December 2010

Closing out the books on 2010

This week I had our bookkeeper close out the books for our small home-based business. It is always an instructive process because it provides an accurate overview of how the previous year went. I appreciated being able to hold that final profit and loss statement and the 2010 balance sheet of assets, liabilities, and equity in my hands. Although it wasn’t everything I had hoped it would be, it gave me cause to thank God for His faithfulness even in a lean year.
It made me think about how helpful it would be for me to take some time to properly close out the books on my own personal life for 2010. Why not make it a priority to reflect on my personal assets and liabilities and reconcile all my accounts with God and with others before year’s end? I am always looking for opportunities to learn from evaluated experience so I found that idea very motivating. So on the morning of this last day of 2010, I did just that.
Here are the questions I asked myself in my year-end closing of the books and my responses to God. I pray this inventory for a personal year-end evaluation is also helpful for you.

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The best way to start a day

“Sow your seed in the morning and do not be idle in the evening.” Ecclesiastes 11:6 (NAS) The mother of all time management principles is summed up in this verse. It was penned nearly 3000 years ago by King Solomon, one of the wisest and most accomplished men who ever lived. History has confirmed the wisdom of these words and many similar sayings have worked their way into our everyday vocabulary since that time. “Make hay while the sun shines.” – John Heywood 1546. “The early bird gets the worm.” – John Ray 1670. “He who hesitates is lost.” – Joseph Addison 1713. And last but not least “Big rocks first!” popularized most recently by Steven Covey’s “first things first” principle.

What all these sayings have in common is this. Each new day dawns streaming with bright potential through windows of opportunity, but we must use it or we’ll lose it.

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Hope for New Years Resolutions

If you could change one thing about yourself what would it be? In just days we mark the beginning of a New Year – 2011. It is an opportunity to script a new beginning and turn over a new leaf.

When I did a quick survey of a number of websites touting popular New Year’s resolutions I discovered they all fall into one of the following categories, listed here in no particular order . . .

One of the great theological treatises on the pitfalls and perils of new beginnings is the 1991 movie “Groundhog Day” starring Bill Murray. It is the story of an arrogant, self-centered man named Phil who finds himself trapped in living the same day over and over and over again. Despite numerous resolutions, no matter how hard he tries he cannot turn over a new leaf on the calendar. Every morning Phil wakes up to the same song on the radio, meets the same people, faces the same problems and is confronted with the same decisions. Essentially he is sentenced to reliving the day until he finally has a change of heart that enables him to get it right.

The deep theological truth embedded in this movie is that an internal change is required for an external change to truly take effect.

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Do you know what Immanuel really means?

There is a Christmas sentimentality about the Immanuel – “God with us” promise that often belies or misrepresents its true meaning. The concept of God’s presence in our lives is both a complex and expansive topic. Doctrinal differences about God’s presence have spawned all the world’s religions and hundreds of different Christian denominations.

As we celebrate the birth of Immanuel it is imperative for us to understand what this promise of His presence really means. For clarity’s sake let us first consider two types of God’s presence that the Immanuel presence is NOT.

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