Rediscovering Our Focus

Few stories in the Bible pull at the heart strings like the one found in Luke 15, the story of the Prodigal Son.  Every time I read it, hear it, listen to a sermon on it, or even think about it, I can put myself into all three of the main character’s shoes.  This story has power, meaning, and truth buried in so many pockets that it seems as though one is always able to pull a fresh idea out of it, or at least revamp an idea that one has heard.

As I was preparing for the sermon I preached yesterday, I could not help but go directly to this story.  You see, we’re going to have a theme for the year in 2010 here at the West University Church of Christ.  It is simply “Rediscovering Our Focus”.  Who did a better job of rediscovering their focus in the Bible than the Prodigal, Lost Son?

This young man went from rags to riches in no time, but immediately went back to rags as he squandered his wealth on wild living.  I wonder sometimes if the church isn’t in a similar predicament.  According to the Christian Chronicle, since 2003 there are 526 fewer churches and 78,436 fewer people in the pews.  Now, granted, this number does reflect one church with 5000+ members in Richland Hills being “dis-fellowshipped” by the Mac Lynn Churches of Christ book, but that only accounts for a few of the near 79,000.  Could it be that in the years when the Church of Christ was growing, we didn’t realize how great it was until it was too late?  Did churches get to a point where they stopped evangelizing and just expected people to come to be with them?  Did we waste away the good ripe years of planting seeds because we were enjoying the harvest?

I think the best part about the story of the prodigal son is found in verse 17, where it says “He came to his senses”.  At one point, he looked up from the pigs he was feeding, and had to realize that enough was enough.  Going from being the one everyone respected and wanted to be with because of his wealth and lifestyle to living with the pigs must have been hard, but that’s what happened.  He could have continued to wallow in self-pity, but he did not.  Verse 17 simply states that he came to his senses.  He realized there could be more to his life.

John Reuben, a contemporary Christian artist, sings a song entitled “Nuisance”.  The words go:

So here we are in this same old spot
Knowing something needs to happen but our mouths are locked
Tongue tied closed tight sealed shut
I tried hard but it just wouldn’t come up
It’s on the tip of my tongue it’s in the front of my mind
Yet the words were still so hard to find
Finally the reality of things to come pushed me to the edge
I jumped off the cliff into the abyss as I said

I’m not trying to be a nuisance
I just think we can do better than this
that was simply my two cents
you can take it or leave it

Let’s think about this path that we’re taking
Let’s think about this future we’re creating
Let’s think about this life that is fading
Think about it, come on think about it now
Let’s think about this time that we’re spending
Investing in monetary things that are ending
Let’s think about it and let’s think together
And let’s think about what we can do to make it better

What can we do to make things better?  I think we can again look to the prodigal son to find our answer.  After he came to his senses, he did the most logical thing any of us can do — he came up with a plan.  His plan was to simply go to his father and ask if he could work as a servant.  His only goal was to get out of the mess he was in, not to seek out his place as a son, but simply to be a servant.  Of course, we read on the chapter to discover that he was given so much more than just a job.  All of that happened because he had a plan.

If we don’t have a plan, what kind of hope to we have?  God blesses those who have a plan.  Our plan here at the West University Church of Christ is to simply rediscover our focus.  We’re going to look at all sorts of things that we need to rediscover a focus on – leadership, love, worship, emotion, giving, evangelism, grace, baptism, and family…just to name a few.  We’ll start next week with Rediscovering our Focus on Leadership, and we will begin the process of appointing new deacons.  We have to let go of the things that have entangled us in the past, and rediscover our focus.  We need to embrace our plan, and work together.  Forget petty differences, forget legalistic arguments, forget about selfish ambitions, and focus on the fact that there are lost souls in this community.

Let us all rediscover our focus in 2010.

New Decade, New Year, New Resolutions,

Halfway through the year 2009, I joined a gym.  I made a second half resolution for 2009 — get motivated for 2010.

Since that day, I have at least been the gym twice every week.  I even got up and went to the gym the day we left for the beach at Thanksgiving.  I hate getting up in the mornings and going to the gym, but I must say I hate being fat.

In December of 2007, I posted these physical goals for 2008:

1. Lose at least as much weight as my wife gains through her pregnancy.
2. Be consistent in my exercise and diet plans.
a. Exercise in some form 6 days a week
b. Eat consistently 3 meals a day with 2 or 3 small snacks in between.
3. Be able to shave my beard off because I won’t have a double chin anymore.
4. Eat in a most healthy way except for twice a month, when I’ll be able to eat whatever I want.

I didn’t do so well.  I look back, and realize I actually failed miserably.  I didn’t lose any weight after Kristen had Josie.  I didn’t exercise, except for about a week.  I ate constantly, not consistently, and it was more than 3 meals a day and no snacks, unless you count chips as a snack.  I still have my beard.  And I ate healthy twice a month instead of the other way around.

I realize now why I failed.  I had no motivation.  I went and tried once or twice at a gym, but I tried to do everything at once, not over time.

Now, I have a solid foundation to build on.  I am motivated.

So I have a few new goals to bring out, while banishing the old goals.

1.  I will walk/jog/run at least one mile every day in 2010.  Sounds crazy, but it is doable.  It takes me 20 minutes to walk a mile right now at a very casual pace.  I can take 20 minutes a day to that.

2.  Continue to work out at least 3 times a week.

3.  Reduce my carbonated beverage addiction to no more than 2 a day, hopefully down to one.  I see no reason in eliminating them altogether, which I have done in the past.

4.  I will fit in a size 36 waist pant by the end of the year. (currently at 40)

5.  I will be able to wear something besides Big and Tall clothes.  (However, right now, I’m learning that clothing size is totally inconsistent.  My shoulders are very broad now, and while I can fit into an XL shirt through the chest and waist,  my shoulders don’t fit into them.)

6.  I will be able to, at the end of the year, report that I am a much healthier person.  Bodyfat % will be down, fat levels in blood will be down, and cardiovascular endurance will be up.

7.  I will not focus on my weight, but rather, my health.

8.  When I look in the mirror, I will no longer be ashamed, but proud.

9.  I will not sabotage my results after working so hard to achieve them.

10.  I will be contagious with my actions.

So, don’t wait till its too late to set up your goals for 2010.  These are my physical goals.  I will post on other goals in the upcoming days.