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New Year, Same Christ

Happy New Year!

One of the things I always get a kick out of on this day is how every year, without fail, someone will mistake me and this website as somehow being connected to (if not responsible for) the Lutheran Float at the annual Tournament of Roses Parade held in California!





One of the things not so funny about this day is how it is pregnant with both possibilities and regrets. I mean, who likes to be burdened with the past while trying to be hopeful about the future? Ah, but that's precisely where faith comes in!

Once you view this as the natural tension between Law and Gospel, between sin and grace, with Jesus serving as "the founder and perfecter of our faith" (Hebrews 12:2), then it's a whole different story.


 
"It is on account of Your mercy alone, O Lord, that I am not consumed, because Your compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. Abide with me, O God, throughout the coming year. Be my guide in all my perplexities, my strength in my weakness, my ever-ready help in all my troubles. Forgive me all my sins. O Sabaoth Lord, look down from heaven and in grace behold and visit Your holy Church, which You have chosen for Your own. Preserve for us Your saving Word and Sacraments, that Your vine may send out its boughs from sea to sea and its branches to the uttermost parts of the earth. Look graciously upon our nation and all the nations of the world, and bless them with peace. Grant to all that are in authority wisdom and courage to rule in such a way that we may lead a quiet and peaceful life in all godliness and honesty. To You, almighty Creator and gracious God, I commit this nation, my church, my family and loved ones, and myself. Abide with me. With Your grace and mercy preserve me whole -- soul and body -- blameless to the coming of my Lord Jesus Christ. Amen." 
-- Lutheran Book of Prayer ("A Prayer For New Year's Day")


Yes, it may be the start of a New Year, our resolutions may have changed from what they were 12 months ago, but "what has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun" (Ecclesiastes 1:9), and we can take comfort in the truth that "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever" (Hebrews 13:8), and "the Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance" (2 Peter 3:9), so "repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself." (Acts 2:38-39).

If you take nothing else away from this entry today, then I hope it's all of that. However, if you are hungry for more, then please know that I've written a New Year's Day post like this several times in the past for myself, and each one with slightly different content...


The Only New Year's Resolution That Matters For Christians 
The Law-Gospel-Law Nature of New Year's Resolutions (And Why You Should Resolve To Do Away With Them) 
Same Old Truths For A Whole New Year


I'm always looking for more wisdom and truth though, especially on a day like today when we are all filled with excitement and hope (maybe trepidation and uncertainty too) about what this new year will have in store for us (which is odd, because only God knows, of course).

Thankfully, I found this EXCELLENT 14-minute prayer and sermon by C.F.W. Walther that was originally delivered in the 1800s and was now shared by Pastor Christopher Jackson...


AUDIO: C.F.W. Walther's Sermon for New Year's Day


Wasn't that fantastic? Profound truths simply stated.

By the way, and before I forget, with the start of a New Year, many people will take this opportunity to begin some sort of a "Read The Bible In 1 Year" type of program.

Here's a good tip: A simple way to study the Bible is to "COMB" the words you read where you prayerfully consider that C=Context, O=Other Related Scriptures, M=Meaning of Words, and B=Background.

Seasons change, years come and go, and I've broken more New Year's Resolutions than I can count! Thanks be to God that His Son, Jesus Christ, is still the Lord and Savior of all mankind Who we can ALWAYS rely on since He never changes.

In addition, as I pointed out last year, the only New Year's Resolution that matters for Christians is for us to simply remember our Baptism, and remind ourselves that we belong to God, as we live a life of daily repentance throughout the year. Why is that important for each and every one of us?


Should the Christian stand all day long at the grave of all joys which he enjoyed in past years? Through Holy Baptism a great stream of joy has been conducted in his heart, which does not drain away, but streams forward with his life until its waves carry him into the sea of blessed eternity. Should the Christian be reminded all day long that the flowers of his youth fall more and more? He stands planted by God in the water of his Baptism as a palm tree which becomes greener and greener and whose leaves never whither. Yes, his Baptism makes death for him like a short winter's nap, out of which an eternal spring -- and eternal youth -- follows. For Baptism is a bath that washed me not only once when I received it -- washed me pure with Christ's blood -- but it continuously washes me clean even daily for as long as I hold it in faith. 
-- C.F.W. Walther


In a Lutheran layman's terms, it may be a New Year, but it's the same Christ, Who offers us the same promises, and Who remains our Lord and Savior 365 days a year 24/7.



NOTE: Please understand that I'm not a called and ordained minister of God's Word and Sacraments. I'm a layman or just your average everyday Christian, Corporate Recruiter, Husband, Father, Friend who lives in the "City of Good Neighbors" here on the East Coast. As another Christian Blogger once wrote, "Please do not see this blog as me attempting to 'publicly teach' the faith, but view it as an informal Public Journal of sorts about my own experiences and journey, and if any of my notes here help you in any way at all, then I say, 'Praise the Lord!' but please do double check them against the Word of God and with your own Pastor." To be more specific, and relevant to the point I want to make with this disclaimer/note, please understand that I'm a relatively new convert to "Confessional Lutheranism" and one who recently escaped an American-Evangelical-Non-Denominational mindset a little more than 6 years ago now despite being a Christian my whole life. That being said, please contact me ASAP if you believe that any of my "old beliefs" seem to have crept their way back into any of the material you see published here, and especially if any of the content is inconsistent with the Bible, our Confessions, and Lutheran doctrine in general (in other words, if it's not consistent with God's Word, which our Confessions merely summarize and repeatedly point us back to over and over again) so that I can not only correct those errors immediately and not lead any of His little ones astray (James 3:1), but repent of my sin and learn the whole truth myself. With that in mind, please be aware that you might also discover that some of the earlier/older pieces I wrote for this blog back in 2013 definitely fall into that "Old Evangelical Adam" category (and they don't have a disclaimer like this) since I was a "Lutheran-In-Name-Only" at the time and was completely oblivious to the fact that a Christian "Book of Concord" even existed (Small/Large Catechism? What's that!?!). This knowledge of the Lutheran basics was completely foreign to me even though I was baptized, confirmed, and married in an LCMS church! So, there are some entries that are a little "out there" so-to-speak since the subject matter was also heavily influenced by those old beliefs of mine. I know that now and I'm still learning. Anyway, I decided to leave those published posts up on this website and in cyberspace only because they are not blasphemous/heretical, because I now have this disclaimer, and only to demonstrate the continuing work of Christ and the Holy Spirit in my life (Hebrews 12:2; Philippians 1:6). Most importantly, please know that any time I engage in commenting on and/or interpreting a specific portion of the holy Scriptures, it will always closely follow the verse-by-verse footnotes from my Lutheran Study Bible and/or include references to the Book of Concord unless otherwise noted. Typically, I will defer to what other Lutheran Pastors both past and present have already preached and taught about such passages since they are the called and ordained under-shepherds of our souls here on earth. Finally, I'm going to apologize ahead of time for the length of most entries (this disclaimer/note is a perfect example of what I mean! haha). I'm well aware that blogs should be short, sweet, and to the point, but I've never been one to follow the rules when it comes to writing. Besides, this website is more like a "Christian Dude's Diary" in the sense that everything I write about and share publicly isn't always what's "popular" or "#trending" at the time, but is instead all the things that I'm studying myself at the moment. For better or for worse, these posts tend to be much longer than most blog entries you'll find elsewhere only because I try to pack as much info as possible into a single piece so that I can refer to it again and again over time if I need to (and so that it can be a valuable resource for others -- if possible, a "One-Stop-Shop" of sorts). Thank you for stopping by and thank you in advance for your time, help, and understanding. Feel free to comment/email me at any time. Grace and peace to you and yours!

About JKR

Christian. Husband. Father. Friend.

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Thank you for visiting A Lutheran Layman! Please feel free to leave a comment or a question since we do not exercise censorship. We've seen a similar policy with other blogs and it's worth repeating: Please act as if you're a guest in my home, and we'll get along just fine. I think anyone would agree that the kind of back-and-forth that is characteristic of blogs/chat forums and social media is becoming tiresome for all of us. Still, we should confess, edify, and love (and contend and defend when needed). Bottom line? Search the Scriptures! Apply Acts 17:11 to anything and everything you find here and, if you do happen to disagree with something you find here (which is certainly ok), or think I'm "irresponsible" and "wrong" for writing it, then please refute my position by supporting yours with Scripture and/or the Confessions. I don't think that's an unreasonable request, especially for those who identify themselves as "Christians" here, right? Besides, Proverbs 27:17 tells us "Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another" and 2 Timothy 3:16 says, "all Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness." If you have an opinion that's great, I welcome it, but try to support it using God's Word. I mean, if the goal here is to help us all arrive at the truth of God's Word (myself included), then it should be easy to follow through on this one simple request (I'm talking to all you "Anonymous" visitors out there). Grace and peace to you and yours!

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