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Archive for December, 2011

Breakthrough.


Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. 2 Corinthians 5:17

Before the breakthrough comes the vision of what God can and will do if you will act in faith.

Notice this: It’s not vision we lack, but resolve.

Breaking through requires much of us.

God has done His part.

 He has issued the invitation, “Come to My table.

 Eat of My flesh.

 Drink of My blood.

Dwell in Me, and I will dwell in you.” (See John 6.)

All the elements needed for a breakthrough have been provided by God for you.

The breakthrough for your harvest is here.

The breakthrough for your healing is here.

The breakthrough for your prospering is here.

The breakthrough for your inheritance is here.

 Will you break through?

Father, give me a vision of what You can do in my life if I will act in faith.
 
Show me the “new things”
You have for me. I accept Your invitation to come to Your table.
 
Lead me into my breakthroughs. Amen.
 

The Need for Fresh Anointing.


The Lord’s anointing oil is on you. —Leviticus 10:7

Our reward in heaven will not be determined by yesterday’s anointing but by today’s fresh anointing.

I will not receive a reward for how well I preached, how many thousands I reached or blessed, or even how many people were converted under my ministry.

To be rewarded for my gifts is nonsense!

“For who makes you different from anyone else?.

What do you have that you did not receive?.

And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?” (1 Cor. 4:7).

God is not going to reward me for the ability He alone gave me.

My reward in heaven (may God grant that there is such) will come entirely by whether I practiced what I preached: walking in the light, dignifying the trial, totally forgiving others, and placing utmost priority on my intimacy with Him.

And yet my continued effectiveness here below is also determined by my hearing God’s voice today.

If my anointing given me yesterday is replenished by a fresh anointing that comes by the way I live personally and privately, I will continue to hear God speak and will know His will daily.

I will not  miss what He wants of me or what He wants me to see around me.

I can think of nothing worse than missing out on what God is doing.

And yet my knowledge of the Bible will not in and of itself guarantee that I will recognize what He is up to today.

We must all learn to distinguish the difference between what is important and what is essential—and always do the latter.

Whether with our use of time, money, our diaries, or social relationships, the issue is what is essential and being sure we do what is essential.

Yesterday’s anointing is important; today’s fresh anointing is essential.

Excerpted from The Anointing: Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow (Charisma House, 2003).

By R. T. KENDALL.

{ Day 365 }.


 

My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding, and if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God. Proverbs 2:1-5

Search the Scriptures and look for new insights into the ways of God with His people.

Study the history of revivals.

Wisdom and errors are easier to perceive with the luxury that hindsight affords.

Encourage people to rejoice in that, whether or not they have personally been manifestly touched by the Spirit, God is visiting the body in general.

 Let us not be so individualistic in our thinking.

May we all trust the Lord to give us our personal portion in any visitation and be glad for what He is doing in others.

This attitude puts us in the best possible condition to be able to receive what God does have for us as individuals.

{ PRAYER STARTER }

Thank You, Father, for all that You are doing in my life.

 I commit my life to searching Your Word and Your presence for new revelation from You.

I want to be fully engaged in Your destiny for my life.

I want to be counted worthy of manifesting Your marvelous love to others.

 I am Yours, Lord.

Use me in any way You choose—now and forever.

Encourage people to rejoice in that, whether or not they have personally been manifestly touched by the Spirit, God is visiting the body in general.

By MIKE BICKLE.

Around The Corner.


“Go down ahead of me to Gilgal.

I will surely come down to you to sacrifice burnt offerings and fellowship offerings, but you must wait seven days until I come to you and tell you what you are to do.” 1 Samuel 10:8 (NIV)

God had given Saul specific directions from the prophet Samuel on how to win in a battle Saul was going through.

Saul was instructed to go to Gilgal and wait on Samuel to come and offer a sacrifice unto God.

Then Saul would be told what to do next in his life.

But in 1 Samuel 13:8-14, we find that Saul did not wait and did not follow what the Lord told him to do.

“He waited seven days, the time set by Samuel; but Samuel did not come to Gilgal, and Saul’s men began to scatter.

So he said, “Bring me the burnt offering and the fellowship offerings.”

And Saul offered up the burnt offering. Just as he finished making the offering, Samuel arrived, and Saul went out to greet him.

“What have you done?” asked Samuel. Saul replied, “When I saw that the men were scattering, and that you did not come at the set time, and that the Philistines were assembling at Mikmash, I thought, ‘Now the Philistines will come down against me at Gilgal, and I have not sought the LORD’s favor.’

So I felt compelled to offer the burnt offering.”

“You have done a foolish thing,” Samuel said.

“You have not kept the command the LORD your God gave you; if you had, he would have established your kingdom over Israel for all time.

But now your kingdom will not endure; the LORD has sought out a man after his own heart and appointed him ruler of his people, because you have not kept the LORD’s command.” (NIV)

Saul did not wait on the timing of God’s direction. He started looking at the situation around him.

He began to see, in the natural, the men beginning to leave; the men he was counting on.

He began to fear and think, “My enemy is going to come into this territory and attack me.”

Then he began to feel, “I will take matters into my own hands and not follow The Word given to me.

It’s getting too late, The Word or promise given to me is not happening, I will just stop waiting and believing that God will come through for me.

This is just taking too long!”

Is that where you are right now?.

Are you like Saul, looking at how hard it’s getting?.

Are you beginning to move according to what is going on around you?

Saul’s promise was coming.

The manifestation of his promise from God was on its way; it was moving on the road toward him!

His promise was almost there when Saul decided to quit waiting, watching, believing and speaking what God said. His breakthrough was on its way.

The change in his situation that he had been waiting on was just a few moments in time from him, and Saul gave up and canceled it all to discover that “Just as he finished making the offering, Samuel arrived.”

That’s what God wants you to know.

He knows what time it is.

He loves you and He will keep His Word – will you?.

Are we going to give up because it looks like it is getting late?.

Are we going to try to make a breakthrough happen by ourselves and in our own power?

Decide today to dig your spiritual heels in the ground and not give up! You shall finish strong! 

Scripture Of The Day: “Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” – Psalm 27:14 (NIV).

By Jamie Carte.

Why His Return?.


And if I go… I will come again…
John 14:3

Recommended Reading
Revelation 22:6-7

The first appearance of Jesus was a mission of humility and sacrifice.

The second will be a mission of triumph and transformation.

He often described it as a groom returning for His bride.

 The Church, He said, is “the bride of Christ.”

And what eager brides we are!–eagerly awaiting our Lord to come take us home!

 According to 1 Thessalonians 4, He will break through the clouds with a great shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God.

Listen to Today’s
Radio Message

But He must also come to judge the world.

Jesus spoke several times of the final judgment, when He would come to judge the living and the dead and to separate His faithful children from those who refuse to follow Him.

He’ll also return to establish a new heaven and a new earth wherein dwells righteousness.

 How eagerly we’re awaiting His new universe with its shimmering capital city described in Revelation 21 and 22 as the New Jerusalem.

Another year is dawning, dear Father let it be, on earth or else in Heaven another year for Thee!
Frances Havergal

Read-Thru-the-Bible
Psalm 119
 

Resurrection Power.


  
     

“For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection.” -Romans 6:5

 Can you recall a time when a piece of your spirit died?.

 Maybe someone said something to you that left an indelible negative impression on you…or, you received a critical word or comment that sapped your spirit.

Because of comments made to us and/or experiences during our lifetimes, all of us carry in our hearts some negative impressions of ourselves and our capabilities.

All of us have “given up” on certain dreams or aspirations at one time or another.

 All of us have negative impressions of ourselves that are absolutely NOT true.

 All of us have felt a piece of a dream, or an entire dream, die.

However, death is not the end of the story.

 Yes, death can be painful – very painful – when you work hard and plan long, and then, for whatever reason, have to abandon your project, your dream, or even a longstanding relationship.

It hurts.

Death can also be very sudden and almost painless when you submissively and perhaps subconsciously just let go of your dream, reasoning, “It probably wasn’t a very good idea anyway…my ideas never are…”

I know for me, personally, my soul tends to want to “settle in silence” when I passively let a piece of my spirit die.

 “Unless the Lord had been my help, my soul would soon have settled in silence” (Psalm 94:17).

And this happens ONLY when I choose to NOT allow the Lord to be my help. Either way, death leaves an empty hole in our hearts.

However, there’s more to the story, the final chapter. Christ‘s death on the cross – we can’t even imagine the obvious physical pain, let alone the magnitude of His sacrifice.

 But, Christ knew it wasn’t the end. He knew that death was just a painful bridge to a beautiful new birth!

Yes, the final chapter is, of course, the resurrection – the glorious resurrection!

You’ve heard it a million times: “You can resurrect your dream!” So-called “self-help” books have told you this for years, but, you might be thinking, “I’ve been there, done that.

I’m worn out on that idea.” Well, maybe, maybe not. Christ’s resurrection was God’s idea, not yours, not mine, not anyone else’s.

What is God‘s resurrection idea for you today? God’s ideas, born through us, are always better than ideas that we, alone, conceive or otherwise take credit. Let God resurrect a dream or goal or idea in your life today!

      *                *                  * 

  

PRAYER:

Lord, resurrect Your purpose for me today.

Help me to be willing to tune-in, to see, to sense, to acknowledge, and to respond to Your ultimate plan for my life. Amen.

      *                *                  *   

    

Can you remember a time when a piece of your positive spirit died? Did you just accept it?.

 Would you like to resurrect it?.

 How do you think you could discover God’s new dream for you?.

Written by Jim Coleman.

“Immanuel”


The Name

The name “Immanuel” appears twice in the Hebrew Scriptures and once in the New Testament.

One of the most comforting of all the names and titles of Jesus, it is literally translated “with us is God” or, as Matthew’s Gospel puts it, “God with us.”

When our sins made it impossible for us to come to him, God took the outrageous step of coming to us, of making himself susceptible to sorrow, familiar with temptation, and vulnerable to sin’s disruptive power, in order to cancel its claim.

In Jesus we see how extreme God’s love is.

Remember this the next time you feel discouraged, abandoned, or too timid to undertake some new endeavor.

 For Jesus is still Immanuel — he is still “God with us.”

Key Scripture
All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” — which means, “God with us.” Matthew 1:22 – 23

***

Tuesday

Praying the Name

“Go away, Lord; I am a sinful man!” Luke 5:8

Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
Psalm 139:7 – 10

Reflect On: Psalm 139:7 – 10.

Praise God: For his promise to be with you.

Offer Thanks: For God’s persistence in pursuing you.

Confess: Any pattern of sin in your life.

Ask God: To increase your confidence in his desire to be with you.

One of the greatest of all the promises in the Bible is this: I am with you.

Jesus said it to his disciples (and to us) at the end of Matthew’s Gospel: “Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

 If the Lord is with us, what do we have to fear?.

What do we lack?.

 How can we lose?.

 The same Lord who walked on water, healed the sick, and rose from the dead is saving us, watching over us, guiding our steps.

Knowing this, why don’t we dance in the streets and throw more parties?.

 Why do we sometimes act as though God is not only not with us but that he is nowhere in the vicinity?

There may be many reasons why we feel God’s absence in our lives.

 One of these is surely that our “spiritual sensors” often don’t work very well.

We are like malfunctioning radar that can’t spot a supersonic jet flying straight overhead.

But another common reason is that we are the ones who go AWOL, not God.

Consider Peter.

One day Jesus climbed into Peter’s boat, telling him to row out into the lake and cast his nets out despite the fact that Peter had been up all night fishing with nothing to show for it.

But this time when Peter threw out the nets, he caught so many fish that his boat began to sink.

 Instead of jumping with joy, Peter fell down and implored Jesus to leave him, saying, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!”

There’s something right about Peter’s response. Jesus is holy and sin is his implacable enemy.

 Still the Lord didn’t leave Peter.

Instead he stayed and transformed his life.

 And that’s what Jesus wants to do with our lives.

We make a mistake when we let our sin drag us down and away from the One who has promised to be with us.

Instead of running to him, we let a cloud settle over us.

 Finding it hard to pray, we move farther away.

In a thousand different ways, we say, “Depart from me, O Lord!”

At times like this we need to recall the words of Psalm 139:11 – 12:

If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,”
even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.

If you are troubled by some persistent failing, by some entrenched sin, don’t run away from Jesus.

Instead express your sorrow and ask for his forgiveness — and then receive it.

After that try praying this famous fourth-century prayer known as St. Patrick’s Breastplate:

Christ be beside me, Christ be before me,
Christ be behind me, King of my heart;
Christ be within me, Christ be below me,
Christ be above me, never to part.
Christ on my right hand, Christ on my left hand,
Christ all around me, shield in the strife;
Christ in my sleeping, Christ in my sitting,
Christ in my rising, light of my life.
Christ be beside me, Christ be before me,
Christ be behind me, King of my heart;
Christ be within me, Christ be below me,
Christ be above me, never to part. 

By Ann Spangler.

The Year in Review: The 10 Leading News Stories of 2011.


 
And thus 2011 comes to an end, like every year before it.
 
The year came with its own surprises and controversies, tragedies and headlines.
 
And, with the closing of the year, we find the need to put the year into some kind of historical perspective.
 
 We are chronological creatures, and the span of year is enough to require some accounting.

Here, without strict ranking by priority, are the biggest news stories of 2011 as I have seen them.

1. The Arab Spring

In just a matter of months, the political map of the Arab world has been reshaped. It started with student protests in Tunisia and Egypt, and then swept through much of the Arab world, especially in North Africa. Regimes in Egypt and Tunisia fell first, followed by foment and revolutionary fervor elsewhere in the region. The collapse of the Mubarak regime in Egypt was followed by initial euphoria, but that was severely dampened in the following weeks as it became clear that the Egyptian military was very much in control. Of even greater concern was the rise of Islamist groups to power and influence throughout the region. The greatest trophy of the Arab Spring was the toppling of the Gaddafi regime in Libya, with Libyan insurgents assisted by NATO backing. Meanwhile, Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad held ruthlessly to power. At the end of the year, the future shape of the Arab world is anything but clear. One fact remains of interest: No Arab regime fueled by large oil deposits (such as the Gulf States) has yet been reshaped to any serious degree by the Arab Spring.

2. Tsunami and Earthquake Kill Thousands in Japan

Americans will forever remember 9/11. For the Japanese, it will be 3/11 — the March 11 tsunami and earthquake combination that wiped several coastal cities and villages off the map, killing as many as 20,000 people. An earthquake on the sea floor off Japan’s coast triggered a tsunami that left massive devastation in its wake. The combined catastrophe was made far worse when it was discovered that sea water had breached one of Japan’s major nuclear power facilities. It was later conceded that the reactor at the Fukushima Diachi nuclear plant had experienced a complete meltdown, though the level of contamination outside the plant is still not yet known. The sheer scale of the combined disasters is without precedent in the industrialized world.

3. The Death of Tyrants and Terrorists

History will record the year 2011 as a bad year for tyrants and masterminds of terror. Muammar Gaddafi was toppled by insurgent forces in Libya, bringing his 41-year dictatorship to an end. Gaddafi would eventually be shot as he tried to escape capture, having eluded pursuers for weeks after his regime fell. Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak was forced to resign, and was put on trial. As the year ended, it was unclear that the aged former ruler would live to see that trial concluded. Americans were told on May 1 that its most targeted enemy, Osama bin Laden, had been killed by an elite force of U.S. Navy SEALs, who invaded his fortress in Abbottabad, Pakistan. The mastermind of the September 11, 2001 attacks in New York City and Washington, D.C. and the leader of al-Qaeda, bin Laden had declared himself to be an enemy of the United States and Western powers until his death. Also killed in a separate action was the American-born terrorist Anwar al-Awlaki, head of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. At the very end of the year, North Korea’s “Dear Leader” Kim Jong-il died of a massive heart attack. His youngest son, Kim Jong-un, believed to be age 28, was declared by the North Korean press to be the “Great Successor” within the hermit kingdom.

4. Occupy Wall Street

For a few weeks, it looked as if the 1960s had returned to some American cities. It began with a call for protestors to arrive at Wall Street in New York, ready to take a stand against financial and economic injustices. It mushroomed into a huge protest movement, with crowds of generally young people pitching tents and “occupying” strategic areas around Wall Street and in cities across the nation. This came after rioting young people rampaged through the streets of London weeks earlier. The Occupy Wall Street movement was, in the end, not so much a movement as a meeting of sorts. The crowd lacked a consistent message or defined goals. Some commitment to anarchy seemed to doom the movement to being little more than a massive publicity stunt. Nevertheless, a sizable portion of the U.S. population indicated some support for the protest in spirit. In the end, the movement was driven off the streets by police action and cold weather.

5. Natural Disasters in the United States

2011 was a year of tragedy for many in the United States. Massive systems of tornadoes brought devastation to communities in Alabama and Georgia. A path of cyclonic devastation was visible from the air as passenger planes approached Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport months later. Another massive tornado brought death and destruction to Joplin, Missouri. The Joplin tornado shifted a hospital off its foundation, destroyed entire neighborhoods, and left no one in the regional city unaffected. Over 5,000 Joplin residents were left homeless. In Texas, drought and wildfires tormented residents. The Northeastern United States was hit by a major hurricane, leading to massive flooding. Washington, D.C. was, of all things, the epicenter of an earthquake, causing cracks in major facilities and historical sites, including the Washington Monument.

6. Sports Scandals Explode

College football had a very bad year, with scandals at Ohio State University and the University of Miami taking most of the headlines for most of the year. The head coach lost his job at Ohio State, while Sports Illustrated called for the University of Miami program to be shut down. Baseball’s Barry Bonds was convicted of obstructing justice as Major League Baseball sought to regain its moral grounding in light of drug scandals. Then, a scandal of epic proportions erupted at Penn State University, as a Pennsylvania grand jury handed down indictments in a case involving the sexual abuse of young boys. It became clear that several of the most significant leaders of the university had failed to stop — or even to report — the sexual abuse of boys by former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky. Within days, the president of the university was forced out and fabled head football coach Joe Paterno was fired. A vice president and the athletic director were arrested. The nation hardly had time to think about the meaning of the Penn State scandal when another scandal of the sexual abuse of boys erupted in the basketball program at Syracuse University. Every leader in America was put on notice — there can be no toleration of sexual abuse, and no failure to report suspected abuse to legal authorities.

7. The European Union Fights for Survival

The economic crisis that exploded in 2008 continues to reverberate around the world. 2011 will be remembered as the year that Europe had to act decisively to save the Euro and the so-called Euro-zone of nations within the European Union. The nations had attempted a monetary union without a fiscal union, but the prized achievement of European cooperation, the Euro, was threatened when it became clear that Greece was in danger of defaulting on its debt. The crisis in Greece revealed a large crisis of sovereign debt within Europe, as well as major cultural divisions that could no longer be denied. As the year ended, an agreement brokered by Germany and France bought some time for the Euro, but with a significant loss of national sovereignty for member nations. Unelected technocrats took power in Greece and Italy, and Great Britain refused to join the agreement to save the Euro, which it had never adopted. European governments and businesses understood that the collapse of the Euro remained a clear possibility. The larger issue remained the survival of the attempt to forge a new European identity on secular and economic terms.

8. Political Frustration in the United States

The American political scene was marked, above all, by a sense of frustration on the part of the public. President Obama and the U.S. Congress shared disastrously low ratings with the American people. Congress played continual brinksmanship with the threat of shutting down the government and President Obama found that blaming the previous administration for the nation’s economic woes and high unemployment no longer worked. Americans grew more nervous about the threat posed by the nation’s towering national debt and both major parties geared up for the 2012 national election. On the Republican side, the campaign for the presidential nomination began earlier than ever, but with no consistent front-runner. All that is likely to change when actual voting takes place very soon after the New Year.

9. Notable Deaths Take the Headlines

Steve Jobs, the iconic co-founder of Apple, resigned as CEO in August, announcing that his fight with cancer left him unable to lead the company. He died just six weeks after making that announcement. Jobs’ death became a signal event for the year, with massive news coverage and media refection. All this pointed to Jobs as the symbol of the digital age, the inventor of the iPad, the iPod, and the iPhone. But the cultural attention prompted by Jobs’ death also pointed to the vast role that digital technologies now play in our world and in our lives. Other notable deaths of 2011 included former First Lady Betty Ford, former Congresswoman Geraldine Ferraro, and movie star Elizabeth Taylor, along with political figures Sargent Shriver and Warren Christopher.

10. The Redefinition of the Book and Publishing

Centuries after the invention of the printing press, the book experienced another transformation with the arrival of electronic books (or e-books) and reading devices such as Amazon’s Kindle. 2011 may well be remembered as the year that readers had to decide whether to read a book in print, or on screen. Publishers revealed in 2011 that many mass-market titles were selling more in e-book form than in print. Meanwhile, Barnes & Noble and Amazon brought out new and very inexpensive digital reading devices. The Barnes & Noble Nook reader established the company as a major player in the digital market, explaining in part why Barnes & Noble survives into 2012 while major competitor Borders Books did not. Borders collapsed and closed all of its stores after a series of failed rescue bids. Meanwhile, Amazon released its color tablet known as the Kindle Fire just in time for Christmas, selling millions. Still, the printed book holds its place — and so do brave independent bookstores. Novelist Anne Patchett and others opened a new independent bookstore in Nashville in 2011, Parnassus Books.

Of course, 2011 will be remembered by individuals in different ways. For many, the year will be remembered for events far more intimate and personal than these major national and world events. Deaths, births, marriages, graduations, retirements and other milestones mark our years. All of these meld into our memory. Those of us who shared the year 2011 are left with plenty of reasons to reflect, to remember, to hope, and to pray.

I am always glad to hear from readers. Write me at mail@albertmohler.com. Follow regular updates on Twitter at www.twitter.com/AlbertMohler.

Publication date: December 28, 2011.

By Albert Mohler.

Look Forward to a New Year of Possibilities.


I love New Year‘s.

It’s not because of the New Year’s Eve celebration; it’s not because the busyness of the holidays is over; it’s not even because of the numerous college football games on television.

I love New Year’s because it signifies the end of a chapter, one that probably didn’t reach my highest expectations yet holds the hopes, the dreams, and the possibilities of a whole new year.

Even though a new year almost seems “artificial” in some ways — only minutes from one to the next — I see it as a brand new start, a start that I need every year to help me get past the past.

Surprises

No matter how hard we try to plan and maintain a handle on (or control of) our own lives, each year all of us are faced with situations and circumstances that are completely out of our control.

A couple of weeks ago, I was at the post office picking up my mail and a young boy about 7 years old was opening a letter that his mother had given him.

He let out a scream: “20 dollars!  I’ve got 20 dollars!” Just then his older sister, about 10 years old, said “I’ve got 60 dollars!”

I remarked to them, “Wow, I hope I find money in my mail!”

Their mother turned to me and said, “20 and 60 dollars isn’t much coming from their father who left us, and he could do more instead of spending it on a 26-year-old.”

Many families enter this New Year very differently from what they were a year ago.

Besides relational disappointment, I know many families, including my brother’s, are faced with a loss of work or some other financial struggle.

Others still face the New Year fighting an illness, missing a loved one or without a home in the face of many disasters.

At times like these, Jesus speaks to us just as he did to a father named Jairus when he found out his daughter had just died: “Don’t be afraid. Just trust me” (Mark 5:36, NLT).

Moving Forward

Looking back upon the last couple of years, I see disappointments in relationships, I see missed opportunities in business, I see friends who have passed away, and I see poor decisions in how I reacted to situations and how people reacted to me.

But in order for me to move forward, to continue growing, to continue reaching for higher standards, I need to put aside what people have done to me, how people have treated me, poor decisions I’ve made, and past disappointments.

Paul says: “We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed and broken.

We are perplexed, but we don’t give up and quit.

We are hunted down, but God never abandons us.

We get knocked down, but we get up again and keep going … for our present troubles are quite small and won’t last very long.

  Yet they produce for us an immeasurable great glory that will last forever! 

So we don’t look at the troubles we can see right now; rather, we look forward to what we have not yet seen.

For the troubles we see will soon be over, but the joys to come will last forever” (2 Corinthians 4:8-9, 17-18, NLT).

Maybe you’re like me, a “mature” single, never been married (with no immediate prospects), or like the woman in the post office, a single parent making the best for yourself and your family with the scars of a relationship gone astray.

In either case, we can approach the New Year in the same way. But how?

Setting Goals

I just heard a question asked of rapper 50 Cent, who is one of the best-selling artists of the past year: “You have all of the money that you could want; what makes you happy now?”

His answer: “To make goals and to achieve them.”

Maybe not from the best of role models, but that’s not bad advice for all of us.

Each year I try to have some simple goals (ones that can be reached in a day or a week), some mid-range goals (ones that can be obtained in a month to a year) and some long-range goals (ones that may take years or longer to reach).

Whether they are spiritual, emotional, financial, physical, or relational goals, they all have some common denominators:

  • They have to be clear – if you can’t understand your goal, you’ll never reach it.
  • They have to be reachable – if you can’t obtain the goal, what’s the use having them?
  • They have to be communicated – you have to stay accountable to others, and be encouraged by others.
  • They have to be written down – you need to have your goals constantly in your mind in order to reach them.

There were many things that I was able to accomplish this past year, some things that I have put off for another year, and other things with which I have failed miserably.

If I dwell on the negative and hang onto the past too much, I will miss new opportunities, new relationships and new possibilities.

Look forward to what you have not seen.

Don’t regret another year gone by; make this year one where you leave the past in the past.

Cliff Young is a contributing writer to Sandlot Stories (ARose Books). An architect and former youth worker, he now works with Christian musicians and consults for a number of Christian ministries. Got feedback?  Send your comments and questions to CYdmg@yahoo.com.

By Cliff Young.

Counting the Year’s Blessings.


 
 
 
With approximately $108 billion in insured catastrophic losses, 2011 is the second costliest year in history for the worldwide insurance industry. Hundreds of thousands have joined the Occupy movement in cities around the world to call attention to economic ills.
 
 Their activities, combined with those of the Tea Party movement and the massive demonstrations in Arab nations, prompted Time magazine to name the protester as its “Person of the Year.”

Other problems also plague our world. More people, an estimated 27 million worldwide, are enslaved today than at any time in history. In March, a massive earthquake and tsunami killed almost 16,000 people in Japan.

More than 150 tornadoes, leaving 550 people dead, ripped through the United States this year, most notably in Joplin, Mo., and Tuscaloosa, Ala. Scandals rocked Penn State and Syracuse universities.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported this month that one in five American women say that she has been sexually assaulted at some time. Such headlines top newspapers, television news programs, and Internet news sites every day.

Unfortunately, good news is harder to find. Search the Internet, however, and you will find sites such as CNN “Heroes;” “Happy News;” “Real News,” which includes “Compelling Stories, Always Positive;” the “Good News Network,” which features “News to Enthuse;” “Only Positive News;” “Daily Inspire News,” which presents “the brighter side of news;” and “Positive News.”

 Such sites feature stories of ordinary people who saved the lives of others, good Samaritans who returned money and jewelry they found, individuals who paid other people’s water or heating bills, and people who are working to create a healthy, more fulfilling world.

Consider other good news. Stories of individual determination and resilience are plentiful. A British centenarian of Indian ancestry, Fauja Singh, finished the Toronto Marathon in October. Hedda Bolgar, a 102-year-old therapist based in Los Angeles, still counsels clients four days a week and trains other psychologists.

Despite the global economic slump, some economic progress is occurring. A recent United Nations study reports that poverty in Latin America has decreased by 38 percent in the past 20 years.

 During this same period, microloans have helped create thousands of new businesses, and jobs and have lifted millions out of poverty in the world’s developing nations. These loans, which are repaid on time in more than 90 percent of cases, enable money to recirculate throughout poor communities.

Several entrepreneurs are partnering with survivors of the devastating January 2010 earthquake in Haiti to move beyond simply providing food and shelter, as important as this goal remains.

They are establishing a culinary school, a music conservatory, and a center to provide loans to socially conscious businesses. Muhammad Yunus, who led the way in creating microloans for the poor, is helping to fund a vocational and computer-training school in Port-au-Prince.

In the United States, hundreds of community-based organizations and thousands of churches sponsor programs to assist the indigent. For example, since 2008, Gina Keatley’s nonprofit, Nourishing NYC, has supplied fresh food and nutrition information gratis to almost 100,000 residents of Harlem and the Bronx.

Meanwhile, Arizona Cardinals running back Jason Wright retired from the NFL and gave up a multi-million dollar contract so that he could attend the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business to pursue his goal of helping inner-city children. Tom and Ann Rose, a Lehigh Valley, Penn., couple, recently took in their 72nd foster child.

Google announced this month that it will donate $11.5 million to several coalitions fighting to end contemporary slavery. This is thought to be the largest-ever corporate grant devoted to advocating for and rescuing exploited individuals who are being forced to labor against their will.

International Justice Mission will partner with Polaris Project, Slavery Footprint, and several smaller organizations to increase awareness in the United States, improve resources for anti-slavery enforcement agencies overseas, rescue victims, and help nations devise and pass anti-slavery legislation.

Such actions, often motivated by religious convictions, are heart-warming and inspiring. The Christmas season, however, reminds us of even greater good news. Christianity asserts that God loved people so much that He sent His Son Jesus to be born as a human baby, to teach and show us how to live, and to die on the cross to atone for our sins.

 Christians believe that accepting Jesus as our Savior and Lord enables individuals to experience the “abundant life” He promised on earth, empowers us to serve others, and ensures us of spending eternity with Him and our loved ones in Heaven.

Dr. Gary Scott Smith chairs the history department at Grove City College and is a fellow for faith and the presidency with The Center for Vision & Values. His most recent book is Heaven in the American Imagination (Oxford University Press, 2011).

Publication date: December 28, 2011

By Dr. Gary Scott Smith.

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