First Steps to a New You

Another New Year. And you probably fall into one of two categories. Category 1 are those who want to review their lives and set resolutions of how they will do better this year than years past. Category 2 are those who have reviewed their lives, set resolutions, and resolve this year to not even try.

About 80% of New Year’s Resolutions fail by February. February! It only takes four weeks for those who set new goals for a new year to bail on them. Why are you people so bad at having the resolve to meet your resolutions?

One answer comes from Peter Herman, a Psychology professor, who talks about the “false hope syndrome.” According to Herman, this syndrome occurs when a person makes a resolution that is unrealistic and is not in line with that person’s internal view of themselves. In other words, you can make all the resolutions you want about being a success in the New Year, but it won’t be attainable if inside your self-talk says you are a failure. He says it not only does not work, it is damaging to your self-worth.

What is needed for making resolutions work is changed behaviors—and in order to change a behavior, you have to change your thinking. You can’t be transformed until your mind is reformed.

That’s what the Scriptures say. “…be transformed by the renewing of your mind” says Paul in Romans 12:2. The word “transformed” in the Greek is the word “metamorphoō” from which we get our word “metamorphosis.” Shortened we get “morph.”

When our sons were little they could not wait each day until their favorite show came on. It told of some average teenage boys and girls who would turn into super heroes with special powers. They changed from one thing into another. And all it took was the utterance of one phrase. Say it with me: “It’s Morphin’ Time!” They turned into The Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could become the person we want to be by only saying “It’s Morphin’ Time!”? I hate to break it to you but that’s not how it happens. “Morphing” happens, according to God’s Word, by a renewing of the way we think. It takes “anakainōsis.” That’s another great Greek word that can also be translated “renovation.”

You understand that word. If you’ve watched Chip and Joanna on Fixer Upper or any other home renovation show, you can grasp what Paul is saying. Your mind is like a house. There are some good, sturdy beams in it that are solid and can support your life. But there are cracks too. Cracks in your ideas about reality. Fault lines in your basic images of God and life.

When we hold those ideas and images from our mind up and take a long look at them in light of God and his truth, some things need to go and be replaced by something new. Imagine Chip Gaines getting to do a Demo-Day in your head and then Joanna coming in after and sprucing things up a bit. There’s sure to be some shiplap applied somewhere.

That’s what you and I need to be able to become better people this year. We need resolutions that fall in line with how we think. And when those two match up, transformation can happen. Before outside change can take place, then, inside change has to happen.

Take a few moments and make a list of thought patterns that need to be demo’d. Then create a plan to help you spruce up your inner thoughts. You’ll find some suggestions here next week. But for now, let the renovation begin.

Question: What area of your life would you most like to see renovation/transformation and why?

Click Planning Sheet 1 for a pdf worksheet that can help you move towards transformation.

 

 

A New You in the New Year

We want to know what’s inside, don’t we? Inside the Christmas Cracker. Inside the Christmas presents. Children had trouble sleeping this past Christmas Eve wanting to know what was inside the wrapped boxes under the tree.

Joseph and Mary had some questions too. Not about what was in a box. But what was inside Mary. “It was discovered before they came together that she was pregnant…” Joseph had been a good fiancée. He had been taking cold showers, waiting for their wedding night to consummate their relationship. So when Mary’s midsection began to expand, Joseph’s mind began to explode.

That’s why the angel showed up. He told Joseph in a dream that inside Mary was a child conceived by the Holy Spirit. His name was to be Jesus because he would “save his people from their sins.” The prophet Isaiah had given him another name—Immanuel—or “God with us.”

Something wonderful was inside Mary: Jesus. And here’s a post-Christmas announcement for you. Jesus can be inside you. The best in Mary can bring out the best in you.

When John wrote about the coming of Christ he used words like “light” to describe him. Jesus was a light that shined in the darkness of our world. Our world needs light. Our world needs our best.

Charles Dickens believed his world needed some light. Too much poverty. Horrible working conditions. He wanted to bring out the best in people so he attempted to do so with his story, A Christmas Carol. In it we watch the transformation of Scrooge from a miser to a benefactor of the poor.

There was something better inside Scrooge all along. It just had to come out. It took him looking at the events of his past that had shaped him. It took him becoming aware of his present actions to get honest about his behavior. It took him peering into the future to see what could be. It took a process for him to become the best Scrooge a Scrooge could be.

That’s the best gift of Christmas. You see, Jesus was born in Mary so that he could be born in us. The Apostle Paul liked to remind the church that’s where Jesus is: in us. He called it a mystery. Something that can’t be seen, like what’s inside a Christmas Cracker or a Christmas present. But it has been made known, and that mystery he says is this: “… Christ in you.”

It was a mystery to Joseph how the Holy Spirit placed Jesus in Mary. But he did. And it’s a mystery how the Holy Spirit places Jesus in us. But he does. And with any birth, there is a time for what is being formed in us to come out for others to see.

What will others see in you this New Year? Will they see Jesus? Will they see the best you there is? Or will they see the worst? A birth does not happen overnight and neither does transformation.

We have to let Jesus walk us through our past. Our sin. The sin of others in our lives. And how that has shaped us in ways that caused us to live below our best. We have to let Jesus speak to us about our present behavior, our actions, our feelings and what that tells us about our best and worst self. And we have to let Jesus reveal to us a vision of our future. Where we will end up if our path does not change. Where we would like to end up if we do change. And show us the gap between that future “you” and the one you see in the mirror today.

Wouldn’t you like to see what is inside…you…this year? If Christ is to come out of you he has to first be in you. You have to ask him in. Once there, he can help you get rid of the things that should not be there. Things like immorality, impurity, hatred, anger, selfishness. Then he’ll replace them with things like love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

Wouldn’t you like to open yourself up and find the best you inside? It starts with Jesus in you. And heaven knows: the world could use the best you and me this year.

Question: What is something “new” people need to see from you this New Year?