we live in a day, age and culture that prides itself on relativism, including a large emphasis on relative truth(s) as well as relative circumstances.
  • God’s Word is timeless; it is unchanging and perfect, remaining uncompromising and complete!
  • Understanding our position in life and the kingdom of God leads us to adopting our purpose (what God would have from us and for us).
  • Until we truly identify and accept WHO’s we are, we will never be fully capable of living out WHO we are!
  • Facts change, but the truth of God never does!
  • The truth of God’s word leads us to complete confidence.
  • When considering what God would have from us and for us, we must recognize that the time is now! We are called to be a Christian community of action!
  • Throughout Scripture, grace always precedes peace!

People search the world over in desperation of peace; a comfort and calm for their soul. Too often this search for peace leads to a lot of empty, cheap imitations that not only lack the ability to fill the void of peace that only God can fill, but it pulls us further away from knowing the grace and peace of God.

If as you read this collection of thoughts right now and you catch yourself wrestling with the idea of true and complete PEACE, I would argue that you need to ask yourself if you have ever experienced the GRACE of God. Until we recognize, accept and live out of the grace that can only come through Jesus Christ (G.R.A.C.E.  //  God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense), we will never experience that peace which surpasses all understanding.

I invite you to listen in to the Word from Sunday and ask God to prepare your heart to accept his grace and experience true peace.

A. Anderson

COMMITMENT

 

Every year countless people will make a commitment in the form of a New Year’s Resolution – a decision that usually revolves around starting or quitting something. And every year 92% of the people that made a commitment to better their lives will drop off at some point along the 365 day calendar year. What’s more is that 50% of those that fail to honor their commitment will fall short within the first month.

Why is that?

Why do people have such a difficult time following through on the things that they’re committed to?

According to multiple psychologists, there are several reasons including, but not limited to:

FAILURE TO PLAN

I once heard it said that if you fail to plan you may as well plan to fail. Honestly, making a commitment in one’s mind to start or to stop something without a plan in place generally amounts to little more than a good idea at best.

Life’s best ideas and goals are optimized when a plan is built and put into place. This is one common characteristic that many of the greatest leaders our world has ever known has in common.

GOING IT ALONE

Accountability is often overlooked where people are too embarrassed or uninformed to realize the need for help. There tends to be a gap between the expectations in our minds compared to what comes to the surface through our actions. It’s too easy to become distracted, discouraged, dissuaded and disillusioned when we’re left to our devices.

From the beginning, we were not created to “go it alone”. Instead, we are better together and the benefits that come from community, specifically with realizing our goals and dreams, is tremendous.

TOO EASILY DISCOURAGED

Inevitably, this is one that we’ve all struggled with from time to time – the ability to stay excited, therefore committed to our cause. What starts out as energetic enthusiasm for what we hope to accomplish becomes far too easily compromised when things don’t go the way that we had envisioned. This failure to see things come together the way that we had hoped often leads to discouragement, which can prove detrimental when it comes to achieving our goals.

Much like having a plan in place, we need to intentionally remind ourselves of what it is we’re committed to doing and the reasons why; in others words, cost and affect. So long as we can keep the bigger picture in mind, we will be better able to stay the course when things don’t always go as we anticipate.

NOT INVESTED

“There is no such things as a free lunch.” If I had a dollar for every time I heard a good friend and mentor of mine say this to me, I would be able to feed my Chick-fil-A habit for a year! The principle behind this sentiment is that everything in life will cost us something. Whether financially or relationally, spiritually or mentally, everything that we set our minds to comes with a cost.

When people set out to achieve great things but have little to no personal investment, there tends to be little reason for resolve when things become difficult. On the other hand, when we have personal investment in what we’re doing, we are much more likely to put and keep our hand to the plow, making every genuine effort to see through that with which we have committed.

A LACK OF RESOLVE

“To decide firmly on a course of action”; this is the crucible of resolve. It’s what gives us the ability to apply fortitude and the gumption to keep going when things get difficult and threaten to take us off course from accomplishing those things that we initially commit to. If we make commitments without resolve, we are doing little more than “giving it a shot”, hoping for the best.

Resolve is an incredible ingredient in commitment. Without it I would argue that realizing one’s best can’t happen because at the first sign of trouble, on the surface it always seems easiest to cut bate and abandon ship. However, when we have a deep resolve within us, we will be able to see the forest through the trees and our end-goal in mind, which will provide all of the motivation and incentive that we need to press on and keep going.

OUR FAITH

When it comes to matters of faith and a real commitment to grow in knowledge and grace, I believe that we can get caught up in the same reasons and excuses that I just went through when comparing reasons for failure to our commitments and goals.

If we want to experience life to the fullest and really Live It Up! as a follower of Jesus Christ, I believe it’s imperative that we:

  1. Develop a plan of how we are going to grow in our faith, including:
    • Personal Bible study
    • Church involvement
    • Prayer
    • Building community and relationships
  2. Intentionally invite someone into our lives and faith-journey for accountability and encouragement
  3. Trust in the Lord and remind ourselves of why we’re doing what we’re doing in growing our faith through the promises of God, which not only inform us, but inspire and encourage us as well
  4. Consider what we need to invest in growing in our relationship with Jesus, including:
    • Time
    • Energy
    • Resources
    • Involvement in church and a Christian community
  5. Consistently remind ourselves of what we’re committed to and why so as to stay the course when things become difficult and threaten to pull us off-track from our goals

I addressed the need for us to Live It Up! through making a commitment and sticking with it this past Sunday. I invite you to click the video link above from Sunday’s message and consider what God is calling you to commit to and your next-steps in that commitment.

A. Anderson