Today, I have reached a mile marker. The article you are now reading is my 500th “Rite of Passage Parenting” article, completing my 10th year of writing for the Baptist Messenger. I know of very few things in my life that I have done 500 times-not to mention week after week for 10 years. I have been an ordained minister for 35 years. I have been married to the same wonderful wife for 33 years. I have been a father for 30 years. I have been writing this article for 10 years. You can see that, outside of my family, very few things qualify as mile markers.

I have learned a great deal from writing these articles, whether or not it shows. In this anniversary article, I want to share with you the list of:

Things I Have Learned by Writing 500 Articles for the Baptist Messenger:

1. I am not a writer. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John-now, those guys are writers. In comparison to them, I consider myself a random/abstract scribbler. That’s why, through these articles, I have tried to point my readers to the Scriptures. God’s ways are true, and His words are always . . . right.

2. Most of the Baptist Messenger readers are gracious. Even after I write an article that seems terrible, someone will write, e-mail or call to tell me that it has blessed him. The only way I can explain this is that the grace and power of God is much stronger than the power of my words. The only time my readers are not quite as gracious is when I say something bad about a dog or a politician . . . in that order.

3. Everyone has a favorite article, including me. Mine is the same every week: the last one I wrote.

4. A number of people cut out my article week after week and send it to a friend, who in turn sends it on to another friend. That really surprises me. These people could actually save money if they bought their friends a subscription to the Baptist Messenger!

5. After the first article, I ran out of things to write. The last 499 have been . . . work.

6. I use the letter “I” more than I should.

7. A mysterious bond exists between a writer and his readers. One week, the Baptist Messenger decided not to run my article. I was overwhelmed by the number of people who thought I had died or, at the very least, gone into a coma. Another time, after I had spent eight years on page 11, the Messenger decided to move my article to page 4. Again, many people thought I had joined a cult and/or run off to the desert to die. My own family rarely shows me this much concern. Then again . . . I don’t write to them.

8. There are people who have cut out and collected every article I have ever written. Thanks, Mom.

9. It is an honor and a privilege to come into your hearts and homes 50 of the 52 weeks of the year. I have to say, though, that I am very concerned about what you do during those two weeks without a Baptist Messenger. This only increases my prayers for you and your families.

10. When I first began writing, I tried to produce scholarly articles. Very quickly, I discovered that more of us need a laugh than a lecture. We may even need to learn that we are not the only goofballs on the planet after all.

Upon the celebration of my 10th year and 500th article, I want you to know that I have help in bringing it your way. Each week, my writing partner, Marti Pieper, takes this dyslexic, random/abstract scribbling and puts the words in a form that helps me communicate my thoughts more clearly. Many of you have commented on how much better my articles are getting. I guarantee: it isn’t . . . me.

I don’t know if I have another 10 years’ worth of articles in me, but I am going to take the first step and begin year 11. I want to thank the good folks at the Baptist Messenger office for allowing me to have a larger ministry through their publication. I want to thank them for inviting me to all those wonderful Christmas parties. And I want to thank you, my readers, because the one who has been blessed more than anyone else is . . . me. Please join me in praying that God will show up again this week and give me article 501!