Time to Start Over

A friend of mine taught me that the human mind likes new beginnings. So we love Monday as a chance to start over. Likewise, new months and seasons are opportunities to mark the end of one adventure and start the next. The same is true for a new year. 

In one way, nothing changed, but in another way, this is the perfect opportunity to put the past behind us and start fresh. 

On Saturday, I will throw out last year’s calendar, put away paperwork, and write an annual report of events. Simultaneously, I will get out a blank new calendar, start new empty files, and develop a to-do list. 

The new year is here, even if it technically doesn’t change anything. I hope you will allow it to be the open door for change and transformation in your life. I don’t know what God is placing on your heart to improve and become more like him. But now is a great time to start.   

What Do You Say?

I said it a thousand times to my children. Someone did something nice for them, and then I would look at them and say, “What do you say?”

They knew the answer was always two simple words, “Thank you.” 

Whenever we receive a blessing, our response to the people who gave it should be gratitude. 

So before we start making plans for the new year and write down all of our hopes and dreams, be sure to stop and be thankful for the past year. Be grateful to the people who have blessed you. Also, be sure to thank God who gave you another year. We are guaranteed nothing in this life, and each day, along with each year, should be received as a gift. It is well worth your time to spend a few minutes thanking God for this past year and all the blessings that came with it.

We expect our children to show good manners whenever someone does something nice for them. Should we not set the example as adults?

Top Posts

I want to offer a quick review of this past year before moving on to the next.

I know some of you are long-time readers and others are new, but I wanted to make sure you had all read some of my most popular blog posts.

Most popular posts written in 2021

5. [TIE] It’s A Wonderful Life Moments

Christian Swagger

4. Truly Attractional Ministry

3. Three Pairs of Shoes

2. Reliving Yesterday

1. Holding Up Moses’ Arms

Most popular posts read in 2021 (written any year)

5. Non-Verbal Communication at Church

4. What A Pastor Thinks About at the End of the Week

3. Marriage Analogy

2. What Could Happen on an Idle Tuesday?

1. Four Old Testament Foundations of Evangelism

Thanks for reading over the past year and I hope you will continue to do so in 2022

No Amount of Prayer

Praying for God to change something is ineffective if your actions do not align.

You can pray all day and night. You can have a strong faith in God. You can believe that God can do something powerful in your life. But none of that matters if you act in ways contrary to your prayers.

Prayer does not negate the stupid stuff we do. It works together with our actions to produce results beyond what we ever imagined. It is not a way to avoid the consequences of our sin and stupidity.

Keep praying. Then do your best to behave in Godly ways to get the ball rolling in the right direction.

Non-Speaking Participant

For Christmas, I watched the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life” for what seems like the hundredth time.  Even after all the times I have seen it, I still get choked up.  And every time I watch it, I see some detail I had never noticed.

This time through, I noticed a character who never says a word.  He is Mr. Potter’s server.  He stands behind his wheelchair and caters to his needs.  It appears one primary function is to push his wheelchair, but the rest of the time, he stands quietly behind his chair and never says a word.

What troubles me about this is that he is complicit in Mr. Potter’s behavior. First, he sees Mr. Potter get his hands on uncle Billy’s deposit.  He watched him hold onto it while watching Billy frantically search everywhere. Then, he stands quietly while George begs for a loan or some help. He sees Mr. Potter do an unthinkable evil on Christmas to George and the Building and Loan and never says a single word. 

I wondered, “What would make a person quietly stand by when they know an injustice is happening?” Maybe it was because he didn’t want to lose his job. Perhaps he also has a grudge against the Bailey family.  Maybe he is purely evil too. 

I don’t know his reasons, but he becomes just as guilty as old man Potter by his unwillingness to confront the evil he sees happening. 

I wonder what wrong God has revealed to you this past year.  Who is being mistreated?  Who needs help?  Who has been wronged and can’t find the justice they need?  Who could use a friend and others pass them by?

Maybe God has opened your eyes to a need because he wants you to do something about it.  At the very least, he wants you to say something.  No follower of Jesus is given a non-speaking part.

That One Christmas Post

Remember that one Christmas post you read that changed your life?

Yeah, me neither.

I have written a lot about Christmas through the years, and I have spoken even more. Unfortunately, none of it really ever changed anyone’s life.

The only thing that changes people is the baby in the manger.  The savior of the world has come, and he is changing hearts and lives one person at a time. My job is to point people to Jesus and allow him to do a mighty work in their life. 

I pray you encounter Jesus this holiday weekend.  May your December 25th be filled with family, gifts, and most of all, the love of Christ. 

“She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21 NIV – 2011)

Merry Christmas Everyone. 

Serving In Little Ways

We often think of being a giving person in terms of gifts.  Sometimes, your gift to the world is the little acts of service you do to improve other people’s lives.  I started a small list.

-Park far away and walk.

-Pick up any trash you see, especially your own.

-If you get something out, return it for the next person.

-Take the smaller piece of food.

-Save some of whatever you are taking for others.

-Smile and be kind to everyone.

-Hold the door open for people.

-Listen carefully when people are talking to you.  

-Compliment someone on something specific.

-Take a treat to any gathering, including work.

-Share discount codes, great deals, and coupons when you are able.

-Say “yes” more often.

-Let other people go first in line.

-Write something personal inside when you give a card.

-Don’t take the best seat.

-Drop some money in the tip jar. And tip well. 

-Say “please” and especially “thank you.” 

None of these things may ever be noticed by someone else but consider them your little gift to the world.  Who knows, your actions might brighten someone’s day and make the world a little better place. 

Enough to Share

The Lord’s prayer says, “Give us this day our daily bread.” It is a simple plea for God to provide us enough to live on for a single day.

Honestly, I have never been forced to pray for a single meal. God has always provided me with enough food to fill cabinets, a refrigerator, and a freezer. Not only that, I have a closet full of clothes, multiple vehicles, and all kinds of items for personal entertainment. God has blessed me abundantly.

During seasons like Christmas, I am reminded that I am so blessed that I have not only enough for today, but I also have enough to share. Life was never meant to be like a reservoir that collects items into abundance. Instead, it is like a river where things flow through your life to others.

Christmas is a time to receive, and it is also a time to give. Paul quotes Jesus in Acts chapter 20 and says, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Since that is true, allow your abundance to be a gift for someone else so that you may both be blessed in the end.