1 Timothy 4:16 could be spread like a banner over my recollections of 2007: "Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in these things, for as you do this you will ensure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you" (NASB). In the Biblical Spirituality class I took this past summer, Dr. Don Whitney reminded us that failure in ministry is inevitable - unless we obey this instruction. One of the deepest sorrows of the year was the failure of a minister I knew - a sobering, real life illustration of what happens when one fails to pay close attention to one's life.
The year held several high points. My wife and I celebrated 4 years of marriage. Our third daughter was born. I completed the phase 1 training of the CAPS program, and was privileged to give a brief message before our keynote speaker at the graduation banquet. I was refreshed by the Power in the Pulpit conference in April. I began seminary, finishing three classes (Baptist History with Dr. Tom Nettles, Biblical Spirituality, and Biblical Hermeneutics with Dr. Rob Plummer). All were excellent, but the Biblical Spirituality class helped me examine my own heart and deepen my relationship with Christ.
It was a good year for reading. I read (or, in the case of #'s 3 and 6, started) several books that were particularly thought-shaping for me. Here are my "top ten":
1. Haggai (OT) - Persevering in our priorities was the message I gathered from it. Worship is the priority, and we must keep looking to God our hope to continue.
2. Revelation (NT) - The focus on worship is amazing, and regardless of one's view on the timing of events, surely we can agree on this (although I've not heard it emphasized much in my life). Worthy is the Lamb who was slain - and He is seen being worshiped. God pours out His judgment - and He is worshiped.
3. Why 27? How Can We Be Sure We Have the Right Books in the New Testament? by Brian Edwards - great for canon of Scripture
4. The Expository Genius of John Calvin by Steve Lawson - excellent book on preaching
5. Give Praise to God (ed. Ryken, Duncan, Thomas) - great book on worship
6. The Faithful Preacher by Thabiti Anyabwile - good church history/biography and penetrating sermons
7. The Gospel and Personal Evangelism by Mark Dever - leaves us with no excuse to not evangelize and with many practical encouragements of how to share the Gospel
8. How to Worship Jesus Christ by Joseph Carroll - excellent look at Revelation 4 and 5 included in this book that leads us to worship; short, simple, easy to read; you will have done yourself a favor if you read this
9. Jesus' Blood and Righteousness by Brian Vickers - great defense of imputation of Christ's righteousness
10. Getting the Message by Dan Doriani - best single book on hermeneutics I've seen; simple, but one would need to learn more about genres and the big picture of the Bible than this book presents, but it's a great place to start! Thanks to Dr. Brian Vickers at SBTS for recommending this.
I read several blogs this past year, but the following five were ones I probably learned the most from, and/or plan to visit regularly in the future:
1. Fearing God in a Hebel World (Detroit Seminary OT Prof. - Dr. Bob McCabe's blog)
2. Pure Church (Thabiti Anyabwile's blog - good practical ecclesiology)
3. Reforming My Mind (links to .mp3 files on the web, categorized by speaker)
4. TheoSource (book lists, book recommendations and reviews, author biographies)
5. Tony Kummer began the Said at Southern metablog. In addition its own front page and podcasts, it has links to other seminary bloggers and a "well said" section that highlights particularly notable posts.
This was the year that I began blogging with some regularity. Some of the more useful posts (in my opinion) were:
1. Selling Books in the Church by guest-blogger and friend, J. A. Ingold, was a six-part series about starting and maintaining a church book ministry.
2. I shared what I learned from Dr. Don Whitney about "Praying Through Scripture"
3. "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" - a review of the Weekender at Capitol Hill Baptist Church
4. I wrote about 5 ways pulpit plagiarism steals from pastors and churches.
5. The Danger of Getting Bored with the Gospel was my contribution to the 2007 Reformation Day Symposium hosted by Tim Challies (includes links to more Reformation Resources).
6. Three Ways God Spreads the Good News - a summary of a sermon from Acts 16
7. I wrote about why I am Thankful for My Local Church.
8. I posted a bibliography (with weblinks) of Resources for Study on the Canon of Scripture.
9. Dr. Sam Storms gave me permission to post his series on "Those Troubling Psalms of Imprecation"
10. In addition, I had the privilege to review several books.
I hope you had a profitable 2007 as well. May God bless us in 2008 with a deeper knowledge of Him and more fervent love for Him. Amen and Happy New Year!