January 9, 2014

Dear First Pres,

I gave up making New Year’s resolutions years ago.  They never seemed to ‘stick’! And failing year after year was discouraging, so I quit making them.  That doesn’t mean I don’t want, or think I need, to make changes in my life.  It means I learned from lots of failure that New Year’s resolutions weren’t helping me actually make changes happen.  A quick internet search tells me only forty-six percent of people who make New Year’s Resolutions are still keeping them by July.  See what I mean?  I’m not alone in this!  Blessedly, God has provided an avenue for effective change in our lives, for transformation.  That’s where the gospel comes in.  No matter what time of the year we say “yes” to Jesus, grace happens in our hearts, in Christian community, and spills out to others in ways that sometimes surprise us.

This week, during the education hour in the Fellowship Hall, we’ll be starting Tim Keller’s series Gospel in Life: Grace Changes Everything.  The tools we’ll use will be Keller’s teaching on DVD (ten minutes), a study book (ten dollars), a little homework (about an hour a week), and sharing together about what we’re learning.  The Holy Spirit is at work in and among us for transformation; this study is one way we can make room in our hearts and minds and lives for God’s purpose to be fulfilled.  I encourage all of you to consider committing yourselves to the next eight weeks.  Let’s take this journey of transformation together.

One of the graces God uses in life transformation is our baptism.  On Sunday, we’ll be remembering Jesus’ baptism and remembering ours too.  I’m going to spend the next couple of days reflecting on what it means to be baptized, and invite you to do the same.  What promises has God fulfilled to me?  What promises have I fulfilled to God?  How is my life different because I have been baptized into Christ?  Just writing down the questions stirs my soul and launches me out into deep water.  “We who have run for our very lives to God have every reason to grab the promised hope with both hands and never let go. It’s an unbreakable spiritual lifeline, reaching past all appearances right to the very presence of God where Jesus, running on ahead of us, has taken up his permanent post as high priest for us…” (Heb. 6:18-20).  In the words of the old song, “my anchor holds within the veil.”

The Lord Bless and Keep You,

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