I enjoy the annual reviews that media and news outlets publish each end of year. It is interesting to revisit and review some of the significant events of the past 12 months and reflect on the great achievements and losses of the past year. Many use the end of a year to plan their “New Year Resolutions”.
If you think about it, resolutions, of this sort, usually have 3 steps. e.g. You resolve to lose some weight in 2014: “I resolve to lose 5 kg (& keep it off!)” – this comes with regret that you gained those 5 kg through lack of discipline in my diet and exercise, so you opt to repent of your bad habits and resolve to reverse or reform to achieve this resolution. The pattern that emerges is:
- Regret of past wrong doing (or lack of right doing)
- Repent – reject and turn away from the past
- Resolve to commit and achieve the future (and in the case of the Christian, trust God to enable you) in 2014
If you’re a Christian, why not consider some resolutions oriented towards growing in your knowledge of God and resolve to live more consistently and fully as a representative of Jesus. Pray, and ask God to give you insight on what areas of your life are lacking in godliness, or are outright sinful, or are hindering your effectiveness as or growth as a follower of Jesus. (Psalm 139:23-24, Hebrews 12:1-2)
Here are a few suggestions to start. May God bless and enable you to strive after him and see and experience his greatness, goodness and glory in 2014.
1. Read the Bible Through in entirety by Dec 31st 2014 (YouVersion has some great plans, if you’re not sure where to start)
2. OR Read the New Testament through in entirety by Dec 31st 2010 (great for brand new Christians – try the YouVersion plans)
3. Volunteer and commit to a service team for the entire year. e.g. Youth Group, Kids Church or Sunday School, Music, Media, Playgroup, a new opportunity suited to your gifts & talents etc.
4. Go on a short term mission trip (see me for details or check out the SIM list of opportunities in each country)
5. Host a “Simply Christianity” event in your home for 6 weeks during 2014
6. Lead a “Simply Christianity” event in yours or someone else’s home for 6 weeks in 2014
7. Talk to me about giving a small (5 min) talk in Sunday Service on your testimony
8. Loose some weight to be in better health to serve the Lord and your family in 2014
9. Start (and continue) giving a set amount of money to missions or a project in 2014
10. Decide (and stick to it) to increase your sacrificial giving to the general offering and operating expenses of Church in 2014
11. Pray with your family (out loud) at least once per week (not at Church & not as part of grace for a meal).
12. Read the bible out loud at least once per week with your family (again, not at Church etc
p.s. My resolutions for 2014 include spending more time with my wife and daughter, 1 on 1 catch ups with men in our Church, reading several books, reading and re-learning my Greek New Testament, and improving my fitness via cycling. What are yours?
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 8,800 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 3 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.
courtesy of “Theological Word of The Day“
The annual holiday celebrated by Christians on December 25 celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ was born somewhere between 7 and 2 BC. Dec. 25 is probably not the date when Christ was born, but was designated as such in the 4th century in order to substitute for pagan celebrations of the winter solstice. The designation Christmas comes from a combination of “Christ” with “Mass.” Often the Greek X (Chi) is substituted for “Christ” making Xmas (as was the custom in the early church when abbreviated Christ’s name). Although there is no command in Scripture to celebrate this day as a holiday, Christians believe the incarnation is the foundation to salvation and, according to many, the greatest miracle in the history of man.
So, Merry Xmas to all :)
Australians ‘Stop’ each year on the first Tuesday in November at around 3:00pm AEDST to watch the Melbourne Cup horse race. Workers are given time off to gather in front of the television. Students, if still in school, pause to do the same. In some parts of the country the entire day is a public holiday. All, so we, in unison, can watch the outcome of this race.
The beauty of the horses racing is a vivid testimony to strength, endurance, discipline and precision (on the part of the breeders, trainers and jockeys). I have attended corporate banquets put on in celebration of the race, others will spend a small fortune to don formal wear and play the ‘toff’ for a day at the racetrack. It is in many respects as much a public institution as some of the national religious and public holidays. Throughout workplaces and schools, sweeps are run, where, usually, by way of random allocation, entrants are given a horse for a small fee of maybe $2-$5. If your employer is particularly fortunate with their winnings, it is not unusual to be given the rest of the day off… to celebrate!
Sadly, or amusingly, if you’re so inclined, the condition of patrons at the race courses throughout the country later in the afternoon, differs considerably from earlier in the morning. What was at 11:00am, a beautifully adorned lady in a formal dress with accompanying hat or fascinator assembly, is at 5:00pm, a disheveled, crumpled, stained, torn, staggering embarrassment frequently accompanied by an equally uncouth, stupefied, lecherous lout. This, from either over indulging whilst celebrating their win or while commiserating their loss. Considerable stakes are paid in what is, usually, friendly one-up-man-ship, with punters trying to out-do each other in their betting on the horse racing. Hopes, quite literally, are “dashed” when another horse crosses the finish line ahead of the one they had ‘invested’ in. The Sydney Morning Herald estimated that the takings from punters in 2009 exceeded $143 million in Victoria and New South Wales. The only clear winners are the State Government departments that profit from gaming and gambling. Everyone else comes out worse off.
The premise of gambling is trying to get something large for a disproportionately small price. The idea is that you make a bet, and not have to work to earn the same amount. What might take several days, weeks or months to otherwise earn or cultivate, can be gained in a matter of seconds, simply by placing a well timed bet on the right horse (in the case of the Melbourne Cup). It doesn’t take much to argue yourself from there into the place that by increasing the bet, you could increase your winnings, and if you win enough, you might never have to work again. Obviously, not everyone is consumed with, or tempted by, an addiction to gambling. However, for those that are, even a sweepstake entry can prove to be a deadly distraction. In wisdom, we must be careful how we represent and take part in the good fun of our nation’s (arguably) favourite past-time. If, by entering a sweep, you communicate that your sustenance and hope for provision is elsewhere than in what God has provided, you may find it difficult to convincingly discuss your faith in Jesus and why he is exclusively sufficient for spiritual salvation.
What would you truly prefer? That God dealt with us randomly by way of spinning a wheel, drawing lots? That He let the roll of a dice determine our eternal fate? Or that God has deliberately set his love upon us and reveals his grace to us via Jesus Christ’s life, death and resurrection? Gambling is emotionally charged controversy that provokes passionate advocates both for abolition and enjoyment in moderation. I hope you consider carefully how you will “profit” from a little flutter compared to finding your passion in Christ.
Sustain me according to your promise, and I will live; do not let my hopes be dashed. Psalm 119:116 NIV
Deal with your servant according to your love and teach me your decrees. Psalm 119:24 NIV
Related Articles (Inserted by Author):
- Is Gambling OK? Don’t Bet on it! by Phil Johnson
- Silent Killers and Silent Christians by Kevin DeYoung
- Gambling by Phillip Jensen
- Gambling and Alcohol (video) by Phillip Jensen
This post is a re-post from Nov 4 2009 and was part of a series on Psalm 119.
I have started a new blog site called, Under the Water.
I will maintain both sites, but Under the Water will have a more specific and narrow subject as summarised on the About page:
Under the Water is a writing project that I plan to use to tease out some questions about whether a Baptist Church has a place in Australia. Along the way I will deal with practical and theological issues on Baptist beliefs and behaviours. I am writing from the perspective of both a Church Minister (or to use the common Baptist terminology, Pastor) and a potential research student working towards completing a post-graduate theological degree. At some point in the next few years I am planning to write a formal thesis dissertation and the articles on this blog are a way of thinking through that process in smaller, less academic, bite size pieces.
I have kicked things off with a small chat about defining ‘Church‘.
So, add the site to your feedreader or subscription and come along for the ride.
What topics or issues, related to Under the Water, would you like to see or discuss there?