2010. Day Six.

New Year’s resolutions. Did you make any?

I didn’t. You know why?

Because when December 31st became January 1st, when 2009 became 2010, when the count hit zero and the ball dropped, guess what happened to the sun?

Nothing. It still rose January 1st, the same way it did December 31st.

You see, the newness of 2010 is actually an illusion. The fact that it is a new decade really holds no significant portents for changes in life. We are not especially empowered to become different because we write “10”s in our dates instead of “09”s, we’re not magically revived to become stronger.

The significance of the change of the numbers has been ingrained in us by a culture that wants to believe that the way that we have parceled off our time (heh, our time, as if somehow we owned the age) is actually cosmically significant in changing us, when in reality we are the exact same rotten people we were a week ago, and a week from now we will continue to make the same mistakes, save for a few here and there.

“How is it that you are turning back to the same weak and miserable principles? Do you wish to be enslaved to them all over again? You are observing special days and months and seasons and years!” Thus the apostle Paul indicted the Galatian church because they continued to buy the notion that their “special days” would make that much of a difference in their walk with God.

Your strength to see change in your life, to move forward, to do what is right is not contained in the year 2010. It is not contained in a certain day of the week, month, or year. Your strength to do what is right is precisely this freedom: 2010 has no hold on you. It has no claim on you. It cannot wave anything in your face and blackmail you into relying upon it.

Soon, 2010 will be the old year. Its lustre will fade, its appeal will vanish, 2010 will be so last year, or, even worse, 2000 and late. I don’t plan on letting its newness entice me. Rather, I’ll be holding on to the good, the permanent, the things that will continue to provide strength long after the emotions of “it’s a new year” fade away. I’ll be clinging to that which will be the same in 2011, 2012, 2021, 2100.

Friends, if you’re going to rely on anything to live rightly, choose rightly what you rely on to live.

PS. My LoveBeta-ites… hahaha I know we were supposed to make new year’s resolutions and I put in the packet to make them. I guess if you made them, be faithful to them… just do so by God’s strength.

Excerpts from my Reflections on leading a Life Group

I found, though, that it is easy to compromise the time spent on the Bible Study in order to work on other things or to meet with people, but I need to remember that my primary goal as their leader is to feed them and to teach them, not just to be friends with them and hang out with them (important as those things are). We could be friends anywhere, but we are engaged together in Christian community because we are community around the Word and around the truth, and if this goes, then everything goes and we might as well start a country club. It is so easy to compromise that time spent on preparing the Bible Study because there are so many other things to take care of, but that must not be an excuse. There must be more discipline exercised on my part to set time aside as sacred to spend in preparing the Bible Study and thinking about how that Word applies to the group, thinking about how the body needs to be fed and led by it. This must not be compromised. This must be the main goal of our fellowship. I believe in the deeply reforming power of his Word, and the attractive power of people who have been reformed by it. While lights and shows and games might attract for a time, love always attracts, and the only love that can survive in this evil world is that based on the indestructible life of Christ and the immutable truth of his Word. Lord, help me to remember and to believe this truth in the midst of a world that continues to tell me differently.

I will not compromise on time spent in personal study of the Bible for the purpose of building up the saints. I will not do it. Everything else can fall, but the time in the Word must be priority.

Part of me wonders how much I am trying to be a pastor when I am not one, but then I remember that elders are called to teach and to lead, not because of title or position or salary, but because that is the very core of the disciple-making task. Indeed, if we as a whole church, especially as the men, learned the priority of God’s Word over and above everything else, we would see the reforms popping up naturally. Not effortlessly, but surely they would come as a result of our dedication to God’s truth in the midst of the world’s falsehood.

And so I remain focused and devoted: God’s Word and the teaching of it will be a priority.

2010. Day one.

“My ears had heard of you
but now my eyes have seen you.
Therefore I despise myself
and repent in dust and ashes.” Job 42

There is no ecstasy or euphoria as that of a sinner who, at long last, finds sight of the cross in the midst of the nightmare.

Compare a lost and thirsty sailor who is surely on his final day of rations. For months on end, he has seen nothing but the ocean blue, and the weight of the companions that he has lost on this disastrous journey has worn his soul. Imagine the moment that he looks out upon the horizon to see a speck, no, it surely flotsam, no it is! Land, finally, land, after weeks of searching, land which bears fruit and brings promise of fresh water and life!

Even in this case, his celebration must pale compared to that of the sinner who sights the cross. The sailor finds relief only for a time, the sinner has the weight of his sin lifted forever. The sailor would be filled with an excitement only to realize that the land offers no truer security than the sea, only his familiarity with it; the sinner’s security is sure and immediate. There will be no snatching of the sinner from the cross into the depths of the dark again, though there may be brief periods where he cannot find his way to it.

Think to the moment that the lost sailor finds solid ground, and wonder in amazement that the joy there is to be found in Christ eclipses that in every way. Have you come across the cross after your wanderings? Has it stricken you that you are finally awake, alive, free? Have you fallen to your knees in repentance to immediately be lifted up by the holy breath of grace?

Perhaps you are weary, tired, and you had once sighted the cross and have now lost sight of it. Brother, sister, do not despair, only open your eyes! You have not left that cross. He has held you this whole time. When you discovered him truly, it was forever, and will be forever. Open your eyes and let his joy renew your heart.

Seek that joy that can only come when the dead discover life. Seek it with all your heart.