41 years ago last summer before maturing to patriotic freedom-riding aka putting a HD between my legs, I rode my Honda 350-Four from Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania to Provincetown, Massachusetts on the upper tip of Cape Cod in search of summer-interning/working college babes who liked Cream, Stones, and Jimi Hendrix, uh, among other things; only to discover I wasn't in the best, uh, location for that kinda stuff.
It's like motorcycles.
If I've gotta explain that to you, you'll never understand.
It's like mainliners who think Christianity is a religion sporting theology/polity/process when it's a relationship with Jesus as personal/corporate Lord and Savior.
Be that as it is, I knew the upper tip of Cape Cod was a little, uh, different when I parked my mule in front of a church that advertised "Hymns and Hers" on its bulletin board as that coming Sunday's sermon.
I asked out loud, "What the heaven is that all about?"
A woman wearing a clerical collar who was attending to some flowers at the base of that bulletin board looked up at me and said, "It's about the church being bigger than you've probably ever imagined."
It was a queer thought to me at the time; but the more that I've studied and prayed on that agape ethic of Jesus, I've been expanding my spirit as well as theology.
Part of my New Year's resolution every year is to take Jesus' talk about agape and wineskins much more seriously.
If you're a mainliner and don't know where they are, the former is all over the place in the Bible and the latter is in Matthew 9:17.
Speaking of women, I know Time named another guy as its, uh, Man of the Year; but mine is Lorena Ochoa.
Despite being only 29 and at the top of her game (golf), she walked away from the LPGA and a run at the most victories in the history of women's professional golf just 41 years after my trip to Cape Cod.
You can google her name for the impressive stats.
About retirement from a game to get on with life, she said, "We all have a plan in our life...Mine is just go back to Mexico and do things that I love to do, that I miss, and life is too short not to do them."
Though she won a coupla majors in what was a hall of fame career, I'll never forget what she said after barely losing her first real shot at one after hugging the victor and signing autographs for youngsters on her way to the interview room: "That is how I am...It really hurts not to win, but I can still have a good time with my family and my friends. I'm O.K. Sometimes people take it too seriously."
Parenthetically, I am resisting the temptation to talk about pulpiteers/pewsitters who are so concerned about the most stupidly insignificant things in church - You know what I mean! - when a world is at war, people are starving to death, nutball religionists are chopping off heads, Democrats/Republicans and other mainliners are destroying America, and...
People like Lorena Ochoa get it/Him.
She's my Person of the Year.
I'm often asked, "Why are so many people so obsessed with sports in America?"
Though I may be wrong yet I wouldn't say it if I thought I am, I think sports - just like church fights over the most stupidly insignificant things related to Jesus only by coincidence 'cause it can't be providence - provide a narcotic for people; anesthetizing the brain from what's really important in life.
Sports nuts and church irregulars, irascibles, and irreconcilables either lose themselves in what has no real meaning/consequence/importance in the end because they can't bear to consider/confront what's really important in life and need an escape from it or they've just got too much time on their hands and nothing better to do than be upset/contorted/viral about stupidly insignificant things.
Back to resolutions, I decided to survey KDers about theirs after reading about Henry Ward Beecher's resolution as a young yet maturing pastor/professor/whatever-he-was in Debby Applegate's Pulitzer Prize-winning The Most Famous Man in America: "I am resolved never to become a disputant or champion on any of those points which divide truly evangelical Christians...[Note that came after denominational disillusionment with 'arcane doctrines, petty ecclesiastical politics, heresy hunting, and constant sectarian warfare waged in the name of God']...promote charity rather than bitter sectionalism...love all other churches beside my own...say nothing evil of them, nor to desire their members; nor their decline...give my life to bring all Christians to the work of preaching the true power of the Gospel - the love of Christ."
Not bad for an erstwhile Calvinist.
Anyway, I asked KDers to tell us about their New Year's resolutions.
301 responses - ranging from serious to silly to scurrilous.
The results were, uh, well,...you decide for yourself.
I've picked representative responses from two broad categories: those who played and those who didn't want to play.
Some didn't want to play!
Businesswoman in Missouri: "I do not make New Year's resolutions. If it is something worth resolving, I would say you had best get with it and not wait until New Year's Day!"
Congregational pastor in Vermont: "I don't do resolutions; but I know what you're after, so...I'm going to learn to care less about what the 'saved' think and more about what the 'lost' need."
Baptist pastor in Illinois: "I have not done resolutions for many years. Probably won't do any this year. I think we should be trying to improve ourselves all the time and I don't need a holiday declared by the world to start a new way of living or to change my ways for the better. I also have enough of the bad things in my life; so, I don't need a day to change for the worse either."
Episcopal priest in, uh, I think, Virginia: "I have resolved not to make any New Year's resolutions inasmuch as I am incapable of keeping them due to our common condition of total depravity. However, I remain open to whatever God may have resolved for me due to His grace in Jesus Christ. Therefore, changes may occur for the better (though painfully perhaps) no credit due to my resolve of personal will."
Lawyer in Kansas: "I don't have a New Year's resolution, but on New Year's Day several years ago the evening news showed all the runners out running on the first day of the year and then interviewed a psychiatrist who said that few New Year's resolutions are kept and that the shorter they were the more likely they were to be kept...Thank Him daily for His daily forgiveness of our inability to keep even a daily resolution not to sin for 24 hours! At least I know how to take a spiritual bath daily and get cleaned up! Confess and repent!"
Businessman in Virginia: "I am one of those who does not make a New Year's resolution. It is O.K. with me if others do, but I have found that I know what I need to do in the coming year as it is the same things I needed to do this year. I have never known people who are really and truly committed to New Year's resolutions. That said, I look forward to seeing what others say. Thank you for your continuing efforts!"
Elder in Illinois: "I DO NOT MAKE NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTIONS BECAUSE I BREAK THEM AT 12:01 AM ON NEW YEAR'S DAY!"
Retired pastor in California who gets the KD genre: "I, uh, usually don't make resolutions, er, except, in a Christian kinda way, to lose weight not as vanity, of course, but so there is more food for the poor and hungry."
Someone who I'd like to spend more time with in, uh, time: "I do not make New Year's resolutions, but I do pick one avenue of my life that I feel needs some attention and put some extra focus there for self-improvement...One year I had to finally admit I did not have many female friends and that I did not trust women in general and decided to change that...Some years are easier...One year I had to stop stopping at the donut shop on the way to work in order to become friends with my backside again."
Early mentor of mine in New Jersey: "I don't make New Year's resolutions. However, I practice a custom which I think comes out of Japan. During the month of December, I attempt to clear up and clean up things that have lingered; so that I might start the new year with a clean slate. Kind of like the resurrection! Old things have passed away, behold all things are new. Whatever!"
High School student: "Forgive more!"
Delaware pastor who ain't close to retirement: "Retire!!!"
Reformed Catholic: "My resolution is to listen, nod, but not give advice to my first call pastor-wife; so she can have a place to vent without repercussion...My second resolution is take what you say about being more like Jesus more to heart and to my day-to-day actions. Less of a critic. More of an encourager. Less disdain. More love. Less overlooking. More accepting of those who are not like me in education, status, or health...Finally, more exercise!"
Friend in Colorado: "Be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger. I have found, as I get older, I have become opinionated. Sometimes this is good. Sometimes it's best to just keep my mouth shut and listen!"
Famous newswoman in the South: "Master Richard Foster's Celebration of Discipline...and exercise more!"
Former homiletics student of yours truly: "Hack the Vatican's main frame and nominate myself for sainthood much to the bafflement of Pope Benny!"
The most generous member to yours truly in the church because he understands: "I would like to lose 20 pounds; but I like sweets."
A beautiful voice in hearing distance: "More time for date nights!"
Recently reborn and on fire for Jesus: "I am making a New Year's resolution to stop smoking. I decided this would be the only one that I could be sure to keep; since I don't smoke."
President of a major mainline renewal organization: "To read the Bible through with special note as to the significance of places...instances...and to prepare my Sunday School lesson by Thursday evening so that I can have time for thinking of extras for the kids."
Musician/theologian: "My resolution is to appreciate why and for Whom I am here...may my ears, eyes and heart be ever open."
Pastor in Ohio: "Resolve to read my Bible regularly...to pray frequently...to be more faithful in gathering for fellowship...to seek ways to reach out to those around me with the Gospel...to help others through the gifts and talents that God has given to me...to try not make the same mistake twice...Let's serve the Kingdom of Heaven in 2011."
PCUSA seminarian: "That I would allow God to use me through my writings or any other way to bring souls into the kingdom."
Pastor in the South: "To deliver sermons that are faithful and call Christians to Christ-like action; then strive to live up to the sermons myself."
Pastor in Maryland: "Lose weight and live a more healthy lifestyle. Also, find a pastoral way to ask a staff member to retire; but he's a church member and..."
Editor of a major website trying to save America that I wish would link to KD: "Try everyday to focus on how grateful I am."
Teacher in Illinois: "To stay organized and pay bills promptly...to be more patient with people; especially my teenager who makes me fantasize about military school...to enjoy the here and now and not always be focused on the what-ifs, the tomorrows that may never come, or the yesterdays that I can't change."
Basketball coach: "Not talking to officials."
Beautiful sister in Oklahoma: "Be kinder, more patient, and to relax instead of stressing over the small stuff...to trust Him more and question Him less...to be wiser and gentler with those I love...to remember that people matter more than anything else."
Rockford entrepreneur: "Quit smoking...Get a personal trainer...Make more time with family and loved ones as working away my life is not an acceptable form of fulfillment."
Elder in Illinois: "Learn how to have financial peace...improve my relationship with God...Listen to God rather than changing what He says to what I want to hear...stop complaining...travel."
Mystic in Tennessee: "I want to quit acting what I think my age should act like. 56 is the new 36! @#$%!"
My favorite sister in Pennsylvania: "Make the most of the talents entrusted to me while I still have time to use them!"
An authentic not poser in the South Hills of Pittsburgh: "To act in a respectful manner to all; trying to understand them when making daily decisions that affect them."
Elder in Illinois in a church that I really know well: "Try to be more patient with lukewarm Christians."
Crisis counselor: "To finish and send handwritten letters to everyone in my life that I'm grateful for."
94 year old: "To tell people to wake up and enjoy life and stop ___ and ___ before it's too late."
As pour moi, I was going to exegete Psalm 101 as my personal New Year's resolution; until I realized it was David's and I wasn't really up to it.
In addition to wanting to take Jesus' agape ethic and parable of the wineskins much more seriously, an annual resolution that always comes up short in review on 12/31, I'm resolving to trust Him for, uh, everything here and now as well as hereafter; noting I am more trusting about the hereafter than here and now.
I'm resolving to forgive three people who really, really, really betrayed me in 2010; discovering they really, really, really betrayed me in the years preceding the last one. I'm doing that because I want to be forgiven by people who I really, really, really betrayed...
I'm resolving to buy a van for my wife and provide an example of reckless generosity with the fortune that I'm about to generate or receive anonymously or inherit or...geez...practice what David Ramsey preaches.
BTW, I figured out why Dave Ramsey is so debt-free. It's because he charges so much for his resources that put people who take his courses on how to become debt-free into debt for forking over so much $ to take his courses...
I'm resolving to hug and holy kiss people who need it like, uh, everybody.
Sounds so good.
I know I'm not up to it/Him.
Here's a resolution that I can keep.
I resolve to praise God for being my Savior in Jesus with more gusto even as I try/pray to make Him the Lord of my entire life that will never happen which is why I resolve to praise God for being my Savior in Jesus with more gusto.
Or something like that.
Blessings and Love!
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