January Newsletter 2016
January 1, 2016, 9:00 AM

Grace and pecae y’all! I hope that your Christmas and New Year’s celebrations have been joyous, restful, and full of peace. I know that mine were!

Well, it has come to that time of year again; that time of year where we all collectively make promises to ourselves of the things that we want to do in the new year of 2016. Eat less. Exercise more. Be more loving. Show more peace. Be more giving. Tell people thank-you. And more.

Though, there will come a time – as it happens for all of us – that we will slip and we will slide back into our old ways and habits. I’m victim to it as well – where the new fitness tracker I have has a reasonable chance of being a very fancy device that tells me the time – instead of being that device that encourages me stay fit and gives me an overall picture of my health.

But, I wonder if this year could be a little different – as I hope and pray that each of you are able to buck the trend of failed resolutions this year with me. My hope and prayer for this year is that I approach what I want to do in this new year a little differently.

Though what I hope to do will ultimately be of benefit to me, I don’t want to do it for me. I think that is where we fall into the trap of not completing and following through with what we’d like to accomplish in our lives. When we only have ourselves to hold us accountable it makes it very easy to ‘lapse’ in our goals. My hope this year is that I can continually look at what I hope to accomplish and be able to frame it as what I can do for and with God and God’s people.

Most years I’ll say, “I’m going to exercise and eat less so I can stop getting bigger.” – Which is a statement that really only ‘benefits’ me. My hope this year is that I can instead say, “God has given me this body – this incredible body that can do so much – I hope and pray that I can care for my body as much as God cares for me. That I can return the love that God has for me in this gift by taking care of what God has given me. Taking care of myself for my service to God, my wife, my daughters, the people who call me pastor, and more”

In year’s past I might have said, “I want to be more charitable (because I know it makes me feel good).” This year, I pray and hope that I can say, “God has blessed me with so much – possessions, skills, and money – that I feel called to give to those in need. Truthfully, I don’t need a lot of this stuff for God has given me more than enough. I want to give – not because it makes me feel good – but, because in the abundance that I have been blessed with by God – I want to give and share with those around me.”

There have been those times that I might have stated that, “I should probably be more forgiving and gracious to people around me – it’ll make my life less stressful.” Again, that’s something that only benefits me. So, perhaps this year I pray and hope that I can say, “God calls me to love those around me because they too are beautiful creations of God. In each person I see and interact with – even the ones that frustrate me to no end – are my sisters and brothers – fellow children of God. God directs my words and actions – to be loving, kind, gracious, and full of forgiveness – to those around me because I have already been (and continually am) loved, forgiven, and blessed.”

As I approach this new year and see what can transpire throughout this year, I continue to pray, hope, and hold fast to God. Knowing that in each of the things that I’d like to accomplish I know that I don’t approach them alone nor do I undertake them as a sort of Lone Ranger. But, I seek to live out my faith and service to God and my neighbors by caring for myself, offering myself to others, and caring for all around me.

I do this all because of Jesus who has claimed me and freed me in his death and resurrection.

So, my question for each one of you – my fellow and beloved sisters and brothers – are you willing to join me in letting God be the center of our year? Will you join me in letting God be the focus of what we can accomplish in our lives in 2016?

Will you join me?

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