Summary: Each year we make resolutions to correct bad habits. One of the most fundamental characteristics of disciples of Jesus is to love one another. Resolving to love others as Jesus does makes a better me.
1. New Year's Resolutions are a means to resolve change in our lives
* Be at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let every new year find you a better man. Benjamin Franklin
* "Although no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending." ¯ Carl Bard
* "We spend January 1st walking through our lives, room by room, drawing up a list of work to be done, cracks to be patched. Maybe this year, to balance the list, we ought to walk through the rooms of our lives...not looking for flaws, but for potential." - Ellen Goodman
* "Now there are more overweight people in America than average-weight people. So overweight people are now average. Which means you've met your New Year's resolution." -- Jay Leno
2. Change seems difficult or even impossible yet it can happen. The presence of Jesus changed people:
* Peter -- Instability to Consistency
* John -- Son of Thunder to Apostle of Love
* Paralytic -- From Sickness to Wholeness
* Zacchaeus -- selfish to selfless
* Demoniac -- Bondage to Freedom
* Sinful Woman -- From Sin to Salvation
3. When people are with Jesus, they stand out
* Apostles -- they had been with Jesus
* One of the marks -- John 13.34-35
4. Church Conflict
Chuck Colson in his book; THE BODY, tells of an incident at the former Emmanuel Baptist Church outside of Boston Ma. The headline read: It was the Right Hook that Got Him. In what could be called a power struggle between the minister and the deacon board turned out to be a disaster from which the church could not recover.
For weeks the deacons had been in conflict with the minister, and it was very evident by the seating in the small congregation. Those who sided with the minister sat on the right side of the church while those who sided with the deacons sat on the left. Realizing this division could not continue, Head Deacon, Frank Fowler went to the pulpit to make an announcement. He smoothed out his paper and began to read; This is to announce a special congregational assembly to discuss pastor Don Waite...
Suddenly, he could not be heard. Florence Waite, the pastor's wife began playing the piano very loudly, the organist chimed in and Pastor Waite began singing at the top of his voice as some of the congregation joined him.
Before they could begin the second verse, Frank unplugged power cord from the organ and another deacon Brain Maguire closed the lid on the piano. Witnesses said there was an eerie silence that seemed to last for minutes. Then deacon Ray Bryson moved toward the Pastor, both men starred at each other in awkward silence, finally Ray returned to his seat, and that is when the trouble really began.
His foot became tangled in a Mic cord and he tripped, falling to the ground someone yelled Pastor pushed him down. Ray also believed he had been pushed and so he got up and hit the pastor in the nose, the pastor's lapel Mic recorded the impact with a loud SMACK!
Flora Waite, the pastor's wife let out a loud scream and several of the members rushed the stage to restrain bother Ray and Pastor Waite. But tempers flared and soon there was much pushing and shoving by several people.
The fight ended when the police arrived to restore order, they took down names for their report and suggested some of the men seek medical attention, in particular Ray Bryson who had a broken hand and Pastor Waite, who lost two front teeth.
The following Wednesday the deacons, Pastor Waite and witnesses were summoned to court, both sides shared the gory details. Neither party would accept blame or responsibility.
Finally the judge issued his ruling. No charges will be pressed at this point, but I urge you to work this out within your own church. Your Jesus Christ may allow this sort of thing in his follower's church, but the Commonwealth of Massachusetts will not permit fist fights as a regular order of a church service.
The leadership of Emmanuel Baptist Church filed quietly out to their cars and drove off in different directions. On the back of each car was a bumper stick declaring, "God is with us at Emmanuel Baptist Church"
In the months to come the church would experience a split, the minister would resign and eventually because the of the publicity, the church closed its doors permanently.
This bizarre incident though real, thankfully is not typical in our churches. We often do not take swings at one another physically. However stories like what happened at Emmanuel Baptist Church and other churches where infighting takes place lead people to make two conclusions regarding why people avoid attending church;