“New Year’s Resolutions”

“A fresh start,” “A reset,” “Out with the old and in with the new,” “Auld Lang Syne,” “New beginnings,”  All these sayings and many more are used to describe how we deal with one year rolling into the next. I’ve used them all, tried to live most and failed at almost every one. I must admit that I’m not as good at keeping New Year’s promises as I am at making them. I am not alone. It is estimated that 92% of New Year’s Resolutions are broken, most of them by February.

I am writing this short note at the end of the 2018 not to encourage you to make a new set of resolutions or promises for the New Year. We all know how those usually work out. You and I should have goals and we should work intentionally toward those goals, but that is more of a day by day, month to month process. I am writing to encourage us as strongly as I can to do one thing as 2018 becomes 2019. I want all of us, myself included to do this one life changing thing. Simply said; Turn the page.

You and I have had some good times and some victories in 2018. They are great memories, but the victories of the past don’t guarantee successes in the future. Praise God for the good times and the wins and “turn the page”.

You and I have had some tough times and some defeats in 2018. They cannot be changed. They are but history lessons in a previous chapter of our life. Woulda, coulda, shoulda is a mantra for those who will be stuck in the middle of the book. Praise God for the tough times and the lessons learned. Close this chapter – start the next and “turn the page”.

The best line I heard recently in this vein was supposedly from an answering machine. The recorded message said “I’m sorry but I’m not available to take your call, I’m making some changes in my life right now.  If you don’t hear back from me you’re one of them.” Now that’s “turning the page”!

We have all had people in our orbit who have hindered our walk with Christ, wasted our time or drained the life out of us. Hey, as we and the Lord write the next chapter in our lives they need not be part of the storyline. We need to leave them on page 2018 and “turn the page”.

Regret will demoralize us, impurity will disqualify us, anxiety will depress us, dishonesty will discredit us, anger will damage us, fear will derail us but because of Jesus Christ thank God none of this can defeat us. Though these vices had been part of the development of the plot they need not be part of the ending of the story God is writing with us. They can and should be set aside. God’s grace allows us to replace our past failures with forgiveness and change. We need to take our bookmarks out and “turn the page”.

Perhaps last year the chapter heading read FAILURE. Remember 1 John 1:9 – “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Failure is not final, “turn the page”. Perhaps the chapter heading was HURT or PAIN.  Cling to Matthew 11:28-30 – “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Turn the page.

Perhaps words you thought you would never have associated with you such as widow or widower, divorcee, orphan, caregiver or bankrupt made up the bulk of the sentences of your life’s story in 2018. Maybe you thought you just couldn’t go on, that you were down for the count. Believe Philippians 4:13 – “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” Get up and “turn the page”.

The apostle Paul gave some pointed advice about turning the page when he wrote to the Philippians. His words speak volumes to us today. He wrote “But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”(Philippians 3:13b-14). To paraphrase Paul: forget the past, fight for the future and focus on the prize. Simply put – “turn the page”.

Turn the page because we can’t rewrite or relive the past. Turn the page because we can’t write the next chapter if we won’t let the last one go. Turn the page because God has a plan for us, a prize for us at the end of our story here on earth. I can’t speak for you but the last words I want written in last chapter of my story are “Well done thy good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of your Lord”. That’s why I am choosing to “turn the page.”


Despite Adversity

Inasmuch as the majority voted in Trump, I can uderstand the why? Yes, he is crude and appears unpolished. He is not a politician, he is a businessman. I would prefer to have someone tell me in my face what he or she is thinking about me than be all political about and speak behind my back. Again, crude and undiplomatic but upfront. To make an omlett you can not be afraid to crack a few eggs. Need some proof, take a look at history. Imagine where we’d be if Patton, Ike, Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks and countless others who were not afraid to be strong and did not always bow and submit. As for racism, make no mistake about it, it exists. Inspite of President Obama it still existed, inspite of countless minorities in public office it still manages to rear its ugly head. As far as racism we need to start looking at the cause, HUMANITY. So long as we as a people continue to look at each other as less than the other, there will always be some level of bigotry. Be it because the color of our skin or the religion we profess to follow or the amount of money in our accounts.
Sometimes you must be like the mighty oak and say to the wind, “Bring It On”!
God Bless our country!

The Bottom Line

If God opens the door for you to do something you know is good or necessary, be thankful for the opportunity. But other than that, don’t assume that the relative ease or difficulty of a new situation is God’s way of telling you to do one thing or the other.

Go live somewhere in something with somebody or nobody. But put aside the passivity and the quest for complete fulfillment and the perfectionism and the preoccupation with the future, and for God’s sake start making some decisions in your life. Don’t wait for the liver-shiver. If you are seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, you will be in God’s will, so just go out and do something.

“God’s grace is his active favor bestowing the greatest gift upon those who have deserved the greatest punishment.

Recently, I was talking with Grandpa DeYoung, a lifelong Christian now in his eighties. I asked him if he ever thought about what God’s will was for his life. “I don’t think so,” was his short response. “God’s will was never a question presented to me or I ever thought about. I always felt that my salvation … depended on my accepting by faith the things that we believe. After that, I don’t think I ever had a problem thinking: ‘Is this the right thing for me?’”

God is not a Magic 8-Ball we shake up and peer into whenever we have a decision to make. He is a good God who gives us brains, shows us the way of obedience, and invites us to take risks for Him.

It is God’s will for you to read this book. Yes, I’m talking to you. What are the odds that you would “just happen” to pick up this book and flip open to this page and start reading? Obviously it’s a sign. Of all the millions of books in the world, you found this one. Wow. I have chills. Do not pass up this divinely orchestrated moment. If you miss this moment there’s a good chance you will completely miss God’s will for the rest of your life and spend your days in misery and regret. Now that I’ve scared you, let me acknowledge that everything in the previous paragraph is total baloney.

God’s grace through Christ is greater than our sin, even on our worst days.

Your worst days are never so bad that you are beyond the reach of God’s grace. And your best days are never so good that you are beyond the need of God’s grace.

I believe that the reference in the term hypocrisy in the church should be amended to say that there are certain types of sin that will be and can for no uncertain reason be seen and accepted as tolerable. That tolerability is based much like politics, the overall happy majority is where the consensus lies and the decision made. It is incumbent on leadership to insure that perpetual sin is dealt with equally because there isn’t in reality any acceptable level of sin. Just imagine, that if a mere thought, for example, lust, is as good a sin (as far as sin goes) as the commitment of the immoral act itself. It is my personal belief that two wrongs don’t make a right, therefore slanderous accusations against another man of God within his peers should be looked upon just like the thought of immorality, with disdain and unmitigated disrespect for what the vast majority of Gods creation has been led to believe and trust. Why do we paint in grey areas to that which is supposed to be the very definition and fabric of our belief system and spiritual existstance. What we have chosen to expect and accept as acceptable is very confusing especially when what we practice and what we preach are so far from what we reflect. I know that we are supposed to be in the world and not of the world or was that of the world and not in the word. Some practices of Christianity tend to leave you with that statement in mind. When do we start asking, How dare you and who died and left you Lord & Savior? When does or will leadership ever stop worrying about their popularity and what will they, my flock, think if I were to actually grow a pair (no disrespect intended)? Is my popularity worth the threat of my salvation? I don’t believe that the two go hand in hand. But too many of you have confused apples for oranges and if that weren’t bad enough the real sadness comes in that you have painted in an allowable level of mediocrity and then gave it a name, Christianity. Let’s stop believing we are the be all end all of all religions and belief in God or a God. We all worship the same God. The only difference is in the manner in which we culturally choose to worship.

What’s My Purpose

One thing we should all strive hard to always remember (especially the self righteous and the holier than thou bunch):

We all have a purpose for our existence. Some to teach, some to lead, be do-gooders, even some to create disfunction and confusion.  God has seen to it that it all works for good. You cannot have good without evil or happiness without sorrow. For how would we be able to tell one from the other? How else would we learn to value that which is tasteful from that which is distasteful? Even Judas was a part of God’s master plan.