The Forsake Challenge

And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching. (Hebrews 10:24-25)

Experiencing healing and hope this year will require healthy action on our part. Each of us needs relationships that stir up faith and good works. We all need people in our lives that challenge, encourage, and exemplify Christ-following. This is only experienced through the actions of faithful participation and investment.

Growth will require some old things to die in us and will allow for new things to take root in our lives. We often hope that new things will take root in the same patch of that an old way is still rooted in. This will never work.

The Forsake Challenge is challenge to set priorities, to press in and to actively seek growth in Christ, knowing this will require forsaking things we know (and perhaps love or enjoy) for things we do not know (and, therefore, do not love or enjoy).

Here are some actions that exemplify not “forsaking the meeting together” and some ideas of what people might need to forsake to regularly and actively participate.

I will attend worship services regularly at Fellowship.
Potential Items to Forsake:
– My family will not participate in multiple travel ball teams.
– I will not pick up extra overtime on Sundays.
– If I already miss church regularly because of work schedule, I will make it a
priority on my weeks off, over sleeping in and having a family morning.
What are the things you are not forsaking that cause you to forsake the
assembling of the saints on Sundays?

I will participate in a life group regularly.
Potential Items to Forsake:
– I will not stay up on more than one television show.
– I will not choose a social club over my spiritual life.
– My children and my family will have a messy schedule one night per week.
– I forsake my ability to live a silently sinful life.
What are the things you are not forsaking that cause you to forsake the
assembling of the saints in small group?

I will serve on a church team.
Potential Items to Forsake:
– I will forsake the ability to decide to not go to church at the last minute.
– I will forsake making decisions without thought of Sunday responsibilities.
– I will forsake being served to serve.
What are the things you are not forsaking that cause you to forsake the
assembling of the saints in serving the Lord together regularly?

We must share in the crucifixion so that we might share in His resurrection. The death of self is necessary for new life in Christ. I encourage you to consider deeply and personally the things in your life that are presenting you from giving yourself fully to God. We have shared some of those possibilities about the corporate spiritual life (which every believer needs to deal with), but what do you need to forsake personally so that you might grow in Christ individually?

Are you willing to take the Forsake Challenge?

2015 does not have to be the year of…that.

What “that” would you use to describe 2014?

New Beginnings…Hard Endings…Growth…Pain…Joy…Sadness…Discouragement…
Expression…Depression…Speaking Up…Backing Down…Moving Forward…Dropping Back

Whatever 2014 was the year of, 2015 does not have to be the year of that.

A quote I read today states, “Today is the first blank page of a 365 page book. Write a good one.”

I love the sentiment and the reality of a fresh start. Let’s be honest, 2015 has blank pages yet to be written, but this story most definitely has a prologue. A blank page on January 1 does not negate the reality of life in which that books is opened.

So, whether I liked the “that” of 2014 or not, 2015 does not have to be the year of that.

2014 could be described in our household as one of chaos as we experienced a house fire and moved around and went through a difficult but manageable season. 2015 will hopefully not be known as a year of a house fire. The truth is that no matter how carefully I plan or work at what is written on the fresh clean pages of 2015, I have zero control over such realities in life. The life realities of loss or change or gain are not under my control.

I guarantee you there will come, in 2015, some things you would not plan. Some will be blessings you could not have imagined and others will be pain you wish you could avoid. There will be something happen that will be way better in the long run that you would ever have thought. There will also be something that will not be nearly as worthwhile as you had imagined.

You enter 2014 with a prologue, perhaps a lengthy one. The pages are blank but the story already has a setting and a cast of characters. Some of that you can change. Some of that you cannot. (And some of that you should not change.)

I encourage you to consider, however, what 2015 will be the year of. Realize the things that will be written into that story that you do not control and at the same time, take seriously and gratefully, the things you can.

Romans 6:1-14 (my text this week as we kick off a series called the “Year of…”) has some wonderful insight on the balance between what we control and what we do not control.

We control whether or not we choose to die with, and therefore, live with Christ.

If the “that” of 2014, is not something you hope to repeat, I challenge you with this thought. You must desire to die to the “old that” as much as you desire to live a “new that.” Experiencing wonderful new life is impossible without experiencing the death of that which has prevented it in the past. You cannot have both “this” and “that.”

So what is “that” which you will choose to leave behind in 2014?
What is “that” which you will choose to experience fresh in 2015?

Blank pages are a beautiful truth and God’s mercies are new everyday.

Be encouraged for this is the Year of our Lord Two Thousand and fifteen.