Last week I made my annual trek out to Funk’s Grove cemetery to visit my Mom’s grave on Christmas Eve. I always play Andy Williams’ Christmas music on the way to and from the cemetery because it reminds me of Mom, who used to play his first Christmas album as we were growing up. As I visited her grave I was reminded of a rather strange story.
When Mom died unexpectedly in 1996 at age 60 we didn’t have any plans on where she and Dad would be buried. As we were sitting in the Family Room at the hospital, still in shock that we had lost Mom, the thoughts turned to where she would be buried. Mom loved the fall colors. Dad mentioned that the previous fall they were out at the Funks Grove cemetery and Mom mentioned that she could see herself buried near one of the beautiful trees out there. So that’s where she is buried. It’s a beautiful cemetery in Central Illinois that dates back to 1830.
At that time Tammy and I decided to go ahead and buy a plot near Mom and Dad’s plot. I remember it not being far from a bench that I would sit on when I came out to visit Mom’s grave. The guy who was running the cemetery back then had a hand drawn map (from 1830?) with the locations marked on it. He seemed pretty disorganized but we didn’t think too much of it at the time. We made our installment payments and eventually got the deed to our plot. Over the years I would see additional graves dug near where our plot was but figured all was well.
A few years ago we got a voice message from the new caretaker of the cemetery. He wanted to talk to us. What could he want? Well, it turns out the cemetery had installed a computer system, and as they went through their records “our” plot had been sold to two different clients. And the other client had died first. Yes, someone was buried in our plot. Seriously? At least we found out about it ahead of time. Could have been much more of an issue if they had found it out when they were getting ready to dig the hole for one of us! Should we have ‘stood our ground’ and made them evict the other client? No, we ended up picking out a plot in the same general area, but it made for an interesting story to tell.
~ THIS AND THAT ~
- Top Ten Posts of 2014. From Trevin Wax
- Top 10 2014 Posts. From our friend Kevin Halloran
- Top 10 Blog Posts of 2014. From Kevin DeYoung.
- Top 10 Most Read Posts of 2014. From the Southern Seminary blog.
- World Magazine’s Top 25 articles for 2014. The 25 magazine and online-only articles that generated the most reader traffic on World Magazine’s website in 2014.
- A Virus More Deadly than Ebola. World Magazine’s Top Column for 2014 contained this poem from John Piper inspired positively by the Samaritan’s Purse workers and negatively by Donald Trump.
- World Magazine’s Top 25 columns for 2014.The 25 magazine and online-only columns that generated the most reader traffic on World Magazine’s website in 2014.
- 2014: A Year in Review. Tim Challies looks back at the most popular articles his more than 3 million readers viewed in 2014
- Best of 2014: Ligonier Blog. Ligonier Ministries has compiled some of their most popular blog posts from 2014
- Best of 2014: Tabletalk Magazine. Ligonier Ministries has compiled some of the most popular articles from Tabletalk Magazine from 2014.
- Most Read Articles from the Gospel Coalition in 2014.
- The Top 10 Testimonies of 2014. Here are the Christian conversion stories that Christianity Today readers shared most. The top one is from Rosaria Butterfield, who will be speaking at the 2015 Ligonier Ministries National Conference on February 19.
- The Best Books I Read This Year. From Russell Moore, who will be speaking at the 2015 Ligonier Ministries National Conference February 19-21 in Orlando.
- No Ordinary Twelve Months. After a few quiet years, 2014 was the year that U2 fans were hoping it would be, short of a tour, which comes in 2015.
- LITTLE BOOK OF A BIG YEAR: Bono’s A to Z of 2014. U2’s Bono looks back at a full year in this essay.
RESOLUTIONS FOR THE NEW YEAR:
- A Prayer for the New Year. From Scotty Smith.
- New Year, New Adjective: “Christ-Exalting”. John Piper gives three reasons why “Christ-exalting” make a great New Year’s resolution for us.
- How To Make A New Year’s Resolution That Sticks. Tim Challies writes “I have done a fair bit of reading on how to make resolutions work, and it turns out that though there are many reasons your resolutions may not work, the most common ones are easy enough to avoid. Here are some tips on making wise resolutions and on making them stick.”
- 15 Resolutions for Christian Readers. From one of our favorite bloggers Kevin Halloran.
- Resolutions for New Year’s Resolutions. From Eric Davis at the Cripplegate blog.
- Resolved: To Read the Bible. David Mathis of Desiring God writes “Whether you feel like a beginner, or the grizzled old veteran, one of the most important things you can do in 2015 is regularly read the Bible for yourself.” He also includes a few Bible reading plans that you can use.
- Don’t Just Make a Resolution—Make a Habit. Joe Carter from the Gospel Coalition states that this year he’s trying something different. Instead of just making new resolutions, he intends to make new habits.
- Questions to Ask at the Start of the New Year. Don Whitney offers 31 helpful questions we can ask ourselves.
- Debunking the New Year’s Resolution. Tullian Tchividjian joins “Morning Joe” to discuss his new book It Is Finished: 365 Days of Good News, and debunking the idea of New Year’s resolutions.
- Seven Resolutions to Pursue Love in 2015. Jon Bloom of Desiring God writes “So if Satan seeks to destroy our love for one another, and he routinely seeks to do that through corrupting our trust in one another, then we must redouble our resolve to vigilantly protect our love by guarding our trust. Here are seven resolutions.”
- Disney’s Newsies. We saw the musical (based on the 1992 movie starring an 18 year old Christian Bale) in Chicago over the weekend. We really enjoyed it! Check it out if it comes anywhere near you – GREAT singing and dancing.
- Jesus Changes Everything: An Announcement Regarding My Future Ministry. R.C. Sproul Jr. announces his parting with Highlands Ministries.
- Unbroken Film Gets My Dad’s Faith Right. Luke Zamperini writes “That was his (Louis Zamperini) greatest hope for the film version of Unbroken: not that it would be applauded by fellow Christians, although he certainly would have been honored and humbled by their appreciation; but that it would be seen by non-Christians drawn to a rousing epic about the indomitable human spirit who, when the credits have finished rolling, might just discover there’s a whole lot more to his story than that.
- Louis Zamperini: Captured by Grace. Here is a 28 minute documentary on Zamperini from the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.
- Heisman Trophy winner: ‘Football doesn’t define me’ Marcus Mariota of Oregon will face Ohio State in the National Championship game January 12.
- ‘Wheel of Fortune’ contestant solves puzzle with ONE letter. Matt DeSanto, a Pennsylvania father of two, racked up $91,892 in prize winnings, a new record for the show. DeSanto told TODAY.com that he didn’t do anything special to prepare.
- Newsweek on the Bible — So Misrepresented It’s a Sin. Albert Mohler calls Newsweek’s recent cover story “An irresponsible screed of post-Christian invective leveled against the Bible and, even more to the point, against evangelical Christianity. It is one of the most irresponsible articles ever to appear in a journalistic guise.”
- NYPD Officer Rafael Ramos Saw Streets as His Ministry. Rafael Ramos was just hours away from becoming a lay chaplain and graduating from a community-crisis chaplaincy program before he and fellow New York police Officer Wenjian Liu were gunned down in their patrol car Saturday in Brooklyn.
- Lecrae’s New Video of “Messengers” Featuring King & Country.
- Down With the King: Christianity Isn’t Hiding in Rap’s Closet. Hip-hop isn’t only a place to talk about fantasies like being a millionaire and having dope kicks—it’s where you can talk about God. Lecrae, Andy Mineo and Trip Lee are quoted in this article.
- Lyrics to Trip Lee’s Rise Album. Here are the complete lyrics to one of my top albums of 2014.
- “Mona Lisa (Be Mine)” Watch video filmed at Shope’s wedding ceremony and reception.
- Kanye West, Paul McCartney Team for New Single. Rumored to be the first song in a more extensive collaboration between the two.
- Miami Steve Van Zandt from the E Street Band and Jimmy Fallon Sing “My Kind of Town”.
- Zack Eswine’s New Book for Sufferers and Caregivers of Depression. Spurgeon’s Sorrows: Realistic Hope for Those Who Suffer From Depression was published a few weeks ago.
- Review of Andy Stanley’s New Book New Rules For Love, Sex And Dating. From Holly Hrywnak at the Single Matters blog.
- I Want to Read a John Piper Book, but Where Should I Start? John Piper gives answers for both the ordinary and advanced reader.
- The Glorious, Radical, Ordinary Christian Life. David Mathis of Desiring God writes about Tony Merida’s new book Ordinary: How to Turn the World Upside Down. Some of the themes sound similar to Michael Horton’s new book Ordinary: Sustainable Faith in a Radical, Restless World.
- Are Your People Real? 6 Marks of a Real Christian Inspired by Jonathan Edwards. Jeremy Bouma provides six marks of a real Christian as inspired by Edwards. Because there’s no better time than the new year to inspire your people to ask and answer the only question that matters this year.
- Ten Practical Ways to Control Spending and Wisely Manage God’s Money. Some good thoughts from Randy Alcorn.
- 8 Happiness’s Promised by Jesus. David Murray writes “When Jesus promised happiness eight times at the beginning of His Sermon on the Mount, He did not promise it to everybody. Rather, He identified the marks, the characteristics of those who will experience this blessedness.”
- Is Evolution Biblically Acceptable? The Question of Genesis 1. Rick Phillips begins a short series of articles arguing against the idea that evolution is biblically acceptable.
- How Malcolm Gladwell Became a Christian. Check out this short article from Eric Metaxas.
FREE AND RECOMMENDED RESOURCES:
- Christian Audio’s FREE Audiobook for January. It’s a good one, Charles Spurgeon’s classic Morning and Evening devotional.
- Download January’s Tabletalk for Free. The January issue of Tabletalk is out and Ligonier Ministries has made the digital edition free.
- It is Finished: 365 Days of Good News by Tullian Tchividjian with Nick Lannon. David C. Cook. 368 pages. 2015
Tullian Tchividjian is the Senior Pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, grandson of Billy Graham and one of my favorite authors. This is a book of daily readings released just in time to begin 2015. Here is a flavor of what to expect from the reading for January 1:
“We start every new year thinking, This is the year! We resolve to turn over a new leaf – and this time we’re serious. We promise ourselves that we’re going to quit bad habits and start good ones. We’re going to get in shape, eat better, waste less time, and be more content, disciplined, and intentional. We’re going to be better husbands, wives, fathers, mothers. We’re going to pray more, serve more, plan more, give more, read more, and memorize more Bible verses. We’re going to finally be all that we can. No more messing around.
And then, twelve months later, we realize we’ve fallen short – again.
What I’m most deeply grateful for is that God’s love for us, approval of us, and commitment to us does not ride on our resolve but on Jesus’s resolve for us.”
He goes on to write: “As this new year gets under way, take comfort knowing that we are weak and He is strong – that even as our love for Jesus falls short, Jesus’s love for us is eternal.”
I look forward to making this book part of my devotional reading each day. If you would like to try out a free 52 week email devotional from Tullian, you can sign up here – It is Finished Devotional.
~ UPDATED PAGES ON THE BLOG ~
Book Review ~ John: The Gospel of Wisdom by Michael Card
Music Review ~ The Art of McCartney – Various Artists
Favorite Quotes of the Week ~ 1.5.2015
• Try this New Year’s resolution: I won’t check my phone, my tablet, or my computer until I’ve first read a chapter in my Bible. Kevin DeYoung
• Have you no wish for others to be saved? Then you’re not saved yourself, be sure of that! Charles Spurgeon
• The “old man” dies hard. He doesn’t die easily. And the struggle goes on throughout life. R.C. Sproul
• Don’t panic, if you haven’t figured out 2015. Every moment is the beginning of the rest of your life. Begun is begun, no matter when. John Piper
• To say doctrine doesn’t matter, only how you live matters, is itself a doctrine. It’s the doctrine of salvation by works. Tim Kelller
• You cannot experience God without knowing who he is, what he has done, and who you are in relation to him. Michael Horton
• We can only grasp the gospel’s sweetness if we first grapple with its offense- you can’t save yourself. Tim Keller
• Make the most of your life instead of comparing it to everyone else’s. Lecrae
• Christianity loses its scriptural fidelity and internal power when it no longer affirms both sola fide and the necessity of obedience. Kevin DeYoung
• If Christ is not everything, He is nothing. He who has Christ has everything. Steven Lawson
• We do not need more conferences, and celebrities. We need more churches where the Spirit is immersing sinners into Christ day by day. Michael Horton
• Grace is not simply leniency when we have sinned. Grace is the enabling gift of God not to sin. Grace is power, not just pardon. John Piper
• It’s better to feel sorry for doing something bad than to feel superior for doing something good. Tullian Tchividjian
• We do not find success by trying to be successful or happiness by trying to be happy. Michael Horton
• We too often complicate that which God has made simple and too often try to simplify that which God has made mysterious. Burk Parsons
• A spiritual leader is one who knows the way, shows the way, and goes the way. Steven Lawson
• Prayer is the breath, the watchword, the comfort, the strength, the honor of a Christian. Charles Spurgeon
• The best way to guard our hearts isn’t to seal them off from the world but fill them up with grace. Scotty Smith
• I am throwing all my good works overboard, and lashing myself to the plank of free grace; for I hope to swim to glory on it. Charles Spurgeon
• We often think of prayer as a means to an end. Prayer is the goal. Francis Chan
• I fear that many don’t speak out and work against abortion because they think it’s not cool or not the “in thing” to be passionate about. Burk Parsons
• If you do not receive Christ as the Lamb who saves and delivers, you will face Him as the Lion who stalks and devours. Steven Lawson
• To discover the real you, look at what you spend time thinking about when no one is looking. Tim Keller
• It’s because Jesus spoke so frequently about hell that the church should take the concept seriously. R.C. Sproul
- Top Posts of 2014 on MISSION:WORK. One of my favorite sites for integrating faith and work.
- Top 10 Pain Points People Face at Work. Check out these pain points compiled from over 6,000 workers.
- What’s Your Dream for 2015? Check out this Tuesday Tip from Dr. Alan Zimmerman.
- Faith-infused Goals. What are your faith-infused goals for this year?
- Is Your Goal Challenging or Just Crazy? Here’s How to Tell the Difference. Michael Hyatt looks at three different zones when it comes to evaluating goals.
- Resources for the New Year. Here are a few resources from Matt Perman to help you get 2015 off to a great start.
- The Weird Side Effect of Going Through Our Toughest Times. On this week’s episode, Andy Andrews discusses the little-known benefit of the hard times in our lives—and how his greatest struggles led him to his most important realizations.
- Why is Work Important? Why do we work, anyway? Doug Barr of Goodwill Industries talks about work, faith, and self-esteem in this video.
- Two Ways to be an Ambassador of the Gospel at Work. Mikel Del Rosario writes “There are two ways our workplace can actually help us begin to break down barriers to spiritual conversations with the people we see the most. First, our work provides opportunities for building authentic relationships with our coworkers. Second, work also provides opportunities to love our neighbors through the ministry of our work.”
- Reflections from a Leader on His 75th Birthday. Enjoy these reflections from Dave Kraft.
- Google got it wrong. The Open-Office Trend is Destroying the Workplace. Lindsey Kauffman writes that Workplaces need more walls, not fewer.
- Yes, You Can Stay on Top of E-mail. Michael Hyatt provides four behaviors to be an email ninja
- Productivity: Redeeming Your Time. R.C. Sproul writes “I’ve come to realize that when the apostle Paul exhorted his readers to “[redeem] the time, because the days are evil” (Eph. 5:16), my practices are not exactly what he had in mind. His was a solemn call to the productive use of one’s time in the labor of Christ’s kingdom.
- John Maxwell on Production. Watch John Maxwell discuss production in this “Minute with Maxwell”.
- Eugene Peterson on Vocation. Here are four short videos from Eugene Peterson on vocation.
- Andy Stanley on Leadership and Change. In this video, Andy talks about how leaders cannot lead without intersecting with the need for change.
- God is at Work Through His People at Work. Al Erisman shares ways that the attendees at the recent Faith@Work Summit identified that God is at work through His people at work.