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A New Year

1/16/2014 by Warren Green
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Philippians is one of my “go to” books of the Bible.  When I’m struggling personally with something, or struggling looking for something to share with a group from God’s Word, Philippians has some great verses that help get me going.  One of these passages is very appropriate for beginning this new year.  Philippians 3:12-13 says, “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.  Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead.”As I start 2014, I have prayed for a shorter memory! Not in remembering things my wife tells me to pick up at the store, but a shorter memory of my failures and successes in 2013.  I know I can not reach my full potential as a believer if I’m constantly looking at how I failed God last year, or how great I was last year.  I must remember He loves me more than I can imagine, and He has great plans for me this year.Last year brought changes into our lives as a family and as a church.  My wife changed jobs in 2013.  My kids changed schools in 2013. My mom went through cancer, a major surgery, and over 50 days in the hospital and rehab, and continues down that road. We had over 210 people join our church last year.  Many of them I had never met before they started visiting and joined.  Our student ministry saw some amazing growth.  We had all time record numbers in Middle school Sunday school, High School Sunday school, and on Wednesday night during the year.  We had more students visit during 2013 than in any year in the history of our church.  We had an amazing time at our Summer retreat with Shep.  I could go on and on about the tangible ways God has blessed us.The reason I bring up those things in the light of Philippians 3:12-13 is because I think it is just as dangerous to focus too long at the good things from 2013 as it is the bad things.  We can become bogged down in our failures and shortcomings.  We can beat ourselves up over what could’ve been.  We can linger on the thoughts of opportunities missed because of our lack of faith or foresight.  However, I believe it is just as dangerous to sit and think about all our successes and accomplishments.  I can add to my happiness by lingering on the good things, but is that healthy for my spiritual life?  I don’t think so.  God certainly gives us victories, and expects us to enjoy them and praise Him for them, but He doesn’t want those victories to be so prevalent in our thoughts we lose sight of “straining toward what is ahead”.What are you straining toward toady?  Self-improvement, a better year financially, more free time with your family, or less stress.  What ever the goal for 2014, I encourage you to filter them all through Philippians 4:8, then chase after the ones left with reckless abandon because God chased after us that way.

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