Goodbye 2012. One of the more memorable years I have had in a while. The year started out having read 2 books associated with the movie Courageous and living in great anticipation of the movie coming out. My world was being rocked by the awesome concepts being broached regarding being a man of God as a father and husband. I had already become familiar with and inspired by Francis Chan, whose preaching style and message were so very passionate, honest, and faithful to the word. Through his ministry and some inner workings of the spirit God had already begun working on my heart in a more loving direction at the end of 2011.
The beginning of 2012 also marked the the reading of Radical the book by Pastor/Author Dr. David Platt. This was earth shattering for me. As the subtitle of the book suggests it is about "taking back Christianity from the American dream". I realized that subtitle applied to me much more than I knew. God used this book to create a passion for God and His word, that I had desired for a long time. I began listening to him by podcast and was refreshed by his style, knowledge of and delivery of the word. Something about him and his passion for discipleship and missions sparked a flame in me I never had before. The most amazing thing is I wasn't looking for it. God dropped it all right in my lap.
Come April I was heavy into the word, learning all I could by any means possible. Around this time I became aware of a desire to share my convictions regarding the word and my observations of it's disregard, misunderstanding or outright misuse by much of American Christianity as a church body and by many influential ministers of our day. I became aware of areas in my own life that needed to be corrected as well. As, by God's grace, I have pursued Him He has been faithful to begin some radical changes not only in my theology, but also my life. I know I will spend the rest of my life being transformed but this year has been exponentially encouraging.
God gave me this blog as a means by which to express my convictions as well as sharpen my skills at fleshing out those convictions and challenging and encouraging others along the way. I have received much encouragement as well as some critiques. If no one ever read it, the blessing of writing it has still been more than I could have asked for.
So, I have been blogging since April and studying hard to grow in my theology but also to begin a greater understanding of ministry. Because this year has also seen the development of a call to ministry. Something that I am thrilled about and apprehensive about at the same time. I am working toward preparation for whatever God is calling me to and I am in no hurry to get there. I know he will show me the way as needed and I am happy to patiently wait on Him in this. Because I have a very busy schedule, God has utilized today's wonderful technology and the means of podcasts to help me gain valuable knowledge regarding theology and ministry. It is amazing. I can listen to many preachers and seminary professors preach sermons and give talks on ministry application via the podcasting of their messages and of whole ministry conferences for pastors. Then as I have time I am going over what they have taught in the word and reading other books along the way. This has been very enlightening and helpful for learning.
This year has seen a significant shift in theology, that has been a couple of years in the making, from a more" free will" based theology to what is known typically as "reformed" theology that placed the sovereignty of God and His plan for the world and each individual right at the top of my theological understanding. This has created a much healthier Christ-centered understanding of the gospel rather than a man-centered gospel. I believe this is the more biblical approach and something this country and our world needs very much. To realize that WE are not at the center of God's universe. HE is. We must be more interested in His will for our lives than what we think is best. Even if it seems unpopular or uncomfortable.
Some of you know that I began this blog with my first post by stating that no one should take my word or the word of any minister of the Gospel at face value. You need to open the word and see for yourself what is there and how it relates to what you are being taught. I will continually remind us of that. Some of the shifts that I have seen in my theology have come from doing that very thing. Things that I had heard taught for years, some from childhood could not hold up as I became more aware of what the word actually said on a subject. Granted, other ministers helped guide me toward those truths but the ultimate deciding factor was the Scripture itself. Always remember that while a Preacher/teacher is there to help guide and equip you, THE WORD is the final authority.
On a less spiritual theme, I dove into leadership with the Cub Scouts as a leader also in the fall of 2012. Not sure how long that will last but it has been an interesting adventure. I also had the pleasure of working with my music minister with the support of our church to put on an incredible adult Christmas program this year. My greatest pleasure was, for the third year in a row, working with my wife to put on a children's Christmas musical. Watching her creativity at work not only in the direction of it, but also acting in it alongside my eight year old son gave me great joy. We performed the service two Sundays in a row and it was memorable both times with great feedback from those who saw it.
To top it all off, Christmas with both sides of the family was great as always. The highlight was being blessed with a Disney Cruise! My wife and two boys, eight and four will enjoy what for us feels like a once in a lifetime experience courtesy of the generosity of God blessing us through the love of family. We will be forever grateful for this opportunity.
So even though we closed out the year being sick, as a family at one time or another for the whole month of December, the positives far outweigh the negatives. I am anticipating 2013 with restless anticipation of continuing growth spiritually, individually and as a family. Growth that I feel certain will not come without some growing pains. I feel change in the air but have no specifics at this time. I simply striving to rest in God's Sovereignty and faithfulness desiring to please Him above man at all times.
We have managed to have a family bible study for the first two days of the year. A trend I intend to continue faithfully forever by hope in God's grace. I am praying for boldness to preach the word as I ought not only via my blog but in my neighborhood, workplace, etc. making disciples just as every Christian is commanded to do. I had the pleasure of the opportunity of a lengthy bible based conversation at work just last night. It is amazing what God will do if we are available. I pray that He will daily help me to get out the way so He can work through me.
I know this is kind of personal and will not interest everyone however, one of my desires through this blog is to be as real and personable as one can be via a technological tool such as this. So if this post enlightens anyone and helps them to connect on some level that allows them to be touched and changed by the contents of this blog then I will be as much of an open book as I can be, within reason of course. I just try to be obedient in the writing. The audience and their response, I must leave up to Him. I pray that everyone reading this has an amazing 2013 and encounters God as I did in 2012 being forever changed toward a passion for God and the Gospel of Jesus Christ that I have never possessed before. May God rock your spiritual world in 2013! In Jesus name, Amen!