One Word for 2014

I am a fan of AT&T’s current ad campaign. Who doesn’t love kids saying hilarious things on TV? The newest commercial began airing recently and I found it less funny yet more profound.¬†

Maybe unintentionally AT&T is onto something here with our New Year’s Revolutions.

Several years ago, I jumped on board with my friend Alece Ronzino’s One Word 365 movement. It truly has become a movement. I believe that so often we sit around and make list after list of things we want to change about our lives leading up to a new year and the complexity and vastness of the list actually hinders our ability to focus on what’s most important. We lack focus in the area that God truly wants to concentrate His efforts in us.

Isn’t that what’s most important anyway? Shouldn’t our priority be what God wants to do in us instead of the list of things we want to do in our own strength? It is the struggle of all struggles, after all, what we can do versus what He can do…what we want versus what He wants.

I heard a message from Austin Stone Downtown Campus Pastor, Jeff Mangum¬†last week about how, just maybe, God wants to work in the small, dark places of our hearts that we haven’t even examined in awhile. That message helped me unpack what God had been speaking to me quietly for a few weeks, my One Word for 2014.

My word for this year is…NEW.

God isn’t in the business of cosmetics. He’s in the business of reconstruction…Complete tear downs and rebuilds. God does his best work from the ground up.

The Book of Genesis is a perfect example. God started Mankind’s existence from the dust. There wasn’t anything he had already made that he felt he could just improve on or modify, he just made something new. God is an expert on new.

In Isaiah 43:19 he says,

For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.

It is in this passage where I see the connection between Jeff’s point on small, dark places and new. There is a phrase we use about others, but seldom about ourselves, “He/she is rough around the edges.” We all have rough edges. Our lives are so full of hurt and pain that life is bound to scuff a few edges. Often times that comes in the form of poor choices we make and other times from no fault of our own. Regardless, how we smooth those edges is our choice. Many times we are disinterested in doing anything at all. Sometimes, we’ve become so accustomed to the roughness that we don’t even realize it is there anymore.

What we tend to want to do is to throw on a mask, or put new clothes on the rough spots. That’s not what God does. He takes the masterpiece that we already are and he begins to sand us down in the carpenter’s workshop. He planes us down to our foundation and resets our basis. From there He remakes us into a new creation.

The thing I’ve discovered in the last few months is that God doesn’t just smooth out the rough edges, the tough stuff. Starting from scratch also means the edges that were already smooth also get remade. Sometimes we hold onto good too long. We can let good get in the way of new.

Only God can do this stuff. Only God is creative enough to be able to make new the human soul. Only God can cause someone to be reborn. Only God can make me new.

My focus in 2014 is on allowing God to make me new. the crazy thing is that God just doesn’t do this new thing one time. Remember the Isaiah passage? He is in the present tense, always now, making new. It is a daily newness that comes from walking with Christ. I am so looking forward to what God is going to do in 2014 in every area of my life.

Just maybe AT&T is onto something with this New Year’s Revolution thing. God isn’t into a resolution in our souls, he’s into starting a revolution of newness in us.

Dropped Connection

Take a minute to look at your Facebook wall.
How many “friends” do you have? Hundreds? Thousands?

Take a look at your Twitter account.
How many people are you following? How many follow you?

How often do you send and receive texts?

We have been fed this line that we’re more connected than we’ve ever been. We have more ways to have “meaningful” relationships than any generation that has come before us. If that is truly the case, why do we feel increasingly more lonely?

We aren’t really more connected with one another. We’re actually more isolated than we’ve ever been and worse than that, we believe we’re not. We’re missing connection and deceiving ourselves into believing we’re more connected than ever. We can’t figure out why we feel so lonely.

Our connection online and through these internet connected devices we carry with us have sold us a false sense of connectivity and human interaction.

Don’t get me wrong, the potential for increased connectivity exists today that has never existed before. We have the opportunity to start new relationships that were once impossible, but only if we take the next step in community building. We have to take the step of face to face interactions. We don’t take our connectivity far enough. We stop short of real human-edifying connection.

We’ve replaced real relationships and intimacy for bad habits. We have become a people who can no longer communicate beyond 140 characters. We are more reluctant than ever to have difficult conversations because these conversations have become increasingly more difficult now that we no longer have deep respect and intimacy with others. In place of respect and intimacy, we’ve put passive aggressive behaviors like texting difficult and important information.

Our culture is on a breakneck pace in terms of developing technology, but we are also on an equally paced downward slide of relational competency.

I am challenging myself to take a step this week to have a face to face connection with someone just to develop the relationship.

What about you?