Saturday, January 3, 2009

New Year's Shame

New Year's Resolution ImageBeing that time of year, I'm thinking about New Year's resolutions. Some of these thought were formed from last Sunday's sermon, so pardon me if I repeat anything.

I think I may have made resolutions only once. Knowing myself I realized that it is unlikely that I would actually keep to any of them. The one time I made them they were spiritual affirmations along the lines of - I will spend 30 minutes reading my Bible; I will pray every day; I will share my faith once a month. I might have kept them for 2 weeks.

What was I to do? Should I say I will spend time with God once a week or I commit to going to church most of the year? Should I reduce the commitments down to a level I know I can keep? (On a side note, go listen to the New Year's resolution song.)

Resolutions fail because they seem to always originate in our soul - what we determine we are going to do. They are how we determine we are going to better ourselves. I labeled this New Year's Shame, because the resolutions tend to be an attempt to fix those areas in our lives we do not like about ourselves. I will not eat ice cream everyday for dessert. Therefore we start to focus on things we want to fix about ourselves and then feel bad that we are the way that we are. That is not the way the Christian life is meant to work.

When we accepted Jesus into our lives, we declared Him as Lord. As Lord only He has the right to determine what needs fixing. And, the best part is only He knows the way in which we are going to be fixed.

For example, let's say I have an anger problem. The common resolution would be that I will not get anger at my kids or I will only get angry at my kids once a week. Just like the ideas from Shepherding a Child's Heart, we focus on the outward behavior. Let's say for the sake of argument that Jesus agrees that I have an anger problem, and this is the year He wants to work on it. Now as I ask Him how He wants me to deal with it, He leads me to call my mom twice a month. What?!!! Jesus may lead you to do seemingly unusual things to work on areas He wants to get at. Why? Because He knows what you need. He might be saying that you need to work out the anger you have against your mom, and by talking to her frequently the anger you are experiencing with your kids will subside.

It is not like God does not want us to change; He is for our healing and wholeness. It is just we were never meant to fix ourselves. Attempts to go it alone lead to religion, bondage, and more shame. God offers us a better way. We will take a better look at this new way starting January 11th.

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