What do you do differently this year than you did last year? Is that difference helpful?
These questions are basically the intent of the resolutions many people make at the end of every year. Essentially a resolution says, “I want to make a certain change in my life in order for something to be true.” But the reality is that most of us do not have the willpower to follow through on our desires. Thus, perhaps the naming convention should be New Year’s Intentions instead of New Year’s Resolutions.
I used to make resolutions. For instance, one year my wife and I decided to join a gym because we wanted to get into shape. (Don’t you love that phrase – into shape? The reality is that we want to change our shape and the shape most people desire is more flatness, which on paper would be a line, which is not a shape at all! But I digress!)
So, we joined a gym. And to be smart about it (i.e. to be good stewards and save money), we paid for the full year up front to save money. I do not know what the deal was, but we probably saved two months worth by paying up front. That is the equivalent of Buy 5, Get 1 free. And because the deal was for two of us, it was a great deal!
Most of you already know what is coming.
We went a few times. Then stopped. Forever. I think we went for about a month, maybe a little longer. If I give us the benefit of the doubt and say two months, then the Buy 5, Get 1 deal becomes Use 2, Pay for 5. As Dave Ramsey would say, we paid the “Stupid Tax.”
And that is the problem with most resolutions. We are not really resolved. We only have intentions. And thus, we give up because the perceived cost is not worth the effort.
And that is why we need renewal.
Our church had a series of services aimed at a renewal this week. Some readers may be familiar with the term revival, and the idea of a renewal is similar. However, reviving something does not mean it is sustained. It only means that something was dead and has been revived. But being revived does not mean the quality of the new life is good. (Note also that for something to be revived, it once had to be alive. Thus, when churches have revivals to “reach the lost” it is really a misnomer, unless the lost they seek were once found.)
But a renewal has the idea that a newness is occurring. It implies a restoration to what was broken and a freshness to what was lagging.
Specifically, our renewal is focused on having our heart, soul (life), mind, and strength renewed with each of those components being part of how we are to love God, according to Jesus words in Mark 12.30, so we can love others as well (v31).
In order to continue the process of renewing, this sequence of services is just the beginning. The services are the launch for what is to come – a series of discussions to evaluate everything we do. These discussions will help us better understand our purpose and our values which will, in turn, help us to be more effective in choosing how to minister and in actually ministering.
In other words, this time of evaluation is to move beyond the idea of having good intentions towards making resolutions (i.e. being resolved), to truly make a world of difference from our small town in the northwest corner of Missouri.
But before we can make new resolutions, we are taking the time to be renewed.
Goethe said, “What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.” So, we are taking a first step towards becoming what God wants us to be before setting the goals to achieve in order to take further steps towards God’s goal for us.
The question for this week is: What must you do to move from good intentions to fulfilled desires? (If you answer that question, will you do it, or is your thought just another good intention?)