Each year rolls past quickly. Some years cause pain, still others joy. Most are a little of both. Any way you look at it, 2022 is nearly over. I want 2023 to be my best year yet, and I also want that for you. Author Terri Blackstone wrote an inspiring book, “If I live,” that my wife read this fall. I was so moved by a small portion at the end of the book that I saved it for you. As you know, I am soon to retire from being your pastor. These are likely the last new year’s words I will share with you. I hope they will speak to you as they have spoken to me.
Do you choose to be miserable?
“Do you choose to be miserable? Lately, I’ve noticed that a lot of us do. Our culture divides us, and hatred is at an all-time high. We feed our anger in multiple ways throughout each day. We look for opportunities to be offended and feel slighted. We anticipate that we will be treated badly. We shame and are ashamed; we judge and feel judged; we assign guilt and feel guilty. We blame and assume wrong motives of everyone around us. We are pessimistic, and we mock those who hope. Everything has the look and feel of smoke and mirrors, but we deny reality. We doubt truth when it’s obvious and heartily embrace falsehoods.
Over the last couple of years, I’ve been spending a lot of time with my grandson Liam, who is four as I’m writing this. The other day we were at the playground, and another child refused to answer him when he tried to make friends. It hurt his feelings, and on the way home, Liam said, “He must not know that Jesus told us to be kind to one another.”
It hit me that so many of our cultural ailments could be solved by embracing the simplest biblical principles—things that my four-year-old grandson understands. Be kind to one another, treat people the way you want to be treated, rejoice with those who rejoice, mourn with those who mourn, share what you have, don’t judge people for things you do yourself, love one another, put others before yourself, serve others, forgive those who sin against you, pray for your enemies.
If we applied these things to those who rubbed us the wrong way, our culture would be so different. Instead of slapping each other down for daring to differ, we would respect one another and be willing to listen. We wouldn’t assume people are evil just because we don’t understand them. We wouldn’t let others tell us how to feel. We would investigate things on our own and dig for truth.
We would never be convinced to trash people over social media because we’re trying to make a point or because we have a cause. We wouldn’t hammer our points home over and over under the guise of enlightening the less intelligent, because we would realize our relationships are more important than our opinions. We would consider others, not target them.
The Bible tells us many ways to combat misery. Seek God’s kingdom first (Matthew 6: 33); love because you’re loved (John 13: 34); overflow with hope by trusting in God (Romans 15: 13). Philippians 4: 8 says, “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything, worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things; and the God of peace shall be with you.”
Misery is a choice. Sometimes it’s my choice. Is it yours? What if we chose not to be miserable? What if we made a conscious effort to spend less time with the things and people who make us miserable? What if we chose to trust God instead? After all, He loved us enough to send His son to die for us, so that we wouldn’t be stuck in the mire of our sins, but would have abundant life.
We can trust Him. He knows what’s coming. He’s the one who knows the whole picture. He’s the one who loves us and doesn’t want us to be miserable. He gave us ways to find joy. Let’s choose that instead.”
— If I Live by Terri Blackstock
Looking back over the last year, it is hard to comprehend all that has happened, including the changes here in the office.You all have shown so much patience and care for Jamie and me. Because of this church's people, we are delighted to come to work every day. On tough days, someone always reminds us of the blessings and why we were chosen for this job.
Just before Christmas, a beautiful bright red card was placed in the mailbox outside my office. The simplest gesture and note, with approximately 15 signatures, made a considerable impact and warmed my heart. I felt what the Grinch did when his heart grew three sizes!
The card was a Christmas card, thanking me for making sure the Ladies of Serenity had a "home" at Howell FUMC and giving a warm welcome back after such a long break. I receive cards and gifts occasionally, although items like this remind me that doing my job, keeping the calendar in order, communicating, and having conversations positively impact many. The simple cards and words mean so much more than a purchased thingamajig most of the time.
Thank you so much for the cards and gifts you gave me this Christmas! I appreciate them, and I am always surprised by gifts. My family has said many times my love language is gift-giving, and I genuinely enjoy giving gifts and giving gifts often. If you receive notes, cards, and gifts, that means I have thought of you; I appreciate you, and you are valued in my life. There are a few obligation gifts, but I save those for extended family. *wink wink
May you have a safe and enjoyable weekend. Happy New Year, and watch out for deer!
SPECIAL GIVING SUNDAY
January 15, 2023
Please NOTE: end-of-the-year payments need to be in the office by noon on December 30, 2022, to be credited to the 2022 year.
January 18 | No Meal - all other schedules are normal
January 25 |
Meal TBA Thank You,
*January Fitness Calendar Coming Soon!
Beginning January 19, 2023, the Family Wellness Center is hosting a Community men's Bible Study on the Gospel of John taught by Evangelical Pastor and author Tony Evans. Scan the QR Code, call the impact center (517) 223-4428, or email firstname.lastname@example.org to register. Find forms on the bulletin board outside the office as well.