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

The Brutal, Beautiful 2015

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How to summarize 2015? Brutal. Beautiful. The picture above overlooks Newtown, CT. The beautiful scenery allows the gaze of the eyes  to confront the turmoil of the soul. In many ways this reflects 2015’s events.

I can describe 2015 as brutal. Many, many, difficult and disappointing things happened. A quick summary of disappointing things looks like this (not chronological):

  • Many drug deaths, connected with people we know or who had connections to our church.
  • The Supreme Court of the United States declared their own definition of marriage, apart from God’s definition.
  • Close friends of over 12 years uprooted from the area.
  • A consistent, stable co-worker was led to another ministry position (stay tuned on this one).
  • Early in the year I received news that friends had still birthed their daughter just after Christmas 2014.
  • The loss of the 15-year-old daughter of friends of my wife’s family.
  • The sting of a bunch of money out the door in winter time fixing our car.
  • The coldest February on record.
  • A friend’s sister’s baby passed away soon after delivery, overcome by health problems the couple was aware of prior to birth.
  • Losing my wife’s aunt to cancer.
  • A fantastic training season and a real chance of achieving a 15 year goal were ruined by one night of sickness 48 hour before the big race.
  • A season of physical pain which lessened my effectiveness during a peak time of ministry.
  • The horrific news that other friends had lost their baby as well. The hopes of a community brought to tears mixing the hope of Christ and the anguish of unbearable loss.
  • Still more friends who delivered their baby about a week after the previous loss, only to spend many days in the NICU due to complications before coming home.
  • Several significant personal ministry challenges, which I would describe as above average over a 15+ year career in paid ministry.

You might wonder how I could describe 2015 as beautiful as well. The presence of powerful pain does not crowd out the presence of beauty. Encouraging things from 2015:

  • A direct answered prayer for the salvation of someone we have prayed for, not to mention that this happened in the midst of the cold winter.
  • A season of summer ministry including God moving in many ways during Project Shine and the team I served with in Canada.
  • Our family enjoyed in many ways the beautiful fall weather. See here one of my favorite photos, ever, snapped randomly with my cell phone on an evening hike:

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  • We enjoyed a surprise trip to see my mother near her 70th birthday. We praise God for her!
  • We enjoyed a week with my brother’s family, home from Australia this past June.
  • We saw God orchestrate our co-worker’s transition away from our church and into full time mission work with children.
  • God enabled us to re-do our kitchen after fourteen years in our home.

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  • I was able to travel to Arizona for four days of spring training baseball with a good friend.
  • I will always remember the testimony of God’s faithfulness at the funeral of our friends’ infant son as a holy place and holy experience.
  • My wife and I were able to travel to Newtown, CT to see a dear friend whose courage in the face of tragedy I greatly admire. This included a trip to a place I’ve always wanted to go: Fenway Park in Boston.

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  • We had many memorable times with our kids, from hiking to sporting events to random stops for slushies.
  • We had many memorable times with friends as well, from random dinner get-togethers to special occasions such as hiking or sporting events.
  • I had a brief, but very encouraging trip down memory lane at my 20th class reunion in August.
  • I began a two year journey with a men’s discipleship group that I believe will prove transformational to my personal spiritual development.

In sum, please hear all this and know it’s been quite a year to say the least. But the fruit of the Spirit is perseverance. I have learned to do my best to welcome any opportunity for the evidence of God’s presence in me to flourish. As we press on, may He get the glory!

Praise Him for all 2015 had to offer. Even through difficult times His purposes remain sure and His promises stand true!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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