Happy New Year!
It’s about two weeks late but I hope that greeting finds you all getting off to an encouraging start for 2017! So…how is the New Year shaping up for you? It’s probably kind of hard to tell at such an early point – right? After all, our typical new year’s resolution attempts are not only woefully pragmatic and short-sighted, but they are also very individualistic. Not that any of those are without any merit. After all, as Americans, we have within us that engrained individualistic, independent spirit befitting a country birthed out of a spirit of independence. But that individualism can certainly be a hindrance, especially when it comes to spiritual realities. Spiritual lessons can often be interpreted incorrectly, not seen or ignored altogether because of that streak of independence within us. After all, it can be difficult, even if you are a Christian to submit ourselves to the lessons God brings our way as he seeks to more fully conform us to the image of Christ.
What lessons can you look back on in 2016 that now have the benefit of a different vantage point? For me, the last half of 2016 was certainly not what I had planned! Melissa and I were supposed to have the Informational Fellowship of Renew Community Church (our “kick-off” event). I had planned for this event to go well, giving us the “boost” we need at the beginning of this ministry endeavor. As is often the case, God intended something different. He intended, and intends, His glory to be revealed in all things as He works out His will in our lives for his glory and for our good. So, how did God do that in my unexpected end of the year? I had no idea we’d have to cancel the Informational meeting, not once but twice! Not a good start for any church plant. Perhaps that’s the result of my prayer that God would go before us and do as He pleases in my church planting endeavors. Maybe that was a dangerous prayer, but I can’t help to continue to pray it even as we make plans to reschedule that event. I can now better understand that God was seeking to teach me that I need to release my “control” over our church planting activities and allow Him to lead, even when it’s through twists and turns and not a straight path.
So as we take that first big step into the unknown of 2017, I hope that under the kind, providential hand of God, you will have an over-abundance of “life, liberty and happiness”. But more than that, I hope that your soul will have greater longings, insatiable longings to draw closer to the God of the Scriptures who has seen fit to give us another year of life on this earth. I hope that this year will see you growing deeper – like that tree in the first Psalm – that because it is planting by streams of water, its roots grow deep and strong, giving much life and beauty above for all to behold. I hope that you become more beautiful in Christ!
So, happy New Year! Let me know how it is going for you, and how you hope to grow closer to God in this New Year. What lessons did you learn in 2016? What are you hoping for in 2017? Please post some comments, thanks!
I will leave you with my favorite quote: “It’s not great talents God blesses so much as it is great likeness to Jesus. Oh God, make me as holy as a saved sinner can be!” (Robert Murray McCheyne).