2017 Year in Review

This year of 2017 is finally drawing to a close.  This has been another rough and tough year for me.  It has been that case the last several years.  I hope though that your year was good.  If it wasn’t, I hope that 2018 is better for you.  As is tradition for me, I like 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.

Final reading list for 2017:

Star Wars: Catalyst: A Rogue One Novel by James Luceno

College Ministry 101: A Guide to Working with 18-25 Year Olds by Chuck Bomar

Community: Taking Your Small Group Off Life Support by Brad House

Unscripted: The Unpredictable Moments That Make Life Extraordinary by Ernie Johnson Jr.

Gospel Centered Discipleship by Jonathan K. Dodson

Plan B by Pete Wilson

Star Wars FAQ: Everything Left to Know About the Trilogy That Changed The Movies by Mark Clark

Godzilla FAQ: All That’s Left to Know About the King of the Monsters by Brian Solomon

Anime: from Akira to Howl’s Moving Castle: Experiencing Contemporary Japanese Animation by Susan J. Napier

What is the Mission of the Church?: Making Sense of Social Justice, Shalom and the Great Commission by Kevin DeYoung & Greg Gilbert

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Church by Dave Anderson & Tim Wilcox

You Can’t Make This Up: Miracles, Memories, and the Perfect Marriage of Sports and Television by Al Michaels


This is the 13th 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

2015: 13

2016: 12

2017: 12

2016 Year in Review

Highlights of the year: The highlights were the following:  Board game nights with friends, Opportunities to preach, The joy of writing for this blog, Seeing the total eclipse and a baseball game afterwards

Five things that 2017 taught me:

1) It’s okay to let go of some things so you can better grab hold of what’s better

2) Being a jerk is never okay no matter the situation

3) It’s important to know what fights to pick and what hills are worth dying on

4) Hold onto hope with every part of your being, especially in the rough times

5) Show kindness to others, a little goes a long way

*Five personally significant events of 2017:  (Well this year it was three again)

1) I celebrated the 4 year anniversary of this blog

2) Had opportunity to preach several times

3) Got to spend quality time with friends

4) ——————————————–

5) ——————————————–

Ten things I want to do in 2018 (in no particular order):

1) Continue to grow in my walk with the Lord

2) Be faithful to the work God has called me to

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) Show grace and mercy to everyone around 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 2017:

1) Grow weary in doing good

2) Not appreciate the blessings God has provided for me

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 2018 will be a better year than 2017.  That is my prayer for me and for you

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Sunday Devotional: John 21:24-25

“This is the disciple who testifies to these things and who wrote them down. We know that his testimony is true.

And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which, if they were written one by one, I suppose not even the world itself could contain the book that would be written.” (John 21:24-25)

These are the last verses in the gospel of John.  Throughout the book, the apostle wrote of things that he had seen and experienced in following Jesus.  But as John mentioned here, there was so much more that happened that he wasn’t able to write down.  Stories and experiences that will hear in heaven I’m sure.

We are at the end of another year.  Things happened that a lot of people know.  But there are things that happened that few if any know about.  Good times and bad.  Happy times and sad ones.  But through it all God is still in control and God is still at work.

Today let us look back and reflect and prepare for the year ahead and what God has in store for next year.

Sunday Devotional: Hark The Herald Angels Sing

“Hark the herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn King!
Peace on earth and mercy mild
God and sinners reconciled”
Joyful, all ye nations rise
Join the triumph of the skies
With the angelic host proclaim:
“Christ is born in Bethlehem”
Hark! The herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn King!”

Christ by highest heav’n adored
Christ the everlasting Lord!
Late in time behold Him come
Offspring of a Virgin’s womb
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see
Hail the incarnate Deity
Pleased as man with man to dwell
Jesus, our Emmanuel
Hark! The herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn King!”

Hail the heav’n-born Prince of Peace!
Hail the Son of Righteousness!
Light and life to all He brings
Ris’n with healing in His wings
Mild He lays His glory by
Born that man no more may die
Born to raise the sons of earth
Born to give them second birth
Hark! The herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn King!”

It’s Christmas Eve and it’s the eve of celebrating the birth of Jesus.  This Christmas hymn reminds us of the reasons why the angels were singing that night.  Not only to celebrate and mark the occasion of the birth but what the birth meant.  It meant God and sinners could be reconciled.  It meant that Jesus was Emmanuel (God with us).  It meant the opportunity for second birth, that we don’t have to die a second death.

This is the good news.  This is the reason the angels sing.  This is the reason we should sing.  So let us do just that.

Sunday Devotional: “Joy To the World”

“Joy to the World , the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare Him room,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven, and Heaven, and nature sing.

Joy to the World, the Savior reigns!
Let men their songs employ;
While fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat, repeat, the sounding joy.

No more let sins and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found,
Far as the curse is found,
Far as, far as, the curse is found.

He rules the world with truth and grace,
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders, wonders, of His love”

“Joy to the World” is one of the most well known Christmas carols.  It is a song about joy and hope.  The birth of Jesus brought well needed joy and hope into the world.  Even today, the world needs joy and hope.  There is much suffering and loss.  People are hurting and wanting hope.  Jesus brings that hope.  He came to the world to bring hope.  He came to break the curse of sin.  He came to bring righteousness again.

This Christmas season, let us remember this hope.  Let us sing of this joy.  Even in the midst of hurt.  Even in the midst of sin being glorified.  Jesus came to bring real hope and joy.  Let us celebrate that.

Sunday Devotional: “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear”

“It came upon the midnight clear,
That glorious song of old,
From angels bending near the earth,
To touch their harps of gold:
“Peace on the earth, goodwill to men
From heavens all gracious King!”
The world in solemn stillness lay
To hear the angels sing.

Still through the cloven skies they come,
With peaceful wings unfurled;
And still their heavenly music floats
O’er all the weary world:
Above its sad and lowly plains
They bend on hovering wing,
And ever o’er its Babel sounds
The blessed angels sing.

O ye beneath life’s crushing load,
Whose forms are bending low,
Who toil along the climbing way
With painful steps and slow;
Look now, for glad and golden hours
Come swiftly on the wing;
Oh rest beside the weary road
And hear the angels sing.

For lo! the days are hastening on,
By prophets seen of old,
When with the ever-circling years
Shall come the time foretold,
When the new heaven and earth shall own
The Prince of Peace, their King,
And the whole world send back the song
Which now the angels sing.”

These are the words to the Christmas hymn “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear”. It is a few weeks away from Christmas and this time leading up to it is good to reflect on the hope of the birth of Christ.  Right before the birth of Christ, there was restlessness.  There was doubt.  When was the messiah coming?  Will the messiah ever come?  But the angels had good news to share that the messiah had indeed come and broke out in song about it.

Today, some 2,000 years later, we struggle.  There is a lot of suffering in the world.  Sin is condoned and affirmed in all types of ways and places.  We wonder when will the messiah come back.  But just as Jesus came the first time that first Christmas, He will come again.

So we keep hoping and keep waiting. And we sing of when the Prince of Peace will bring ultimate peace to the world.

Sunday Devotional: Proverbs 1:1-7

“The proverbs of Solomon son of David, king of Israel:
For learning what wisdom and discipline are;
for understanding insightful sayings;
for receiving wise instruction
in righteousness, justice, and integrity;
for teaching shrewdness to the inexperienced,
knowledge and discretion to a young man—
a wise man will listen and increase his learning,
and a discerning man will obtain guidance—
for understanding a proverb or a parable,
the words of the wise, and their riddles.

The fear of the Lord
is the beginning of knowledge;
fools despise wisdom and discipline.” (Proverbs 1:1-7)

Solomon, King of Israel and son of King David, wrote these words here that are applicable to this day.  Solomon was regarded as the wisest man who ever lived.  He knew that ultimate wisdom and knowledge comes from the Lord.  He knew that truth, righteousness, justice and integrity comes from the Lord.  And he knew that to grow in those things comes from the Lord.

Today, we should learn from Solomon.  We should seek out learning from the Lord.  We should grow in our honoring of the Lord in our words and actions.  We should seek righteousness, justice, integrity, knowledge, learning.  We should listen and hear from the Lord and then do what He says.

This week, let us seek after the Lord.  Let us listen and follow Him and grow in wisdom and love.