Not Even One Christmas Card

It’s funny

and I little bit creepy, when, out of now where, I can hear Diana Ross singing in my head:

“Do You Know

Where you’re going to?

Do you like the things?

That life is showing you

Where are you going to?

Do you know?”

(Diana Ross – 1975)

Normally, I do not ever think about Diana Ross, yet as I sat down to write this New Year letter and pondered what I might say, this song played strong in my mind – a throw-back to radio pop music when I was just thirteen.  Thirty-eight years later, this portion of her melody resonates in my mind; Scary what the mind retains!

I must also confess that this is probably the first year of my life that I could not muster up the usual Christmas spirit.  Almost none of the usual build-up-to-the-season by way of children-pleasing traditions were played out – partially due to the fact that most my children are not young anymore and not around to embark on the usual preparations – and partially due to the fact that my home had been in such a turmoil of disruption for the previous 5 months that climaxed with a great flurry of workers as last minute details fell into place just thirteen days before the time of celebration: Christmas.

Nonetheless, the tree was put up, decorations set out, gifts shopped for, and food preparation done. We ate, we gave and received gifts, we delighted in the visual pretties.  I admit though, not even one Christmas card was sent by me.

Feeling a bit like George Bailey, I sat alone and watched, “It’s a Wonderful Life,” this past Saturday night. Part of my pondering included a slump.

Five days later, everything is put away except the manger scene figures that sit on my kitchen window sill.  Life is a whirlwind here at my house.

All I wanted for Christmas was Peace. My kids asked me, and so that is what I posted on my refrigerator on a sticky note: “I want Peace for Christmas – Mom.”

My son, Samuel, in all his charm and wit gave me a pillow with the letters  P-E-A-C-E  stitched across it.  So, in a sense, I got what asked for.

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Coincidentally or divinely arranged, our pastor preached on peace this Christmas Eve; fitting, as it was what I had been pondering all the season since Thanksgiving.  Peace.  Not the kind of peace in the quiet moment.  Not the kind of peace that comes with calm scenery or well loved music.  I am talking about the peace that fills the soul with total satisfaction and a knowing that all is well.

I believe in my heart there is no peace found on this earth….and there never will be.

You see,  no “things” or people bring me peace.

Truly, I say to you my dear friends and family, peace only comes when we abide in Him and with Him.

Loving Jesus brings me peace.  And it seems only when I keep my focus on Him, do I have peace in my heart.

And still, Diana Ross’ lyrics repeat in my mind.

Do I know where I am going to?

Do I like the things that life is showing me?

Where am I going to?

These are all great questions to ponder as a New Year approaches.

Put another way, I might re-word the inquisitions:

What are my goals?

What is life showing me?

Where am I headed?

There will be no New Year resolutions for me tomorrow evening; no temporary intentions to fix myself.   But I will be pondering and striving with resolves all the year through; decisions and answers to hold close.

Resolve #1:

My goals are to serve my King – the One who was born in the stable and laid in the manger.

Resolve #2:

Life is showing me that there is no peace or comfort found in it.  Only struggles and challenges and hard things that need seeing and hard things that need doing.   Life also shows me that with a right set of eyes, there is beauty and joy in the seeing and doing.

Resolve #3:

I am headed toward a Kingdom – where the whole of my salvation sits at the right hand of His father.

Herein lays my Christmas spirit.

It is an ongoing everyday way of being. I just may keep those manger scene figures out on my new window sill all year long…

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It is my prayer that each one of you may be able to answer those impertinent yet important questions that Ms. Ross sang so many years ago: what are your goals, what is life showing you, where are you headed?  I hope you can answer in a way that brings you true peace this New Year of 2015.

I hope you each had a merry Christmas with your loved ones, as I did.   ‘Tis the season for remembering what is important – family and special people are near the top of my list.  At the very top, is the One most important.

Do you know Him?

 

…A Peacock Vow?

Water aerobics is my choice exercise program.  While breathlessly working out in the deep water, my gaze focused upon the white board trivia fact of the day:

“The first New Year’s Resolutions began with the Ancient Babylonians making promises to their gods to pay their debts and returned borrowed objects!”

Later, at home I googled Wikipedia I learned that the Romans made promises to the god Janus, and in the Medieval era, knights took the “Peacock Vow.”  Whaaaat?!

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Yup – a vow to re-affirm their commitment to chivalry!  What that has to do with Peacocks I am sure I do not know!

The most popular Resolution of modern day, is……You guessed it! …. to lose weight…go on a diet and join a gym in the process.

As I struggled to keep my legs kicking to the beat of the music – water resistance fighting me….I wondered.  Even in Babylonian times, I wondered how long New Year Resolutions lasted.  All of us have good intentions, but most Resolutions do not last but a few weeks. A few months if one is lucky.

More thought.

And the “If you Give  A Mouse a Cookie” story line came to mind.

I think I would title a new book called, “If you give a Resolution a Name”  And it would go like this:

If you give a Resolution a Name, you will surely fail.  You will try real hard and have every good intention to fulfill your resolve.  But, most likely you will fall short. Lose impetus. Be distracted from it.  And quite simply, you will fail.

Why?  Because we all lack perfect self control.  No matter what your Resolution is: be it to lose weight, go to the gym, master a new instrument, be more generous, stop eating sugar, pay off all your debt, or be more chivalrous (!)….it ALL takes an enormous amount of self control in order to follow through.  And, to be frank, we all lack self control.  Self Control is a supernatural gift.  Scripture says it is a fruit of the Spirit.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” Galatians 5:22 – 23

So IF you want to be true to your Resolution, you need self control.  And to gain self control, you need to ask for the Holy Spirit’s fruit.

Now, the Holy Spirit cannot be bought.  It cannot be ordered.  It can only be given.

And so, I began to think:  Thank you LORD for leaving us the Holy Spirit.  Because the only way we even have access to the Holy Spirit is because Jesus left the earth.  It was His gracious giving that He gave us the Holy Spirit in his stead. (John 16:5 – 7)

And so, I began to think some more:  Thank You Jesus for leaving.  For dying on the cross. For coming.  For being born.  Christmas.  Here we are, just days after that celebration.

Ab work began with the “rowing the boat” motion and water was splashing everywhere….and my mind kept on.

Why did Jesus come anyway?

Because we lacked.  We failed.  We fell short.  Right from the very beginning of history, mankind lacked self control.  Eve ate what she was forbidden to eat.  She lacked self control to do what was right.  Adam lacked in watching over her. (Genesis 3:6)

BUT, God had a plan. Jesus. Only Jesus could fill the void, cover the lack, and redeem our failure.  Our sin nature – our weakness to give in to temptation – our bent toward failing to fulfill even what we know and desire to do as right.

“He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.” Galatians 3:14

So…. If you want to give a Resolution a Name….

You need to acknowledge God as Almighty Creator, Sovereign Master.

You then need to understand your condition and your need for a Savior; His name is Jesus. Forgiveness is for everyone.

You need to believe, confess your sin, and ask Jesus into your heart.  When you do this, the Holy Spirit will fill you full.

Having access to the Holy Spirit, you need to ask for help with self control.  The power of the Holy Spirit will give it to you.  Lasting Self Control is a supernatural gift.

So, if you have self control powered not by your own will and fortitude…..but powered by the Holy Spirit, your New Year’s Resolution has a chance to be fulfilled.

If you give your Resolution a Name, then you must turn to God.  Turn to Jesus. And pray for the Holy Spirit’s gifting of self control.

So, what is your New Year Resolution?  Did you give it a name?  Was it a Peacock Vow?

Whatever it is, may you be blessed with a deeper understanding of God and all that He has for you in this New Year, 2014.

Be filled.

Be Filled with the Holy Spirit, dear friend.

“… Instead, be filled with the Spirit,” Ephesians 5:18