2012 New Year’s Resolution(s)

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Ever hear that song, “The Future’s So Bright” by Timbuk 3? [Video] The catch phrase goes, “the future’s so bright I gotta wear shades.” That is a little of what I feel like looking forward to 2012. We have taken some excellent steps towards becoming debt free, I have a great job, I’m training for my second marathon, I’m growing closer and closer to God… it seems like a year of possibilities (at least at this moment).

So with further ado about nothing, here are my 2012 New Year’s Resolutions.

1. The Greatest Command

One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”

“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.”

Mark 12:28-31

I am not saying that I am a “law” man or a legalist. I fully believe that we are saved by grace through faith in Christ, and not from myself. It is a gift of God, not by works, so that none can boast. (Paraphrased from Ephesians 2:8-9).

However, living as Christ lived is a worthy enough goal. I’ve been stewing over this verse for the past 6 months or so and have decided that this is what I want to focus on this year.

What does it mean to love the Lord your God with all your heart? What does it mean to love the Lord your God with all your soulall your mindand all your strength? What does that type of love and devotion look like in my every day life? What does it look like in the morning before I’ve had my coffee? What does it look like when I’m frustrated with something at work? If I were to truly act out this commandment in my life, how would my priorities change or my life for that matter?

That’s it.

Don’t you think that one is big enough to be the only resolution for this year? lol I think so. I thought about listing some others here, just as a blogging placeholder, but they haven’t really changed from last year. So I’ll just list them out here more as “continuing goals” for this year. They are:

  1. Practice My Talents – More specifically, the piano
  2. Run in my second marathon
  3. Get rid of the gut – I mean it this time!
  4. Pay off debt – We are going to hammer on this one until the debt monster is finally dead!

Well, I hope you and yours have a very Happy New Year and an excellent start to 2012! God bless.

2011 Resolutions : Looking Back

Once again I find myself at the end of a year looking back on the resolutions I made at the start. How did I do? Was it worth setting any goals at all? Let’s have a look see.

Rear View Mirror

1. Die

The point of this resolution was to try to focus my attention and energies on dying to “self”. Did I succeed? Well, not completely. I don’t think this is one you can perfect during your lifetime, though, it certainly is a worthwhile goal. So how much did I grow in this area? To be honest, I don’t have any clue. I know that God promises that He will finish the work that He began in me.

…he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

Philippians 1:6

I’m glad that God is control of the progress, though I do realize that I have a responsibility to live my life “in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ” (Philippians 1:27).

2. Practice My Talents

This one centered mainly around practicing the piano. How did I do? Fail. I totally did not spend any extra time practicing, other than the time required to prepare for Sunday mornings.

3. Marathon #2

Also a fail, though not entirely my fault. Right after my first marathon I was clowning around with my kids and ended up with a stress fracture, so I was not able to run for quite some time. I was able to get back into training by April, however, the time off was more of a setback then I thought it would be. I did manage to run another half marathon, though, and am currently training for my next marathon.

4. Get Rid of the Gut

Miserable fail! I think it actually got bigger. Nuf said.

5. Pay Off Debt

Success! No, we did not pay off all of our debt. However, I can proudly announce that the only debt we have left is our student loans, the car payment and a small-ish medical debt. Once we decided to get on board with Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University and truly get focused, God came along side us and helped us to pay off way more than I could have anticipated.

Well, that’s it for last year. So long, 2011, you were good to us.

Can There Be Inappropriate Scripture?

So we were in the van driving to church this week and the older two kids, one eleven year old girl and one eight year old boy, were reading off a bunch of scriptures. There did not seem to be any pattern, reason or rhyme to what they were reading and it soon became apparent that they were simply picking verses at random. My wife informed me that they were looking for a verse to memorize for Sunday school. They had not been previously assigned one so they simply needed to pick one for themselves. Naturally they were searching for very short verses that they could memorize quickly. All well and good, right?

That’s about the time I hear my son recite this verse:

No Israelite man or woman is to become a shrine prostitute.
Deuteronomy 23:17

My wife and I looked at each other for a silent moment. Hmm.

“Hey, son. Why don’t you pick another verse”, said I.

“Why Daddy?”

“Well, that verse will most likely bring up some questions in Sunday school that your teacher may not want to address on Sunday morning.”

I then returned to driving with a smile on my face trying not to dissolve into laughter. Oh boy. So instead, Aubrey and I picked this verse for them to memorize which has turned out to be a good family verse.

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.
Ephesians 4:29

2011 New Year’s Resolutions

Happy New Year! It is once again that time; time to make resolutions, promises and goals that we’ll never keep. I’m sure all of the health clubs out there love January because of the most likely number one resolution made: lose weight. I considered skipping this year, but I’ve been doing this for several years now and have actually made good progress towards goals that I wanted to keep. So here I am once again, making my list. Without further ado.

1. Die

Yes, you read it right. My number one resolution this year is die, but not in the natural, mortality sense. I hope to work this year on dying to my self (not myself but my “self”).

Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self?
Luke 9:23 – 25

That was Jesus speaking… you know God incarnate, the creator of the universe and everything in it. What does that mean, “take up their cross daily”? The cross was the means of carrying out Jesus’ death sentence. So we must kill ourselves every day? In Romans it says:

…count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.
Romans 6:11

So what does it mean to “count yourselves dead to sin”? I’m positive that I don’t have the complete picture. I do know that I love God and want to be in His perfect will, so I will be striving to live this out in my life. How? By attempting to put myself aside. By considering others higher than myself. By serving the needs of my wife, my children, my family, my friends, my church. We humans are extremely self-serving creatures. God knows that this is destructive in our lives and He asks us to lay it aside so that He can give us life more abundantly.

2. Practice My Talents

…more specifically, the piano. God has given us all talents and we should be striving for excellence in those talents, whether that means serving people, encouraging people, administering, cleaning or playing the piano. I have realized that I play the piano every Sunday (almost) and have gotten somewhat lax (ok, completely lax) in my practice. I don’t take regular time to fine tune the talent that I use to praise and worship my God and King. I am resolving to fix that this year and make it a regular habit of practicing my instrument.

3. Marathon #2!

Yes, I completed my very first marathon this past year (November 14, 2010). That is the health/fitness goal that I am most proud of. This year I would like to repeat the feat. However, my new goal for this year will be to complete the marathon and NOT collapse at the end resulting in an E.R. visit. Of course that means I need to get back on my feet and start training again, but I’ve had some physical setbacks via my right foot being injured.

4. Get Rid of the Gut

I seriously thought last year that training for and completing a marathon (26.2 miles) would result in this stupid gut or spare tire disappearing from my midsection. Seriously! I was woefully mistaken, however, and the gut remains. So while last year I quietly included this into the “running a marathon” goal, it gets its very own resolution this year. This also means that I will need to specifically target my midsection with exercise that is not just running. Look out six pack abs, here I come!

5. Pay Off Debt

This will continue to be a resolution until it is all gone. I absolutely hate being in debt to other people and count myself as a slave to creditors, without financial freedom, until such time as I pay that last bill and shed the shackles of debt. We have done well this past year, but I plan on attacking debt with a vengeance this year. It needs to get gone!

So there you have it, my 2011 New Year’s Resolutions. Do you have any resolutions this year?

2010 Resolutions : Looking Back


It is New Year’s Eve 2010 as I am writing this. I figured I’d take just a moment to look back on the resolutions I made for this year to see how I did.

1. Work on my relationship with God

Check! Though I can’t really take credit. I was discussing this with my wife last night and was having some difficulty as to whether or not I should even have included this item. In Philippians 1:6 Paul writes, “… being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

So yes I have grown closer to God, but I don’t think I really had a choice. The scripture makes it clear (at least to me) that He who began the work in me, that is God who called me to be His child (Ephesians 2:8-10), will complete it. I don’t have a choice in the matter. He will complete it. I think it’s just up to me whether it gets completed the easy way or the hard way; I can participate and willingly follow God or I can rebel and choose my own path so that God disciplines me.

2. Work on my relationship with my wife

I believe I did alright on this front. Though I can always stand to do better. I’d like to say that I loved my wife as Christ loves the church, but that is an impossible task for a broken sinner like me. However, I do love my wife, even more now than I ever have in history.

3. Be consistent with my children’s music training

Fail! The intent of this resolution was that I personally be more consistent in teaching my children piano. However, halfway through the year we got the children involved in home school band and they have really done well there. So it’s not a total loss. They are learning music and having fun, which is the important thing.

4. Run a marathon

Check! Yes, I did! I am actually quite proud of this one. You can read more about it in this article.

5. Pay off debts

Check! We actually paid off two of our outstanding debts this year and have continued to try to stay afloat.

So that’s it. So long and farewell, 2010. We are looking forward to a great coming year in 2011.

Hard Times – How Is This Good For Me?


Image courtesy of pepo on stock.xchng

I’ve been sitting in a study on the book of James for a while now at my church. The beginning of James talks about the followers of Christ going through trials and temptations. James begins:

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” – James 1:2-5

“Consider it pure joy…”? What? How can I find joy in facing trials? Well, the answer to that lies in the fact that God is sovereign and that He allows us to go through hard times and trials in order to perfect our faith. Of course I’m no theologian so take that with a grain of salt; it’s just my understanding at this point in time. Anyway, whenever we are going through hard times it is often extremely difficult to see any benefit, to see how this could possibly work out for our good (“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”Romans 8:28). I was recently pondering this and  came up with a real life parallel that helps me to gain a little perspective on the topic.

My oldest daughter had to have oral surgery at the beginning of this year. She had some issues with her permanent teeth not coming in that could not be resolved any other way according to multiple dental professionals. My daughter, understandably, was terrified of having to go through this. She would have be “put under” for the procedure and have strange doctors and nurses operating on her without me or my wife present. From her perspective I can see that this was just too much to have to handle. There should have been another way to fix her teeth. We could have waited a little longer, we could have seen more dentists, anything but this. Isn’t that how we respond to trials in our life? Doesn’t it often feel like too much to handle?

From my perspective, this was a necessary surgery for my daughter. There were no other alternatives that would be effective. We had done the research and talked to all the right people. This had to be done. Not only that but we could see the benefit of doing so. Even if my daughter had to go through a traumatic experience and some pain, it was only temporary and would produce a lot of good in her life. Now if we can see like that for our children, how much more so can God see what we are going through and the benefit that it will produce in our life?

Finally, one more perspective that dawned on me is that of my own broken heart. It hurt me to see the fear in my daughter’s eyes as they gave her the gas and shots to make her go to sleep. It hurt me even more to have to leave after she was sleeping and know that the doctor was about to cut on my baby girl. It hurt me when I drove home and my wife held our daughter in her arms in the backseat of the van as she cried softly the whole way home. I absolutely hated to see my little girl have to go through that. Do you think God may feel that way about us? How much more does He love us than we love our children? I believe in some ways God may allow Himself to also hurt for us whenever we must walk through tough times.

Have you had to watch your child(ren) go through hard times? Are you yourself going through a hard time? Talk to God the Father and let Him know how much you are hurting. He loves you more than anyone ever could and He does care about the fact that you do not like the current circumstance. He has also promised that He will never leave us or forsake us.

2010 New Year’s Resolutions

This year I am posting a much smaller New Year’s Resolution list. Last year proved to be a failure for all of my goals except for one. That’s not to say that having them was worthless; I actually worked on quite a few which helped me make progress last year. However, this year I am narrowing the list down so that I can really focus. So here are my New Year’s Resolutions for 2010.

1. Work on my relationship with God

Matthew 6:33 says, “But seek first his kindgom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Do I really seek God first in my daily life? I can answer a resounding, “no!” The bible says to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind.” How well do I do this in my life? I don’t think I do it very well at all. So how do I plan on improving this situation?

  1. Ask God’s help. I can really do nothing outside of His will, grace and guidance. So that is the first step.
  2. Reading God’s Word. My wife and some of her friends did a “read the Bible in a year” program last year. I am going to follow along with them this year as a discipline to get myself into God’s Word more every day.
  3. Scripture memorization. This is a rollover from last year. I basically want to finish that resolution and memorize the Farewell Discourse in the Gospel of John (John 13:31 – John 17:26).
  4. Daily prayer. This should go without saying, but so often there are other things that I fill my life with instead of talking to the creator of the universe.

2. Work on my relationship with my wife

The most important person to me on this entire planet is my wife. She is my mate, my best friend, my comfort… I am entirely in love with her. Yet so often I allow that relationship to become just another “thing” in my life. I’m not entirely sure how I am going to tackle this one so I’ll have to do some prayer, research and brainstorming. The end result is this… I want to love my wife as Christ loves the church. That is how I am commanded to love my wife in the bible (Ephesians 5:25-27).

3. Be consistent with my children’s music training

I have started (many times now) to teach my older two children piano. I really want to get on track with this and invest the time and energy to give my children a solid musical foundation. It has been a large and positive part of my life and I want to give them the best opportunity to make it a part of their lives.

4. Run a marathon

I trained last year and ran my first half-marathon. This is the year of the full marathon! … I hope. I have found an 18 week training program that I think matches with my schedule and style and I really believe that if I work hard I can obtain this goal. Not only has running been a great source of achievement in my life these last few years, but it is also a large source of fitness.

5. Pay off debts

The slog through the mud of debt continues. And while it continues I am in bondage to the creditors and am unable to invest into the kingdom of God as I would really like to. I keep making this resolution every year, but every year I get closer and closer. I’m sure I won’t be entirely debt free at the end of 2010 (unless God performs a miracle), but I would at least like to eliminate everything except for my student loans and one car payment (yeah, we don’t have a mortgage… renters still).

So that’s it for this year. Just five, but I think they are five fairly large goals. I tried to center my resolutions this year (at least the first two) around the priorities that I would like to have in my life. We’ll see how it goes!

Happy Thanksgiving 2009 – 5 Things I’m Thankful For

ThanksgivingPumpkin

Happy Thanksgiving! For today I wanted to just take a second and list out five things that I am extremely thankful for this year.

1) Jesus Christ and Salvation

First and foremost I am thankful that the creator of the universe calls me His son. John 1:12 says, “Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” So how can you become a child of God as well?  John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” All you have to do is believe that and ask and He will call you his son (or daughter) as well. All it takes is a little bit of faith, which Hebrews 11:6 says is this: a) believe that God exists and b) that he rewards those who earnestly seek Him.

2) My Wife

I am extremely thankful for my wife who is my best friend, my partner, my life mate, my soul mate, my better half… the list could go on. I consider myself the luckiest man on Earth to be married to such an awesome woman. Not only is she drop-dead gorgeous and sexy, but she is kind, gentle, helpful and a great mother to my children. She basically runs our household and keeps me organized. I really would be lost without her in so many ways.

3) My Children

I have three totally great children. My oldest daughter is ten followed by a seven year old boy (who is JUST like me) and a little three (and a half) year old girl. I’m probably a little partial to my own children, but I think that they are very well behaved, respectful and loving. I love my kids!

4) My Church

God has placed us into a really great church. It’s not a mega church with a huge budget and high production for worship and all the flashy stuff that some (me) would like. What it does have though is really awesome people who genuinely love each other and truly display the body of Christ to one another, the community and the world. I’ve connected with some good friends there who I trust. The pastor is an excellent teacher of God’s Word and he is very personable. Of course this may all be because Grace Community Church is where God has placed me during this time and there is no better place to be than in the will of God.

5) My Job

I am currently employed at Columbia Southern University, a completely online college, where I am a senior software engineer. The company is owned by a really great Christian family and it shows. They really care about their employees and strive for what is best for the students and the employees. Not only that but the executive staff listens to the judgment of the I.T. staff and genuinely desires to do what is the best for the company. I also work with a really great group of people, some of whom I would call very close friends. In such hard economic times I am really blessed to have such a great job.

What Are You Thankful For?

Can you name a few things that you are thankful for this year? this day? this life?

Gearing Up For The Race

TrackNField

Well, it is Wednesday before the big race and I’m getting mentally and physically prepared. I ran a quick 2 miles yesterday and will do the same today just to stay loose, but no running after today. I want to be fully recovered and rested before the half marathon.

The bad thing is my son just got sick this week with some sort of stomach virus, which the doctor’s office is saying lasts around 5 days… swell. My wife has officially quarantined me from interacting much with him to prevent my getting sick before race day. Not only that but I’m eating multi-vitamins, vitamin C and Airborne like it was candy.

Also, we are looking forward to Thanksgiving with the family though I’m not sure how that is going to work with my son being sick. I guess we’ll see.

Daddy Wants A New Hair-Do

DreadHeader

I’m not sure any of you remember my hair braiding incident earlier this year, but it really got me to thinking about hair styles and more importantly… experimenting with mine. I have a long standing agreement with a good friend of mine that before I cut my hair short the next time I will wear a mullet for at least a week and be sure to go into the office of wherever it is I work for at least one meeting. The corn-rows got me to thinking about another style that I want to try out before I cut off the length (from the front) of my hair. Why not dread locks?

Dread Locks Research

The first thing that I needed to do was some research. I found this site, which had explanations of all of the commonly held myths about dread locks (i.e. “you can’t wash your hair”, “you are going to stink”, “it’ll destroy your hair”). That wasn’t my only resource but it gave me a good starting point. I quickly found out that not only was I eligible to dread my hair as a white dude with straight hair, but there was a ton of information on exactly how to do it. There are quite a few different methods.

UltraDreadKitNext I found a good place for the supplies I’d need to get the job done. DreadHeadHQ has not only videos and tutorials on how to dread your hair but they have products to do it as well. I went ahead and sprung for the Ultra Dread Kit, which arrived yesterday! Of course, if you read my post from yesterday you’ll know that I have to run a half marathon this coming Saturday, November 28, 2009. So I will NOT be dreading my hair this week. And actually my wife is going to be doing most of the work.

Reactions

This is somewhat of a funny topic and a little confusing to me personally. I first started talking about dreading my hair right after the corn row incident. From that point to now the reactions of most people I tell is almost the same, “Don’t do it!!!” I mean coworkers, friends, family… all just about the same reaction. Some more adamant than others. I could understand this from my wife because she is married to me and has to live with me, but I’m not real sure I understand it from other people. Is it because I just look so dashingly handsome now that they don’t want me to change? lol – yeah right!

Well, to all those neigh-sayers I say this, “it’s just hair!” It’s not like I’m converting to Islam or something. It’s not even a body piercing or something that would affect me permanently… it’s hair. If I don’t like it I can just cut it off and start over. So relax and get used to the soon-to-be new me, because it is going to happen and hopefully before Christmas. 🙂