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Dick Clark and Iranian missiles

Dr. Jim Denison is a cultural apologist who helps people respond biblically and redemptively to the vital issues of our day. He is also the co-founder and Chief Vision Officer of the Denison Forum, a Dallas-based nonprofit that comments on current issues through a biblical lens.

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The legendary Dick Clark, celebrating 40 years of ringing in the New Year on the ABC Television Network, is back along with Ryan Seacrest to count down to 2012 with an all-star lineup of live performances in Times Square (Credit: ABC/Ida Mae Astute)

Why does America begin the New Year when a big crystal ball drops at Times Square in New York City?  Why is it called “Times Square”?  And who put Dick Clark in charge?  I wondered these things over the weekend, so I went in search of some answers.

It turns out, in 1904 the area in front of The New York Times building was called “Longacre Square”. The newspaper persuaded the city to rename the area, “Times Square”. At the end of that year, the paper sponsored a New Year’s Eve party culminating with fireworks launched from the top of their offices.  That didn’t attract enough attention.  So in 1907, the paper’s chief electrician wired up a 700-pound iron ball that descended slowly from a flagpole on top of the building, landing at 12:00:01 AM.

Fast forward to Dick Clark, known as “America’s Oldest Teenager.’  He was born in 1929 and hasn’t changed since.  Clark hosted American Bandstand for decades and took over the New Year’s Eve celebration in 1972.  After a stroke in 2004 he’s had co-hosts, but he’s still a tradition at this tradition.

What comes to mind when you reflect on 2011?  I think of the Arab Spring, the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, the death of Osama bin Laden, the Occupy Movement, the royal wedding, and the debt crisis devastating Europe’s economy.  What will we remember in 2012?  The year has already begun precipitously, with news that Iran has produced its first nuclear fuel rod and successfully tested a naval cruise missile that could strike U.S. bases and Israel.

What gives you hope?  In a culture dominated by news of the elections and continued economic struggles, would you take a moment today to turn from the horizontal to the vertical?  Your Father has a “good, pleasing and perfect will” for your life this year (Romans 12:2).  How can you know it?  Wise King Solomon counseled: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5-6).

If I could make every Christian on earth do just one thing, I would require us to start every day by submitting it to God.  Place your life on his altar (Romans 12:1).  Ask the Holy Spirit to direct and empower you (Ephesians 5:18).  Before you face the challenges of your day, face your Father.  And find in him your strength and peace.

In Psalm 31, King David mourned: “I hear the slander of many; there is terror on every side; they conspire against me and plot to take my life” (v. 13).  But then he could pray: “I trust in you, O Lord; I say, ‘You are my God.’  My times are in your hands” (vs. 14-15).  Would you begin 2012 by making his prayer yours?