2017 was not a great year for me as a blogger. Honestly, I lost motivation and went long stretches without writing anything. Perhaps you noticed. Probably, you didn’t.
Nonetheless, some people somewhere read some of the articles I scratched out. Thus, I present to you:
The Most Read New Articles of 2017.
I confess that I cheated a bit on this title. It’s a little click-bait-ish. I try not to feature articles on politics, but this one may step into the swamp a little. My main angst is that many people treat “conservatism” as a wonderful value. Sure, it seems safe, but I’m not sure that safe is a goal, and certainly not Godly. It doesn’t mean that there’s no place for a conservative outlook on life, but it’s not the answer to a universal utopia.
This post from August gathered more “views per month” than any other new post in 2018. Too many people confuse the path to spiritual maturity with longevity. Church leaders often presume that people who’ve been in church the longest are the most mature. It takes guts to say to a 30 year church veteran, “You haven’t matured. You’re still a spiritual infant.” This difficulty arises, in part, because most people don’t have a clear idea of what spiritual maturity looks like in the lives of others, or themselves.
The next three articles on the list feature guest authors who were part of the Summer Blog Tour “Faith Unshackled”. You can read the entire collection of articles HERE.
3. Less Dogma – More Doing by Ryan Lassiter
4. Faith Unshackled: A Case Study by Ginger Moore
5. Your Shackles Have Names by John Dobbs
We all have a self-control problem because we all have a sin problem. Ultimately, sin occurs when self-control fails. Since the Bible repeatedly instructs Christians to exhibit self-control, we often experience guilt when we read those passages. We can all think of times when we’ve lost self-control and reading these passages amplifies our sense personal inadequacy. But what if “self-control” doesn’t mean what we think it does….?
Each family has its own set of virtues that the parents want to pass on to their children. Some might emphasise politeness, others might emphasise independence. God also gives his children lists of virtues for us to incorporate into our lives. Sometimes these virtues are at odds with our cultural values. How about gentleness? Is it an effeminate trait, or something we should work toward becoming?
‘Tis the season to review my blog posts. To give a second life to the more interesting ones written this year. And get a few more clicks to make this my most successful blogging year yet. [Thanks to you.]
I saw another Christian site’s Top 10 and their Top 3 all had Trump in the headline. I promise my list is Trump free… except for that one with the small “t” trump. So here we go:
A guest post from Brandon Fredenburg as part of the 2016 Summer Blog Tour. Download an ebook containing Brandon’s article and others on the theme “Inside Out” HERE.
“When Jesus omits “and the day of our God’s vengeance” (Isa 61:2b) and rehearses God’s blessing of a foreign widow and an enemy general, he turns the gospel of God his hearers expect inside out. “He isn’t just our God and he blesses our enemies,” Jesus reveals. Their reaction, like their “God,” is one of deadly vengeance.”.
“While I’ve spent most of the last 20 years worshiping without instrumental accompaniment, I’ve never found silence to be a very good teacher. Arguments over how we should interpret silence seem largely ironic.” .
A guest post from Richard May as part of the 2016 Summer Blog Tour. Together with his wife, JeannaLynn, they run WGHJ Ministries. I encourage you to check out their website and blog for practical marriage advice.
“The years that our marriage was a disaster, each of us believed that a change in behavior or attitude of the other person was the key to our happier future. At some points we could have said that the change in the other person was the key to our future relationship status. We were thinking Outside-In. We nearly divorced.”.
“Family is important. God wants us to live within loving families. Traditions, myths, songs, and movies encourage people and provide shared experiences and values. But for Christians, Christmas first and foremost is about reminding ourselves that God loves us immeasurably. Sometimes family reminds us of this truth. Sometimes family causes us to question this truth.” .
A little preacher geekiness escaping in this light-hearted article that mirrors the numerous articles encouraging preachers to preach without notes.
“With your manuscript in front of you now you can speak clearly to your congregation. The presence of your notes doesn’t eliminate the option of speaking from the heart as the Holy Spirit moves you throughout the sermon. The notes serve as a compass to keep you on track.” .
Contains links to as many Church of Christ affiliated ministries to parentless children as I could find.
“In Psalm 68:5 God identifies himself as “Father to the fatherless”. The name “Father” is often attributed to God throughout Scripture. While it’s true that he is the Father, or Originator, of all humanity, God makes the point that the name is more than a description of origin. He is Father because it’s a role he willfully adopts.” .
“Cleopas listened with amazement when the women returned from the tomb and said they’d found it empty. He pondered the message of the angels who told the women that Jesus was alive. But after John and Peter went to the tomb and came back empty handed, Cleopas gave up.” .
“If you attend a church service near you, you’ll likely hear the word “blessed” about 27 times, with a particular concentration as the offering plate is about to be passed.We use the word “bless” in a wide variety of settings with quite a larger range of meaning. Despite the common usage, if you’re like me you struggle to articulate the biblical meaning of the word.” .
“Too many Christians travel through life convinced of their UNrighteous rather than confident of our righteousness. We fear that if we invited God to examine us according to our righteousness that he’d see only sin and darkness.” .
“What I have in mind when I speak of rewriting the Bible really isn’t as heretical as it sounds. Rather it’s a challenge to recognise that the Bible’s stories become our stories and each time they do we have an opportunity to write our own ending.”
Read Psalm 126 here.
At the start (or close to) of each year, Lawson Road takes time to look back on the previous year and forward to the current year. We look back seeking to identify how we, as a church, have served God in the previous 12 months. However, we don’t want to take credit for ourselves, so we also seek to acknowledge how God has worked through and among us over that period.
The church members benefit from this process because they often don’t realise how the church has grown or how many guests visited us during the year. Vision Sunday also provides an opportunity to highlight ministries that take place outside the spotlight, and share their victories with the rest of the congregation.
When we turn our gaze to the coming year we attempt to predict the opportunities and challenges we will face as a church. Of course there is a measure of futility associated with this task, but we would also be irresponsible if we didn’t make any plans. We mainly emphasise our need to seek and prepare for the opportunities God will send us to serve Him and share His Good News.
As I prepared for this annual event it occurred to me how many Biblical examples I could find of this process. The concept of looking backwards at God’s activity in our lives and using those experiences to inform our future faith forms a recurring example in Scripture.
- God’s actions in the Exodus form the basis of his demand for future exclusive worship in Exodus 20.
- Many of the Psalms follow this pattern. For example, the first 3 verses of Psalm 126 look back to God’s deliverance and the joy that accompanied it. That experience then forms the basis for expecting God to again deliver with joy in the last 3 verses.
- Hebrews 11-12 uses the lives of past godly leaders to motivate faith in present day Christians. “Since we’re surrounded by [these previous examples of faith] … let us run with perseverance… fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.” (Heb. 12:1-2)
- The Lord’s Supper embraces this head swiveling principle. At it’s core, the Supper commemorates the death and resurrection of Christ. Yet looking backwards in turn inspires us to look forward and motivates our present actions, “you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.“
This may seem like a logical process to apply to Scripture since it was written a couple of thousand years ago, but how about in our own lives and churches?
- How many examples do you have of God working in your life? How do they impact your faith as you move into the future?
- Do you agree that most Christians don’t have many specific examples of God’s activity in their life? Why do you think that is?
- Have you ever been part of a church that could share a history of God’s blessing that motivated them to move confidently into the future?
- I suspect that most church members don’t know their congregational history and therefore many examples of God’s grace, love and rescue are quickly lost. What’s your experience? Does it matter?