Published January 1, 2009
This issue of The Christian Index is dated Jan. 1. That doesn’t happen often, but all of us on staff at your Georgia Baptist state paper want to wish for you and yours a very blessed and prosperous new year.
“Happy New Year” in Cantonese is “Sun nien fai lok.” The French say, “Bonne Anne.” In Italian it is “Buon Capodanno.” The Dutch would say, “Gulukkig Niuw Jaar,” and the Laotians “Sabai dee pee mai.” My personal favorite New Year’s greeting is the Greek, “Eftecheezmaenos o Kaenooryos hronos.”
Along with the New Year’s greetings that accompany the first day of January each year, some people are bent on making resolutions. Consider the top ten resolutions people typically make at the beginning of the New Year:
1. Go back to school.
2. Get a better job.
3. Lose weight and get in shape.
4. Resolve to make a difference.
5. Go somewhere.
6. Quit smoking.
7. Reduce debt and save money.
8. Get organized.
9. Find someone special.
10. Focus on important relationships.
Or maybe you are like the more cynical amongst us and have abandoned the idea of resolutions altogether. Perhaps you consider yourself a realist; and you have learned by bitter experience how difficult it is to maintain resolutions.
One fellow said, “What is the point in making resolutions? Most people abandon their resolutions after about three weeks. I make resolutions that I am sure I can keep. For example, last year I resolved not to wage war on Guatemala. I set a goal of gaining ten pounds and watching more football on television than last year. I achieved all three goals.”
One poor soul listed a progression of his resolutions for the past seven years:
2002: I will get my weight down below 180.
2003: I will watch my calories until I get below 190.
2004: I will follow my new diet religiously until I get below 200.
2005: I will try to develop a realistic attitude about my weight.
2006: I will work out 5 days a week.
2007: I will work out 3 days a week.
2008: I will try to drive past a gym at least once a week.
Another persistent resolver saw his ambitions diminish year by year.
2002: I will read a book a week this year.
2003: I will read least one book a month this year.
2004: I will read 5 books this year.
2005: I will finish The Pelican Brief.
2006: I will read some articles in the newspaper each week.
2007: I will read at least one article this year.
2008: I will try and finish the comic section in Sunday’s paper.
That reminds me to challenge you to reverse this declining interest in reading and become a subscriber and avid reader of The Christian Index.
As Christians we understand the near impossibility of accomplishing anything in the energy of the flesh. We know deep down we need something outside ourselves to empower us to live out the resolutions of our life we so dearly crave. Only through the grace of Jesus Christ are we released from the evils and limitations of this life; and only by His Spirit are we enabled to live in victory and triumph.
For me many New Years have come and gone and I am reminded that we are one year closer to the day of death or the day of the Lord’s return when we shall stand before Him in judgment. In view of that, my resolutions have become more focused and direct. There are only three of them.
First, I want to draw nearer to my blessed Savior. The writer of Hebrews said, “Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.” And the promise of doing so is found in James 4:8: “Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you.” I need to get closer to God through Jesus Christ.
Second, I want to spend more time with God’s people. I work in a beautiful environment with Christian people and most of my life is spent in and around God’s wonderful people, but sometimes I get so absorbed in my responsibilities that I tend to become isolated even from those with whom I work. I want to spend time with godly people who will become my mentors so I can become a more effective mentor to others, particularly young pastors.
Thirdly, I want to become more intentional about soul winning. To be honest, I do not know a lot of unsaved people. I believe we need to be reaching people for the sake of their souls and for the sake of our society. As the number of lost people increases in our culture, so does their influence. I don’t want to let an opportunity to witness to some soul pass by this year.
Pastor Melvin Newland said, “During the new year may you have enough happiness to keep you sweet, enough trials to keep you strong, enough sorrow to keep you human, enough hope to keep you happy, enough failure to keep you humble, enough success to keep you eager, enough friends to give you comfort, enough wealth to meet your needs, enough enthusiasm to make you look forward to tomorrow, and enough determination to make each day better than the day before.”
There are 8,760 hours in this year. Let’s live them to the fullest and use them to glorify the Lord.
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