A NEW YEAR’S TALK WITH MYSELF

The first Sunday of 1998 my message title was “A New Year’s Talk with Myself.” I learned from a staff member that her husband asked if they had to come. When she asked why he responded, “Because he’s just talking to himself.” This year – 20 years later – I am going to have a similar talk with myself; and I invite you to listen in.

I’m not making any New Year’s resolutions as such; I’ve done that in the past, and it never seems to work out the way I intended. My intention is to do better and to keep growing. I want to become more and more the person the Lord has called me to be.

Twenty years ago I used Titus 2:11-14 for my text. I’m revisiting that passage at the beginning of this year:

For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.

In 1998, at the age of 46, I said very little about the Bible passage, but quite a bit about what I wanted to do in the coming year. In 2018, at the age of 66, I want to better understand, as well as be challenged and encouraged by, these four verses.

The premise of the passage in verses 11 and 14 is the grace of God shown in the giving of Jesus to be our Savior. I don’t know of anything more important than the grace of God when it comes to doing better and continuing to grow. God’s grace has been foundational for me the past 20 years and will continue to be in 2018.

Note also these verses include both some negative as well as positive instruction.

Verse 12 calls us to “say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passion.” I don’t know precisely what that would mean to you, but I have some ideas of what it means to me to do better and continue to grow. Isn’t it interesting that as we make progress and move forward by minimizing things we shouldn’t do that we better realize what we should be doing?

That’s where the positive instruction of verse 12 is helpful: “to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives.” Doing better and continuing to grow is not just about what we don’t do, it is also about cultivating the doing of what is right. Talking to myself now, I am aware of some ways I need more self-control that would contribute to my being more upright and godly.

In my 1998 sermon I was specific about attitude, spoken words, and actions. I won’t let you listen in to this part of my talk with myself, but 20 years later I still can do better with some of my attitudes, some of the things I say, and some things I do.

I am excited about the New Year and hope listening in on my talk with myself stimulates your thinking. I have so specific resolutions as such – but I do want to do better and keep on growing. How about you?

Happy New Year!

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ARE WE THERE YET?

Although the title question of this post is usually asked when traveling somewhere by car, it can also be asked in a variety of situations and circumstances. In early December I wrote about Jan’s and my move from Southern California to the Texas Panhandle under the title “A Bright Sadness.” She left a couple of weeks ahead of me and as I packed my car to drive from Moreno Valley to Texas I concluded my thoughts: “Right now my bright sadness is sadder than it is bright. Soon, however, the brightness will outshine the sadness.” After almost three months I’m asking myself, “Are we there yet?” The short answer is “Not yet, but we’re making progress.”

I have been overwhelmed by the welcome and warmth of so many of the people we have met. It seems like everyone we meet is cordial and interested in us. I’ve never been addressed as “honey” so often in my life. One lady two weeks ago actually called me “sugar.” I think the last person who called me that was my mom many years ago. When we walk the dogs we almost always see people we greet by name and who greet us by name. I joined Gold’s Gym and a racquetball league and the guys have all been friendly. I have yet to win a game, but after each match the guy who beat me has given me a free lesson!

I’ve played golf a few times and joined up with others a couple of times, but have not yet found any regulars with whom I can play. I hope to connect with a couple of the guys I play racquetball with and return the favor in golf they have shown me in racquetball. As so many told me ahead of time, the real drawback for golf here is the wind. I did join single players on two occasions and exchanged contact info with them. The one sent me an email saying I was “a hoot to play with.” The other, who is 79, told me to call him if I was willing to play with someone that old. I am and I will.

All the churches we have visited have welcomed us with open arms and we have officially become members at one. I am looking forward to the opportunity to preach in a couple of weeks as all the preaching pastors will be gone on a Mexico mission trip. I believe this church is going to be a great place for Jan and me to worship, serve, and fellowship.

I do have a gentleman I would call my best friend in Amarillo. And he truly is a gentleman. We connected over three years ago when Jan and I first started thinking about relocating to Amarillo. Over the course of those three years we stayed in touch and since arriving he has been a great help and friend to me. He is a man of faith, we are about the same age, and so far, he is the only person I have been able to beat in racquetball!

I am still exploring potential opportunities for part time work that will allow me to serve in ministry in some way, but nothing yet has solidified. I am not, however, discouraged.

The brightest aspect of our move, of course, has been the opportunity to live with our daughter and two grandsons and help take care of them.  Jan and I stayed home with the little guy (age 3) sick last Tuesday and I stayed home with the big guy (age 6) sick last Thursday. I have rug burns on both knees and elbows. We move into our own house in a couple of weeks, but we will stay deeply involved and closely connected with them.

We have transferred our cars and put Texas tags on them, but we cannot get Texas driver’s licenses until we have utility bills. We still grieve the passing of our cat, but our dog, Macy, is doing great playing with her new friend Leonard (Audrey’s dog). I am looking forward to a return to Southern California for a visit in late April or May.

I think people ask the question “Are we there yet?” because they have unrealistic expectations with regard to how long it will take to get to where they are going. And those unrealistic expectations result in impatience which makes the trip even more frustrating. It would probably be helpful if we tried to enjoy the trip itself. Jan and I have not fully arrived, but we are making good progress—and we will get there.

(If you have not read the post “A Bright Sadness” you can do so at https://bobmmink.com/2016/12/05/a-bright-sadness/ )

Feel free to leave a reply below and/or share these thoughts on Facebook or other social media.

photo credit: iainmerchant <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/135123601@N08/32968356026″>Road Trip!</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>(license)</a&gt;