The Year of the Unexpected

I don’t mind the New Year’s resolution-making process. Reviewing the last year helps me to rehearse God’s gracious gifts and often brings His gracious conviction over things that still need work. Rather than make resolutions “proper” last year, I answered Ten Questions by Don Whitney. The following is my assessment.

Last night as I was talking with Mo, she asked if we could have less unexpected things happen in 2011. The idea still rings in my mind the morning after, so much so that I’m ready to pronounce 2010 The Year of the Unexpected. I realize none of us know what a day may bring forth, at least not exactly or with inerrancy. Nevertheless, things are much different at the end of this year than we expected.

The two most notable unexpecteds were our adoption and my resignation. Not ironically, our final court hearing and our final Sunday were the same weekend, the first in December. Both events culminated long processes. I could count the hours invested pursuing one and trying to avoid the other. I could also count every blade of grass in our yard, but the information wouldn’t be useful. Suffice it to say, much time was spent on both, time we expected to spend on other things.

I’ll blame some of my failure on the unexpected. The rest of the blame falls squarely on my undisciplined shoulders. You may want to reread the original questions and answers for context’s sake.

1. Fail. I did think regularly about 1 Peter 1:13. I did not do any extra study on eschatology; the end times walls are still weak. It really seems like I wrote about this a few weeks ago, not 52 weeks ago, so the desire is still strong. See also fail for #5. Hmmm…does it bode better for a dispensationalist world-view if my eschatology study is getting worse?

2. Depends. I prayed much for “the most humanly impossible thing” I wanted God to do this year. I believe He answered, but it wasn’t what I asked for in terms of outcome, though it was what I asked for in terms of clarity.

3. Inconsistent. It also seems unreal that an entire year has passed since formulating this desire. I did “explore” Sabbath dinner liturgy for sake of our family worship, but I definitely did not “establish” it. We’ll keep moving forward on this and it should mature.

4. Miss. Again. At least in terms of the journaling. Instead of three times a week, maybe I wrote a sentence or five a couple times a week, some weeks. I wasn’t consistent and it wasn’t what I had in mind. I did, however, complete the Chronological Bible reading plan. I prolly won’t be using that plan again.

5. Ding. As in, a ding in the diet. They say diets don’t usually work, at least not for long. I practically gave up on this near the end of August and will be rethinking digital intake.

6. Not applicable. I prayed every Tuesday for eleven months regarding a new missionary for our church to support. And I did a fair amount of thinking about it, including reading the probably two dozen emails I received from various friends with suggestions. So, I did do research, but I did not help the board decide on a new missionary before I left.

7. Ongoing.

8. Behind. I wrote that “I came late to the celebration table” and that I had much rejoicing to do based on how many reasons God has given us to rejoice. I keep learning, but it’s probably more accurate to say I keep fighting.

9. Improvement. I did read A Praying Life and appreciated it. With changes in circumstances and ministry circles, my daily prayer lists now need some adds and edits.

10. Hallelujah! As I wrote, Keelah is now a Higgins! Sometimes it’s hard to remember that it may, in fact, be the “single thing” that “will matter most in ten years” and perhaps even in eternity.

In this year of the unexpected, we tried to see God’s mighty acts in the world, fear Him, and laugh with Him. I expect 2011 will include more opportunities to do the same.

Don’t Blow It

Don’t Blow It!


Or, The Almost Inevitable Ruin of Every Minister and How to Avoid It, a message by Don Whitney to pastors and church leaders at the 2007 Omaha Bible Church conference.





I recommended this message earlier in the week, but it’s worth a post as well. Whitney begins:

Almost every minister knows another minister, if not several, you don’t want to be like. But the sad news is that regardless of your age or education or experience it is almost inevitable that you will become the kind of minister, elder, or leader, that today, you don’t want to be.

We’ll be ruined, or we’ll quit. Regarding the alarming stats about how many pastors quit pastoring, he observes that many will:

opt out for health reasons,
wash out in their private lives,
bow out realizing they misread the call of God,
bail out because of the stress being so great,
be forced out by their churches,
walk out from a sense of frustration and failure.

Still in the introduction, Whitney says:

Terrible things still happen…to ministers and ruin them. And there is an almost inevitable ruin of every minister. And it will happen to you, unless you avoid ruin by making progress. How do you make progress in the ministry instead of shipwreck?

To answer the question he heads to one of the most influential passages in the pastoral epistles, 1 Timothy 4:15-16. I’ve been marinating much in this passage since 2003 and recommend Whitney’s treatment.