How You Can Make a Fresh Start
- Thursday, August 20, 2009
Editor's Note: The following is a report on the practical applications of Doug Fields' new book, Fresh Start: God's Invitation to a Great Life, (Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2009).
Do you feel stuck? Maybe you don't like the way your life has been going lately, but can't seem to change it. Perhaps you're struggling with an unhealthy habit that you know you should stop, yet still continue despite your best intentions to change.
No matter how stuck you may have become, you can move forward with God's help. Here's how you can make a fresh start to change your life for the better:
Look beyond yourself to God. Your ability to make real and lasting changes to your life is limited, even when you try your hardest. Rather than relying just on your own determined resolve to change and your own positive thinking (which may improve your life temporarily but not lead to permanent change), connect to God in prayer daily and rely on the strength that He will give you to truly change for good. God loves you too much to let you stay stuck; He wants to help you become the best person and experience the best life possible. Invite God to give you a fresh start and cooperate with His work in your life by following where He leads you.
Be honest about how something bad makes you feel good. Sin that you're hanging onto has something about it that attracts you: If you try to control other people, you may be getting a feeling of power from your efforts. If you often express your anger through fits of rage, you may be enjoying the adrenaline rush that results. If you struggle with lust, you may find the sexual fantasies that come with it exciting. Admit what pleasure you're deriving from your sinful habits, confess it to God, and ask Him to help you really desire to make a fresh start.
Identify the pain that lies underneath your sinful attitudes and behaviors. Whatever problem you're trying to change - porn, gambling, overspending, speaking profanity, or something else - has some pain that's causing it. Ask God to reveal the core reason why you're struggling with the sin that is making you stuck in life right now. Tell God that you want to live in a way that pleases Him and is healthy for you. Trust Him to heal your pain as you move closer to Him.
Deal with pride. What dreams have you been hoping would come true, yet have remained stuck in your mind and haven't become reality? As you think about them, consider your motivation for pursuing them. Can you recognize pride at work? Is it possible that some of your dreams are based on your desire to get people to notice and value you? If so, you've been aiming for the wrong dreams in those cases. God has better plans for you, and if you're willing to trade your dreams for God's dreams for your life, you won't be stuck anymore. You can move toward true greatness when you pursue God's dreams, because in the process, He will transform you into a person with strong character, like Jesus. Pray for the humility you need to surrender your own agenda and cooperate with God's plans for your life.
Define success. If you've been chasing success in the form of wealth, significance, or security, you can get stuck never really achieving the success you want. Recognize that God defines success far differently than our culture does. From God's perspective, a successful person focuses on giving, not getting. The way to achieve true success is by serving other people for God's glory. Keep in mind that, no matter how busy you are, you can always find the time to do what you most want to do.
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