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At this time each year, the major news magazines and television networks dedicate stories that recall people and events that made news during the previous year. Online, I have seen several links to view “The Year In Pictures”.

Frequently, news “experts” also predict what they expect to see happening in the year ahead. In 1967, “experts” predicted that by 1999, technology would have taken over so much of the work we do that the average American work week would be only 22 hours long. People would work only 27 weeks a year. As a result, one of our biggest problems would be in deciding what to do with all our leisure time. Wow - that prediction certainly missed the mark!

In reality, just about everyone seems to be very busy. We’re always in a hurry. Many folks walk fast, talk fast, and eat fast. And after we eat, all too often, we stand up and say, "Excuse me. I’ve gotta run." Even folks who are retired have full schedules, and shake their heads wondering how they ever had time to work.

It is smart to pause at the end of 2011, before we start the rush of yet another new year. I have never been big on making resolutions; they are too easy to break. However, taking time to stop and think about our choices for the year ahead, based on where we have come from, can be a healthy, helpful process, especially when we invite God into it.

What do we want to accomplish? Will we be as busy as last year? Will we make any better use of our time? In 365 days, when this year is over, will we be looking back with joy, or with regret? Will we be looking at the future with anticipation, or with dread? If only we could predict the future.

There is one definite event that, barring a strange catastrophe, will occur in 2012: Mogadore Christian Church will celebrate our 180th anniversary. Everyone can play a part! Plans are getting underway for a wonderful party on October 21, 2012. Save the date and invite a crowd!!

As Christians, it is a given that we want to invite God to be part of 2012, right? Or do we? Are we habitual Christians, or active Christians? Do we maintain an “I’ll call you when I need you” relationship with the Divine, or do we chat with God everyday? Is the smile we show on Sundays, the same face we share with the world through the week? Are we willing to admit that learning more about God’s word might add depth and perspective to our lives, or do we believe we know enough already and don’t need to crack open the Bible?

I visit with many people who regret things that they did in the past, or feel guilty about the time they did not spend with, or the things they didn’t say to loved ones. Many folks wish they could have a “do-over”, and stubbornly believe it’s too late to change their ways. Others, feel anxious about what will happen to them in the future. It is as if the worry and fretting meets a need that they would be lost without.

However, as a pastor, I have learned that “you can teach an old dog new tricks.” Philippeans 4:6 says “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”

With God, all things really are possible. Learning new ways of being in relationship, being able to truly forgive someone, even finding peace from guilt, regret and anxiety…God transforms lives! One more verse speaks of the faith God desires for each one of us: Phil 4:13 “I can do everything through him who gives me strength.”

Plan a special date once a week with your spouse – it can refresh and renew your marriage. Create a family games night – you will create memories that your children will treasure long beyond your lifetime. Meet with friends once a month for dessert and laughter. Turn off the cell phone, the computers etc. and go for a walk this winter in the fresh falling snow. Admire God’s creation around you, and breathe deeply. Enjoy being alive instead of taking it for granted and rushing through life.

None of us has to remain passive in our faith, in our relationship with the church, in our appreciation for our spouses, children, colleagues, or our friends. It is never too late to step up to the plate and try things in a new way – WE ALL have more to learn that can enrich our faith and our relationships. My prayers is that 2012 is a refreshing year for us all.

~Pastor J

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