I hope this isn’t the way of the New Year – late posts. I can no longer brag about my record of posting. Good thing this ends 2018 and is not the start of 2019. For me, the week after Christmas is filled with mixed emotions – Christmas excitement let down and the excitement of starting a new year. Many of us will proclaim “Resolutions” for change in the coming year, while others look at the new year with dread. So many people are unsure of what is coming in the new year or are disappointed in what transpired in the past year, that they simply dread the reminder of a new calendar year. This holiday is a great time to be reminded that each day, month and year that passes, is part of God’s plan. Rick Warren in his book “Purpose Driven Life”, starts the book reminding the reader that it (life) is not about you.
We are so focused on ourselves that we lose focus on what is part of God’s plan or that God is in control. We should be asking God for clarity on what He wants us to know or do in the coming year. Setting resolutions is about doing things for yourself or staying focused on what you want to get done but we never seem to ask God what He wants us to accomplish. Resolutions and dread for a new year are a result of things of this world. Try focusing on a relationship with God and seeking to understand what He is doing in your life will make hanging up a new calendar much easier.
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – His good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2
I hope that this verse kick-starts your new year by helping you refocus on what is really important. If you create any resolutions, resolve to grow in your faith and understanding of God’s will in your life. God has laid the path, from the day you were born to your final day; He is in control. Do not let this world get to you. Everywhere we turn, we see signs of terrible patterns of this world.
Turn away from them and renew your mind. These words written more than 2000 years ago still have meaning today – as if St. Paul was present today. God keeps His promises, it is us who fail to see them or open our hearts and minds to them. We expect things given to us of this world and when God doesn’t deliver, we feel let down. I’d suggest that perhaps, God was at work teaching and not punishing us. I hope that you begin 2019 with an open mind, an open heart and the understanding that “it’s not about you”, it’s about God. Happy New Year!
Multi-tasking has become an acceptable part of our society today. In fact, you are viewed negatively if you can’t multi-task. What we accept today as “normal” was once called being “scatter brained”. Multitasking and “smart phones” may have actually made us less productive. A number of studies have shown that the constant interruptions we have in our lives are actually slowing us down. Every time we rapidly shift from one task to an other our brains have to refocus or reset. We are truly losing our train of thought; the problem is that it is happening constantly.
Another study conducted with college students who claim to be “great multi-taskers” actually demonstrated that their motor skills and cognitive abilities mirrored those of someone legally intoxicated. Now that is sobering! Sorry I couldn’t resist. All of these studies show, what us “old-timers” already know, work on one thing at a time and you will actually get more done. We have all been behind the car that is just not keeping up with the flow of traffic, only to see them on the phone or worst yet, texting while driving. Remain focused on what you are doing (especially while driving) and your stress levels should decrease while your productivity increases.
“Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming.” 1 Peter 1:13
We are in the middle of lent, getting closer to Easter and there couldn’t be a more fitting verse. Reading the bible is a fascinating journey that explains how God tried to help focus His people on what is important. Imagine how many more distractions we have today than they did in those early years of B.C. Many of us who lived in a two-story house heard the phrase uttered by our parents “don’t make me come up there”, when we were misbehaving. God finally reached that point where He had to “come down here” because we just couldn’t focus on what He was trying to teach us.
God became man when He sent His son to show us the way. Peter reminds us to clear our minds, be alert and ready (sober). When we multi-task, we never really do one thing well, we do them all well enough. Peter is telling us to focus and set our hope in Jesus. Reduce the interference in your life by focusing on what is important. Send your fears and worry to God not so that you can do something else but so that you can focus on the grace that He is giving to you. Ensure that your devotional time is quiet and uninterrupted. Focus on what God is telling you through His word. Most importantly, have peace in knowing that your sins are forgiven by your faith in Jesus Christ.
One version of this verse reminded me of Radar O’Reilly from the TV show M.A.S.H. – “before they call, I will answer”. He always knew the answer before Colonel Blake could ask the question. However, it makes me think of people who interrupt others because they have the answer before someone even finishes asking the question. The phrase “right, right” seems to have infiltrated our society today. People don’t want to let you finish what you are saying and this phrase seems to give them permission to cut you off by agreeing with you – twice no less. Everything, and I mean everything, is available in short bursts or precisely when you want it. Twitter lets people share their thoughts in 140 or less characters. Virtual assistants on smart phones get you information which saves you the effort of having to “Google it”. We are loosing our ability to listen – really listen. We need to take the time to look people in the eye and listen to what they are saying. Don’t focus on what you’re going to say next or make assumptions about what they are trying to say or jump to the end because you think faster than they do. Listen, smile, pay attention and really hear what they are saying.
“Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear.” Isaiah 65:24
God’s people didn’t get it. In fact, many today still don’t get it. God was saying, “I know what they will need before they ask and I will always listen.” This is one of His great promises – speak to me and I will listen. It’s important to note, He didn’t say “I will fix it” or “I will answer you right away” but He WILL listen. It’s often hard for us to separate listening from answering. God’s time frame is different than ours. God wants to hear from His children, He knows what is on our hearts but He is not a “mind reader”. Tell Him what you are thinking. God will meet our basic needs; that’s Him answering before we call. He wants to hear ALL of our worries, concerns, appreciations, thanks and our needs. He will order things in our lives according to His will, not ours. If you think He isn’t answering, perhaps you are not being patient enough or you simply don’t see the answers/solutions present in your life. God hears it all, it’s usually us who fail recognize His work