Things to Stop and Start
Stop Drifting Along and Start Digging In
Message 1 • Chuck Swindoll
Shallowness is not attractive. This is true, not so much in children, but in the lives of adults, those who ought to know better. Many are satisfied to skate along, hitting the high spots, seldom deliberately pausing to go deeper . . . probe deeper . . . think deeper. Unfortunately, there is little in our hurried and hassled age that promotes the importance of depth—even in many churches. Stop and consider how many have turned their worship into entertainment and selected programs filled with non-stop activities as a substitute for growing, learning, and applying wisdom to their lives. How easy it is to start looking more like a herd of cattle in a stampede than God's flock resting in green pastures. If you are ready to allow God to bring about lasting transformation in the way you live your life, let today be a turning point. Make the decisions today that can change the course of your life.
Stop Procrastinating and Start Following Through
Message 2 • Chuck Swindoll
The beginning of a year is an ideal occasion to come to terms with how we utilize our time. With all these weeks and months stretching out in front of us, we have an excellent opportunity to focus on how well we handle our days. Looking back, most of us can recall saying the same words again and again: “I don't have enough time.” While we may repeat that statement with great sincerity, is it true? Stop and think: Is it really true that we don't have “enough time” in our day? Could it be that our problem is not having enough time but making the most of the time we have? Convicting though it may be, everyone has the same amount of time in his or her day . . . no matter his or her age, gender, social status, marital status, or education. We are all given the same number of hours. The crucial issue is not having enough time, but using it wisely and well. More often than not, we've formed the habit of putting off what needs to get done rather than following through on those things we need to accomplish.
Stop Shaming and Start Honoring
Message 3 • Chuck Swindoll
Shame. Its message is dreadfully debilitating and packed with pain. The corrosive effect it has on how we love, parent, work, and lead (to name only a few) is enormous. As one authority on the subject has written, “Shame keeps us small, resentful, and afraid,” which is the way many choose to live their lives. Shame is, primarily, the fear of disconnection. Since we are psychologically, emotionally, and spiritually hardwired for connection, love, and belonging, the message shame proclaims is devastating. Listen to its voice: “I'm not worthy or good enough for acceptance, belonging, or connection. I'm unlovable, I cannot measure up, and I lack what is necessary to accomplish what others expect of me.” In our shame-prone culture, parents, bosses, teachers, and many pastors consciously or subconsciously urge people to connect their significance to what they produce. This prompts disengagement, blame, and favoritism, resulting in fear of risk, absence of vulnerability, and a total lack of innovation. How much better to respect and honor others—even when they fail to measure up to expectations or “blow it” big time!
Stop Blaming and Start Forgiving
Message 4 • Chuck Swindoll
Blaming others is the longest-standing and the most common reaction to our own wrongdoing. It's our favorite game to play—in fact, it's a habit that humans have cultivated since life began. It was the reaction of the first man and woman when faced with their own failure in the garden of Eden. Immediately, both played the blame game! The alternative is an honest, up-front confession, which is neither complicated nor difficult . . . unless, of course, we allow pride to get in the way. When that happens, we resist confessing with everything in us. Having formed the habit of blaming others regarding our own sinfulness, we naturally turn to it when others do wrong. We are quick to point the finger of blame rather than respond with genuine forgiveness. Not only are we to forgive ourselves, our unwillingness to forgive others follows close behind. It's time to stop that timeworn cycle.
Stop Worrying and Start Trusting
Message 5 • Chuck Swindoll
Our world is filled with addictions. To the surprise of many, addictions are not limited to those outside the family of God. Many within the body of Christ struggle with nagging, relentless habits that defy quick and easy solutions. We seek help, but they don't go away. We share them with a few close friends, hoping that in the process we will somehow break free, but that doesn't happen. There are rare occasions when we find a measure of relief, but it isn't long before the battle returns—and usually it's with the same enemy of our souls that leaves us discouraged and defeated. Curiously, the most common addiction is not labeled as one. Thanks to our creative ability to rationalize our way around it, we pass it off like it's of little consequence. We even convince ourselves that it's normal—we say to ourselves, “Well everybody does it, so it's okay.” But the truth is that this habit is never treated lightly in the Scriptures. And what is the “most common of all addictions? Worry. What an emotional drain! What a waste! It's time we stopped our habit of worrying and replaced it with the God-given solution: trusting!
Stop Resisting and Start Submitting
Message 6 • Chuck Swindoll
Webster defines the term “submit” in this way: “To surrender or yield to the will or authority of another . . . give in. To allow oneself to be subjected: acquiesce.” Those words seem strange in today's rebellious world where resistance to authority is not only tolerated and expected, it's admired and defended! Children, once taught to be submissive to their parents, now resist their authority with hardly a second thought. In some cases, they take them to court! Those who lead companies, corporations, and even ministries must now be ultra-sensitive toward their employees, using great diplomacy when exercising their role of authority. For professions such as teachers and police officers, the former days of demanding absolute submission to their authority are over. Admittedly, there are times when resistance is appropriate. We would not remain a free nation if we submitted to the tyranny of those who would take our liberty from us. There are times when defending one's rights is essential; to do less would result in chaos. However, we are not addressing those issues in this message, but rather the sin of standing in stubborn defiance against and questioning any and all authority that has the right to confront, correct, or instruct us. Such resistance greatly displeases the Lord our God.
Stop Acting Perfect and Start Being Vulnerable
Message 7 • Chuck Swindoll
In our image-conscious society, there is an enormous emphasis placed on appearing to be someone you're not. This includes leaving the impression that we are bulletproof, that we're on top of any challenge and all circumstances, which means we are living in the realm of virtual perfection. Playing such a role is not just inauthentic; it also encourages us to keep others at a distance. The last thing we want is for them to get so close they're able to discover the truth, namely, that we're nowhere near the person they think we are. Therefore, we learn early in life to “put up a good front.” The pressure mounts, forcing us to work overtime in order to fulfill this phony image. Someone accurately described our situation as this: “We are not who we are. We are not even who we think we are. We are who we think others think we are.” In the mix of that, we cultivate the habit of faking it. There is a much better way to live. It calls for letting down our guard. It requires modeling reality. It has to do with no longer polishing our image. It means being vulnerable.
Stop Lying and Start Acknowledging
Message 8 • Chuck Swindoll
Of all the bad habits we could address, few are more prevalent yet more acceptable than lying. As painful as it may be to hear it, ours is a nation of liars. One reliable survey reveals that 91 percent of Americans lie regularly. The majority of Americans find it hard to get through a week without lying. Unfortunately, this is true for believers almost as much as unbelievers. Christians are just as likely as non-Christians to falsify their income tax returns, commit plagiarism, bribe to obtain a building permit, shift blame onto someone else, illegally copy a computer program, and steal from the workplace. If we are not lying to others in the process, we are lying to ourselves. It is time for us to face it: lying is an ongoing habit that definitely needs to be exposed, analyzed, and ultimately, stopped. As we shall see, when Paul wrote to the believers in first-century Ephesus, he put it straight: “So stop telling lies” (Ephesians 4:25 NLT).
Stop Criticizing Earth and Start Contemplating Heaven
Message 9 • Chuck Swindoll
Any amount of time tasting the fruits of our fallen world will give most of us a hunger for heaven. Without a doubt, the songs, choruses of worship, hymns, and anthems on the subject of heaven number in the hundreds. For centuries, God's people have anticipated their final home—“a dwelling place” that is the destiny and destination of all who know and love the Lord Jesus Christ. To this day, it remains the hope of every believer grieving the death of a loved one. All of us who fill the ranks of the redeemed understand that, while we are to live as responsible citizens of this nation, in reality, “we are citizens of heaven” (Philippians 3:20) where our Savior has gone “to prepare a place for you” (John 14:2). Since heaven will be our ultimate destination, we need to spend less time complaining about our struggles and trials on earth, where we temporarily live, and more time learning as much as possible about heaven, where we will live forever.