It’s interesting to note that the first Christmas recipients (those at the birth of Christ) were not aware that a plan had been set in motion which would lead to Easter. In fact, if they had been told about Easter then, they probably would have agreed with the song by 4 Him titled “What a Strange Way to Save the World” (see the video here).
All through the narrative of Jesus’ life, we see the evidence that no one had close to the right idea of how Jesus would fulfill the promise of “making all things new and right”. When they did finally catch a glimpse of what his idea of “fixing everything” looked like, most of them didn’t understand how this was God’s best solution. Yet, everyone was excited about his birth and the idea that God was enacting this long awaited promise of salvation! If you want to hear the message first hand, read Luke 2:1-20!
I am reminded that we are often like those first recipients in our daily lives. We are looking for, waiting for, possibly expecting, God to heal our hurts and make things right. But sometimes, His ways of using people and taking time and allowing process and pain don’t always make sense to us. This is when we learn the true meaning of Hope. If we believe that God is only Good, loves us and wants what is best for us, is powerful enough to do what He wants, and creative enough to make it happen no matter what else is complicating that, then we are experiencing Hope the way those first hurting souls did too.
This Hope isn’t something unsure as in, “I really hope this happens!”. This Hope is a truly believed-in-expectation that we simply haven’t experienced all the way yet.
Be encouraged this Christmas if you have need to remember that no matter what you are going through, if Christ is your Savior, the solution, healing, and restoration will come! Keep doing whatever it is you have been given to do and trust Him to be who has always been – Your Perfect Chain-Breaking, Way-Making, Compassionate, Understanding Father.
Merry Christmas! This is Hope!
I spent several months looking forward to Christmas, and as soon as it was here, I was looking forward to New Years. On New Year’s Eve, I was already thinking about the next big project before the ball even dropped.
The Holiday season is barely behind me and a busy Northwoods Winter is still before me. Already, the retail stores are looking forward to Valentine’s day and in some cases, St. Patrick’s Day.
I have a tendency in my western culture to live in the moment while planning for the next. I live on a perpetual treadmill of excited anxiousness for what’s next. In a business sense, this is marketable wisdom; but in holistic living, it may cause anxiety as well as a plethora of other imbalances in life.
There is wisdom in planning for tomorrow, but if it keeps me from fully embracing the moment I am in – from recognizing the presence of abundant provision and grace for now – then there is something unbalanced in my enjoyment of now and my concern for tomorrow.
I wonder if we need to be reminded that life isn’t simply about preparing for, planning for, and investing in – tomorrow. We have today. We are not promised anything more. Our Creator wants us to be wise about tomorrow, but not at the expense of today.
The enemy uses our insecurities and failures, the failures of others, and the circumstances of the broken world to bring us down; to cause worry and strife of all kinds. However, the great promise of our Savior is that he is always with us. Take a look at this promise:
And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.” John 14:16-17
We can be certain that the future is not going to be perfect, but as the famous minister and civil rights leader Ralph Abernathy said, “I may not know what the future holds, but I know who holds the future”. I can live fully in this moment and focus on what I need to in this moment, allowing it to last as long as it needs to; because tomorrow is already in His hands.
Let me share one more verse with you:
“Bear one anothers burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2
Sometimes, the Truth doesn’t match what we are experiencing. That doesn’t mean the Truth isn’t real. It means there is something wrong with our interpretation of the experience, or our application of the Truth to that experience. That’s why we need each other. Sometimes we need help figuring it out. With His promise in mind and the provision of others who are able to help, we can be victorious in just living today.
Be encouraged in the reminder that you are not alone and that there are brothers and sisters in Christ all around who can help
So, who will have victory today? You? Or the treadmill?
I recently read a verse in the bible and reflected on both the simplicity of it and the enormity of it. The verse is found in 1 Corinthians 10:31, and reads, “Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” The challenge is to do ALL to the glory of God. The word “ALL” encompasses everything – short three letter word with big implications. I smiled when I read the simple example the text gives – eating and drinking. Now we all (there’s that word again!) can identify with that. We all need to eat and drink to survive. In this country most of us eat and drink on a daily basis, and often without any thought…we’re hungry we eat…we’re thirsty and we grab a glass of water, easy right? Certainly for many of us this is easy, but unfortunately for others, this isn’t so easy. Yet the text challenges us to eat or drink to the glory of God. I wonder how many of us take that to heart. How often do I ask myself if what I’m consuming is to the glory of God, how often do you? Finally, there’s that phrase I skipped until now, “…or whatever you do…” I guess that covers ALL things; your thoughts, your feelings, your words, your actions, everything.
Life is a gift God has given us, one that is to be lived in every aspect, both the simple and the complex, to the glory of God! Maybe when you wake up in the morning you can reflect on this verse and challenge yourself in how you think, feel, and act – to do it to the glory of God. Maybe the next time a driver cuts you off you can “whatever” him, and send up a prayer on his behalf.
I hope this gives you a deeper perspective on life; everything we do has significance – big things, little things, “whatever” things we do, do all to the glory of God. Now that’s not just a New Year’s resolution, it’s a life resolution!!
Erin Morgan is a licensed professional counselor at the Center with over 20 years of counseling experience. Erin says this about her work as a therapist, “I enjoy working with individuals in a wide variety of areas including depression, anxiety, parenting, and communication skills. Of particular interest to me is supporting individuals who struggle with a hurtful or abusive past and helping them with the pain that can negatively impact the present”. She sees clients in our Wausau location. To learn more about Erin, or to set up an appointment click here.
It is believed that the Babylonians in Mesopotamia were the first to celebrate New Year’s in 2000 B.C. At that time, New Year’s occurred in mid-March. The Babylonians would make promises to their gods that they would return borrowed objects and repay their debts. They believed if they kept their promises, the gods would bestow good things for them throughout the year.
Julius Caesar’s reign over ancient Rome made a change in the months of the year. Caesar added the month of January and named the month for the Roman god, Janus. Resolutions were repeated annually and renewed the bond between the citizens, the state and the gods. Ancient Roman citizens would reflect on their past and look toward the coming year. The people would trade sweet fruits and honey with each other.
The early Christians believed the start of the New Year should be a time to reflect on past mistakes and work on self-improvement. At that time, the resolutions were more about treating other people kindly and seeking forgiveness from their enemies. By the end of the 18th century, many resolutions involved being more helpful, more diligent and to be a better person.
Isidor Thorner, an American Theologist, did a survey in 1951 to determine the relationship between Protestant values and New Year resolutions. The New Year resolutions according to Thorner helped Protestants manage their emotions. Over time, New Year’s resolutions lost their religious meaning and became a tradition with the general population. Listed below is a comparison of resolutions between 1947 and 2014.
Resolutions for 1947 – Gallup Poll
- Improve disposition, be more understanding, control temper
- Improve my character, live a better life
- Stop smoking, smoke less
- Save more money
- Stop drinking, drink less
- Be more religious, go to church more often
- Be more efficient, do a better job
- Take better care of my health
- Contribute more in home life
- Lose (or gain) weight
Resolutions for 2014
- Lose weight
- Get organized
- Spend less, save more
- Enjoy life to the fullest
- Stay fit and healthy
- Learn something exciting
- Quit smoking
- Help others in their dreams
- Fall in love
10. Spend more time with family
According to a study done in 2007 by Richard Wiseman, approximately 88% of people who make New Year’s resolutions fail. The study showed 52% of the 3,000 participants were confident they would succeed in fulfilling their resolution.
So, what about a New Year’s resolution for 2016? Is your resolution going to focus on:
Returning borrowed objects and repaying debts?
Keeping promises to others?
Renewing a bond between yourself and the state?
Reflecting on past mistakes and working on self-improvement?
Whichever New Year’s resolution you choose, make sure that it is obtainable and realistic. Lastly, make sure the resolution is accountable by sharing it with someone else. Make it known to this accountability person that you want them to ask you how you are doing with keeping the resolution.
Dave Tice is a licensed professional counselor at the Center with over 6 years of counseling experience. To learn more about Dave, or to set up an appointment, click here.