This is the day of the year nearly everyone has their mind focused on goals. Some are wrestling with New Years resolutions, others dream that 2018 will surpass the year gone by. Even without a list, so many of us think about how to start the new year off right.
We often focus exclusively on ourselves at this point… Managing our time, getting in shape, saving money, reading the Bible. We may include some very nebulous marriage goals like “fighting less” and parenting goals like “quality time together.”
Let me encourage you to gather your loved ones around you today and institute your first set of Family Goals. Formulate these together and gain a deep new insight into the hearts of those you love most. Your child might suggest more family trips to the playground! She’s saying she wants to have fun and relax together. Your spouse may suggest more dinners together as a family, or more together time on the weekends, or economizing to save for the future. You might find that the goals you think they have aren’t as meaningful for them! Whatever your loved ones are suggesting, truly process the ideas and see how your family can grow together for the good of all.
Make sure you set spiritual goals for your family, as well! Whether it’s renewing your commitment to attend worship, starting a daily Bible reading and prayer time, or something else, nurture your souls and you will see your family grow stronger together.
Joshua 24:15 – But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.
By James Mayo
Lea and I baked so many Christmas cookies last week. Dozens that felt like millions! Exhausted but pleased with myself, I abandoned Lea to the task of wrapping them up. She showed me some lovely platters and gift bags of cookies and then took off with them. All of them! After all that effort, I only got a couple of broken sugar cookies. Needless to say, I was disappointed I had worked so hard on something that didn’t last. I mean, not only did they not last at my house. I’m sure they were devoured in less than ten seconds wherever they were delivered. So much effort for so little reward. Then Lea came home describing the joy of all the recipients. I was especially amused by the message from one little girl, “Tell Mr. Windsor I said thank you too!”
Sometimes it feels like our service to Christ is effort without reward. We work hard at teaching, or running the sound room, or making the coffee, or greeting the guests, or a dozen other things. It’s never ending. Remember our tasks are practical and benefit our congregation, our community, and our world. As Christmas cookies are delivered and devoured, they leave behind joy and a sense of being cared for. Our Christian service too is a perpetual opportunity to bring joy and care into the world.
I’ve always loved snow. It’s so peaceful, so flawless. A snowy day in the forests of Tennessee presents a stillness and a quiet that you’ll never find anywhere else. When the ground is covered in white, and the lake is frozen, and icicles hang from the trees and the eves… it is as close to perfection as a person might ever experience on this earth.
Until… until you have to go out in it. I’ve always loved the idea of snow. The reality is harder. The bundling up, the slipping and sliding down the icy driveway, the mud just below the snow that trips up an unwary foot, the drippy icicles, the constant worry that the weight of the ice will bring down the power lines, the footprints marring the expanse of white, the snowballs lobbed at the unwary (me). Snow is beautiful… and also, snow is a mess!
The church is like that too. One has the expectation of perfection in church… of peaceful, flawless, perfect people joining together in harmony to worship God. In reality, church is messy. People are broken sinners who bicker and disagree and are decidedly not perfect. We make mistakes large and small. We don’t see eye to eye. We struggle and fail and fall. And we also persevere. We hope. And we never, ever give up on each other. Because we know that, with all of our own faults, Christ never gave up on us.
You may have come to church the first time expecting to find perfect people. Instead, we are given a community of complicated, God-loved, always-progressing, fearfully and wonderfully made, faltering and inept people we are called to love. Including ourselves. We are here because God had a place and a plan for imperfect people. And that place is with Him.