NARK District Family:

A friend of mine told me that Dez Bryant's favorite holiday is New Year's Eve because he loves watching the ball drop!  (My apologies to all our Dallas Cowboys fans.)  The truth is that we all love watching the ball drop on New Year's Eve.  About a million frigid revelers braved the elements and gathered in Times Square on Sunday night for an up close and personal view of the descending ball featuring 2,688 Waterford Crystal triangles with LED lights designed to depict butterflies flying peacefully above a meadow.  Countless others saw the spectacle on television.  It's a holiday tradition that accompanies our predictable resolutions to get fit, get organized, and get happy.

As we close the book on 2017, I suspect that many of us feel as though we have "dropped the ball" by neglecting resolutions made a year ago.  We begin each year with good intentions...high hopes...lofty goals.  We join the fitness club; we adopt a plan to read the Bible through; we promise to live within our means and tithe; we tell ourselves that we will reach out to the "least, last, and lost."  But let's face many of those resolutions are distant memories by Groundhog's Day.  We drop the ball!

And yet, 2018 offers us a fresh start.  What will it bring to us?  That depends upon what we bring to the New Year.  Jesus said, "Don't worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own" (Matthew 6:34).  I believe we can live one day at a time and enjoy a Happy New Year if we follow Paul's formula in his letter to the Phillipians.  Here it is:

Paul, a superhero of the early Church, demonstrates self-awareness by humbling stating "not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect."  If anyone had the right to say "I know Christ fully...I have arrived," it was the apostle Paul.  And yet, he acknowledges that he's not perfect and has a long way to go in his spiritual journey.  Just as businesses take an annual inventory of where they are as the new year begins, we would be wise to conduct a spiritual inventory and examine ourselves.  It may be helpful to solicit feedback from a Spirit-filled friend because we all have blind spots.

Whether Paul was mending tents, writing an epistle, or preaching to a crowd in a marketplace, he was driven by an all-consuming purpose -- to know Christ and to make Him known.  It's best captured in the phrase: "This one thing I do." There's no limit to what God can do in and through an individual with such single-mindedness.  But, according to Scripture, we must "forget those things which are behind" -- past sins, failures, hurts, and even achievements.

3. A POSITIVE ATTITUDE (3:20; 4:8)
Negativity abounds in our country, and it has contaminated lots of us evangelical Christians.  We have become known for what we are against, rather than what we are for.  Zig Ziglar was right: "We need a check up from the neck up!"  An attitude adjustment just might become a reality if we took seriously Paul's admonition: "Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable -- if anything is excellent or praiseworthy -- think about such things." (4:8)

Have you dropped the ball in 2017?  Are you wondering how to turn it around in 2018?  Join me in embracing a proper perspective, a prayerful ambition, and a positive attitude.

-- D. Randy Berkner


Rev. Michael Johnson will be installed as the lead pastor at our Liberty Church on January 7th.  He and his wife Anna have two children: Judah (14) and Lily (10).  We welcome the Johnsons to the NARK District Ministry team and anticipate great days ahead for the Liberty Church.

The construction of Bentonville Community Church's state-of-the-art worship center is now complete, and the official dedication of the facility is scheduled for Sunday, February 18th.  Look for pictures in the next NARK NAZ newsletter.

Pastors, plan to attend the next Maximizing Pastors session to be held next Tuesday, January 9th, 9:30 a.m. - 1 p.m. at the district office.  Aaron Matthews, an elder and full-time counselor, will be addressing various pastoral counseling issues.  Also, Dr. Berkner will be introducing the RAND Project -- an exciing, new initiative geared toward vibrant church renewal.

Preacher's Kids...register now for the PK Retreat scheduled for March 2-4 at Southern Nazarene University.

Congratulations to Jacob and Allison Johnson (Rogers First) who "tied the knot" in a beautiful New Year's Eve wedding ceremony!

Prayer Requests: Aeryk Self's family, Johnny Ray Lake, Sandy Jones, George Petry, Paula Johnson, Sarah Scott.
    January  9         Maximizing Pastors Session
                  13        Teen Bible Quiz
                  20         District Advisory Board Meeting
                  27         SDMI Leadership Summit (Little Rock First)

  February  10         Children's Bible Quiz
                  17         Teen Top 5 Bible Quiz
                27-1        Ministers and Mates Retreat (Branson)
                               Dr. Carla Sunberg, Special Speaker         Quiz

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