2014 Year in Review

This year of 2014 is coming to the end.  2014 was in some ways a better year than 2013 but still a long ways to go to getting back to what I would consider a good year.  But on the bright side, there were improvements.  I hope that your year was good.  If it wasn’t, I can relate and hope that 2015 is better for you.  As is tradition, I liked to look back and review the year.  Here is the year in review starting with the final book list of books I’ve read this year (which overtook last year as the fewest amount of books I’ve read since I started keeping count in 2005).

Final reading list for 2014:

Fantasy Life:  The Outrageous, Uplifting, and Heartbreaking World of Fantasy Sports From the Guy Who’s Lived It by Matthew Berry

Before You Make Your Own:  50 Video Games Future Developers Need to Play by Bradley Metrock

Saving Mr. Banks The Official Multi-touch Book

Walking with God through Pain and Suffering by Timothy Keller

Console Wars:  Sega, Nintendo and the Battle That Defined a Generation by Blake J. Harris

Star Wars:  A New Dawn by John Jackson Miller

Adventures in Churchland:  Finding Jesus in the Mess of Organized Religion by Dan Kimball

This is the 10th 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

2014: 7

2014 Year in Review

Highlight of each month: There wasn’t much to highlight from each month.  I will say the highlights were the following:  road trip to Illinois to visit my friends Kyle and Emily, board game night with friends, the joy of writing for this blog & being able to help my home church (the church I grew up in) out in this time of transition

Five things that 2014 taught me:

1) Appreciate the gifts that God has given, especially when it seems few and far between

2) Grieve with those who are grieving and be willing to share your grief with others

3) Hope is a very precious commodity

4) I’m still a long way away from being patient (carried over from last year)

5) There are people that do care about you even when you don’t care about yourself

*Five personally significant events of 2014:  (well really just two again, hopefully more next year)

1) I celebrated the 1 year anniversary of this blog

2) Had opportunity to preach several times at my home church

3) ——————————————–

4) ——————————————–

5) ——————————————–

Ten things I want to do in 2015 (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 2015:

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 at my 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

I hope that 2015 be a better year than 2014.  That is my prayer for me and for you.

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Sunday Devotional: Ezra 3:10-11

“And when the builders laid the foundation of the temple of the Lord, the priests in their vestments came forward with trumpets, and the Levites, the sons of Asaph, with cymbals, to praise the Lord, according to the directions of David king of Israel.  And they sang responsively, praising and giving thanks to the Lord,

“For he is good,
    for his steadfast love endures forever toward Israel.”

And all the people shouted with a great shout when they praised the Lord, because the foundation of the house of the Lord was laid.”  (Ezra 3:10-11)

The Israelites were in exile, away from their homeland.  Then, they were allowed to go home and slowly but surely groups of people began to go home.  With this began the rebuilding of lives and family in what was to them the promised land.  This included rebuilding of the temple.  When they had laid the foundation for the temple, they took time to sing praises to the Lord.  They had a lot to be thankful for as they had endured so much.  But God was always there and God provided for them in exile and when they returned back home.

It is good to remember and be thankful for all that God has done.  When we go through tough times and get beaten down, it’s good to praise God for helping us get through it.  As the foundation for a new year approaches, let us give thanks for all that God is done and all he will do.

Thursday Quote Day: Charles Dickens (and a special Christmas song)

Merry Christmas and I hope that it is a great day for you.  For this week’s “Thursday Quote Day” I wanted to share a quote from author Charles Dickens, famous for writing among many things A Christmas Carol.  In the spirit of the season, here is a quote from that book as well as a special Christmas song from Charlie Brown and the Peanuts gang:

“I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.”  (Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol)

 

The Meaning of Christmas…from Charlie Brown & Linus Van Pelt

I love the Peanuts comic strip (and cartoons) ever since I was a little kid.  I have enjoyed the adventures of Charlie Brown and all the gang.  This time of year is great because one of my favorite Christmas shows is A Charlie Brown Christmas.  The most famous scene of the show is Linus Van Pelt, friend of Charlie Brown, reading from Luke 2 telling what the true meaning of Christmas is about.  There was a comic strip that came out about a year or so later that has Linus telling the Christmas story again.  This Christmas Eve, I thought I’d share it with you.  Have a very Merry Christmas Eve and a very Merry Christmas tomorrow (by the way, there will be a “Thursday Quote Day” tomorrow):

Charlie Brown Christmas

Sunday Devotional: Luke 2:1-20

“In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered.  This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria.  And all went to be registered, each to his own town.  And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child.  And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth.  And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.  And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear.  And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.  For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.  And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”  And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

“Glory to God in the highest,
    and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.”  And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger.  And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child.  And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them.  But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.  And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.”  (Luke 2:1-20)

In this Christmas season, it’s good to look again at the story of the birth of Jesus.  It’s good to be reminded of the beginning of what would be the redemption of the world.  It’s good to be able to look back at the start of a journey that would lead to the cross.  Because you can’t separate the two.  The manger and the cross are linked together.

So hopefully during this Christmas season, you’re able to take some time and reflect on the birth of Jesus and the reminder of hope that it brings to all of us, especially those who are followers of Jesus.

We Three Kings

It’s the Christmas season and it’s time for Christmas music (although for some Christmas music started playing in the middle of November).  I’ve always been a fan of the old Christmas carols, many of them have a lot of good melody and are also rich with Scripture and the Gospel.  Like many old hymns, they are rich in theology and are great to listen to.  I’ve shared in the past how I really enjoy “O Come O Come Emmanuel”.  Another one of my favorites is “We Three Kings”.  I went to look on Youtube for a version of it, and after a long time found one.  Interesting enough, it’s a cover by George Strait.  Memo to singers, you should cover this song.  Anyway, here it is: