2010 Plans…err…Hopes?

Most people do “New Years’ Resolutions”.  Hats off to them, but I’m more of a “Plans” kind of guy.  The nice thing about plans is that plans can be altered as needed.  Plus you don’t have the immediate agonizing taste of failure after missing a day.

My 2010 plans/goals…

1) Read the entire Bible. A couple summers ago, we challenged our youth group to read through the Bible in 90 days.  I think I was the only one who made it, but glad I did.  (though with about 6 hours of reading on the last day!) It’s good to settle in and dig deep (which I still am doing in my studies of Matthew in Greek…5 months-Chapter 22!), but it’s good to be reminded of the scope and trajectory of the progressive revelation of God, especially as it finds its telos in the person and work of Christ.

2) Get down to around 200 lbs. I won’t say how much that will require losing, but the scale at the gym this morning grimly reported that I have about 6 more pounds to shed than I thought I had generously estimated (The sub-freezing temperatures and holiday food were very unkind to me.)

3) Read a lot of books. I have about 30 books waiting to be read on my shelf (most of which came this Christmas.)  Make that 29–I knocked one out yesterday afternoon.  I plan on really pushing myself in the next couple of months.  With my job at the church having only a few months left, I may be forced into a job that’s less “reading friendly”, so I plan on making the most of that. I plan on reviewing a few of them on here.

4) Spend more time intentionally seeking community. When you’ve been working with teenagers at church for 3 years and don’t really have anyone your own age at work to hang with, it’s hard to have those natural circles of friends.  I grew up in what some family experts would label an “open home”, where drop-bys and visitors were welcome and somewhat common.  I miss that a little bit (having a 1-bedroom apartment doesn’t help).  I’ve finally come to the point where I’m going to have to be more intentional about making those things happen.

There are other worthy plans- family devotions (we’re a little inconsistent but doing ok), some financial stuff, more intentional prayer focus, but I don’t have anything set in stone yet regarding that.  I do know that the last one (prayer) will probably have a way of taking care of itself this year as change and decisions galore are going to present themselves.  With one job ending and none other on the horizon as of yet, things should get interesting real fast.  Steph and I’s long-term goal of overseas work doesn’t look to be getting any closer to fulfillment at the moment because of much-slower (at times, fully stopped) missionary appointments happening right now.  There are a few other obstacles as well.

I honestly believe that the best thing about this year is that over the course of it, a lot of important decisions will be made that affect the years to come.  Some watershed moments are waiting to happen, and if so, then good.  This last half year since school ended of waiting in limbo has been harder than I realized.  Maybe it’s the identity issues of life as a student ending after 20-something years (I’m one of those people who was ready for school about 2 weeks into summer break).  Perhaps it’s the fact that the things I love and my skills are growing on a separate track from my employment.  Either way, in a few months, a lot of change will happen, and fairly quickly.  I may hate it.  I’m slowly preparing myself for that possibility. But maybe it won’t.  That’d be ok, too.

So there you go.  A little glimpse into my soul for you.  Maybe a little catharsis for me.  Something for everyone.  Apparently, I’m turning into McDonald’s.

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Sunny Day Theology and Lewis’ “A Grief Observed”

“Sunny day theology” is important.  Thinking deeply about the important issues of life, even things like death and suffering, is important in general, but more so in the times when, quite honestly, you’re not facing many of those problems head-on.  I don’t think reading the book of Job really is that helpful when you’re riding in the funeral limousine or sitting in one of those uncomfortable waiting room chairs in the hospital.  What you believe about the goodness and wisdom of God, the reality of evil and suffering, and the response of human beings to events largely outside their immediate control can’t be figured out in the rainy times.  One’s choices and beliefs during those dark seasons will largely be a reflection of choices/beliefs shaped during the happy times.  What I call “sunny day theology.”

https://i1.wp.com/biblebarn.net/wp-content/uploads/2008/05/a-grief-observed.jpg CS Lewis’ book A Grief Observed stands as a great example of this.  This is perhaps one of the most heart-breaking and emotional pieces of anything I have ever read of Lewis.  In the wake of his wife’s death, Lewis simply chronicles the reactions and thoughts of his own heart.  Those who find themselves in or near such a rainy season will probably discover a strong emotional reaction to portions of the book.  Those in the sunny times may honestly not fare much better.

But for those who have read much of Lewis, we see that even in what at times is a tumultuous relationship between himself and God, Lewis’ “sunny day theology” sneaks through.  Major themes of his core beliefs– joy in God himself (not just the gifts), praise as both culmination and act of enjoyment, etc.–show up at key points to help Lewis along in his journey of grief.  It’s not as if his grief and pain caused him to abandon his sunny day theology, but rather they caused him to ask new questions which found many of the same answers he had known before.

New questions for old answers.  I like that.  But you don’t that without having some old answers…aka “Sunny Day Theology.”

Reading “The Life and Diary of David Brainerd”

Fall is upon us.  (I actually saw 4-5 inches of snow Saturday while visiting my wife’s family in Nebraska.)  With fall and the changing of leaves, my mind wanders to the woods of New England.  Autumn has to be the perfect time for wearing a sweater and curling up with the Puritans.  This year, I hope to work my way through two Puritan classics.  First up will be The Life and Diary of David Brainerd edited by Jonathan Edwards.  For those who have never heard of Brainerd, I refer you to the very accessible biographical work done by John Piper on Brainerd for introduction.

For those who have gone before me in the reading of this book, I’d love to hear your thoughts and comments!