Summary: Many who come into a local church think it looks more like a porcupine ball than a tightly knit family.

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42They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. 44All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. 46Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

Acts 2:42-47

Three hundred and sixty five days are spread out before us. We lost some wonderful people; some were well known, like Ronald Reagan, and some were very near to our hearts, like our Senior Adult Pastor Jim Hopkins. Two thousand four was the 4th warmest year in recorded history. The old year is waving good-bye as we look in our rearview mirror. It’s now another chapter in the history books.

Stretching out before me as I sit on my back porch is Saratoga Pass, the inland passage between Camano Island and Whidbey Island. It’s a view of Puget Sound that stretches for miles, and I see endless possibilities. Wind surfers wait for a windy weekend. Boaters wait the opening day of fishing season in a few months. Navy Prowlers (flyers from Whidbey Island Naval Air Station) fly overhead, preparing for trips to Iraq. Their sound is worth stopping and saluting, it is the sound of freedom.

A lot goes on from the Squires’ back porch. Eagles soar above. Deer sneak through the yard at night looking for plants and fruit trees to munch on. Children play below. Apple trees grow (soon). I wonder what 2005 will bring to this view? Sandwiched between January 1 and December 31 are twelve exciting months with endless, unexpected, and unlived possibilities. Mark my word friend; this New Year will require that you stray from the comfort zone of the back porch of your life. It requires that you hold loosely to your expectations. (By the way, the greater the expectations the greater the need.) If you don’t, you will think everyone is trying to block your success and prosperity. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Here are some Words of Wisdom for New Year Travelers

v God desires that you “hold loosely” to your life.

v Give others wiggle room for a few mistakes and imperfections.

v Make a daily choice to be positive and optimistic rather than negative, critical, and resistant.

v Take a risk. Try something new. Be ready for change. As Mark Twain says, “The only person that likes change is a wet baby.”

v Don’t just do it, do it with excellence. Living, as Chuck Swindoll says, “Above the Level of Mediocrity.”

v Don’t just sit there! Get off that deck and move beyond the comfort of island breezes. Just sitting there is not an option!

“It is a wretched taste to be gratified with mediocrity when the excellent lies before us.” Isaac Disraeli, 1834

Two and half decades have passed since I began the journey of ministry from the Washington border town of Bellingham in 1981. It has taken me to Fort Worth, Texas; San Diego/Pasadena, California; and finally back home to Seattle (Marysville), Washington. What has driven me for those 25 years? The answer: A strong desire to be committed to excellence while others are satisfied with settling for mediocrity; to aim high while many others seem to be comfortable with the boredom of aiming low.

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