I wrote a total of 19 new blog posts this year. There were 14 posts here and five on the Knowable Word blog. (I’m a “co-contributor” there now. Lord willing, I’ll be posting on KW every other Monday. Click here to find all of my posts on KW.) Those 19 new posts this year compare to 18 new posts in 2013. So while the numerical improvement is slight, I hope and suspect that my writing has gotten substantially better.
Some of the posts I wrote this year ended up just the way I intended. Some did not. I’m bypassing a list of the top ___ viewed articles on the blog this year, because that’s not an entirely useful exercise when you have the size readership I have. But what follows are my eight favorite posts of the year. These are the ones I’m fondest of even after some time has passed.
Idolatry is Embarrassing
The idols of the modern man (including modern Christians) are legion: money, sex, reputation, peace, family, job, friendship, and a thousand others. We might define an idol like this: an idol is anything from which we seek significance or in which we place trust aside from God. Consider the following sentence: “If I lost _____, I don’t know how I could go on.” If you can complete that sentence with a word aside from “God,” you have identified an idol. Congratulations! You’ve won the prize: a life-long battle with a rascal that can strangle your soul!
But we read in the Bible that idolatry is not just morally wrong. Worshiping something other than God is not only offensive to his holiness. It is downright embarrassing.
Sports, Men, and the Glory of God
Why is it that men love sports so much? If we love sports but acknowledge they can too easily become all-consuming, should we just pitch our fandom out the window? Or does our love for sports point to something deeper? Does it perhaps tell us something about the way God has made us?
Maybe there is something about man that desires contest, struggle, and competition. Maybe God made us with the ability and inclination to test ourselves and join a conflict. Maybe the desire to emerge victorious, in a like-minded community, after a hard-fought battle, isn’t just a silly sports trope. Maybe, in fact, this part of the image of God in us is kindled by athletic competitions but wasted if it remains in the realm of mascots, jerseys, and earthly trophies.
Broken Light, Broken World, Broken Me
I am not a handy person. Though I would like to be the type of man who can pound any household problem into submission, I am the nail more frequently than I am the hammer. When I take on a household maintenance or repair project, conditions usually get far worse before they improve. And sometimes improvement only happens by dragging a friend or a professional into the house. Sadly, when it comes to home improvement I more closely resemble Bob Denver than Bob Vila.
Gather with All Ages
We soon learned that this church had segmented their Sunday school offerings to the extreme. Please report to room 205 if you are young, single, born in the midwest, and have at least two older siblings. Maybe it wasn’t quite this bad, but the number of categories and subcategories on display was something to behold.
I understand the impulse for Christian groups to gather according to age and life situation. Especially when children are involved, it is comfortable and refreshing to compare notes, walk familiar paths, and share common experiences.
But this segmentation is not all good. We miss out when we only spend time with people of our age and exact life situation. Two sand crabs can’t give each other any wisdom about life on the other side of the dunes.
What My Daughter Taught Me About Heaven
One of my daughters has an affectionate streak, and she often expresses this by spending time with people she loves. She doesn’t need to play a game or focus on a task, she just wants to be nearby. The other day she wanted to “be with me” but I needed to cut the grass. So she spent about 20 minutes happily trailing six feet behind me as I pushed the mower.
I don’t have an exclusive claim on my daughter’s affections. She loves to be with her mother, her sister, and even some other friends (adults and children) in her life. What’s surprising to me is how frankly and starkly she expresses this desire. She simply wants to be with the people she loves. Boy, do I have a lot to learn from her.
Pride in the Parking Lot
AAA assured me a tow truck would be there within the hour. That seemed reasonable. I read a book with the car windows down, enjoying the parking lot bouquet of carbon monoxide and warming asphalt. Soon one hour turned into three. A tow truck driver finally arrived and I offered my expert opinion about the faulty starter. He proposed we try to jump the car anyway. Given his profession (not to mention his muscles and tattoos), this was no proposal—it was the plan. But I was sure this attempt would fail.
Immediately, powerfully, triumphantly, the car started. Like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber. I could not have been more wrong.
What To Do With Copycat Siblings
My younger daughter wants to do everything like her sister. Clothes, activities, books, ice cream flavors—all the same. At the same time. And though older daughter loves her sister dearly, she yearns for a bit more individuality than a copycat allows. Daddy, can sister have something different than what I’m having today? She chafes.
I’m the oldest of three brothers, so I sympathize. I felt confined having a younger brother that imitated me. Get your own sport/toy/cereal/shoes! God made us and knows us as individuals, and when we are copied in every small action and preference, we feel we’ve lost our identity.
Immanuel: the Story of the Bible
Immanuel. This is not just a title or name for Jesus, it is the story of the entire Bible.
Encountering the word “Immanuel” (meaning “God with us”) at this time of year falls into our expected rhythms. We read Matthew 1:23 or Isaiah 7:14 during the Advent season. We sing “O Come, O Come Emmanuel.” But the new year arrives and we typically pack away consideration of “Immanuel” like so many wreaths and candles.
But Immanuel is too important to occupy your mind for a mere four weeks of the year! In fact, if I had to summarize God’s redemptive plan in one word, I could make a good case for Immanuel.