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Reflections and Outlooks for 2014

What are some reflections for 2013?

What a year 2013 has been!  If I had to give it a theme it would be the "Year of Transition."  First we transitioned from our previous ministry at Second Baptist in Union City, TN to our new ministry at First Baptist Church, Millington, TN.  This was not just a simple move from one city or church to another.  As far as moving the family down to the Millington area, there was about a four-five month period of separation that I experienced from our family where I began to work in the church and Brittany stayed in Martin with the girls while we tried to sell our house.  We left behind some great friends there in Union City and Martin, people that we still to this day cherish as mentors and fellow ministers of the Gospel.  They were truly our family in the Lord.  It was also tough as we moved further away from both of our families.  My parents were 10 minutes in the next town, Brittany's parents were 30 minutes away.  They have been such a blessing to rely upon when the girls were sick or even for a date night, and we luckily haven't moved far enough away where it is a total inconvenience, yet they are still away.

With this transition though brought about some new experiences.  I had the chance to live with my sisters in downtown Memphis during the time that we were trying to sell.  Even though we didn't see each other that much, because we all worked crazy hours, we did get to spend some time together that we would have never had the chance to do.  It was needed I feel for me to appreciate them as sisters again and just how valuable having family is when going through a time like this.

Then in August we finally had the chance to be together as a family in our new house!  We are so blessed to be where we are.  We live in Atoka, which is a growing part of Tipton County and the neighborhood is quiet and seems to be great for Brittany and the girls to be settled in. Oh yes by the way, through this time of transition, we made the decision for Brittany to be a stay-at-home mom.  This has been a blessing for her as she is spending great quality time with the girls and teaching them daily what it means to be a Christian woman in this crazy culture.  Even though she still has some cross-eyed days with those wild girls, she loves it and I believe she is exactly where the Lord would have her to be!

Our daughters, Ellie Grace (who turns 4 in January) and Abby (14 months), are growing by leaps and bounds.  We had Ellie Grace's tonsils taken out last week and that was truly an experience.  I have never seen my daughter in that much pain, and to be honest I never want to again.  The pain though I have to remember was for her good.  I reflected at one point in the hospital about the picture of God the Father looking at Jesus the Son and saying Son you are going to go through some pain, but its all for the good to come.  The reality was as well that God didn't want to see his son suffer like that ever again, and praise God he wouldn't.  Abby continues to amaze me with her intelligence at her age.  She has a little wit about her (everyone says she's like her daddy) and sometimes it seems to me that she uses that wit to her advantage (maybe too much like her daddy, jk).  She is truly a blessing to be around and to see how she loves life!  We even think that while she was away during Ellie Grace's surgery that she got homesick, but who knows.

We are so blessed to have been transitioned to First Baptist!  At first, I will admit that I was a little intimidated coming from a church half the size of First to this larger church context!  I didn't know if I would ever learn who anyone was, if it would be constantly new faces, or even if anyone would share in the vision that God had for our Sunday school/education in the church.  I can truly say that I have been blessed with not a group of volunteers but a group of ministers.  People that see how they have been called to the work that God has placed them in.  This has transformed how we approach Sunday school and how the Lord leads us every Sunday.  The ministry at First is one as well that the doors are wide open for where we can go in our discipleship process.  With this, it encourages me to stop and reflect upon what is truly important for there to be healthy production in our church, not numerical, but healthy disciples making and multiplying healthy disciples.

What are some outlooks for 2014?

Personally:
1. I want to spend more personal time with my wife.  In the hustle and bustle of ministry life, as well as with our children, I want to date my wife more.  I know its tough in the midst of having to get baby sitters and such, but its vital for us, as it is with any marriage.
2. I want to give more time to my family.  My daughters are precious to me, but I want them to not remember me as a great minister but as a great father that loves Jesus with all his heart.
3. I want to work more effectively!  This may sound as a contradiction to my previous statement, but it actually couples with it, as to spend more time with my family means that I begin to work more effectively.
4. I want to memorize more Scripture.  I want to be able to have a verse memorized at least everyone month (start small and work to big)
5. I want to lose 20 lbs and keep it off.  This will require a change of lifestyle and total difference in how I eat, but for me to see 2015 and beyond, I have to become healthier.
6. I want to write a book this year.  I am not sure exactly how that will go, but I at least desire to let that be a part of my calling in that I write to help people grow in their walks with Christ.
7. I want to be more effective in my personal witness.  I need to couple my desire for evangelism with my action of evangelism more effectively.

Ministerially:
1. I want to see us start 5 new classes in Sunday School.  We have the potential to connect in even more people into our church by simply starting new groups as much as possible.
2, I want to see our discipleship program transition from topical to growth.  We have for too long just chosen topics to study, without any focus towards growing into Christ.  I truly want to see this changed.
3. I want to see us develop more leaders.  We have to be aware of how we are developing leaders individually and intentionally.
4. I  want to mentor men to grow into Christ.  I want to take personal time to mentor men to grow into the image of Christ.
5.  I want to read 24 books this year.  I am not sure what all they are yet but I want to average reading two new books a month.
6. I want to be trained/to train more.  I don't want to get caught up into the rat race of numbers, instead I want us to be healthy and this will involve spending more time in training and giving training.

Those these may seem random, I thought it was good for me to just reflect and look ahead for where the Lord is leading us!

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