I hate to brag, but I have a really big mouth… Years back, I told a few guys I was going to read through the bible that year – cover to cover. I was full of it. Trying to impress. Selfish motive, meet big mouth. Ever been there?
There are two paths you can go with that: either repent & resolve to do it year after year, failing until you quit trying, or get so sick and tired of not doing it that you finally get it done. I want this to be the last year you try and fail. Is that OK? An END to the lightning starts in Genesis, followed by stop and go traffic in Leviticus, and stalling out in the genealogies of Numbers somewhere around February 2nd… (Yes, I’ve had camera drones flying over your house for years now… Can we get back to the point?)
Every year, we make resolutions because something inside us yearns for “better”. Whether light years better or just a few inches better, we want… better. But, striving for better will only wear us out. (Been there, done that. I give it zero stars.) Christ promises us if we “walk by the Spirit” we’ll bear some killer fruit (see Gal. 5:16); one of them is perseverance.
Popular wisdom says the crucial strategy for completing any challenging, long term task is “accountability“. While that is important, it’s not most important. Strategy apart from vision leads to frustration, false starts, and failure regardless of accountability. Accountability doesn’t do the work. The work gets done where the rubber of strategy meets the road of discipline, fueled by vision. The most important strategy question starts by first answering the vision question: “why do I want to read the Bible start to finish?” The Lord weighs the heart. We should, too. If you’re reading to get a bible merit badge, regroup, repent, restart… now. We have the word of God so that we may know the God of the word. Let’s use it that way, mkay?
Then… write that answer down. I’ll tell you why in a minute.
“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of the world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind… (Romans 12:2)”
Every one of us has experienced setting a goal or making a New Year’s Resolution at least once in our lives, yes? Some of us have become so jaded by the experience of failing at the “eat better, read the Bible more, get in shape” routine that we don’t even bother anymore. Others are amazing goal-setters and have a complete Life Blueprint binder sitting on your desk at arm’s reach.
People Watching? “Watch my weight”, “watch my mouth”, “watch less TV”… Resolutions often have the “watch” word in them. While were at it, who doesn’t like to watch a good episode of “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” or “Restaurant Impossible” or “What Not To Wear”? Chances are, you’ve been sucked into one of these shows by the whole “before” and “after” theme that makes grown adults scream like children “Move… That… Bus!!!” and then cry like babies when they see the finished result. We love to watch the reaction of the people whose lives have now been changed forever… We’d all love to be one of those people, wouldn’t we? What if we already are? Lost in Translation…
…at the Home Depot Checkout
Recently as I was reading Romans 12:2 I saw something I hadn’t noticed as vividly as before. We’ve talked before about the word “suschematidzo” – to conform. It’s a word that’s used only twice in the NT and both times as an “avoid doing this”. Don’t be conformed any longer… You’re free – be free. Sounds like a good resolution, right?
Unfortunately, the NIV – one of the most popular translations – renders another word rather weakly and causes us to lose significant impact from this verse. The word “metamorphosis” comes from the word rendered “transformed”. A better translation of that word alone could really give this verse some deep-sinking teeth, no? But, the word that really jumped off the page for me is the word turned into “renewed”. Wimpy word. The Greek for this word is “renovation”. Astounded yet? I understand. Before you tune out all disappointed, let’s compare the two words at the checkout counter at Home Depot. Cool? You walk into Home Depot and Frank greets you at the door. “Finding everything you need?” You: “I’ve got to renew a room in my house. What have you got?” Frank: “Paint counter’s right over there.” You: “Thanks, Frank.” Total Cost: $22.45 and a couple hours taping, cutting, and painting. Room renewed. Impact:Whatever. You see where we’re going here, right? There’s a huge difference between “renew” and “renovate”. How radically different would your conversation with Frank be if you told him you needed to renovate a room?
Four Things About Renovation… and then Three Keys Having done hundreds of home theater jobs, flat panel TV and surround sound installations, and been around contractors and home owners for over a thousand hours, I can tell you four things about virtually every renovation I’ve ever seen:
They always take longer than planned.
They cost more than planned.
Create a bigger mess than you ever dreamed.
You appreciate the finished product far more than any other human being ever can.
So, why “renew” when you can “renovate”? Why renew, when you’ve been commanded to renovate “so that you may be able to test and approve God’s good pleasing and perfect will”? Why would you settle for less than the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God… if it’s there for the asking? Most of the time it’s because the mess of the demolition, the cost of the job, and the ever expanding time line give you a pit in the stomach. Scripture tells us to “put off the old self” and “put on the new self”, “renovate”. This means demolishing a lot of old patterns, old ways, familiar habits, and developing a Spirit-led habit of saying “no” to the flesh.
Fast & pray – Fasting is telling the flesh “no” for a prolonged period of time so that we may “sow to the spirit”. Each year, our home church does a 21-day Daniel Fast. For great resources to help you on your way, go to “http://danielfast.wordpress.com/”. Or, contact us and we’d love to share stories and help you plan for your first 3 day, 7 day, or even 21 day fast.
Renovate, not renew – Your mindset going into the fast is as simple as this: are you asking God to inform your conscience of the things He desires to do in and through you from this point forward or are you begging Him to lock arms with you as you seek to put to death the flesh and renovate your mind/life/past? Resolve to renovate. It will cost more, take more time, but in the end be worth it.
Be accountable – Left to ourselves, we can justify anything. My blood pressure spiked a few weeks ago and I immediately sent out an email to 5 guys in my life that will hold my feet to the fire about diet, exercise, and workflow management. Today, I’m down 9 points on both sides of the “/”. If you’re not in close accountability with a group or individual, you’re prone to drift off course or quit altogether.
“I pray that He may strengthen you with power through His spirit in your inner being so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.” Don’t settle for slapping a new coat of paint on your life. Renovate. He commanded you. Happy Metamorphosis!!! in Christ, AP