Happy New Year!

The speaker explained stress management to his audience by raising a glass of water and asking, “How heavy is this glass of water?”

Answers called out ranged from half a pound to a pound.

The lecturer replied, “The absolute weight doesn’t matter. It depends on how long you try to hold it.”

“If I hold it for a minute, that’s not a problem.” “If I hold it for an hour, I’ll have an ache in my right arm.”

“If I hold it for a day, you’ll have to call an ambulance.”

“In each case, it’s the same weight, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes.”

He continued, “And that’s the way it is with stress management. If we carry our burdens all the time, sooner or later, as the burden becomes increasingly heavy, we won’t be able to carry on.”

“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matthew 11:28–30). 

Jesus can carry our heaviest burdens, is it time to start the new year by letting go… and letting God?

Here’s to a healthier you in 2024

Pastor Michael

  • New Year’s Day — January 1st
  • Epiphany — January 6th
  • Martin Luther King Jr. Day — January 15th

Resolve to Go Micro

Most New Year’s resolutions are so major they seem made to be broken. Maybe that’s why “micro-resolution” is the latest January buzzword. Setting smaller goals is more realistic and helps ensure follow-through, according to experts. People who try setting micro-resolutions say that approach is more positive and leads to longer-lasting change. For example, instead of attempting to lose 30 pounds this year, make a micro-resolution to walk 10 minutes twice per day and to snack on fresh fruit at least once a day.

Micro-resolutions can also be helpful in matters of faith. If aiming to read the entire Bible in one year feels overwhelming, take five minutes each morning and evening to read a brief devotional or pray. If joining your church’s missions committee isn’t possible, try to talk to one new person each week about your faith or church. May God bless you as you take small steps that add up to big impact this year!

Our Source of Light

January 6 marks the day of Epiphany, when the wise men (who were Gentiles) came to worship Jesus and bring him gifts. During the church-year season of Epiphany, we remember that God’s Son is the Light of the whole world.

Ponder the gifts of Epiphany with these two reflections, written centuries apart:

Your light, dear God, surpasses all other light, because all light comes from you. Your fire surpasses all fire, because your fire alone burns without destroying. The flames of your fire reach into the soul, consuming the sin and selfishness that lie there. But far from damaging the soul, your fire sets it ablaze with love. What moved you to enlighten me with your truth? The fire of your love was the reason. You loved me so much that you could not bear to see me confused and perplexed. Can I ever repay the burning love which you have given me? No, because I have nothing of my own to give. Yet you assure me that the love which you put into my soul is repayment enough. You desire only the joy of seeing me receiving your gift. What more perfect Father could there be!  —Catherine of Siena (c. 1347-1380)

Epiphany beckons us to come to the light of Jesus Christ. Epiphany calls us to stare into that light until our inner darkness is fully expunged. Epiphany then sends us out into a dark and weary world as women and men with shining faces, until we say with the apostle Paul, “It is the God who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” [see 2 Corinthians 4:6].  —Jason Gaboury, minister in New York City

The Heart of our Faith

Christianity affirms that at the heart of reality is a Heart, a loving Father who works through history for the salvation of his children. Man cannot save himself, for man is not the measure of all things and humanity is not God. Bound by the chains of his own sin and finiteness, man needs a Savior.  —Martin Luther King Jr.

A Year that Whispers Jesus

For author Nancy Tichy, a small holiday gift once sparked big-picture thoughts about Christian living. One December she received a kitchen towel with the message “I want a Christmas that whispers JESUS.” That prompted thoughts of what it’s like to have an entire year that whispers Jesus.

For starters, that involves daily quiet time, devotion and prayer. “Sometimes I wake with the thought of a person on my mind,” writes Tichy. “I’m quiet with this impression, interceding for the family member or friend until it has lifted. Could this be a whisper from our Savior?”

Many other daily occurrences are “worthy of [Jesus’] whispered response of love,” Tichy points out. That’s true whether we’re distracted by tasks and troubling thoughts or buoyed by encounters with contentment and joy. “For me,” she writes, “whispering is part of intimacy, and that is what I want to make a hallmark of the coming year. I want closeness with our Savior that enables me to hear from him, even when he whispers.”

Author Ronald Wilson, in Stretching the Soul, describes being certain that four things will occur in the days ahead.

  1. Trouble will come. Life is difficult. I must mourn as well as dance.
  2. In this long journey [of life], I’m not in control. God has reminded us of this.
  3. Many times I will fail.
  4. I will find forgiveness and get up and go on. God will wipe up the mess I’ve made of things, take me by the hand and set me back on the right path.

Praise God for his sure presence during the joys and the challenges the new year brings!

January Mission of the Month:  McHenry County PADS