Archive for December, 2010

What to ask about the year ahead?

30 December 2010

HERE are some helpful questions from Don Whitney to ask ourselves at the start of the new year (and to revisit throughout the year).

Ten Questions to Ask at the Start of a New Year or On Your Birthday

Once, when the people of God had become careless in their relationship with Him, the Lord rebuked them through the prophet Haggai. “Consider your ways!” (Haggai 1:5) he declared, urging them to reflect on some of the things happening to them, and to evaluate their slipshod spirituality in light of what God had told them.

Even those most faithful to God occasionally need to pause and think about the direction of their lives. It’s so easy to bump along from one busy week to another without ever stopping to ponder where we’re going and where we should be going.

The beginning of a new year is an ideal time to stop, look up, and get our bearings. To that end, here are some questions to ask prayerfully in the presence of God.

1. What’s one thing you could do this year to increase your enjoyment of God?

2. What’s the most humanly impossible thing you will ask God to do this year?

3. What’s the single most important thing you could do to improve the quality of your family life this year?

4. In which spiritual discipline do you most want to make progress this year, and what will you do about it?

5. What is the single biggest time-waster in your life, and what will you do about it this year?

6. What is the most helpful new way you could strengthen your church?

7. For whose salvation will you pray most fervently this year?

8. What’s the most important way you will, by God’s grace, try to make this year different from last year?

9. What one thing could you do to improve your prayer life this year?

10. What single thing that you plan to do this year will matter most in ten years? In eternity?

In addition to these ten questions, here are twenty-one more to help you “Consider your ways.” Think on the entire list at one sitting, or answer one question each day for a month.

11. What’s the most important decision you need to make this year?

12. What area of your life most needs simplifying, and what’s one way you could simplify in that area?

13. What’s the most important need you feel burdened to meet this year?

14. What habit would you most like to establish this year?

15. Who is the person you most want to encourage this year?

16. What is your most important financial goal this year, and what is the most important step you can take toward achieving it?

17. What’s the single most important thing you could do to improve the quality of your work life this year?

18. What’s one new way you could be a blessing to your pastor (or to another who ministers to you) this year?

19. What’s one thing you could do this year to enrich the spiritual legacy you will leave to your children and grandchildren?

20. What book, in addition to the Bible, do you most want to read this year?

21. What one thing do you most regret about last year, and what will you do about it this year?

22. What single blessing from God do you want to seek most earnestly this year?

23. In what area of your life do you most need growth, and what will you do about it this year?

24. What’s the most important trip you want to take this year?

25. What skill do you most want to learn or improve this year?

26. To what need or ministry will you try to give an unprecedented amount this year?

27. What’s the single most important thing you could do to improve the quality of your commute this year?

28. What one biblical doctrine do you most want to understand better this year, and what will you do about it?

29. If those who know you best gave you one piece of advice, what would they say? Would they be right? What will you do about it?

30. What’s the most important new item you want to buy this year?

31. In what area of your life do you most need change, and what will you do about it this year?

The value of many of these questions is not in their profundity, but in the simple fact that they bring an issue or commitment into focus. For example, just by articulating which person you most want to encourage this year is more likely to help you remember to encourage that person than if you hadn’t considered the question.

If you’ve found these questions helpful, you might want to put them someplace—in a day planner, PDA, calendar, bulletin board, etc.—where you can review them more frequently than once a year.

So let’s evaluate our lives, make plans and goals, and live this new year with biblical diligence, remembering that, “The plans of the diligent lead surely to advantage” (Proverbs 21:5). But in all things let’s also remember our dependence on our King who said, “Apart from Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).

Copyright © 2003 Donald S. Whitney.

Copyright Disclaimer: All the information contained on the Center for Biblical Spirituality website is copyrighted by Donald S. Whitney. Permission granted to copy this material in its complete text only for not-for-profit use (sharing with a friend, church, school, Bible study, etc.) and including all copyright information. No portion of this website may be sold, distributed, published, edited, altered, changed, broadcast, or commercially exploited without the prior written permission from Donald S. Whitney.


Jesus Storybook Bible Video

24 December 2010

I’ve seen a few of these on youtube, but it looks like the whole bible has been done and you can watch a new one each week. They are excellent, creative, and enjoyable.

Here is one of the nativity videos.

The Nativity on BBC

24 December 2010

This year the BBC did a 4 part series retelling the nativity. Overall it was better than I expected. There’s a fair bit of artistic liberty taken, but there were also a number of things I appreciated. Without giving too much away I’ll give the good and the not-so-good (I’ll keep the discussion general so there are no plot spoilers if you decide to watch it).

The good:
– The social stigma of an un-wed pregnant woman at the time was shown quite well. Jesus was not just born in a humble setting (laid in a manger) but in low (questionable, to onlookers) circumstances as well.
– There is a fair bit of scripture used throughout, particularly with the angel Gabriel.
– I liked the way they developed the shepherd in the story. I think this captured shepherds’ place in society and the social/national aspects of the time.
– The shepherds and the magi worshipped the baby Jesus.

The not so good:
– Too many blue eyed actors/resses (I thought is was only Hollywood that did this!).
– The magi’s route was altered from the biblical account, as was their guide (they also seemed a bit absent minded?).
– I think the biblical account would put Gabriel’s appearance to Joseph at a different time.

From text to sermon

23 December 2010

David Jackman’s 10 steps:

1. Get rid of the idea that we have to make the text relevant.

2. Do the hard work on what the text means.

3. Make sure the original context determines your contemporary application.

4. Set the passage in its wider biblical and theological context.

5. Focus your understanding and purpose in key sentences.

6. Develop a clear and coherent presentation.

7. Study your congregation.

8. Apply the truth to the whole person.

9. Make your language count.

10. Pray for the Holy Spirit to blow his life-giving breath through it all.

This arrived in the post yesterday

22 December 2010

I’m looking forward to reading this. HERE is a brief review of the book. It’s not often that a book is dedicated to one of my good friends.

Here is a preview of the book:


22 December 2010

Catechesis is the church’s ministry of grounding and growing God’s people in the Gospel and its implications for doctrine, devotion, duty, and delight.

~ Grounded in the Gospel p. 29

Sounds like a good idea to me.

Someone who believed in penal substitutionary atonement

21 December 2010

Luke 23.46-47 – Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this he breathed his last. Now when the centurion saw what had taken place, he praised God, saying, “Certainly this man was innocent!”

If the centurion didn’t believe that Jesus was a substitutionary sacrifice suffering the wrath of God against his sin, then his response is nonsensical. Why in the world would he praise God at the death of Christ and declare that Christ was innocent? Is he happy that injustice has been done and he is thanking God for it? Does he not care that he was part of an execution of an innocent man?

Only one view fits the passage without making the centurion out to be a nutter. Pretty good theology for a brand new christian.

Looking for assurance?

20 December 2010

So Paul would not go to someone suffering from a lack of assurance and hand them a book about assurance; that would be an almost fatal mistake! He would preach the gospel to them: preach the freeness and the fullness of justification in Jesus.

~ Sinclair Ferguson, ‘The Preacher as Theologian’

Give me a break

17 December 2010

Wikileaks is a testimony to the inconsistency of modern society. Apparently what they are doing is legal, but for Wikileaks to be investigated is illegal. If they truly believed in what they say they are doing, all of their correspondence, emails, private business discussions would be available to the public (ie – an investigation would not be needed). But, of course, Wikileaks is exempt from what they expect of everyone else. All that they do must remain secret and not be disclosed to anyone.

Interesting days ahead for sure with a self-appointed global watch dog that feels it stands above all world governments and says it is allowed to do what no one else can.

Rant over, now time for a Kit-Kat.

Music and Lights

16 December 2010

I’ve probably mentioned it before, but Sweet Bells by Kate Rusby is a great christmas album. A great collection of carols, with a very Yorkshire flavour. Many of the tunes are traditional Yorkshire tunes as well as a few of the carols themselves. It probably doesn’t sound like a typical christmas album, but it’s very enjoyable. Perhaps my experience of it was boosted this year with the chance to go with Emily and see Christmas Kate in concert. It was a fantastic evening. The musicians were all top-notch and it was supremely enjoyable. One of the musicians used two different tenor guitars, which reminded me that I don’t have one of those! It’s not the christmas set, but there is a live DVD of Kate Rusby (in Leeds no less!) that is for sale.

As far as lights go, this is my style for christmas lights.