2013 Year In Review

2013 is coming to the end.  If there was any year that I’m glad to see go away it is 2013.  This has to be one of the worst years in my life.  There were a few highlights but mostly lowlights.  We all have those kinda years at some point and for me 2013 was that year.  I hope that your year was better.  If it wasn’t, I feel for you and hope that 2014 is better for you like I hope 2014 is better for me.  Like in my last blog, I liked to look back and review the year and I’ll do that here.  Here is the year in review starting with the final book list of books I’ve read this year (which in coinciding with how rough a year it was, it was the fewest amount of books I’ve read since I started keeping count in 2005).

Final reading list for 2013:

“Now, Discover Your Strengths” by Marcus Buckingham & Donald O. Clifton

“In Hines Sight:  The Ups, Downs and Rebounds of 40 Years of Sports Broadcasting” by Hope Hines

“Deep and Wide:  Creating Churches Unchurched People Love to Attend” by Andy Stanley

“Multiply:  Disciples Making Disciples” by Francis Chan & Mark Beuving

“Wednesdays Were Pretty Normal:  A Boy, Cancer & God” by Michael Kelley

“Gospel:  Recovering the Power that Made Christianity Revolutionary” by J.D. Greear

“Who Do You Think You Are?:  Finding Your True Identity in Christ” by Mark Driscoll

“Toughness” by Jay Bilas

“Let Hope In” by Pete Wilson

This is the 9th year of keeping track of books I’ve read. Here’s the number breakdown:
2005: 19
2006: 20
2007: 18
2008: 22
2009: 29
2010: 24
2011: 15
2012: 14
2013: 9

2013 Year in Review

Highlight of each month:

There wasn’t much to highlight from each month.  I will say the highlights were the following:  my church family in Spartanburg (Hub City Church), guys nights with Bryan, Clay & Mike, my trip to Cincinnati, being able to write a weekly column for website and guest on a podcast.

Five things that 2013 taught me:
1) Ministry is hard but worth it and I miss it when I’m not a part of it
2) Forgiveness is not cheap but it is worth it regardless if the other person is sorry
3) God is still in control, even when things in my life feel out of control
4) I’m still a long way away from being patient
5) Don’t quit on someone even when they quit on you

*Five personally significant events of 2013: (really there weren’t 5 positive events so end up with only 2)
1) I moved from South Carolina
2) I began a weekly column on a website
3) ——————————————–
4) ——————————————–
5) ——————————————–

Ten things I want to do in 2014 (in no particular order):
1) Continue to grow in my walk with the Lord
2) Find a full time job involving campus/college ministry (hopefully)
3) Hopefully find and be in a relationship with a girl that is honoring God
4) Continue to pray for my friends around the world
5) Be content with where and what God has in front of me
6) Find time for recreational reading
7) Travel to see friends
8) Be an encouragement to those around me
9) Learn as much as I can from the experiences I have
10) Smile every day

Five things I don’t want to do in 2014:
1) Grow weary in doing good
2) Feel like I’m all alone in what I’m doing
3) Forget where God has brought me and where he’s taking me
4) Hurt people and lose friendships because of my actions
5) Grow angry and bitter about circumstances

Five things I love beyond all reason currently:
1) God
2) My family and friends
3) Opportunities for the future
4) Reading
5) Writing

Five things I hate with good reason currently:
1) My sinful nature
2) Frustration about circumstances beyond my control
3) Being lonely
4) Being hurt
5) Bad attitudes

May the new year of 2014 be a better year than 2013.  That is my prayer for me and for you.

The Hobbit – I See Fire

I finally went and saw The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.  I liked the movie, probably like the first one better but still a good one.  But what really stuck with me was the song that played during the end credits.  It was beautiful and haunting.  It is Ed Sheeran “I See Fire”.  It’s worth listening (and re-listening) too.  The lyrics tie in well to the story.  Check it out:

Oh, misty eye of the mountain below
Keep careful watch of my brothers’ souls
And should the sky be filled with fire and smoke
Keep watching over Durin’s sons

If this is to end in fire
Then we should all burn together
Watch the flames climb high into the night
Calling our father hold stand by and we will
Watch the flames burn auburn on
The mountain side

And if we should die tonight
We should all die together
Raise a glass of wine for the last time
Calling out father
Prepare as we will
Watch the flames burn auburn on
The mountain side

Desolation comes upon the sky

Now I see fire
Inside the mountains
I see fire
Burning the trees
And I see fire
Hollowing souls
I see fire
Blood in the breeze
And I hope that you remember me

Oh, should my people fall in
Surely I’ll do the same
Come finding mountain holes
We got too close to the flame
Calling out father
Hold fast and we will
Watch the flames burn auburn on
The mountain side

Desolation comes upon the sky

Now I see fire
Inside the mountains
I see fire
Burning the trees
And I see fire
Hollowing souls
I see fire
Blood in the breeze
And I hope that you remember me

And if the night is burning
I will cover my eyes
For if the dark returns then
My brothers will die
And as the sky’s falling down
It crashed into this lonely town
And with that shadow upon the ground
I hear my people screaming out

And I see fire
Inside the mountains
I see fire
Burning the trees
I see fire
Hollowing souls
I see fire
Blood in the breeze

I see fire (fire)
Oh, you know I saw a city burning out
And I see fire (fire)
Feel the heat upon my skin
And I see fire (fire)
And I see fire
Burn auburn on the mountain side

Sunday Devotional: Matthew 18

“Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?”Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.” Matthew 18:21-22

2013 has been the year to learn (or relearn) about forgiveness, at least for me it was.  It’s hard to forgive sometimes, especially when you’ve been deeply hurt by someone you trust.  But when you’re reminded of how much God has forgiven you by forgiving your sins, it puts in perspective forgiving others.

I’ve been reading through Pete Wilson’s book Let Hope In.  In one chapter he talks about forgiveness.  Let me share with you a portion of that text:

“Sometimes forgiveness takes time.  Sometimes it takes so long you actually can’t remember the moment you did it.  You just kind of wake up one day, and when you think of that person, you’re surprised to discover that you don’t hate them near as much.  You realize you’ve actually started to forgive them without even consciously making a decision to.”

Forgiveness is not easy.  Sometimes it takes a long time.  Sometimes it takes a conscious effort before it gets to a point of it not being a conscious decision.  Sometimes the other person is sorry for hurting you, sometimes they are never sorry.  But, when you understand how much God has forgiven you, you are more able to forgive others.  2013 has taught me that.  I hope that in 2014 I’m better at forgiving others and loving on others who have been hurt.

Sunday Devotional: Luke 1

“For nothing will be impossible with God.” Luke 1:37

It’s the Christmas season again.  It’s the time to celebrate the birth of Jesus.  And in reading the story of the birth of Christ, it is great to again be reminded at the power and glory of God.  God used a young virgin girl in Mary to help usher in the Savior of the world.  God used Mary’s relative Elizabeth, who was barren, to bear a son (John the Baptist) who would prepare the way for Jesus’ earthly ministry.  God was the one who has the power and ability to do these things.

In Luke 1:37, it is recorded the angel Gabriel finished the news he brought to Mary by saying “For nothing will be impossible with God.”  It is true.  Nothing is impossible with God.  It was true then and it is true now.  No matter the circumstances in my life or yours, God is bigger than them.  How awesome is that?

So in this holiday season, it’s good to be reminded again of a extraordinary God who used ordinary people to show His love to the world through His son Jesus.

Thursday Quote Day: Brennan Manning

This has been a discouraging day.  To be honest, since June it’s pretty much been discouraging.  I don’t think I have ever been in a season of life that has hurt so much and felt so alone.  I think this week’s quote is very fitting in a way as I have felt deeply wounded for awhile now.  My prayer is that somehow out of all this hurt and discouragement and loss that God will use this for that next step and place of service wherever that may be.

“Anyone God uses significantly is almost always deeply wounded.” (Brennan Manning)

Sunday Devotional: Matthew 11

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”  Matthew 11:28-30

These are the words of Jesus that he is spoke to the crowds that had gathered around him.  Just as the crowds that gathered around Jesus were heavily burdened, today we have times where we are heavily burdened.  Whether those burdens are physical, mental, emotional or spiritual, we all have burdens to bear that sometimes can be overwhelming.  The great thing is that Jesus knows about our burdens and is there to help us through those times.  We can find rest in Christ if we allow Him to take control.  So in the midst of trying times, turn to Him.  You can find peace there with Him.

Thursday Quote Day: Pete Wilson

For this week’s Thursday Quote Day, here is a quote from a book that I am currently reading (which I would recommend reading).

“We really don’t have a choice on whether the past has impacted us. But we do, however, get to choose if we embrace it. We get to choose if our past with all of its unique sorrows and joys help us grow, if we learn from it, or if we use it to bless others.”  Pete Wilson Let Hope In

Sesame Street + Lord of the Rings = Winning

I just saw this video today of another great Sesame Street parody.  This time it involves The Lord of the Rings with Cookie Monster and patience and delayed gratification.  That seems to be an important lesson for Cookie Monster to learn and relearn (and one I think we all need to learn and relearn).  Here’s the video: