10 tips to insure your resolutions fail

It’s that time of year again. A new calendar comes out and twelve fresh months invite us in. Fifty two weeks with no mistakes or regrets.

So, what do we do? We makes resolutions to improve things in our life.

There’s nothing wrong with that. As a matter of fact there’s everything right about that.

The problems comes when we make resolutions instead of setting goals.

I’m about to tell you how to guarantee failure of your resolutions in 10 tips.

  1. Make a vague statement of what you want to improve. Most resolutions come out like this: “I need to lose weight this year.” That’s not a resolution or a goal, that’s merely a statement or a wish. A better resolution is: “I will lose 50 pounds this year.” That’s still too vague. You can sell your golf clubs and bag to reach that.
  2. Jump at the most obvious means of getting your resolution. Okay, you want to lose weight. So, what do most people do? They join a gym to work out. The place will be packed with other like-minded individuals with the same resolution. Come February the regulars are the only folks still staying in shape.
  3. Say the same knee-jerk resolution you make every January 1st. There’s a reason you make the same hope-filled resolution every year. You don’t really want to change. There, I said it, deep down you prefer your lazy lifestyle over improving it. Why? Because change is hard. It’s only when you feel the work is worth the effort that you’ll make drastic changes.
  4. Resolve something totally unattainable. Now that you know you need to really want to change something you go overboard and say something like: “I will walk on water this year.” Unless you live in the northern hemisphere this time of year that’s completely unrealistic. If it’s cold enough you can step onto a frozen lake then go back to your safe, lazy life saying you reached your resolution.
  5. Follow somebody else’s resolution. Since you don’t really want to make any changes you say what your friend sets as their resolution. When you fail you blame them for your un-success. If they had made a better resolution you’d be better off. While you’re at it don’t help them reach their goal. It’ll only make you look that much worse.
  6. Bite off more than you can chew. A goal is something that says something like: “I will think of ten tips before I begin my next blog post promising ten tips.” Yeah, I’m out of ideas for you. From here on out you’re on your own. Don’t worry. I have great faith that you’ll fail in reaching any of your resolutions this year, too. Your track record speaks for itself.

If you long for real change I have a guidebook to recommend to you. It’s call the Bible.

Romans 12:2 is the best verse I can offer you for change. “Don’t conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by renewing your mind.”

Give your life to Jesus Christ and He’ll help you change from within. It’s called the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

I’ve seen it work too many times to not believe it works.

Don’t take this step unless you want to completely change because He wants all of you before He’ll truly change you.

I challenge you to give your all to Jesus. You’ll never be the same. I can guarantee that.

Keep smiling.   Wade

SHEPHERDS’ NEWS a classic post

Merry Christmas to any of my peeps reading this on Jesus’s birthday. I’ve decided to dig into my archives to bring you a favorite scene from the stable. You’ll discover when Mary and Joseph learned how the shepherds were told about the Savior.

As Mary felt the infant at her breast fall asleep she carefully rolled Him over and wrapped Jesus in the simple cloth she had. Joseph unfolded the wool blanket into the feed trough so the baby would remain secure as He slept.

“Too bad we couldn’t bring the crib I made. I spent a lot of time on that thing.”

Mary looked into Joseph’s eyes as she handed Jesus to him. “It’s the best crib in the world. You know there was no way we could get that here in one piece. We would have needed a camel for that.”

Joseph laid Jesus in the manger and stepped back. “He looks so normal. Are you sure He’s the Messiah?”

Joseph snapped around to the front of the stable when he heard the scuffing of feet and heavy breathing. The smell of human sweat and sheep soon filled his nostrils.

One of the men tapped the other on the arm with the back of his hand, then he pointed at the baby. “There He is! Just like the angel said…lying in a manger, wrapped in cloth.”

“Angel…!?” Mary and Joseph replied in unison.

“Yeah, the sky was full of ’em! Lit up the night like it was mid-day.” The second shepherd looked at Joseph. “May we come in for a closer look?”

“Of course…” Joseph stepped back along side the manger.

The men stepped up to the manger quietly and stared. Mary wiped tears from her eyes. She gazed out at the eastern sky. The familiar bright star hung over the horizon.

Joseph broke the silence, “What, exactly, did the angel, or angels, say? By the way, my name is Joseph. This is my wife, Mary.”

Just then three other men appeared at the entrance. “Did you find Him?”

The first two men turned around. “SHHH…! He’s sleeping.” They motioned for their comrades to come in. The first shepherd looked at Joseph, “So, the child’s name is Joseph?”

Joseph shook his head. “No, His name is Jesus. That’s what the angel told me to call Him.”

“Joshua…so, it is true.” The second shepherd placed his hands on Joseph’s arms. “The angel started with ‘Don’t be afraid…'”

The youngest man spoke up. “He obviously didn’t know who he was talking to. Shepherds have to fight off lions and bears. Just like King David did.”

“What would you know of bravery?” One of the others slapped his friend on the shoulder. “You jump every time an olive hits the ground.”

The shepherds all laughed. Joseph put his finger in front of his mouth. “Shhh…”

Everybody looked at the infant as they stopped their chatter. Jesus put His thumb in His mouth and sucked, He never opened His eyes.

The storyteller glanced at Mary, then back at Joseph as he continued his report. “‘…behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in cloth, lying in a manger.’ That’s when the whole sky filled with angels!”

“Yeah, and Mr. I-ain’t-afraid-of-nothin’ tripped over his own ewe lamb, landed flat on his back.” Everybody chuckled.

The storyteller continued, “It looked like those angels had been waiting a long time for this moment. They were all dancing around praising God. They said, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men.’ I thought everybody in town would wake up from the commotion, I looked around and noticed the sheep were all calm, some were still asleep. That’s when I knew this was just for us to hear. I looked back at a starry sky. As quickly as they came they left us.”

Joseph looked from the shepherds over to Mary, her eyes were half-shut. “She must be so exhausted. How can I get these guys to leave so she can get some sleep?” Just then a rooster crowed at the edge of town.

The youngest shepherd looked at his friends. “I don’t know about the rest of you guys, but I just got to go tell somebody about this. The town is waking up now, let’s go spread the news.”

“Yeah…!” they all left the stable.

Mary looked up at Joseph and smiled. “Do you still doubt who that is in the manger?”

Joseph came over to her and tucked the blanket around her shoulders. He laid next to her. “I never doubted that part. It’s just that I never pictured the Messiah being so helpless. I always heard of Him being the conquering monarch, not a tiny baby, but I guess we all start out like that, there’s no other way.”

Mary’s slow, rhythmic breathing told him she was already asleep.

********

Shepherds…? I mean, don’t You know who these guys were back then, God? They were the Rodney Dangerfield of their day. They didn’t get any respect. About the only class of people who were considered lower that shepherds were lepers. That’s because leprosy carried its own brand of ‘unclean’ness.

Even in the book of Genesis, chapter 46, when Joseph (No, I’m talking about Jacob’s son, now.) was settling his family in the land of Goshen he told them to tell Pharoah that they were shepherds. Why? According to verse 34 it’s because “every shepherd is an abomination to the Egyptians.” In this way God began to keep the Jewish race pure and separate. No Egyptian would dare give a daughter to a shepherd for marriage.

It’s so like God to give the first assignment of spreading the news of His Son’s birth to the outcasts of society.

They stood to gain the most from this transaction. You see, the Messiah would make temple sacrifices obsolete. So more of their sheep could life full lives.

I guess God knows what He’s up to, after all.

I’ll see you later.   Wade

I feel sorry for people who don’t have a relationship with Jesus Christ

A week and a half ago I had a spiritual experience that can only come from a personal relationship with God through the atoning work of Jesus Christ.

It involved a semi, the stars and a familiarity with the Bible.

It began with my agreeing to take another delivery run to west Texas. There were times this summer I wanted to quit that run. Now I look forward to the chance to get some windshield time in a big rig.

The semi isn’t equipped with a satellite radio so I simply leave it off after I’m out of range of my favorite Christian station in DFW, KCBI. My mind is then free to ponder whatever it wants to. I usually pray for family and friends, church staff and government officials, missionaries and whomever else comes to mind then.

The first line of Psalm 46:10 has always been a favorite of mine, “Be still and know that I am God.” The next lines are even deeper, “I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” We exalt God by being still before him. Try it sometime.

After I finished my deliveries on Thursday I headed south and enjoyed my favorite meal of grilled salmon on a bed of rice with a side of steamed broccoli.

The trip to San Angelo was spent pondering how often Jesus wanted to help a playmate out as a boy by healing them with His touch only to be told by His Father, “No. It’s not Your time, yet.”

I contemplated where Jesus was the day Joseph died. Was it a construction accident or a disease that ended His step-dad’s life. How torn was Jesus to be told at that time, “No. It’s not your time, yet.”

You see. Jesus does know first-hand about the steps of grief involved in the death of a loved one.

This idea of waiting was so ingrained into Jesus that Mary had to push Him to perform His first recorded miracle. Do you remember what He told her at the wedding in Cana when she asked Him to help the family out? Jesus told her, “My time is not yet.” But, it apparently was His time because the water did turn into wine.

I did my best to watch the glorious sunset as it turned from yellow to orange that evening. The challenge was that it was off to my right and slightly behind me. Sometimes the urgent means certain things must be enjoyed on limitation.

The sky was clear and dark when I arrived at my favorite picnic area outside of San Angelo. I pulled over and shut the tractor and lights off to soak up the Milky Way and stars. The smell of skunk hung in the air from the carcass I wasn’t able to completely avoid with all 18 tires a few miles before then.

My mind took me to a time God called another man out to observe the stars. “Your descendants will be just as numerous.” God told Abram.

Yet, it took decades before God fulfilled the essential step of a single son. It wasn’t his time, yet. But, it did come after a mis-step by Abraham and Sarah.

Faith and obedience are established in waiting. This testing is crucial.

When I told a friend in church about how I’m working for a temporary agency he admitted he couldn’t do that. He “needed” a full-time job with insurance to survive.

I didn’t chastise him for holding that stance. I’m just grateful God chose me to obey Him to an extreme measure compared to others.

Seven years ago God called me to write for Him. I’ve been working on that craft as best I can since then. So far a book hasn’t materialized because, “My time hasn’t come, yet.”

I just sent in what I hope is the last set of corrections for 100 Prayers of a Writer to Tate Publishing.

My time has come and I can’t wait to see what God is going to do with the words He’s had me put together to further His kingdom.

I’ll be looking for friends to help me get the word out about this book soon.

Anybody with a resolution to improve their prayer life will benefit from reading these prayers.

I could choose to live a safe life and drive full-time hauling freight around or some other job. I don’t belittle anyone who lives that lifestyle. They’re the backbone of society.

That’s simply not the road God is calling me to travel on. A lifetime of tests and trials has developed a faith and trust that leads me to want to please Him in all I do. I could do that with the “security” of a full-time job. I’ve chosen to see where this unknown path will lead me.

I gave my heart to Jesus so young I don’t remember not being born-again.

The born-again life isn’t meant to be a religion, but a relationship with God, the Father.

Since Barb left me over three years ago, and we never had any children, I’ve been by myself a lot.

But, I’ve never been alone. Not for a second.

I’m to the point that I feel sorry for people who don’t have a personal relationship with God through the atoning work of Jesus Christ.

That’s all.

I’ll see you later.   Wade

The 2nd letter to Theophilus

Luke paced his study. The new parchments arrived ahead of schedule. Notes were organized and waiting.

Winter was settling in so travel for the next few months was out of the question. Time was on his side now.

“Why is it always difficult to begin a writing? I know once I get into this it will flow. Is it fear, or something more sinister?”

He stared at the parchments, again.

“Theophilus would love to know more. He must know what happened next. That’s it…a letter to my friend. It worked before.”

Luke grabbed a parchment and unrolled it on the table. He sighed at the blank paper before him. The cork on the ink was pulled before another thought could entertain his mind off this task. A fresh quill was soon in his fingers.

I merely began to write to you, O Theophilus, of the things Jesus taught and did while He was with us. He continued to command His chosen apostles until He was taken up. Jesus showed Himself for forty days after His sufferings. The proofs are undeniable. He taught them of the coming kingdom right up till the end.

On His last day he assembled them together and commanded them to remain in Jerusalem until the Father gave the gift.

“John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit from on high soon.”

“Will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” They asked.

“It’s not for you to know the time. You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes to you not many days from now. Be My witnesses in Jerusalem, then Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

After Jesus said this He lifted in the air until a cloud came down and engulfed him. His followers stared in amazement.

Suddenly two men dressed in white stood with them. “Why are you looking up. Jesus will return in like manner.”

The Apostles left the Mount of Olives and returned to Jerusalem.

********

So begins Dr. Luke’s second letter preserved in our Bibles today. Some older versions call it The Acts of the Apostles. Most people refer to this book simply as Acts.

I’m beginning this new study for two reasons: 1. I can’t think of anything else to concentrate this blog on, and 2. I’ve never done an in-depth study of this book. Please pray for wisdom for me as I conquer this task of presenting application of this strange twist of history that followed Jesus’s followers after His ascension.

Few argue that Luke, a physician by trade, wrote this account along with the gospel account that bears his name. Parts of it are autobiographical since he traveled with Paul on some of his missionary journeys.

Most writers I know, including myself, struggle with the beginning of a writing project. That’s why I began this post as I did.

The importance of this record would have weighed heavily on Luke. His attention to detail came in extremely handy in bringing this book into being.

We owe a debt of gratitude to him for his tenacity in bringing us this historical narrative to help us understand the birthing of God’s new church.

His gospel account mentions eyewitnesses to what happened. I have no doubt Mary was one of his interviewees as he wrote that account. Aren’t we glad he did since she gave us so much of what we know of the Christmas story? Matthew added Joseph’s side of that episode.

Both of Luke’s books are addressed to an interesting individual. Theophilus is only mentioned at the beginning of these two books.

By definition theophilus means “lover of God.” This may have been an actual person or a specific type of person.

Letters were passed around from one church to another at the time Luke wrote this and Paul and others wrote most of the letters that make up the New Testament today. So, by addressing this to lovers of God Luke may have included anyone interested in reading this to know more of God and His dealings with his people after Jesus left this planet.

Since you’ve read this far into this post I assume you love God, so let’s spend our attention on lessons meant for us by the events that laid the foundation of our relationship with God while we walk on earth.

Luke begins this letter as he ended the gospel account, with the ascension of Jesus. Why did he repeat the same event and why do they almost sound like different events when you read them side-by-side?

He knew there would be people who wouldn’t have read the gospel. That’s why he wrote about it again here. That event was the turning point of the Apostles’ lives. With Jesus no longer physically present they were left leaderless until the Holy Spirit was given to them.

The accounts are about the same event from a different perspective. Like two eyewitnesses telling of something from their viewpoint of the same event. It could sound like different things when they’re actually the same thing.

I find it interesting that a cloud is mentioned in Jesus’s ascension. A student of the Old Testament will recognize what that represents.

Clouds showed up at important times in Jewish history.

A cloud covered Mt Sinai when Moses received the Ten Commandments and other times he talked with God.

A cloud also led the Hebrews through the desert and into the promised land at that time.

A cloud filled the temple when Solomon dedicated it right after the first one was built.

Clouds cloaked the presence of God so people wouldn’t be able to see Him.

This cloud was God receiving His Son back to heaven because His duties on earth had been fulfilled at that time.

The angels told the Apostles that Jesus will return on a cloud. Interesting coincidence I’d say.

I’m looking forward to that cloud’s appearing.

Then Jesus’s kingdom will finally begin.

It’s about time!

I’ll see you later.   Wade

Road rage set to a classic Christmas carol: Honk, your semi’s in my lane.

I was pretty sure my days driving in heavy traffic had settled me into a place of complacency. So, as a test, I decided to set up my camcorder to check on myself.

When I broke into song I thought that was a good sign, until I heard the words. Please pray for me as the Spirit leads.

Keep smiling and Merry Christmas in spite of my mood here. Sometimes the curmudgeon just has to rear his ugly head I guess.

Wade

There once was an elf we’ll call Ralph

There once was an elf we’ll call Ralph

Who lived all his life on a shelf

As Christmas drew near

A time he held dear

A manger was placed in the room


Ralph heard the same story each year

Of wisemen and shepherds in fear

A baby was born

Way out in a barn

Instead of some place it was warm


Ralph prayed for an angel to come

And take him to that side of the room

He wanted to be

Much closer to see

This baby they made such a fuss


He knew that some things just can’t be

Like porcelain falling to its knees

He still longed to try

If he could just fly

To see this kid they named Jesus


Unlike this elf we have called Ralph

You and I don’t sit on a shelf

We can come to Him

And He into us

Because we are much more than dust


This Jesus is God become man

It’s all within God’s mighty plan

To bring us to Him

And God down to us

To build a new bridge over sin


So please don’t just sit there and wish

For your life to be happy bliss

You just have to say

My sins I can’t pay

Only by the death of Jesus


Once taken this gift as your own

Jesus you will see on His throne

His kingdom will be

A reality

That will last for eternity


So even if your name is Ralph

And you feel like you’re stuck on a shelf

Give your life to Him

He’ll live within

Your heart to make you like Him.


Keep smiling. Merry Christmas.    Wade

THE GREEKS

Philip scanned the crowd at the temple. He’d never been to Jerusalem except for feasts. It was hard to imagine the place nearly empty. He spun around at the tap on his shoulder.

A group of foreigners stared at him.

The man closest to him held his hand up. “Beg your pardon, sir. I didn’t mean to startle you.”

Philip swallowed. “That’s alright. I was lost in my thoughts. Can I help you with something?”

The man lowered his hand. “Yes, we noticed you’re a follower of Jesus. We’d like some time with Him. We have some questions we hope He can answer.”

Philip grabbed Andrew’s sleeve as he walked past. “These men want to see Jesus. Do you think He’ll take time for them?”

Andrew glanced at the men. “As long as they aren’t selling anything in the temple I think they’ll be safe. All we can do is ask.”

Philip and Andrew led the men to Jesus.

Philip stepped to the side. “These Greeks have some questions for You.”

Jesus looked at them. “The Son of Man will soon be glorified. When a grain of wheat falls in the ground it reproduces only after it dies. Then it produces many more grains of wheat. If you love your life now you will lose it, but if you hate your life here you’ll gain it in the next life. My soul is distressed, but I will not succumb so the Father will be glorified. Father glorify Your name.”

A voice sounded from heaven. “I have glorified it and will again.”

Some of the men spun around. “Was that thunder?”

“I think an angel spoke to Him.”

Jesus smiled. “That voice wasn’t for me, but you. Judgement has come for the ruler of this world. If I am lifted up I’ll draw all men to Me.”

The first man stepped forward. “We read in your law that the Christ lives forever. Who is this Son of Man You speak about being lifted up?”

Jesus nodded slowly. “Walk while the light is with you. Anyone who walks in darkness is soon lost.”

When the men huddled together Jesus walked away.

When they turned to ask more questions they found only the crowd.

Jesus stopped near the exit of the temple. “He who believes in Me and sees believes and sees Him who sent Me. You won’t abide in darkness if you follow My light. I don’t judge those who hear and refuse to believe. I came to save, not judge. My words will judge those who reject Me and what I say. I only speak what the Father tells Me to say. That is the only means of eternal life.”

Jesus turned and led His disciples to the Garden.

********

The first time I read this passage I had one question. “What just happened here?”

Some Greek guys come to Jesus to ask some questions and He goes off an a seeming tangent about wheat and light and losing a life to find it. Huh?

Why didn’t Jesus just answer the questions they had? Why run around in riddles like this?

After many years to think about this event, and with the help of the indwelling Holy Spirit, John figured it out and added some quick commentary in the middle of this episode. The prophet Isaiah had a problem getting people to believe what he was warning them about. John references a couple of verses to show the similarities with these Greeks.

Jesus knew these guys weren’t interested in discovering the truth. They just wanted to debate thoughts not change their hearts.

Two centuries later these responses of Jesus make for some great sound bites for us to memorize and, with the help of the indwelling Holy Spirit, help us make sense of this new spiritual life we gained by believing the things Jesus said and lived out.

Jesus knew He was living in His last days before His crucifixion. A heated debate wasn’t going to change these guys. A prediction about how He was going to die might get their attention. If they were paying attention.

A word of advice here. Don’t use this passage to try to lead someone to Christ. It’ll only confuse them not convince them.

Jesus had performed a great deal of miracles before this day. They had those to think about as to who Jesus was.

Many people believed Jesus was the Messiah. Others refused to believe. Some believed and kept their beliefs a secret so they wouldn’t be excluded from the cliques they were in.

It’s not our role to judge anyone for what they believe. Jesus even refused to judge at that time. He said His words would perform that role in time.

Our role is to live out Jesus’s example of unconditional love as best we can.

Tolerating sin as anything less than sin isn’t our role either. People need to know God sees the sin for what it is. If it offends them it offends them. Better they know their behavior is inconsistent with God’s morals than for them to discover too late where they’re going to spend their eternal destiny.

Accept the fact not everyone will accept Jesus for who He is: the Savior of the world.

Most people will choose the wide path to destruction so they fit in before squeezing through that narrow gate Jesus demands us to enter by.

We don’t know who will accept Jesus’s offer of salvation before they die, so treat everyone as though they will.

It isn’t our role to decide who will go to heaven. Jesus will separate the sheep from the goats in His time.

Follow Jesus’s example. Few people will be debated into heaven.

People at the end of themselves are the most likely candidates to listen to Jesus’s offer of living in His light.

That narrow gate looks more inviting when you can see the destruction first-hand.

Jesus’s load is easy and the burden is light.

Don’t crush someone with judgment.

I’ll see you later.   Wade