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A New Look at the New Year

with Graham and Treena Kerr | December 31, 2008

"Galloping Gourmet" Graham Kerr's resolutions make New Year's spiritually significant and more meaningful than just losing a few pounds or getting organized.

"Galloping Gourmet" Graham Kerr's resolutions make New Year's spiritually significant and more meaningful than just losing a few pounds or getting organized.

A New Look at the New Year

With Graham and Treena Kerr
|
December 31, 2008
| Download Transcript PDF

Bob: While most people are thinking about how to celebrate the passing of the old year and the welcoming in of the new year, Graham and Treena Kerr are doing something very different.

Treena: Rather than do resolutions, New Year's resolutions, we write a letter to the Lord, and we write prayers down of what we would like to happen for our children and for our friends, and we write things that we know that are not good about our own character, then we ask for His help.  That's what I do, I don't know what you do.

Graham: I don't think I'm beseeching God at all.  I think God is revealing to me the desires that He wants to have in my heart.  It's His desire for me that He's just laying it out.  He is laying the new year out for me that I should desire those things strongly.

Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Wednesday, December 31st.  Our host is the president of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine.  We'll spend some time today talking with Graham and Treena Kerr about a different way of approaching the new year.  Stay tuned.

And welcome to FamilyLife Today, thanks for joining us on the Wednesday edition.  And this is it – this is the end of 2008.

Dennis: It is.

Bob: When the day is done, the year is done.

Dennis: It is, and I just want to use this opportunity at the beginning of the broadcast to thanks those folks who have already responded to our matching challenge here at the end of the year.  I want to thank you for giving.  You make this broadcast possible on this station.  Thank you for joining with us, and to those of you who have yet to give, it would be timely.

Bob: That's right.

Dennis: It would be timely for you to give.  You just need to know that 2008, not unlike many of you, ended up a bit challenging for us, and we'd appreciate it if you'd join with us, and if you've benefited from our broadcast and have the ability and God is leading, then join with us because you're helping to build godly families all around the United States and, for that matter, around the world, as we seek to minister and give people the biblical blueprints for building godly marriages and families.

Bob: And you can still do that online today at FamilyLife Today.com, or you can call 1-800-FLTODAY.  I know the number is going to be answered at least part of the day today.  I don't think it's answered all day because we give folks a little time off on New Year's Eve, but you can donate online anytime throughout the day and, again, the website if FamilyLifeToday.com.

Dennis: And it is matched dollar-for-dollar, right, Bob?

Bob: Yeah, I haven't checked the numbers today to see if we met the match or not.  We were close, I don't think we're there yet, so donations that are received today, many of them will still be matched on a dollar-for-dollar basis up to a total of $425,000, and, again, we appreciate those of you who have already donated and hope that others of you can go online or call and make a donation here today.

You know, I have a suspicion that today's program may change some traditions for some families.

Dennis: Mm-hm, this is a great idea of a way to end one year and begin another with, as you said, a different tradition, a different way of going about and doing things.  We recently had the opportunity to sit down with Graham and Treena Kerr.  Now, that name probably does not ring a bell with virtually any of our listeners.  But when I'm about to use this stage name of a show that was on TV back in the '70s, you'll immediately connect, and you'll know who I'm talking about.

Bob: Well, those of you who were around back in the '70s.

Dennis: Well, that's right, there were probably some listeners who were not yet born back then.

Bob: I don't know that my kids know who the Galloping Gourmet is, but you used to watch him on TV, didn't you?

Dennis: I did a little bit.  He started his show in New Zealand.  He's from Great Britain.  They are now naturalized citizens of America and have traveled the country really challenging folks to kind of tighten their belts, so to speak, and not over-indulge themselves but instead help the needy and help the poor.  And what a class act – just what a gracious couple they were, and they gave us an idea that we wanted to share with you, as a listener.

Bob: Yeah, we had been talking with them, and I'll never forget the word that Graham used, because he talked about most of us being "indulgent," and he said what we need to be is "outdulgent."  That's a great word.  It means to be extravagant on behalf of others rather than being extravagant on behalf of ourselves.

And, as we talked about it, we talked about New Year's and they told us about what has become customary for them as they look toward the dawning of a new year.

Dennis: Treena, as you and Graham approach the new year, you have a tradition that you've done since, what, 1976, did you say?

Treena: 1976, yes.  We came to the Lord in '74, so ever since that, we didn't want to celebrate like we used to and dress up and things.  But we have dressed up in biblical things, didn't we, when we were together?

Graham:  Yes.

Treena: But as our family separated, married, and went all over the place, Graham and I, every New Year's Eve, we sit down, and I buy a very pretty blank card, which has something about Jesus on the front, and we write a letter rather than do resolutions, New Year's resolutions, we write a letter to the Lord, and we write prayers down of what we would like to happen for our children and for our friends, and we write things that we know that are not good about our own character, and we ask for His help.  That's what I do; I don't know what you do.

Bob: You don't read each other's?

Graham: Oh, no.

Treena: No, this is between …

Bob: Between you and the Lord?

Treena: Yeah, these are private letters to …

Graham: It is the Lord that gives us the desires of our hearts, so rather than telling each other and everybody else, I've made a good – a new resolution.  We have simply asked for the desires of our heart to be made known to us, and those are what I write down.

Treena: You do?  Don't you pray for the kids or anything?

Graham: No, I don't.

Treena: Oh, you are a rotten thing.  Well, I pray for my children and my friends and my darling husband.

[laughter]

Who is the best husband and what I'm sure you are, darling, but – and I'm sure – are you a husband?  Yes, you're a husband.

Bob: I am, yes.

Graham: Then you see what we've done is we've had them since '76, and Treena got very small cards in the beginning and very large cards now, because they nest into each other.  They are put into one manila envelope, and she is the keeper of the packages, and then on the New Year's Eve, we undo it, and we read through the testimony of the desires of our heart, and then we write the new one.

It's on ongoing progression and, quite frankly, some of the desires of the heart for the year that I've written down, come off so amazingly that it just reduces you to tears, since you realize – "I wrote that?"

Bob: This New Year's, when you pull out the one from 1976 and reread that …

Graham: Yes.

Treena: Yes.

Bob: Do you laugh?

Graham: Do you know, I don't, because I wanted desperately to be the very best man that I could possibly be for my wife, Treena, in every way that God would want that to be, and I would like Him to show to me how I could be the best husband.  She doesn't know that until now, but, I mean, that's what I wrote down.  I only had one desire in my heart in that year – that one thing.  And, do you know, that's been repeated year after year.

Bob: I'm guessing it has, yes.

Graham: In different ways becoming more specific, realize that there are sometimes when she disagrees with you, that's really a cry for justice.

Bob: But there have to be some things in the early years of your walk with Christ that you look back on now and …

Graham: That we find funny?

Bob: And just go – "How young I was in the faith."  Do you know what I'm saying?

Treena: No.

Graham: You know, we were 40, and we were desperately interested in what the Lord could do with the rest of our lives.  And we have been hurt by the past, and we were being released into a present, which was amazing.  And, quite frankly, I look back upon the earlier days as really not so funny as just so glorious.

Treena: Yes.

Graham: When unrestrained by anything, by denominational understandings and differences.  We just were just flat-out innocents in the kingdom, and it was just wonderful, wasn't it?

Treena: It was.

Dennis: It's what's spoken of in the Scripture as first love.

Graham: Yes, first love.

Treena: God is such a neat Father, isn't he?

Dennis: He is.

Treena: I just love him lots.

Dennis: He is the Lord God Almighty.

Treena: Yes.

Dennis: Nothing is too difficult for Him.

Treena: No, nothing – nothing!

Dennis: Yeah.

Treena: I mean, it's amazing.  I mean, we should have gone through the window.  I was thanking God that, all right, we've got a motor home with no roof, but we didn't go through the window, and we could have done.

Dennis: You know, yesterday I took a ride in the woods, and I was playing Don Moen's – some of his praise and worship songs that he's written.

Graham: Yes.

Dennis: And I didn't realize, of course, Bob would know this because, Graham, Treena – Bob knows everything about music.  You just met him, but just as you are culinary experts …

Treena: Not me, not me, I hate it.

Dennis:  You don't need to be if you're married to Graham Kerr.

Treena: That's right.

Dennis: You don't have to be.

Treena: It's just worked out well.

[laughter]

Dennis: Anyway, I was driving along, and the song, "God is Good All the Time."

Graham: Oh, yes.

Treena: Oh, yes.

Dennis: And that phrase, "He put" …

Bob: "Put a song of hope in this heart of mine."

Dennis: Yeah, "He put a song of hope in this heart of mine."  And I just kept singing that yesterday.  I walked into the house …

Bob: Do you know who Don Moen wrote that song with? 

Dennis: Yeah.

Bob: With Paul Overstreet.

Dennis: Paul Overstreet, our buddy.

Bob: Mm-hm.

Dennis: But I walked in singing that song, and I don't sing so well, I'm probably a better cook, Graham, than I am a singer.

Treena: Him, too.

Graham: I once was singing lustily, "Crown Him with Many Crowns" in a Presbyterian Church, and our young granddaughter was with us, and she was looking up adoringly at me, and I'm thinking, "What an excellent witness this is to this child," and then, suddenly, she went [snorts].

[laughter]

Dennis: Well, I walked in singing this song, and Barbara was there, and she goes, "Are you talking to yourself?"

[laughter]

She said, "What wrong with you, sweetheart?"  Well, I appreciate you sharing about your New Year's tradition, because I think that's a tradition worth copying.

Treena: I think it is, too.  I just hope the children are doing it, but I don't think they are.  They are so much individuals.

Graham: But we are going to pack up …

Treena: But they all love the Lord in their own way.

Graham: We are going to pack up.  I've already given all my journals to our son.  I've kept journals almost from the day that I was saved, so I have all the journals fully written up, full page every day, and including a measurement about my closeness to the Lord each day, and I measure that on the dates from 1 to 31 at the bottom.  I use that as a scale.

But, anyway …

Treena: What do I call you?

Graham: A borderline obsessive compulsive.

[laughter]

Bob: Not borderline.  Please remove that …

Graham: She doesn't think the borderline exists.

Treena: No.

Graham: But as I've given that, but we will package up our New Year's – not resolutions but the desires of our heart and give those to our children.  That's part of our – part of our …

Bob: And it will be a great legacy to pass along to them.

Treena: Yes, I think it will be, in many ways.

Graham: We talk about the word "treat," because, you know, the world does like a treat, and that's perfect.  We think God loves us to love a treat as well.  It's when the treat becomes a threat that it becomes a problem, and our health is on the line because of that. And so what you do, if you look at the words, and write them down, t-h-r-e-a-t, and t-r-e-a-t, it's only the letter "h" which separates those two words.  They both end in "eat."  So if you take the "h" and lift it up and give it a four-letter word, "harm," that's what that is.  It's a volume thing. 

And then you move the word across and as it moves across, it morphs through the word "heal" to the word "hope," and then we drop that word "hope" down into somebody else's life who is hopeless.  Then what came out of us is "harm" "healed" us, and in a "healing" fashion brings "hope" to someone else.  Does that make sense?

Dennis: It does.

Graham: That is precisely what outdulgence is all about, and what God is, we believe, you know, one is never sure, is one?  But we believe that God has said to us, "I want you to go out and behave like you used to behave when you were 10 and 11 years of age."  I was the older man when we first met.  He said, "I want you to hold hands and skip off down the highway, and I’m going to put holes in your pockets, and I'm going to fill your pockets full of seed.  And everywhere you skip, you are going to scatter seed.  And I don't want you to deliberately go to well-plowed fields, I want you to skip wherever you skip and, trust me, I've got plenty of seed, and this is what I want you to do.  I don't want you to stop and see it germinate, I don't want you to tend the little plants, I don't want you to gather the fruit from the trees.  That will be done by others.  I want you to sow the seed," and that was it.

Bob: So tonight when – because I'm having dinner with Dennis and Barbara tonight, we're going out to a restaurant, and when it comes time to order dessert, what do I do?

Graham: You just plain go ahead the way you would, and if the Lord has sown the seed in your heart, you might say to yourself, "I don't need the dessert.  What I'll do is put the price of the dessert in my pocket of my mind, and I will add that to my account called the 'outdulgence' account, which I maintain, where I am going to be putting the harm in my life, that portion which is harm, and I'm going to put that on one side.  I'm going to let you, by Your Holy Spirit reveal to me a person that I can send this across to and that it will heal both me first, and then heal them and give them hope."

Bob: Well, we've been listening to a conversation we recorded a while back with the Galloping Gourmet, Graham Kerr and his wife, Treena.  And I don't know if it was the seeds they planted during that interview but back at Thanksgiving time, our whole family was together, and I said to my children, you know, "We are entering kind of a new phase for our family."  I have two married daughters now, and a grandbaby who is on the way.  I've got a son who is in college and one who is about to head to college, and one child still at home, but, you know, the family is starting to …

Dennis: Right, oh, yeah, I do know.

Bob: … to shift.  And we got the kids together, and I said, you know, "I remember every year when we were the age you are trying to think about what you get your parents for Christmas."  And, you know, we don't need our kids to send us a cordless drill or a new tie or anything like that.

Dennis: Right.

Bob: So I said to our kids, "If you come across something that you want to give Mom and me for Christmas, that's fine, but here is what we really want for Christmas.  We want you to take time to sit down and write a letter to us, and we want you to tell us about a passage of Scripture that you've looked at in the past year" …

Dennis: Hm, that's a great idea.

Bob: … "and we want you just to tell us what has been meaningful about that passage of Scripture.  So – forget the presents – if you want to make a donation somewhere on our behalf, that's fine, if do come across something that you think it would be special, that's fine, too, but what we really want is an annual letter from you where we see how God has been using the Scriptures in your life."

And it really ties into what Graham and Treena were talking about in this conversation – having a different focus around the holidays than the culture orients you to have.

Dennis: And, Bob, we need fresh models of how to maybe break from some of the cultural traditions that may be empty and establish some new ones that have meaning and substance, and I'm just thinking of what you asked your children to do back last Thanksgiving – that's really meaningful.  That gets them to thinking, and I think both Graham and Treena caused us to think as they really modeled for us thinking about the poor and the needy and not thinking about consuming but instead, as Paul writes to Timothy, especially to people who are wealthy, which is most of us in America, "to be rich in good deeds," there in 1 Timothy, chapter 6, near the end of the book.

That really is a great encouragement to all of us, to think about how we can use our money, our wealth, our time, our energy, to give to others who are in need.

Bob: Yeah, and as we head into a new year, it's good for us to pull back.  You know, I think often we will say to one another, "Have a happy New Year, have a prosperous New Year," and maybe what we ought to be saying is "Let's have a more spiritually centered New Year.  Let's have our values this year be more in line with the values that are laid out for us on the pages of Scripture that were modeled for us by the Lord Jesus."

And, you know, with that in mind, Dennis, I think we ought to say a thank you here on the last day of the year to those listeners who have contacted us throughout the year and especially in this month to help support the ministry of FamilyLife Today.  You have made it possible for this program to be on this station and on other stations all across the country in 2008.  We appreciate your generous financial support, and especially this month, as we have been working to try to take advantage of a matching gift that was made available to us this month.  I haven't seen the numbers.  I know we were close, but I don't think we have taken full advantage of that matching gift as of yet and, of course, this is last day of the year.  It is still possible for someone to make a contribution either by phone or online at FamilyLife.com.

In fact, I remember, this was a number of years ago, we were at home on New Year's Even, and I got a phone call, and the caller introduced himself and said, "You don't know me, but I listen to FamilyLife Today and I wanted to know – I think it was 7:00 at night.  He said, "Can I still make a tax-deductible contribution to FamilyLife and how do I do that?" 

And I think, by that time, the phones were turned off, and I pointed him to our website, FamilyLife Today.com, and I said you can go online and make a donation as long as you make it before midnight in your time zone.  It still qualifies as a tax-deductible contribution, and he thanked me and hung up, and I presume that he made the contribution.  I never went back and checked, but I presume he was able to go online and make that year-end contribution.

Dennis: Bob, know that this works, because a year ago Barbara and I made donation late on New Year's Eve that very way.  In fact, if you really look back over the past year, 2008 has been quite a year, both personally for us as a couple and a family, but also for almost every listener who is listening.  Financially, it's been a tough year, a lot of storms this year, and I've made the statement on more than one occasion that America can survive a financial crisis, but no nation, including America, can survive the failure of its most basic unit of civilization, the family.  

And that's why we're here every day.  We are here proclaiming the Scripture, teaching the truth of God's Word, equipping you, trying to be authentic as we can possibly be, helping you apply God's Word in your marriage, your family, your relationships, and you know what?  If you agree with that, if your kindred spirit with what we're doing here, could I ask you to pick up the phone or perhaps go online here at year-end and make a generous donation to FamilyLife Today.  Frankly, we need you to stand with us.  This would be a very timely gift.

These are challenging days for individuals, and they are also challenging days for ministries like ours.

Bob: Our toll-free number is 1-800-FLTODAY, and there are folks available to take your call right now.  You can always go online at FamilyLife.com, and as long as you make the donation before midnight tonight in your time zone, that donation will qualify as being tax deductible and, again, we know that a lot of families have been challenged this year.  We've been stretched, as you said, as a ministry, Dennis, and we would just hope that if folks are able to help with a year-end donation, they'll do it today.

Dennis: When Barbara and I approach the year-end, we usually come at it by asking ourselves several questions, and it helps us determine where we give.  First of all, who has really ministered to us, I mean, really ministered around the things that matter most.

Secondly, who is kindred spirit with what we value most?  I mean, who is really pounding the table for the same things we pound the table about?

And then, finally, third, we just ask the question – who really needs us to give and where is God leading us to give?  I think what happens is, I think God brings needs across our path, and He does so expecting us to respond in faith, and we have a need right now for our listeners to give, frankly, as never before.  And if I could, I'd like to challenge you – would you stand with me?  Would you pick up a phone or go online at FamilyLife.com and would you make a generous donation to say "You guys are right.  I believe in what you, Bob, and Barbara are standing for, and I stand with you guys.  I'm with you.  I'm in this fight for the family because it does matter."

Bob: Well, and, again, our website is FamilyLifeToday.com, and let me say thanks in advance for whatever you are able to do.  We appreciate your support of this ministry.

And, with that, we've got to wrap things up for today.

I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team.  That would include Michael Delawn [sp] who gives oversight to that team; Annette Fowler [sp], who works in station relations; Megan Reed [sp], who is one of our administrative assistants, along with Heather Lapp [sp], who provided great assistance for us in this year.  We need to thank our researcher, Tonda Nations [sp], and my administrative assistant, Kristy Bain [sp], and all of the tech guys who are in the department as well – that would be Kenny Faris [sp] and Dennis Leek [sp] and Pete Stokey [sp] and Phil Krause [sp] and Aaron Wilson [sp] and Hugh Duncan [sp] and Julie Denker [sp] and Justin Converse [sp], and I should also mention Matt Hoffman [sp], who is Mr. Engineer, and Larry Lorraine [sp], who is our newest member of the team.  Have I missed anybody?  Did I get them all?  We want to say thanks to the team, and on behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine.  Have a Happy New Year.  We'll see you tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today.

FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas – help for today; hope for tomorrow. 

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