My 2016 New Year's Resolutions
I cannot remember the last time I made a new year's resolution. So, why now? Three events during 2015 have led me to the point of resolution.
In January of 2015, we were visiting family and friends in Tulsa, OK. It just so happened that while we were there so was Garth Brooks. He's a big deal in Tulsa and since he'd not performed there since 1997, being able to attend was also a big deal. Our friends secured great seats and Tom's 90-year-old mother attended with us. A memory we will always treasure. Honestly, it was one of the best performances I have ever attended. I'm not a country western music fan (don't judge), but Garth Brooks had me on my feet a lot during that evening. While I didn't know all the words to all the songs so I couldn't sing along with him as the others were, I could and did stand, clap and sway. I was moved to participate! It was really fun. Garth Brooks was a passionate and engaging entertainer. It was obvious he loved what he was doing and was happy to be there. The people definitely wanted to be there. They were decked out and fully engaged. I think Garth Brooks performed something like 7 shows while in Tulsa. In fact, during one evening he performed two shows back to back - 7:30 and another at 11:30. A passionate entertainer who gave 100%. The passionate fans also gave 100%. All shows at the BOK Center 19,000+ seats were sold out. Besides being with family and friends, the passion level of both the entertainer and attendees made this event so special. Here's the deal - I didn't have to be a Garth Brooks fan or country western music fan to enjoy the evening or appreciate the entertainer and fans. I was drawn in because the passion was contagious.
In September of 2015, the same friends who got us the Garth Brook tickets came to Chattanooga for a visit the week OU played Tennessee at Knoxville. Tom got us tickets for some great seats and off we all went to Knoxville. Okay, I am not a football fan (don't judge). I didn't go really knowing much about the coaches, players or any of the other things that make the game the game. But, oh my goodness - it was so much fun. It was a sold out event which meant some 100,000+ people were there. As you can see from the picture, there was a lot of orange and white! It was displayed in the form of jewelry, clothing, cushions, big foam fingers, flags and even body paint and hair color. Evidently the stadium folks measure the sound levels as several times during the game they announced new decimal records had been reached. Seems like we stood the entire game. For sure, we were captivated and moved to stand for hours while screaming, singing, jumping! Talk about getting caught up in the moment - at one point, I looked to my left and to my right seeing our die-hard OU fans/friend singing the TN song Rocky Top. The whole experience begged 100% participation. I didn't have to be a football fan to enjoy the game or love experience. I didn't have to know all the names of the players or understand all the plays to participate. I was moved to participate! Here's the deal - I didn't have to be an OU or Tennessee fan to enjoy being there. I was drawn in because the passion was contagious.
In December of 2015, we drove to Atlanta to attend a Travis Cottrell Christmas Concert being held at Mountain Park Baptist Church. It was a full house with a full orchestra, school band, large choir, children's choir, and beautiful Christmas decorations and spirit. Travis Cottrell and team were amazing as they not only sang songs rich in truth but led us to sing and worship. It was obvious the choirs and orchestra had been practicing and preparing for who knows how long. They did this rendition of Little Drummer Boy that was one of the best performances of anything I have ever witnessed. They also had a team of folks who signed during the entire concert. It was a beautiful thing. All of the performers gave 100%. Their passion was contagious. I was moved to tears on several occasions. My heart was filled and blessed as they sang and spoke such beautiful truths about my Jesus. I was so moved. I wanted to stand in worship. I wanted to raise my hands in worship but ended up sitting on them. I wanted to adore. I wanted to participate or be part of what was happening. So why didn't I? I don't think I would have gotten escorted out had I kept my hands raised the entire time or even if I had stood with hands raised all night. In fact, had I fallen face down in worship I don't think they would have asked me to leave. So what held me back? Because we weren't all was standing up, raising hands or falling face down, I figured it was one of those concerts where you weren't supposed to participate. I didn't want to be a distraction. The passion of the performers was contagious but I didn't rise to the occasion - literally. And, I haven't stopped thinking about my response or lack thereof since. How could I so easily stand up and participate in the above two events and not in this one? For goodness sakes - Jesus was being proclaimed. The King of Kings. The Lord of Lords. The name above all names. Moi - The same person who jumped up, clapped and swayed with Garth Brooks and stood for hours and hours and cheered on folks I didn't know or really care about just sat there while Jesus was being proclaimed. I find this troubling.
This has nothing to do with others and how they respond but what I believe God is shifting and speaking into my heart. Thus, my new year's resolutions. Here you go...
- When someone is singing or speaking truths from God's Word and proclaiming Jesus, I resolve to respond. That response might be in my heart and a silent one, a softly spoken "amen", a raised hand or two, a stand-up (for hours) or fall to my knees. In fact, twirling with Jesus - in public - could be in my future.
- Because of His passion for me, I resolve to passionately pursue Christ through the study of God's Word.
- Not only do I resolve to be passionate in my response to Him and passionately pursue Him, but I resolve to passionately proclaim Jesus.
- All with abandonment.
Please don't misunderstand me - I understand the beauty and need for reverence in corporate worship. I am not talking about denomination, religion, or style of worship. I just long to be an authentic, contagious follower of Jesus Christ. The kind that makes you want to stand up, pursue and participate! So many of you are passionate for Christ. You love and sacrifice much for His name sake and I love you and am so inspired and encouraged by you. You remind me of those passionate Garth Brooks, OU and Tennessee fans. Just like them, you show up and show out! You are all in - you 100% participate. Your passion is contagious! I thank God for you and I want more of what you have.
I pray my resolve produces a passion for Christ that is contagious.