Well, it’s New Year’s Eve, December 31, 2016. I’m sitting here writing this and pondering what the events of this past year have been like and what they have brought me. I feel as though I changed a lot this year as well. Here’s a list of things I want to highlight on for this past year:

1.  It was my first year on staff with a church!

Hands down, this has been THE best experience I’ve ever had with a church. Does that mean it was easy? Heck no! It was tough; if you don’t believe me, ask my wife! I had so much to learn and I had to fall down a lot  in order to learn how to walk through it. Praise God that He lifted me back up and led me through it! I love to serve God and His people in this capacity and I’m pumped for Paradigm in 2017.

2. I changed. A lot.

I learned a lot about myself this year. I feel like this every year honestly, but this year especially, considering I’m in bi-vocational ministry. Not every change has been good, though. I’ve become much more hardened by certain events that transpired this year and I’ve learned a lot of lessons, especially about not letting people in so quickly and easily. I want…scratch that: I need to be real. I want people to see I’m human and that I have faults. This is especially important for Christians, who seem to leave the Christ out of Christians regularly. I know there are times when I have.

3.  My marriage has grown stronger.

This is probably the first I’ve ever spoken of my marriage on here, so here it goes. The first year of marriage sucked. Absolutely, 100% sucked! Having to adjust to intimacy, caring for, living with, and loving a person who is the complete opposite of you both physically and emotionally is stressful, to say the least. The second year is much better than the first. We have grown more used to each others habits, shortcomings, and pet peeves. More than that, though, we have learned how to actually love each other. I was having a truly awful day several months back and my wife went to the store to get a few things. She came back with a card and gave it to me and inside was probably the kindest, most sweet note I have ever received. I bawled when I read it! It lit up my world and I so appreciated her giving it to me and lifting my spirits. Despite the fact that we still have our issues, we work through them, not against them. And after two years of marriage, I’ve learned this: ignoring a problem will not make it go away or make it any better. It’ll do just the opposite! Seriously.

4. My faith has grown stronger.

This is one thing that I had struggled with at times, especially in our first year of marriage. Struggling in faith has nothing to do with belief in God, but your beliefs about God.Do you really believe God is good? Do you believe He has called you to this? Do you believe He cares about you? These are all questions I have found myself challenged with, especially this year. My accountability partner, mentor and [pastor] best friend Brian has challenged me in this way too in our time together the past few years, where he makes me think about whether or not I’m genuinely pursuing God and looking to please Him. Let me just say, he’s given me some times of conviction and help, though we don’t see and speak to each other as much as we want to! I’ve also rediscovered the importance of not being a seminoid: that is, a person who goes to Bible college/seminary and becomes a complete and total snobby, know-it-all expert on the Bible and actually realizing that people need the Bible to be accessible. Jesus’ disciples, minus Him and Peter, were a bunch of teenagers who were uneducated yet they helped to change the entire world. This was convicting for me because it showed me that when working with students, they can make a difference. You just need to give them the right tools AND the instruction manual because Lord knows that a seminoid’s instructions are downright incomprehensible.

I pray that this upcoming year will be our best year yet at Crossview Church and that you who are reading will allow God to convict and guide you through whatever [sin] struggles you face or whatever decisions you need to make!

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