Someone once said, “There are no new ideas, just people who don’t know the old ones.” As the author of a book called, Do Something Different for a Change, I like to think that I “wrote the book on change.” But actually, I think someone else beat me to it…Maybe you’ve heard of this other book? It’s called the Holy Bible.
Throughout the Bible, we read accounts of people whose lives were totally changed. I studied these stories to discover God’s principles for change and wrote about them in my book with the intention of reaching especially a secular audience. My challenge was presenting a Gospel message of change in a way that would not turn off the unbeliever. I was encouraged when God revealed to me that his principles work and have power for believers and unbelievers alike. Hence, my book takes psychological strategies based on Biblical principles for change and presents them in easy to understand language to inspire and motivate people to do something different for a change.
I speak and write a lot about taking personal responsibility to do something different because, if we’re honest, most of us are pretty passive when it comes to change and what God has for us. We say we want change, but don’t MAKE changes. We want something different, but won’t DO something different.
We are already, if we are in Christ, a new creation. The old has gone; the new has come! But we can become complacent and take a passive approach with God, becoming what I call “spiritual couch potatoes.” If you want to lose weight, you don’t have to exercise and eat sensibly – just pray about it. If you want a better marriage, you can still treat your wife any old kind of way – as long as you have faith it will get better. If you simply ask God, you don’t have to DO anything, and you can sit back and wait for him to fix your life.
Yes, God is still in the business of miracles and can do anything! But the Bible says, faith without works is dead. James tells us to put our faith into action. I interpret this to mean that you must DO something different to experience change.
In 2008 and 2009, the clear message God gave me for my life was to do away with passivity and to DO something – with an emphasis on what I must do differently and take responsibility for in order to experience the change I want in my life and that God has promised me.
If you’re anything like me, you have come up short in this regard; you’ve been a little too passive. But don’t despair. God’s grace is sufficient and this is what today is all about – beginning anew and seeking direction for the new year. Today is your day to see where you are lacking and decide to make a change.
I am encouraged by Paul’s letter to the Philippian church. He says in Philippians 3: 12-14:
Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
When Paul says, “I press on,” press on means:
- to run after, to pursue, to seek after eagerly, earnestly endeavor to acquire
- move into a position of contact with something by exerting continuous physical force
- attack persistently and fiercely
That doesn’t sound passive to me at all!
When Paul says, “I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me,” to take hold of means:
- to lay hold of so as to make one’s own, to obtain, to appropriate
- to seize upon, take possession of
- to lay hold of with the mind, to understand, perceive, learn, comprehend
So we are to earnestly pursue with continuous force in order to make something ours.
Then Paul says, “But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead,” where straining means to put forth an unusually great effort or stretching.
And finally, Paul says, “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”
You must continue pressing on in 2010, straining, and doing something different. This is a very active picture of change. There is no room for passivity if you want to reach the goal, that distant mark and win the prize that God has for you.
But God has a new message for me for 2010. God is saying that lasting change ultimately is only possible through the Father, and therefore, I must seek him for WHAT to change, HOW to change it, and the STRENGTH to do it. He is also saying that I must seek him FIRST and seek him CONSISTENTLY.
My 2008-2009 message is still true: I must continue to do my part. 2 Corinthians 3:14 says we are God’s fellow workers. This means that he wants to partner with us and we must remain active and not passive. But are you approaching change in a SELF-centered way? Are you asking, “What do I want to change for 2010? How do I want to be different? What changes will benefit me? What can I have more of? What can I do better?” Me, me, me, I, I, I. It is easy to forget to consult the Father about what HE wants to do and how HE wants you to change for the benefit of HIS kingdom.
God is showing me that 2010 must begin and end with my shameless, relentless, desperate pursuit of him. He wants me to experience and receive the benefits of a deeper, more intimate, more consistent, priority relationship with him. He wants to be FIRST. He wants to be my “go-to guy.” For everything…All the time.
The bible says that God rewards those who diligently seek him. So let me encourage you in this: before you do anything else in 2010, pursue the Father. If you seek Him, you will find him, and He will show you what to change and how to change it.
It won’t always be easy. I write in my book that change is hard, change is scary, and change comes at a cost. Pressing on and taking hold of can be tiring. Sometimes pursuing God and making him a priority can also be difficult. For some people, resting in God’s presence and his Truth and Love feels uncomfortable. The enemy may deceive you by telling you that you are not worthy to be in God’s presence or that God is mad at you. I am here to tell you today that those are all lies. The Father longs to spend time with you.
2010 is your year to do something different for a change – seek God first and do your part. But you will not be able to do this in your own strength. The good news is that you can do it through Christ.
Philippians 4 says, “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength (verses 12-13).
I cannot accomplish what God has planned for me to do for the Kingdom, I cannot be who God created me to be, and I cannot move through 2010 successfully without Christ. He strengthens me. He guides me. He directs me. He comforts me. He rejuvenates me. He encourages me. He loves me.
To experience lasting change in my life, I must seek the father to know why he took hold of me. I must seek the father to know the goals and the prize that God has for me. I must seek the father to know what strategies he has devised just for me. I must do my part and not be passive. When I get tired from pressing on and taking hold of, He is there to give me rest. I receive POWER and DIRECTION from my intimacy with him.
I can do all things: I can press on, take hold of and do something different for a change through Christ who strengthens me.