Thursday, January 7, 2016

One Little Candle - 1/07/16

My column, An Arkie's Faith, from the January 7, 2016 issue of The Mena Star.

The beginning of a new year is a time when many people start new things in their life. This year I’m starting something new, a weekly newspaper column. The Mena Star has graciously given me the opportunity to share some thoughts with you each week.

Let me introduce myself. I am a long time resident of Mena. My wife and I moved to Mena from Colorado in 1981. I love the people of Mena and the friendly easy going way of life here. I have owned and operated my own business since moving here. I enjoy the natural beauty of this part of Arkansas and being out of doors. In 2008 I started writing a blog. A friend was visiting in our home and she showed me her daughter's blog. Because she lived far away from her daughter, she kept up with her through the blog. I had heard the word "blog", but really had no idea what it was all about.

As I was reading the blog, I noticed at the top of the page that it had a link that said create blog. I had to see what it was all about, so I clicked it. One of the first things that had to be filled in was the title. I spent about thirty seconds thinking, and typed An Arkies Musings. Arkie is slang word for someone who lives in Arkansas.

We used to be officially called Arkansawyers, but now the term is Arkansan. During the Great Depression of the 1930's, Arkansas and Oklahoma were some of the hardest hit states. Many people moved to California trying to get jobs. The terms Arkie and Okie were disparaging terms used by the Californians for people from Oklahoma and Arkansas. Now the term Arkie is most often used to describe a native Arkansan and is often still a bit disparaging. It seems to indicate that someone is unlearned and backward. I have lived here for over 30 years. Though I'm not a native, I am proud to be an Arkansan or even an Arkie. You have to admit that An Arkansan's Musings just doesn't roll off the tongue.

Just like that I had my own blog, and I enjoyed writing and posting pictures to it. I had written a little before starting the blog, but definitely not regularly. I had never had a "reason" to write before. Because being a Christian is a big part of my life, many of my blog posts were on religious topics.  I look forward to sharing my thoughts with you.

My resolution is to write in a plain, simple, easily understood style. I hope that I will do a better job with this resolution than I have done with resolutions I have made in the past.

My favorite comic when I was a kid was Peanuts with Charlie Brown, Lucy, Linus, Snoopy and the gang. I still remember one comic strip I read then. It is January 1st, and Charlie Brown tells anyone who will listen, “The best way to keep New Year’s Resolutions is in a sealed envelope in a bottom desk drawer”.  Charlie Brown knew what you already know if you have made resolutions.  Making and keeping resolutions is difficult, usually ending in failure.

How has making resolutions worked out for you? I don't even want to talk about mine. If you have made and broken resolutions on many previous New Year's days, you may feel that you might as well seal them in a bottom desk drawer and forget them.

If you ask most people about the resolutions they made for the New Year, they will tell you that they are going to cut down on their eating, they are going to exercise more, stop doing unhealthy things, etc. While these are good goals, they focus on self and rely on self. Self-improvement for most people means making themselves more attractive, healthier and happier. They depend on willpower to bring about the changes.

Notice how different our typical resolutions are from the words of Paul in Colossians 3:12-14(NLT) “Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony”.

Paul’s words are focused on others. If we are to use resolutions wisely, we need to turn our attention away from ourselves and toward others. We need to get the focus off of ourselves.  What kind of resolutions should we make?

The Bible calls John, “the disciple that Jesus loved”. Jesus had a best friend. I want my resolution to be the words that the best friend of Jesus wrote in 1 John 4:7,8 (NCV) “Dear friends, we should love each other, because love comes from God. Everyone who loves has become God’s child and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love”.

I don’t know of a better resolution that you could make. If we would all make a resolution to love others, imagine how different the world would be.

My wife's cousin, Jerry Patton, spent 37 years as the second tenor of The King's Heralds Quartet, the oldest continuous gospel quartet in America.  One of my favorite songs that he sang was titled One Little Candle. The lyrics, written by George Mysels and J. Maloy Roach, are great.

“It's better to light just one little candle, than to stumble in the dark. Better far that you light just one little candle, all you need's a tiny spark.  If we'd all say a prayer that the world would be free. The wonderful dawn of a new day we'll see. And if everyone lit just one little candle what a bright world this would be".

My resolution for the New Year is to focus on loving others.  Gentle Reader, will you join me in resolving to love others?  If we would all light just one little candle what a bright world this would be.

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