Thursday, January 7, 2010

Is It Time for a Fresh Start?

NOTE: Schools are closed here today due to ice, so instead of writing a new post to encourage moms, I'm going to spend the day snuggling with my kids. :)  Here is my most recent article for Haslet Style, for you to enjoy on this chilly day!

Bring us back to you, GOD—we're ready to come back. Give us a fresh start.
—Lamentations 5:21 MSG

Every week, we look forward to “Family Fun Fridays” at the Stair house. With Brett’s full schedule as pastor of a growing church and the ever-pressing deadlines of my book editing, we’ve made it a family tradition to set aside one night a week to do something together.

Family Fun Fridays can be something as simple as playing charades, or sometimes we head to a fast-food playland or have a picnic. Since our kids are young, we can make even small things fun.

Last Friday, the kids decided to put on a play: an inventive retelling of the Christmas story featuring the angel Gabriel, the Virgin Mary, and Joseph the Fireman (our three-year-old son didn’t cooperate with his sisters). After the show, we pulled out the couch bed and watched a movie. At one point, I looked at the clock and thought, Whoa, it’s way past the kids’ bedtime. But then again, it was Family Fun Night! So we let the kids stay up late to finish the movie.

Not surprisingly, the next day turned out to be “Super Squabble Saturday” at the Stair house. All three kids were up early—why don’t our kids ever sleep in?—and from the moment they woke, they were cranky and quarreling. They whined about what we fixed for breakfast, refused to share the blanket on the couch, and fussed about which cartoon to watch. Before long, tempers were flaring and toys were flying. Things were going from bad to worse when . . .

“Enough!” declared Brett. “I’ve had it with these bad attitudes. Today, you’re getting a do-over!”

“A what?” the kids asked.

“I’ll show you,” Brett said, marching all three of them upstairs and into their bedrooms.

Griping and muttering about Dad going crazy, the kids grudgingly went into their rooms. They continued to grumble as Brett made them get back in their beds and turned off their lights.

A few moments later, Brett flung the lights back on and announced cheerfully, “Good morning, kids! Did you sleep well? It’s great to see you this beautiful morning!”

Grumbles turned to giggles as the kids emerged from their rooms, catching on to the game. They feigned yawns and stretched as if waking from a deep sleep before being chased by the “tickle monster” and collapsing into a pile of pajama-clad smiles.

Thankfully, the rest of that Saturday—especially after long afternoon naps—was relatively pleasant. The kids just needed a fresh start.

* * *

Are you having a horrible, terrible, no good, very bad day? Or perhaps it’s not just a bad day, but you’ve had a bad month . . . or year. If so, maybe you, too, need a “do-over.”

One of the great things about January is the opportunity for a fresh start. The calendar pages for 2010 are empty, awaiting what the coming year will bring. What will you fill those pages with?

Will you tarnish this year with last year’s regrets, mistakes, bitterness, and frustrations? Or will you take a “do-over” and restart with a clean slate?

You may be thinking, Starting over may be easy for little kids, but it’s too late for me. I’ve made too many mistakes, and now I’m stuck in this mess. There’s no way out!

If you feel like your life is stuck at a dead-end, don’t give up. There’s hope! The Bible says, “GOD gives a hand to those down on their luck, gives a fresh start to those ready to quit” (Psalm 145:14 MSG).

That’s exactly why the gospel is such good news! No matter how old you are, no matter what you’ve done, and no matter how “stuck” you think you are in your circumstances, God will forgive you and give you a clean slate. In fact, when you turn to God for a “do-over,” you not only get a fresh start in this life, but you gain the assurance of eternal life in heaven. The Bible says that when we turn to Christ, He completely transforms us: “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV).

Now, turning to God for a fresh start doesn’t mean you’ll never mess up again. Far from it! But it does mean that you will have a bright future. After all, God is in the business of giving people fresh starts.

Consider just a few of God’s promises:

• “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing!” (Isaiah 43:18–19 NIV)

• “Count yourself lucky, how happy you must be—you get a fresh start, your slate’s wiped clean.” (Psalm 32:1 MSG)

• “Everything that we have—right thinking and right living, a clean slate and a fresh start—comes from God by way of Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 1:30 MSG).

• “Everyone who belongs to Christ will be given new life” (1 Corinthians 15:21 NLT).

• “He who was seated on the throne said, ‘I am making everything new!’” (Revelation 21:5 NIV)
So this year, as you make New Year’s resolutions about getting in shape, eating right, or otherwise improving your physical health, be careful not to overlook the condition of your spiritual health.

Because no matter who you are or what you’ve done, 2010 can be the year that you finally take a “do-over” and are able to say, along with the Psalmist, “GOD made my life complete when I placed all the pieces before him. … He gave me a fresh start” (Psalm 18:20 MSG).

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