A year end review, and what comes next.

December 31, 2014.

Well, it’s been a year! I started this blog on January 1, 2014 with the intent of posting a daily devotional on something spiritual, whether it be in the form of a exposition, psalm, poetry, prose, question or something else entirely. I am happy to say that this is probably the first New Year’s resolution all the way though, and I can’t thank you all enough for following my journey and encouraging me along the way. It has been a great year, filled with highs and lows, triumphs and controversies, and I believe that I have grown in the process. I hope the same can be said for you, as this blog was not only intended for myself, but any who wanted to grow closer to the Lord as well. Maturing in the faith is an essential part of our spiritual walk, and I feel as though I have matured significantly in the past year, though I still have miles to go.

There have been days of praise and easy to take lessons, as well as days that required much study and ruffled the feathers of many. I do not apologize for commenting on the hard questions and questioning established doctrine, for this is the way that we learn and grow. If we never question what we do and why we do it, then we will fall into a trap of dogma and indoctrination that we have no ability to back up on the basis of scripture, regardless of whether the doctrine is right or wrong. This is not a good place to be for the Christian, especially for the Christian who lives in this day and age. At one point in history it may have somewhat worked to just say “that’s how it has always been done, so that’s why it’s right,” but we are now entering an age of intellectuals and skeptics that demand reasons for what we do. And I for one think this should have always been the case. Perhaps it was at different points of history. I do not apologize for teaching the gospel just because it offends some. The gospel is offensive; but that did not stop Jesus from proclaiming it.

But this is not to say that it was ever my intent to offend. Though there are parts of the gospel that are offensive, that is not the intention behind the gospel. Nor is it the intention behind any of my post. My intent is to simply seek the truth, regardless of what that truth is. Regardless of whether what I find in scripture backs up what has been taught in my fellowship for 120 years or proves something different. Regardless of whether or not it agrees with my preacher, my friends, my parents or even what I personally have believed for so long. Truth is truth, no matter what anyone has to say about it. I have heard this all my life, and I am finally getting to the point where I understand this sentiment better than the implications made in the teaching of it. When we say truth is truth, that means it is truth even if the truth disagrees with what we hold to. And for this I do not apologize, for in this we have growth and maturity. And it is this that I have been taught, to be Berean Christians, searching the scriptures daily to see if these things are so.

The brothers immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived they went into the Jewish synagogue. Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.Many of them therefore believed, with not a few Greek women of high standing as well as men.”
(Acts 17:10-12)

And in this example we indeed should follow. We have been so richly blessed, being given the miracle of the bible, the word of God recorded by the hands of men, revealing His character and will for mankind, all at our finger tips. When we stand in judgment, we will have no excuse. We might stand beside those who were faithful, though lived in an era which they weren’t taught to read, or those who were faithful though they lived in an area where the bible was not readily available. This is why it is our job, our responsibility, to take the word to all the world, making disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, teaching them all the things that were taught by the Christ (ref. Mt. 28:18-20). If you notice, I have registered this site under a new domain name, twentyeighteighteen.com, in reference to this great commission.

This year has been a very rewarding experience, as it has proven to me that there is enough time in the day, even amongst all the activities that I participate in (difficult majors, studying, student ministries, mission trips, graduate school, friends, family, etc.), to devote time to God. The problem is not having the time, but rather devoting the time. We can and will find time for the things we want to do, I promise. We find time to make a living, to watch our favorite shows, to eat, to be with friends, to be on Facebook. There is time, we just have to devote it accordingly. Now, that’s not to say that every post I made was easy and I had plenty of time to do it in. There were times that I felt rushed, times when the post took much longer than anticipated, times that I had to post while traveling and times when my post occurred very late at night. And there was even once where I didn’t get to post because of a bad car accident. But I made it up, backdated it and when forward. It is by the grace of God that I have had the ability to fulfill my resolution this year. James rightly said “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you (ref. James 4:8).” This is the promise given to us, and all who will hear.

Over the past few months, I have been considering what 2015 should hold in terms of this blog. I have been back and forth on what I want to do and the direction that I want to carry it, and I believe that I have come to a decision as I believe it is in accordance with my call. In the year of 2015, I want to do a comprehensive study through the entire bible, going through it one day at a time and writing somewhat of a commentary/connection based lesson on each section. I have debated on which of the  365 day plans that I wanted to choose. At first, I really wanted to do a chronological study, which places the books and passages in the best order that they happened in time. I have always been interesting in the chronological progression of the bible.

But I have decided that this is not the best route to take, especially for those of you in which this will be your first read through of the Bible. I don’t want this study to be only for me (although it will help me immensely), but for any who wish to follow. It is much more likely that you will make it through when you have a plan and some way to keep you accountable. That is how I made it through a year of daily blogging in 2014. So, please, sign up to follow me on twitter, friend me on Facebook or sign up with an email subscription. And tell your friends. Perhaps you can even follow in a group, having regular meetings to sit down and discuss the passages at hand. The plan that I have chosen is the 52 Week Plan (click to download a pdf of the plan), in which each day of the week is dedicated to a different section of scripture, ranging from the letters, law, history, psalms, poetry, prophecy and the gospels. I chose this plan as I think it will mix things up just enough to keep us interested as we press through. I’ll be honest and say that there are some stretches of scripture that are hard to get through, especially if it is your first time and you don’t have a good grasp on the background, culture of Israel and how it fits in to the overall story of the bible. That is why I chose this plan, and I will do my best to smooth it out, make connections and fit it all into the overall story. We will start this Sunday, January 4, 2015, and complete our study on January 2, 2016 (I think). The reason for starting this Sunday is because the plan is a weekly plan, not based on specific dates, but rather 52 weeks. This will give you and I some time to prepare for this study. Mark your calendars and subscribe! I’ll have a dedicated post about this tomorrow, so stay tuned.

As for devotional post, I will not do them daily as I will be involved with the daily read though post, but I do plan on doing one weekly at least. I do not want to stop these type of post as I think they can be very beneficial to our spiritual lives, especially when they deal with things that are relevant at the time. If you have any suggestions or questions about topics or scripture, I would be happy to take such suggestions. Just let me know. I might respond privately or through a post. I don’t fully know, I’ll just play it by ear.

As always, I encourage you to be faithful students of the word and ever look for His call and guidance. We have a job to do, a wonderful opportunity to spread the good news of salvation and of the Christ throughout the world, from foreign lands to our own backyards. Thank you again for the encouragement you give me by simply following what I write and commenting on it, even when we are in disagreement. I do not claim infallibility, and neither should you. But we can discuss and grow together in the Lord. May all glory be to Him forever more, amen.

Suggested Daily Reading: James 1-5.

May the Lord bless you in this New Year.

-Walter

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