New beginnings or same old story?

As a new year has begun, change is in the air. Times of resolutions, new days, breaking old habits, and begin again’s has come. Researchers say that we decide to change something in our lives at the beginning of things. Whether it be Monday’s, the 1st of the month, or the start of the year, each is a time we make conscious changes.

Some set easily attainable goals. While others stretch themselves to reach to the moon, yet, no matter where we fall on the easy vs. hard spectrum of “new year, new us,” many will fail to reach the mark.

Goals/resolutions must be three things.
1. Clear (we must know exactly what it is)
2. They must be attainable (can you realistically achieve it)
3. Must be time-sensitive (When is it going to be done by)

There’s a saying my father always says, “Having no plan is a plan to fail.” As much as I hate to say this, my dad is right. We fail with the “new us” because we have no plan!

If we want to change something about our life, a plan is only the starting point. We also need, in the words of the Beatles, “A little help from our friends.” We all need community and accountability. As the old Italian saying points out,

“The one who drinks alone, chokes.”

If we want to reach our goals and not have a repeat of all the years before, it is a must. Jobs had Wozniak; Bill Gates had Paul Allen; Jesus had the disciples; Apostle Paul had Barnabas, Silas, and Timothy. We need people—people who will support us, people who challenge us, and people who love us no matter if we reach our goal or not.

Most importantly, what we need to kick our new beginning off is discipline. You need to want the new more than the old. Jordan Peterson points out,

You cannot aim yourself at anything if you are completely undisciplined and untutored.”

More acturate words haven’t been spoken. When life gets hard, maybe your progress seems stalled. When you feel like there isn’t a point to continuing, you do. Why? Because of discipline.

Discipline says that despite the adversity you continue on. Discipline says that you push away distractions so that you focus on what is essential.

In 1 Corinthians 9, Paul talks about being disciplined in our pursuit of Christ.

“Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.”

1 Cor 9:26-27

While I believe that the pursuit of a life in Christ is most important, this passage conveys the essence of what it means to be disciplined. Intention, discipline, integrity are just a few things we can take away.

New beginnings or the same old story? That’s what we need to ask ourselves, and it’s what we need to decide between. Are we going to accept the comfortable—settle into what we know and have lived thus far? Or are we going to push, push toward the prize? Sure, we might not see the goal happen the way we think, or at all, but in the worlds of Coldplay, “if you never try, you’ll never know…”

As you seek to become new you this year, let’s do so with clarity of what we want to be. Let’s be realistic with what we can attain, deciding when we want it done. Let’s invite others along for the journey and let’s be disciplined knowing that nothing that is worth it comes easy.

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When it hurts to dream

Regrets envelop our minds – trapped in a paper cage that is never mailed away. All the I wish I hads, should of beens, if onlys can consume, leaving us crippled.

Have you been there?

I have many dreams, an official bucket list you might say. Some I have accomplished while others await their chance.

Just because you can cross something off the “list” or you reach the goal–it doesn’t happen the way you think it should have. Maybe even though you have accomplished, the result feels empty. We are left wanting. 

Sometimes the dream crumbles beneath us. The dream is realized–things are-a-happening. Then without warning, brick after brick is deconstructed beneath you leaving your hard fought for dream (career, family, riches, experiences) either crumbling to the ground below or teetering back and forth like an upside-down pendulum awaiting imminent impact on the cold hard earth. 

If you have found yourself here, it can be hard to dream again. 

After all, it is much easier to accept a common existence. Why dream for anything more than your present status-quo if this is how it feels?

The dreams hurt.

I’ve been there. If you’re the type of person who is willing to take a chance on a dream, you have probably been there. If not, you will be there. Even the chance takers like Steve Jobs and Albert Einstein have been there.

When we find ourselves in such places, we need to ask ourselves, is my purpose to fulfill the dream or is the dream my purpose?

If our purpose is to fulfill the dream, then a failure of that dream is utter doom. Also, if this is the case, why not only have small attainable dreams where there is little risk of failure, to which I would say, that’s not much of an existence.

Instead, I lean to the latter. I believe we were born to dream. We see pictures of this in the Scriptures. Joseph dreamed of more, Abraham dreamed of lineage, James and John dreamed of glory, and I’m sure Paul dreamed of reaching more.

What this means is that it’s okay to take a chance on a dream and fail. You were made to dream. Success (whatever that is) is the bonus. Jon Acuff writes,

“Forget finding a purpose. It’s a never-ending story that will leave you empty. Live with purpose.”

I believe this is what dreaming does. It helps us live our lives with purpose. We are not seeking to find it in some empty accomplishment they may or may not happen depending on an insurmountable amount of variables that you have no control over. Your purpose is to dream and try.

Do your best. Try hard.

If you fail, that’s okay. At least you tried. 

When others heave judgements from the sidelines, you can sluff them off knowing you are at least in the game.

If you are genuinely taking a chance with your dreams, there will be setbacks. There will be the aforementioned I wish I hads, should of beens, and if onlys. It is a guarantee. It is in these moments you have a choice, you can let the failure define your and end your dreams, or you can do something with it. You can choose to define the failure–use the pain–learn the lesson to either try again or as you move on to the next chapter of your life.

When dreaming hurts, remind yourself, this is what you are made for.

Check out the resources used in this post.

Our Problem Isn’t Our Problem

It all started back in 1994. It was the summer between grade 4 and 5. I had moved out of my love for baseball (back to back world series champions, the Toronto Blue Jays were my love) due to the MLB strike, cancelling the world series that year, and had moved on to a new love, the NBA. I was in with the Orlando Magic.

Shaq and Penny. What a duo.

But in summer of ’94, an announcement came that divided my heart. Toronto and Vancouver were awarded franchises. Basketball had come back to Canada. Suddenly my loyalty shifted.

This is why I needed to find a way! A way to what? To watch the Toronto Raptors beat the Milwaukee Bucks. I saw on someone’s Facebook feed that there were links to sites where I could watch. I found a link, and I enjoyed the bliss of watching the Raps head to the NBA finals for the very first time!!!!!!

However, the next day, I had a problem. I was trying to back up my files to my external hard drive and but it wouldn’t connect. No matter which port I plugged the USB into, nothing. I tried all the tricks google would spit at me, and nothing still.

Immediately I rushed to the apple store. I was scared to death that there was a serious problem with my laptop. Hoping for the best, but fearing the worst, I imagined a virus attaching every file on my computer and me only being able to salvage the most pertinent ones. Luckily for me, I just looked like a dope.

Why?

Well, because as soon as the expert tried, the hard drive in question kicked in, booted up, and connected. The tech opened my chrome browser and began to google something when, pop pop pop pop! Popups were everywhere.

I went into the Apple store, thinking I had one problem, and as it turned out, I had another.

Being a pastor means encountering a lot of people. People begin to come to church or explore faith, thinking that they have one particular problem in their life. It might be their marriage, their kids, their job, or their health. They come looking for the answer to their perceived problem.

It reminds me of a story Walter Isaacson tells in his book about Steve Jobs. The predecessor of Steve Jobs’ second run at running Apple was Gil Amelio. While describing what he believed his role at Apple was, he said,

“‘You know, Gina, Apple is like a ship,’ Amelio answered. ‘That ship is loaded with treasure, but there’s a hole in the ship. And my job is to get everyone to row in the same direction. ‘Smith looked perplexed and asked, ‘Yeah, but what about the hole?'”

Walter Isaacson

Amelio perceived that his job was one thing. However, it was clear that he was completely blind to the actual problem. THERE’S A HOLE IN THE BOAT!

It is easy to perceive what the problems in our life are. We want the issue that we think is the issue fixed and we pray to God to fix it. God, on the other hand, is more concerned with the root of the issue rather than treating the symptom.

It is like going to a mechanic because when you put your foot on the break it makes a grinding noise, but telling them they aren’t allowed to change your breaks and rotors.

It is hard to self diagnose. The marriage, the sadness, the lack of fulfilment are all symptoms. Just as I needed an outside voice to speak into my problems, so we all need an outside voice to look and see the actual problem. We think we have a hard drive problem when we are infected with Malware.

Usually, something from our past that has given us filters that we hear through and lenses we see through. Past circumstances have influenced why we have made the decisions we have made.

You might be able to say that if the Raptors never came to Toronto in ’95, then I would have never got Malware in ’19.

In my new book, Hidden Faces: Discovering Our True Identity in Christ, I speak of how we have diagnosed the problem and put different masks, (or faces) trying to fix the problem. In actuality, we have believed the lie from the garden of Eden, that we are not who God has said we are. God has declared that you are his child and that He has sent His son to make you whole.

For that to happen, we have to be willing to see the hole in the boat and admit that we need God to fix it. We must admit that our problem isn’t our problem.

Check out the resources used in this post