Three Wishes for the New Year

Happy New Year! I hope we're able to meet in the coming year. Do check out my event schedule, I'd love to see you along the way. 


This past year we've had front row seats at too many funerals I think. But it strikes me as we walk through the valley of shadows that shadows cannot exist where there is no light. We've experienced God's presence and we believe he will never leave us. That's what keeps us smiling and helping others do the same. 


Time passes quickly, doesn't it? Time waits for no man, and very few women, my father used to say. Like the New Year, the wise men came after Christmas. Theyíre not really part of the nativity set. I suppose that if the Wise Men were women, they'd have been on time. They'd have stopped and asked for directions sooner. They'd have helped delivery the baby. Cooked up a casserole. And given the Innkeeper the what for. But since the wise men offered their gifts a little late, I will too. Today I'd like to offer you three simple gifts. 


The first is a watch. A watch reminds us of how quickly time passes. When I turned 35 my son told me I was half dead. So let a watch remind us of how short our lives are. Let it remind us that we canít turn the clock back. Last year is a memory. All the regrets in the world wonít bring it back. But we can wind the watch up and set it right. Each of us will have the same amount of time this year, if God allows. A watch can remind us that time ticks slowly, so go one step at a time. Relax a little. Remember that even ants have time to attend picnics. This year letís follow the example of Jesus who changed the course of history and still had time to hold a little child on his knee.


The second gift is a box of chocolates. It's a food group, don't you think? Chocolate is a reminder that some things are too good not to share. For me this means sharing the good news of Jesus Christ. It isnít always easy. I once told a man where he would spend eternity and he told me where to go. So Iíve learned to simply be a witness to what God has done, not out of obligation but out of love. To tell people my story and use a little humor. I sat on a plane with a psychologist who diagnosed me as a Christian in no time. He said, ďIíve had bad experiences with Christians.Ē I said, ďReally? Me too.Ē That simple comment led to a 4-hour discussion of my faith. Letís tell others about our Savior this year.


My final gift to you is a Bible. In a mall one day I saw a fortuneteller. People were lined up to learn about their future from a lady who looked more dazed and confused than any of them. The Bible is jam-packed with promises, guidance, and all the direction you will need for this new year. It will only take seven or eight minutes a day to read it through this year. So Iím going to get started. 


One of the kindest letters Iíve ever received came from a lady who was visiting her 85-yr-old mother in the hospital. Coming down the hallway she heard her mother laughing. Surrounded by plastic tubing, heart monitors and a bed pan, this dear old saint was reading one of my books and laughing herself silly. Iím sure she was worried about tomorrow and her health and the grandkids. But still she was able to laugh. Why? A well-worn Bible had told her of a better place. She knew that one day soon sheíd be Home, where her tears would be wiped dry and her questions straightened into exclamation points. That day came three days later. Her daughter told me, ďMy last memory of my mother is of her laughing.Ē What a way to go.


Over the past year Iíve learned the lessons of these three gifts. Iíve learned to hang out with those who are gonna cry at my funeral. That Godís grace is too amazing to keep to ourselves. And that if we laugh lots, when we grow old all our wrinkles will be in the right places.   


God bless you! Phil


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