It is never too late to start

It is never too late to start the rest of your life. God is a God of new beginnings, second chapters and do-overs. As Anthony Robbins says it, "The past does not equal the future."

I was reminded of this recently in my own life. For years I struggled to make love work, and for years I failed. A few years ago my marriage of 18 years ended in an unwanted, unexpected divorce. But, it is never too late to start the rest of life. On March 4, I began mine as Melissa became my new bride. With my dad officiating, our parents praying for us and our children as our attendants we started a new chapter of life together.

I have so many frequent flyer miles we entertained the idea of saying our vows in Hawaii. We wanted to come home and say, "We got Maui-ed!"

By the way, David Procter and my friends at Hyde Park Baptist really surprised me on Sunday. When I announced that we would be taking a break, David corrected me by saying, "This isn't a break, it is a wedding reception, complete with wedding cake."


Our reception at Hyde Park, Austin

It is easy to get in the rut of believing that because life has always been a certain way that it will always be a certain way. Not true. The past does not equal the future. Today is a great day to begin the rest of your life.

The Bible says, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!"
2 Cor. 5:17 (NIV) Indeed.

You may not have doubled your class in the past; you can double it in the future. You may not have doubled your church in the past; you can double it in the future. The "capital C" Church (at least in America) has been at a standstill. It doesn't have to be in the future.

I am all about the word double and challenging groups to double every two years or less. We can take America for God by giving the ministry to laymen who are using their gifts to grow their groups to double their classes every two years or less. If we can perfect this skill of helping groups to double every two years or less it will result in incredible, exponential growth. You couldn't start services fast enough. You couldn't build new buildings fast enough. You couldn't launch new services fast enough to contain the growth of a church where groups were doubling every two years or less.

Have you done it yet? Have you doubled a class in two years or less? Have you invited every member and every prospect to every fellowship every month? Have you given Friday nights to Jesus to an informal time of Diet Coke, coffee cake and card playing? Have you done what Levi did? Have you held a "great banquet" and invited some of your friends as well as absentees and prospects? If not, today is a great time to start. The past does not equal the future. Let's get going. Today, is a great day to begin a new chapter in your life

The Bible is all about today. "Today," the scripture says, "if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts." It can be different today. Today does not have to be another yesterday. God is a God of new beginnings. He makes all things new.

I will also be transitioning to a new group life. For the past couple of years, I have been involved with a group called Southwest Christian Singles. Since I am not single anymore, I will be transition from this group to a new for a group life. I am not sure exactly what will be involved, but I am sure it will include Diet Coke, coffee cake and card playing! The goal is the same; the group is different. It is a new day. I can hardly wait.

The Bible is full of stories of people with two parts of their life: a before and an after.

  • Before, Paul was an angry murderer and persecutor. After he was an evangelist, pastor, writer, missionary and church planter.
  • Before Joseph was imprisoned, in slavery and forgotten. After his dreams came true. He ruled a nation.
  • Before Job was in bitter despair because of a cosmic dispute that was not of his making and not even known by him. Job 42.12 records that after the Lord blessed Job's life more than the first.
  • Before we find law. After we find grace.

Are you ready to begin your after? Are you ready to begin the rest of your life? Today is a great day to begin the after portion of your life. I am praying it includes being a part of a micro-church (Sunday School class or home group) that is doubling every two years or less.

I enjoyed hearing David Jordan's dramatic testimony while at Hyde Park on Sunday. His story is one of two major afters. His first after came in his early twenties when God saved him from a life of drugs and alcohol and called him to serve as a minister. He served for a time at Travis Avenue Baptist in Fort Worth. After his marriage failed, he lost his faith and turned his back on God. He fell back into a life of drugs and alcohol and lived that way for a decade. But God. But God had another chapter in his life. He who began a good work in David Jordan's life would bring it to completion. Recently he rededicated his life, was rescued from his drug dependency and has again been called into ministry. His story reminds us that it is a great day to begin the rest of your life.

Failure to reach the second half may not have to do with failure or disappointment in the first half. It may have to do with success. Ron Howard was a fantastic success early on with early roles in The Andy Griffith Show and Happy Days. But, Ron dreamed of a second act. He dreamt of being a director. After a number of successes in the second act, including directing Apollo 13, Backdraft, and How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Howard finally won the grand prize with an Oscar for Best Director in A Beautiful Mind. Ron Howard didn't let success keep him from fulfilling his dream.

Still, more commonly, it is failure that keeps us from embracing the second act. We need to remember that all successes were failures that kept trying.  You only have to be successful the last time! History is full of dramatic before and after stories. Consider. . .

  • Before Harry Truman went bankrupt in the clothing business but after went on to become one of America's most loved presidents.
  • Before Abraham Lincoln went bankrupt twice and was defeated in six elections and after that became president.
  • Before R. H. Macy failed in retailing seven times and afterwards he opened Macy's in New York.
  • Before Dr. Seuss
  • (Theodore Geisel) was rejected by 23 publishers. After he got a contract with the 24th publisher, he sold six million copies.

Today is a great day to begin the rest of your life. How do you want your after to be different from your before? Get started. Do something today.

"Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts."
Hebrews 3:15 (NIV)