Chuck Allen // @achuckallen //

Happy New Year! I trust your Christmas and your New Year holidays were awesome. Now that a new year is officially underway with the start of the first week of 2016, we start focussing on a fresh start – a new you and goals, changes, resolutions and promises. With each new year comes a clean slate and a new scoreboard.

I believe that every year God gives us is to be a year where we are as productive as we can be for His work and as pleasing as we can be for His glory. The longer you live the more you realize just how fleeting these years are and just how important it is to maximize the potential of each year for being what we ought to be and doing what we ought to do.

Every year at least half of us in this will do something that in the beginning will be very exhilarating, but in the end very frustrating. We will make New Year’s Resolutions. According to the top ten resolutions that Americans make every New Year’s Day are the following:

  1. Lose Weight
  2. Manage Debt/Save Money
  3. Get Physically Fit
  4. Eat Healthy
  5. Learn Something New
  6. Drink Less Alcohol
  7. Quit Smoking
  8. Reduce Stress
  9. Take A Trip Somewhere
  10. Volunteer To Help Others

Pretty good list, right? The problem is 4-out-of-5 folks who make them will break them. 1/2 of those folks who make resolutions won’t get past the end of January before they break them. I read that January 24 is the date that most resolutions will be broken – for good! That’s why we need to know how to eat an elephant!

We all have an elephant – that something that we know needs to be addressed…and some of us have become professional elephant farmers…we are raising elephants so well that we are now unable to name the biggest elephant as all the other elephants are hiding the BIG ONE!

That’s why I believe what we need is not a New Year’s resolution, but what we need is a New Year’s revolution. That’s what we are going to be talking over the next few weeks – HOW TO EAT AN ELEPHANT.

What does God say to us? He has plenty to say about how we can maximize our God-given potential to be what we ought to be, do what we ought to do and become what we ought to become.

So – how do we succeed wildly in 2016? A psychology professor at Florida State University did a study of this. He came up basically two reasons why people fail to keep New Year’s resolutions.

(1) Resolutions are too general  

(2) There are too many resolutions

This professor said, ”Studies suggest that willpower is a limited resource. If you make too many resolutions you won’t have enough willpower reserves to stick to all of them.” Thus, his conclusion was. ”It’s better to make one resolution and stick to it than make five.”

Believe it or not, he is taking that right out of Paul’s playbook that he wrote some two-thousand years ago. Look with me in his letter to the Philippians in chapter 3.

Paul was writing from a Roman prison. As far as he knew, every day would be his last one. In a sense, every day for him was New Year’s Day. He gives us the secret on how to make every new season your best ever. He begins by making an admission which is the starting point for making our lives better day by day.

”Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.” Philippians 3:12

Paul is admitting that he doesn’t have all of his junk together.He’s done a lot and there is still more to do. Though he has been to a lot of places there are still more places to go. He has reached a lot of his potential, but has yet to reach all of his potential.

As long as you are drawing a breath on this earth there are always more lessons to learn. You see, when you lose your willingness to learn, you’ve lost you’re right to lead, to change, to make a difference. There is always room to grow.

Paul gives us 3 steps that you can use at the beginning of the new year, new  month,  new week and at the beginning of every day to make that year, month, week  or day the most productive day for you and the most pleasing day to God that you possibly can.

The first step to EATING AN ELEPHANT is to Leave Your Past Behind You

Paul says in verse 13

”Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind.” Philippians 3:13

The first thing we need to do as we enter the new year is put the old one behind us. Paul had learned a tremendous lesson – you can’t focus on where you are going until you forget where you’ve been.

When you read this you realize that Paul is usually using athletic language. Specifically, he is talking about a race. He talks about straining forward, pressing on, going toward a goal, and reaching for a prize. Those are all racing terms.

Believe it or not, I once was the Gwinnett County high school record holder in the 300 Intermediate hurdles. I just ran to stay in shape for football…but my track coach went the extra mile…he had me run the 3200 meter – or 2 mile every meet to “keep me hungry”. Now I was pretty good at short runs, but distance was just not my thing…but one beautiful spring evening at Habersham County, my coach was trying to convince me that I could win the 3200. His words to me were something like—”Remember as you run where you’ve been is not important. What is important is where you are and where you are headed.”

That’s true about our life. You can’t sail the ship of your life into the seas of the future with joy and peace if your anchor is stuck in the mud of the past. You can’t run forward if you are always looking backward. That’s why Paul says, ”forgetting those things which are behind.”

That word ”forget” doesn’t mean ”fail to remember.” There’s no way you can ever totally erase the past. The word ”forget” literally means ”to not be influenced or affected by.”

Like when God says for example, ”I will remember your sins no more” it doesn’t mean that God all of a sudden comes up with a bad memory. It simply means He no longer allows your past to affect your relationship to Him.

There was a guy that went to see his doctor and said, ”Doc, you’ve gotta help me.” The doctor said, ”What’s wrong?” The guy said, ”I am suffering from amnesia. What do I do about it?” The doctor said, ”Just go home and forget about it.”

This’s what we need to do. As you look back over 2015 think about the mistakes, the failures, the things you didn’t do, things you should have done and the things you did you shouldn’t have done. Then ask yourself what can I learn from those things and how can they make me a better person – then move on.

You’ve really moved on from your past when you can open up about it. When you can say, ‘I failed here” or ”I made a mistake there, but this is what I learned from it. This is why I won’t ever do it again. This is how God used it in my life.”

The first step to EATING AN ELEPHANT is to Leave Your Past Behind You

The second step to EATING AN ELEPHANT is Face the Future Boldly

Listen to the verse again. ”Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do! Philippians 3:13

Two words in there make all the difference in the world, ”one thing.” Paul understood the power that comes in concentrating on just one thing. Have you ever thought about how important those words are in the Bible?

The Scriptures tell the story of the rich young ruler that came to Jesus and asked Him how to receive eternal life, Jesus said, ”One thing you lack.” The Scriptures also tell the story of Martha arguing with Mary over what was really important in life, Jesus said to Martha, ”Only one thing is needed.”  

What was the one thing Paul was seeking? He says, ”I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 2:14

The Greek word for ”goal” is ”skopos” which means ”to look at.” We get our word ”telescope” from that word. It means a small mark on which your eye is fixed. In other words – FOCUS

Paul says the key to living a productive life is to focus. Paul had a one-track mind, but his mind was on the right track.

The reason many of us are ineffective in our mission is because we are involved in so many things and they don’t really concentrate on one thing. I can’t tell you the number of times people come to me and say, ”You know I would like to serve in our church and go on a mission trip and share my story and be more active, but I’ve got too many irons in the fire.” Hey folks – ‘Either pull some of your irons out or put out your fire fire!”  

Anyone knows that concentration is the secret of power. If you take a river and make that river flow in one direction and one direction only and not overflow its banks it can become a tremendous source of electric energy. If you can take light and concentrate it and its power you can make a laser that can cut through steel. Likewise, Paul said, ”Set the right goals and the right number of goals in your life and you’ll build your life around reaching those goals.”

Think of it like the foundation of your home – if it’s weak, the rest of the house can’t stay upright—If your first goal isn’t in line with who God wants you to become, the rest of them won’t matter!

In that spirit, we are asking everyone in our church over the next 12 months to do one thing. If it is the only thing you accomplish spiritually this year then make sure you accomplish this one thing. The reason why we are so high on it is because I know that if you do this one thing the Spirit of God will take the Word of God and move in your heart to do many other things.

We are going to ask you to take 7-8 minutes each day and participate in a Monday through Friday Bible-Focused Devotional through this year. We are asking all of us to do that together. If you will download the Sugar Hill Church APP, you will find the Mon-Fri plan that will take less than 8 minutes a day and you can do it all on your phone, tablet, computer or print it and read your real-life paper Bible.

I am convinced that the greatest single thing I do on a daily basis is to try and hear God speak to me through His Word. There is nothing that feeds my soul, nothing that motivates me to live for Jesus and nothing that grows my love for God like reading His Word. I am asking you to make this your one thing. Which leads to the last step –

The first step to EATING AN ELEPHANT is to Leave Your Past Behind You

The second step to EATING AN ELEPHANT is to Face the Future Boldly

The third step to EATING AN ELEPHANT is to Stay the Course

Two times, once in verse 12 and once in verse 14 Paul says this, ”I press on.”

You’ve got to make a point of pressing on – on a daily basis saying that, ”Today if I don’t do anything else, this one thing I will do.”  

I am asking you today to say, ”This one thing I am going to do.”

That is what Communion is all about – one thing – Jesus and His death, which paid for our sins. One thing has made it possible for us to go to heaven – Jesus’ sacrifice upon the cross, His resurrection from the dead and His offer of eternal life.

One thing is more important than anything else and that is to go into 2016 knowing you are right with the God that made you and knowing that when you leave this planet one thing will have been accomplished-your eternity with Him forever.

So, how do we eat an elephant?


  • Leave Your Past Behind You
  • Face the Future Boldly
  • Stay the Course

Most of you have set some type of goal for the new year…over the next few weeks we want to help you eat that elephant…so here’s a preview…

The habits we make will inevitably make us…so don’t try to set a goal that you can’t possibly live with. Money, health, family, time, relationships — you name it. When we make incremental adjustments, we have monumental results.

But if we don’t get the one thing right, the rest won’t matter. It’ll be like drinking 3 Diet Coke’s so you can eat a larger order of fries…it just doesn’t work.

So – If we are to get way beyond January 24 and our goals become accomplishments in 2016, we MUST get this ONE THING right – We MUST have a God-Centric day-to-day life. Choose time with God and join hundreds of us we determine to succeed wildly in 2016 as we EAT THE ELEPHANT one bite at a time!