Saturday Sermon: Enjoy Christmas, plan for New Year
Can we tell what things we need to leave behind us as we step out into the new year? Can we tell that the beginning of a new year is a great time to take a fresh look at our attitudes?
National television covered his first game, as an Arkansas freshman lived up to his advance billing . and then some. He dominated the game. He scored 27 points, pulled down 28 rebounds, blocked 12 shots, and led his team to victory.
All went well until the post-game interview. On national television, he started "talking trash." Now, trash-talking is a fad in sports, which I hope will soon fade away ... the trash-talker spouts off brashly about how great he is . and about how he is going to destroy the opposition.
Now, while this freshman player was doing this trash-talking his first time on national TV, the telephone suddenly rang in the background. Someone came over and interrupted the interview to tell the freshman that his mom was on the phone calling long distance. He took the call, and on national television his mom said, "Son, you played a great game, and I'm proud of you . but all this trash-talking you're doing tells me one thing - that you need an attitude adjustment. and when you get home, I'm just the one to give it to you." Evidently, she did, and evidently, it worked because that young man went on to become an All-American and later to become a star in the National Basketball Association.
The point is clear. All of us need constantly to work on our attitudes. The beginning of a new year is a good time to do just that. It's a good time to take stock of where we've been and where we're going and how we can be better people. Attitude adjustment.
This is precisely what the Apostle Paul was talking about in Philippians 3. "I know that I'm not perfect, but I'm trying my best to be better because I have committed my life to Christ, and he deserves my best. So, forgetting what lies behind, forgetting my failures, forgetting my shortcomings . I strain forward to what lies ahead, and I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus."
Someone once put it like this: "I'm not all I could be. I'm not all I should be. I'm not all I'm going to be, but thank God, I'm not what I used to be." Attitude is so crucial.
Chuck Swindoll once said, "The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life."
Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company ... a church ... a home.
The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past. We cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10 percent what happens to me and 90 percent how I react to it.
And so it is with you. We are in charge of our attitudes.
We need to be available to those who we know need us in some way. The way to happiness is to be useful in life. Friendship doesn't imply things fall easily in a place. Sometimes friends need to reassured, helped physically or spiritually. If you want to be happy, help people.
Whether we are 9 or 90, it's the attitude of gratitude that keeps us young and vibrant and alive. And yet, it is easy to forget that. It is so easy to take life and its blessings for granted. If we are not tuned in to the attitude of appreciation, it is so easy to miss the joy of the present moment. Some are always wishing for something else and missing life because somehow they lost the attitude of appreciation.
And most of all, We need to trust God himself and trust in him to fulfill our needs.
We don't have to run scared. We don't have to be anxiety ridden. We can trust in God.
Trust in God and believe that nothing, not even death, can separate us from him and his love. We can trust him, and come what may, he will always be there for us. That attitude of trust is a key to life. It gives us a confidence that is amazing.
So, as we step out into a new year, it is my prayer that God will give us an attitude adjustment, adjusting our attitudes to be helpful, to appreciate and, as never before, to trust God.
Remember, storing the Christmas lights is OK, but let the light of God be seen in your life throughout the new year. Amen.
Charles Placker is a licensed minister who writes for the Victoria Advocate.