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January 2024

by Rev. Phillip Girardin

My favorite gym that I ever worked out at was Rhino Fitness in Searcy, Arkansas. It was affiliated with the American Powerlifting Association, and even hosted some power lifting events. At Rhino, there was all kinds of people. Folks like me who were just trying to live a healthier life, power lifters, aesthetic body builders, a couple folks who were into cross-fit. There was one time in the year that was always interesting though. January and February. It was in these months that the people who had made a New Year's resolution would show up and begin to exercise. It was always interesting to watch the ebb and flow during those couple months. Folks who were always there would alter the time that they came to be at the gym at less regular hours, so they didn't have to fight with the crowds of new folks. Eventually, most of the folks would stop coming in February and March, and then we would see them the next year for about 6 weeks. It was a cycle that I would imagine goes on to this day.

Each year, most of us will make a New Year's resolution or two. If you're like me, you'll make them and then just as quickly either forget, or the work of time will cause a change to occur that it doesn't get done. I need to lose weight. I need to manage my time better. I need to do a better job as a father, husband, pastor. All these things fall into the general categories that we consider. The New Year's resolution is ultimately an attempt to improve ourselves to make ourselves happy or happier with who we are. The biggest challenge to them is coming up with a sustainable plan to make these good changes actually stick. How does a person lose weight? How does a better diet get established inside of budgetary constraints? We must work through those kinds of questions to make the changes truly occur, and worthwhile. How do you work it out?

The challenge with the New Year's resolution is to not let it filter into our theology. The focal point of these resolutions is how we are going to work out what is good for us, in other words our own goodness. We are seeking, by our own considerations, to determine what is righteous for ourselves. Our works can't help in every situation.

Scripture tells us, Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. (2nd Corinthians 5:17) The best New Year's resolution occurred a couple thousand years ago. Jesus came for you and me, and as He does this, He determines to do the work that is best for us. Jesus saves us from the wickedness of sin. He sets aside death. He shuts the mouth of the Devil. Jesus does all of this, and in this we become a new creation, with nothing left to do. It's truly a joyful thing to celebrate at the beginning of the year.

Now this isn't to say that all resolutions are bad. I'll throw this one out there. I'm resolving to get back into shape... not a shape. In Christ, you and I are a new creation. My hope is that through changes in life, you and I reflect Jesus Christ.

Brothers and sisters, as we move into the New Year, I pray that God bless you with His Spirit. May 2024 be a year that we are bold in the faith. My prayer for Zion, and myself, is that we hold the course and not fall short. As the writer of Hebrews says, ...let us run the race with endurance... (Hebrews 12:1)

Happy New Year,
Pastor Phil

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