Sunday, January 1, 2012

Hello 2012. But first, goodbye 2011.

Went biking yesterday with Brice, Charlie, and Lodi, third time this week after resting my knee for about 3 months. Beautiful ride with climbs up and behind Fullerton Road. Want to make this route part of my regular repertoire. Since purchasing my first road bike this past June, hope to ride more in 2012.

Two goals that I set out to do in 2011 finally come to an end (though their impact will hopefully continue)...

I took a sabbath from clothes shopping having been convicted of 1 Timothy 6:6-8, "But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that." I had vowed to not purchase any clothing unless it was somewhat necessary or if I already a gift certificate for it. Overall, I did fairly well; though I must confess that I did make a few purchases: As I said above, I bought a road bike in June and with that needed some legitimate bike clothing; I also bought two pairs of jeans because they were 50% off - jeans are both my everyday and work clothes; and this December I purchased an on-sale REI down jacket with a gift certificate anticipating many trips to Chicago in winter…this first being later this month. During this self-imposed sabbath from shopping, I noticed I tended to stay away from malls and places I know I would see something enticing; I also realized I simply shopped less because I knew I couldn't buy anything anyway. Interestingly, the next verse in 1 Timothy say this, "Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction (v.9). I learned one way to deal with a temptation is simply not to indulge it, to stay away if physically possible.

A second 2011 goal was to reflect on "abiding" based on verses from John 15:5…"I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing." Couple of thoughts: I tried to pray more, or more deeply; one of my practices every morning is to recite the Lord's Prayer as a framework for my prayers. I tried to make room for more praise of God and also to think more deeply about my real concerns and hopes, to lift those up and trust God with them. I also felt that I was able to let go of results more this year; maybe this is part of getting older and realizing that there is much to this life that I will never be able to control or will into existence. Whether this is part resignation from being tired or just a bit of wiser living, I let more things be. This year also involved a season of loss (mostly of people moving away), but also of new growth (particularly going back to school - a doctoral program at Northern Seminary).

For 2012, I need to reflect a bit more, but in addition to reading through the New Testament I am considering what Proverbs 3:3-6 might mean for me, "Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and humankind. Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight." I thought of these verses the last week because they came up on two separate occasions: the first time was when Luke Mason read those verses on the bottom of his strawberry shake cup from In 'N Out; the second time came a few days later when my friend Eddie told me a funny story about a friend of his who was considering whether he should date a gal who wasn't a Christian; this young believer was getting advice from Eddie while he was driving (Eddie was in the back seat listening and texting at the same time). Eddie encouraged his friend to read the Bible and ask God what He thought; almost immediately the guy said, "Proverbs 3:5-6". Eddie, without looking up, replied, yeah, that's a good one. The friend said, "Whaaat? I was just reading the license plate of the car in front of me!" Eddie exclaimed, "Dude, that's God speaking to you!"

Maybe God was speaking to me, too, when Eddie told me that story. Verse 3 is about focusing on growing in love and faithfulness. The result is favor with God and others. I'd like that. Verses 4-5 is about trusting God with everything, letting things go to him, resting in the knowledge that He will make my paths straight as I (we) move into the future. I'd like that too.

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