By Judy Brandon: Local Columnist
Today is Jan. 6. The new year is just days old. None of us knows the changes, events and all the new prospects that are before us for 2006.
As the chance for a new year and new beginnings, I always decide to do things differently for the upcoming year. Not of the least of these convictions is the choice to include God more in my life.
I’ve written about it before but I think it is worth telling again.
I read about an unusual event several years ago. Some people in a town in Florida thought of an effort to bring God back to the awareness of the general population. So an advertising agency launched a non-denominational billboard campaign to target signs along the highways and inside and outside buses. The series of ads constituted 17 different messages form GOD.
So as motorists near Fort Lauderdale crossed the streets and intersections, rode the buses and drove the highways of their area, signs were strategically placed to give passersby something to think about. One such billboard along a highway had this message: “My Way is the Highway. GOD”
We cannot unlock the unknown future and prepare ourselves for the uncharted roads in 2006. Yet, what is the “high way” for the Christian? How would your words and deeds be characterized in 2005? A double message is given when people claim to know God and profess to live a godly life, but yet their talk does not measure up to what they profess.
The New Testament writer James verified this: “Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. This should not be.” (James 3:10)
Think about it: Have you ever been the subject of gossip or unkind words? Some sit in groups and gossip or gossip one to one. Then those same people hold themselves up as spiritual and consecrated. According to the Bible, anything bad said about someone in their absence — even if it should be true — is backbiting and it is a sin.
I am going to think about my words in 2006.
What about deeds? James also wrote: “Anyone then who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.” (James 4:17)
Doing good when we know in our heart that we ought to do the right thing is principal for the Christian. I think about how much good I did in 2005 and I fell short. According to James, any time I have a thought of doing good or know that I should do something for someone, it is a sin if I do not follow through. Any time I know what the upright path is and I refuse to take it, according to James, it is a sin.
Amos, the old prophet in the Bible, warned the people against having plenty and even wasting some and not sharing it with the needy. Today scores of people are suffering. Sharing means not just sharing the essentials in life, but it means reaching out to others by changing attitudes toward people. In this way we help and encourage them and give help physically, emotionally and spiritually.
Another sign on those Florida billboards reads: “Will the Road You’re On Get You to My Place? GOD.”
The first step in charting unknown territory is trusting Christ as Savior. Direction then is always available to us from God. We don’t have to have a billboard though — his advice and guidance is just a prayer away!
Judy Brandon is an instructor at Clovis Community College. Contact her at: firstname.lastname@example.org