Friends, I count not myself yet to have laid hold: but one thing I do, forgetting the things which are behind, and stretching forward to the things which are before, I press on toward the goal unto the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.  Phil. 3:13-15

New Years is a time when many people make a long list of resolutions which most of them break within the month. I know because I’ve made them in the past. But I don’t anymore because I’ve learned something about resolutions that I want to pass on – resolutions are made by people who don’t have the power to do anything about the resolution. But making the resolution makes them feel good about themselves. At least they gave it the good ole college try.

Instead of resolutions I choose to make “commitments.”  What’s the difference you say? Everything.  Resolutions are born out of desperation whereas commitments rise up from deep within one’s heart.  Resolutions are based on a wish; commitments are based on a relationship. Resolutions are easily broken and most that make them fully intend to break them; whereas commitments are difficult for most to break and most don’t intend to break them. There’s no foul when a resolution is broken but it’s tragic to break a commitment.

Resolutions                                                        Commitments

Born out of desperation                                Deep within the heart
Based on a wish                                                 Based on a relationship
No foul when broken                                     Tragic when broken
Easily broken                                                     Hard to break

Take marriage for example.  You don’t resolve to get married; you make a commitment and if that commit is broken lives are greatly harmed.

One of the tragedies of the modern period is that too many Christians appear to have merely resolved to follow Christ – when it suits them.  They fall in and out of love with Christ like putting on and taking off an old pair of shoes.

But commitment doesn’t work that way. “Jesus said to his disciples, If any man would come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me (Matt. 16:24).”  Can’t you just hear someone say, “I resolve to follow Christ.”  It doesn’t work that way.  Commitment to Christ is a life-time commitment. It’s hard to fall in and out of love with Christ and when if it does happen it’s tragic. Listen to what Jesus says about breaking a commitment –“And he that does not take his cross and follow after me, is not worthy of me (Matt. 10:38).”

Let’s take a different look at the difference between resolutions and commitments. Like me, you probably have made resolutions in the past. And like me, I bet you can’t remember the ones you made ten or twenty years ago.  Think hard. I bet 99% of the people can’t remember that far back.  That’s because you made a resolution rather than a commitment. But now compare that to the time years ago when you committed your life to Christ. I bet you can remember that time even if it were decades ago. I know I can still remember that third hole at Hancock golf course when I knelt with that Baptist preacher I was playing golf with and committed my life to Jesus.  That commitment is still as fresh as the day I made it.  I can see the green where we knelt and prayed the sinner’s prayer (yes it worked back then).

Or look at it another way. If you are married, you made a commitment to love, honor, and obey (ouch) one another.  And if you were married I bet you can still vividly recall that day.  That’s because you made a commitment you fully intended to keep not a resolution you knew might break in the near future.

So what now are we to do this first week of the New Year? If you are like me, you are so glad 2011 is over. It was a horrible year for the Easum family.  But there is a new year staring us in the face.  What we make of it is mostly up to us. The same is true with you. Will we all commit to drawing closer to Christ and to one another? That is the burning question on God’s mind for our household. I hope it is for yours also.

A couple of days ago I posted six things on my blog that would make the New Year more effective and productive.  I’m going to sign off with sharing them with you again.  It’s my hope you have a great 2012.

With less than a week until 2012, I thought it would be a good idea to share some of the things I’m going to do to make 2012 a more effective year.  Please don’t see these as resolutions but as commitments.

1.       I’m going to pray more. One thing that is becoming more apparent as I coach pastors is that in order to make an outward change in a church requires the pastor have an inner change. We can stress tactics all we want, but if the heart isn’t right with God nothing works. So I’m going to pray more. What about you?

2.       Along the same lines, I’m going to be more humble. I know- you say that’s not one of my strong points and you’re right it isn’t, but it’s going to be. I hope that saying I’m going to be humble doesn’t sound arrogant. Will you join me?

3.       I’m going to do something I’ve always dreamed about doing but never got around to and I’m going to keep it a secret for now. But seriously, what have you been putting off that you’ve always wanted to do and just haven’t gotten around to it for some reason.  Well, I have a flash for you- you’re one year older and counting. So get with it.

4.       I’m going to read more.  This has been one of my strong suits over the years so I want to strengthen it even more.  I’m looking now at a pile of some 20 books.  The problem I’m running into is I’m finding more and more books to be not worth the time it takes to read them. But I’ve always found a jewel in the pile somewhere that makes it worth the effort.  How many books did you read this past year? If it was less than 20, you’re missing something important.  Ask your church to raise your discretionary account.

5.       I’m going to be more patient with my wife.  Most of you know she suffered a bad stroke in July and now requires 24/7 care. She still enjoys life and that is why I brought her home two weeks ago.  But I find myself really challenged here.  And I imagine you are also when you’re faced with an unsolvable situation. But patience is Godly. That is why we are told to “wait until….  All of us can learn to be more patient with our spouse. They put up with a lot for us to be in ministry.

6.       I’m going to steel myself against the seemingly limitless barrage of political ads I’m going to be subjected to over the next eight months.  Talk about learning patience.  How are you going to handle all the political stuff you’ll see on the TV the next eight months?  I know what I’m going to do – record everything I want to see so I can zip through the political ads.

What is it you’re going to do to make the New Year an even better year than this one has been?