December 29, 2022

Starting Not Stopping for the New Year!

It was the summer of 1992 and I was working during the day at a lumber yard and working out every night in preparation for my senior year of football. It felt like every day went on forever and my senior year would never come! I mentioned this to my dad and he said to me “son, life will get faster and you will blink and you will be my age.” Here I am, 30 years later and I am now my dad’s age he was then.

Life does indeed move fast. It seems we were just starting 2022 and now here we are beginning a new year again. With that in mind, I have asked myself this question again today – as each year goes by, how often do I go on cruise control and coast thru each year and not be intentional in the direction my life is going.

Jon Acuff, a Christian author, put it this way – am I content to being on the road to being average or do I desire to be on the road to being awesome? He goes on to say that all it takes to be average in life is not die; simply place your life in neutral and roll right into the grave.

Most people have within them a desire to be more and do more with their life, we just don’t always know where to start.


But what does that look like?

At the beginning of a new year, many will come up with resolutions of things they will stop doing. Stop – spending money, overeating, drinking, smoking, and worrying! Which is not bad, but I begin to think in a different way.

What if instead of beginning the New Year with a list of things to stop doing, it was a list of things to start doing.

In other words, what can I start doing in 2023 I haven’t been doing that will bring positive changes in my life?

So the question is still – where do I start?

For me, I always like to begin with God’s word. The passage that God has used often, especially at the beginning of a New Year is Philippians 3:13-14: 13 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, 14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

In these verses, Paul does two things that we must do to begin our journey of starting – reflection and action.

Reflection: I must first be honest at where I have been, where I am and where I need to go.

Sometimes it is good to go back and be reminded of the calling the Lord Jesus has placed on your life. It is different for all of us, but if we saved, according to 2 Timothy 1:9 we are saved and called!

Even today I God brought me back to a passage that gave my life purpose and meaning for the last 19 years when He called me to be the pastor at Center Baptist. Close to 20 years ago, God used Acts 20:23-24: 22 “And now, behold, I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there: 23 Save that the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me. 24 But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.”

When has God spoke to you from His word in the past? Take some time over the next few days and review those moments, seek Him for clarity to where He has brought you right now and what the future looks like.

What has God taught you this year that you can carry over into the New Year and where is God leading you? Capture His heart for your life in this moment and in this season.

Even ask yourself these questions:

1. What is important right now to you?

2. What is next for you?

3. Is there a step that God has placed in front of you?

Having trouble with these? Here are some thoughts to help you ponder and reflect.

- What have I not thought of yet?

- What is one immediate need that I can fill for someone I know?

- What is a dream that is in my heart?

Once you have taking the time to reflect, then comes the next part of the journey of starting!

Action: this one thing I do – what are the action steps that I need to take to get me where I want to go.

In it all, Paul points us to Jesus. Whatever you start doing, Jesus must be our greatest passion and focus.

Take these questions, take your heart, and lay it all before the Lord. Get alone with Him, His word and maybe even a notebook. Sit and be quiet and lay these reflections before the Lord and ask for His heart. Ask Him to show you His steps and His direction.

Ask God to give you the next step - that ONE thing that you need to start, do, and obey.

Pray, obey, and follow Jesus. Remember, “Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our race!”

Take it step by step and day by day. You do not have to plan out the whole year or month. Just do something today that God has put in front of you. Write down what you feel He is speaking to you about, jot down those verses He shows you in His word and put down something your read or hear that inspires you. Put down what you feel is the next step or next few steps, some type of ACTION to take to get started.

Then take the first step!

If you do decide to begin starting and not stopping for the New Year, above all, keep your eyes on Jesus and follow Him. Also, remember these three things: start today, start where you are and start on what God has placed on your heart.

Just start!

Ready, set go!!

Pastor Michael