I DO HEREBY RESOLVE!

Self-improvement is a shared American Hobby.  That’s why more than 40% of Americans make New Year’s resolutions.

Charles Lamb, a writer from the 18th century, said, “New Year’s Day is every man’s birthday, simply meaning that no matter what a mess we made of 2017, the New Year gives us another chance to get it right.  We somehow believe, somehow hope, that we can turn over a new leaf, make a concerted effort, and finally accomplish our greatest desires.

We promise to lose weight, quit smoking, learn something new, eat healthier, read the Bible, get out of debt, spend more time with family, travel to new places, take things in stride, volunteer, and be kinder.

But in spite of all the good intentions, only a tiny fraction of us keeps our resolutions.  It is estimated that just 8% of people achieve their New Year’s goals.  How many New Year’s resolutions have you broken?

Why do so many people fail at keeping their New Year’s promises?

I believe that many times the goals we set are too magnanimous, too extreme, and often too vague dooming them to failure.  Shooting for the moon can be so psychologically daunting, that we never get off the launching pad, and our intentions die before taking the first step.

The other night, when I couldn’t sleep, I turned on the TV. There was a man talking about New Year’s resolutions.  He shared a formula that I believe might really work.

  1. Instead of making a vague promise, make a plan.
  2. Commit to your plan.
  3. Sacrifice whatever is necessary.
  4. Accept the consequences.

Losing weight is the number one New Year’s resolution, so let’s apply this formula to that goal.

Instead of saying I’m going to lose weight, make a plan—no potato chips, chocolate, or ice cream for six weeks.  If this seems impossible, then you must ask, “Am I really serious about losing.  What is your greatest temptation?  Be specific.

Commit to your plan.  No one can do it for you.

Will there be sacrifices?  Of course!  Will it be worth it?  Of course!

Be honest about what you are doing.  Years ago, when I joined Weight Watchers and lost a ton of weight, I prayed every day, “God, I’m doing everything I am told to do.”And that was absolutely true.  I was serious about it.  My prayer continued, “Please make my body respond as it should.”

No matter what your resolution or plan, you should be able, somehow, to measure the results.  There will be good consequences.

Year’s end is neither an end nor a beginning but a continuation of life with all the wisdom and understanding that our experiences have brought to us.

I must admit that I do not make New Year’s resolutions, but, on a daily basis, I do examine my heart and make life corrections according to God’s plan.  For, in my relationship with God I do not have to wait until a new year begins to make a new beginning.  With the rising of the sun, I can make a new start.  Repentant for my failure, I latch on to God’s strength and take my next faltering step knowing that:

“Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.  They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”  Lamentations 3:22-23.

 At the age of twenty, Jonathan Edwards, a great preacher of the first half of the eighteenth century, made a long list of resolutions concerning every area of his life and ministry.  He reminded himself to reread his resolutions once each week, and he prayed this prayer.

              “Being sensible that I am unable to do anything without God’s help, I do humbly entreat Him by His grace to enable me to keep these resolutions, so far as they are agreeable with His will, for Christ’s sake.”

 Jonathan Edward’s most impressive and important resolutions determined everything else he did the rest of his short life.  He wrote:

Resolution One—I will live for God.  Resolution Two—If no one else does, I still will.”

Let us, you and I, make that same commitment for 2018 understanding that without God’s help we can do nothing of worth.

With that kind of commitment, you can write it in your heart that every day, not just New Year’s Day, is the best day in the year.

With warmest wishes, I pray for you that this will be a crowning year in your life—that you will know God better—love Him more dearly–walk closely with Him—serve him more sincerely, and enjoy His great blessing.

 

Remember, the sun will come out tomorrow!

BUT WE SHALL ALL BE CHANGED

Fifty- seven years ago this month, I loaded my yellow, fifty-seven Chevrolet Impala with my household goods and started to California, Mama riding shotgun.

Recently graduated from college, I had signed a contract to teach fourth grade for the Anaheim public school district.  For a gal, who had hardly been further than the backyard, a 400-mile drive was a big undertaking.  Though I would never admit it, I was a bit overwhelmed by the whole thing and glad to have My Mom along.

We stayed with family in Long Beach, while I looked for an apartment in Anaheim.  After finding a good, safe place, close to my school, I put Mom on a Grey Hound bus and sent her home.  For the first time in my life, I was completely on my own.

New state, new town, new residence, new job, new colleagues!  Wow!  Overnight everything had changed—my life had turned a square corner.  Nothing would ever be the same again.  And that was just the beginning.

Someone has said, “Nothing remains constant except change itself.”

Change is inevitable.  Life doesn’t stop for anybody.

Last week I went back to Anaheim.  Driving from John Wayne Airport to the hotel, I recognized nothing except the 405 sign on the freeway. What had been a small recognizable town, in 1960, had become part of an urban sprawl connecting municipalities up and down the coast.

I was in Anaheim to attend our denominational, biennial council.  One of the best things about council is the joy of reconnecting with old friends from across the nation and around the world.  I found a friend in a wheelchair.  That was a change.  I met up with a missionary friend, whom I had not seen for years and hardly recognized.  She used to be heavy.  Now she is thin.  That was a big change.  I saw whiter hair and deeper wrinkles, and I don’t know what friends saw, when they looked at me.

In a crowd of 20,000, it is almost impossible to find each other, but I finally found Ophelia and Max.  Ophelia was my best friend, when I lived in Anaheim all those years ago.

Choosing a new church home was difficult—one of the greatest changes of my life, but in Fullerton I found a church where I fit, and, Ophelia, the pastor’s daughter accepted me, and made me feel at home.  In fact, she adopted me into her family.

Now we are separated by a continent.  She and her husband became missionaries in a French speaking country, as did I.  Then they were pastors for many years on the east coast, while I ministered in California.

We have seldom seen each other over the years, and we really don’t keep in touch, but I knew her immediately.  Are there changes?  Of course!  She doesn’t walk as tall as she used to, and she has gained a little weight, but her fun filled eyes and sweet smile remain the same.

Ophelia and I have undergone many changes through the years.  We have both retired from long years in ministry.  She has four half grown grandchildren, and I have buried a husband.  She and God have battled cancer and came through victoriously.  I now walk with a cane, and, sometimes, when I can swallow my pride, I use a scooter.

Yes, there have been many, many changes for all of us—some big, some little—some good, some bad.

William Shakespeare said, “Come what may, time and hour runs through the roughest day,” and Harold Wilson is quoted as saying, “He who rejects change is the architect of decay.  The only human institution that rejects progress is the cemetery.”

Most people resist change to one degree or another.  It is said that the only people who like change are wet babies.  Yet, change is the law of life and when you are through changing, you are through.  If we cling to the past or present, we are likely to miss the future, and I don’t want to miss one moment of it.

Now, hang on to your seat, for there is one more big change coming!

I Corinthians 15:51-52, says, for those of us who love Jesus, “…we shall all be changed—in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet…” and—

In I John 3:2, we read, “…we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.

That will be the ultimate change for all of us.  Jesus will come and catch us away, and when I look upon His face, I shall finally be like Him.  That is my deepest desire.

Until that moment, things will keep changing, for there is only one constant in life.

According to Hebrews 13:8 “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.”

He never changes.  You can count on that, and you can count on Him no matter how tumultuous your life becomes.

Remember, the sun will come out tomorrow!