I’m not a huge fan of New Year’s resolutions. They seem more like something to talk about than things people actually intend to do. Frankly, by the time I manage to complete Christmas celebrations, I barely have enough time to think about what I want to accomplish in the next year.
So a couple of years ago, I started something different. I started making resolutions in February. By February, most people have already broken their New Year’s resolutions. There’s no more pressure to have them and no one’s asking you for them. It actually allows me time to give serious thought to anything that needs to get done. I also get time to pray so I don’t just do what I want, but can actually submit to the Lord’s leading.
What that means for me now, though, is I’m looking over what 2016 was. Most people are constantly looking forward. I’m not against that, but the seeds of the future are found in the past. I want to learn from 2016, both the successes and the failures, and chart a course with the Lord’s help that is wise and ambitious.
So, with no further ado, I present the significant events of 2016:
My Prayer Retreat With Christy
This may have been my favorite thing of my entire year. Christy and I had desperately been trying to go on a much needed trip for just the two of us (i.e., no kids). And while the desire was there, the budget and the time weren’t always. But by the end of the summer, burnout from work and ministry and parenting was getting really high. So we picked a weekend, arranged for some time with the grandparents for the kids, and took a prayer retreat at a cabin in a state park.
And we prayed. We asked the Lord about what we were committed to. We asked Him for direction. We talked to each other about what we were hearing. We sang songs to Jesus around a campfire and didn’t worry about whether it would wake up the kids (or the other campers). We came out of that time more focused and more together. This wasn’t just my favorite thing that happened this year, it was also the most strategic. We hope to make this a yearly tradition.
(Side note: If you haven’t gone away with your spouse to pray and seek the Lord, you should give it a try some time.)
My Commitment to Read More Books
The last few years before this one, my reading had tanked. I kept being given books I asked for and they sat on the shelf. Late in 2015 I decided to give Audible a try. I had time in the car and while I shaved and other random, on-the-go moments. The number of books I read this year jumped from 3 the previous year to 16 this year. Not every book was great, but there were 5 that were significantly meaningful. You can check out my thoughts on last year’s reading here.
My Work As a Missionary
This last year, we opened our home to a lot of kids from the neighborhood and the results were really surprising. I’ve written a bit about this in a blog post from last year about hospitality and the spread of the Gospel. Needless to say, we are still feeling the affects of this change to our lives. Just yesterday a gaggle of kids showed up in our house and tomorrow I’m talking to one of them about starting a discipleship group. I believe God has a church for our neighborhood made up people more ethnically and economically similar to our neighborhood. This was a first step in that direction.
On a side note, I also believe there is a greater emphasis on this coming in 2017, not just as a missionary to my neighborhood, but to others in my city as well. As I write about my intentions for 2017 and the reality that plays out, I hope you all will see that.
Our Decision to Raise Up Shepherds
Some day I’ll explain more about my hesitation with the word pastor for those of you who aren’t from the house church perspective. For now, let’s just say this: we haven’t had pastors in our house churches and were fairly adverse to the title.
In 2015, those of us who were opening our homes for churches to meet in began to realize our church network was struggling. A number of us were trying to reach out and evangelize more, but the churches still needed people to care and help those who were struggling.
Enter the shepherds. These are people with a heart and gifting to care for the body without title, privilege, or hierarchy. We finally initiated this idea towards the end of 2016 but it’s already paid tremendous dividends.
My Commitment to Blog Daily
Part of my commitment to read more books landed me in the book “The Icarus Deception.” Now Seth Godin is not a Christian by any stretch of the imagination, but I could sense the Lord challenging me when I read the phrase “There’s no such thing as talker’s block.” And thus, (mostly) daily blogging was born. Can I just say I appreciate the support each of you has shown along the way? I know a lot of you have subscribed since that point or gave comments of encouragement along the way. It’s meant a lot.
My Daughter Graduating High School
For those of you who don’t know, in 2014, I became a dad to wonderful 17 year old. Andrienne had met us through our outreach to the neighborhood several years prior, confessed Christ, and become part of our church. When things at home needed to change, she moved into our attic and became part of the family.
2016 was a big transition for her because she graduated high school! This is and was a huge deal. We had worked for hours and hours to make sure we hit this goal. I’m so proud of her for this accomplishment and there are plenty more ahead.
My Progress on My Book
So, I had hoped to finish the book by the end of this year. That didn’t happen. But I did make progress. I went from one chapter to three and a half. I also took a big step and committed to it openly and publicly, so I need to get it done. If only to stop this guy:
My Over Commitment
Okay, now we’re to some of the not so good parts of 2016. I was seriously over committed in 2016. I was doing so much, that eventually the shepherd that is part of my house church looked at me and told me I was doing too much. And we felt this in 2016. I have a huge list of “to do’s” from 2016 that are on my white board in my office. Many of them are still left unfinished. So the need ahead is to find ways to get those finished without taking on extra. Also, I need to make sure I spend more time nurturing my family, as sometimes they miss out due my over commitment.
Changes at Work
This wasn’t a bad thing, but it was tough on me. I was a commercial loan officer, but in October I got tapped to be part of a project management team at the Credit Union I work at. This took me from a challenging, rewarding, and fun job that I was finally starting to excel at and threw me into a new position that I had never done before. Project management is different than lending, let’s just say that! This next year and a half (the duration of this job) is going to be a big change for me. Keep me in your prayers as I figure out how to manage projects.
That was 2016! Thanks for listening. This was helpful for me as I processed out the changes that took place this year and what they mean for next year.
How about you? What’s one thing that changed in 2016 that has implications for next year for you? I’d love to hear.
Some things just get better with age. “The Wayback Machine” posts occur at the end of every month and reference the best posts of that month in years past. My hope is to provide a good jumping on point for readers who have never been to Pursuing Glory.
Discouragement hits believers and causes them to be confused about the things that are real and important. This post is me reminding myself (and my readers) about the realities that are important to fight for even when things are discouraging. If you want a window into my soul when I’m fighting to stay in the game this is a post you want to check out.
Pretty much this blog is exactly what the title describes. I’m an avid blog reader, so I thought I would share with my readers what blogs I most enjoy. Most of these blogs still exist in one form or another and for the most part I would still recommend, if I were to write this post again it would be much different. I also have unsubscribed from one of the blogs on this list, too. I guess we all make mistakes, huh?
This post describes my journey to north-eastern Iowa to meet with other believers who were having more of a regional house church gathering. This was my first attempt at meeting other believers who God has called into a similar lifestyle as us. God also showed me some important insights into the nature of God’s Kingdom and transitioning into simple church realities.
This was a post that recounts a conversation I had with E.J. about who the desert fathers were and why they are important today. More than anything, it’s a primer into why the devotional practices of silence, solitute, and prayer are essential for the church in this hour.
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Notes From The Margins
On a somewhat irregular basis I post a blog in my “Notes from the Margin” series. The point of the series is not just what I’m finding in Scripture and what I write, but also what you’re finding in Scripture and what you’re writing about it. If you have a blog, I’d love to see you take this series and do your own. You can check out the guidelines for Notes from the Margins and read examples of the series here and here.
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Every week here at Pursuing Glory I try to bring together the best posts I’ve found that will equip the end-times church to operate in her God-ordained destiny. These are the best blogs, articles, books and other resources related to our purpose here at this site. Feel free to visit, comment, and make use of the resources found at each site.
I thought I would try something new this week. I’ve always meant to include other media besides blogs on our “Food for Thought” posts. It just so happens that this week there are a couple of significant contributions from the organic church world that I think are worth taking a look at. Let me know if you find any of these helpful in the comments section, and if people find them helpful I may try to find more. Enjoy!
Kieth @ the Subversive1 blog has been tearing up the internets with a series of articles on how to minister to the poor. Alan @ The Assembling of the Church references that post in this blog and he quotes a song by LeCrae that illustrates why church planting among the homeless and poor is absolutely necessary.
Shawn is a prophetic voice that has been pioneering a church in L.A. amongst the creative community there. He’s been posting at Shawnbolz’s Weblog about the difficulties of pioneering, and this post talks about the difficulty of continuing to walk in breakthough throughout our everyday lives.
Guy @ The M Blog writes about the need for continual training as we pursue the establishment of God’s Kingdom. I think continual training is a must for anyone serious about Kingdom transformation. Don’t miss the excerpt from Curtis Sergeant’s “What We Can Learn from the U.S. Marines.”
Len at Next Reformation has been thinking deeply about Ephesians chapter 4. Here he quotes various authors’ and thinkers’ thoughts on the realities found in Ephesians 4. What I love about these quotes is how they tie weakness and vulnerability together with displaying the glory of Jesus.
Starfish Files is an e-magazine put together by the leaders of the house church movement in Canada. Don’t miss the feature article: “Repenting of Dead Works for a Great Harvest of Souls.”
Neil Cole teaches on the true place of the five ministry gifts listed in Ephesians 4. I love Neil’s emphasis on Christ as the source of all the gifts. There’s a lot to be learned here.