Monday, December 31, 2007

Out with the old, in with the New...

Well, I have to write my final entry of this year 2007. I haven't been too consistent with this blogging machine I call the daily jolt from what I see. Perhaps I'll do better in the New Year - let me add that to my list of resolutions.

Looking back:
God has been good to me and my family over these last 365 days. (note to self: 2008 is a leap year, and I must remember to say 366 in my final post then). I'm getting to that stage in life where things are getting harder to remember. I'll turn 40 in a couple of months. With age comes difficulties - and this year has brought a few. I have noticed that I am experiencing greater difficulty in sleeping, maneuvering and hearing. Life seems to be catching up with me. The wear and tear I shrugged off for 30+ years is now playing the tortoise in this race... and winning. How I wish I would have taken care of my body when I was younger! (ahhh... youth is wasted on the young).

God has taught me a few things about myself, Himself and our relationship together. He is instilling in me the desire to persevere and finish strong in this life. Scripture seems to become very clear to me on this point - the absolute necessity of persevering. Another lesson He is teaching - one I will take into the New Year - is that I should not seek release from the circumstances, just to avoid the discomfort. How easy it is to self-medicate these days. Not only physically, but relationally, spiritually and emotionally. Another lesson: the need to be a dad not just the guy "in charge" of the family... or worse yet, not the "youth pastor" who I have to live with to my kids. This will demand greater time for them and less time for me. Yeah, it's suppose to be that way. Another lesson: cutting off the sleeves on which I wear my emotions / responses. This is especially true with those with whom I am most comfortable, like my lovely wife. How easy it has been to mistreat her.

There have been other vast lessons - some intensely personal, some not - but would prove to be incredibly boring to the average web-surfer who might stumble across this well-hidden blog. God has taken care of us providentially in amazing ways. Poultry, pork, beef and venison have all graced our freezers at no charge. Our income has been supplemented by the faithfulness and goodness of God's people. Even last night, "God's middle-man" (his self-appointed title), blessed us with an unexpected gift to aid us in our trip to Missouri. Indeed God is good.

God has worked in our ministry here at Calvary as well. I have seen teens rebel, repent and return to a loving relationship with God. All in the course of 2007. God is so good. Our youth group is growing in number and in maturity. We are very excited about the future.
I could go on and on about this past year - let's move ahead and think about '08.

Looking ahead:

What are the resolutions I have made for 2008? Here are a few:
1. Translate Ephesians. In order for me to maintain any level of proficiency with Greek, I must do this. (I've actually already started - it is proving to be an incredible task)
2. Memorize Ephesians. Yes, the book. I have taken the year and broken it down, and I think that in concentrating on 3-4 verses a week, I can get the book memorized. Much of chapter 2 is pretty much memorized, as are chapters 4-6. This will greatly aid this endeavor as I continue on in the year.
3. Read through this list of books: (I'll explain my choices at the end of the list)
  • The Mortification of Sin - John Owen
  • The Great Exchange - Jerry Bridges
  • The Doctrine of Repentance - Thomas Watson
  • Addictions: A Banquet in the Grave - Edward Welch
  • Pierced for Our Transgressions: Rediscovering the Glory of Penal Substitution - Steve Jeffery, Michael Ovey and John Piper
  • Seeing with New Eyes: Counseling and the Human Condition Through the Lens of Scripture - David Powlison
  • The Reformation: How a Monk and a Mallet Changed the World - Stephen J. Nichols
  • Christ-Centered Preaching: Redeeming the Expository Sermon - Bryan Chappell
  • Speaking the Truth in Love - David Powlison
You can see sprinkled in this list a couple of Puritan authors and a book about the Reformation. I am unsure who has suggested this, and I hesitate to assign credit inappropriately, but I heard someone (Piper?) say that for every 'contemporary' author one reads, they should read an author whose works have stood the test of time. Hence I am including some of the Puritan's works in my 'official list'. I am looking forward to reading through them. (I've actually started Owen's book and am enjoying it thoroughly). I have of course other books started that I will finish: Competent to Counsel - Jay Adams, The Reformed Pastor - Richard Baxter, A Reporter's Life - Walter Cronkite, Safely Home - Randy Alcorn, and a couple other minimal reads.
4. Improve physical well-being: This will require the loss of about 15 pounds, improved cardio care and the dreaded (already scheduled) physical. At this age of 40 - and a family history of cancer, heart disease and a host of other ailments - this will begin the annual treks to participate in various tests to watch for these types of things. An improved diet will help too.
5. Incorporate and maintain a family worship time. This has proven to be my thorn in the flesh. For whatever reason, (read: lack of discipline on my part), I have failed miserably in this endeavor. I again will attempt to improve here.
6. Begin to learn Spanish. I have tried this for several years - (enrolling in classes, only to have them cancel them due to lack of students) - I will again try to get this started. I love the Hispanic populace and desperately want to be able to communicate with them in their language.
7. Learn web-design. So as to better present our church online. This has been in the back of my mind as a goal now for a couple of years.

Oh, there are no doubt several other things I would like to get done. There are some personal and familial goals I have set that would not be appropriate to publish. The excitement of the New Year is that we can use this time as a time to re-energize our passions and desires to do well for our Savior!

One thing I will take with me into 2008 is my desire and enjoyment of strong coffee. Even as I type this out I have been enjoying Gevalia's "Dark Roast" coffee. The aroma of a strong java combined with it's somewhat sharp taste will remain a favorite of mine. Peering into my cup I see that I need a refill. It is probably a good time to shut down this most lengthy post of 07 and bid you a God-centered 08. May God bless you and yours - drop a comment now and then to let me know that you are reading. That helps me keep this random blog moving forward. God bless, and Happy New Year!!!

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