I see it too. I read the headlines and see the trending topics. Apparently, 2016 marks the worst year in the history of mankind.
Breathe a little, people. Remember the Emmanuel, God with us, we worship this time of year? He is still here.
Call me pollyannish, but I’m convinced God lives and moves and cares still. I do think it’s vital for Christ-followers to preach the gospel to ourselves more today than ever. We have so many false gospels bombarding us: false gospels of hope and despair. We can easily be overwhelmed by information and sidetracked from our mission.
That’s why I’m calling 2017 something other than “the year that is not 2016.” My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness, after all. For me–and it’s ok if it’s only for me–I’m calling 2017 The Year of Sharing. Here are some things I want to share:
(1) The gospel. I want to share Christ more faithfully, lovingly, boldly, and effectively than ever before. I also want to help others share Christ more effectively. I want to share Jesus with those who don’t know him, but I also want to share Jesus with those who do to help them (you?) share him as well. We live in a freak out world, and we have the good news for such a time as this. That’s why I have never been more excited about a new book I’ve written than the one releasing this year called Sharing Jesus Without Freaking Out: Evangelism the Way You Were Born to Do It. No, I don’t think my books are the greatest ever written on the subject, nor do I think they will help everyone. But I meet a lot of Christians–a LOT–and I’ve written a real book for real believers in a real world. It’s a little 115 page work with eight practical lessons. Don’t believe the negative headlines, folks: studies show and my personal experiences affirms that people remain very open to having spiritual conversations. I want to help normal folks move from learning a rote presentation to having gospel conversations with people. It you are interested you can pre-order the book HERE. If you do order a copy know that any proceeds I make go to help a child–My Grandson Lincoln :-).
(2) Joy. Last year I read Greg Forster’s fine book Joy for the World. In it Greg argues that when the church has been at her best in history she not only proclaimed the gospel, she brought joy to civilization. I want to bring joy to those I meet: the server in the local restaurant, my students, our local church, random strangers, and so on. I’ve found the more I focus on bringing joy to others the more joy I experience myself. Focusing on bringing joy sure beats being outraged all the time.
(3) Freedom from “more.” A TV commercial just now makes fun of people who reject “more.” I want to share with people the freedom we have not to embrace the “more is better” philosophy of our consumeristic culture. We don’t have to: eat more food, have more stuff, work more hours, play more video games, or whatever. I’m not advocating laziness or sloth. I’m arguing a good week is not one where you did more than the week before but a week where you grew closer to God and served others. Too many of us don’t take time to pray and read the Word as we should because we are so busy pursuing “more” other stuff.
(4) A hobby. What do I mean? For a long time I was such a workaholic I had no real hobbies. That’s fine in the short term but not good for the long haul. Michelle and I have a nice little 12 acre farm we bought an hour north of us at Kerr Lake. Yesterday I spent time doing carpentry work. I LOVE CARPENTRY WORK. It’s therapeutic. It’s a source of joy. And, I like seeing the results. Let’s face it, a lot of times in ministry you can’t immediately see the fruit of your labor. When I build something I can.
These are mine. The first matters the most of course. But all matter, and are related. What about you? Would you join me in making 2017 the Year of Sharing? It sure beats the Year of Whining, which seems to be most popular!