Monday, January 4, 2016
Five lessons from 2015
Lesson No. 1: The times, they are a-changing, but the root problem remains the same. Cindy and I had the opportunity to hear Al Mohler speak at a conference in January. Among other things, I learned that Peter Berger, a sociologist, said that the most religious country in the world is India. And the least religious country is Sweden. When he was asked, “What about America?” Berger replied, “It’s a country of Indians ruled over by Swedes.”
Dr. Mohler also quoted Theo Hobson, a British theologian who wrote several years ago that a cultural revolution takes place when three things happen, and we are seeing that unfold before our eyes. First, something that was condemned is normalized. Second, that which is normalized is now celebrated. Third, those who don’t celebrate it are condemned. As I read in Isaiah after the conference, this verse seemed to speak to our condition as a nation: “You felt secure in your wickedness, you said, ‘No one sees me’; your wisdom and your knowledge led you astray, and you said in your heart, ‘I am, and there is no one besides me.’ The problem is sin, which tends to try and hide in the shadows, or parade itself as enlightenment.
Lesson No. 2: God loves orphans ... and those who love them.
Ben Duckett spoke at our men’s breakfast in March, and challenged us to seek God about adoption with this charge: “Is God calling you to do something? Stop asking Him ‘Why?’ Ask yourself, ‘Why not?’” That’s a great word, not just about adoption, but about obedience to anything the Lord is asking of us.
Lesson No. 3: We need to hold things, and people, loosely.
We know that if we are holding on too tightly to money or influence or possessions, we are in trouble, because that really means they are holding onto us. Jesus said, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” The principle is true of things, but it is also true of people. I was reminded again this year with people coming and going at the church, that I need to continue to make Christ my treasure, and He is enough.
Lesson No. 4: God will press you beyond your limits, but not His.
I love the story of Moses having a fit with God in Numbers 11. He was very transparent with the Almighty, to the point that I almost cringe as I read the account. But this is a great place to be: he was pressed beyond his limits, and did not know what to do, so he cried out to God. The condition is common, but the reaction is rare. So often when we get pressed beyond our limits we scream at other people. Or we crawl into a shell and just want to give up. Or we stomp off, leaving a church or a job or even a spouse. Moses basically told God to either kill him or help him, and God chose the latter.
Lesson No. 5: Marriage is a good thing.
I learned that again on Sept. 19, as I walked down the aisle with my daughter, and 30 minutes later she walked back up the aisle on the arm of a Kansas firefighter. I learned that it is a good thing to see your daughter get married to a godly man. I knew that theologically before; I know it experientially now.
What did God teach you this year?