Saturday, April 21, 2012

A New Year An Old Tip

"Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."

illustration from a Pandora radio ad...

1 Weird Tip

I was sitting amongst a group of people waiting to get into the visitor's room at a state correctional facility. A chatty man next to me -looking for anyone who would listen- began telling me his story. He said he was just there taking his girlfriend to visit her son, but he couldn't go into see him because as a former felon he wasn't allowed in. 

Of course I had to ask what he'd done to wind up as a former felon. He described in detail his craft: writing bad checks for jewelry, hotel rooms, cars; purchasing the bad check "kits" he used in his deception and the outrageous amount of money he'd stolen--nearly $200,000 dollars! He was explaining how he'd made it through ten years of parole and didn't pay back a dime. 

I asked him if he was still writing bad checks. "Of course not," he chortled, "I'm too old for that." So I asked him if he stopped because he got caught or because he really thought it was wrong. Honestly, I don't think he felt robbing banks was all that noxious, "I never cheated any person," he assured me...

Its a new year. By now we've probably packed away last year's Christmas decorations and perhaps, without much fanfare, are already packing in our "new" New Year's resolutions, too. We kind of take it for granted that somewhere deep inside of us there is a desire to get better. As human beings we are capable of more than mere existence; we are blessed with a "homing" device that draws us to the higher, deeper, better. In a word: the Divine!

So let me invite you to go a little "deeper" this year. Let me give you "1 Weird Old Tip": learn the meaning of "repentance" and practice that instead of "resolutions." The idea of making resolutions gives hope for change; but too often we focus on the surface issues, like I need to lose fifteen pounds. But the real issue may be discontent or unresolved anger. Or I need to stop smoking when the real issue is who or what is mastering me? Or I just need to be a happier person when the real issue is who am I trying to please?

Question: Why do our attempts at resolving our chronic problems usually meet with defeat or frustration? 
Answer: By not knowing or understanding the root problems that produce bad behavior we never make real progress.

We just celebrated anew the birth of the Savior of the world, Jesus. He came to save us from our sins--the very root problems that produce the very real discomfort, corruption, & destruction we deal with in ourselves and others daily. 

His message is still the same: 
"Repent, for the Kingdom of God is near." 

Our repentance--a clearing away of the bad that abides in us--opens the door that the King may dwell in our hearts. At the very least, begin to quarrel with the bad and do the good thing that is right at the door of your conscience, that you may fearlessly claim the help of Him who loved you into being and longs to make you free!
Here's to real resolution! 
Here's to repentance! 
Here's to freedom!
Happy New Year!