A couple of years ago I began the tradition of ending the year by writing a post looking forward to the year ahead and back upon the year now behind. This is that post for 2022-2023.
Looking forward to 2023, I will not make too many plans, since my wife and I are expecting our third child in early May. When it comes to sermons, our church will open the year with a handful of standalones before jumping back to Exodus mid-January. We will leave Exodus at the foot of Sinai and then spend the rest of the year studying the book of Hebrews, which, yes, I do plan to preach through in one year. Rather than a midweek teaching here, another teacher will be leading our church through a study of the 1689 London Confession on Sunday evenings. My planned posting schedule will be: sermon notes on Monday, book reviews or reading thoughts on Wednesday, meditations on Friday, and articles as they come on Sundays.
With that brief sketch for what I am hoping for 2023, here are a few of my favorite sermons, articles, and meditations from this past year.
1. Let the Children Come to Me | Mark 10:13-16
The importance, value, and protection of children are tremendously important to my wife and I, so I looked forward to this text a bit more than usual. Even still, I did not expect how emotionally heavy preaching this passage would be. Our anti-natal culture desperately needs to hear and follow Jesus’ love for little children.
2. Son of David, Have Mercy on Me! | Mark 10:46-52
This account of Jesus restoring Bartimaeus’ sight also became the first sermon (and so far, only sermon) that I have preached in Spanish. Before studying this passage, I did not see the importance of Jesus stopping to heal this single, blind beggar who confessed Him as the Christ, yet in some sense, the validity of Jesus’ entire ministry depended upon it.
3. I Am the LORD | Exodus 6:1-9
My original plan was to preach through all of Exodus 6, but after spending half my usual word count on verse 1, I needed to change plans! In that verse, I came to marvel at God’s intention to break Pharaoh so thoroughly that the king of Egypt did not simply permit the Israelite’s to leave but would drive them out himself! What beautiful picture of how God works all things for His will and His glory!
4. The Consecration of the Firstborn | Exodus 13:1-2, 11-16
From the proclamation to God’s right to govern us as our Creator to the importance of discipling our children in the gospel, this sermon touched on nearly all of my favorite topics!
5. Guard Your Heart | Provers 4:20-27
Toward the beginning of the summer, I was invited to preach at a sister-church in town. I was told to choose from the wisdom literature, and as difficult as it was to pass by Ecclesiastes, I simply could not get this text out of my mind and heart. It is not often that I am able to revisit texts, but each time is a gracious privilege at beholding the inexhaustibility of God’s Word.
1. Loving Those the Woke Leaves Broke
The idea for this article came from hearing a de-transitioning story, where the person wept at the irreparable damage done to her body through medication and surgeries. I, therefore, wanted to remind Christians that this hideous ideology would soon be defeated and that we (ministers especially) must prepare ourselves to give the gospel and our love to those who come to Christ after being broken by going woke.
2. Skin-Deep Secularism: Thoughts on Amazon’s The Lord of the Rings Series
I love The Lord of the Rings, and I ended up watching The Rings of Power. I long debated writing a follow-up discussing my thoughts after having watched the series, but I decided against it since my predictions proved true. Fundamentally, the show was a shallow imitation of Tolkien’s work because secularism is a shallow imitation of Christianity. The creators could not dive into the deeps of Tolkien because they have no concept of depth as he understood it through his belief in Christianity and his saturation in classic Western literature.
3. Deceiving the Serpent: Was It Sin for the Midwives to Deceive Pharaoh?
This was the first of what I called An Exodus Excursus, which were articles I wrote in order to tackle difficult questions and topics from Exodus without detracting from the sermons.
4. Humiliation, Apollyon, and the Shadow of Death
Although I had read The Pilgrim’s Progress before, I never paid attention to the blaspheming spirit that Christian encounters in the Valley of the Shadow of Death. Reading this, as well as Bunyan’s own reflections on such torment in his autobiography, helped me to to finally process similar experiences that I had as a child.
5. Livestreaming, Metaverse Services, & the Dangers of Digital Gnosticism & Transhumanism
Especially post-Covid, livestreaming church services have become more and more popular. Here was my attempt to explain why livestreaming (and Metaverse services) can never replace physically gathering with God’s people on the Lord’s Day.
1. The Church Isn’t an Organization or a Movement; It’s a Household | Ephesians 2:19
Thinking of the church as a household gives proper balance to the calls for the church to be both organizational and organic.
2. To Obey Is Better Than Sacrifice | 1 Samuel 15:22
Samuel’s rebuke of Saul are words full of gospel truth.
3. Your Statutes Have Been My Songs | Psalm 119:54
God’s people sing in praise to Him in response to His salvation, but God’s people also comfort themselves with song through the sojourn of this life.
4. He Is Like a Tree | Psalm 1:3
Psalm 1 is easily my favorite chapter of the Bible, so it was pure joy to walk through it piece by piece each week. But in choosing one particular meditation from the bunch, I have to go with the phrase that inspired my site’s logo.
5. God, Who Never Lies | Titus 1:2
This came out of conversation with my daughter, and it is a deeply important truth to remember.