Get In The Boat!

We had a great time this past Sunday in church talking about leaving our comfort zones to follow Christ in a whole new way.  We looked at Matthew 14, where we see Jesus walking on the water and then Peter joining Him.  The main point was that while we tend to identify with the guys who stayed in the boat instead of walking on the water, in reality we probably are not even in the boat.  We are more like the crowd of people who followed Jesus enough to be fed (the feeding of the 5,000 is the passage right before this one), but who did not leave everything behind and get in the boat like the disciples did.  So in reality, the challenge is not for us to get out of the boat and walk on the water, it is for us to get into the boat so that eventually maybe we can get out of the boat and walk on the water.

That opens up a great discussion on what does “getting into the boat” represent in our lives?  In what way is God calling us to a more radical following of Him than we are currently doing.  And once we establish what that is, are we going to be willing to go beyond simply being fed by Jesus and take that step of faith to follow Him in a radical way?   

You know the Bible is filled with wonderful stories of men and women that followed God in an unusual way.  They stepped out of their comfort zone in faith and experienced God in incredible ways.  Men and women like David, Moses, Joshua, Rahab, Ruth, Peter, Paul, Timothy and others.  Of course throughout the history of the Bible, there are men and women who followed God enough to be fed by Him and never took that extra step of faith to experience Him in a radical way.  Those people are mentioned only as part of the crowd.  They are not the people we look to as examples.  We don’t hear many sermons preached on them.  But most of us are content with simply living our lives as part of a crowd who are following God enough to be fed.  The question is, do we want more?  Do we dare to step out in faith and get in the boat with Jesus, leaving behind our comfortable lives to follow Him in a radical way?

I challenge all of us to consider this question: What does, “getting into the boat” mean for me?  What does it look like for me to leave behind my comfortable life and follow Christ?  How is He calling me to follow Him?

You can listen to the “Get In The Boat!” sermon from April 3 by going to our online sermon page (  I received so many comments from people after the sermon that I will be following up this Sunday with a closer look at how these guys got in the boat in the first place.  So if you are nearby, please come out and join us this Sunday.  And feel free to comment on this post to start a dialogue about what “getting in the boat” means for each of us.


My family loves March Madness.  For those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about, each year at this time the college basketball season comes to a close with a 68 team tournament.  The 68 teams are put into a bracket that will decide the eventual champion.  That bracket is then posted online and people all across the country fill it in to show who they think will win. 

My wife and I and our 4 children fill out the bracket each year to have a little family fun.  Whoever ends up with the most points at the end of our tournament gets to be “king” or “queen” for an evening at our home.  This provides some great entertainment as we keep track of the winners and losers over the course of the 3 week tournament. 

Each and every year I watch the games and find myself amazed at how unexpected the outcomes are.  Each year there are teams that I am sure will be unbeatable, only to find them get upset in the early rounds.  And each year there are underdog teams that I am sure have no chance of winning, only to find them pulling off upset after upset and wreaking havoc on my bracket. 

For instance, last year I spent some time carefully choosing my bracket winners based on my understanding of basketball, my observations from games that I had watched during the season, and advice from several basketball analysts from ESPN and other sources.  On the flip side, my 6 year old daughter chose to base her bracket winners on teams that came from places where she or her family and friends have lived over the years.  For that reason she chose Butler, an underdog team from a small school in Indiana, to beat some much more highly regarded opponents.  Obviously, she turned out to be right and my family and I found ourselves watching Cinderella and having a “ball” in our living room because Kalyn was “queen for a night.”

This year I once again used my head and came up with what I thought would be a very solid bracket.  But all of my final four teams wound up losing in earlier rounds and my wife and 8 year-old daughter are now in position to win this year.  Once again, Butler proved to be my downfall.  I chose Butler to lose in the 2nd round, while my wife chose Butler to make it to the final four.  She was right, and I was wrong.

But surprisingly Butler is not the biggest underdog team this year.  Virginia Commonwealth University deserves that title.  When the bracket was first announced several analysts ripped the selection committee for including VCU in the tourament.  They believed that VCU didn’t belong.  One analyst even called the inclusion of VCU “indefensible.”  VCU did not have a great season.  They finished 4th in the weak Colonial Athletic Association conference.  That’s one spot lower than Hofstra.  They lost 11 games during the season including losses to Georgia State, James Madison and Drexel.  Many analysts did not even expect them to make the tournament, much less win a game. 

But they didn’t just win a game, they have made an unbelievable run, beating Georgetown, Purdue, Florida State, and Kansas on their way to the Final Four.  They were the underdog in each game and yet wound up beating 4 teams from bigger conferences who were all expected to win.  VCU is this year’s biggest underdog story.

Basketball analysts refer to games like these as “David vs Goliath” kind of matchups.  In each game they played, VCU has been like David facing Goliath.  That’s a great reference, because David was the biggest underdog ever.  No one gave him a chance.  He defines what we think of when we call someone an underdog. 

Consider this, David wasn’t even big enough yet to go to war.  His brothers were part of the Saul’s army, but not David.  He was keeping watch over the sheep and running errands for his father.  He was just a boy.  Goliath was a man.  A seasoned warrior.  He was battle tested and an impressive physical presence.  He stood over 9 feet tall.  His armor and weapons probably weighed as much as David.  And yet David came at him with just a sling and a stone, and won!

That is probably the biggest underdog story in the history of the world.  It was so big of an upset that to this day we still talk about upset matchups in sports as David vs Goliath.  But there is one verse in that story that I just love and that is I Samuel 17:48 where it talks about how David ran to meet Goliath.  David didn’t think of himself as an underdog, he simply faced the enemy in front of him with a courage born of his trust in God.

Maybe in your life today you feel like an underdog.  Maybe it feels like the problems you face are bigger than you are.  I want to encourage you to remember the example of David.  Don’t listen what others might say about your chances.  Don’t consider yourself an underdog.  Run to face the obstacle in front of you with courage born from a trust in God.

The Investor

My Uncle Bob passed away about a week ago.  I wasn’t able to make it to the funeral, but I will miss him dearly.  He had a major impact on my life and I thought it would be worthwile for me to share why. 

For much of my life we lived within 45 minutes of Uncle Bob and his family.  So we were pretty close with him and Aunt Jan and their daughters: Karen, Erica, and Judy.  Through his life, Uncle Bob has been a missionary, a pastor, a journalist, editor, writer, and professor.  He has been the special assistant to the President of The Christian and Missionary Alliance, has written several books, and has even ghost written articles for Dr. Billy Graham, and President Ronald Reagan.  But I will always remember him as an investor.

Now when I say “investor,” I don’t mean that in the traditional sense of the word, but my Uncle Bob did invest in me in many ways over the years.  We had a lot in common.  He had a background in communication and design and enjoyed photography and art as well as writing.  Throughout my years growing up he was always supportive of me and nurtured my creative side.  He gave me some of his old cameras when I showed an interest in photography.  He always wanted to see my artwork and encouraged me in my pursuits as a graphic designer and then in web design.

When I was a graphic designer for the National Office of the Christian and Missionary Alliance, he worked there as a special assistant to the President and as the Director of Communications.  He had input on much of my work and helped me grow and mature both as a designer and as a person. 

I don’t know if he ever realized it or not, but I considered him one of my mentors.  But not only was he supportive of my artistic pursuits, he was also one of my biggest supporters when I felt God’s call on my life to enter the ministry.  He even committed to providing me with a subscription to Christianity Today every year that I have been a pastor. 

But one of the biggest investments he made in my life is one that he didn’t even make specfically for me personally.  This investment came through a book that he wrote 25 years ago.  That book is called, “All for Jesus.”  It is about the history of the Alliance, and was mandatory reading for my ordination when I became a pastor.  But to me that book is not just a historical book.  It helped shape my philosophy of ministry.  I have more notes in that book than any book I have ever read.  I have highlighted passages, notes in the margin, sticky tabs and paperclips marking pages, and other notes that I have written out and inserted.  I have quoted from the book repeatedly and I would put it among the top 5 most influential books in my life.  It is one more way that Uncle Bob has invested in my life.

That is why I think of Uncle Bob as an investor.  I hope that God is using me as an investor in the lives of others, because I have seen the benefit that I have received from those who have invested in me.  And I write this as a challenge to all of us, that we should remember to thank those who have invested in us and look for ways to be used by God as investors in the lives of those around us.

In case you are interested I am including Uncle Bob’s obituary below…

Rev. Robert L. Niklaus, Jr., age 77, of Deland Florida, died March 13, 2011. He was the husband of Janet M. (McIllwaine) Niklaus for the past 52 years.

Born and raised in Williamsport, PA, he was a son of the late Robert L. Niklaus, Sr. and Harriet (Sims) Niklaus. He lived in Nyack, NY for many years- before and after spending 12 years doing missionary work in Belgian, Congo- he then lived in Colorado Springs from 1989-2003 moving to Lakeville, Ma until 2009 and retiring to Florida. He was a graduate of Nyack Missionary Institute-now Nyack College, Class of 1955. He received his masters in journalism Syracuse University, 1968. While residing in Nyack, he was an adjunct professor at King’s College (Briarcliff Manor NY) and Nyack College.

In 1972 he became Assoc. Editor of the Christian Missionary Alliance’s (C&MA) monthly magazine and also worked for National Religious Broadcasting writing numerous articles for religious magazines, including being a ghost writer for Dr. Billy Graham when he featured as the cover of TV Guide Magazine and President Ronald Reagan for a convention. He had the gift of words and was a model wordsmith. From 1987-1996, he was Asst to the President and later Director of Communications. He authored several books penning the history of Alliance worldwide and traveled with a video team recording missionaries at work to show churches how their support was being manifested. Retired from the C&MA in 2000, he became Pastor of Mullein Baptist Church in Lakeville, MA serving with his wife from 2003 – 2009. Surviving In addition to his wife: 3 daughters: Karen Corinha of Marshfield, MA, Erica Butler of Overland Park, KA and Judy Poferl of Bartlett, IL; sister Mary L. Mapstone of Colorado Springs, CO; 6 nieces, 8 nephews and the “jewels of his crown”. He was “button poppin’ proud” of his 9 grandchildren! He also leaves his adopted children: David Trinn of Vietnam, Lan and Sophy Kong of Cambodia and he was the brother of the late William Niklaus.

How Good Is This Book?

I recently read the book, “How Good is Good Enough,” by Andy Stanley.  It is a short, easy read, but contains a powerful message.  The focus of the book is that no matter how hard we try, we can never be good enough to earn our way to Heaven.  Andy Stanley takes a look at the problem with trying to be good enough.  For instance, even if we believe we have been good, how do we know if we have been good enough to make it to Heaven?

In this book the author quotes a recent survey where people were asked if they believed in Heaven and Hell.  “Almost 90 percent of Americans said they believe there is a Heaven, while only 30 percent believed in hell as a real place.  And almost nobody who believed in hell thought they were going there.”  (Stanley, pp.20-21)  If that’s true then does that mean that just about everybody is really going to make it to Heaven?  And if not, then how can we know for sure that we are one of those that will? 

Andy Stanley points out other problems with simply hoping that we have been good enough and then lays out an alternative.  He says that instead of trying to be good enough, we need to be forgiven and points to Jesus Christ as the way to receive that forgiveness. 

This book provides some much needed answers for those who are striving to be good enough to earn their way to Heaven or for those who are not sure if they will go to Heaven when they die.  It is not a deep theological book and is not really for mature Christians who are looking for spiritual formation, but would be a great book to give to those who are searching for answers.  For that reason, I recommend this book.

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.  I signed up for their “Blogging for Books” program and will occassionally be posting reviews of the books I receive.

The Carmelo Contractual Blues

If you are not a sports fan, then the headline for this post probably made no sense to you.  Actually, even if you are sports fan it might not have made any sense.  So let me explain.  Carmelo Anthony is a professional basketball player who was traded from the Denver Nuggets to the New York Knicks this morning.  And that got me singing the “Carmelo Contractual Blues…”


Carmelo don’t like us…


Says he likes the Knick’s more


And now he is gone…


And I feel abandoned, betrayed, and unwanted right down to my core!

I got those “Carmelo Contractual Blues”


Well, I guess that I am not the best blues ballad writer either, but you are probably wondering why I am writing about this NBA deal at all?  Well, at least to some extent it’s probably because it’s cathartic for me.  You see, I am a Nuggets fan and I was extremely excited when Denver selected Carmelo with the 3rd pick of the 2003 NBA Draft.  The Nuggets had languished in relative obscurity for several years before Carmelo’s arrival, and he brought them back to relevance.  But Carmelo didn’t want to play in Denver anymore.  He and his wife wanted the bright lights of New York City.  So I am sad to see him leave.  And I guess writing about it helps me process it.

But I do have a point that I want to make as well.  Thinking about the Carmelo trade has me thinking about contracts.  A contract is basically a decision between 2 parties with each side having specific things that they are to do or not do.  Denver made a contract offer to Carmelo when they drafted him and he chose to accept that contract and for the last 7 and a half seasons he has been a Denver Nugget.  He has lived up to his end of the contract.  He did everything he said he would do and then some.  He has averaged 20 points or more per game each year.  He was a 4-time all star.  He led them to the playoffs every season since joining the team and led them to 2 division titles and one western conference final.  So nobody can say that he didn’t fulfill his end of the contract. 

The problem is that after fulfilling that contract, he is now deciding to play for someone else.  You see, today’s trade came about because Carmelo’s contract was going to run out at the end of the season.  Which means that this summer he would have become a free agent.  And that means that he could have signed a new contract with whoever he wanted to sign with.  Cleveland Cavaliers fans went through that last summer with Lebron James taking his talents to South Beach.  Carmelo at least gave the Denver Nuggets a heads up to let them know that he did not want to play for them anymore.  So they became proactive and started the process of trying to trade him before he left. 

I guess that I should be happy that the Nuggets at least got something for Carmelo.  I am sure that Cavaliers fans would have preferred to have Lebron leave in that way.  But I still would have preferred to have Carmelo stay in Denver.  Speaking as a fan it is easy to feel betrayed, abandoned, and unwanted.  After all, Carmelo decided that he would rather play for someone else instead of us.  That’s what has me singing the “Carmelo Contractual Blues.”

But that also got me thinking about contracts in general and specifically the contract or covenant that my Heavenly Father has with me.  He has chosen to make me a part of His team.  He has given me an amazing deal.  He has forgiven me of all of my sins, cleansed me from all of my unrighteousness, and made a place for me to be with Him for all eternity in Heaven.  And the amazing thing is that it is not because of anything that I bring to the table.  It is not because I am perfect or awesome.  Actually, it is in spite of who I am and what I have done.  He makes this convenant with me based on the sacrifice of His Son and has me accept the deal through faith. 

But the thing that has me so thankful today is that I know He will never change His mind.  He will never choose to pass me over for someone else.  He will never decide that there is a better option out there for Him.  This covenant is everlasting and fully guaranteed.  I am His and He is mine!  Forever.  So the feelings of abandonment and betrayal that I have because Carmelo has chosen to go somewhere else, I will never have with my Lord who has chosen me forever.  Praise the Lord.  And “Go Nuggets!”

Learning from a Headache

I woke up with a headache this morning.   Don’t you hate it when that happens.  I decided not to take anything and just headed out the door to start my morning.  After working on my sermon and catching up on emails my headache became worse, to the point where I actually was developing an upset stomach to go along with it.  I took some Tylenol and drank a little caffeine with my lunch and within about a half hour I was feeling much better.

Now I know that Tylenol is supposed to work that way, but it has been my experience that it does not always do the job.  Especially, when I have let a headache get as bad as that one.  So I was pleasantly surprised when my headache went away.  And I took a moment and thanked God for helping me to feel better.

As I was praying, I began to think about answered prayer and after thinking about it, I couldn’t remember if I had even asked God to take away my headache.  Not because I didn’t want Him involved, but simply because I just hadn’t thought to ask Him.  And that got me thinking about the fact that God doesn’t just answer the prayers I pray.  He also answers the prayers that I don’t pray. 

God doesn’t wait for me to ask for everything.  He is always watching over me, caring for me, blessing me, giving me good things, protecting me, and providing for me.  Remember in the movie Aladdin, when Aladdin has been thrown into the water and sinks to the bottom?  He inadvertently rubs the lamp and the genie pops out.  The genie wants to save Aladdin, but he can’t do it without Aladdin’s request.  I am very thankful that God is not like that.  He’s not a genie in a lamp.  He doesn’t need my request to come before He can act.  And I am thankful that He answers not only the prayers that I make, but also the one’s that I don’t. 

I am glad my headache is gone, but it also did serve as a good reminder to me about how thankful I am for who God is.  He provides for me in so many ways.  Sometimes I realize His provision after it has happened and I stop and give thanks.  But I am sure that there are many other times where God is answering prayers that I never prayed and I don’t even realize that He has taken care of me.  This headache reminded me to say thank you to God for all the prayers that He has answered that I never even prayed.  Thank you God!

The Bloody Thumb

I know, I know, what a terrible title for a blog post.  Who would ever call their post, “The Bloody Thumb?”  But that is exactly what inspired this post, so I thought it would be fitting to make it the title.  Besides, it got you to check it out, didn’t it?  So here is how a bloody thumb inspired me to write this post…

For my devotions the other day I was reading in the book of Leviticus.  In case you have never spent much time in the book of Leviticus, it is one of the places where many people who have committed to read through the Bible in a year get bogged down.  It contains detailed information on making offerings, observing festivals, figuring out what is clean and unclean and instructions for priests.  It is not an easy read, but it is important for understanding the requirements for covering sin and guilt. 

So what does all of this have to do with a bloody thumb?  I was just getting to that.  Basically, sometime this weekend I cut my finger.  It wasn’t a big cut.  Actually, I didn’t even realize I cut it.  It was one of those small, paperthin cuts that you don’t even really notice.  It didn’t even bleed so I didn’t put on a bandaid.  I just noticed that my thumb was a little sore.

The next morning, I went to do my devotions and found myself in the book of Leviticus.  As I was reading I noticed that a couple of specks of red were on the bottom of the page.  I looked at my thumb and realized that my cut had opened up and bled just a little bit.  So I now have 2 little spots of blood right next to Leviticus 5 in my Bible. 

My first reaction was to try and wipe it off, but it was such a little amount that it had dried already.  So I continued with my devotions, but now I was reading off of a blood stained page.  And I found myself marveling at what a great reminder I had been given because of a bloody thumb.

You see, Leviticus tells us about how the people of Israel would make offerings over and over again to cover their sins and bring them back to a right relationship with God.  This pointed the way to the perfect sacrifice that would one day be made through the death of Jesus Christ.  When Christ was crucified on the cross, He became the perfect sacrifice that would cover the sins of the world.

So there I was being reminded of all this while looking at how my blood had stained my Bible.  How amazing to realize that while my blood stained the page of my Bible, Christ’s blood washes me clean of the stain of sin in my life.  Because of His sacrifice, I have been washed white as snow.  As we are reminded in Ephesians 1:7, “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.”

If you are reading this blog today and would like to hear more about how Christ’s sacrifice can cover your sins, please email me or give me a call, because I would love to talk more with you about this wonderful Good News.

Stop Complaining

For those of you who check our site regularly for blogs, I am sorry that I have not blogged for a couple weeks.  I was away at a conference where I had almost no access to anything electronic and then I got back and was a little swamped trying to catch up.  Anyway, I’m back and hopefully you weren’t complaining about my lack of blogs because this blog is all about not complaining…

This morning in my devotions I was hanging out in the book of Exodus and I came across a verse that struck me in a different way than when I have read it before.  It was in Exodus 16, where we find the people of Israel on their way to the Promised land.  God has already brought them miraculously across the Red Sea and delivered them from the hand of the Egyptians.  In chapter 15 we see them complaining because they are thirsty and God miraculously provides water for them to drink.  Then when we arrive in chapter 16 we see them complaining to Moses once again, only this time it is because they are hungry.  They actually say that they were better off when they were slaves in Egypt, because at least there they had plenty to eat.

So God decides to miraculously provide food for them to eat and Moses and Aaron call a meeting of the people to tell them the good news.  We read about what they said to the people in Exodus 16:6b-8, “In the evening you will realize that it was the Lord who brought you out of the land of Egypt.  In the morning you will see the glorious presence of the Lord.  He has heard your complaints, which are against the Lord and not against us.  The Lord will give you meat to eat in the evening and bread in the morning, for he has heard all your complaints against him.  Yes, your complaints are against the Lord, not against us.” (NLT)

Typically, when I have looked at this passage I have focused on how sad it is that the people of Israel were complaining again already after they had seen God deliver them from Egypt and bring them safely across the Red Sea.  But this time, I noticed this point that Moses makes about how their complaints were really complaints against God.  I had never really thought about who they thought they were complaining against.  Maybe they blamed Moses and Aaron for the situation they found themselves in?  Maybe they blamed the land for not producing what was needed to provide them with water and food?  But regardless of who they thought they were complaining against, ultimately their complaints were really against God.  They were complaining that God was not taking care of them.

I don’t know about you, but I know that I complain sometimes too.  When things aren’t going my way, I complain.  When I do that, I think I am complaining against whoever or whatever the problem is.  For instance, I might complain against the government when they do something I don’t agree with or when they take too much taxes out of my paycheck.  Or I might complain against my job, when things are tough.  Or I might complain about the price of gas or food or whatever else I need to buy.  I figure these complaints are harmless and I am just letting off steam and looking for someone to blame, but ultimately when I complain, I am complaining against God.

Ultimately my trust is not in the government, or my job, or the economy.  Ultimately my trust is in God.  So when I complain, it shows a lack of trust in God’s provision.  And that is not an attitude I want to have.

We are reminded in I Thessalonians 5:16-18 to, “Always be joyful.  Keep on praying.  No matter what happens, always be thankful, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” (NLT again)  That is the attitude that I am supposed to have.  Even in the face of tough times I am to be joyful, and give thanks.  I can pray and ask God to take care of me, but not with a spirit of complaining, but rather with a spirit of joy and thanksgiving, and complete trust in God.

The Best Verse in Genesis

Last year for my devotions I read through the Bible and for each chapter I underlined one, and only one, verse.  That was a very difficult assignment because many times there were several verses in the chapter that I would have underlined.  I am planning to start that same devotional plan again this year with a different version of the Bible, but first I am putting some finishing touches on last year’s study.

I have been going back and looking at all of my underlines for each chapter and picking one verse, and only one verse, from each book of the Bible.  If I thought that one verse per chapter was tough, this is ridiculous.  How do you decide between several verses that are worth underlining?  It becomes a very subjective experience that is also dependent upon where I am at spiritually, mentally and emotionally at the time as well. 

But be that as it may, it has been a very interesting undertaking.  For instance, for the book of Genesis, I chose Genesis 15:6, “Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness.”  I could have gone with something signifying God as Creator, like, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”   I could have gone with a verse that focuses on the downfall of man and the essence of sin, like Genesis 4:7, “If you do what is right, will you not be accepted?  But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.”  Or I could have focused on a verse displaying God’s sovereignty like, Genesis 50:20, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”

But instead I chose Genesis 15:6, “Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness.”   Why?  Simply because of Abram’s example of faith.  He believed the Lord.  He had faith in God for the present and the future.  In Hebrews 11, which is sometimes referred to as the “Faith Hall of Fame” we see that Abraham is credited for this.  He was a man of faith.  And his example stood the test of time. 

Obviously it could be argued as to whether or not this is the best or most important verse in Genesis.  Maybe you would have a different choice?  But this is my blog and this is the verse I chose.  In the weeks ahead I will unveil some of my other choices for best verses as well.

Reflecting on 2010

So are you ready for the new year?  Today is December 29, 2010.  Which means that 2011 is almost here.  Time to usher out the old year and bring in the new.  Thinking back over this past year it is hard to forget the 3 biggest news stories of the year.  The year started out on a sad note as January brought us the terrible Haiti earthquake that saw over 200,000 deaths and millions without shelter, food, and water.  In July the explosion of an oil rig in the Gulf and the subsequent oil spill left many powerful images for us to ponder.  And then in October we all became transfixed by the intense story of the Chilean miners.  It has been a year of tragedy and triumph, of pain and pleasure, and burdens as well as blessings. 

The end of the year is a good time for us to reflect on the year that was.  And not just from a detached, big-picture view, but personally it is a good time for us to take a look at our lives and what the past year has meant for us.  So what has your life been like this past year?  What have been the ups and downs?  What have been your blessings and burdens, your pains and pleasures?  How has this year been for you?

This is a good time to reflect.  But ultimately I think the best test of whether or not it has been a good year is simply the answer to this question, “Have I grown?”  Good things and bad things are going to come our way, but ultimately it is what we do with those things that determine the overall effect on our lives.  My hope for all of us for 2011 is not that we have the perfect year, but rather that no matter what comes, we grow.  May you grow this year.

World Cup

Chilean miners, October

Simon Cowell left American idol

Haiti earthquake, 230,000 died in January

oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico in July