Ponderings with Doug – January 6, 2017

DougFUMC
My program for our Young at Heart group this Wednesday was the subject of New Year’s Resolutions. By a show of hands, how many of you made New Year’s resolutions? I thought so. I see two of you holding your hands up. You may put your hands down.

My statistical analysis reveals that .01% of those surveyed are making resolutions. I began researching this topic back in September. I found paltry resources on the subject. There were several TED talks on keeping the changes we decide to make. I didn’t think that going Zen on the ladies and gentlemen of our group would fly. So, I planned a very short program. I would tell the group that I had resolved not to speak longer than twelve minutes at any given time. No one ever complains about a short speech or a short sermon!

Before I spoke I was given information that dramatically changed what I had planned. I will illustrate while I also distract you.

“A preacher was on program at a district convention to preach for twenty minutes. The other preachers from the district were sitting behind him in the choir section, giving him moral support and throwing in an occasional “Amen” to help the preacher along. The preacher preached his twenty minutes and continued on despite allotted time. He preached for 30 minutes, then forty minutes and then for an hour. He even continued for an hour and ten minutes. Finally, a brother sitting on the front row took a song book and threw it at the preacher who was still going strong in his message. The preacher saw the song book as it was hurled his way and he ducked. The song book hit one of the preachers sitting in the choir section. As the man in the choir section was going down, you could hear him say, “Hit me again, I can still hear him preaching!”

I know that the mind can only absorb what the seat can endure, so I seek to be a brief speaker. I was ready for a brief program delivery on Wednesday. The leader of our seasoned citizens group said to me as I walked up to begin my program, “The chicken is not here. You must talk until it arrives.” This was my first ever fried chicken speech contingency.

That was not good news for me. I don’t like long programs whether I am the giver or the receiver. Stand up, speak out and sit down is my motto. Now I was under pastoral and contractual obligation to stretch an already truncated program. How does one stretch a program on New Year’s resolutions when no one makes them any longer? I didn’t make any specific resolutions myself. The humorous resolutions I found were not appropriate to share in a church group, perhaps on the golf course, but not in church! What would I or could I say to lengthen the program about things people don’t do?

I did succeed. When I got the thumbs up signaling the arrival of the chicken, I went from mid-thought straight into the closing prayer. It was not clean, but I had exhausted the subject and my audience. I have never before rejoiced at the arrival of chicken.

I did illustrate my program thesis. We don’t need to make resolutions, we need to adopt words. My word for the year is “focused.” I want to stay focused on Christ and His plan and direction for my life. I want to look ahead, not behind or to the side. If I stay focused on Him, then I won’t be overwhelmed by distractions, even those created by a fifteen minute soft shoe act waiting for delayed fried chicken to arrive. When I stay focused on what is ahead I have hope. When I emotionally or spiritually look back I’m mired in history. Hope is more powerful than history in transforming our lives.

I want to become fixated on a forward looking hope in Jesus.

How would your life be different if you had laser-focused-forward-looking-Jesus-trusting hope?

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