Friday, January 6, 2012

New Year Aspirations!

We have 6 days under our belt in 2012. How’s your new year’s resolution going? For some inspiration, here’s an idea. Look back over your shoulder at December 2011 when Time Magazine announced its “Person of the Year.” For 84 years the winners have included Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg in 2010, Bill & Melinda Gates and Bono who shared the 2005 honor for being shrewd about doing good, for making mercy smarter and hope strategic and then daring the rest of us to follow! Awesome. Young People were highlighted in 1966 for shaking up society and trusting no one over 30. I was young then. I remember. There have been U S Astronauts and Presidents, along with men and women from other countries who’d most impacted the news and our lives, for good or otherwise, to exemplify what was important about their year.

Would you have guessed the 2011 “Person of the Year?” Admittedly, there were strong finalists, like Admiral William McRaven and Congressman Paul Ryan. And the “PERSON of the Year” was THE PROTESTOR! Not as in “Thou doest protest too much!” Oh no…it was “more is better” and “too much is never enough.” Now Protest IS REALLY NOTHING new. It’s made news headlines before and even changed history, but it’s been rather subdued by the good times of the last decade. Before the “bubble” burst in the U.S. a few years ago. Many thought the good times would never end and became complacent in them.

If lethargy was rampant world-wide, then protest became kindling for the fire when in Tunisia in Dec of 2010, a hard working 26 yr old street vendor had been dehumanized by harsh and unfair treatment at the hands of his town authorities one too many times. He went to city officials to file a complaint. Getting no response, he poured paint thinner on himself and lit a match. “My son set himself on fire for dignity," his mother said. His sister added, “In Tunisia, dignity is more important than bread.” [mom = Mannoubia Bouazizi] This incident incited the huge protest in Tunisia that overturned the government there.

Protestors from all over the world are mentioned in Time magazine’s award. From the nameless masses who swarmed the streets with the Arab spring to the protestors in Greece and the Occupy Wall Street movement and on it goes…notice was taken and high marks given by Time magazine, 2011. Protestors were cited to share a desire to reform and improve their countries’ political and economic woes. Egyptian eruptions came out of fraudulent elections in 2010. In Russia it was the reality that another six (or 12) years of Vladimir Putin, the Time magazine 2007 “Person of the Year” incidentally, might NOT improve prosperity and daily life.

What does this have to do with my NY’s resolution and yours? The Bible teaches us about resolution in terms of who drives your bus and what motivates you to stand up and be counted. Who of us doesn’t protest something to one extent or another? But how & why we do it matter to God whose Son, Jesus Christ endured protest and protested Himself here on earth. If Jesus had demanded to be treated fairly with dignity, where would that have taken Him? How many times was He offended.. from “no room at the Inn” to false accusations and injustice on the cross?

He could have marched with signs and gotten air time and said “Forget This Stuff!” And then where would We be? Instead He said, “Forgive them and gave His life as a sacrifice to give US dignity…even, especially, when others don’t. Maybe this year we can protest with more of a Divine purpose.

The Bible says, "The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord" (Psalm 37:23). Let’s check with Him first.

‘Know where you are headed and you will stay on solid ground’ (Proverbs 4:26). ‘Many are the plans in a man’s heart but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails’ (Proverbs 19:21).

Above all, let’s be sure to seek God’s will in whatever cause we promote. 1 Sam 2:10 warns that those who oppose the LORD will be shattered. That sounds like something to avoid! In the process, we stay humble, as He gives us the grace to encourage others and work for good change. That's why Scripture says: "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble." And when we get beaten down and discouraged by the opposition, we take heart from Heb 12:3 “Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” Of course, begin any protest with prayer!

Bottom line: in contrast to proTEST, let’s PROclaim..the Good News of JC. In contrast to OCCUPY, let’s BE OCCUPIED by the HS. That’s how God guides our protests to be most effective so what we occupy will count far beyond the here and now! Lord willing, That should make for a great 2012!

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