For the past few years, I’ve dedicated my year-end column to report my choices for my best thoughts expressed in the previous 12 months of writing.

I set the 2012 standard in January when I promised this would be “my year of writing authentically, my year of focusing not on the popular or how I might improve the NASDAQ-like ups and downs of my readership, but on writing authentically.”

In February, I told you that my best friend, Roger, was a cancer survivor who modeled living authentically. When he was recovering from surgery, he took time to comfort a fellow employee who was grieving the horrific death of a family member. Roger prayed for the man and I noted that, “The employee heard Roger, heard his heart and heard his intent. Roger deflated his own needs and deferred to the needs of another.”

At the time, it seemed to me that, “Roger knew that God’s economy doesn’t work like ours. Jesus said it best when he said, ‘If your first concern is to look after yourself, you’ll never find yourself. But if you forget about yourself and look to me, you’ll find both yourself and me.’ ”

But that was a soft column compared to the ones I’d write in coming months.

In March, I applied Walter Cronkite’s conclusion about the Vietnam War to Afghanistan.

In his famous words, Cronkite said, “For it seems now more certain than ever that the bloody experience of Vietnam is to end in a stalemate. ... For every means we have to escalate, the enemy can match us. ... And with each escalation, the world comes closer to the brink of cosmic disaster.”

I said it then, as I’ll say it now, “We’ve exacted our revenge for 9/11 from Afghanistan, but these strategies are no longer a viable way to effect the change we desire. I am sure we need to withdraw.”

In my April column on the Trayvon Martin shooting, I noted that “The stereotypes of the black man in the hoodie — as a gangster, a perpetuator of violence — flood the media. These stereotypes play a huge role in creating everything from the huge disparity of prison inmates, to whether you choose to cross the street when seeing a minority approach.

“It’s all those stereotypes that could make any one of us pull a trigger in undue fear.”

That column didn’t cause nearly as much trouble as my July one on assault weapons.

With an eerie foreshadowing of Sandy Hook, Conn., I wrote that, “These weapons have a single purpose — to kill people. They are not for hunting or home protection or target shooting. They aren’t even accurate. The strategy is to spray an area and hope your target is among the collateral damage.”

I urged readers to consider whether this was one of those times when “gun-related fundamentalism was holding our society hostage to its own Kevlar-vested interest.”

Also in July, I updated you on Marvin Boyd, 55, a homeless man taken in by one of our church members.

In that column, I revealed that Marvin likely would die before Christmas.

Marvin is alive, but barely. He was hoping to make it through the holidays.

Norris Burkes is a syndicated columnist, national speaker and author of No Small Miracles. You may leave recorded comments at 321-549-2500, or email them to ask@thechaplain.net. Visit his website, thechaplain.net.