“So this is the new year, but I don’t feel any different …” – Three Things We Can Do For a Great Year

“So this is the new year, but I don’t feel any different …”
“The New Year” – Transatlanticism by Death Cab for Cutie

This is one of my favorite opening lines on any album from a band that I truly enjoy because it’s a sentiment that I have often felt. We’ve all experienced some great moment that we thought would forever change our lives. Whether it be after a new year, whether it be after an incredible experience, an amazing trip, we come down from the high of the experience realizing that the moment over-promised this “new life”.

After a while, we stop getting our hopes up. Some times, we even rain on the parades of others. If we’re not careful, we can get even [Read more…]

Refuse to Make a NY Resolution? The Case For Considering to Resolve Something

As mentioned in yesterday’s post, “Would Jesus Have Made New Year’s Resolutions?”, I make them quite regularly. I break them quite regularly too. Like last year, I thought about reading the Bible in the King James Version in honor of its 400th year. Couldn’t do it – I finished up Easter and finished out with the NRSV and NIV. Maybe I’ll try that again when the KJV turns 500 though. I realize writing this publicly may allow the reader to think that I make these without much thought. Perhaps that’s half-true (I need to give that some thought ;) but allowing myself to try new and different things regularly and to allow myself to fail at them as been among the better things I’ve enjoyed in recent years.

Here’s what I learned – I make resolutions because it keeps my desire for good change going and I’m discovering more good. [Read more…]

Would Jesus Have Made New Year’s Resolutions?

I’m a believer of New Year’s resolutions. In truth, I make resolutions quite regularly throughout the year. I joked at the gc@nite service that it’s because I have a lot to work on. More on that another time.  As annoying as it can be to hear the same cliched New Year’s resolutions, I truly think they are a good thing. I like it when people say that they are going to do things differently and seek to better their lives.

Now it’s up to each of us to go past the superficialities and follow through with the discipline of these goals but I think it’s better than not making them. Where is the logic in beginning the year saying, “I don’t want to do anything different”? Each of our lives has room for growth. Everyone.

So last night I wondered if Jesus would have made any New Year’s resolutions. While fully aware that this line of thought borders on trivializing the deity of Jesus, I am playing the “dual nature” card. I imagine Jesus recognized the natural desire to improve upon one’s self or observed circumstance. I imagine that he confronted his personal frustrations and clearly he had a deep desire to address the pain around him.

Can you picture Jesus and the disciples hanging out on the beach on New Year’s Eve night drinking really good beer that Jesus turned from juice and divine-hand-made sparklers that Jesus made from broken fishing rods – he’s always bringing redemption to stuff? (That joke will be funny to only one person.) Ok, that may not have had sparklers but I do imagine Jesus and the disciples having numerous life-infused conversations. It’s interesting to note the gospel accounts always contained the idea of “change” and I imagine they spoke it quite frequently.

I understand the line of thought that one that has no imperfections with his morality nor any facet of his character would not need to make resolutions. Further, it’s hard for me to really take seriously the thought that Jesus wanted to lose a couple of pounds because of the excess weight he put on during the holidays but upon further thought, I am ok with that. (It could be because of all the Easter cantatas I’ve seen so many different types of Jesus that I now have a semi-distorted view. ;)

I can picture most Jewish men looking at their guts after the Feast of Tabernacles (it’s a Harvest Feast), and thinking that they are going to have work off those new pounds. While I am not going to accuse Jesus of the sin of gluttony (something that the Pharisees regularly accused him of), I don’t have a  problem with a Jesus that ate too much.  Does our Jesus need to have six-pack abs? I’m not suggesting that he needs to look like George Costanza but does he need to look Tom Brady? I’m not uncomfortable with Jesus thinking he needed to lose a few pounds and humoring himself with the idea that there may be a design flaw with the human metabolism.

But I digress. What I seriously wonder about was void of any New Year’s observance or calories.  I wonder if Jesus surveyed the years in his late twenties and thought, “This year I’m going to serve the hurt around me.” I do wonder between the first and second year of his public ministry if he said, “I’m going to push the disciples more.” or “Regardless of the expectations, I’m going to seek solitude and pray more.” And I’m not sure I can begin to articulate what he must have thought between the second and his third and final year of his ministry.

It’s in this way that I think I Jesus was always resolving and it’s in this way I hope to follow suit and encourage others to do the same. Later this week, I’ll post more on the idea of resolutions – I do think they are worthwhile.

Reconciling the Post-Christmas Blues and the New Year’s Ambitions

The week between Christmas and New Year’s has always been interesting for me. It’s a week of recovery, reflection and personal revolution!! At least that’s what I want it to be. For years, I would take my endless to-do list, unread book titles, and Men’s Health cover model goals and resolve to accomplish all that the calendar had failed to complete – not my fault really, I just ran out of time ;-)

I have read about and used time management programs, devised reading plans, and joined a gym. One year I got really serious and bought a new watch, bookcases and contacted Brian McNamee but as it is, I still have a huge todo list, shelves of unread books, and employing a team of lawyers to keep my name off the Mitchell Report (and I still never made it to the cover of Men’s Health or played in MLB).

But here’s what I noticed over the years. In the reflection and resolving, I found goodness but many times I also found discouragement from the chronic failure of accomplishing certain tasks. Eventually, I joined the club that proudly said, “We don’t make resolutions.” You can dress that up by saying, “We are the content and confident. We don’t need silly resolutions.” It may work for others, but in my “life culture,” it felt like quitting. There were things that needed to be done in my life and things like resolutions are part of the process.

I’ll be honest, part of this is cathartic for me. I prize reflection, I like dreaming, and I enjoy making New Year’s resolutions, in fact I make them almost weekly (admittedly, majority are not world-changing, but small improvements can be life-altering, like flossing). Maybe it’s because I am constantly analyzing and resolving to do something different that I subconsciously know not to take these resolutions too seriously. Or maybe it’s because I really need it but having resolved to not drive myself crazy, I landed on this simple maxim I believe it is wise to never forfeit an opportunity to better your life.

Which leads to the question of what leads to a better life? Which leads to needed reflection. The satisfaction of checking off tasks on the to-do list will never provide complete satisfaction. Frankly I want to feel fulfilled not done. Reading books, though extremely important, have their limits.  There are some extremely well-read people that will bore every single fiber of knowledge out of you. And aside from being healthy and so forth, I am completely kidding about any desire to grace a cover of any magazine (unless the Pat Robertson Quarterly of the Benny Hinn Gazette or the Osteen Journal decide to take a different directions, then I might pursue those).

But seriously, as I followed the road down to created purpose and became further convinced that Jesus is the Son of God, my greater resolves is to become more like Him – hence, the need for “weekly resolutions.” And that’s why Jesus instructed His followers to carry their cross daily. Not because we are gluttons for failure and punishment but because it’s the path to the “everlasting” life (“everlasting” = “the life of ages,” “the abundant life,” etc). I believe with all my heart, in being more like Jesus, I become a better husband, father, son, brother, friend, pastor, and citizen of the world.

So go on, journal your thoughts, create goals, dream big, dream small, dream in between, spend some time in prayer and in the Scriptures. It’s a good week – I’d like to be among those that encourage you take advantage of it.