Stay Focused!

We sometimes miss the great opportunities of life because we get
sidetracked. I once heard the tale of a talented and gifted bloodhound in
England that started a hunt by chasing a full-grown male deer. During the
chase a fox crossed his path, so he began now to chase the fox. A rabbit
crossed his hunting path, so he began to chase the rabbit. After chasing
the rabbit for a while, a tiny field mouse crossed his path, and he chased
the mouse to the corner of a farmer’s barn. The bloodhound had begun the
hunt chasing a prized male deer for his master and wound up barking at a
tiny mouse. It is a rare human being who can do three or four different
things at a time–moving in different directions.

The Apostle Paul knew his number one priority in life was to live his life
to the honor and glory of God by preaching the Gospel. However, we know
that Paul is not in a plush hotel room but in prison. He receives a report
that all is not well at the Church in Philippi. His very life could be
ended at any moment. And the list goes on. However, the Apostle Paul would
not allow anything to cross his path that would deter him from his
priority. Paul knew that his new life was a gift from God, not from the
promises of humanity. His life was to be lived for his master. Nothing
would sidetrack him of that priority!

Eric S. Ritz, The Ritz Collection,

Living By The Calendar Instead Of The Clock (New Year’s)

“Leisure,” from the Latin, means “to be free.” Leisure is anything that
restores you to peace while you are doing it. So, gardening, golf,
reading, puzzles, and many other things can restore us to peace as we do
them. Another cousin of leisure is the word “paragon.” This little-used
word means “the second thing that we do in life that keeps the first thing
in tune.” Hence, our work may draw energy from us, and we have then a
“paragon,” a leisure thing we do in order to restore us.

Most often, to build toward leisure demands that we disassemble something
else. In Thomas Moore’s book Meditations, he tells of a pilgrim walking
along a road. The pilgrim sees some men working on a stone building.
“You look like a monk,” the pilgrim said.
“I am that,” said the monk.
“Who is that working on the abbey?”
“My monks. I’m the abbot.”
“It’s good to see a monastery going up,” said the pilgrim.
“They’re tearing it down,” said the abbot.
“Whatever for?” asked the pilgrim.
“So we can see the sun rise at dawn,” said the abbot.

Richard A. Wing, Deep Joy for a Shallow World, CSS Publishing

Who Needs Resolutions? We Need a Revolution!

Welcome on this first Sunday of a New Year. I trust that one of your
resolutions for this year is to be in worship every week. Good for you.
That’s one resolution you’ve kept for at least one week.

I heard about one poor fellow who decided to make only resolutions this
year he could keep. He resolved to gain weight, to stop exercising, to
read less and watch more TV, to procrastinate more, to quit giving money
and time to charity, to not date any member of the cast of Baywatch, and
to never make New Year’s resolutions again.

Maybe he’s onto something. Why torture ourselves when we never keep those
resolutions more than a week anyway?

What we need, of course, is not another resolution, but a revolution. We
need a turning point in our lives. Like the wise men of old we need to
catch a glimpse of a guiding light, and we need to follow that light to a
New Life in Christ.

King Duncan,

Seven Resolutions

I like a list of resolutions prepared by the Rev. Walter Schoedel. He
calls them ‘7-UPS for the New Year.’ No, this has nothing to do with the
soft drink. These 7-UPS fall under the heading of attitudes and actions.

The first is WAKE UP–Begin the day with the Lord. It is His day. Rejoice
in it.

The second is DRESS-UP–Put on a smile. It improves your looks. It says
something about your attitude.

The third is SHUT-UP–Watch your tongue. Don’t gossip. Say nice things.
Learn to listen.

The fourth is STAND-UP–Take a stand for what you believe. Resist evil. Do

Five, LOOK-UP–Open your eyes to the Lord. After all, He is your only Savior.

Six, REACH-UP–Spend time in prayer with your adorations, confessions,
thanksgivings and supplications to the Lord.

And finally, LIFT-UP–Be available to help those in need–serving,
supporting, and sharing.

If you’re going to make New Year’s resolutions this year, let me suggest
Rev. Schoedel’s list.

Why do we bother to make New Year’s resolutions in the first place? Why do
we feel this need each January 1 to set new goals? Maybe it is because
resolutions help us to identify our priorities. They answer the Question:
how do I want to invest my time, energy, money, and talents in this New
Year? The New Year reminds us that time is passing. It is up to each of us
to maximize the potential of every moment.

Walter Schoedel

Keep Your Head Right

Pastor Stephen Brown taught swimming and diving for a number of years. He
tells about a young boy named Billy. Billy had watched so many
professional divers and wanted so much to dive like them that he refused
to take time to learn the basics. Time after time Brown tried to help
Billy see that the most important thing about diving was to keep his head
in the proper position. If his head entered the water properly, Brown
explained, the rest of his body would enter the water properly–at least,
more properly than it had been.  Billy would dive into the pool, do a
belly flop, and come up grinning, “Mr. Brown,” he would shout, “were my
feet together?”

“Billy, I don’t care whether your feet were together or not,” Brown
shouted back. “Make sure your head is straight, then everything else will
work out.”

The next time Billy would stand on the edge of the pool and really
concentrate. Then he would dive and, once again, make a mess of it. “Mr.
Brown, were my hands together?”

“Billy,” Brown would groan in frustration, “I’m going to get you a neck
brace and weld it onto your head. For the hundredth time, if your head is
right the rest of you will be right. If your head is wrong, the rest of
you will be wrong.”

And isn’t that true in all of life? If our head is wrong, our marriage
will probably suffer. If our head is wrong, our priorities will be fouled
up. If our head is wrong, it may even affect our health in a negative way.
God understands our distress and God seeks to make us new persons so that
we can handle our distress more effectively.

Stephen Brown, When Being Good Isn’t Good Enough, Nashville: Thomas Nelson
Publishers. Adapted by King Duncan

True Happiness

Regardless of conditions, we do want to be happy. Is there anyone here who
does not want to be happy in the coming year? A teacher of a young adult
class asked the students to write their answers to the question, “What do
you want most out of life?” Nine out of ten answered, “Happiness.”

Psychology Today magazine took a poll of 40,000 readers. Eighty-three
percent responded that their main question was, “How can I find real
happiness?” If anybody should be happy, it is a Christian. But, is the
average Christian known for his joy? Many think of a Christian in terms of
solemnity, seriousness, and severity. Some of us are like the country boy
whose grandmother forbade him to engage in “worldly amusements” on Sunday.

Dejected and lonely, he walked down to the barn fence and while he was
there a mule came up and put his head into the boy’s hands. Patting the
sad face of the mule, the boy commiserated, “Poor fellow, you must be a
Christian, too.”

Christians have good reason to be the happiest people in the world. Their
happiness is not based upon the condition of the world but upon the
condition of the heart. They are happy because of God and not because of

John R. Brokhoff, Wrinkled Wrappings, CSS Publishing Company

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