This week’s Newberry Notes features the Rev. Ryan Streett, pastor of Newberry’s Trinity Anglican Church, who will discuss how to have a happy New Year with Jesus.
What comes to your mind when you think about a new year?
There are a lot of New Year’s resolutions going around like getting healthy, learning something new, spending more time with family, etc. and these are all good things to do. Sometimes these resolutions are kept, sometimes not.
But what comes to my mind when New Year’s rolls around is how can I have a closer walk with Jesus Christ this year. I want to know him better this year than I did in the last. I want to grow in my love and faithfulness to Him and His written word. I believe we can have a closer walk with Jesus and grow in our love and faithfulness to Him and His written word.
There are three basic ways to grow in a closer walk with Jesus, and these three lay the foundation for all the other Christian disciplines. They are Scripture, prayer, and church fellowship.
I believe that in developing a deeper, more honest relationship with Christ, we also must develop a new relationship with His written word and place ourselves underneath its ultimate authority as John 14:15 says, “If you love me, you will obey my commandments.”
The only way to know his commandments and so obey them is through studying His written word. We must not be fearful to stand upon the Word of God even if those around us are frowning on us for doing so.
If the whole society smiled on us while we knew God was frowning on us, we shouldn’t be happy. But if God smiled on us while the whole society frowned on us, we shouldn’t be unhappy.
We mustn’t be man pleasers to save face. So God’s written Word is instrumental in growing a more genuine relationship with Jesus, and in our degenerating culture, the Bible is imperative to keep an honest relationship with Jesus.
Developing our prayer life is another action to growing in Christ in which there is no substitute. But we must pray honestly and to pray honestly we need the Scripture to infuse our prayer life.
Praying is difficult, because all of hell doesn’t want you praying to Christ. When Christ hears your prayer, he acts. He sends heaven to enter the battle and battles are won in prayer. Prayer is taking your trust away from the arm of the flesh and putting it in the arm of the Spirit.
The devils will do everything they can to keep you from taking back lives, places, and nations from underneath their control through your prayer to the one who can deploy any number of warrior angels to do His bidding.
The third way we can grow in Christ is by joining in public worship each Sunday. Find yourself a strong Biblically Orthodox church home, and plant yourself there so that you can grow.
How have you seen God answer prayer in your own life?
I’m involved in a mission agency that plants Biblical churches and builds orphanages and schools among tribal peoples in unreached regions, and so most recently I’ve been praying over the last several months that God would move the heart of someone who could do it, to give a large sum of money for one particular project in India.
The construction of an orphanage and school has been ongoing over the last year and a half but has just come to a standstill. I was over there this past August-September and was able to see the progress that has been made, but the finances for that project had dried up and the contractors and workers had packed up all their equipment and left the property.
Money goes a lot further in India than it does here, so I’ve been praying and had others praying with me for enough to get the contractors back, so that the construction could be continued. Just last week I was given a call and told that an anonymous giver had just donated $21,000 to the construction of our orphanage.
What about the attacks by ISIS and Al-Qaida over the last several years?
Any form of terrorisms has a particular goal, and that goal is to strike fear into the hearts of the masses. As soon as you are given to fear and become paralyzed by that fear, then terrorism has achieved its goal. The opposite of fear is trust in God. We’re told in 1 Peter 4:19 to “let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful creator while doing good.”
We Christians are repeatedly, throughout Scripture, called to entrust our souls to God alone; not governments, not politics, not armies whether friend or foe, and not those who seek to do us harm that may even live around us.
“Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you,” Jesus said in Matthew 5:44.
Fear often breeds anger and anger gives way to hate and hate makes it very difficult for us to love our enemies and pray for those who seek to do us harm. This hinders one of the Church’s essential reasons for existing, to evangelize the world.
God’s ultimate purpose for the world is that the world become the Church, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” So my advice would be to go on living, entrusting your soul to Christ, without fear, anger, or hate in your heart. This all reminds me of a passage from an essay by the great 20th century Anglican writer, C.S. Lewis.
During the time of World War II when there were frequent bombings happening in England and everyone was on edge as to if and when a bomb would fall on the heads of their family, Lewis writes in his essay, On Living in an Atomic Age: “If we are going to be destroyed by an atomic bomb, let that bomb when it comes find us doing sensible and human things — praying, working, teaching, reading, listening to music, bathing the children, playing tennis, chatting to our friends over a pint and a game of darts — not huddled together like frightened sheep and thinking about bombs.”
I concur with Lewis and think his advice speaks volumes into our current plight of terrorism, as well.
What advice to newly married couples this year?
What comes to mind right off the bat is what my wife might say, which is have your own bathrooms as soon as you can! But really, I would tell them you’re beginning to lay a foundation for your marriage. Why did you marry this person? Was it for your own self-satisfaction, or was it also for theirs and to glorify God? Was it for your sake or for the sake of the Kingdom of God?
Ephesians 5:32 tells us that marriage was a mystery and Paul reveals the mystery as referring to Christ and His church. The marriage of Christ and His church will ultimately be the end of earthly marriage. Your marriage is meant to point to this great reality.
So it boils down to this: every marriage is either telling the truth about Christ and the Church or it’s telling lies about Christ and the Church. So I would want to take an inventory from the beginning of the year as to how your marriage can tell the truth about Christ and His church, and not lies.
What about those nearing the end of their life?
I would tell them, “You are almost there!” You can almost say with Paul to his young disciple in 2 Timothy 4:6-8 “For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all ‘who have loved his appearing.’”
But you must hold on, you must endure for a little while longer, only God knows the exact time you will see His face, so keep your eyes fixed “on Jesus the author and perfecta of your faith.” Also, stay productive. You are still in his service on this earth until you draw your final breath. Look for ways you can continue to serve Him.
Margaret Brackett is from Newberry. Her columns appear weekly in The Newberry Observer.