Friday, January 1, 2016

New Year's Eve...parting thoughts

New Year's Eve is a holiday that's puzzling for me. Don't get me wrong, we had a great time tonight—as we usually do—but after the proverbial ball was dropped and everyone started heading to bed, I was left pondering.

Banjo's BBQ in Spring City. It's in a 1950s
bank or office building. This little place
was PACKED with folks!
Our night was really fun. We were invited to Banjo's BBQ in Spring City to hear some live music and eat BBQ cooked by David, the owner. Great guy, great place, fun times. I was chuckling to myself the whole time because virtually the whole crowd consisted of baby-boomers listening to baby-boomer music (Beach Boys, Jimmy Buffet, Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan, stuff like that), and being, well, baby-boomers. So funny (at least to me—a buster who grew up in the shadow of the generation that sucked all the air out of every room before our arrival)! I would probably offend some people if I gave specific examples of what I mean. But everyone was very nice and made us (Darla, Drew, Dara, and I) "a part of the family." The BBQ everything (turkey, chicken, ham, butt, ribs, and more by Dave) and trimmings (brought by the attenders) was fabulous!

We left Banjo's around 8:30 and headed back to Knoxvegas where we were invited (along with the rest of our elders & families) to the home of one of our elders over for a New Year's Eve gathering. Good times. This really was like being with family. We came in fashionably late. The wives and daughters were all in the living room, the sons were all eating in the dining room, and the dads were all outside around the fire ring. So appropriately segregated! Of course, after greeting everyone, I went outside to hang with the guys. We talked about politics, business, cutting wood, and told stories of when we were younger. SO quintessential—all of it! And so great. I really did relax and enjoy our time together.

We stayed until about 11:30 and came home. We turned on the TV to watch the obligatory ball drop. But first, we were summarily treated by the network we were watching to a parade of cultural rot, beginning with a long commercial celebrating how far we've come as a country togetherby making gay marriage legal, by protesting various police wrong-doing, by showing symbolic sympathy to Paris terror victims without becoming judgmental towards Muslims, etc.—all pictures given to us while hearing a man's voice making a speech. The voice turned out to be that of Bruce Kaitlyn Jenner, whose videoed image was revealed at the climatic end of the ad, showing that he/she had been the one speaking all along. Applause. Next was an advertisement for a sitcom glorifying more degradation. Next (or so) a mock "public service announcement" urging people who may have had one too many...to drink one more. Then the ball drops. Auld Lang Syne. Followed by Ray Charles' rendition of America the Beautiful. Then a rock band singing about more depravation. And I'm caught in a contemplative whirlpool.

I know, call me an old fogey. I'd like to think that I'm one who wants people to really experience joy and happiness to the fullest! To engage in and/or celebrate what God calls sin is joy-robbing self-destruction. God will be glorified. According to the Bible, we can share in his glory or bring him glory as he makes examples of us (like Pharaoh and many once-enviable-now-pitiable others).

Yes, it has been quite a year. We've got a presidential race heating up and a nation in a mess. We're watching our culture change at a stunning pace. What will 2016 bring? God knows. And God actually controls it. That's why we must pray.

So, before going off to bed myself, I prayed for the new year.
  • That God will have mercy on us and give us revival. That he will overcome evil with good.
  • That he will cause Christians to be uncompromisingly distinct and loving (rather than hypocritical, judgmental, and entitled).
  • That he will bless Providence Church by helping us pay our facility debt this year so that we can do ministry and missions like never before and that he will raise up leaders at Providence.
  • That he will help me to crave him more, spend more time in private prayer and communion with him, be a more effective disciple-maker and teacher of his word, and be a better husband and dad.
God, I ask that you do all this in 2016.

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