Thursday, January 31, 2013

The day of the headache

Yesterday was one of those days.  I woke up at about 4 am with a headache.  Didn't seem too severe.  Got up and took a couple of aspirin and laid back down for about 45 minutes.  My head still hurt but it seemed like I was managing OK.

I drank what seemed like gallons of coffee.  Caffeine is supposed to help in headache prevention.  Went through my morning routine and still felt like I could get through the day.  Yeah, everything was going to be OK.

But by the time I got to church, around 7:30 am, I began to feel that my head was lying in a vice and some diabolical rascal was slowly exerting pressure.  I took some strong medication that I had brought with me, praying that it would bring relief.

It didn't.  I know better.  If I don't get out in front of a migraine I can expect a very long, painful day.  By 9 am I knew I had to go home.  My head was feeling like it might explode and my tummy was rebelling as well.  I gave a few instructions to Connie, our administrative assistant extraordinaire and I left.

I got home, took some heavy duty medication that my doctor has prescribed and tried to get as comfortable and as still as I possibly could.  My cats saw me in the recliner and thought that I was inviting them to join me.  I quickly made it clear to them that I wanted to be left alone.  It took a few hours but finely I could feel that I was turning a corner.  I fell asleep in the afternoon and work up at 5 pm and realized something glorious - my head wasn't hurting very much! What joy! Prayer answered!  By the time my dear, sweet wife got home, I felt almost normal and read to eat a little dinner.  Then it was off to bed.

Today, I'm in migraine fog.  That's what the second day always feels like.  Having lost a day, I've got tons of work to do.  I'll get caught up.  I'll do so while feeling better.  And, I'm reminded to pray again that I should not take my good health for granted but to give thanks to God for the blessing of a headache-free day.  God is good.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Verdict of the Last Day Ahead of Time

"And they lived happily ever after," is the way that most fairy tales end.  But we know that in real life, very few stories end a perfectly happy way.  But then I read the following from Gene Veith's blog on May 12, 2009.  Those who place their faith in Jesus Christ will experience a perfectly happy ending to their life - in fact, we don't even have to wait to the end to begin enjoying what we have right now!

Prof. John Pless quoted theologian Gerhard Forde on what absolution is: "The verdict of the Last Day ahead of time."  In other words, when we hear that we are forgiven in the Gospel, we are "getting the good news of the happy ending ahead of time."  (Pless quote)

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Price of Politics

is the name of a book that I'm presently reading.  Written by Bob Woodward, it travels the long and winding road that Democrats and Republicans attempted to navigate while trying to restore the American economy in 2010-2012.  Woodward tells the story well and it's hard to put the book down.  He does a fine job of providing insight into the major players, like President Obama, Speaker Boehner, Vice President Biden and others.

I'm a little more than half-way through the book and these are a few of my conclusions:

President Obama may be many things but he does not strike me as much of a leader.

Republicans are a fractured party and unable to get behind anyone to let that person lead.

Every member in Congress is their own special interest group which explains why compromise is often so elusive.

Power and influence is the name of the game in Washington.  Those who have it struggle to keep it.  Those who seek it are constantly maneuvering to get more of it. 

Scripture encourages us to pray for our leaders, that they might lead and govern wisely.  Clearly, we need to continue to pray for all those in authority, that they stand firm against the temptation to serve themselves or only those who support them but to continually act in the best interest of all the people that they serve.

Heavenly Father, we pray today for all those whom You have placed over us, especially those who serve in government.  Help us to respect the President, Vice-President, Congress, our Governor and State and local leaders.  Move them to be Your servants, agents for offering the care and protection You wish for all people.  Enable them to resist the temptation to simply serve themselves.  Empower them to serve for the common good.  Amen.

Monday, January 28, 2013

A prayer of the baptized

A beautiful prayer from Martin Luther:

O Lord, I am your sin; You are my righteousness.  Therefore I triumph and am secure; for my sin cannot overpower Your righteousness, nor can Your righteousness let me be or remain a sinner.  Blessed Lord, God of mine, my Mercy and my Redeemer, in You only do I trust; let me never be ashamed.  Amen.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

The Case for Christ

That's what St. Luke seems to be doing in the first four chapters of his gospel - making the case that Jesus of Nazareth is the Son of God, the promised Messiah.  In Luke 4:16-30, Jesus makes the case for Himself.  How do the people of Nazareth respond? How do you respond? Find out more when you worship with us this weekend at LICL.  Our new Saturday 4:32 service features the ancient liturgy plus modern hymns and songs and our Sunday services at 8 and 10:45 am are liturgical and traditional.  Stay also for Christian LIFE (Learning Is For Everyone) Hour at 9:15 am with classes for all age groups.  Hope to see you this weekend at Life in Christ!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Christ Have Mercy!

An insightful and spot-on comment from Rev. Dr. Matthew Harrison, President of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod:

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal."  This simple statement of the Declaration of Independence asserts a God, a Creator, and a self-evident truth.  In our postmodern context, many people no longer accept any such external constraints...It is no longer "self-evident" that marriage should be between a man and a woman.  While this is the most self-evident reality in all of history, it does make sense that the attack on natural law should be most intense over God's crowning creative set, that of creating mankind as male and female.  The postmodern individual will not tolerate limits to personal freedom.  Therefore, any natural knowledge of God must go.  Indeed, God must go! Yet a society that rejects divinely created order (reason!) is in chaos.

From his book, Christ Have Mercy, page 213

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Luther on God's Promise and our response

For God does not deal, nor has He ever dealt with man otherwise than through a Word of promise.  We, in turn, cannot deal with God otherwise than through faith in the Word of His promise.  He does not desire works, nor has He need of them...But God has need of this - that we consider His faithfulness in His promises (Hebrews 10:23) and patiently persist in this belief...promise and faith must necessarily go together.  For without the promise there is nothing to be believed; while without faith the promise is useless, since it is established and fulfilled through faith.

From The Babylonian Captivity of the Church

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Hope for those who grieve their sins

The Bible assures us that God never punishes His people for sins they have committed.  "There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus."  But there is a direct connection between sin and death.  Sickness and death are constant reminders that we live in a sinful world, that the perfectedness of Eden is gone, that we personally need a Savior from sin.

Arno Wolfgram - The People's Bible - 1 Kings - page 121 - Northwestern Publishing House

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Keep on asking...seeking...knocking

One summer at our annual Vacation Bible School I couldn't help but notice one particular little boy.

You might say that he was a bit shy.  While the other kids would crowd around the snack bar, he would hang behind and patiently wait until a spot opened up for him.  While the kids were climbing all over the play center, he would quietly stand and watch.  You could tell that he wanted to swing and play with the other kids.  He wasn't one for just jumping into the middle of the fray.  He looked like he was in need of assertiveness training.

Matthew 7:7-12 are a reminder to us that Jesus wants you and me to be assertive when it comes to making our requests and petitions to God.

He teaches us to ask and seek and knock.  In the Greek, these are present imperatives.  The precise meaning is that we are to keep on asking, keep on knocking and keep on seeking.  We are to pray without ceasing, without giving up, and with increasing intensity.

Of course, Jesus is not suggesting that God is like an indulgent father who gives His child whatever and whenever.  Our Heavenly Father only gives us good gifts, the gifts we really need and just at the right time.

And that's a comfort for you and me.  In our asking, seeking and knocking we can make our requests and petitions along with the words, "Your Will be done."  Then we can trust God to give us the best He has to offer.  He had already given us His Son to be our Savior from sin.  He cannot and and will not fail us.

So pray.  Don't hang back.  Pray assertively.  Trust the God that knows how to give good gifts.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

All about the Beautiful Game

This morning I'm immersed in the Beautiful Game.  Here in the USA we call it soccer; in the rest of the world, it's football.  Halftime of the Liverpool/Stoke City game and my team (Liverpool) is ahead 2-nil.  A goal in European football is like a touchdown in our football - something to admire and celebrate.  My celebrations usually scare the cats but they quickly get over it. 

Later today, my dear sweet wife and I will watch my oldest grandson's first soccer game.  Since he's only four, I think the focus is not on strategy or skill but just having fun.  I imagine there will be lots of times when 20 kids or so will absolutely surround the ball but doing nothing with it.  As long as the kids have fun and no one gets hurt, I'm sure parents and grandparents will be very happy.

I hope you have the chance to enjoy the upcoming three day weekend.  Maybe you can add the Beautiful Game to your weekend list of stuff to do.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Why Invite Jesus To Your Wedding Reception

There are actually lots of good reasons.  Find out why this weekend at Life in Christ.  Our new Saturday service has gotten off to a good start.  Join us at 4:32 pm for meaningful worship, uplifting music and warm fellowship.  Sunday's worship times are 8 and 10:45 am with Christian LIFE Hour (Learning Is For Everyone) at 9:15 in the morning.  Looking forward to seeing you at LICL!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Why not Tebow?

Tim Tebow is working out in the Valley of the Sun and so that has sparked some speculation that he's in town to show his stuff to the Arizona Cardinals brain trust.  Apparently, that's not the case but like some others in Phoenix, I think the Cardinals should take a hard look at Tebow.

* He is winner, both in college and in the pros (although, I admit, his professional resume is slim).

* He seems to have the qualities that the new NFL quarterbacks have (he can run as well as throw the football, like the qb's from Seattle, San Francisco and Washington).

* He is a leader.  It may not always be pretty but he gets things done and his teammates feed off of that (how many come from behind games did he win last year in Denver?).

* He's a man of God.  He gives kids and young people, especially, someone to look up to.  I don't think we'll ever see Tebow getting grilled by Oprah in the way that Lance Armstrong was.  Tebow seems to be a man who is really trying to lead a life of faith and integrity.

He's not the prettiest quarterback around.  He'll probably never be a Kurt Warner, standing back in the pocket, waiting until the very last moment to throw a perfect pass to Larry Fitzgerald.  But Tebow seems to have the intangibles that lead to victories.

We know what last year was like in Arizona Cardinals Nation.  Why not Tebow? Give him a chance!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Bo Giertz on Faith

Faith is, then,  a poverty of spirit, a hunger and thirst, a poor, empty heart opening toward God so that He can put His grace into it.  When God bestows His grace upon us, we are born anew and become partakers of the new life.

from "Hammer of God," page 217

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

A pastor's prayer as he prepares his sermon

God, help me not to preach better.  Just help me to be better.  Do nothing for my reputation.  Only bring me to the place where I see what needs to be done, and make we alive for the doing of it.  Don't make my sermon's interesting; make them important.  Let them seek no critiques as to their eloquence or boredom.  Only let them be a cry on Your behalf for all You want done in the world.  Amen.

Calvin Miller, The Sermon Maker, page 51

Monday, January 14, 2013

Are you not much more valuable than they?

Last week I reflected on the 8 years I've spent at Life in Christ.  God has blessed our church in that time period and He has richly blessed me and my family.  When I arrived in January 2005, the church met in a house that was remodeled to accommodate as many people as possible.  There was no parking lot; folks just parked wherever they could find a spot.  Some found shade under the many citrus trees on the property, others on the grass in what was the back yard.  We all made do, as they say, and we were happy.

My office was actually the master bedroom of the house.  It was good sized and had a window from which I could see the front yard and, beyond that, busy 75th Avenue.  At that time we would receive each week a fresh supply of irrigation water.  It took about 2 to 3 hours for the water to cover our 1.1 acres.

What was so interesting to me was the scene that followed the irrigation.  I had the chance each week to watch our front yard become a bird buffet!

It seems that as the water covered the property, grub worms would rise to the surface.  This was followed by a variety of birds who would wade through the water in search of a meal.  And wow, did they ever eat! I think I heard a couple of those birds belch! What was certainly true was that the birds ate until they could eat no more.

That little scene always reminded me of Matthew 6:26 - Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet Your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not much more valuable than they?

The answer is much, much more valuable!

In fact, the Apostles' Creed and its explanation shows us just how valuable we are to God.  The First Article points out that we are so valuable that God provides for our every need in this life.  He does this, as Martin Luther writes, "only out of fatherly divine goodness and mercy."  We are so valuable to God that, according to the Second Article, God gave His only Son to be our Redeemer from sin, death and the power of the devil.  This happened so that you and I might be God's very own son or daughter.  We are so valuable to God that the Father and the Son sent the Holy Spirit, who calls us by the Gospel to believe in their precious promises.  And the Spirit continues to feed our faith so that we trust God more and more and worry less and less.

There are no simple answers to overcoming worry and Jesus doesn't offer a one-step, easy solution to overcoming fear and anxiety.  But He is teaching us in Matthew 6 to remember who we are and whose we are.  We are God's sons and daughters.  We belong to Him through the miracle of baptism.  We are valuable to Him.  Don't worry.  Trust God.  Proverbs 3:5-6 - Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Shut him down!

That what seemed to happen when evil Herod the tetrarch tossed John the Baptist in jail.  Did that action derail God's plan that the world know that the kingdom of God had come? In chapter three of his Gospel, Luke provides the glorious good news.  Join us today at 4:32 for our new Saturday service. You'll discovery meaningful worship, uplifting music and great fellowship.  Or if Sunday works better, come for either our 8 or 10:45 am services.  Christina LIFE Hour (Learning Is For Everyone) with classes for everyone begins at 9:15 am.  Hope to see you this weekend at LICL!

Friday, January 11, 2013

I hate the grapevine

If I could find it at its root, I dig it up and burn it.  It's destructive.  It's hurtful.  And the devil must dance a jig when people log on.

Every church has one.  It's the place where all kinds of gossip and rumors are discussed, dissected and disseminated.

This week I've seen again the rotten fruit produced on the grapevine.  I've watched how the grapevine has led some to sin against their brothers and sisters in Christ.  I've been made aware of what happens when people fail to "defend, speak well of and explain everything in the kindest way" (from Luther's explanation of the 8th commandment).

In the Large Catechism, Luther sums up his teaching on the 8th commandment in this way: Now we have the sum and general understanding of this commandment: Let no one do any harm to his neighbor with the tongue, whether friend or foe.  Do not speak evil of him, no matter whether it is true or false, unless it is done by commandment or for his reformation.  Let everyone use his tongue and make it serve for the best of everyone else, to cover up his neighbor's sins or infirmities (1 Peter 4:8), excuse them, conceal and garnish them with his own reputation.  The chief reason for this should be the one that Christ declares in the Gospel, where He includes all commandments about our neighbor, "whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them."  (Matthew 7:12)  From Concordia, pages 417-8, para. 285-6.

Beware the grapevine.  It's fruit, more often than not, is a deadly poison.  It's not a place where followers of Christ want to be found.    

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Happy me!

Yesterday brought with it a trip down memory lane.  In was on January 9, 2005 that I was installed as pastor of Life in Christ Lutheran Church.

My dear, sweet wife and I (along with our beloved cat, Hope) left Hilton Head Island on Dec. 31.  We ushered in the new year in Jackson, Mississippi.  The following night, after a very long day in the car, we stopped in McAllen, Texas.  The following evening we were greeted by our kids when we arrived in Peoria.

The next day we closed on our home.  Next, one of the members of our new church family arranged to have the inside of the house painted for the cost of the paint - what a blessing!  By the end of the week, the moving truck arrived, driven by a guy who had a voice that sounded like actor Mark Harmon (that was cool - my wife and I are huge NCIS fans!).

Sunday morning we worshipped with our new church family and later that afternoon I was formally installed as pastor.  The service was held at Fountain of Life in Sun City.  My dear friend and pastor, Rev. David Schultz, gave the sermon.  The congregation worked so hard to make it a memorable day for me and my family.  We felt truly welcomed.

Much has happened at Life in Christ in these past eight years.  We outgrew our first house of worship and we finding ourselves feeling pinched for space again.  We've watched as the Holy Spirit has worked mightily through Word and sacraments, bringing people to faith and leading them to produce fruit of faith in their lives.  People who visit LICL find a group of warm and friendly people and that is good.  They also hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ and that is even better.

I often thank the Lord for calling me to serve in this place.  My family and I are so blessed to be here.  Praise the Lord!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Do you know where your baptismal certificate is?

Mine is hanging up in my office.  It marks perhaps the most important moment in my earthly life (yeah, that does sound like a pretty strong statement).

I don't remember what happened that day.  I was too young.  But that piece of paper points me back to the day that God called me by the Gospel...called me by my name...marked me with the sign of Jesus' cross...adopted me into His kingdom...gave me His Holy Spirit...washed me of all my unrighteousness...gave me the new life in Christ...opened heaven to me.

I've enjoyed other milestone events in my life since then.  Being married to my dear, sweet wife...the birth of our kids...ordination as a pastor in the Lord's church...the birth of my grandkids.  But all of that would be pretty meaningless without having received the rich grace of God in my life through my baptism.

Do you know where your baptismal certificate is? If you have to, dig it out of a storage box or retrieve it from underneath all the stuff in that drawer.  If you can, frame it.  Put it someplace where you can see it every day.  Celebrate the anniversary of your baptism.  Give thanks to God that He is truly your Heavenly Father and that you are His dear son or daughter.  In baptism, you are with Christ Jesus.  Praise be to God!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Failure is OK

At least that's what author John Kleinig writes in his book, "Grace Upon Grace."

God always wants us to start where we are, rather than where we would like to be, on our spiritual journey.  We can therefore face up to our recurring failure to live as His holy people and people as prayer.  In fact, our failure is meant to teach us to ask for what we lack and receive everything from Christ.

The more I ponder these sentences, the more I agree with them.  When Jesus called His disciples to follow Him, He took them just as they were - fishermen, tax collector and the like.  The Lord didn't give Peter a year's notice to get himself in spiritual shape and then report for service.  He took Peter, with his big heart (and his big mouth) and taught and nurtured and guided him, while Jesus was taking the path that would lead to the cross.

When the Lord calls us through His Word of grace, He does just as He did with Peter.  He calls us where we are at.  His Law and Gospel calls us to repentance and faith.  His Baptism removes the stain of sin from our lives.  When we fail to "live as His holy people and people of prayer," His Word of forgiveness sets us back on the path that we follow, our new life in Christ.  Our act of kneeling at the altar rail to receive the Lord's body and blood in the Holy Supper reminds us that God showers us in worship with what we lack and motivates us to be faithful in worshipping and serving the Lord.

Most of us fear failure.  We hate to think of the consequences.  Failure could bring shame and disappointment and loss.  But our God of grace hears us when we confess our failures to Him.  He doesn't give up on us but patiently continues to give us all we need for living as disciples of Christ Jesus. 

Don't live your spiritual journey in your own strength.  The Lord is ready to help you live as a disciple of Christ Jesus.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Today's the day!

That we begin our new worship service at 4:32 pm each Saturday.  If you're in our area, come and visit us.  And we'll meet as usual this Sunday at 8 and 10:45 am.  Christian LIFE Hour (Learn Is For Everyone) with class for all age groups begins at 9:15 am.  Join us as we a Word that can truly give peace to our hearts and minds - the Gospel of Jesus Christ!

Friday, January 4, 2013

God is our schoolmaster

We should ask that through the same Spirit and His grace, by means of the daily exercise of reading and doing God's Word, He would preserve in us faith and His heavenly gifts, strengthen us from day to day, and keep us to the end.  For unless God Himself is our schoolmaster, we can study and learn nothing that is acceptable to Him and helpful to ourselves and others.

Book of Concord
Formula, Solid Declaration
Art. II - Free Will
found in "Concordia" from CPH - page 553, para 16

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Luther on why we pray the Lord's Prayer

Since this prayer has its source in the Lord, it has got to be undoubtedly the highest, noblest and best prayer, for were He to have known of a better one, this pious, faithful schoolmaster, He would have also taught it to us.

From "Lord's Prayer - Commentary on Luther's Catechisms" by Albrecht Peters, page 10.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

What's Your Motivation?

As I was reading through Matthew 6 yesterday, I couldn't help but think, "Let it to Jesus to get right to the heart of the matter."  He seems to be asking, "What is your motivation? When giving to the poor or needy, do you want center stage or back stage?"

That Jesus addresses the question of giving to the poor is no accident.  Supporting those less fortunate than you was an important part of Jewish piety.  As Jesus teaches, He assumes that His hearers will help the poor.  The question is not "whether" but "how."

Unfortunately, there were some who gravitated toward center stage so that they could make a big show of their acts of righteousness.  In case you weren't paying attention, a trumpet blast would signal when a person was offering a gift, drawing attention to the person's generosity - center stage!

Jesus calls such center stage people "hypocrites."  From the Greek, the word means "play actor."  Jesus can see right through such folks.  "Man looks on the outward appearance but God looks upon the heart."  (1 Samuel 16:7)  A heart exam of such hypocrites shows that such giving is not to practice piety but to increase popularity.

Instead, the giving that pleases God comes from backstage, away from the spotlight.  Those who give with sincere hearts do not do so in such public places as the synagogue or on the streets.  Instead, giving is done in secrecy.  Without trumpet or fanfare or show.  This is what Jesus is getting at when He says, "Do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing."

What is our motivation for giving to the poor or helping the needy, both in our church and in the community?

Jesus shows us the way.  Instead of setting up shop in Jerusalem, where He could have really been noticed, the Lord walked dusty trails while helping those He met in the villages of Galilee.  He fed the hungry.  He helped the hurting.  He offered hope to the hopeless.  Finally, He gave Himself as the payment of the sins of the world.  Through faith we receive His gifts of forgiveness, peace and hope.  We look forward to realizing that reward that the Father has for us - eternal life in heaven.

I found the first four verses of chapter 6 of Matthew to be good food for thought.  This week, as I am able, I'll look to take my place...backstage.  Out of the spotlight.  Looking to help, for sure, but doing my best to make sure that God gets the glory and the praise.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

2013 - Can You Top This?

I'm not very good at taking inventory.  I'm not a details-kind-of-guy.  But as I sip a cup of coffee from my favorite Beatles coffee mug, I'm thinking that this new year will have a challenge living up to what I experienced in 2012.

Personal: I began the year in pain - a ruptured disc in my back was pressing on a nerve which made even the shortest walk a painful effort.  I had my third epidural on 1/2/2012 and began to feel some relief.  Opting out of physical therapy, I did what a good friend (with a bad back) recommended: walking.  Every lunch hour I slid on my walking shoes and took a stroll down Bampf Street (south of our church), walking from 75th Avenue to 83rd Avenue and back.  It felt good to get out of the office.  And because our church sits in the middle of a county island, most of the homes on Bampf have animals of some kind - horses, goats, cows, donkeys, and dogs, dogs and more dogs.  With each day, the pain seemed to lessen.  12 months later, my back feels good, the leg pain is gone and I have a little numbness in my right foot to remind me where I was and how wonderful it is to be without pain.  I praise God for the healing I have received. 

2012 was a year of milestones.  My dear, sweet wife and I celebrated 40 years of marriage.  We first met in Home and Family class in High School (we called it "Senior Sex" class - because you were a Senior when you took the class and because it had nothing to do with sex).  Somehow, Sherri saw something in me that I didn't see in myself.  That she wanted to hang out with me was something of a surprise.  When she said she'd marry me, well, that was a shock! I praise God for my dear, sweet wife.

We saw two more grandchildren added to our family.  They are happy and healthy little wonders who have brought great joy to their parents and us all.  We've been trying to imagine what future Christmas' will look like with four kids tearing into presents.  Chaos is a word that comes to mind.  Can't wait! I praise God for my kids and grandkids.

Professional: God blessed our church greatly in the past 12 months.  Worship attendance grew by 10% over the previous year.  That is meaningful to me because it is in worship where God distributes His gifts of grace and mercy.  As Luther said, we come to church with an empty bag and God fills it with forgiveness, peace, love and every other blessing imaginable. 

That growth carried over into our Adult Bible classes, Sunday school, Confirmation and High School classes on Sunday morning.  We asked our members in 2012 to "Give God Two" (two hours of time on Sunday morning) and people responded.  That was a great encouragement to me and to our leadership.  I praise God for the opportunity to serve as pastor at Life in Christ.

What's exciting about today is that my day planner is clean.  It reminds me that God has given me the gift of another year, full of exciting possibilities.  Sure, there could be heartache and trouble along the way.  Every day I'll be tempted to buy up my worried and own them and fret over them and, if I'm not careful, become consumed by them.  And they'll drive my thinking and words and actions. 

Looks like it's time to pray: Lord, save me! I give you ownership of my worries and fears.  Help me to look back at 2012 and all my years.  Let me see again your grace and mercy, your help and protection, your kindness and love.  In this new year, I turn again to you to receive your gifts of forgiveness and peace.  Thank You for making me your child in baptism.  Thank You for fortifying my faith in Your holy supper.  I want to walk with You throughout this coming year.  I praise You for all I have.  In the loving name of Jesus, I pray.  Amen.