What about New Year’s Resolutions?

A time-honored custom is to make New Year’s resolutions, decisions to use the new beginning offered by the new year to improve one’s life in some way.  Reportedly, 50% of people make such resolutions, but 89% fail to keep them.

This can be seen as evidence for the theological teaching about the bondage of the will.  But though moral self-improvement is largely fruitless, apart from the Gospel, are there are other kinds of resolutions (exercise, eat better, or keep a tidier desk [my goal year after futile year] that are worth making and might be realized?  (Though such non-moral resolutions fail too:  I’m told that new gym memberships soar at the first of the year, but that attendance plummets after just a few weeks.)

Have any of you actually kept a New Year’s resolution for the whole year or longer?  How did you manage that?  After the jump, some advice for doing so. [Read more...]

Happy Circumcision & Name of Jesus Day!

I hope you had a big celebration last night and stayed up past midnight to see in the big holiday today.  Namely, the commemoration of the circumcision and naming of Jesus, a ceremony that took place one week after His birth.  To honor the occasion–and, oh, yes, it’s also New Year’s Day, isn’t it?–I am reposting something I wrote back in 2009:

Today is. . . the ancient feast celebrating The Circumcision and Name of Jesus. The week after Christmas, the Christchild was circumcised, thus taking upon Himself the fulfillment of the Law, a rite in which He was also officially given His name.

“Jesus” means “God saves” (literally, to put it even stronger, “YHWH saves”). Notice how the very name of Jesus attests to His divinity and to the Gospel.

Several years ago, we went to church on New Years Day and heard one of the most memorable sermons on the Name of Jesus. The pastor went through the different places in the Bible that talks about doing things “in the name of Jesus,” then bringing in the meaning of that name, that God saves. We are told to pray in the name of Jesus, because “God saves” gives us full access to the Father. When even two or three meet in the name of Jesus, He is with them, because “God saves” makes a new kind of worship possible. Disciples could cast out demons in Jesus’ name; that is, in the reality that “God saves.” At the name of Jesus, “God saves,” every knee shall bow and every tongue that Jesus is LORD. (Try that correlation yourself in your own devotions.)

via The Name of Jesus.

This is also a fitting contemplation for  the new year ahead.  So happy New Year’s, everybody!  May 2015 be a good and blessed year for all of you!.

Make your predictions for 2015

Now it’s time for you to make your predictions about what is going to happen in the new year that begins today.  Then, on New Year’s Eve of 2015, we will review them to see who is the most far-sighted prognosticator.

Again, the more specific, out-of-the-blue, and surprising predictions fare best.  The example I keep giving is tODD, who a few years ago predicted the death of North Korea’s dictator , Kim Jong-Il, and the ascension of his unlikely son, Kim Jong-Un.  I don’t believe Kim Jong-Il was even sick at the time of the prediction, so it was quite a stunning guess.  (Then again, no one last year predicted that Kim Jong-Un would be associated with a hack of a major Hollywood studio in a first successful and then unsuccessful attempt to kill a crude comedy about assassinating said dictator.  If anyone had made such a prediction, the trophy would be retired.  Instead, reg won with his prediction that the United States would normalize relations with Cuba, which is plenty specific, out-of-the-blue, and surprising.

See yesterday’s reward post and the New Year’s Day prediction post it links to, to show you what we’re looking for.  Then predict away!

The #2 most popular Cranach post of the year

Why do Americans say “merry Christmas,” while the British and denizens of its Commonwealth say “happy Christmas”?  Those who Googled that question were directed to this post, which was written for Christmas of 2013:

Merry Christmas vs. Happy Christmas.

This post was number 3 for most of the year, but for the last few weeks, page views for this post surged by the thousands, and it made it to #2. [Read more...]

Plans for this last week of the year

As is our custom here at the Cranach blog, we will devote the days up to and including New Year’s Eve looking back on the year that is ending.  Then, starting New Year’s Day, we will look ahead to the year that is beginning.   The high points will be on December 31 when we will review YOUR predictions for 2014 that commenters made last year, when 2014 was all full of possibilities.  The best prediction–some of which, in years past, have verged on the legendary–will win all kinds of virtual accolades and bragging rights.  Then on January 1, we will provide a forum for you to make your predictions for what will happen in 2015, and we will see who is the best prognosticator around this time next year.  So be thinking and getting your prophecies in order!

Top news stories of 2014

The Associated Press released results of its poll of news directors and editors on what they considered to be the top ten news stories of 2014.   The winner:  The police killings of Michael Brown and Eric Garner and the consequent protests.  This beat out Ebola and the rise of ISIS, which were #2 and #3, respectively.

See the complete list after the jump.  What do YOU consider the biggest story or  most important development of 2014? [Read more...]


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