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My Personal Reflections on 2013

In 2013, God was good. But that’s true every year, isn’t it? His good character never changes. Ever.

But life changes for us, and it changes in our world. And through that constant condition of change, God’s goodness carries us. I’m reflecting this morning on how our world has changed and how my life has changed in the last year, and it’s been a BIG year! Let me celebrate a few things…

DrewWe had a baby.

And he’s precious. I don’t mean to brag but… well, okay I DO mean to brag… Drew is probably the happiest baby I’ve ever seen. He smiles and laughs and lights up a room with his happy eyes. He goes days without crying, loves people, and has a contagious belly laugh that infects others with joy.

We have two other children who are awesome. Ella is smart, sweet, and loves Jesus. She tells everyone about her faith and her church and she’s growing up into a godly young woman! She’s the daughter of my dreams. Sam is, well, Sam. He’s cool, sweet, and funny. He’s hyper, dangerous, and wild. He’s all “boy.”

We finally got married.

Okay, that subheading was for shock purposes. We’ve been married 16 years and I think we’ve hit a stride and grown this past year in ways that make me feel like a newlywed. Angie is the love of my life. As I wrote in the dedication page of my new book, Angie is the love of my life, whom God has used to re-wire me in all the right ways.

Our marriage has gone through a lot of maturing. There were moments when Angie would say that “we’re in the fight of our lives.” We both saw that season as both the best and the hardest period of our lives as a couple. And in God’s grace, we’ve found a stride.

I adore my wife. And in 2013, I fell harder in love with her than ever. I feel as if I married her all over again. And if I could, I would!

We’ve continued planting a church.

We’re life-ers. In other words, we’ve been planting Grace Hills with the intention of retiring or dying while serving northwest Arkansas. So it’s time to officially announce my retirement!… tentatively effective in the summer of 2042.

In the last year, we’ve added Meredith (who leads our Kids’ ministry), Jorge (who leads in outreach and local missions), and Angie (who directs our operations and recovery ministry plans) to our staff along with Michael (who will be leaving in the summer to plant a Grace Hills daughter church). We’ve also witnessed the re-birth of a student ministry under Brian and Melissa, served hundreds of hours with local organizations, baptized a dozen new believers, and sent fifteen people to Honduras. And from leading the Honduras trip to being a really, really good friend, Neil continues to bless my soul! His co-leadership at Grace Hills is pretty cool to watch. He sings and plays, yes, but he personally disciples and leads too.

Though I’ll write more about 2014 elsewhere, I’ll just mention that in the upcoming year, we are launching a second weekend service, sending two families off to Papau New Guinea and another out in our region to plant churches, and officially beginning a Celebrate Recovery ministry.

I’ve written a book.

I was approached by Jevon, a talented Editor with Charisma House, asking if I would consider writing a book under their Passio label, which markets to young, creative types. I began and completed the marathon of book-writing and finished Rewired, which is set to release on February 4, 2014. You can read more about the book here.

I’ve met and ministered to church leaders.

In 2013, Rick Warren’s Ministry Toolbox grew by about 7,000 subscribers and pastors.com’s traffic and reach soared. But the numbers don’t tell the whole story. What’s really thrilling is what happens behind-the-scenes as Pastors are connected to other Pastors and people are helped.

Every day, I email new subscribers asking where they serve, what they’re passionate about, and how we can serve them. Out of those emails, we’ve helped church leaders break growth barriers, deal with depression and burnout, solve problems and crises in their churches, and reach more people for Jesus.

I’ve grown.

Writing a book, editing a website, and preaching sermons is the stuff I think about in terms of accomplishments. But the bigger story is that 2013 was a year of tremendous personal growth in my life. I discovered victory over some long-term struggles, came to see myself as a broken man in need of rescue and recovery, and re-discovered what intimacy with Jesus looks like all over again.

Has it been a good year? It depends on who you ask. It’s been a tough year for those who have lost jobs, lost loved ones, and lost their freedom in various parts of the world. It’s been a horrific year for those enduring persecution and genocide, for those who have remained in slavery and bondage, either literal or spiritual. And I suppose it’s been a good year for those who have made a buck, built a career, grown a family, etc.

I’m hesitant to call it a “good year.” What I will say, unequivocally, is that in the year 2013, God was very, very good. And I’m fully expecting Him to keep it up… forever.

If you don’t know Jesus, or if you don’t know if you know Jesus or not, please, please, reach out to me. I can’t promise you a good year, and God doesn’t do so either. I can, however, promise you that God is good. You can trust Him!

Three Things Kids Need to See In Their Parents

Old Family PhotoWe sometimes think that raising kids well is all about what we tell them. But what is even more important is what we show them. And if you want to do the best you can for the next generation’s sake, you’ll model at least these three traits in your home.

Security and Stability

Kids need to know that they’re safe, their basic needs are going to be provided for, and that they will be free to grow up in a stable environment. Selfishness often causes us to fight dirty, abandon, or neglect our spouse. Kids need to know that home is the safest place on the planet – the place to which we flee from a threatening world.

Oneness and Intimacy

Beyond merely keeping kids safe and letting them know that we’re stable in our marriage and as a family, we also need to go deep with each other. Getting up close and personal so that you know and are deeply known by your spouse really matters. It isn’t that Mom and Dad need to get along all the time perfectly or have it altogether, but that even when there is conflict, there is also love and commitment.

The Gospel!

Kids not only need to hear the story of Jesus from beginning to end – they also need to see a living picture of the effect and the nature of the gospel. And with the gospel, truth is truth even when it’s painful. God’s expectations aren’t lowered or compromised. But the other half of the gospel is the redemption offered to us when we’ve failed to follow the rules. Legalism and perfectionism show our kids a false or shallow gospel, and so does permissiveness. In between is the balance of truth and grace and the good news of redemption for all of us who have messed up… and that’s all of us.

What else do kids need to learn from us?

Big News: The Cox Family Is Unexpectedly Expecting!

Baby Cox Coming Soon

Yep. We struggled for eight years to have Sam and then assumed that would probably be it, so this was a total surprise, and we’re so grateful and excited!

Pray for Angie and baby’s health!

Last Night, 5,000 Children Died

Not in a flood.

Not in an earthquake.

Not in a wave of tornadoes or a political coups.

But from hunger.

Hunger. It’s that feeling that gnaws at our bellies in the morning because we haven’t had our cheerios yet. But for millions, hunger is a lifestyle with no hope. Today is World Food Day. It’s a good day to become aware of some things…

World Food Day Child Hunger

Via Save1.

And once you know, it’s time to do something. I leave it to your own conscience and God’s leading as to what your next step is, but here are four possibilities:

  • Pray for compassionate caregivers to be able to feed more hungry people.
  • Investigate what Save1 does. They’re for-profit, but they support nonprofit organizations in a way that uses business smarts for good.
  • Feed hungry people through great organizations like Samaritans PurseCompassion International, and World Vision (our family sponsors a little girl named Nana through World Vision).
  • Post the above infographic on your own blog today. Here’s the source link.
Now, go.

 

Love Kids? Interested in Church Planting? Take a Peek

Children and MessesAt Grace Hills, a new church in northwest Arkansas, we’re going to be investing heavily into kids. After all, Jesus certainly did. He loved them, cherished them, and ultimately died for them. We believe serving kids well and helping parents to disciple them is one of our chief callings in northwest Arkansas.

So we’re looking to add an intern (or volunteer staff member) to our team who will specialize in children’s ministry. Here’s the description according to our website:

As a new church plant in northwest Arkansas, we highly value kids, and we believe God is going to give us a great team of leaders to minister to families. We are currently accepting applications for an internship with Grace Hills that comes with some out-of-the-ordinary leadership responsibilities.

The successful candidate will be responsible for helping to initiate and launch a brand new children’s ministry, and therefore needs to feel a definite calling toward children’s ministry. This position may develop into a paid staff position very soon. We are seeking a current college student or graduate.

The ideal candidate will be:

  • A committed Christian desiring to observe and contribute to the work of the church.
  • Prior experience working with kids.
  • Willing to take on responsibility and work with a team.
  • Highly motivated and efficient.
  • Enjoy working in a dynamic, fast-paced environment.
  • Available to work at minimum of 15 hours per week and comfortable working remotely.

Special benefits include:

  • Academic credit (if applicable).
  • Cell phone stipend ($50 per month).
  • Professional development budget.
  • Frequent laughter. Occasional tears.

Interested? Email me or use the form below…

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