Here We Go

Here We Go

Recently, there were have been good number of people in the church who have run races. Whether a 1 miler or full marathon, many of you have helped raise money for causes that you care about. Now, although I admit I’m not much of a runner, I have learned a few tricks from my wife and some of you who run races. One of the tricks I learned is to not start a race too fast. The other is to run like you practice.
The first tip is obvious. If a person starts a race running faster than he or she is used to going, then the chance are that person will not finish very strong. The second tip is a little bit more difficult to learn. If a person buys new shoes without breaking them in or tries a new breathing technique for the first time or tries a new gait without practice when the race begins, then the chances are that person will get hurt.
I think of this at the beginning of each year. Every new year, there is certainly someone who decides that this is the year that we are going to change everything. From going to church to praying to losing weight to stopping something. If we try to do it all at the beginning or try to completely change everything about ourselves in the first week, then we wear ourselves out. We limp into February and forget everything that we were going to do by the end of March.
However, if a prayerful life or church attendance or Bible study is part of your resolution; take this advice from your pastor: take your time and find what makes you comfortable. Certainly, I encourage each of us to come to find ways to become more prayerful in our every day living. So rather than trying something that is unnatural, try what works for you. If you are a conversationalist, then talk to God. If you are a silent type, try meditating. If you are one who journals, write some prayers down. If you are none of the above, try something in the middle. However, I would encourage you to set aside some time during the day that works for you. It doesn’t have to be against what you are already doing. From the car ride to work to an extra minute getting ready in the morning to that one place where you already get alone, utilize the space and time that already works for you.
If church attendance is your resolution, start small. If you come once a year, come twice a year. If you come once a month, try twice a month. If you don’t come, try coming. If you question this church thing at all, let’s sit down and have coffee. Let us bring the church to you.
If Bible study is your hope, then let me sit down with you and come up with something that works for you. Come the pastor’s Bible study on Wednesday night for some other insight. However, don’t (and I repeat don’t) try to read from cover to cover without some guidance from trustworthy guidance or commentary. It is a daunting task and can be frightening. Folks usually fall off about Leviticus. I am here to help.
We do ask that you consider a way to make your faith life and this church priorities in your life for 2018. This church is a special group of people who invite each person as you are into relationship with people who are unique and diverse. We think this reflects God in many ways. Regardless, you are unique and God and this church invites that very uniqueness to be what drives your faith life in 2018.
If losing weight or smoking is your resolution…..well you’re on your own. Just don’t do too much too soon.
Rob
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Expectations at Christmas

If there is one word that gets us in trouble near Christmas time, it is the word “expectation.”

My wife and I have just moved near family for the first time in our lives as parents. We’ve always talked about it and dreamt about it, and here it is. It’s been great already and we have several family gatherings planned.¬†However, we have to be careful as to not let the expectations of this fact overshadow the reality. We can’t expect everyone to change their normal holiday plans to fit this fact/

As a pastor, I must check myself as to not be expectant of every person who shows up for Advent, special Advent programs, or Christmas Eve services to be present on regular Sundays. I get that people aren’t church shopping on Christmas Eve.

As a father, I can’t expect my children to act a certain way at Christmas or to have the same joyous wonder in their eyes that are shown in Coca Cola or Target commercials. I can’t even expect them to have the same response as last year.

And as a child of God, I have to be careful as to not expect too much from myself. With Christmas comes a week of vacation and with vacation comes reflection. Couple that with the New Year’s resolutions that always entrap me and I have to be careful as to not get top-heavy. Top-heaviness can lead to unnecessary stress the rest of the year. If I try to say, read-the-entire Bible in a year and I get all the way to say Deuteronomy in the first 4 weeks but can’t get through it, I’m more likely to hang it up than keep going. If I try to lose a lot of weight but fall off the wagon around Valentines’ Day, it’s harder to get back on. I’ve got to know to pace myself. I’ve got to learn my limits. I’ve got to understand my schedule.

So, if I have any piece of advice for this time of year, it is the writer of the 46th Psalm who reminds us to be still and know that God is God. Sometimes, I don’t know which is harder. The being still or the relinquishing control to the one who is God. Regardless, to service the expectations from ourselves and from culture, both have to be done.