Well, I guess I wouldn’t be fulfilling my “obligation” as a blogger if I didn’t cite the top 5 posts of 2014. Thanks to WordPress for doing the legwork because otherwise, I don’t think I would make the effort to figure out the most popular posts. Honestly, a couple of these surprised me and here they are;
5. When Scripture is not Enough: a topic so dear to my heart, I addressed it in my master’s thesis. I think it sounds really spiritual and intimate to “hear” God speak directly to us but leaves us reliant on questionable, subjective methods instead of the reliable witness of Scripture. God spoke through his Word (see Heb. 1:1-2) and continues to speak, if we’ll be willing to listen.
4. Have you heard of my pastor? Why its good that you probably haven’t: The Mark Driscoll scandal provided an opportunity to reflect on the whole personality cult thing that has become endemic in contemporary evangelicalism. We seem to like celebrity and generally equate popularity with pastoral effectiveness. I actually think that the more effective pastors are those without the public recognition because they are focused on the main thing, as I pointed out in Dear Obscure Pastor.
3. 50 thoughts from turn 50: nothing more than me waxing philosophical at the half century mark. When you’ve messed up as much as I have, there’s a deep pool to draw from. It was a time to really reflect on how far the Lord has brought be from so much foolishness. Now that I’m 51, I’ll consider myself a year wiser. Ha!
2. 8 Bible Interpretations that make me Scream: self-explanatory. One of my goals in life – to teach as many as I can how to approach Scripture. Context people!
1. Does Jesus Really Take Away my Shame? We Christians, in general, like to float on air and pretend that being in Christ means being untouched by anything. I don’t play that game. Stuff affects us. Bad and wrong stuff affects us more. Acknowledging this has been one of the most liberating things in my Christian walk because it has freed me to run to Christ when those nagging voices of insufficiency and failure nip in my ear.
Actually, I’m not surprised this post has gotten the most views this past year and for so long (I published this in October 2013). I think it resonates with people who feel like they should be over something or not affected by past failure. They get lectured by super spiritual, know-it-alls who haven’t walked in their shoes then feel shamed for still being affected. Newsflash, sanctification is a process! Ironically, as I was drafting this post, Wendy Alsup published this incredible post at TGC, The Sanctification Spiral, describing this very thing. She writes;
I have found that God uses a similar spiraling approach in my life. He teaches me something, but then quickly moves me on to the next thing. And the next thing. However, over time, the first struggle reappears in my life along with an expanded opportunity to trust God in the middle of it. After the third or fourth time working through the same struggle, I start to deeply internalize the things God is teaching me in a way I had not during the first or even second pass…
When you feel “stuck,” when you feel like you are continually rehearsing the same struggles, remember this: sanctification is not an endless, repetitive circle. It is a growing spiral in which each round penetrates more deeply into our identity as fallen, but redeemed, image-bearers of God. Spiritual growth can be a long, slow process—with one step backward for every two steps forward—but as you trust in Christ, God will complete the work he has begun in you (Phil. 1:6). Remember: your spiral is not a circle!
Yeah, that’s how it works. Speaking of lectures and blogging. Two observations have really caused me to reflect on how we treat blogging and bloggers. One, unless you know a person, as in having spent time with them, you can’t possibly know who they really are from just a few paragraphs no matter how open they are in print. It’s one thing to interact with ideas, but can you really lecture someone on how they are when you don’t even know them?
Second, people spend a whole lot of time and energy arguing on the internet, trying to show the other person why they are wrong. As time passes, I am increasingly coming to realize the futility of such endeavors. Really, when someone’s mind is made up, that’s it. It’s one thing to ask legitimate questions but I think the lions share of commenting and exchanges is more about flexing muscle and attacking what we don’t like. Is that really a fruitful use of time?
I’m also coming to the increased conviction that presence matters. So in 2015, I’m seeking out more face time and real relationships. I also hope to do some teaching and maybe get started on that book project. That means probably a little less blogging and definitely less interacting on-line. So don’t be surprised if I might even turn the comments section off. Really, its not that important.
Oh and did I mention, I FINALLY graduated from seminary? It only took 6 1/2 years! I was due to be a summer 2014 grad and participated in the ceremonies in May. But my thesis was delayed and I ended up being a Fall 2014 grad. Nonetheless, it is finished. Onward and upward.