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The New Year has become a time for us to gather up our hopes and prayers for the coming year and express them in resolutions. The idea of “New” seems to lay out the prospect for something different, something better. I confess to being a resolution maker.

Not just about the little things like losing weight and going to the gym more. But also prayers and hopes about big things, global things. So, I thought I would share the top 10 resolutions I am hoping and praying for. Maybe some of them will become yours.

First, I am praying and hoping that we find a way to get our troops out of Iraq. I can’t believe that President Bush is considering sending more troops. In the mid-term election Americans made it abundantly clear that enough is enough. Our troops and their families have suffered enough in this foolish and unnecessary conflict. Let’s bring them home.

Second, I am praying and hoping that we see an end to the mind-numbing partisanship that has come to dominate politics. The old idea of civic duty and bi-partisan cooperation for the common good is a forgotten virtue. Elected officials need to understand that they represent all the people in their given area of governance, not just the ones who vote for them.

Third, I am praying and hoping that Christians will stop whining about being persecuted and start following the teachings of Jesus. Of course that means that they may actually be persecuted. But at least they can take comfort in knowing that Jesus said those who are persecuted for the right reason are blessed.

Fourth, I am praying and hoping that folks will fall out of love with violence. If Jesus is right, then violence is not the way to resolve our differences. And it certainly should not be the way we entertain ourselves or our children as the makers of the Left Behind video game seem to believe. An eye for an eye only serves to make the whole world blind—and we are well on our way there.

Fifth, I am praying and hoping that America will find its soul in regard to the poor and the needy. Somewhere along the way we decided that the purpose of life was to accumulate wealth. Jesus said the purpose of life was to love God and love our neighbor. We have hungry neighbors both at home and abroad that need for us to love them.

Sixth, I am praying and hoping that someone will tell James Dobson, D. James Kennedy, Pat Robertson and Don Wildmon, that the GOP does not stand for “God’s Own Party.” The illegitimate relationship between faith and partisan politics has drained the life from both.

Seventh, I am praying and hoping that someone will start a movement to have both the Ten Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount publicly displayed in our lives. Against such display there is no law.

Eighth, I am praying and hoping that Christians will stop demonizing homosexuals. The truth of it is this: we are all sinners, but God loves us anyway.

Ninth, I am praying and hoping that folks who believe that God created the world will also believe that it is a good idea to take better care of it. Our battle is with pollution, not evolution.

And finally, I am praying and hoping that what the angels told the shepherds will finally come to pass: Peace on earth.

Happy New Year.

James L. Evans, a syndicated columnist, also serves as pastor of Auburn First Baptist Church in Auburn, Ala.

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