On Tuesday night this past week we rang in the New Year.  Many gathered together with friends and family to celebrate the past year as well as the year that is to come.  With that in mind, I thought I would talk a little bit about this past year here in Grinnell as well as what is coming up in the year ahead. 
This past year we held two gospel meetings.  We had brothers Jeff Hamilton and Matt Allen speak to us this year.  Between the two gospel meetings we had more than 40 visitors.  Of these visitors many come from our own communities.  I saw your family, neighbors, friends, etc visiting during the course of the week listening to the gospel message being presented.  I have been parts of churches that wouldn’t see 40 visitors in 3 years, let alone seeing 40 visitors in just two weeks of the year. 
This past year we also had a special ladies day out speaker come up from Georgia to speak to the women of the congregation.  I personally think this was a wonderful work to start here in our congregation.  Since this past July the ladies have tried to gather at least once  a month into one another’s homes.  This has created a closeness that is desperately needed among God’s people today.  What thrills me even more is that these are not just social get togethers.  They are talking about spiritual things, their families, who they are rather than talking about the last piece of gossip around town.
This past year my family celebrated our 4th year here in Grinnell.  It is difficult to imagine that 4 years ago we moved here.  It is not that I expected to move shortly after arriving, but after two works that didn’t end well I was not overly optimistic about how harmoniously we could work and live together.  (I was very very wrong).  Dawn and I have been here longer than we have been anywhere else, and believe it or not, in just a few month we will have been here longer than we were in our previous two works combined. 
The men have also mad some headway in their works this past year.  They have felt that it was possible to raise my salary.  I know that this was always the intent after I moved here, but it was encouraging to see that actually being accomplished.  Furthermore, the men have began setting forth some spiritual goals we hope to see accomplished over the course of the next year.  The one that was most important to me was the aim to increase our evangelistic efforts in our surrounding communities.
All in all, I would say that it was a rather productive year.  The year ahead can provide just as many wonderful opportunities.
We have two gospel meetings scheduled again this year (as we normally do).  We need to make an effort to make these meetings even more successful than they have been in this past year.  I have confidence in you that it can be done.  In order for us to better our numbers this year we need to begin working several months before hand.  It means that we need to be talking up our faith often and regularly.  Others ought to see in us that our faith is the center cog of our lives.  How can you do this?  By weaving Christ into your life.  If someone asks you how your day, week, etc was explain to them the different ways in which God has blessed you this week.  If you are talking to a co-worker, a classmate, a customer of a family member that is having a particularly rough patch, ask if they would mind if you prayed for them.  If the situation is right, don’t just tell them you will pray for them, pray for them on the spot.  The more people see God in your lives and how he was changed you and made your life more full (John 10:10) the more likely they will want to be a part of it as well.
There are 12 months this year.  For the ladies that is 12 more month of “Ladies Days Outs.”  For those who will be here I suggest you make the most of these opportunities.  No, they are not “required” attendance.  However, any time you can be with fellow saints is time well spent.
If you haven’t started already, you can try to read your bible in a year.  If you get started today you are only 5 days behind.  That is not so far behind that you cannot catch up.  I would encourage you to be reading daily from God’s word.  Let God talk to you so that you know what his perfect will is.  AND if you make it to the next 10 weeks of bible classes on Wednesday night you will learn how to better study your bible.  That way, it no longer is just a story or novel but a story with a spiritual lesson to learn and apply to your own life.
By the end of this year we will have had 5 years together.  That is ½ a decade and rather remarkable when you consider that the average time a preacher remains in one location is 2-3 years.  But, to make it another five years both of us have to keep working.

Grinnell church of Christ
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Bringing in the New Year

The Light
Volume 5 Issue 5