3 steps to refocus as we get going in a New Year


This is definitely one of my favorite times of the year. I love it because often people use this time to get after things that are important to them. The gym is a little busier and people are on social media looking for book recommendations for the year. One of the great dangers in life is distraction and a new year gives people time to refocus. Refocusing is an amazing thing.

Last year I was in Texas at a prayer service where Corey Lucas of Freedom Fellowship was leading. He said something powerful that could help you as we enter this new season. He said, “Refocus can happen in a second. Our eyes do it all the time.” And he is so right about our eyes. In order to refocus we may close our eyes and then look somewhere else.

The author of Hebrews gives us some clear steps to follow if we have gotten distracted and need to refocus. Hebrews 12:1-2 (NLT) teaches, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.” So our refocus plan is as follows:

Zoom back to look at the whole crowd. In the day in and day out of life we can lose perspective as we only look at our momentary struggles, challenges and people around us. We are encouraged to look at the people of eternity who have walked in faith before us. The author gave a whole bunch of examples in the previous chapter, but who do you need to find encouragement from in this new year?

Throw off weights and distractions. As you look to refocus on the important this year you will need to look away from what distracted you before. What is slowing you down for the goals that God has for you? It is time to throw it off. We are especially encouraged to do something about the sin that trips us up.

Fix your focus on something new. It is not just about looking away from the old, but it is also about getting our focus on something different. As you really start going this year will you get your focus on Jesus? There is so much we can gain from a focus on Jesus, but the author of Hebrews gives a very specific reason that is important in this context. Jesus didn’t give up when things got difficult because His focus was on the end prize and not the momentary challenges. The same will be true of us if we are to accomplish all that God has for us in this coming year.

So maybe you are already starting to lose focus on what God has for you this year. Take some time and get your perspective back, get rid of distractions, and get back to running after Jesus.

A Very Pentecostal Christmas


The danger of experiencing Christmas year after year is it becomes “normal.” We begin to feel like the Christmas story is more like another Hallmark channel movie with a predictable happy ending. Nothing against Hallmark movies, my wife is a big fan, but the story of Jesus’ birth is closer to a nuclear explosion sent from heaven with the after shocks still being felt today.

One way that we see this is, even though it is hiding in plain sight, is to look at the gospel of Luke. We are helped past our familiarity with the story by looking at it through the lens of the wonderful foreshadowing that he is doing in setting up his second volume Acts. The lives of the people in the next book will experience a paradigm shattering experience of life in the Spirit and Luke is setting the stage right out of the gate here in his first book. Here are some of the lessons from the Christmas story

The bringing of the Spirit and the prophetic

In the Old Testament the operation of the gifts was with special people and for the moment but now things are changing. Zechariah is prophesying and Mary is singing with outbursts of praise. Mary, Elizabeth and even John the Baptist in his mother’s womb is filled with the Spirit. As Bob Dylan would sing The Times They Are A Changin. We better hold on cause it is just getting started.

There is an eruption of the miraculous

We have probably been to too many Christmas programs where little boys and girls get to play the part of angels. When the people in the Christmas story saw angels they freaked out a little. The shepherds in the field saw one angel and were terrified we can only imagine what they felt when they saw a multitude of them. But in the Bible story of Christmas the miraculous seems to be everywhere with angels and dreams and stars of direction in the sky. Are we ready to get in on the story of Christmas today?

The unexpected get to be involved

My home church pastor made a good point this week when he pointed out that outsiders get invited into the story of Christmas. If Mary was a teenage mom and Elizabeth was a senior citizen they would have made an unusual pair. Shepherds with no names get a personal invitation to the story. And the birth of Jesus story reminds us that even foreigners get involved with wise men from another land getting to be a part. Jesus even gets to experience life as an immigrant in the story of the Bible. No nice neat bows on the end here. Pentecostals have traditionally been for the down and out person and the outsider and it starts with Christmas.

Prayer is shown as the engine that keeps the story going

When Luke starts his story and Zechariah goes in to be with God, Luke makes the point that, “the whole multitude of the people were praying outside.” (1:10) This will be a lesson he goes back to again and again through his two books. When the people give themselves to prayer God shows up. Prayer is what drives us into the mission of God. The prayer of God’s people is sprinkled in right from the beginning.

The heart pounding fact about Christmas is it was a starting point for a way for us to interact with God. He will take ordinary, fragile and broken people and use them as they are filled with the Spirit. Will you be one of them?

(BTW-For a scholarly look at the connection of the Spirit in the book of Luke I recommend Roger Stronstad’s book The Charismatic Theology of St Luke)