2013 in the Rear-View Mirror…

Posted: January 4, 2014 in Uncategorized

Well, it has been a long time since posting a blog! I thought looking back on 2013 might be an appropriate way to re-enter the wonderful world of blogging. Below are what I consider the top 10 highlights for me of 2013, in no particular order (except #1). This was a good year, and God did some incredible things. Sometimes, it’s just good to look back before you move forward. So here it goes…

1. Getting married to Sarah Elisa Bernard. This definitely ranks as my #1. Though the story is much too long to recount here, I could not have asked for any better. Sarah is the Robin to my Batman (actually, she’s more like Batman and I’m more like Robin…). She is the perfect compliment to me and I already forget what life was like without her. What an incredible thing to have her show me a list of “Future Husband” qualities (and not the shallow kind, mind you) she wrote while in college and realize that I meet all of them (except “athletic” and “southern gentleman” haha!), with obvious room for improvement of course! Although I never made such a list, she is exactly everything I should have put down. I prayed a lot about who my future wife would one day be, and as Pastor Larry Lawrence says, “God always chooses best for those who let God do the choosing.” Amen to that, brother.

2. Writing and publishing my second book. For someone who never dreamed (or even desired!) to be an author, this has been a unique blessing. What a privilege to take the iconic Experiencing God principles of my grandfather and (with the help of brother Daniel and uncle Tom) put them into a book for teenagers. My goal is to see it sell 10,000 copies. Last word I got showed that we were getting somewhat close to that. If God uses that book to change the life of even one teenager, it was worth the many (often grueling!) hours writing it. If you’re interested in helping us reach that 10,000 goal, go here… http://www.amazon.com/Seven-Steps-Knowing-Doing-Experiencing/dp/1433679833/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1388869989&sr=8-1&keywords=mike+blackaby

3. Signing a 3rd book contract. The process that resulted in #2 above is well underway again! This time I have the privilege in writing with my dad and my uncle/pastor/boss Mel. It’s an apologetics book that I hope and pray will be useful to those who are seeking a relationship with God for the first time or who have difficult questions regarding faith. A goal for 2014 is to finish the darn thing!

4. Finishing my 4th semester of PhD work. For a guy who needed his dad to convince him to take a 4 year bachelor degree after high school because “I can’t see myself being in school for another 4 years!”, this is an accomplishment! It has been difficult, and has shown me time and time again that there is nothing that God calls you to do that He won’t also equip you to accomplish.

5. Celebrating Cafe on Main’s 3 year anniversary. On Thursday, Sept 9, 2010 we took an old cafe on Main Street in Jonesboro and desired it to become a place where young adults could come and find community and experience God. To date (although I haven’t counted the total visitor cards in a while), we’ve had over 300 college-aged young adults come through our doors for the first time. We’ve had church kids, gang members, druggies, college students, felons, atheists, missionaries and everything in between. We’ve had people from Cambodia, Africa, Honduras, Haiti, Canada, Vietnam, Mexico, Greece, and many other places from around the world. We have rearranged the place, built a sound booth, built a new coffee bar, painted the walls, hosted concerts, and served our community for the Jonesboro Christmas parade. To say that I love this place would vastly understate my feelings about it. Related to this, what a blessing to see 60+ young adults fill the home of our pastor’s house for the annual Christmas party, many of them having first connected to our church through Cafe on Main.

6. Preaching my 201st sermon. Though I am currently at 253, this number is significant. On May 25, 2003, Mel Blackaby stepped aside and allowed his 17 year old nephew to preach his first sermon. On July 11, 2011 he did it again (this time in Georgia instead of Canada!) and allowed me to preach my 101st sermon. On February 17, 2013, he again let me stand behind his pulpit to preach #201. Whenever #301 approaches, I’ll be sure to let him know.

7. Seeing my sister Carrie get engaged. For one thing, it allowed me to breathe a sigh of relief that I at least beat my baby sister to the altar! For another, what a special time to see God complete our family by adding the last piece of the puzzle (“Until grandchildren!” I can already hear my mother say…). Sam Camp has been my right-hand man ever since I came to Jonesboro and is a HUGE reason why #5 on this list ever happened. If I could have hand-picked who I wanted my baby sister to marry, it would have been him (actually, I believe it was him who I had in mind!).

8. Preaching alongside Francis Chan in Maui. While technically I’m not sure he was even in the same room when I preached, we were at least listed alongside each other as conference speakers! To meet him afterwards and tell him personally that God used his message at Passion Conference the year before to set our ministry goal for 2013 was a great honor! For the record, he comes up to about my shoulder, but man can he communicate!

9. Taking 30+ young adults on a mission trip. What a joy to go into the most culturally diverse part of Atlanta and lead after-school programs for kids right there in their apartment complexes. I felt like a proud parent watching our young people (some of them new Christians) spread their wings and let God use them in amazing ways. Also got to watch 3 of these young men eat the hottest pepper in the world, and I don’t know that I’ve laughed that hard before OR since!

10. Taking a 4-week swing dance class. Ok, sometimes it’s just good to step out of your comfort zone and try something new. Especially when your fiance asks you to…

BONUS. Going on a 7 day cruise for our Honeymoon. I guess technically this goes along with #1. However, this was the perfect honeymoon (even though I had a cold, stomach flu, and pink eye during the course of it!). Going to Harry Potter World in Orlando, eating at Rainforest Cafe on Downtown Disney, cruising with Royal Caribbean, driving a jet ski in Haiti, etc. all with my new bride was the perfect way to let loose after many months of wedding planning. If I could, I’d make honeymoon’s (specifically on cruise ships) an annual thing…

So 2013 was a pretty good year. I’m reminded over and over again how good God is. The more I walk with Him the more I see how undeserving I am that He would walk with me. I’m not sure what all lies ahead in 2014. I’m currently in the process of thinking and praying through a list of goals for this next year. All I know is life as a Christ-follower is always an adventure, and as the great J.R.R. Tolkien once wrote, “It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.”

Happy New Year!

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