Challenging believers in Jesus to think and act based on Bible truth.

Eleven for 2011

I can’t say I’m sad to see this year go.  It’s been tough, although there have been incredibly good things going too.  Here are 11 memories that will shape me from this calendar year.  In no particular order:

1.  Knowing Julie better

I can honestly say I know my wife better as 2012 dawns than I did a year ago.  We have had some groundbreaking conversations about our lives, ministries, communication styles, and approaches to every day life that have opened up the doors of depth to our marriage.  And our marriage is richer for it.  Praise God!

2.  Great summer family vacation

We had a great summer vacation in June.  We spent several days at my mom’s house and with my brother and his family.  We spent several days together as a family and spent time with Julie’s family as well.  There were lots of good meals, lots of outings and adventures, and lots of extra sleep.  It truly was a great 8 days to spend with our family.

3.  Half marathon Indianapolis

This is one of the highlights of my post college athletic pursuits.  Through a very difficult winter I stayed the course through my training (with motivation from Josh Miller) and posted a personal best half marathon of 1 hour, 27 minutes and change (a 6:40 pace per mile).  I placed around 400th out of 30,000 finishers.  This is a great sense of personal accomplishment for which I give God praise.

4.  Three grand slams

On August 25 (after failing yet again to qualify for the Boston Marathon), I was witness to baseball history (with Craig Fullerton).  We were there for the game when the Yankees hit three grand slams.  How amazing!  I am a baseball fan and enjoyed it for its historical value.  But to have it be my team was amazing!  What an awesome day.  I’ll remember that for as long as I live.

5.  New Christians and new members

I hope this is on my list every year.  We have seen people come to Jesus this year and we’ve had new people join our church.  I praise God for His work in our church’s ministries.  It’s truly a highlight to look back and see the way God has used us to be an encouragement to others.

6.  College football scandal

I will remember 2011 for its college football scandals.  The events at Ohio St. paled in comparison to those at Penn St., but both were memorable and brought long periods of stability to an end at both schools.  I pray for everyone involved at Penn St. and my stomach turns with horror at the kinds of things being alleged.

7.  Growth of our kids

It has been outstanding to see our children grow and develop.  David started kindergarten and Lexi started 3rd grade this year.  I love seeing their development and how they’re learning both spiritually and academically.  Our foster daughter is doing awesome as well.  We’ve had her in our care for all of 2011 and 2012 will likely determine whether we’ll adopt her or not.

8.  Death of Jim Bacher

Our church lost a dear friend and a great man.  Jim was a 78 year old man who befriended me earlier in my tenure at Goss Memorial Church as youth director (he would have been in his late 60’s then).  I looked up to him and learned so much from his passion for missions and his influence in so many people’s lives.  I miss him very much – he was an incredibly loving Christian man.

9.  Celebrations 

We’ve had the joy to be a part of several weddings in 2011.  Also, several people we know have added to their families through new births.  Praise God – and for each of you newly married or parenting new borns, we pray for you and wish God’s grace upon your lives!

10.  Red 

I went to see my favorite band Red three times this year.  I saw them at the WinterJam event in Cleveland in January, I took a one day trip to Houston to see them in May (and met them on their tour bus during this trip!!), and went with my friend Andy Flaker to see them again in June in Fort Wayne.  I am not at all tired of their music.  I don’t think I’ll see them three times in 2012, but hey, that’s why it makes 2011 memorable!

11.  Major catastrophes and tragedies.

There was the Tsunami in Japan, flooding in the U.S., a huge tornado that struck Joplin (and others that struck Alabama), and even major flooding that hit right here in Akron as something like 4-6″ of rain fell in the span of a few hours.  In our area there was also a mass shooting involving a family that left 7 people dead and many lives shattered.  Lots and lots of tragedy and heartbreak will leave its mark as 2011 exits.

Top Five Posts from 2011

Here are the top five posts from 2011 from my blog (beginning with the one that drew the most reads).  These don’t include Monday links and bullets posts.

1. I praise God I wasn’t seriously injured.

2. My dad died five years ago – what that event means for me today.

3. A sin we don’t think much about.

4. Is sexual abuse wrong? Gray lines of culture.

5. Where was this album when I was in high school?

Monday Links 12.26.11: Top 10 Links of 2011

Here are the top ten articles I linked to from my blog in the past 12 months, beginning at number 1 (most clicked). The only comment I will make is I’m glad these articles are mostly challenging. Don’t shy away from the tough stuff!

1. AIG kicked out of homeschool conferences (scroll down for original article)

2. A difficult post to read, but it gives perspective. This is a mom writing a goodbye to her daughter.

3. Incredible photos.

4. Surprising abortion statistic.

5. Motherhood is a calling. This post tells it like it is, from a mother’s perspective. Good for fathers to read too.

6. The gruesome reality of child sacrifice.

7. My personal favorite article of 2011. This guy lives courageously for Christ.

8. Some good commentary on the people involved in the occupy movement.

9. Seven reasons Halloween judgment houses miss the mark.

10. Incrementally introducing your children to the world. An article that will make parents think, even if they agree, disagree, or somewhere in between.

Friday Link Highlight 12.23.11 – Tips for Dads at Christmas

Here is this week’s highest clicked link:

Christmas tips for dads.

A few thoughts.

1.  Why dads?

Because I, like the author, believe men have a distinct ability to lead their families.  When dads are present (especially around holiday times), families are strengthened in special ways.  Scripturally, men are identified as leaders, so it’s no surprise that a dad leading his family in Christmas worship and tradition making would be a strengthener.

2. I am terrible at this!

Sure we have a few things we like to do, but I feel like I read this article too late this year.  We have spent some meaningful time together this year and always plan some special fun for Christmas day, but I think in future years I will consider trying to establish a good tradition or two we’ll especially remember.

3. This year has been hard.

There have been a lot of extra things going on through church work and other situations that have drained me and sapped me.  I’ve found it difficult to take care of myself, let alone find the resource to minister to my wife and kids.  But alas, we try, we press on, and we love our best because we were loved by Jesus.  I am extremely grateful to have the opportunity these next couple days to minister hope from God’s Word to our church family.  It’s my goal that my immediate family will be blessed by a dad who has resource for them too!

Have a great Christmas everyone!

 

On My Mind #13 – Three Things You’ll Do If You Love Someone

This has been on my mind.  I don’t desire shallow relationships.  I genuinely want to know how to best work with and pray for people.  In that light, here are three things you’ll do if you love people.

1.  Tell the truth, both good and bad.

This sounds sort of common sense, but it rarely happens.  When was the last time you told someone they really did something great or were really good at something.  The Bible tells us to encourage each other (daily!), so why wouldn’t we be intentional to encourage those around us.  And certainly, it calls us to tell the truth in difficult circumstances.  When was the last time we were plain honest about a scheduling conflict rather than trying to get out of it, or when was the last time we had constructive conversations about our flaws (mutual conversations are best for this). Of course, we are to speak the truth in love, and this can require some balance, but I really believe if you love people you’ll tell the truth both in good and bad.

2. Commit time.

If you really love people, I believe you will commit time to them.  Time is an incredibly valuable resource, and those who feel loved by you should know your presence.  Money, words, gifts–these can all help show love.  But time is a key element people need.  Your presence (however small) really can communicate that you love them.  The more important the relationship is, the more time you should spend.

3. Sacrifice.

This may be somewhat related to committing time, as surely that is a sacrifice.  But here are a few other examples of sacrifice. Maybe someone needs you to watch their kids for a night off because they’ve had a horrible stretch of time.  Maybe a friend had a surgery and you need to contribute some house chores or a grocery gift card.  You may also be called to sacrifice bitterness or anger (this can come through forgiveness and openness).  You may benefit from sacrificing bringing up the past all the time and helping someone look forward.

As you hang out with those you “love” this Christmas season, will the really know you love them?  Or, will it be another stop on the journey to fakeville?

Have a great Thursday!