Having success in Godly disciplines requires having a plan. David gives some very practical advice on how to establish a plan for connecting with God each day.
Morning. David Sorn. Lead Pastor here at Renovation Church.
Thanks to Sam and everyone for filling in for worship today.
If I can, let me brag about our staff for a little bit. We really do have some gifted people on our staff. Ryan Speck to Molly Vesperman.
Zach is away this wk leading worship for hundreds of students
And our youth group is at camp Shamineau as well.
And kudos to Rachel Puro, our Youth Pastor, and the work she has done with our youth group.
They took 22 people to camp this weekend!
Last year our youth gr. had 5 kids. Awesome!
We are continuing today in our Resolution Regret series.
We are all incredible at wanting to change, but our skillset to do so is pretty weak.
And every January, a good chunk of us make resolutions that we never actually pull off
And now, by, January 22nd, we’re in full blown Resolution Regret.
So, what we’re trying to help you do in this series, is apply Biblical wisdom, Godly thinking, and just good logic to establishing Godly disciplines in your life
Last week we talked about problem #1: The fact that we usually just don’t even really get started.
And that if we are ever going to establish any good and Godly habits in our lives, we’ve got to put our head over our heart (emotions)…at least at first
But today, I want to talk about the importance of having a PLAN
Some of you might be like, “David, I’m just not much of a planner. I’m a go with the flow type of person”
And that’s cool. I respect that. There’s a huge benefit to that. Often “Go with the flow” people are much better at following God’s leading and not just their own.
It can be a huge gift.
But when it comes to establishing Godly discipline, it often can be a barrier
And all of us, to some degree just lack discipline. We WANT to change….
I mean who here wants to change? Wants to be more Godly? Wants to love more? Wants to change this world?
Everybody WANTS to. But how do you pull it off?
That’s what we’re talking about in this series.
And this week, we want to help you establish a plan
WE NEED SPIRITUAL GROWTH
Because we have to grow
We’ve got to sit at the feet of Jesus and let Him change us.
If we can discipline ourselves to every day, spend time praying to God…spend time reading the Bible…He will change you.
(Romans 12:2) – NIV
2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
You do as we’ve mentioned so often in this church
(1 Timothy 4:7) – NIV
Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly.
Any why? Why do it?
Because our mission is clear:
(Matthew 28:19-20) – NIV
19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Our mission is to go change this world and reach people for Christ. That’s why you’re on earth.
But how? We do it by being changed by God.
We can’t do it. I can’t do it on my own. You can’t do it in your own strength.
This is our vision as a church: “TO be a PEOPLE…being CHANGED by God…to what??? Change the world.
But we have to be changed… We have to spend time w/ Him.
It’s not going to happen haphazardly.
WE NEED A PLAN / GOAL
In fact, let me just ask you some questions.
How are you planning to get closer to God?
What’s your plan to let Him change you so you can change the world?
What things do you have in place to make that a reality?
Most of us have no idea how to answer those questions.
That is beyond…”Uh…go to church?”
And yes, God can move in you and change you…and sometimes He just reaches down.
But the Bible also tells us
(James 4:8) – NIV
8 Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.
So how are you going to come near to Him? What’s your plan?
Too often, all we do is just utter a flippant, “But God, change me!!” prayer without ever sitting still enough for Him to do any work on you
And for many of us, we don’t put any plan in place until the wheels come off.
You hear a problem in your car. You hear the brakes getting worse.
They’re not going to get better! J
But we just wait…wait until something significant happens.
And often we do the same thing w/ God.
We just wait till we crash. Then we do something.
But you don’t have to crash first.
You can come near to Him out of desire rather than out of situational necessity.
But if you’re going to do so, you need a plan. You need some goals.
Without a goal, without a plan, you’re only going to get so far.
(Luke 14:28-33) – NIV
28 “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? 29 For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, 30saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’ 31 “Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Won’t he first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? 32 If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. 33 In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.
This is a passage about calculating the cost. It’s asking: “Have you calculated the cost of following Jesus? It’s going to require a lot of you”
It’s going to require more from you than just haphazardly drifting through life with good intentions and no follow through
Look at the guy who didn’t finish his tower. I’m sure he had good intentions, but so what?
He didn’t calculate it out right. He never had a plan.
The Bible’s saying, “Hey look. With serious things like constructing a building, people have a plan”
If you go off to war, don’t you think you’ll count your men first?
If you were the architect in charge of building a skyscraper in downtown Minneapolis, do you think you would just show up and “figure it out as you go?”
No way. You’d have a plan.
And if you’d have a plan for those things, why in the world don’t we have a plan for your main purpose on this earth?
Growing in Christ.
We have endless plans when you think about.
Plans for work.
Plans for our kid’s plans
What about plans for growing in Christ and helping reach more people for Jesus though?
“Uh, I don't know, I guess I’ll figure it out as I go???”
It’s crazy really. And Jesus says so.
If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll probably just end up somewhere else
Where are you going with God? How are you getting there? What’s your plan for growing with Him?
How are you going to read the Bible more? How are you going to pray more?
And most of us can only respond by saying: “Okay, okay. Fine, I’ll start reading the Bible again.”
But unfortunately, that’s not all that different than saying, “Okay, Okay. I’ll lose weight come January 1st”
Well, there’s about a 5% chance you’ll pull that off.
That is, unless you put a plan in place.
PERSONAL RENOVATION PLANS
I mentioned a few weeks ago that God has really been bugging me a lot about raising the level of our Core Value of “Encountering God”
And He’s really been putting on my heart the importance of helping our church have a plan to Encounter God every day…each person on their own…growing as a disciple of Jesus Christ.
So, this morning, I want to talk a lot about how to develop a good plan for encountering God daily.
And then, this week, in House Groups, we’re going to give you an actual plan you can fill out
We’re calling it your “Personal Renovation Plan”
I think it’s going to be phenomenal to finally have something you can just fill out and start doing.
We want to get as many people as possible out of the mode of, “I want to read the Bible, I just never do”
And I realize that this is potentially a controversial decision. Why not just hand them out right now on Sunday morning?
Couple of reasons…and the main reason is this.
I believe potentially the biggest threat to the vitality of the American church is isolated spirituality.
We are becoming a nation where Christians just anonymously attend a church, know no one, and then do some Jesus devotionals on their own.
And we aren’t going to thrive like that.
Christianity is meant to be lived in community.
And I don’t feel comfortable enabling “Isolated spirituality”
This is something we have to do together.
So we’re going to hand out plans in House Groups.
And it’s not like no one’s there. 80% of our adults are connected to a group.
IF you’re not in a House Group yet, I can’t think of a better reason for you to join one this week.
What a week to take that leap into AMAZING Christian community.
For those of you that are brand new here, and many of you are, if you want to join a House Group, be my guest, but it’s okay to check this place out for a little bit
Just don’t “check it out” for 6 months J
So, I’m pumped about the PERSONAL RENOVATION PLANS, but one of the main aspects of them, or any plan, is accountability.
If you are going to be successful in your plan to grow with God, you HAVE to have other people helping you.
(Proverbs 15:22) – NLT
Plans go wrong for lack of advice; many advisers bring success.
MAKE A PLAN / WRITE IT DOWN
Okay, what are other principles to actually establishing a plan to spend time with God?
One of the best things you can do is write it down.
The goal here is to get everyone past the stage of every day: “I want to read the Bible today….OH, didn’t happen. I want to read the Bible today…OH didn’t happen.”
And one of the first things you can do is to take your plan, and write it down.
Literally. Write it down. What are you going to do?
You can do this at home, or in a House Group this week with our plan.
But as soon as you write your goals down, and even better hand it someone else to keep a copy of it for you, the chances of you meeting those goals goes way up
My first experience with this was when I was in 9th grade.
My English teacher had us write down all of our goals for the next 4 years of high school.
I’m not sure I even took it that seriously when I wrote them down at the time...but I wrote down a whole bunch of lofty goals:
Be class president
Be Student Council President
Play Varsity basketball
And on and on…
And, even though I didn’t have great intentions to meet all of those when I was doing the assignment, I bet I thought about that assignment every week for the rest of high school
And many of them, I actually met…although not all
But by writing them down, and handing them in, I started to take them seriously.
So write down your goals. Make a literal plan.
You’re going to increase your chances of growing with God tenfold if you do.
I’ve been doing a similar thing for the last 2 years with my spiritual goals.
Twice a year I go on a prayer retreat, and every time I’m there, I take an index of what spiritual practices I need to get better at:
Maybe that’s morning prayer times or listening to other pastors teach (I don’t get to hear anyone else speak) or whatever
And then, I literally write down what I’m going to do about it
I make a plan
And it bothers me if I don’t do it. Way more than if I didn’t write it down.
I wrote it down! I have to do it!!!
Make a plan.
(Proverbs 6:6-9) – NLT
6 Take a lesson from the ants, you lazybones. Learn from their ways and become wise! 7 Though they have no prince or governor or ruler to make them work, 8 they labor hard all summer, gathering food for the winter. 9 But you, lazybones, how long will you sleep? When will you wake up?
Even the ant makes plans for the future!
KEEP GOALS REALISTIC
One you start writing your plan down, one of the most important things you can do is keep your goals realistic.
I honestly think this is one of the biggest mistakes Christians make.
We are notorious for going from nothing to running 10 miles a day when reading the Bible.
I bet I’ve had a conversation like this 10-15 times w/ Christians and non-Christians
Someone will say: I want to get back in the Bible. I’m going to start by reading 30 minutes a day. Or…10 chapters a day.
To which I always respond. “You can start that way, but you won’t be doing it at all by the end of the week.”
Just like you’re never going to go from being a non-runner to running 5 miles a day in one week.
My friend, and one of our House Leaders, Tim Wilson shared this idea with me, and I’m not sure if it’s an actual theory, or if he came up with it, so I’m just going to give him credit.
He called it “World of Warcraft theory”
If you’re not familiar with World of Warcraft, it’s a video game. For nerds. j/k
But he said, one of the things that’s so addicting with games like that is they make the first few levels so easy.
So much so, that you’re constantly feeling great about how much success you’re having.
And that great feeling keeps you coming back, and they very slowly increase the difficulty.
I don’t play a lot of video games, but there’s been a few times I’ve played “Call of Duty” or something like it w/ friends.
And they get 65 kills a piece, and I get 2.
That’s not a sustainable model for me. I’m not going to keep playing that w/ them.
If you’re going to start reading the Bible again…if you’re going to start praying daily again…you have to set-up a plan that you know you CAN do…consistently.
Start with ONE chapter a day (that’s like 3-5 minutes).
Start with 5 minutes of prayer a day. Heck, start with 3.
Who says you can’t ratchet it up to 5 in a few weeks?!?
But don’t’ start with 20 because you’ll never continue in it.
So start with a realistic plan that you know you can meet and don’t add on 15 goals at once. Start with just a few.
FOCUS ON THE SHORT-TERM
Speaking of realistic goals…another really helpful thing you can do is focus on the short-term
If you make a plan to read your Bible every day for…forever…how are you going to do? Will you succeed or fail?
What if you said for the next week? Could you do that?
I read this this week, and thought it was fascinating.
Back in 1933, a bowler named Bill Knox had a screen placed just above the bowling alley lane so he couldn’t see the pins, but just the lane
It was just up high enough for his ball to pass under.
He then demonstrated that if he could just throw the ball at a selected mark on the floor, he could still be successful.
He then bowled a perfect score of 300 while never even looking at the pins.
I talked to a guy this week who actually bowls, and he told me that professional bowlers still think this way to this day.
And I thought, what an awesome illustration.
Sometimes those pins can seem forever away.
Sometimes our goals seem forever away…
But if you can just focus on the short-term. On what’s near. On this week. Just being successful this week. Can you do that?!?
This isn’t new thinking.
This is the kind of thinking that is the bedrock of groups like AA.
How does a person who can’t stop drinking 3 times a day ever stop?
Do they say, “I’m gonna be sober for the next year”
Nope. They just say, I don’t know that. But I can do today.
One day at a time.
Same concept in Spiritual Goals setting.
Can you be obedient to this today? Sunday?
Could you read your Bible today?
No seriously, can you?
Ok. Then, start with today.
Then get tomorrow.
But as Jesus says in Matthew 6, tomorrow has plenty of it’s own worries, let tomorrow worry about it self.
CREATE AN INFRASTRUCTURE
One of the best things you can do to achieve success in meeting daily with God…for maybe the first time in your life…is to create an infrastructure
Here’s what I mean: Think about this again w/ other disciplines
Say you’re gonna quit smoking. You’re probably not gonna be successful if you just say, “I will no longer buy cigarettes”
What you need to do: is A) Not buy cigarettes, but also, throw away the ones you already have, and get rid of the ash tray, and stop taking breaks at work, and start paying at the pump instead of going inside
You’re creating an infrastructure to make your new habit work
Same thing w/ dieting:
So you’re gonna go on a diet…and you’re answer is to…..”Not buy bad foods anymore…”
But what about throwing away the sweets that are already in your house? What about buying healthy foods to actually have there?
What about the timing? Is this a good time to start dieting? Is it the holidays and you already have plans to eat out 6 times?
Is it finals, and you know you drink 2 liters of Mtn dew a night every night of finals week?
We so rarely think about this kind of stuff…WE just say, “I’m going on a diet”
Oh you are…well good luck with that.
And it’s no different with establishing Godly habits and training yourself to be Godly.
How can you create an infrastructure to make that happen?
Our Personal Renovation Plans were gonna hand out help with this, A LOT, but here are some good things to think through
For instance, WHEN are you going to read each day?
Most of us, we just say, “I’m going to read today.”
And then we let it get to 11pm, we didn’t do it, and we’re too tired.
So, set a time.
WHERE in the Bible are you going to read?
Have a plan. Or get on a plan.
Pick up a Bible Pyramid. It’ll help you read the easier books first.
Pick up a unique plan like 100 chapters in 100 days .
YouVersion Bible App has plans you can do.
Create an infrastructure!
If you’re going to do it in the morning, then maybe every evening set out your Bible right by your coffee mug on the kitchen table.
Or put a note on your toothbrush that says, “Don’t use this until you do your prayer time”
And then go to a certain place.
Every day I go in my basement in pray. It’s just where I pray. I don’t pray as well in my office. Too many distractions.
Even Jesus recommends we get to a private place in pray
But you want to develop as much infrastructure and routine as you can
“You want to get to a place where you’d have to go out of your way to NOT do your Godly discipline.
This is all connected. This goes back to Luke 14 where Jesus tells us that we have to take Him serious and develop a plan.
This stuff is WAY too serious for you to not have a plan in place for you to succeed.
In fact, I can’t think of a more important thing for you to plan out.
This is why you’re on this planet.
So what are you going to do?
What’s God saying to you right now?
How can you get started?
Is He putting ideas on your heart?
If He is…don’t ignore them.
And listen, you’re gonna fail. At some point, you are not gonna have a perfect day. It’s absolutely gonna happen.
And that’s okay.
In fact, that’s what we’re talking about next week. What do you do when you fail at your plan?
But for now, start the plan. You can do this.
God can do great things through you.
Come near to Him, and He will come near to you.
And not just come near to you. He’ll change you.
So start a plan…if you’re ready, you’ve been here a little while, come to House Groups this week.
It’s going to be a phenomenal week.
And may God do great things through us..
And may He change us to change this world!
Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN
You may use this material all you like! We only ask that you do not charge a fee and that you quote the source and not say it is your own.