A New Year

I am a sucker for the holidays. My sentimentalism runs deep and helps remind me that I am not falling into the all too popular narcissistic apathy commonly found in America. So it is no surprise to discover that New Year’s Day is included in the list of my favorite holidays.

The accusation of Christians trying to “Christianize” holidays can certainly be applied to me and there is no better proof than today. Today is the day we look forward to a brighter horizon and a better promise of a new day. Today we, as individuals, make promises to better our quality of life. Today we romanticize the futility of hope placed in our own powers and abilities. This euphoric appeal lasts about as long as a 21-year-old’s hangover. And then it is back to the ho-hum of the daily grind in dark, dismal days of no rescue – days of surviving rather than living. (Deep Sigh)

As a Christian I am reminded of Paul’s words, “For we through the Spirit, by faith, are waiting for the hope of righteousness” (Gal 5:5). Since my hope is oriented towards God’s kingdom, I take a different approach to the passing of time and the hope of the future in my life. Specifically, I try to reckon what God has been trying to do to/through/for me in the last year. We talk much of the Potter and the clay (Isa 29:16; 45:9; 64:8; Jer 18:4, 6; Zech 11:13; Rom 9:21). It is helpful to realize how God is fashioning you and how to pray for yourself in order to successfully join in His work for His kingdom (Matt 6:10).

This is not a myopic enterprise, but rather an exercise to help me realize that the kingdom is much bigger than me. It is my role to fit into the body as God designed me (Eph 4:16). It is not surprising to discover that some of the lessons are a theme running the last five years of my life. Others are new.

I have often prayed and wondered how long some of these lessons must continue, but have also been guarded in prayer life. You better know what you are asking for! I am no fool, tomorrow’s battles bring increased clarity in how vast is the gulf between my Creator’s holiness and my profaneness.

So here are some of the lessons God has been working on with me:

  1. Theology must be lived out in order for it to actually be theology. Otherwise, it is the indiscernible ramblings of an arrogant soul applauding its own intellect and wisdom. Lesson number one at the seminary I attended (NOBTS) was that if you are putting ministry in a secondary position to your education (Theology) then you have missed the very essence of that which you desire to master. This lesson is difficult for all Christians who are trying to balance work with family and ministry along with personal development. Specifically, my lesson has been in suffering. I am convinced that God is most glorified in Christians through our suffering (another blog one day). I cannot remember any truth of Scripture that I struggle more to live with and rejoice as this one. To cast aside all other things to show the incredible value of God in suffering is difficult indeed. It helps to realize it before hand, but it is a rough road to travel. I’m not sure that I’ve mastered this lesson yet. The only way to find out is to endure another difficult trial. It will come.
  2. Patience – I’m not sure what part of the palate of the fruit of the Spirit you struggle with evidencing, but it is abundantly clear where God is working with me. I want my fruit to have a “patience forward” taste to it!!! Need I say more? In May 2004, after graduating with a BA I could barely stand the fact that I would be 33 in 2008 with my MA and still looking toward my PhD. Needless to say that God decided to give me a different degree in the last four years. Man’s urgency and fretting over such things is vanity. Still, I put my hand to the plow as God calls me, but I hope with more perseverance then four years ago. On this issue I see many more years of the Potter smoothing out this clay – and I am honored.
  3. Making the most of my time – What a battle! This includes every aspect of life. The love and joy of the disciplined Christine life is a sweet fragrance that causes endorphins to rise up in me. But it is not easy. Prayer, Bible Study, reading, development of my children, loving my wife as Christ loves the church, etc….The defeats are as sweet as the victories because they both spurn me forward. The battles and blessings of current and past saints are an elixir for me to continue to fight this battle of faith.

    May your new year be a reflective one.

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2 Comments to “A New Year”

  1. Dizizzle:Regarding point #1 I think Piper nails this pretty good when he says:“All Biblical truth (doctrine) is meant to serve satisfaction in God….all of it! And all satisfaction in God is meant to serve the flower or the fruit of love or holiness or radical self sacrificing give your life away service to other people (ministry)”. He’s speaking of the mission statement of his church Bethlehem Baptist, and his own for that matter which is to spread a passion for the supremacy of God in all things. Piper says the root of joy is right thinking or doctrine and the fruit or flower of joy is right living, or love that lays itself down for other people – as you put it living out our theology…ministry. In the middle is this huge area of joy or treasuring Christ above all things or a passion and zeal for the supremacy of God. If we don’t have that joy or treasure Christ above all things Piper is right when he says theology becomes intellectualism. Likewise if we don’t have joy or treasure Christ above all things, right living or ministry becomes legalism.Something to think about this the next time we struggle through some of the difficult doctrines in the Bible and become at times, frustrated whether it be in our own private study or in the context of a Sunday school class. The root is doctrine……the fruit or flower is ministry……and in the middle a passion for the supremacy of God in all things or joy! Happy New Year!Cizzizle

  2. Cizzizle,I am so honored with your wisdom and insight. Thanks,Dizzizle

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