December 29 - January 4  





Make Revolutionary Resolutions This Year
News reports this week say that for 2004, once again America's two most common New Year's resolutions are to lose weight and to get out of debt. Interesting how they both deal with problems of consumption and overconsumption. Of course, many Americans have incurred excess debt as a result of recent economic hard times, but not all. Even in the prosperous 90s, millions of Americans with high-paying jobs lived paycheck-to-paycheck on maxed-out credit cards and mortgages at the very cusp of affordability.
Our annual obsession with resolutions to lose weight and shed debt signals the degree to which consumption is hard-wired into our culture that promotes high living on the edge of solvency as an entitlement. Even if these are unhealthy and self-destructive in the long run. If I want it or hunger for it, the attitude seems to be, I deserve to have it. 
But those lists of top New Year's resolutions offer hope. Further down, Americans also resolve to be "more spiritual." Some resolutions are more specific: To pray more often, read the Bible daily or attend church regularly.
Is there a common thread here? These disparate resolutions all reflect the desire to correct a life that is out of kilter. The healthy urge for less eating and spending complements the healthy hunger for spending more time and energy with God. And this is as it should be. 
In the rite of baptism contained in the Lutheran Book of Worship, we are asked to renounce the devil and all the devil's empty promises. In our culture, the devil's most tenacious empty promise is that consumption alone will fulfill our lives, give us happiness, infuse us with meaning, provide comfort and security. It's an empty promise of the devil because only a close walk with God can do all those things.
So Americans seem to understand that intuitively, and so consuming less and praying more are on their list of New Year's resolutions. But maybe it's the priority that we need to work on. If we put to the top of our list the resolutions to pray and read the Bible every day,  I bet we won't have to obsess over how much we eat or spend.
Happy New Year!
Rob Blezard (
New this Week: Dec. 29 - Jan. 4

 'For Me, January and Diets Go Together'
Pastor Jim Bliss of Resurrection Lutheran Church (ELCA), Dublin, Calif., notes that New Year's is a great time to make decisions, including those that will deepen discipleship. "Giving is also indispensable to the Christian life. Many people believe that tithing, giving 10 percent of your income to God, is only an Old Testament thing. When Jesus speaks of tithing though, he assumes that it is being practiced."




Life Isn't a Juggling Act
New in the January issue of The Lutheran, a timely essay from Terry Hershey about stewardship of our time, energy and life. "I want to invite you to live your life infused with grace, passion, purpose and heart. Which is another way of saying that balanced living is spillage: It happens when you live with grace, passion, purpose and heart. All are available in our lives ó now. We need only to embrace what is already there."




Resolve To Revise Priorities in 2004 
"Stewardship demands a constant reexamination of what we are given and what we need and what our church and those around us need.  God has given us plenty.  It is just a matter of how we share it."
In Dana Reardon's weekly reflection.




Good Stewardship Begins with the Pastor 
"Like any top executive in a successful corporation, the pastor must be willing to put forth time and effort far beyond what he or she expects of his or her people. The pastor sets the standard and the tone. If a pastor is not willing to make some sacrifices, he or she should find another less demanding profession. Itís that simple." By Robert Zimmer. From the Lutheran Laity Movement Archives.




New Year, Fresh Opportunities
"Stewards who look with their hearts can see God's redirection in their lives. At the beginning of a new year, we like to think that the old year has closed down and the new year is open to us. For those who live the StewardLife, God reveals that every day is a 'redirect.' "  StewardLife from the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod