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

The Top 11 Life Events of 2014

2014

Wow – this was a banner year. We experienced a lot as a family. I experienced a lot as an individual.

In no particular order . . .

1. Australia.

We began 2014 in Australia. It’s a trip that will hold dear places in our memories for the rest of our lives. Words cannot describe how much of a blessing this trip was – in every way.

2. Our daughter’s hospital stay.

This stretch of time challenged us as individuals and as a family. No clear diagnosis, lots of ups and downs with her breathing, and many days of split duties between home/hospital really increased our faith.

3. Trip to the Creation Museum.

You might think I’m stretching to add to the list. This was actually the same weekend our daughter’s hospital stay began. However, we had long desired to go see the Creation Museum. I WILL remember the tour and the grounds.

4. The Grand Canyon for our 15th wedding anniversary.

I have always wanted to see the Grand Canyon. The helicopter ride to the bottom of the Canyon and the boat ride on the Colorado River will remain etched in our memories as long as we have memories. What a great way to celebrate God’s faithfulness to us over fifteen years of marriage.

5. Philadelphia family missions trip.

We love Frank and Elizabeth Varaso. We love Jesus. We loved going to serve in Philly over a long weekend in July. Praise God for His faithfulness! What great family memories, serving Jesus together.

6. Derek Jeter retired.

The Captain’s final season isn’t worth remembering, but his final game was. I called the last hit before it happened!

7. God blessed the Nuzzo family.

I am amazed at God’s work on behalf of Steve and Maria Nuzzo, and daughter Harper. Harper was born with a lot of physical difficulty and the situation seemed desperately dire at times. God answered prayer and Harper today is happy and healthy. Every time I see her picture on Facebook I praise God.

8. Adam Depasquale’s visit to Akron.

Adam is a pastor in the Newtown, CT area. God has merged our lives in meaningful ways over the past couple years. Many lives were blessed by Adam’s visit to Akron. He was a messenger of comfort, peace, and courageous leadership.

9. New friends.

I have new friends at the end of 2014 that I didn’t have at the beginning. I NEVER would have guessed God would have worked in the ways He has. How fun!

10. Project Shine 2014.

Project Shine 2014 shaped my soul and increased my faith in Jesus Christ. It was amazing to watch Him work in so many meaningful ways as we labored for Him this past June.

11. God moving.

I could write a short ebook about how God moved in my life in 2014. My faith runs much deeper at the end of this year than it did at the beginning. God has worked in helping me overcome sin. He has worked in helping others overcome sin. God has spoken things directly into my life with the gripping sense of His presence – on multiple occasions throughout this year. I have no doubt that God is calling me to greater faith and leadership in the future. The year ended with one of the most powerful times of God’s presence I have experienced in years. If at the end of my life I am looking back at landmark years, 2014 will no doubt make the short list.

2014 Top Five ARTICLES I WROTE.

Yesterday it was time for the top five articles linked from my blog in 2014.

Now, a brief journey down memory lane to the (in order) top five articles I wrote this year.

1. Responding to the Ernest Angley scandal.

This story spurred a lot of talk in NE Ohio. As it broke I fired off a few thoughts. By far this was the most read article I wrote this year.

2. When a creationist debates an evolutionist, it matters what we think.

Ramping up to the big Ken Ham vs. Bill Nye debate last February, I put together a few thoughts about approaching the debate.

3. Think and Act 5.22.14 – Lessons Learned from Being Punched in the Face

Yes, I was punched in the face. Yes, I learned. These were my reflections.

4. Our daughter’s five day hospital stay.

In August our daughter’s health gave us quite the scare. We learned a lot during that time. It’s always good to reflect back on how difficult situations can change us for the better.

5. Why Project Shine 2014 was life altering.

Project Shine is an amazing week of ministry every year in our local community. You can read more here: www.projectshineakron.org. This year’s project week was particularly life changing. The rest of the year has kept pace as well. God is real!

2014 Top Five LINKED Articles.

One of the parts of blogging I enjoy most entails reading articles to share with others. Sometimes the articles I’m most passionate about don’t garner a whisper of interest from readers. On the other hand, some articles TOTALLY surprise (can you say CHRISTMAS CARDS, anyone?) as seen in reader involvement and reaction.

It’s always fascinating for me to look back and see which articles gained the most traction on my blog over the past year. Maybe it tells me something about readers. Maybe I should avoid reading too much into it.

For neither better nor worse, here are this year’s top five clicked articles from my blog. These are in order of number of clicks from my site.

1. Seven ways to hurt your pastor – by Thom Rainer. I really respect Thom Rainer and his love for Christ and the local church. I hope my readers weren’t looking for ammunition!

2. Six deadly enemies of marriage – by Tim Challies. This article from January started the year off with a great challenge for marriage. And, I hope, a great help too! Tim’s blog remains one of the most influential within greater Christianity today.

3. Twelve questions to ask before you watch “Game of Thrones” – by Tony Reinke. I love the variety of content and authors on the Desiring God site. This article is worth another read at the end of the year. What a great challenge!

4. The problem with Christmas cards – by Amy Julia Becker. I NEVER thought this one would have had the potential for this much traction. A good challenge nonetheless.

5. I love Jesus too much to call myself a Gay Christian – by Matt Moore. If you haven’t read this yet, please do! It will really cause you to think about the use of the term in the title.

There you have it. Favorites? Most challenging? Why?

 

 

Friday Feature 12.26.14 – The Controversial Christmas Card

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Who would have thought Christmas cards – yes, Christmas cards! – would have stirred up controversy? All this during the week of Christmas, no less! Well I’m half kidding. But it was an interesting exchange and certainly a thought provoking article. Hence, Friday’s Feature. Read it for yourself. Then, see a few of my thoughts.

The problem with Christmas Cards (Amy Julia Becker)

A few thoughts:

1. Christmas cards CAN be good. 

As with almost anything in life, potential for both good and bad exists. As one reader pointed out in the Facebook comments of this post, Christmas cards can make “a real treasure” for those receiving them.

So let’s get that out of the way. I read and re-read the article and I just can’t find that the article is against the practice.

2. How we portray ourselves can always be misinterpreted.

We can always send the wrong message. Why wouldn’t that be true when we post a picture and then leave hundreds of “friends” or “followers” to draw their own conclusions?

3. Some of the responsibility is ours.

Is “looking good” our chief goal behind the use of social media? Only our hearts will tell that story. But the story our hearts tell should bring pause. As believers, I think we DO have a responsibility to portray ourselves, both publicly and privately, in a way that helps people see our reliance on grace.

Sending a Christmas card photo doesn’t exactly signal “backslidden believer!” to the world. But relying on those cards for “likes” and affirmation just might reveal deeper issues in the soul.

Think. Your chief goal for sending or sharing pictures is . . .

Act. Do something to reveal your reliance on God’s grace.

 

Photo credit: www.melissatoler.com

Tuesday Rambling 12.23.14 – I Wish Christmas Was Different

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Sometimes I wish Christmas was different:

  • I wish people knew that gifts were brought to God. For worship.
  • I wish the economy didn’t depend on an annual rush of materialism.
  • I wish we were all more excited to give than to receive.
  • I wish there was more peace on earth at Christmas. It makes me yearn for the return of Jesus when peace will reign.
  • I wish my dad was here and able to enjoy his grandkids.
  • I wish for people all over the world to put their hope in Jesus this Christmas.
  • I wish that people who attend special services would see the value of the local church more than once or twice a year.
  • I wish Christmas was always in the middle of the week. It makes it easier on church staff.
  • I wish families got along better and could honor each other during these meaningful times.
  • I wish Jesus was always the center of my heart as I approach Christmas. At time He isn’t.

 

Photo credit: www.euphemiahaye.com