Looking Forward | Looking Back (2021)

Today we say goodbye to 2021 and make ourselves ready for 2022. As I did last year, I would like to make my final post of the year one that both looks forward to what the new year might hold as well as looking back on some highlights of the previous year.

So, what’s the plan for next year?

Rather than immediately continuing on with the second half of Mark, we will kick the year off by studying the first fourteen chapters of Exodus (you can read the introduction here). As far as teaching series go, I plan to go through both parts of The Pilgrim’s Progress for Reading Together and hopefully to study through the Beatitudes. Fridays will continue to be meditations. Although I will return to my verse-by-verse posts through Psalm 119, I intend to begin the year with a 14-ish week walk through Psalm 1 first. As with this year, articles, quotations, book reviews, and other such posts will be made irregularly on weekends or on Wednesdays between series.

I also hope to write a series of articles discussing the theological themes of C. S. Lewis’ fiction, called Past the Watchful Dragons. I hope to cover at least one book per month and work my way chronologically, beginning with The Pilgrim’s Regress and ending with Till We Have Faces.

Having looked forward, here is my round-up of my favorite studies and posts from the past year with a brief explanation of why.

Favorite Articles & Teachings

  1. Your Child Is Human (& 14 Other Parenting Principles)
    • My wife and I put together this list of fifteen principles that we strive to apply as we parent our children. As I wrote, “I do not offer these up as an aged guru whose journey is complete but as a fellow traveler pointing out whatever provisions or snares that I see along the way.”
  2. Should You Watch the Chosen?
    • I still have yet to watch The Chosen, but these are my thoughts as to whether or not one should watch the highly popular series.
  3. Is Disney or Scripture Catechizing Your Child’s Imagination?
    • Do we believe in the sufficiency of Scripture to capture our children’s imaginations, or do we think we need the world’s supplements?
  4. No Human Is Illegal
    • My study through the Secular Creed was so enriching to me that it is difficult to choose only one of the teachings; however, addressing the third article, No Human Is Illegal, was probably my favorite since, as I noted then, immigration is not a theoretical issue but a very real one.
  5. Humility, Anxiety, & the Devil | 1 Peter 5:5
    • Since our society has decided to call pride a virtue instead of a vice, I used the month of June (aka Pride Month) to study three related biblical texts about pride and humility. This third article studied the text of 1 Peter 5:5.

Favorite Sermons

  1. Eyes to See | Mark 8:22-26
    • Many think that Mark is the most simplistic of the Gospels, but much of Mark’s complexity is within how the book is structured. I enjoyed this sermon so much because it is the point where so much of what Mark was building toward in the first half of his Gospel becomes clear.
  2. The Beginning of the Gospel | Mark 1:1
    • I love the Gospel of Mark, and this sermon holds a special place in my heart simply because it began that study!
  3. The Great Conflict | Daniel 10:1-11:1
    • Over the course of Daniel’s life, he witnessed both the rise and fall of Babylon; however, in this vision, God gave the prophet a slight glimpse behind the spiritual curtain to see the real conflict.
  4. The Fiery Furnace | Daniel 3
    • The story of Daniel’s three friends and the fiery furnace is a Sunday School staple, but this was a very fascinating study because I never before noticed all the allusions to Babel within this story.
  5. Yet I Know That It Will Be Well | Ecclesiastes 8
    • I was invited to preach at some friends’ church, and since they were preaching through Ecclesiastes, this was the text I was given. I previously preached through Ecclesiastes in 2018, but the night before I preached Ecclesiastes 8 my daughter had her first of several seizures. We got home from the hospital at 3 am, and preaching the next day was nothing but a blur. Thus, it was a particular sweetness of God’s providence to be able to preach again this text.

Favorite Meditations

  1. Like Newborn Infants | 1 Peter 2:2
    • In April, we joyfully welcomed our second child into the world, and listening to her cry out for milk brought this verse to mind.
  2. Do Not Bring Us Up From Here | Exodus 33:15
    • Which do we desire more: God Himself or His blessings?
  3. Turn My Eyes from Looking at Worthless Things | Psalm 119:37
    • With plenty of worthless things to look at in our digital age, this verse ever needs to be the prayer of our heart.
  4. He Must Increase | John 3:30
    • This was the attitude that made John the Baptist such a powerful man of God: he did not live for his own glory but for the glory of Christ.
  5. I Will Also Speak of Your Testimonies Before Kings | Psalm 119:46
    • “Today, in the U.S. at least, it seems that many hold more zealously to the separation of church and state than to the testimonies of God, resolving themselves to speak secularly on political topics rather than unashamedly declaring God’s Word.”

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