So, how has your new year been going? With a new year many times comes thoughts of changes or improvements to our lives. I want to eat better, only to find myself splurging after a few days. I am going to exercise more, only to stay home because it is too cold. I am going to start to go to church, only to be too tired after a long week of work. I m sure you can add to this list from your own life as well.


We mean well, and we want to succeed. We want a fresh start, a new beginning. But as the Apostle Paul says, “I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.” This is part of our sinful and broken nature and is quite powerful. Most of us are not able to will ourselves to do something or change something. It takes more than that.


This is the beauty of a God who understands our condition and comes to us so that we may have a new beginning outside of ourselves and by means of grace and mercy. God came to us in that babe born in Bethlehem on Christmas because we could not make those changes and transformations we desire by ourselves – we needed a holy and gracious God to pave the way for a new beginning. God could have left us in ur broken state, but instead humbly came to us to bring us life and healing, joy and hope. Our new beginning is not up to us, it is a gift of God freely given in love. Will you accept this new beginning in your life and allow it to give you the strength and hope you need for daily living?


I have come to realize the difference between “trying vs training”. “Trying” is done by will power, by my own devices I will attempt to make changes in my life I desire to make. “Training” is different – instead of trying to do things on my own, I reach out to other resources to help me make the transformations needed. I make use of the gracious resources, especially other people, that God given to help us grow in our lives. I admit I cannot do this on my own but seek out the help and resources that will actually help me change my life in more healthy ways. Will we admit our brokenness and need for help? Will we take advantage of the resources God had blessed us with to grow in faith and health this year?


I wish all of you a blessed and wonderful 2018. I hope it is filled with much health, joy and transformation. But know it is not all up to us! Our God comes to give us the ultimate new beginning in Christ so that we may be freed to live a life of love and service and utilize the gracious blessings of this life for growth in our relationship with God and those around us. Thanks be to God for new beginnings that make a difference!


Pastor Scott Sessler
Emmanuel Lutheran Church


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