Not a resolution, a revolution…

The tree is back in its box, the baubles have all been packed away, the fairy lights are back in the garage and the confetti and streamers have been cleaned up from the New Years Eve celebrations – and so we are into another new year.

When people write about the New Year they often speak about a ‘fresh start’ or a ‘new focus’. They express hope and confidence that this year is going to surpass the previous one and that improvements are on the way in various areas of their lives. People make resolutions and state that they are going to get fit, thin and more beautiful – they determine that they need to change house or work or relationship status – it is actually a time when people consider change and wander through various scenarios of how their life could be different – but then the reality strikes – the exercise regime is halted, the old challenges remain and become our focus and the post ‘silly season blues’ take over.

For many of us, this time of year is a challenge – for some the year is going to be filled with ‘excitement, adventure and really wild things’ but for others it is going to be filled with ‘life’ – and not a very different life from last year.

I am sounding a little depressing but that is not my purpose, I just want to point out that we cannot survive on just the hype of a Christmas cake and a midnight countdown – true happiness and contentment require more substance.

The truth is that I could be fitter, thinner and more beautiful – I could diet, exercise and have a face lift but the contents of my ‘life’ would not change, I would still be the same ‘me’ inside, facing the same challenges on the outside.

The only way I can change my life is to allow change within – and this is more than a ‘resolution’ it is a ‘revolution’. It is a determined decision to allow something to happen within that changes my perspective and is outworked in my actions and behaviour.

The Lord said two things of interest for us as we start this year – ‘My mercies do not fail…they are new every morning’ & ‘I have come that you might have life and life more abundantly’.

So the Lord is willing and ready to work with you as you seek for more life, joy, hope and peace to be present (not just for a few weeks in January but) throughout the whole year ahead!

Let’s allow Him room in 2017…

New year sunrise!

I’ve taken the opportunity to watch a couple of sunrises in the last few days. The first one involved a bit of planning but the others have just happened because I like to get up early.   Like a lot of people I have been enjoying a holiday and have found myself with time to spare and my normal pattern of life interrupted and so I have taken the opportunity to sit for a while and watch the sun peak over the horizon and then make its way high into the sky.

My first sunrise of 2015 was New Year’s Day as we have started a bit of a tradition of heading to the beach to watch the dawning of the new year…this principally flowed out of the fact that we had experienced too many ‘dodgy’ new year’s celebrations which were well and truly underwhelming and we wanted to mark the new year with something special. It turned out to be a beautifully clear morning with the brightness of the sun making its presence felt, giving all who were observing a sense of anticipation for what was ahead.

But this morning’s sunrise was different… The sky was not clear and there wasn’t a particularly good reason to be up and about but as the sun began to rise that all changed. The fact that the sky was cloudy lead to an incredible light show filled with colour and significant beauty but the mix of cloud and sun also gave rise to dark shadows and ominous possibilities. Over a period of about 15 minutes I was treated to a display which could be described as breathtaking and it made me wonder what this day would bring. If there hadn’t been any cloud in the sky it would have been different but those obstacles gave the sun an opportunity to display its power and beauty in spectacular measure. Shafts of light breaking through the clouds; faint pink hues changing to bright yellow; and finally the full force of the sun completing the picture.

As we head into 2015 I am not sure what your year holds: I do not know if it is going to be smooth sailing or if there are storms ahead. This could be the best year of your life or it could be a challenging one but I do know one thing – the sun will keep on rising and… if you will allow it… the Sun of Righteousness (Jesus) can bring colour and dynamic power into your life.

Here is a promise for the dawning of the New Year… “to you who fear My name The Sun of Righteousness shall arise With healing in His wings” (Malachi 4:2)

‘New’ for the new year…

92.9…92.9…92.9…92.9…92.9…92.9

My son and I were testing all of the buttons on all of the options of the car we had just purchased from a friend of my dad.

It was an older car but a goodie…immaculate on the inside, meticulously serviced, always garaged, low kms with only a couple of cosmetic bumps on the outside – a great buy and a good car.  After a long test drive we were hooked and the deal was done with all parties smiling as the keys were exchanged and now we were headed home.

Everything was working fine: the electric windows; mirrors; cruise control; and air-con but then we tested the radio.

As we turned it on a faint sound of classical music (92.9) was heard and so I naturally turned it up – everything seemed ok so I chose the second preset radio station – 92.9 and the third – 92.9 – every station was set to 92.9.

My 17 year old son then left me to do the driving whilst he programmed in some new presets and we cranked up the volume to fill the car but as the bass sounds bounced around the interior things started to go wrong.  At first it was not really clear but within a couple of minutes it was obvious that something was not right…first one speaker and then another began to vibrate and crackle, the sound became distorted and unbearable to listen to.  Within 5 minutes the 4 speakers in the car had all torn and now sounded worse than a railway announcement from my childhood.  When we got home (having turned the radio off) we found bits of broken foam and torn cardboard had fallen from each of the speakers as they rebelled to the traumatic change we had put them through.

The problem was that for 16 years the presets had probably been the same, for 16 years the volume had been kept to a minimum and for 16 years the speakers had not been vibrated or challenged in any way – as soon as something changed the vibration was too much of a shock to the system and everything failed.

This made me think about a challenge for us all at the start of this New Year… Jesus said “You can’t put new wine into old wineskins” because the violent fermentation will cause them to burst.

Maybe it is time to adjust the ‘presets’ of your life and allow something fresh from the Lord to vibrate through you for 2014?

It is time!

It started with a simple and reasonable request – but it was really just a tip of an iceberg.

We were preparing the house for my Son’s 21st Birthday and my wife asked me if I could get around to fixing a hole in the wall that I had been meaning to repair for the last 18 months.

Leading up to our last major function I had done a ‘quick fix’ which was only intended to carry us over for a month or so but as you well know – it is amazing how time flies past.

Regularly, I would walk past my ‘temporary fix’ and feel the pang of guilt which urged me to get around to fixing it properly.  But to fix it properly meant quite a bit of work and I just couldn’t seem to find the time.

The party was just the motivation I needed – so I bit the bullet, tore off the temporary fix and started to make the repairs that were necessary.  It meant removing curtains, skirting boards, dealing with some water damage, replacing timber and joists, removing windows, replacing panels, patching plaster, painting and repainting… but eventually the work was done and the goal was achieved.

At more than one point throughout the task I felt that maybe I had bitten off more than I could chew but I kept working because I could see that we were on the way to reaching our goal.

Finally the job was done, the party was a success and now each morning I walk past the offending section and feel a sense of satisfaction at knowing that the problem has been finally rectified.

Holidays and the starting of the year are great times to get things done; great times to adjust things that need adjusting and to deal with issues that you have been delaying because of the busyness of life.

The Bible talks about “Fallow Ground” – fields that were once fertile and fruitful but have fallen into disrepair and are choked with weeds because of neglect. We cannot escape the need within our lives for maintenance and we cannot delay rebuilding forever – the starting of this new year is a good opportunity for us to deal with the holes in our walls or the fallow ground of our physical, emotional and spiritual lives.

Don’t put it off any longer… “Break up your fallow ground, For it is time to seek the LORD”                             Hosea 10:12

Time for a Refurbish?

I went to a function a few weeks ago and I was asked if they could borrow my outdoor chairs.

A few friends and I had bought some similar furniture about 8 years ago and it all matches so between us we had about 30 chairs. When they were set up they looked pretty good but it was interesting that now – 8 years later – they did not all look the same.

Even though they were made of precisely the same teak from the same factory there were three distinct colours – Some were almost white, some were quite grey and some were dark brown.

The reason for the difference in colour was twofold.  Firstly, where the chairs had been kept and secondly, when they last were oiled.

The white chairs were kept outside, undercover but exposed to the sun; they hadn’t been oiled in a while.  The grey chairs were kept outside, undercover in the shade and had been oiled 3 years ago.  The brown chairs were kept under a tarp in the garage and had been oiled about 6 months ago.

Don’t get me wrong, they all matched, they all fulfilled their purpose but there was an obvious difference between them.

As 2012 passes and as we contemplate stepping into 2013 I wonder ‘how are you looking’?

I am not talking about the outside superficial aspects of life but the internal, hidden and incredibly important personal side.

Are you white, grey or brown?

Are you tired and weathered, a little overwhelmed or are you fresh and ready to go?

The Bible speaks about being a ‘new wineskin’ ready to receive all that God has for us.

Not old, cracked and dried out by the sun but soft, supple and well oiled.

I intend to allow the Lord to refresh me ready for the New Year – I want His oil to renew me and His hand to shade me in the midst of the rigours and challenges I have to face.

When was the last time that the Oil of the Holy Spirit was allowed to refresh you?  When did you last feel the covering of His hand of protection?  Maybe the start of the new year is a good time to be refreshed?   

Dig deep!

The first few times it happened there was no problem but slowly and surely the effects began to show.  It started as a tremble, it grew into a shudder, matured into a sway and finally became an awful lurch! There was no way that my fence was going to stay standing when it was copping such abuse. 

The ‘fence abuser’ was not a disgruntled neighbour but my 26 kg dog who, because of his inquisitive and active nature, has taken to launching himself full speed at the fence.  The reason he does this is so that he can have a quick look to see what is happening on the ‘other side’ of the seven foot fence, where I am sure he believes the grass is greener! 

Because my children will not allow me to deal with my dog permanently I am left with one choice…I must strengthen my fence.  To achieve this I have to dig some holes and sink some poles to return the fence to an upright state as well as preparing it for future abuse.  At the beginning of this year this becomes a useful metaphor for us all.  

Jesus calls us ‘wise’ when we come to Him.  He says that we are like a man who is building a house “who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock.”(Luke 6:48)  When the huge storm comes the house survives because of where it is built!

 

How is your life going?  Strong and secure or is it like my swaying fence? 

 The best answer I can offer is for you to “dig deep” into all the Lord has to offer you this year!

Life in 2004

What do you think is going to be added to your life this year?Last year we bought a new house, took possession of a new dog, I started a new university course and I got given a “not so new” Volvo! At the beginning of the year I didn’t expect any of these things to happen but as the year unfolded each was revealed.

A new year is a wonderful thing: I see it as a fresh start and a new opportunity.

Each year I like to learn something new, to read something new and to see something that I haven’t seen before. If we have investments we like to see them grow with each year that passes. If we own a home we like to see it appreciate in value. All of us love a salary increase and none of us regret having value added to our lives.

The Lord Jesus said “The thief (The devil) comes to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” John 10:10

The Lord Jesus did not come to take things away from you. He did not come to remove your life or to destroy the life you now have. He came so that you might receive added value in your life: That your life at the ending of this New Year, would be better than when it started.

What value can He add to you? Why don’t you invite Him to give you a first hand demonstration?