A Great New Year
- Thursday, December 30, 2010
It's called "the law of first mention." It's what January is to the calendar. It's the "A" of the alphabet. It's the germinating seed from which a Bible doctrine grows. From its first usage, a particular word leads us through a verbal safari of twists, bumps and surprises. For example, although Adam and Eve were the world's first sinners, the word "sin" is first found in connection with Cain's murder of his brother Abel. "Love" is first listed about 2,000 years after the creation when God spoke to Abraham of sacrificing Isaac. The word "salvation" is first directed to the tribe of Dan who popularized idolatry. The word "forgive" is first used in a lie. The first use of "grace" is after 65 uses of "guilt." The first "righteous man" predates "wicked men" by hundreds of years. God coined the words "pray," "humble," and "serve." While man dreamed up "hate," "anger," and "steal." The Bible is full of beginnings.
I can still remember the first time I told Susan I loved her. It didn't go over too well. I was so nervous. The sentence contained the words "zoo," "kiss," "bridge," and "feet." I also remember the first time she said she loved me. It was a symphony. To this day I never grow tired of hearing it.
I'll never forget the first time I led a person to Christ. It was an eager kid at camp. He wanted to pray, but I had another 200 points to cover. He was hooked. But instead of reeling him in, I just dragged him along.
I still have the notes from my first sermon. It was utter disaster. I titled it, "PAUL GOES TO JAIL, AND DOES NOT COLLECT $200." It was the longest 14 minutes of my life. I'm sure my audience was in just as much pain as I was. Although I've taught that passage many times since, I've never used those notes or approach again. Thankfully, ministry too is full of new beginnings.
I've never made New Year's resolutions. Oh sure, I've set certain personal and professional goals. But, typically as each new year comes by, I climb aboard, let out the sails, hold on to the rudder, and fix my gaze on the horizon. Each new year brings uncharted waters and unscheduled hazards; but it's a great journey.
Don't get me wrong. I wonder about the new year. The decisions and challenges. The successes and failures. But some things just don't bother me. Like the grocery store tabloids which predict next year's headlines, "Elvis is found alive." Or "Hubble Telescope finds two-headed alien world." And my personal favorite, "Frankenstein is for real as first brain transplant succeeds."
I've got to change grocery stores.
But the best beginning of all is what David prayed as he began a new year. "I will extol Thee, my God, O King, and I will bless Thy name forever and ever. Great is the Lord and highly to be praised, and his greatness is unsearchable. Oh the glorious splendor of Thy majesty, and on Thy wonderful works, I will meditate, and I will tell of Thy greatness."
Now, that has the sound of a great new year.
Vice President of Church Relations
P.S. If you're looking for great preaching tools, don't forget Preaching Magazine. It's my favorite. Check it out at Preaching.com. Do your congregation a favor by subscribing.
Publication date: December 30, 2010
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