2017 In Review

2017 has been over for a while now. It was such a crazy year. It hasn’t been the best year for me, but it certainly hasn’t been the worst ever. I am alive and happy!

I did this last year and I really enjoyed it. I want to take a few moments and share a few of my favorite things from this past year.

  • Game of the Year- The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. You will easily get lost asking what is over that next hill? What is that on the Horizon? Is that another Shrine on that Island? What an adventurous game! It feels like Zelda and sucks you in like Minecraft. What a world! (Runner-up: Ghost Recon: Wildlands)
  • Book of the Year- Immeasurable by Skye Jethani. An honest look at the current state of the Modern Christian Church. It reflects on ambition, anger, community, consumerism, fame, health, justice, platform, preaching, rest, simplicity, success, vision, and more. Skye examines these issues with honest and thoughtful insight from experience. This is a great barometer for where we are at in our faith. (Runner-Up: The Trellis and The Vine by Colin Marshal and Tony Payne)
  • Movie of the Year- Baby Driver. Fast cars, great music, and interesting characters. This is a fun movie. The way the music and action intertwine is remarkable. This is an incredibly stylish and fun action movie! (Runner-Up: Thor Ragnarok)
  • Show of the Year- Better Call Saul. The performances from the cast just keep getting better and better. This season you really start to see things take that darker turn you knew was coming. The center of it all is the drama of the tumultuous relationship between Jimmy and his brother Chuck. So good! (Runner Up: Mindhunter)
  • Gadget of the Year- Nintendo Switch. I had been gaming less and less as I grew older. Then I got a switch! A console that goes with you where ever you are? Yeah. That is amazing. I spent a lot of time in line waiting to pick up my kids playing Stardew Valley. It is awesome! (Runner Up: Google Pixel 2)
  • Podcast of the Year- Doctrine and Devotion. I learn and laugh during this show. Joe Thorn and Jimmy are incredibly fun together. It is great for Theology Nerds, and those who would just like to learn more about the faith. It comes from a Reformed perspective. Even if that isn’t your thing, it is a good show. (Runner Up: The Movie Proposal)
  • Marriage Moment of the Year-  I can’t really explain it, but December seemed to be a turning point for us. We had a rough year and it just seemed like we both woke up and finished strong. We had more time together over the Holidays than we had anticipated which really helped us just be together more. I am blessed to be with Shelly!
  • Parenting Moment of the Year- I got my 8 year old his first knife. We went to get a steak, watch Thor, and then went to go grab it. We just had a good moment of bonding and interacting. He loves it and is careful with it. I made sure it was easy for him to close/open.
  • Challenge of the Year- I blogged about a few of the changes my family and I were going through. It had been a very challenging year for me and I am glad to be moving on to new challenges!
  • Accomplishment of the Year- I helped lead the Church I was at through a merger with another congregation. It was a great experience in Leadership. Experiences like that have potential to go bad very fast. It was a difficult but satisfying experience when all was said and done!
  • Lesson to carry into 2018- Keep the priorities in check. It did not take much to knock things around and I did not realize it was happening. Looking back I know I wasn’t taking care of myself, my wife, or my Children like I should. I also know I was not focusing on the other projects I was doing as well. I had to be taken back to see what was going on. I started 2018 by intentionally focusing on my priorities.

What About You?

All Things New

As 2017 came to a close on I began to notice I had been running on fumes. It never is one simple thing. It had been building for a while. I knew change had to come our way. That is why I love that these words from Revelation will not escape my heart right now.

“Behold, I am making all things new…”

The Changes

Long story short I stepped away from the church I was employed at.

I have been around that church since October of 2000. I left for a few years to grow and work with 2 other amazing organizations, but I came back for the opportunity to share God’s word and my life with the people who served there. They have been family to my family and I for a very long time. I am grateful for the time I spent there and I do feel like I accomplished a lot. As difficult as this decision was I have this resounding peace and relief knowing I was doing the right thing.

For the first time in a very long time, I will not be working full time for a church. I hate to say it, but I had been holding on to my position and security for dear life. It was the moment I let go of it God showed me what I knew all along, I was in His hands.

Things are going to be changing for my family and I. I worked from home and had the kids with me the majority of the time. This change is going to be hard on them, but even harder on me. I have turned into a big softy and I will miss these crazy little blessings. That being said I am also looking forward getting out of the house and working an 8-5. Please pray for this house as we adjust.

The New

I have been pretty comfortable for a while. Though, I can honestly say I am very excited that new things are happening to me in 2018.

New Job
New Routine
New Ideas
New Outlets
New Prayer
New Church
New Adventure

I have been told by wise men that hardships like what all happened in 2017 often become those life-defining moments that I will look back on. I don’t want to lie to you and say I handled this past year with a smile. That is not true! I complained a lot. I was real angry. I checked out. I really don’t like the way I handled a lot of this stress. I don’t like what I saw in myself. I have always pictured myself being able to handle these moments like these wonderful men and women around me I look up to, but I didn’t.

I am ready to let God change me. I am ready for his new. I want it to be the start of not just new circumstances, but a new level of my faith. I want to let this newness invade all aspects of me.

I want to leave you with the whole scripture from Revelation. It is an encouraging one. If you are running on empty I hope you can read it and see there is a promise for you. A promise bigger than just these present circumstances. The promise from the Alpha and Omega. The promise that you are in the hands of the one on the throne. The promise that you are a Child of God.

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son.
Revelations 21:3-7

Only The Good Stuff

What is really making you HAPPY right now?
What are you enjoying?
What is it that you are really looking forward to doing?

I found a podcast that seeks to answer these questions.

Only The Good Stuff is a discussion about things being presently enjoyed.

No grumbling
No complaining
No cynicism
Only good stuff.

It is a refreshing discussion about the things that are making them really HAPPY! It seems to stand out in a world of criticism and cynicism. You need to give it a listen.

I think it is certainly time to accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative!

So, being inspired by someone else’s good idea, I am going to share some things that are really making me happy right now!

  • Books: Gospel Fluency by Jeff Vanderstelt has been worth digesting. I am reading at a much slower pace lately which is really giving me time to think through this book. Have you ever wanted to grow in the way you speak about The Gospel? This book is for you! Even as a Pastor I find myself struggling to speak the good news. The goal of this book is to become as Fluent in the Gospel as you are with your first language!
  • TV: Into The Badlands on AMC has the most beautiful Kung Fu sequences on TV. I love a good Martial Arts epic. The story is interesting enough to make it watchable and curious as to what will happen next. Season 2 adds some amazing Characters.
  • Movies: Moana has been playing non-stop since we got it. The Music is fantastic, and the story gets incredibly deeper every time I watch it. I don’t want to spoil the ending for you, but it certainly has the most remarkable visualization of redemption and being given your new identity In Christ. I was blown away when I saw it and still am. I know it wasn’t meant to be Christian or deeply Theological. However, this beautiful scene shines like a glimmering truth nugget bursting out in plain sight.
  • Music: It isn’t really new, but Explosions In The Sky has been on repeat this week. I have a Spotify playlist with all their records. I rock out to it… rock out like a bandit gleefully flying away from the scene of his latest heist.
  • Game: Ghost Recon Wildlands is what happens when you take a Grand Theft Auto type open world Sandbox and add in an incredible Military Strategy game on top of it. The world you are in is beautiful and seems endless. The weapons customization options are a lot of fun to mess with. Playing with a team and making a plan is certainly interesting. That plan falling apart and you gotta react, this is where things get really fun. It is a great game.
  • Love: My wife and I are approaching 11 years together. It hasn’t always been easy, but I certainly feel like 2017 has been one of our best. It isn’t like a mountain top type of thing, but more of a soup that has been in the crock pot for a few hours and when it comes time to taste it, it is uniquely how it should be. She is my best friend and her heart is just beautiful. She has grown up a whole lot since the whole thing got started, it has been amazing to see.
  • Parenting: The other day Sam asked me what kind of kyber crystal Kylo Ryn had in his light saber and I cried. We pulled up a cool article that showed all the light-sabers in the Star Wars Canon and what they were made of. He has been asking a lot about geek stuff, but even more about Jesus and our faith. He saw a friend get Baptized a few weeks ago. He is close to baptism himself! Joshua makes the most interesting platforms to climb on to get the candy off the top of the fridge. Earlier this week Lainie crawled into my lap, laid her head on my chest, and just stole my heart.
  • Work: The Church I was the Pastor at just merged with another Church in town. It was a long process, but in the end, it was a step I can confidently say that we took together. I am proud of this family of believers that chose to give up so much familiarity to become something new. I would say the hard stuff is over, but in reality, the hard stuff just began. The past year has stretched me farther than I have ever been stretched before as a Leader. It has been difficult personally. It has been exciting. It has been good. It was tiring. It feels great to be able to dream about what can be. We really can be much better together than apart!
  • Podcast: This post was inspired by a Podcast I am enjoying called Only The Good Stuff. That is the easy choice, right? Here is another Podcast I am enjoying very much. The 5 Leadership Questions is like a conversation at a coffee shop with a leader you admire. The hosts do a great job is keeping it conversant. They really do pick the brain of some incredible men and I get to benefit from it! It is worth a listen of you are looking for a new podcast!
  • Trailer: Timing on this one is a little obvious… I cried. I cried when I watched it twice. I cried when I showed it to my kids. I cried when I loaded it up to link on here.

    Now it is your turn. What have you been enjoying?