The Best Way To Start A New Year

With the coming of a new year everyone is talking about resolutions. Resolutions are worth about as much as some of the junk mail that invades our mailboxes every day. And they last about as long as it takes for the junk mail to hit the trash can. I have a better idea. I have a different suggestion.

Let me set this one up. Thousands of years ago, when the followers of God were getting ready to move into the new land God was about to give them, they were given specific instruction. Here’s what they were told. “Consecrate yourselves for tomorrow the Lord will do amazing things among you.” (Joshua 3:15)

As we prepare to enter a brand new year, don’t you think that is a good direction for all of us to take as well? Consecrate means to set aside for God’s use. Now God uses all kinds of people. He uses shy people.  He uses outgoing people.  He uses really smart people and He uses people who aren’t so smart.  He uses all different races, ages, stages of life and backgrounds.  He uses men and women.  God wants to use you.  God will use plain vessels and He’ll use ornate vessels.  He’ll use big vessels and He’ll use small vessels.  But there is one thing that God will not use.  He will not use a dirty vessel.  We have to be clean on the inside.

That’s why Joshua tells the people before they move forward to sanctify themselves, purify themselves. So if you want God to do amazing things in and through your life don’t you think this is a good way to start a new year?

Let me make it as practical as I can. If you want to be used by God it begins with removing anything that might stand between you and Him. Here’s how you can do that. Very soon take a day off or an hour, sometime in the next couple of days, and sit down with a yellow pad or whatever and say, “God, show me what’s between me and You.  What’s piled up in my life?  What’s wrong in my life?  Show me.  I’m going to write it down and I’m going to admit it.  I’m going to confess to You.”  You wait and you say, “God tell me.”  You write it down.  He gives you another idea and you write that down. The idea is you make a list and then you say, “God, I admit these to You.  These are wrong.  I don’t want them in my life. I repent of them and turn from them.”  God says, “I forgive and I forget.”

Who have I hurt?  That’s guilt.  Who’s hurt me?  That’s resentment.  What am I worrying about?  That’s a lack of faith.  Who have I been jealous of?  Just cleanse your life.  That’s the way to start a new year.  I purify my heart.

The Bible says this in 1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins to God He will keep His promise and do right: He will forgive us our sins and purify us from all our wrong doings.”  God says, “Here’s your part – you confess.  My part is I’ll purify, I’ll cleanse.”

Can you think of a better way to start a new year? This is not resolution stuff. This is fresh start, redirection of life stuff. Do you have the courage to begin your new year with this cleansing process?

I will if you will.

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MOVE COMING REAL SOON!

In case you didn’t get the word, WE’RE MOVING. New Venture Christian Church is relocating and relaunching at TOMAHAWK CREEK MIDDLE SCHOOL. TCMS is spankin’ brand new and is a tremendously improved facility.

We have developed a strong church community at Carmike Cinema over the past four years but it is time for us to move to bigger and better things. The largest auditorium at the theater accommodates less than 200 people while the school auditorium seats 650+.

TCMS opened its doors for the first time just three months ago so it is clean, state of the art, well lighted, easily accessible and tremendously user friendly for our needs as a church community. The new facility will provide us with much greater time flexibility as well as event options. Plus, the custodial staff is first class.

Here are the details:

Last service at Carmike Theater—December 28, 2008, 10:00 AM

Regular service at TCMS to work out the bugs—January 4, 2009, 10:00 AM

Relaunch Sunday at TCMS—January 11, 2009, 10:00 AM

Everyone is invited to the January 4 service which will be a normal NV Sunday with full kids programming. We are not promoting the 4th as our official beginning so that we can have one Sunday to work out any kinks a new location might bring. We do not anticipate any difficulties but will use it to solve any that might decide to show up.

Please plan on joining us at TCMS. If you visited NV in the past and were turned off by the dark, sticky theater setting, change is here. If you visited in the past and just neglected to return, please consider using this opportunity to check out NV again. If you are a regular with the church, we will be looking for you with all your friends and neighbors.

Sorry, no moving sale planned.

Fantasy Football and Faith

I would be presumptuous if I thought that all my readers understood this entire phenomenon called fantasy football. The way it works is that several people agree to form a league. Then they get together before the NFL (that’s National Football League) season begins and take turns drafting current NFL players onto their team. Then how each player performs in the real games each week earns points for the team that drafts them. Each team can have a certain number of players on it, enough to play some and bench others each week.

I have enjoyed my second season of playing fantasy football. Considering it has been 40 years since I actually played, this gives me a little more football satisfaction than just watching it on TV.

But each week, a large part of winning and loosing is a big game of chance. For example, this past week I was up against our worship guy, Wayne. In the pre-week projections I was projected to annilate him. I was supposed to get almost three times his score for the week. But as it all played out, almost all my guys bombed and several of his guys played above their expectation. It came down to the last game on Monday night and my one player to eek out a win for the week.

Fantasy football is a game of faith and trust and in many cases the one in whom the trust is placed, disappointments. Not so with the God of the universe. He is dependable all the time. He has your back and your front. He wants nothing but the best for you 24/7. Even when we don’t understand it all, He is working everything to our good.

Check this out.  God says, “I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11) That’s not fantasy stuff. Sure it takes faith but faith in a God that has a history of always coming through in the clutch.

So when it looks like your players or your friends are going to let you down, remember, God plays by different rules. He’s solid as a rock.

It’s Healthier to Go to Church

For some reason I have always felt that this was true. I never had any survey or scientific or systematic evidence to verify my feelings but I just believed it made sense. I’m talking about the health value of worshipping God and being a Christian. Now there is research to support my feelings and intuitions. It is healthier to go to church.

A study of over 95,000 people has revealed that attending church once a week lowers the risk of death by 20% compared with those who don’t attend church. Attending less than weekly reduces the death rate by 15%.

Maybe it is because the church service provides stability in times of fear and uncertainty.
Maybe it is the sense of community and support that is found in a fragmented world.
Maybe it is a place of encouragement and hope when there is so much to be depressed about.

Researchers concluded that they just couldn’t understand or explain the reason behind it all. They stopped short, however, of acknowledging any supernatural effect, “It’s just that we don’t fully understand the mechanism by which religion does this yet.”

So, if you want to live a longer, healthier life this is one way to give yourself a 20% advantage.

Here is the link to the article I read. It is from an atheist blog. I find it quite interesting and even humorous to read some of their comments about the findings.

http://www.atheistnetwork.com/viewtopic.php?t=25605

A full report on the research can be found in the Psychology and Health Journal.