I can barely believe that we are staring at the end of 2018 already. At the risk of sounding like an old person, this year has flown by. I feel like now is a great time to assess where we are in regards to this year and where we would like to go next year. I would like to do this over the next 4 weeks. I had kind of taken a break from writing simply because I was busy and having a bit of writers block, but I would like to end on a strong note of encouraging you (Namely mom, because I think she is the only one who reads this, LOL!)
So here goes, 2018 in review. On a scale of amazing to everlasting fire and condemnation (didn’t want to say HELL… but totally just said it there???), I would classify this year as puzzling with a hint of disappointment. 2017 was a rough year for me, and I had hoped 2018 would be better. This year started off on the wrong foot literally. Just a few short weeks in, I had experienced the flu plus a groin pull/knee injury. Both of these had sidelined me from goals that I had set for myself. I will talk about those next week. The year wasn’t all bad, there were some highlights.
I got to spend a lot of time with my wife and kids. Since my book signing deal (the one I haven’t written) got postponed and all of my national speaking engagements were cancelled (simply because no one asked me), I had a ton of time at home. I am so thankful for that. My kids actually beg me not to go work most days because they love having me around. This is a huge blessing! There are days where I would like a bigger adventure in life, but these are such important days in their life that I am not missing. Another highlight, is the friends that I have gained. It couldn’t have come at a better time too. I get to meet with them weekly and they are such an encouragement to me as a minister, father, and husband. They truly have been a life line so many times. God was so gracious to bring us together. Speaking of God’s grace, God has revealed to me some real followers of Jesus. I mean they truly have a heart for serving the Lord and making His name known everywhere they go. This is so refreshing to be around. The interesting thing is that they have all been women. I am not really surprised by that fact, but my heart hurts a bit wondering where are the men of faith.
A few honorable mentions for this year. We got to travel to Kentucky and Kansas to visit family. We had the opportunity to do several service mission projects in Colorado, New Mexico, and Texas. We did some really cool house projects and upgrades. Lastly, I believe God has been honing my call in ministry. I have been discovering how he wired me, what my passions and strengths are, and how he has given me a heart for discipleship. I knew it all along, but He has just made it more clear and evident as well as others confirming that in me also.
I don’t want to spend too much time with the disappointing side of the year, simply because this blog is meant to encourage you as a reader. I believe that in disappointment and struggles there is an avenue for strength, growth, and a positive outlook. A few lowlights!!! I would say I have really struggled with discouragement this year, maybe worse than ever. It could just be that I am in my mid thirties now, rolling up on 40. I am a pretty positive person most of the time, and I don’t stay down long. But I have been challenged by this so many times this year. I am pretty hard wired for accomplishment based success, so I view my work a complete failure if I don’t see the type of success or accomplishments that I set for myself. I am huge goal setter and my wife reminds me all the time that my expectations may be too high. One of my spiritual gifts is faith, so I have a tendency dream really big because I really trust Jesus. When things don’t pan out, I get discouraged. Jesus has gone to work on this type of thinking all year. It has been painful, un-joyous, and down right exhausting. Jesus is taking me through the valley to prepare for what’s next (whatever that is??). I have had to develop a new level of trust which challenges my faith. As hard as it has been, only good things will come from it.
Next lowlight, I still sin. This is 2018! Surely I would have conquered my sinful desires by now. I thought that flying cars and no longer sinning would happen at the same time. (This just in… we do not have flying cars. If you are in a flying car right now. Start praying and brace for impact. It means you are in a wreck, you’re airborne and about to land.) Somewhere in my mind, I thought I would get it by now. That somehow I would supernaturally be so attached to Christ that I would sin at a minimum. It seems as though the harder I pursue Christ, the more frequently temptation comes knocking. Christ already conquered sin by His death on the cross, but some days I just feel like all I do is pile more and more sins on Him. So here is what I have learned this year as follower of Jesus who still struggles with sin and self serving desires; I am desperate for Jesus. I thought I needed a Savior when I was 9. At 35, I know I need a Savior. My life will spiral out of control quickly without Him especially when I am left to my own devises. I need Him now more than ever. My guess is that I will continue to need Him more and more, which isn’t a bad place to be. Remember the words of Jesus in Matthew 5:6, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” When you hunger for Him, you will be filled. When you hunger for passions, pleasures and desires, you will always be left unsatisfied and craving more. Hunger for Jesus!!!
Pheww! That was rough. Some of you reading this will instantly be struck with a burning desire to pray for me. That’s great! I could use it! Others may be dealing with the very same issues. If you are, please contact me. I would love to share some wisdom or how I handled some of the challenges. Don’t try to do this on your own. I hope you are encouraged from this (If, nothing else, you can be thankful you aren’t me!!!) and can point someone else to find the same encouragement you have.
Grace and Peace to you as we try land the end of this year like a flying car!!!