Happy New Year 2012 AD

What a blessing to be given a new year. May we each be grateful to God, and intentional in making the most of our time (Psalm 90:12 & Ephesians 5:15-16).

As for “celebrating” — I’m glad we do so! Here is a bit of timely background from Dr George Grant from his blog:

The celebration of the New Year did not occur on the first day of January until after the introduction of the Gregorian calendar in 1582—and even then only in France, the northern Italian city states, Portugal, and in the Spanish nations of Castile and Aragon. The new calendar was not accepted until 1600 in Scotland and 1752 in England and America.

From the earliest days of the Roman imperial calendar the New Year was celebrated on March 25—which is why September, October, November, and December are derived from the Latin words septem (seven), octo (eight), novem (nine), and decem (ten).

Throughout Christendom, January 1 was instead celebrated as a day of renewal midway through the Yuletide season—it was thus a day for vows, vision, and vocation. It was on this day that guild members took their annual pledge, that husbands and wives renewed their marriage promises, and that young believers reasserted their resolution to walk in the grace of the Lord’s great Epiphany.

In Edinburgh beginning in the seventeenth century, revelers would gather at the Tron Church to watch the great clock tower mark the last hours of Christmastide—which was the inspiration behind the much more recent Times Square ceremony in New York. In Edinburgh, of course, the purpose was not merely to have a grand excuse for a public party, but was a way for the whole covenant community to celebrate the grace of Epiphany newness.

My Reading Report on 2010

Well, another year has ended, and by God’s grace I can report it was a fruitful year of reading! My goal (the first of its kind for me) was to read a book a week (or 52 books by year’s end) OUTSIDE of my regular pastoral reading of commentaries, online/print periodicals, and, reference works.

I tend to start lots of books, reading at a time, but not always finishing a book (sometimes intentionally). I wondered if my goal would be a help or a hindrance. I can say now it was a huge help, motivating my to make better use of free time (and reduce time spent online or in other less profitable pursuits).

For fun, I set up a spreadsheet to track my reading in 2010. Here are some of the statistical highlights

• 84 books were started, representing 25,302 pages!
• 27 books (including the ESV Bible) were completed!
• over 10,382 pages (in all books) were read!
• the longest book was 950 pages, one was 35 pages

As for particulars on a few of the books…

0f spiritual profit (in addition to reading the whole BIBLE) was:
* Sinclair Ferguson’s BY GRACE ALONE
* Tullian Tchividian’s UNFASHIONABLE
* Marcus Loane’s JESUS HIMSELF

My ministry was enhanced by reading:
* Tim Keller’s PRODIGAL GOD
* WHY WE LOVE THE CHURCH by DeYong & Kluck
* PASTORAL MINISTRY by the Puritan Richard Baxter

My enjoyment of history was well satisfied by:
* TROUBLESOME YOUNG MEN by Lynne Olson (about how Winston Churchill came to power,
* THEODORE REX by Edmund Morris [I’ve already started the third/final volume, COLONEL ROOSEVELT]

The new year begins with my now owning a KINDLE — and trying it out for some of my reading. So far, it’s very good!

May we all read to improve our minds, and to better love and serve our great and gracious God!

10 Questions for a New Year…

Author and professor Don Whitney has created a fine list of TEN QUESTIONS to consider at the start of a new year. He writes (emphasis added):

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.

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.

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

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

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

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

• What is the single biggest time-waster in your life, and what will you do about it this year? (!)

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

• For whose salvation will you pray most fervently this year?

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

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

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

I suggest you jot down your answers on paper (writing greatly aids thinking, and adds a little gravity to your answers). Then take up the list and pray over it in the days ahead — or, better yet, share it with a brother and pray with him about it…

Have a Happy & blessed New Year!

Week of Prayer 2009 begins

rembrandt_stjerome_prayer454x650With each new year comes a need for our annual Week of Prayer at CPCC! Each Prayer Week begins with a fresh sermon on prayer from God’s Word. This year our guest preacher is Rev. Jim Hale of Saratoga Chapel in Ballston Lake, NY.
Pastor Hale preached yesterday in our morning service from Acts 4 on The Beauty, Delight & Power 
of Corporate Prayer [watch for link to online sermon]. He then also taught the Adult Sunday School Class on perseverance in prayer, from The Parable of the Persistent Widow (Luke 18).

Last night, we had a good turnout for our annual “CONCERT OF PRAYER.” This hour uses several 6-8 minute segments of praying, each “orchestrated” around a set theme. It is a powerful way to begin praying together.

Monday through Friday, from 7-8:15 PM, a nightly prayer meeting is led by an Elder in someone’s home. These begin with a brief devotional thought then requests are shared and conversational praying begins. Many folks attempt to attend all five weeknight meetings to watch how the Holy Spirit is working among us during the week.

On Saturday, at 9 AM, we gather in the Fireside Room for our annual Prayer & Praise Breakfast, where answers to prayer & testimonies are shared, and one final round of prayer takes place.

Our theme verse is from James 1:17a as we look in prayer to God, our heavenly Father….

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.

May the Lord again open our eyes to the power, privilege and potential of prayer among us during “Prayer Week 2009.”

Yours by divine mercy,

PS — tonight’s meeting is at my house…

New Year, yes; but a new you…?

“The object of a New Year is not that we should have a new year. It is that we should have a new soul and a new nose, new feet, a new backbone, new ears, and new eyes. …Unless a man starts afresh about things, he will certainly do nothing effective.”
— G.K. Chesterton

I read this quote today, and agree. You cannot really expect much different (or new) in this coming year, unless YOU are new in some way. A new resolve? A new habit? A new way of praying? A new way of serving? Think about it…