A look back at 2014

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This time a year ago, I did something I don’t normally do. I made a New Year’s resolution. I vowed to write something every week in 2014, and with one exception (the week my son was born), I kept my resolution.

Altogether, I shared more than 80 posts. I also had opportunities to write for the Huffington Post and Onfaith.

As the year kicked off, I was finalizing the manuscript for my first children’s book. A few days before Christmas, I received my first copy of the real thing. My daughter and I have spent several evenings reading it together, and I can’t wait for you to be able to do the same with your kids this spring.

In 2014, I stumbled across a number of new voices (new for me, anyway) who inspired, challenged, and informed me—including Ben Moberg, Cindy Brandt, Qasim Rashid, Rod Thomas, Nurya Love Parish, Boze HerringtonAustin Channing, R.L. Stollar, and David Hayward, to name a few. You have each broadened my perspective and enriched my faith in various ways. Thank you.

Near the end of 2013, I had my first experience of a post going viral. It happened a few more times in 2014, though I’m still not sure there’s a science to it. (Or that “going viral” is always the best indicator of worthwhile content.)

It was an enriching, sometimes challenging year. I had at least one reminder of why I strive to keep my work life separate from my writing life. Speaking up for what matters to me has cost me a friend or two, but it’s given me the chance to make new friends along the way. It’s allowed me to hear—and learn from—new voices.

I also got quite the reading least in 2014 (and yes, I am still working my way through it…more to come in 2015) when I opened up about the distressing absence of female voices on my bookshelf.

Anyway, if you read, shared, liked (or maybe even disliked) something you read here, thank you for being part of the journey.

Here were my 10 most widely-read blog posts from 2014…

1. Why evangelicals should think twice about equating modern Israel with Israel of the Bible

Ancient Israel was not supposed to have a standing army. They weren’t supposed to stockpile weapons. There were no taxes to fund a permanent military. The prophets considered militarization a form of idolatry—a blatant violation of Israel’s covenant with God. If modern Israel is the same covenant nation written about in the Old Testament, then they are under the same covenant obligations. More >

2. Nurturing your kids’ faith when you haven’t figured out your own

I don’t have my own faith figured out. I keep searching, wondering, fumbling in the dark. I used to be more certain in what I believed, but then, you know… life. I know the pressure to be the perfect Christian parent who raises perfect Christian kids who have all the answers, pray the sinner’s prayer as soon as they can talk, and never question anything. More >

3. If you think “standing with Israel” means never criticizing them, you’re going to have to get a new Bible

If “standing with Israel” means never saying anything negative about the Israeli government and berating anyone who does, then we should have nothing but contempt for the biblical prophets. We should cut them out of our Bibles. They should be condemned for treason against Israel. More >

4. The story that made World Vision trend on Twitter

For a while, World Vision was trending on Twitter. Not because of the 70,000 people they helped gain access to clean water that day, but because of outrage over the fact that a cross-denominational Christian humanitarian organization decided it wasn’t its job to police a theological difference among denominations. More >

5. Stop praying for peace in Ferguson

You want “peace” in Ferguson—by which you mean you don’t want to see any more burning cop cars on TV—but you don’t want to do anything about a system in which people have no other way to make themselves heard? Then what you want isn’t peace. What you want is for your privilege to remain untouched. More >

6. My new reading list

That’s the whole point of reading, isn’t it? To step outside your own limited perspective and allow others to shape it, even if you don’t end up fully agreeing with them? How much of our impoverished discourse can be traced to the fact that we tend to hear only the voices that sound like our own? More >

7. Three things in the Bible you’ll want to avoid if following Kirk Cameron’s parenting advice

The ancient Jewish faith had many rituals, ceremonies, and symbols. And these had a way prompting curiosity. Every time a family would celebrate Passover or break out the phylacteries or build a monument from a pile of stones, kids would ask why. Even worse, it seems this was the whole point: so that kids would request an explanation from their parents. More >

8. An alternative prayer for Memorial Day (pacifist edition)

We confess that evil is real and that it lurks within our hearts. We have been quick to condemn the violence of others while ignoring the deeds we have committed with our own hands. We confess that we have put nation above church, flag above cross. We acknowledge that as followers of Christ, we have but one Memorial Day. It is commemorated with bread and wine, not with beers and barbeque. More >

 9. If this is what a Christian nation looks like, then I don’t want to be a Christian

We’re a nation that uses fear as justification for torture. Despite the fact that “perfect love casts out fear.” We’re a nation worried more about whether torture was effective than whether it was moral, as if the objects of torture are somehow less than human. Despite the fact that all humanity bears the divine imprint. More >

10. Where are all the women? What my bookshelf says about the continuing effects of patriarchy

I can flaunt my egalitarian credentials on the interwebs—without even realizing how bad I’ve been at listening to the voices of women. A theoretical opposition to patriarchy doesn’t necessarily mean I’ve stopped perpetuating it. More >

With more than 35,000 shares, the most popular piece I wrote in 2014 (and Onfaith’s second most-read piece for the year) was “Five Bible verses you need to stop misusing.”

Finally, here are some of my personal favorites from 2014…

I hope you have a happy and enriching 2015!

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