(This post was originally published on the Baptist Convention of New England’s blog on January 15, 2020. You can find it here.)
“Who do we become when we stop allowing all the voices in our head to crowd out the one voice we must hear to come to life?”
I find deep beauty in the hush that falls over my heart and home after the holiday chaos has ebbed. Décor is stowed until next year, surfaces are reordered, and a gentle blanket of silence fills the previously riotous internal and external spaces of life.
“My life is so dry right now. I just feel like I’m wandering around in the desert.”
These words could have been uttered by Abraham. Isaac. Jacob. Joseph. Moses. The nation of Israel. Elijah. Nehemiah. John the Baptist. Jesus. Paul. And maybe you.
Friend, the path into (and out of) the desert is well-traveled—God seems to find it one of His most effective settings for transformation. Whether your dry season has lasted 40 days like Jesus or 40 years like the Israelites, the desert is meant to help you encounter God in a very real way.
Qui transtulit sustinet. (He who transplanted still sustains.)
-Connecticut State Motto
Are you ready for an exercise in imagination? Picture a particular flower. (Mine’s a peach ranunculus.) Come on, it’ll be fun. Mentally plant your flower on a plain, grassy hill. Now picture a copy of that flower, but place it in the middle of a verdant garden, wild colors spilling everywhere around it.
Against which background does your flower make a bigger visual impact?
A new decade has dawned. Can’t you smell all of that fresh possibility? The future is ripe and our hearts are ready. Let’s shake off the shadows of the past, take a deep breath, and jump. 2020, here we come!
You might be assuming from the title that today’s post is about how to avoid negative mental patterns. While there is a ton of biblical material to back up why such an endeavor would be important, that’s not the direction we’ll be taking. Call it intentional misdirection. (Abracadabra!)
The danger of thinking about toxic people—or, more specifically, of thinking of people as toxic—is actually where we’re headed, and it’s quite a different conversation.
With glasses raised and confetti scattered about like snow, we bid farewell to another year. As a fresh decade opens in the annals of history, let’s apply the good news of Christ to the last 365 days to gain some gospel perspective. The more we can commemorate God’s past faithfulness, the more we can anticipate His future work, so really dig in here. (This will be interactive, so feel free to grab a journal to record your thoughts.)
Few pleasures in life compare to a well-stocked library, and it’s always interesting to see how bookshelves evolve through the years. 2019 held quite the spread of material for me, both in content (including business tips, home decorating, popular female heresies, and a book on how to read books) and quality (some fantastic, some absolutely horrendous). Here are my ten favorites.
Oxford University: one of the world’s most prestigious educational institutions, and the next stop on our tour around the globe.* If you close your eyes and inhale deeply, you might be able to imagine the culture of academia surrounding you—freshly sharpened pencils, lots of coffee, and rooms that have housed minds eager to learn for hundreds of years. This is the setting I feel most connects with Jesus’ historic conversation with Nicodemus. (And the argument between John the Baptist’s disciples and a certain Jewish fellow would fit right in, as well.)
We began painting the nativity scene with creative strokes last week, but what’s a great plot without supporting actors? Today we turn to the heavens, the fields, and the lands far away from that lowly stable.