Thursday, May 22, 2014

May Mingle:Randy - Making a Fresh Start ~ from Today

Today's May Mingle guest is my Daddy! I actually forgot that he even had a blog because it had been over a year since he had written anything. My Dad is a pretty smart guy and has lots of wisdom and I am grateful that he shares that wisdom with me and now with you.

You can check out my Dad's blog here.

Making a Fresh Start ~ from Today

It has been way to long since I’ve written in my Journey Journal.  Krista said she was going to have some guest bloggers and I hinted at letting me be one.  She laughed because it’s been a looooong time since I’ve blogged.  But, the challenge was out there and this is what I came up with as I journey down the road that God has laid before me.

As I look at this road, I’ve been distracted from my Guide – by “me.”  I’ve noticed more and more how selfish I am being.  I blame it on age or other things but when it comes right down to it – I’m just a selfish old buzzard!

In my griping and whining I was reminded of some things … so, here we go!

How many times have I said, “Man, would I like to have a fresh start in my Christian life?” I’ve made many mistakes in my life as a Christian. I’ve experienced many setbacks and failures throughout my life. Sometimes I allow these mistakes, these setbacks and failures to enslave me to the point that I never enjoy the full Christian life that God has given me to enjoy. 

In John 10:10 Jesus said, “I am come that you might have life and have it more abundantly.” Then he goes on to tell us that there is an opponent – a challenger – adversary – the enemy, called the devil that seeks to steal, kill and destroy that life. The devil will remind me of my past in order to keep me from enjoying the life that God gave me to live. The devil does not want me to have a fresh start in life. 

I’ve been dealing with this again lately.  Maybe it’s not just my past.  Maybe it’s a mixture of that and living under the circumstances instead of above them.

In dealing with – or possibly NOT dealing with this – I was reminded of something I had shared with a group of people in Appleton, Wisconsin back in 2013. This is what I was reminded of:

There is good news! God says, “I want you to have a fresh start in life, I want you to have a new beginning, I want to do something new in your life.” 

A cool verse from the writer of the book of Isaiah says “The Lord says, Forget about what has happened before. Do not think about the past. Instead, look at the new things I’m going to do.”
I hear, “Randy! Listen to what God is saying to you in this. Forget about what’s happened before. Don’t think about the past. It’s over. The book’s closed on it. – Move on, young man!  Look at the new things I’m going to do.” 

Israel no doubt was discouraged because they thought this was the end of them. They had gone to far, they had sinned and rebelled against God to the point that He would no longer be their God. Maybe they thought God would not deliver us again, it’s over. That is when they begin to remember the former things or past deliverances. Israel could remember past deliverances and past victories. They could remember when they were trapped by the Red Sea and had nowhere to go, how God made away for them. They could remember that when the enemy was about to overtake them how He provided protection for them. They could remember the former things, but they couldn’t see their future. That is why God said; “I am going to do something new."

I know there are others that feel like this too! You feel that you have made so many mistakes, you have failed God so many times and you have sinned it all away. Now God doesn’t want anything to do with you. 

You feel and believe that you have no future with God.

The good news is, God is saying, “It’s not over; I have plans for your life. I am about to do something new for you. ” 

So I want to write about the reminder from God that I got this week.  I’m calling it, “How To Make a Fresh Start!” 

It starts with this ‘formula.’  S.T.A.R.T. This is what helped me remember and so if I pass it along to friends, when you are being reminded of your failures, it may help you. Whether you had financial failure, or maybe a relational failure, a failure in your marriage, had a moral failure – You may have really blown it and you may have made some decisions you’re so ashamed of and hope nobody ever finds out about. Regardless of the failure you’ve had in your life, here’s how you start over.

S – Stop making excuses.

If I want a fresh start in life, I have to stop making excuses for my failures. I’ve got to stop blaming other people. I’ve got to stop seeing myself as the victim of my circumstances. 

Other people can hurt us, other people can harm us, and other people can scar us.  But the only person that can ruin your life is you.  Nobody can ruin your life without your permission. You have a choice and that is you can choose how you’re going to respond to those hurts. Solomon, in the book of Proverbs, says that the starting point is to just be honest and accept responsibility for my part in the problem. 

Solomon writes, “A man who refuses to admit his mistakes can never be successful. But if he confesses and forsakes them he gets another chance.” 

He gets a fresh start. He says the starting point to starting over is to be honest and face up to the problems, that most of the problems in my life, most of the failures, are my fault. 

It is hard for me many times to admit when I am wrong. People do not like to admit, “I mad a mistake, and I blew it.” God says that if we admit the mistake, if we admit our failures, and if we admit our sin, then we get another chance in life.

Solomon says, "A sensible man watches for problems and prepares to meet them but the fool never looks ahead and suffers the consequences."

He also says, "If you give up when troubles come, it just shows that you are weak."  Being a man, I don’t like being weak!

It’s always too soon to quit.  Solomon says we need to stop making excuses, admit when it’s our fault and get on with life. I’ve discovered that people who are very good at making excuses are rarely good at anything else. They spend all their energy thinking up reasons why they can’t do what they’re supposed to do. That describes me from time to time

So "S" in START stands for Stop making excuses.

T - Take an Inventory of My Life

I need to take an inventory of my life. That means I need to evaluate all my experiences. I need to look at what I have left after the failure. I need to take an inventory of my life’s experiences and learn from them. 

Paul, in his book to the folks in Galatia, wrote "You have experienced many things. Were all those experiences wasted? I hope not."

“Learn from your mistakes.” Failure can be my friend or my foe. I determine if failure will be my friend or foe by the way I react to it.

As I look at my life and the life of others, I’ve seen that there are four kinds of experiences that God uses to shape our lives. 

· He uses personal experiences. The family that you grew up in, the people you relate to. God can use your personal experience with your husband or your wife. He uses personal experiences to shape you.

· He uses vocational and educational experiences to shape you.

· He uses spiritual experiences to shape you, like coming to church, going on a retreat or reading your Bible, having a quiet time.

· He uses painful experiences to shape you.

As I take inventory of my life in starting over, I need to ask myself three questions. 

· What have I learned? If I don’t set down and think it through, I’ll end up repeating the same mistake over and over again because I didn’t learn from it the first time.

· What are my assets? What have I got going for me? Have I got my health? Have I got my freedom? Am I still mentally sound? (this seems to be questionable at times!)  :0) Have I got some friends? Have I got the Lord? Have I got a church family? What do I have that I can get a fresh start with?

· Who can help me? When we need a fresh start, we need somebody by our side – a friend, an accountability partner, a support person, or a support group. Find someone that can help you. You need other people because you don’t start over by yourself after a major setback or crisis. You need somebody else to walk along with you. There is one that we can count on to be there to help us to get a fresh start in life. The Lord Jesus will be there, He will help us to pull your lives back together and make sure that we get started on the right foot. 

A - Act in faith

This is the third step in getting a fresh start. Act in faith. I have to launch out into new territory. The writer of the book of Hebrews says that the key to changing anything is faith. If you want to change your circumstance, it takes faith. 

Jesus says this. “According to your faith it will be done to you.” That is a very simple statement but it’s very powerful. “According to your faith it will be done to you.” That means we tend to get out of life what we expect. “According to your faith it will be done to you." 

In order to start acting in faith, it means I’ve got to stop having a pity party. I’ve got to stop feeling sorry for myself.  “Poor me! I’m such a victim. Life is unfair.”  Of course life is unfair! Whoever said it was fair? God never said that. 

What I need to do is learn from those failures. In fact, I should maybe never call it a failure in my life. I should call it an education.

What I need to do is learn from the past, act in faith for the future and look to God for guidance. 

How do I get rid of fear of failure?  Faith! That’s why the third step in starting over is Act in Faith. Faith is not so much the absence of fear, as it is moving ahead in spite of my fear. Sometimes faith is doing the thing I fear the most. 

And I need to stop worrying about what others say or think. Solomon, again, says "Being afraid of people can get you into trouble.”  Another way of saying it is, “Fear of man is a dangerous trap, but to trust in God means safety. 

R - Refocus

I need to refocus my thoughts if I want to change my life. If I want to get going again, if I want a fresh start, I need to rethink the way that I think. I need to change my mind about a number of issues. 

Solomon, says "Be careful how you think. Your life is shaped by your thoughts." 

The way I think, determines the way I feel.  And the way I feel determines the way I act. If I want to change my actions, just change the way I think and it will inevitably change the way I act.  If I’m depressed, discouraged and distressed it may be because I’m thinking depressed, discouraged and distressing thoughts. That’s my choice. I don’t have to think those thoughts. If I’m acting in fearful, worried ways it’s because I’m thinking fearful, worried thoughts.

In a comedy routine with Bob Newhart, as a counselor, Bob would say to this, “Stop it!”

Paul, in his book, Romans, writes this, “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” 

If I have to refocus my thoughts to start over to get a fresh start, that means I have to stop thinking some old patterns. Which memories am I still rehearsing that keep me from having a fresh start in life?  The Bible says let go.  Let go of those things. The more I hold on to that memory, the more I rehearse it, it continues to hurt me today.  It cannot hurt me without my permission. I have to change my mind and let go and get rid of those painful, hurtful memories of shame and guilt and other things.

How do I do that? 

· First, confession. Some say and ask, "I’ve confessed to God but I still feel guilty. How do I get rid of a painful memory?"  Not by resisting it but by replacing it. Not saying, "I’m not going to think about it! I’m not going to think about it!" What am I doing the whole time? Thinking about it? Stop focusing on what I don’t want and start focusing on what I do want. Get my attention onto something else. Refocus. Replace those memories by, every time they come up, start thinking about something else. Focus on something else.

· What’s the best thing to focus on? God’s Word!

David wrote “Happy are those who are always meditating on God’s word. They’re like trees along a river that do not dry up. They succeed in everything they do. ” 

Those are the two things that everybody wants in life. We all want to be happy and we all want to succeed. The antidote, the answer, the way we get those is the phrase right in the middle “meditating on God’s word.”

That’s where the change takes place. That’s the power to start over.

And – here’s the last point in this formula of Making a Fresh Start …

T – Trust

Trust God to help us succeed.  Depend on Him. We don’t need depend on ourselves. We’ve already proven that we can’t do it on our own.  That’s why we’ve failed.  Some people just don’t get it.  They stumble and fall and then they get up and say, “I’ll just try harder!”  It’s like you go up to a wall and bang your head against it and the wall doesn’t fall down.  We try it again and Bang!  Again!  We keep doing it thinking, “Maybe it will fall over this time.”  That’s the definition of insanity – doing the same thing over and over and over and expecting different results.  If we keep doing the same thing then we will keep getting the same result.  We can’t change who we are, only God can do that. I am not talking about the outward man but the inner man.  The real person is the hidden person of the heart. Success in the Christian life is not trying harder, but living smarter – Giving God control of my life. 

Zechariah wrote, “You will not succeed by your own strength or power but by My Spirit, says the Lord.” 

“When someone becomes a Christian, they become a brand new person inside.  He is not the same anymore.  A new life has begun!” God specializes in new beginnings.  Jesus Christ has the power to do that.  It’s called being born again, the chance to start over.  We can have fresh start with a new life as we begin this journey forward today.  God says, “I don’t want you to turn over a new leaf.  I’m going to give you a whole new life.” 

So, as I finish this journey journal entry, I ask ~ Will you have a fresh start in life?  Will you have a new beginning?  It’s your choice.  How can you have a fresh start?  
For me ~ Will I have a fresh start in life?  Will I have a new beginning?  It’s my choice.  How can I have a fresh start?  I can have a fresh start by:

· Stop making excuse
· Taking an inventory of my life
· Acting in faith
· Refocusing my thoughts
· Trusting God

Thank you for hanging out with me on this journey!  Let me know, and I’ll pray with and for you.

Randy “JavaMan” Tooley

Isaiah 43.18
Proverbs 28.13
Proverbs 20.7
Proverbs 24.10
Galatians 3.4
Matthew 9
Proverbs 29.25
Proverbs 4.23
Romans 12.2
Psalm 1

Zechariah 4.6

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