Flourishing in 2020

Not long after we moved into our present home Penny planted me a small olive tree. She told me that one day it would grow to be quite sizeable. This week I noticed some olives on the tree. Now, just like many people in the Bible, I have my own olive tree!

“But I am like an olive tree flourishing in the house of God;
I trust in God’s unfailing love for ever and ever.     
For what you have done I will always praise you in the presence of your faithful people.
And I will hope in your name,”

(Psalm 52:8–9 NIV11)

In our climate I’m not sure the olives will survive the winter. However, they are a visible symbol of the way in which I would like to flourish this year. How  will that come about? Just like psalmist wrote, it will happen if I am “in the house of God” spending time in his presence, learning to seek his face.

It’s the time of year for New Year’s resolutions. I’ve taken time out to think through 2019 and plan for 2020. I have a number of hopes, aspirations and a few goals. But only one really matters. It’s the one upon which all others depend. It’s to pray through the Beatitudes every day (Matthew 5:3-8).

It’s my hope that meditating on these inspiring and challenging scriptures will move me towards greater Christ-likeness as the year progresses.  Praying through the Beatitudes will bring me consistently into the “house of God”, will help me trust in “God’s unfailing love”, inspire me to praise him and persevere in hope.

Do you have an overarching goal or aspiration for 2020? Would you mind sharing it with me? If nothing else, we can then pray for each other.

Video podcasting scheduling update

As I reviewed last year and thought about the future, I realised I needed more margin in my life for study and reading. Consequently I have decided to halve the number of Teaching Tips episode and Sunday Sample episodes for 2020. For the foreseeable future they will be recorded and uploaded every other week. In other words, most months there will be two teaching tips instead of four and two Sunday samples instead of four.

I’m going to maintain weekly podcasts for “quiet time coaching”. In fact, for January and February it will be daily because I’m posting the daily devotional podcasts focused on the sermon on the Mount which are part of the teaching and preaching series for the Thames Valley churches of Christ.

On one level I’m disappointed to reduce the number of recordings, but on the other hand I believe it will improve the quality. I’ve spent a year or two learning how to be consistent, and now that lesson is absorbed, it’s time to raise the standard.

Prayer request

Please pray for Patricia (member of the Watford church), whose mother, Joy, died on New Year’s Eve. For myself, please pray that I am able to teach the Sermon on the Mount materials effectively. 

Thank you for reading this far, and encouraging me in my endeavours to support our times of quiet with God, our corporate worship experiences, and the effectiveness of our preaching and teaching. I hope my uploads this week will help you to flourish like an olive tree in the house of God.

If you know anyone who might enjoy these materials, please send them a link to my website and encourage them to sign up for this newsletter.

God bless, Malcolm