It’s hard for me to believe it. But I have been writing this blog since the summer of 2005. Like many other would-be bloggers, I began a blog… well, just for fun. I did not have a “voice” or cause or message. I just wanted to write. And I can still remember the exasperated look TaVon gave me when I told her to link my blog to the MSMBC website. But several years later, here I am – for better or for worse. I am still writing. In fact, I wrote more posts in 2008 than any other year – exactly 200.

As a new year begins, I thought it would be good to pause and reflect on the past year of writing this blog. You know, a “the best and worst of” kind of thing. Consider…

My new hobby. Sort of. I decided that I needed to develop some hobbies. And I concluded that photography should be one of them. So I bought a little digital camera and starting snapping pictures. Mostly, I took pictures of Crystal and the kids as we were leaving and returning home. My goal was to get in the habit of taking pictures and to get good at it and to start posting pictures once a week. It didn’t last long. And I cannot find my camera. Whatever.

The great “Underwear” scandal. It was Father’s Day. And my children bought me presents. The kinds of gifts children typically give their fathers – something we will never use! They bought be underwear. But not just any underwear. Superman underwear. And another pair with pictures of money on it. Go figure. Then they wanted their mom to take a picture. She did. I looked pitiful. And they kids were filled with excitement. And for some reason, I posted it. And the comments came fast and furious. I finally took the picture down. Again, the comments came fast and furious. For the record, the picture was not scandalous. Just kids having fun with their “old man.”

Twitter Comments. I had been hearing about Twitter and finally looked it up. I set up a page and starting writing comments. Then I figured out how to link it to my blog. And it has affected my blog in two ways. First, when I have moments to be online, I make a note on Twitter or Facebook. And I have been neglecting my blog somewhat. Plus, I can update Twitter from my phone. I have to actually be at my computer to update my blog. Secondly, I have found that people are starting to make comments in response to my Twitter updates, independent of the post the comment on. That is why you may read some comments on a post that really seem out of place.

Moderating comments. My blog has always been open for comments. And it was rare that I would read something that I thought should be deleted. Boy did things change in 2008. One comment caused me to close one post from any comments. A first. Then, after I preached at Shiloh for the first time, I thought it was best to start moderating comments. There was nothing bad at first, mostly kind comments that expressed hope that I would return to Jacksonville. But as things progressed, the comments became more direct. And after Shiloh voted, things turned nasty. I even stopped writing for a while. I have now become way more cautious. It has almost taken the fun out of blogging that I have to spend more time moderating comments than actually writing posts.

The deleted post from that Sunday. Most weeks I write “Notes from Sunday,” recapping the previous Lord’s Day. I did this the week I announced to MSMBC that I had accepted the called to Shiloh. In retrospect, that was not a good idea. Sometime after I wrote the post, Crystal convinced me to get out of the house with her for a while. We had lunch and hung out. And when we returned, I got back on the couch and went to sleep. The phone woke me up. It was Ronald. And his tone was very serious. He said that he couldn’t stand to watch me bleed in public and that I should shut my blog down. I didn’t get it. Then he told me about the comments that were quickly adding up. After our phone discussion, I went to the blog and read some of the comments for myself. I then erased the post (keeping a hard copy of it for my personal files, of course), shut down comments, and deciding quit writing. I was expressing myself. And I think it was good that I wrote that post. But it was not good that I posted it. Emotions all around were too raw. Another lesson learned.

Missing Notes from Two Special Sundays. By far, two of the most special days in 2008 were my pastoral installation day at SMBC (11/14) and the opportunity I had to speak at George’s installation at MSMBC (12/14). However, I did not write one word about either of these days. For the same reason. In the days following my installation, I was spending time with family and friends who were in town and seeing loved-ones off. By the time I got to my blog, I had mentally moved on to something else. Likewise, after George’s installation, I spent the next several days hanging out with him. And by the time I got home and got to my blog, my mind had moved on to something else. For the record, both events were very special moments for me. And I regret that I did not take the time to share my joy about God’s goodness and faithfulness as demonstrated in those two special events.

My Thursday Article. I decided to write a “serious” post, whatever that means, once a week. And I decided to publish it on Thursdays. And being the creative genius that I am, I thought I’d call it, “My Thursday Article.” I think I wrote several interesting posts. But in the upheavals of this year, I was not consistent in writing it. As in my pastoral transition, I was no longer felt comfortable about writing on many of the subjects that I planned to cover. This post marks the resumption of the Thursday Article.

The new tribe of pastoral bloggers. I think it is pretty cool that so many young pastors I know started blogs this past year. However, I have some concerns about the tone and content of some of the things I read. But I guess that’s the nature of blogs – free expression. So I will keep my concerns to myself and strive not to let my bad example in writing to contribute to the delinquency of others.

My most controversial post. By far, the most controversial post I wrote this past year was on “Taking Back What the Devil Stole” (4/15/08). But I am not sure why this touched a nerve with so many people. I get a comment about that post once a week. But I choose not to publish most of them. In fact, most weeks I get a comment from someone who has gone back a read that post and has been angered by something in it. For the record, I stand by everything I wrote in that post. If and/or when someone makes a sound biblical argument, I will change my position… with one clarification. I have nothing against praying for deliverance and restoration and spiritual victory in areas of your life. I just don’t understand why this is spoken of in terms of taking something back for the devil. I still think this kind of talk just gives the devil way more credit than he deserves.