New year's resolutions.
Let's resolve to live our lives in such a way that the preacher won't have to lie at our funerals.
I think of two notoriously naughty brothers.
You know the kind.
They transfer their pejorative pathologies to everyone because misery loves/embraces/enables...
Well, one of 'em died and the survivor went to the preacher, "I am very wealthy. If you agree to preside at my brother's funeral and say he was a saint, I will underwrite your church's budget for a decade."
The preacher, notorious as well for telling the truth no matter who/what/where/when, agreed and opened the funeral with this prayer: "Lord, he was an evil man. He abused his family. He was selfish. He did not share any of the wealth entrusted to him by You. He did nothing good. He was an evil man; but compared to his brother, he was a saint."
Back to resolutions, Twain quipped, "Now is the accepted time to make your regular annual resolutions. Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual."
Or as my daddy had to remind me on too many occasions, "The road to hell is paved with good intentions."
Be that as it is in a Pauline kinda way - and if you don't know what that means, read Romans 7 - I think resolutions, with all apologies to Jesus in Matthew 5:37 which the fundamentalists in town get while I'm still trying to figure it/Him out, are the only, uh, Christian thing to do for women and men of faith who want to get, uh, better in their, uh, discipleship.
But before I record my resolutions for 2017 so relatives and family on the corner of Lincoln and Main can hold me accountable in a why-don't-you-practice-what-you-preach kinda way, I recalled some resolutions from the past from folks who inspire mine.
Tony Evans: "Let me make this bold statement to every local church. The fuller of the Spirit you are, the fewer 'programs' you need. Because no program on earth can match the filling from heaven. Counseling would be cut short if more people who are being counseled were instead being filled."
Rhonda Hughey: "If we aren't longing for Jesus, our ministry activities will be routine and hollow. There is certainly no shortage of ideas, plans, methods, books, teachings, programs, and activities in the church. What we are suffering from is a drought of desperation for God! Desperation is the underlying fuel that ignites our hearts for unity, prayer, worship, and repentance."
Chuck Legvold: "I'm going to learn to care less about what the 'saved' think and more about what the 'lost' need."
Gary Beets: "If we meet and you forget me, you've missed nothing. But if you meet Jesus and forget Him, you've lost everything."
Chuck Colson: "Don't follow me! Follow Jesus!"
Specifically, pour moi, in 2017 to spark/provoke/compel some from you for Christ's sake:
1. I'm going to read fewer books about the Bible and spend most of my study/devotional time reading the Bible.
2. Because I'm going to live around here for the rest of my life and stay on the corner of Lincoln and Main until assassinated by an Islamofascistnutball savage or that girl/guy who's still mad at me for taking the church away from her/him and giving it back to Jesus or Grandpa Jacob's cancer genes kick in, I'm going to stop complaining about the pizza being awful compared to the slices of Northeastern Pennsylvania.
3. I'm going to retreat into the privacy of my own mind and revel in pony rides when sitting with an irascible, irregular, or irreconcilable and remember as I wrote in a book nobody bought, "Trying to be rational with the irrational is illogical."
4. With #3 as context, I'm not going to talk/write/weep or waste another minute on the PCUSA that is increasingly apostate under current management and spend my time praying/sowing for its return to Jesus by the book which means I will serve as called, not conspire with schismatics in renewed obedience to John 17, and network with anyone anywhere at anytime who convinces me that she/he/they really want to honor and follow Jesus by the book. In other words, when in cultures hostile to Jesus like most mainliners and sideliners with their peculiarly and selfishly navel-gazing idolatries only coincidental to Christianity as incarnated in Jesus and prescribed in Holy Scripture, I will shut up when tempted to condemnation in obedience to John 3:17 while praying/trying to salt, shine, and leavenate.
5. I will pray/try to follow Thumper's counsel: "If you can't say somethin' nice, don't say nothin' at all."
6. I will surrender all wistfulnesses to Him as well as remember Picasso when I speak/write: "When I was 12, I could paint like Raphael. It took until now to be able to paint like this."
7. Existentially and metaphorically, I will spend my energy, emotions, and resources savoring Quorum and Camacho Bertha rather than higher ends that aren't really that much better.
If you don't get #7, don't worry about it.
My resolutions are only intended to fuel yours and provide ammo for the self-righteous and judgmental in my life and ministry.
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