Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Living Their Faith

The Detroit Free Press has an article entitled “How a married gay Catholic couple live their faith.”* It tells of a homosexual couple who got married in an Episcopal church because “their Catholic faith is against same-sex marriage.”

Which makes me wonder whose faith it actually is.

Actually, it doesn’t make me wonder at all. I know whose faith it is. It is the faith of the couple, not the faith of the Catholic church. It is not Catholic faith that enables homosexuals to marry. In fact, the Catholic faith (at least as of now) still forbids it.

These two men believe that their homosexuality is acceptable. And therefore they live by that faith. Their church does not believe that, nor does it teach it. That’s why they had to get married somewhere else. So when these two men get “married,” it is in opposition to the faith they claim, but in line with the faith they hold.

But, lest you think I am just beating on Catholics, these two men are just like the rest of us. We all live our faith. We live by what we believe. Even atheists live by their beliefs. They are not, as commonly thought, people without faith. In fact, it takes more faith to be an atheist then it does to be a Christian.

The only question is whether or not what we believe is what we should believe. It is whether our faith lines up with the faith that God commands us to have. It is whether our faith is big enough to account for the world that we live in.

These days, faith has become very personalized. “I believe; you believe; we all believe; good for all of us.” Or “It doesn’t matter what you believe as long as you believe something.”
In this, the subjective and personal nature of faith has become confused with truth. It has made it so that people feel good about their own faith whether or not that faith makes any sense at all, or whether or not it is true.

Most would agree that it is neither good nor virtuous to believe something that is not true. In fact, it is dangerous in many cases, and damning in some. If you choose to believe in Santa Claus or the Elf on the Shelf, you will survive. If you choose to believe that God doesn’t exist or that homosexuality is okay, then you won’t survive, at least not for long.

What these two men have done is hijack the Catholic faith for their own purposes. They desire to salve their own consciences by burning the candle at both ends. At the one end, they can fulfill their lusts by continuing and even legitimizing their relationship. On the other end they can fulfill their own lusts by holding to a religion.

Except they aren’t holding to a religion. They have instead created their own.

Let us not mistake faith for truth. Let us not believe that faith has the power to create or, for that matter, the power to condemn. That responsibility belongs to God alone. Our responsibility is to believe what God has already said, not to “lawyer it” to death for our own ends.

Having faith is not necessarily a good thing, though it is a necessary thing. By that I mean you can’t live without faith. Everyone believes something. But not everyone believes the right thing.

And so God has given us his word that we might not simply believe, but that we might rightly believe.

So believe it and then live by that belief.

*Yes, the capitals, or lack thereof, belong to the Freep, not to me.

Monday, November 16, 2015

How Firm A Foundation

Yesterday, to close our worship service, we sang the old hymn “How Firm a Foundation” to encourage us to look at God and his word in the testings of life. I post it here for your meditation as you face whatever God has brought or is bringing into your life.

Remember the form of this hymn. The first verse is a call to Christians—the saints of the Lord—to take hope in the sufficient (“what more can he say”) Word of God to us. The remaining verses are all God speaking to us, and encouraging us with his promises.

How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,
Is laid for your faith in His excellent Word!
What more can He say than to you He hath said,
You, who unto Jesus for refuge have fled?

“Fear not, I am with thee, O be not dismayed,
For I am thy God and will still give thee aid;
I’ll strengthen and help thee, and cause thee to stand
Upheld by My righteous, omnipotent hand.”

“When through the deep waters I call thee to go,
The rivers of woe shall not thee overflow;
For I will be with thee, thy troubles to bless,
And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.”

“When through fiery trials thy pathways shall lie,
My grace, all sufficient, shall be thy supply;
The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design
Thy dross to consume, and thy gold to refine.”

“Even down to old age all My people shall prove
My sovereign, eternal, unchangeable love;
And when hoary hairs shall their temples adorn,
Like lambs they shall still in My bosom be borne.”

“The soul that on Jesus has leaned for repose,
I will not, I will not desert to its foes;
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I’ll never, no never, no never forsake.”

For those interested in helpful meditation on these truths, David Powlinson has an excellent and helpful chapter in the book Suffering and the Sovereignty of God. The chapter is entitled “God’s Grace and Your Sufferings” and it begins on p. 145. You can buy the book here or download a free PDF here.

I encourage you to find Powlinson’s chapter and read it. It will be worth your time.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

The Love of God on the Bottom of Superior

Today, November 10, 2015, is the fortieth anniversary of the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald. The Edmund Fitzgerald was a Great Lakes freighter that was built and launched at Nicholson Docks just a few blocks from where I now sit. It was the largest Great Lakes freighter of its time, measuring more than seven hundred feet. On November 10, 1975, it was making its last run south with a load of iron ore headed for Zug Island (just about a mile north of here).

The weather forecast on Lake Superior was turning dangerous. Before long, a storm blew up with winds over fifty miles an hour kicking up waves twenty to thirty feet. The Edmund Fitzgerald maintained radio contact with nearby ships until its last transmission at 7:10 p.m. Sometime shortly after that, the ship sank to the bottom of Lake Superior near Whitefish Point, taking twenty-nine souls with her. She remains there to this day.

Gordon Lightfoot memorialized the shipwreck in 1976 in his “Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.” It’s not a great work of musical art (or any other kind of art for that matter), but it has survived the years for its occasion. It gets played today all over. It’s morbid and sobering.

And it raises an interesting and difficult question:

Does anyone know where the love of God goes

When the waves turn the minutes to hours?

Where does the love of God go when suffering comes into our lives and the lives of others? Where is God in the midst of tragedy?

This is, in a nutshell, the problem of evil. If God is so powerful and so loving, why do bad things happen?

The whole problem of evil and tragedy in the world is a difficult one for Christians. I am not yet convinced there is a good answer, at least good in terms of making sense in our finite human minds.

I think there is a perfect answer bound up in the perfections of a sovereign God. But that remains for another world to be explained, if we could even grasp it then.

Truth be told, Christians aren’t the only ones with the problem of evil. Atheists and other non-Christians have the exact same problem. In fact, their problem may be worse since they do not have a coherent framework for even the concept of evil, much less its existence.

But what about the question? Does anyone know where the love of God goes when the waves turn the minutes to hours?

What should we say to these questions, whether raised by our own minds or the minds of others?

Well, first I would say the love of God doesn’t go anywhere. Of course, I am sure that Lightfoot wasn’t attempting to make a theological point by his use of the word “goes,” but I think the theological point should be made. The love of God does not go anywhere or cease to exist in the face of evil and tragedy, whether of human making or an “act of God,” as the insurance companies like to say. God’s love is constant, unchanging, and unmoving because it is who God is. When the Edmund Fitzgerald when down, God’s love was the same as it had been the day before or the day after, or forty years before or forty years after.

But second, in the midst of tragedy, I would not focus on the problem of evil. In fact, I would try to avoid it for the time. I would simply say, “We don’t know.” It is a mystery which we simply do not have the tools to solve at present. It is, in one sense, like an untimely death. You don’t know what caused it until the autopsy. But the autopsy must be done by someone with the knowledge and skill to reach right conclusions.

The problem is that in human tragedy, there is no one with the knowledge and skill to perform on autopsy for the Edmund Fitzgerald, or Hurricane Katrina, or an earthquake, or cancer, or anything else. We simply cannot explain the workings of God in this age except to say that we live in a broken world that groans for the redemption.

For now, rather than attempt to give answers, we weep with those who weep. We mourn with them in loss and grief. We share their confusion. We resist the urge in the moment to theologize, to explain, or to rationalize. There will be time for that later perhaps, when the fog has cleared a bit. But even then we must be cautious not to speak for God where God has not spoken.

For now, we take hope in Christ who rose from the dead in whom all the promises of God are yes. We take hope that one day he will right all wrong, will wipe away every tear, and will make all things new.

Until then, we recognize the this earthly life is but a temporary station that will be over all too fast in the best of situations. Don’t waste it by explaining the inexplicable. Use it to minister the grace of Christ to the hurting and love them for the sake of Jesus and the gospel.

Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Everything But the Band …

The Saturday game between Miami and Duke had everything but the band.

Oh, and competent officiating.

Now, I am not one to complain about officiating. In fact, I only complain when they are bad. I realize that sets me apart from everyone else, but I gotta draw a line somewhere. And “bad” is where that line is.

But I digress. The last play was amazing. Eight laterals and a touchdown later, Miami wins 30-27.

Then the replay process started.

Nine minutes later, Miami is still the winner.

Then the league got involved.

Twenty-four hours later, Miami is still the winner, but now with a huge asterisk.

The league admits that the officials got it wrong both on the field and on the replay. A Miami player was down prior to his lateral, meaning that the game should have ended right there with Duke having won.

The league takes this so seriously that they suspended the whole officiating crew, replay officials included, for two games.

But they don’t take it seriously enough to actually fix the problem. And the result is that Duke is hung out to dry. With a win, Duke controls their own destiny. Run the table and show up to be a sacrificial lamb for Clemson in the ACC championship. With one loss (that the league declared wasn’t actually a loss), they can still get there, but it’s harder now.

Here’s the thing (and I have changed my opinion on this slightly): The ACC can and should fix this. They should declare Duke the winner. Because they already did declare Duke the winner. The only place they haven’t declared it is in the only place that matters—the standings.

Let me use a golf illustration. A player hits his second shot on a par 4 over a hill towards the green. He walks up to putt and can’t find his ball. He declares it lost and goes back and plays another ball which would now be his fourth shot (because of the penalty). This time he putts and makes the putt for a bogey, only to find that his original ball is in the hole.

What’s the ruling?

It’s a birdie, not a bogey.

Why? Because under the rules, the hole is over when the ball goes in the hole, even if you don’t know it. Thus, the second ball no longer matters.

In the Miami-Duke game, the game was over when his knee hit the ground. No matter how many laterals, yards, minutes, or days later, the game was still over. The rest of the play was nothing but exercise.

There were no other plays that perhaps could have changed the outcome of the game.

It’s not a judgment call in which you are undermining the officials by second-guessing their ruling (such as a pass interference call, as Lions’ fans [if there are any left] will remember).

No, this is black and white. A game-ender. Duke won.

The ACC should agree with their conclusion and fix the standings. Give Duke what they earned—which is the opportunity to control their own destiny.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

The Cross of Ordinariness

A few years ago, D. A. Carson wrote a book entitled Memoirs of an Ordinary Pastor: The Life and Reflections of Tom Carson. Another book is ordinary for D. A. Carson, who has written more books than many people have read. But this was no ordinary book, not even for Carson. It was a book about his dad.

Now the truth is that we would have never known of Pastor Carson were it not for Doctor Carson. That’s because, by all human standards, Pastor Carson was just ordinary. He never pastored a big church. He didn’t publish a lot of books. He wasn’t even a full-time pastor for much of his ministry. He spent some of his latter years tenderly caring for his ailing wife. And then he died.

He was, in a word, ordinary.

He was, in two words, like me. And like you … just a guy you’ve never heard of, living somewhere you’ve never heard of, pastoring a church you’ve never heard of. And doing it without giving up. He was just ordinary.

In these days, it is easy to fall in love with big. It is easy to see the extraordinary pastors and measure ourselves against them. It is easy to get discouraged by their visible fruit. It is easy to wonder what they are doing that we aren’t. It is easy to listen to them preach and copy their style, or God forbid, even their messages. It is easy to dream about what could be, if only you had a little bit more of this or a little bit less of that.

Then, it is easy to despair when driving to your second job, wondering if you shouldn’t just pack it in, box up the books, and go dig ditches or sell widgets because you will never be whatever that other pastor is. It’s not that it’s too hard to be that. It’s that you can’t get there from here. Your gifts, your abilities, and your opportunities simply are not sufficient for that.

And so you resign yourself to being ordinary. And let’s face it: In a world driven by success, ordinary is hard.

This is where a reality check helps.

The reality is that most churches are less than one hundred people and they will never be bigger than that. In fact, tens of millions of Christians meet every week in assemblies that wouldn’t even move the needle in a megachurch. And these small churches are pastored by people whose name will never show up on a conference speaking list or an Amazon search result. They will never be known outside their small church. They even wear a name tag at their local pastor’s fellowship to remove the awkwardness of having to introduce themselves yet again to the same people who forgot them from last year.

And the reality is that that’s okay. Being ordinary is, well, ordinary. What’s extraordinary is someone who is okay with being ordinary.

You see, most us of will have to bear the cross of ordinariness. It will weigh heavy on us. It will threaten to do us in and drive us off. If we give it too much thought, we still stumble under its weight. We will seek for the next best method or the next best church. We will lay in bed in the dark and wonder with tears if we are wasting our life. We will get up on Sunday and put on a good face and summon the energy to preach from a heart weakened by ordinariness. We will go home on Sunday afternoon and sleep off the disappointment and try to forget we have to start all over tomorrow. We will drift through a football game tempted by the fast food commercials, not because we are hungry, but because we think “Would you like fries with that?” has a better chance of a yes than “Will you follow Jesus with us?” And let’s face it, hearing “no” is a lot easier to take when it is about French fries than it is when it is about Jesus.

The reality is that though the cross of ordinariness may stress us and alarm us, it need not kill us. You see, to some God has given ten talents, and to others five, and to others one. He does not judge the man with one talent by the same standards he judges the man with five or ten. He will judge us according to the talents he has given and the vineyard in which he planted us for this season, however long it might last.

And when this season is over, whether by being planted in another vineyard or by being planted in the ground to await the great resurrection day, he will judge us only by the gifts and calling he gave to us. He will not judge us by the calling he gave to someone else.

So, like Tom Carson, grow where you are planted. Serve in an extraordinarily ordinary way. And be content to let God keep the final score.

It’s doubtful your son will write a book about you. But that’s okay too. Just be encouraged by the book that Doctor Carson wrote about Pastor Carson.

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Same-Sex Marriage in Kentucky

SCOTUS has rejected without comment (unfortunately) an appeal by a Kentucky county clerk to impose a stay on a lower court order that she must issue same-sex marriage licenses against her religious convictions.

I say SCOTUS’ refusal to comment is unfortunate because it is a coward’s way out. They have smiled on the imposition of a religious test for public office with nary a word.

“A religious test,” you say? Yes, a religious test. As it now stands by judicial fiat, persons of religious conviction may not hold a county clerk’s position in the state of Kentucky. They are now required to abandon their religion at the door of the office, which means effectively, that they can have no religious convictions (since a conviction, by definition, cannot be left temporarily; it can only be compromised). If you can abandon your religious conviction when you go to work, you don’t have a religious conviction. You have a preference.

The solution to this situation is simple. SCOTUS should have reversed its earlier embarrassment and rejected same-sex marriage. This should have been done for the preservation of culture and families.

An even simpler solution would be for the couple to travel twenty-two miles—yes, only twenty-two miles—to the next county where they could easily get a marriage license without attempting to force a citizen to violate their religious convictions.

But they didn’t. They chose a road of national exposure, legal bills, and frustration.

One of the parties says, “I feel sad, I feel devastated. … I feel like I've been humiliated on such a national level, I can't even comprehend it."

Yet the humiliation is his alone. And it’s hard to imagine that someone living in Kentucky cannot comprehend that there are people with convictions about marriage and family.

To avoid humiliation, he could have driven a short distance and easily gotten the license months ago. He could have already “married” his partner and been done with it, and no one would have ever known.

How do I know this? Someone real quick tell me anyone who has gotten a marriage license in a neighboring county in the last two months.


You probably don’t know a single person. And you would have never known this person had he simply done that.

But instead, he chose to make himself a national spectacle. And now, he must accept the consequences of that.

But there’s a bigger problem. He is humiliated about the wrong thing. He should be humiliated for being in a same-sex relationship violating what he knows to be true. He should be humiliated for his ignorance that rejects the Creator’s plan for life. He should be humiliated for living life the way he is living. He should be humiliated for making it public.

Instead, he confirms the truth of Romans 1. Though he knows God, he rejects that knowledge. Therefore, he has been given over and is now demonstrating a hardness of heart that has led him to make a spectacle of himself in front of a whole nation.

Not only that, he takes pleasure in the things of which he should be ashamed. Knowing, and yet ignoring, that those who live this way (among other ways) are worthy of death, he not only does it, he gives hearty approval to those who do it along with him (Romans 1:32).

And he tries to force his religious convictions on others who disagree, all the while begging for tolerance for himself.

What should this Kentucky clerk do?

Some are calling on her to resign, saying she shouldn’t hold office unless she can do what the office requires. There are several problems with this.

First, it amounts (as I already pointed out) to a religious test for office. She is being told she cannot hold her religious convictions and also do her job. And yet there is no good reason for this. Marriage licenses are a small part of her job, and those could be easily issued in a neighboring country.

Second, it amounts to an override of the vote of the people. The people of this county elected her to this position. The radical homosexual lobby has no right to try to negate that vote. At the next election, they may throw all their resources at the ballot box and try to remove her by the legal means—namely, electing someone else. To force her out of office for being a Christian is a tragic denial of democracy.

Third, she could easily do the job she was elected to do. The job requirements changed by judicial fiat after she took the job. She should not be held liable for a job she did not sign up for.

Fourth, the problem is easily remedied by other counties who will do exactly what this couple wants. Which confirms the point that they don’t want a marriage license; they want an issue. The marriage license would have been easy to come by. If that was their desire, it would have been long ago done.

In this day and age, individual Christians must decide on their convictions (as opposed to their preferences). For better or worse, the pressure is now coming from outside our own hearts to decide what we believe.

What would I do if I were a county clerk in Kentucky? I have no idea. But I am firmly convinced that judges have no right to demand her to do this.

What should we as Christians do? We should love people. When we have encounters with those who differ with us on same-sex marriage, we must love them with gospel love, showing them the way of the Creator both for life and eternity.

We should look on them with pity, because there is a great Savior who looked on us with pity and loved us and saved us in spite of ourselves.

We should minister to them with hope, knowing that God is bigger than sin and eternity is longer than life.

Monday, July 06, 2015

They Actually Said It

Jeff VanVonderen in Families Where Grace In In Place says,

Paul was angry at the Galatians. His letter to them is a scathing confrontation of the fact that they had been "walking by the flesh" instead of the Spirit. But the "flesh" for the Galatians was not pornography, drunkenness, or thievery. The Galatians had begun to measure their acceptance spiritually by whether or not they performed certain religious behaviors. They let religious performance direct the way they acted, instead of allowing that Spirit to do so. Paul calls this "walking in the flesh."

I saw this statement quoted and looked it up to see if he actually said this. He actually did.

What’s interesting is what the Apostle Paul actually said to the Galatians:

Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality,  20 idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions,  21 envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:19-21)

Comparing VanVonderen’s statement to Paul’s it raises a curious problem: How can VanVandoren say that the “the "flesh" for the Galatians was not pornography, drunkenness, or thievery” when Paul calls the flesh two of those three—sexual immorality and drunkenness? (Though Paul leaves out thievery, it’s doubtful he intended thievery to be understood as a work of the Spirit.)

Surely VanVonderen isn’t hanging his argument on “deeds of,” as in Paul said “deeds of the flesh” while he is just saying “flesh.”

And it raises a significant question: What possesses an author, a Christian author, to completely ignore what the Bible says in order to make his own point? Should we not have more reverence for the text than that?

This leads me to say two things.

First, the text is not our servant. It is our master. So we must say what the text says, even if it doesn’t say what we want to say. If we want to say something else, we need to find a text that says that (before we attach our own desires to it).

Second, there is a lot of much needed talk about grace today. For far too many people in Christian circles, grace gets way too little discussion, and even less use.

But in some circles, grace gets redefined in such a way—as with VanVonderen—to ignore what grace actually is. Such talk of grace completely misses the grace of the Bible and substitutes something else in its place. Then, anyone who actually names the sins in the Bible as being sins that should be avoided are accused of being legalists.

But much of the talk about grace seems like VanVonderen’s—it completely misses the Bible. The grace of the Bible does not refuse to actually read (and say) what the Bible says.

What God defines the flesh for us in Galatians 5:19-21, we do not have the liberty to define some other way, even in the pursuit of a good message, which isn’t even good if it doesn’t deal with Scripture rightly.

The grace of the Bible is the grace that teaches us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live soberly and righteously and godly in this present age (Titus 2:11-15).

The curious thing is that I doubt VanVonderen would allow for pornography, drunkenness, or thievery as legitimate practices of a Christian life. So why say it like he did?

I have no idea. I wonder if perhaps there is a fear of appearing legalistic. Perhaps a superficial understanding of grace. Maybe an oversight or a failure to write precisely. Maybe just a bone-headed “oops.”

Yet we must take care to say everything that the Bible says about grace and flesh, about holiness and sinfulness, about life in the Spirit and true salvation.

Let us not soft-pedal the grace of the gospel by failing to say everything that the Bible says about it.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Around the Horn – 2/20/15

At first, here’s a long but interesting article on ISIS. It’s worth the read though it will take a bit. It gives insight in the mindset of ISIS, and should leave us feeling somewhat of the dilemma of the best way to deal with it.

At second, here’s an article about a photograph album containing previously unknown pictures from Auschwitz. Several people, having seen the picture, commented that “the strangest thing about the album for them is that a person can look again and again at the images and never find an answer to the question ‘How could you have done what you did?’” It is true that a picture is worth a thousand words but there are some words that pictures just cannot provide. I have always thought that something like World War II could never happen again, but having seen the recent events of ISIS, and reading the article above, it may well be that something like WWII might happen again.

At third, here’s a helpful article on public prayer. It’s something that those who pray publicly should give careful consideration to. Pastors often spend hours preparing their messages yet pray off the top of their head. Talking to God might be worth a little planning, particularly when others are going to be listening in and praying along.

And the homerun today is an amazing display that seems fairly useless. I am not sure what benefit this is, but I can't help but be impressed. And glad I don't have to learn how to do it.

And BTW, pitchers and catchers are reporting this week, which means only two things in the midwest: Spring is just months away and the Cubs are on the verge of elimination.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Around the Horn–1/16/15

At first, JD Greear brings it strong here on evangelism. It is one of the calls of pastoral ministry, and yet it seems like a lot of pastors ignore it in favor of other things. We need to consider the priority of evangelism in our lives as Christians, and especially as pastors.

At second, Christian hip-hop personality Lecrae confesses to an abortion. As we approach another anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the plight of the unborn should weigh heavily, as should the plight of the already born. But I wonder how much public confessions like these help. Perhaps for some it gives them the encouragement that they are not alone. But I also wonder if it gives some “street cred” in some sense. I am quite sure Lecrae is ashamed of it. But I admit to not knowing how to process testimonies like these. It seems like there is the attitude that if someone big or important or notable says something, it carries more weight than if someone else says it. Maybe it’s the clergification of the confession. 

At third, here’s an article asking “Does missions separate families?” He gives a longish answer. The short one is “Yes,” and the reason has to be “Because Jesus is worth it.”

Lastly, the book, The Boy Who Came Back from the Dead (about about a boy who died and went to heaven) is in the news for being fiction. The boy and his parents have now admitted it. Of course anyone with an ounce of discernment would have known it was false. But it speaks to the incredible naiveté of the Christian buying public (and it is a huge market). Be wary of things sold in the name of Jesus.

Friday, January 02, 2015

Around the Horn – New Year’s Edition – 1/2/15

At first, Paul Tripp talks about why New Year’s resolutions usually don’t work. Life change usually doesn’t come in one moment of crisis. It comes through the thousands of little things. So do a lot of little things. After a while, they add up.

At second, for those who love to see success stories and are motivated to dream and to act by them, here is a great one about a guy who climbed a really big mountain one day at a time. His issue might not be your issue, but the process of life change is largely the same for all. A lot of people want to be different, but few want to change. As a result, dreams die in the reality of daily life. If you want to be different, then change … and start with the little stuff.

At third, here’s an interesting article on why college students lose their faith. It has some helpful insights that should give us some insight in ministry. The preacher is, at least on one level, an interpreter of reality. It is our job to help people interpret the world around them through the authoritative lens of Scripture. Hiding from hard questions won’t suffice, and neither will pat answers.

For the homerun today, the two semi-final games for the college football playoff took place yesterday. I don’t know if anyone predicted that outcome, but my new year’s resolution is to bet on myself more often.