Life's Too Short for New Year's Resolutions

Courtesy Thomas Hawk, Flickr

Courtesy Thomas Hawk, Flickr

We need fresh resolve daily.

By Dr. DAN ERICKSON

Maybe you've gone through the ritual of making a resolution for 2017. Maybe you've already given up.

If so, don't despair. There's nothing wrong with new year's resolutions. But as a practical matter, we need God's strength and transforming power today. We're not guaranteed another year or even a tomorrow.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus urges us to focus on the day we're in: "Give us this day our daily bread." He continues: "Seek the Kingdom of God above all else ... don’t worry about tomorrow."

A new year’s resolution means we can always start tomorrow. But somehow, tomorrow never comes. With a new day’s resolution, our commitment begins the minute our feet hit the floor.

What does it look like? It must be sincere and from your own heart. But it could go something like this: "Good morning God. What are you doing today? How can I join you?"

Then be guided by the Apostle Paul's charge: "Whatever you do, put your whole heart and soul into it, as work done for God, and not merely for men."
 
Will you resolve with me to live this day to fullest, joining God in whatever He's doing?

Imagine the possibilities!

There's no waiting for God to "show up"

Immanuel means "God with us." And He is. Right now.

By Dr. DAN ERICKSON

Christmas hymns, traditions and the account in Matthew remind us of the biblical name for God "Immanuel." We don't have to guess what it means because Matthew tells us:

Behold, the virgin shall be with child and shall bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which translated means, “God with us.

Three words: God with us. His almighty presence is in the room you're sitting in.

This isn't meant to be a mere statement of fact. It should move us to:

  • Fall on our knees in His presence
  • Seek His help and fellowship
  • Join His cause

It's easy to miss, or forget, that God is with us. Jacob missed it and said, "Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it."

Sometimes we say "God showed up." But technically, that's not right. He always shows up. The question is, do we?

Merry Christmas! And remember "Immanuel ... God [is] with us."
 
Imagine the possibilities!

Life is Now

This is not a dress rehearsal.

By Dr. DAN ERICKSON

If you could buy contentment, how much would you pay?

It’s certainly in short supply.

We tend to either race ahead to the future or pine for the “good old days.”

In either case, we miss the now. And the now is all that we have.

God has called us to live in this moment. That doesn’t mean we can’t cherish the past or plan for tomorrow. But we can’t live there.

This is the day which the Lord has made; Let us rejoice and be glad in it.
— Psalm 118:24

Did you get that? This very day, this very moment, is created by God for you. Right now is the time to find joy in it and in Him.

God gives us all the strength we need – for today. Jesus said that worrying about tomorrow is not an option.

Be faithful in the thing that is in front you. Wring everything you can out of the moment, whether it’s a treasure or a trial.

Don’t give up. Don’t quit

Sometimes all you need is 20 seconds of insane courage, 20 seconds of bravery. And I promise you, something great will come of it.
— Benjamin Mee

Imagine the possibilities!

Challenging Chicken Little Christianity

The world is watching. Let's show the confidence we have in our Savior.

By Dr. DAN ERICKSON

The presidential race has many of us tied in knots.

Some think candidate A can save us. Some think we're doomed if candidate B wins. Others can't bring themselves to vote for either one and throw up their hands in despair.

It's important to be informed, to vote — and for some — to do more. But realize this: When God is on the throne, the sky is not falling. As believers in Christ, we should never be a part of the Chicken Little brigade.

The kings of the earth rise up and the rulers band together against the Lord ... The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at them.
— Psalm 2:1-4

The Psalmist is saying the idea that God is threatened by any earthly effort is a joke! We need to look up, not to see if the sky is falling, but to praise our almighty and powerful God.

We also need to understand the environment in which the early church thrived. There were no elections and no freedom of religion. You had to be content with a dictator. Yet this is the environment that God chose to send His Son and launch His church. 

It gives perspective, doesn't it?

The world is watching. It doesn't need more Chicken Littles. It needs eagles who soar.

Imagine the possibilities!

 

All of Our Days Are Numbered: I Just Got an Estimate

I've recently been diagnosed with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease.

By Dr. DAN ERICKSON

Needless to say, this is a shock to me and those I love. 

I believe God is big enough for a miracle, and that's what I'm praying for. My diagnosis gives me a few years, but only God knows. 

I'm being extremely transparent about this for a reason: I'm not quitting. God has given me a Greater Yes to empower people to change the world. It's still my calling.

More importantly, I want to leave a legacy. That legacy is in you and others who live out a God-sized dream.

May I ask you to do three things?

My last request is not about money.

It's about legacy. God etched "Ready to Fly" on my heart. The legacy I want to leave for the world is empowering you to change it. Please help me get the message out by reading it and sharing it.

Together, let's imagine the possibilities.


What if we lived each week as if it were our last?

BY DR. DAN ERICKSON

One of these weeks will indeed be our "finale." 

But since we don’t know when that will be, what if we lived each one as if it were our last opportunity?
 
I’m not advocating bizarre behavior as we saw during Y2K – people stockpiling grain and guns and pulling their kids out of school. Instead, we should follow the Apostle Paul’s guidance in Ephesians 5.

Be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do.
— Ephesians 5:15


In that spirit, what would be on your “last week” checklist? The mere exercise of creating it clarifies what really matters.

  • Who needs an apology?
  • What relationship needs restored (regardless of who was “right”)?
  • Who needs to hear, “I love you” or “thank you”?
  • Is there a wrong we need to right?
  • Who needs to hear about Jesus Christ?

Pascal wrote that most men spend their lives “playing for small stakes.”
 
My friends, we’re playing for big stakes – the hearts and souls of men and women.
 
Let’s make this week count.

Who knows? It meet be our last opportunity before we meet the Lord.


 

Comfort zones leave us comatose

Let's break out of the norm and live in the end zone.

By Dr. DAN ERICKSON

Comfort zones are a wonderful place.

They give us the warmth of the womb, a cup of warm cocoa and shelter from the storm.

If our goal is comfort, then being in “the zone” is fantastic.

But is comfort really what we want? At your funeral, would you like it said of you, “She lived a comfortable life”?

The problem with the comfort zone is that it leaves us comatose.

Let's consider where we'd be if some of the great people of our times, and of history, chose comfort over courage?

The greatest of all, Jesus, was offered comfort on a silver platter by the Devil himself. Thanks be to God, Jesus rejected it and went to the cross instead.

But there are many others. The Apostle Paul. Martin Luther. Martin Luther King Jr. Dissidents who rotted in jails rather than bow to corrupt dictators.

What if all of them remained in their comfort zones?

Your battle may not make it to the history books. But whether it’s challenging the behavior of a friend, disciplining a child or confronting a co-worker or boss, you’re in a battle nonetheless.

If we retreat from each fight, our lives will be wasted. But if we put one foot out of the comfort zone, the other will follow. Pretty soon we're in the end zone and we don't even know how we got there.

But we wouldn't turn back if we could.

Jesus said this of end-zone living: “I came to bring them life, and far more life than before” (John 10:10).

What will it be? The comfort zone or the end zone?

If your hope is in the White House, then you're in the doghouse  

Everyone is screaming that the sky is falling. Is God worried? 

By Dr. DAN ERICKSON

I'm sure you're hearing (and maybe saying) some of the following.

"If (insert politician here) isn't elected, the world will go to Hell in a handbasket!"

"If (insert name of politician here) is elected, the world will go to Hell in a handbasket!"

Don't get me wrong. I love my country. I think it's important to be informed and vote, and maybe to do more. But there is only one Savior, and He's not on the ballot. He's on the throne.

Jesus' disciples were itching for an earthly kingdom they could rule (Mark 10:37). So are we. But Jesus' response was: "Among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant."

Pray. Vote. Run for office. But understand that we'll win the world by washing feet, loving the unlovable, and caring for those others have forgotten. By being people of peace in a culture of hate.

And as we serve, we can look forward to the day when our Lord and Savior rules all in perfect righteousness. No more sin. No more tears.

Join me in looking up at the sky. It's not falling! Now imagine the possibilities!

Are you an unstoppable giver?

God is seeking people who step up with generosity no matter the odds.

By DR. DAN ERICKSON

Trusting God sometimes seem counterintuitive to us, and it was no different with the people of the Bible.

One such example comes from 1 Kings 17 in the Old Testament, where the people – including the prophet Elijah – were suffering through difficult economic times.

The Bible records that God provided for the needs of Elijah via supernatural means, including a band of ravens that scavenged food and brought it to him in the wilderness. God also used a widow from Zarephath to provide for the prophet.

Elijah asked her to give him the last of her provisions with the promise that God would meet all of her needs. She only had enough food and water left for one last meal. Yet out of her poverty she became an instrument of God’s provision for Elijah. God asked the widow to give her last meal to a total stranger to whom she owed nothing. Why would God ask this of her when there were others who had greater resources? 

Because God knew she was an unstoppable giver.

Take your everyday, ordinary life – your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life – and place it before God as an offering.
— Romans 12:1


Unstoppable givers surrender themselves daily as a living sacrifice. These givers are willing to become a link between the will and purposes of God in Heaven while meeting the needs of people on earth. God knew the widow was willing to put others first while relying on his ultimate provision for her household.

The Apostle Paul was also an unstoppable giver.

He wrote: “So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life – your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life – and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him.

"Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your trust in God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, while developing well-formed maturity in you” (Romans 12:1-2, The Message).

Take a moment to ponder:

  • What kind of giver are you?
  • What would you have done if you were asked to give up your last meal?
  • What is God asking of you now? 
  • What is God asking that you are unwilling to do?
  • What do you possess that you are unwilling to sacrifice?

The story in 1 Kings ends with a miracle of abundance. How many miracles are missed because we are not willing to live beyond our fears?

The story concludes: “And she went right off and did it, did just as Elijah asked. And it turned out as he said – daily food for her and her family. The jar of meal didn’t run out and the bottle of oil didn’t become empty. God’s promise fulfilled to the letter, exactly as Elijah had delivered it” (The Message, 1 Kings 17). 

What divine opportunity are you missing in your life because you are not willing to become an unstoppable giver, a living sacrifice?

Surrender yourself today and imagine the possibilities!

Are You Still Trying to Make It?

Don't let our culture dictate your terms of acceptance.

Courtesy USMC Archives, Flickr

Courtesy USMC Archives, Flickr

By Dr. DAN ERICKSON

Everyone is trying to earn a place in this world. 

To grab their 15 minutes of fame, “likes” on Facebook or an award at the conference.

But after the fanfare, all falls quiet and we are left in solitude.

Yet we are not alone. 

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you. When you walk through fire you shall not be burned. For I am the Lord your God. Because you are precious in my eyes and honored and I love you!” – Isaiah 43:2-4

With my first grandchild (and all who came later), it was love at first sight. She didn’t do anything to earn it: She was mine. Even today, nothing can separate her from my love. 

To every child of God still trying to “make it” in this world, I say to you: Stop! You belong to Him.

There’s no one to please, nothing to prove, no award to be won. You woke up today (and will awake tomorrow) with a new opportunity to know and love Him. And because we are His, God is ceaselessly at work in us for our good.

Imagine the possibilities!

P.S. I also recommend a related post by Eric Geiger that explores the peace we can have in belonging.