2016 By the Numbers, part 2
Donald Trump, a businessman and not a politician, was elected President of the United States. Fidel Castro died, the Cubs won after a 108 year baseball championship drought. Brexit, snipers, Back the Blue, Aleppo, Putin, WikiLeaks, Harambe, Hillary, hot air balloon tragedy, school bus crash tragedy. Deaths of Debbie Reynolds, Carrie Fisher, George Michael, Prince, Bowie, Scalia, Alan Rickman, Glen Frey, Nancy Reagan, Gary Shandling, Patty Duke...OK enough. People died. Things happened.
2016: The Year in Volcanic Activity
Alan Taylor DEC 14, 2016 32 Photos
Although this has been a relatively average year for the world's active volcanoes, the activity that did take place was still spectacular. Out of an estimated 1,500 active volcanoes, 50 or so erupt every year, spewing steam, ash, toxic gases, and lava. In 2016, erupting volcanoes included Tungurahua volcano in Ecuador, Villarrica in Chile, Mount Sinabung in Indonesia, Piton de la Fournaise on Réunion Island, Kilauea on Hawaii, Pavlof Volcano in Alaska, Mount Bromo in Indonesia, Nyiragongo in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia’s Erta Ale volcano, and more. Collected below are scenes from the wide variety of volcanic activity on Earth over the past year.Earthquakes shook,
Paul Hand, Tullian Tchividjian, Darrin Patrick, Perry Noble, RC Sproul Jr, Tom Chantry, David Reynolds... the list is depressingly long.
When any pastor grievously sins against Jesus and falls below reproach and disqualifies himself, it's a poor witness to his flock. When he does so as a famous pastor with a large, well-known platform, it's worse because the sin is more widely seen. He has brought reproach onto the spotless name of Jesus for all to see and mock.
Even longer though is the list of pastors well-known and not well known who labor tirelessly in the trenches of spiritual warfare faithfully leading their flocks. They toil amid the narrow lines of correct doctrine, watching fishbowl eyes watching, and full guns of satan blazing against them. Thank you pastors! I have benefited from the ministrations and sermons of locally known pastors Mark McAndrew, James Bell, Phil Andrukaitis, and more well-known pastors such as Don Green, John MacArthur, Phil Johnson, Chris Rosebrough, Alistair Begg, RC Sproul, Tim Challies, Todd Friel...and the ministries of Wretched Radio, Reformation Network, and Expositor FM, MLJ Trust, Ligonier, among many others.
As you drive down the street and see a church here and there, inside there is most likely a true pastor laboring for the Lord, doing his best to bring the truth and witness with his life. Thank you Pastors!
On the personal front, I watched movies, TV, and read books this year, of course. I think Tower is the best documentary I've seen in a long time. The IMDB plot summaries read:
Nearly fifty years ago, a gunman rode the elevator to the twenty-seventh floor of the University of Texas Tower and opened fire. TOWER, an animated and action-packed documentary, shares the untold story of that day - when the worst in one man brought out the best in so many others.
Animation, testimony, and archival footage combine to relate the events of August 1, 1966 when a gunman opened fire from the University of Texas clock tower, killing 16 people.The first mass shooting in the United States, it caused shock and upset. Today when it happens it's just another normal day. Sadly. The documentary is historical, informative, moving, and thoroughly absorbing because, in my opinion, it focuses almost solely on the victims and not the shooter.
Here is Rolling Stone's review:
After reading a 2006 oral history of the shooting in Texas Monthly – as told through the voices of surviving victims – Maitland set to work on Tower, a gripping new documentary currently in theaters that augments rigorously researched journalism with a devout humanistic bend. Combining archival footage with animated sequences of first-person accounts, interviews and police reports, the film bypasses Whitman's backstory – his name is only mentioned three times – and focuses on lesser-known but key characters: the bookstore manager who stormed the tower with police; the 17-year-old who rushed into the crossfire to save a victim's life; and the off-duty officer who helped bring the gunman down.Netflix's The Crown is sumptuous and focuses on a historical person who is still alive, an interesting dichotomy. Queen Elizabeth II has been reigning longer than any other British Monarch, over 70 years now, so her early reign is definitely history but she is active and living so she is also contemporary. I've enjoyed the discussions the actress Elizabeth had with actress Queen Mary her grandmother, about God raising up a sovereign, and the holy duty that sovereign has to God and the people. The Crown focuses on her first few years of her reign, from before her ascension (1945) to afterwards, 1955. The Crown is a television standout this year, and reminds us of what television could be. Elizabeth shows us what a Queen should be.
I started taking LigonierConnect classes this year. I decided to share this part of the annual update with you not to boast, but because I believe it's important that as a teacher, blogger, Christian woman, readers should know my credentials and commitments to Christ. Teachers should live a transparent life. As a Christian teacher, blogging in a vacuum absent personal context is, in my opinion, wrong. Readers need to assess a teacher's credibility, and teachers need to be accountable to readers. So I decided to let you know that I'm serious about an organized approach to the faith in terms of personal study and growth.
As an overview, I faithfully attend a Reformed Baptist church with a teaching pastor and three other elders. I strive to pursue holiness and apply biblical precepts to my life in work, social spheres, online, and through my personal responsibilities such as finances, charity, discipling and the like. I take classes when I can, and read the Bible and study it. I pray.
As for my current classes, a nominal annual subscription allows access to myriad offerings, or one could choose to pay as you go, (classes are less than $20, many are less than $15). One could even partake of their free classes, of which there are many. I've taken and completed:
- Recovering Beauty of the Arts,
- Justification by Faith Alone,
I am in-progress with:
- Principles of Biblical Interpretation,
- Understanding the Tabernacle,
- Do More Better.
Do More Better is led by Tim Challies and I highly recommend it. Challies focuses on productivity; the biblical definition of it, how to focus your life so that it aligns with it, creating a mission statement for each sphere in your life, and more. For non-subscribers it costs $15 and .75 CEU's are available to earn upon completion. Here is the official synopsis:
It really is possible to live a calm and orderly life, sure of your responsibilities and confident in your progress. This course, based on Tim Challies’ book, Do More Better, provides a short, practical guide to productivity. Whether you are a student or a professional, a work-from-home dad or a stay-at-home mom, it will help you learn to structure your life to do the most good unto the glory of God.As the New Year begins, we are awash in suggested Bible Reading Plans, Reading Challenges, changing lifestyle commitments, diet or exercise resolutions, I know it's a lot. Americans like to be vigorous-tending-toward aggressive in doing life. As it's the Resolutions time of year, I'll mention Jonathan Edwards' 70 Resolutions.
Christianity Today published this synopsis of Edwards' resolutions this morning:
Resolutions of Jonathan Edwards
Mark A. Noll
Typical of many other serious young men of his day, the young Jonathan Edwards drew up a list of resolutions, committing himself to a God-centered life lived in harmony with others. The list, excerpted here, was probably first written down in 1722 and added to at several times in his lifetime. There are seventy resolutions in all. The excerpts here give a picture of the seriousness and resolve with which Edwards approached life.Here are the 70 Resolutions organized by topic.
Here are the 70 Resolutions listed in original language
The combination of the Do More Better productivity class, and reading the 70 Resolutions has helped renew my own commitment once again to do more, better. Paul wrote that we should so all to the glory of God, even if it is eating and drinking. We're given a number of days on earth, how can I enjoy God and glorify Him while I'm here? Between the blessing of technology and being able to select some Bible Reading Plans suited to me, the Productivity Class, and the inspiration of the fathers of the faith like Spurgeon (always productive) and Edwards, (resolved and productive), I am looking forward to the New Year with renewed vigor.
I'm not going to mock, underplay, or dismiss the importance of this time of year's opportunity to "take stock". Edwards reminded himself to take stock weekly, by reading and re-reading his Resolutions. Challies advises the same in his class, to read and re-read one's responsibilities and mission statement weekly. Weekly, monthly, and annual taking stock is wise.
So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom. (Psalm 90:12)
As Alistair Begg asked when preaching this verse, 'Is the Psalmist asking a mathematical question?" No! We ask God to make us aware of our limited time on earth so that we may serve Him with vigor and love and diligence. Barnes' Notes says of the Psalm verse,
So teach us to number our days - literally, "To number our days make us know, and we will bring a heart of wisdom." The prayer is, that God would instruct us to estimate our days aright: their number; the rapidity with which they pass away; the liability to be cut down; the certainty that they must soon come to an end; their bearing on the future state of being.
That we may apply our hearts unto wisdom - Margin, "Cause to come." We will bring, or cause to come, a heart of wisdom. By taking a just account of life, that we may bring to it a heart truly wise, or act wisely in view of these facts.
Lord, in 2017, make my heart truly wise, aid me in the pursuit of Holiness, give me a life adorned with Your wisdom, and with courage and grace. Help me to be an elder example to the younger, and to submit to elder and wiser examples than me. Our days are numbered. As many as I have left, I want to do more for Him in better ways than I did in 2016.
Happy New Year!