Happy New Year! As we bid farewell to 2023, and welcome in 2024 with all its newness, motivation, and opportunity, I am reaching out to you with a few (unrelated) items to start you off right in this new year. This is the year the LORD has made, and it is good. Let’s begin!
- Elections: We as Virginia Republicans are coming off a rough year electorally speaking. Between losing the House Majority and failing to gain the Senate, we are about to see some policies introduced that we don’t agree with. However, I want to encourage you in the face of this challenge with the words of Paul in the book of Romans: “For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. (Rom. 13:1 ESV, authors excerpt)”.While losing a majority (and by extension major control over the legislative agenda) is understandably a blow to us, I assure you that the very same God who has ruled the earth as rightful king over his creation since the Garden of Eden sits omnipotent on his throne today. The institutions and power of man rise and fall, but the Kingdom of God is forever! The Heidelberg Catechism states it well that our comfort in life and death is this: “…not a hair can fall from my head; indeed, that all things must work together for my salvation…” We as Christians are children of a God who cares for us so deeply that not one hair is left unaccounted for; how greatly must he care for our work in service for him!It is with this good news I tell you to keep working. God has blessed this nation with a system of Government not ruled by tyranny of majority, but by representative democracy! As those of you who will be working on/around the hill in Richmond make your treks to the halls of our government, I encourage you to keep fighting for what is right. Look for areas where you can work together with the new Majority, and advance the banner of our cause ever onward to a brighter Commonwealth!
- Value: You will find few stauncher opponents of the prosperity “gospel” than your chaplain here. I am not writing to you promising success of every bill, every business venture, and every election as if God were a cosmic vending machine serving the whims of our personal desires. However, I am writing you to remind you of the biblical truth that you dear reader, are valuable in a way we often forget. Much in the same vein as the above quote from the Heidelberg, I want to remind you that you are wonderfully and fearfully made in the image of God, the Imago Dei.This morning, I watched the sun rise over a frost-covered valley as the sun lit the sky with blazing orange, red, and pink in more hues than I could ever number. Underneath this artwork of a sky, I saw the few remnants of green grass the frost has yet to kill off for the winter and four whitetail deer grazing in the backyard. Every last piece of this masterpiece I beheld was created by God, but the greatest miracle of all was that in all those things I saw, only the man in the reflection of the window was made in the image of God. Of all the beauty, of all the symphony of birds, wind, and insects, the very God of Creation spent time to craft me, then save me, a sinner.I (and you, dear Christian) have been saved at great cost, and we are so valuable to God that he has chosen us as his portion forever. As you go into this new year, I encourage you to remember that God does not make junk, trash, or things that are broken beyond repair. You, dear reader, are valued. Valued at such a great cost that “he (God) gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life”. As you lead and work this year, keep this close to mind not just of your value, but of the value of others. Those you or your legislators have been elected to represent share the same value and should be treated as such. Legislate like you love them because Christ was willing to die for them.
- Resolutions: I’m a big fan of resolutions. Not in the sense of HR4856: Honoring Mr. Doe for some noble deed, but goals to set for yourself and hold yourself accountable to in the new year. I have a list of items to work on over the next year that I intend to print out and post at the foot of my bed as soon as I get my printer sorted out (turns out that a bachelor’s degree in IT and a career spent supporting enterprise environments is still no match for an HP inkjet printer).While I would encourage you to set a variety of goals to improve your mental and/or physical health, strengthen your finances, and even read more books, the one goal I suggest for everyone is to find time in your day to dedicate to God in prayer and reading of his word. There are approximately a million different bible reading plans out there, and I highly recommend the ones you can find here. The key point I want to emphasize to you is that to maintain a healthy relationship with God, you MUST spend time communicating with him in prayer and reading.To help you out, here is my current plan for January 1, 2024 (Yes, it’s aggressive, no, you do not need to do exactly what I do):
- First thing in the morning, before I check my phone, I begin my day with prayer. This is to thank God for the day, ask him for his guidance in understanding his word, and to ask for the blessings I will need to complete the work he has set out for me over the next 24 hours. (5-10 minutes)
- Read Genesis Chapters 1-3. This is from the Ligonier Bible in One Year plan you can find in the link above if you want to follow with me. (20-30 minutes)
- Read a section of Proverbs, and try to memorize a verse or two for the day. The goal isn’t long-term (at least on a day-to-day basis), but more to build over time. (2-3 Minutes)
- Read the section from my devotional for the day. I’m currently going through Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon. (~3-5 minutes)
- Close in prayer. I have a list of prayer needs from the men in my small group at church of the things that are pressing for them at this time that I work through, along with known needs from my role as Chaplain, or with family/friends. Since it is Monday, my weekly rotation sees me praying for my pastors, local police/fire/EMS, my elected representatives, and my church as an assembled body that day. (10-15 minutes)
As you can see, this is quite the time block, and you don’t need to set aside an hour plus for your time spent with God. One of the young guys I see often at my church spends only about 10 minutes at a time (shoutout the homie and his ADHD), but he is disciplined about it. If you want to talk 1:1 on this (or anything else), please don’t hesitate to reach out to me and I will make time for you.
- Involvement: I know this is likely a bit of a shock for me to cover since this goes out primarily to leaders already working in the party, but I want to encourage you over the next year to get involved in something new. My immediate suggestion is to tie into a local church body if you aren’t or plug into a small group/Sunday school class if you are already involved with a local church. The life of a leader and a Christian can often seem lonely, but life is easier when we go through it together. You can also tie into a workout class, professional society, or chamber of commerce.I have found the greatest achievements in my life to date were never accomplished alone. Find a group to invest your time and effort into and one that will invest in you. They may be the same or different groups for each purpose, but I promise you it will pay dividends over time.
- Guidance: The last item of advice for 2024 I will give you has to do with your day-to-day guidance. Unfortunately, I do not have the time to put out whatever you call these posts daily, and you very likely do not have time to read these every day either. I encourage you to take a few moments in the closing hours of the old or dawning hours of the new year to write down a few questions for yourself to guide your actions and decisions in the 365 days to come (366 if you count the leap day and when you are reading this, but that’s your call). These can be some simple guideposts to keep in mind whenever you face a decision. Make them broad, but relevant to what you find most important. For example, the first question I asked myself when deciding on anything of significance for the past year is this: does this decision help or harm my work to grow the Kingdom of God? If the answer is “harm”, I have my answer as this is my highest priority in life. If the answer is “help” or “I’m not sure”, proceed to questions 2, 3, etc. It has been my experience that this tool gives me a touchpoint for otherwise sticky situations that I would be more likely to mess up on my own, and allows me the time to think through what I am doing or saying instead of reacting in the moment.
I hope these bits of advice I have gleaned from experience or folks far wiser than I serve you well in the new year, and I pray you and your families will have a safe and blessed 2024. I thank God for his endless mercies, blessings, and grace upon an undeserving man such as me. Lastly, I thank him for his unchanging love for a world that did not deserve it.
May “the LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.” (Num 6:24-26, ESV)
In eternal and glorious victory through Christ Jesus,
P.S. I’ll be reaching out again about halfway through January regarding some cool things happening in my role as Chaplain. As always, my socials can be found here. If I can be of assistance to you in any way, please reach out.