I have a long track record of becoming far too busy. Things-to-Do pile up, deadlines loom, and the potential to disappoint clients, friends, and family becomes dangerously close to reality. All this leads to a very unhealthy, and ultimately ungodly amount of stress. At some point, I realize that I’m way stressed out and add another thing to my to-do list: rest. However, I find that adding rest to my list of “things to do” doesn’t work. After all, I have more things on that list than I can do anyway, and resting doesn’t really relieve pressure from the rest of the list.

This summer I was challenged in my thinking about rest by some ideas from Jon Acuff in his book Start: Punch Fear in the Face. Here are some thoughts that have helped me that just might encourage you too:

  1. Rest is a gift. God gave us rest and it’s not something that we have to earn or deserve. Hebrews 4 talks about entering into Christ’s rest which is a finished work. I don’t add to it or take away from it. It’s done.
  2. Rest is part of humanity. We participate in God’s design for us and for the world by resting. It’s required. We quite literally cannot live without resting. By having to rest we remember our humanity… daily.
  3. Rest is worship. When we embrace rest we worship God by trusting Him for the things we can’t complete in our own strength.

I have thought about this a lot recently as I fall into bed exhausted every night. I don’t need to feel good about my day, myself or my performance to rest. Resting is an act of worship that embraces my humanity and rejoices in a very good gift from God.

Rest well!

Churches and Friends

Austrian church in the forestAbout 2 months ago my wife and I decided to switch churches. This shouldn’t be one of those casual decisions like “Which burger joint should we hit tonight?”

The Church (note capital C) is a spiritual body that Jesus Christ established when He was here on Earth, as, get this, part of His own body. He put Himself as the head and every single Believer as a member. So in one sense, it doesn’t matter which church you attend, because they are all part of the “universal church” as long as Christ is truly the head.

Proverbs says “He who walks with the wise becomes wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm.” The people we are with will shape the way we think, act, and the people we will become. So in this sense, the people we hang out with, at church and otherwise, are going to have a strong impact on who we will be in 5-, 10-, or 50 years.

Now, back to our story… For about 2 years we attended a young, hip church here in Portland. I enjoyed it and participated in small groups or ministry teams. About a year ago my son Lewis was born, and our family was ushered into a new chapter of our lives. As we adjusted, well, everything to being parents and having a child, we noticed that the church we were attending was no longer a fit for who we were or who we were becoming. Looking around, we noticed that there were a lot of young couples, and even a few young families, but there really weren’t any grandparents or great-grandparents. The counsel of friends and peers is extremely valuable to us, but so is the wisdom of the aged and the advice of mentors.

God has blessed us with a quick and easy transition into another church we love. We now have both close friends and wise grandparent-types in our church community, and continue to value the relationships we’ve built in both churches.

You may not have a 1-year old or feel the need to change churches, but my thought this week is to consider who you spend time with and how they are shaping the 5-, 10-, or 50-year version of yourself.


Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.

Loving Fathers

Merry Christmas!

2013 has been a year of dramatic change for me and my family. On June 7 my first son, Lewis, was born. Watching him grow and learn has been one of the greatest joys of my entire life. I could easily bore you with far too many tales of his exploits, but I’ll try not to…

Rowan & Lewis

Having a son has also opened up my eyes to new ways of understanding old truths of the Bible. I have always known that God is a father, but I only knew about one side of the father-child relationship. I always understood that Jesus was the Son of God, but I didn’t know what it was to be the father to a son.

Lewis is a dare devil. He is, as yet, unafraid of anything. He dives, lunges, crawls, topples, and bonks his way through every day, pleasantly unaware of all the near-pain experiences he has. Today he learned a new trick. As my wife and I were sitting on the floor with him he would pull himself up on us from sitting to standing and then let go, falling into our hands. He did this over and over for 20 minutes, slowly learning how to stand up, but still not capable of balancing on his own. Never once did he fall and hurt himself, because his mom and dad caught him every time.

This amazes me when I think about my Heavenly Father. Scripture says that God’s love for us is greater than a mother [or father] for her child. (Isaiah 49:15) I love my son enough that I will catch him when he [almost] falls off the couch or can’t quite balance on his own. Usually Lewis isn’t even aware that I’m hovering over him, alert to keep him safe.

God loves us enough that He promises, not to catch us every time, but to turn every situation for our good and blessing. (Romans 8:28) I don’t have a clue how this promise will work out for me or for you, but I do know that it cost Him deeply to fulfill it. The only way He could was to send His Son to Earth, to live a perfect life and to die in our place, as the Redeemer.

It grieves me that I cannot protect Lewis from pain or suffering, but I am so grateful that God would give His Son to care for mine!

Confessions of an Insecure Perfectionist

Confessions of an Insecure Perfectionist

Insecurity is one of my besetting sins. It’s one of those core-issue, mindset kind of sins that affects everything I think and do. It has been a part of my life for so long that I don’t even have to think about it, my mind just automatically runs all of it’s decisions through the Insecurity Evaluation Filter to determine the amount of risk to my ego. Let’s just say… it’s a stressful way to live.

I can finally talk about insecurity honestly because its hold on my soul is cracking.

While I was growing up, I envied, despised, and totally did not understand all those confident kids. I both hated them and wished that I could be like them. I strove for perfection in everything that I did, somehow planning that once I was perfect I too would be confident. As an insecure perfectionist, I was plagued with awareness of all the areas in which I did not measure up, and thus all the more insecure as I had to hide my shortcomings from the world.

I have come to realize that perfection isn’t the secret to confidence, truth is. When I agree with God that I am in need of grace and forgiveness, insecurity loses its power because I have nothing left to hide. When I agree with God that I am justified and adopted as a joint heir with Christ, confidence finds root-not in my perfection-but in God’s declaration of my righteousness. I no longer have to live life in painful insecurity of my shortcomings and sin, not because I have never sinned, but because I am confident that Christ has made me clean.

Love to the Max


Photo by Rowan & Jocelyn Gillson

I have been a Christian for a long time, but this Easter was one of the best. My wife and I are attending Mars Hill Church in Portland, and they rightfully make a big deal out of Easter. On Good Friday we had an evening service that was a lot like a funeral service. Two days later, Easter morning was a huge celebration. The combination was incredibly powerful, bringing home the despair of the death of Christ and the joy of the resurrection.

One of the things that came through strongly for me was the enormity of mankind’s sin and my personal ownership of it. Jesus, the Son of God, came and lived a perfect life among us, and our response was to kill him. No one even stood up for him. We killed God. We didn’t want him; we didn’t need him; and the people who led the charge to kill God were the most religious– the very ones who thought they knew Him.

This opened up my eyes to a whole new thought, that God actually intended for this to happen– He knew from before time began that the men and women he created would kill his Son. In a way, he wasn’t even disappointed, it was all part of the plan. To make mankind was to die for them.

To me, this revealed a greater depth to the the love that God has for us. Not only would He die for us, but He would even create us so that He could love us to the max.




A wise man once stated,”For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:” God Himself recorded these words in the Bible, even as he put stars in the sky “for signs and for seasons.”

Fall is a glorious time in NW Oregon. The days are warm, the nights are cool, and the colors of the trees are fantastic. But with the coming of fall also comes the rain. Slowly but surely the weeks fill with more and more rain until we have transitioned to the winter showers that seemingly last for weeks on end.

Seasons of life happen too, when you’re a kid, you cannot wait to be an adult. When you are in highschool, you feel like it is going to last forever. College provides another change of seasons. Dating relationships are just for a season. This or that job is yet another season. We like songs for a season, foods for a season, clothes for a season, and even friends for a season.

I tend to hang on to seasons too long, finding my identity and my comfort not in God, but in the temporary things of whatever season I find myself. Seasons are good and natural, created by God and an important part of our lives, but our lives, and our God, are much bigger than any one season we go through.

Enjoy the season you’re in. Live it to the fullest. Thank God for it. Move on well when the seasons change. Let God be the one in whom you find your identity, comfort and delight, and remember that He will be with you in each new season you enter.


Security is a Wonderful Thing

Stained Glass Cross

What makes you feel secure?

I’ve been thinking a lot about stability and security lately. The truth is, I’ve been feeling a lack of both of them! My wife and I have been traveling a lot, we own our own business, and we’ve been trying to buy a house for months. All of that tends to remove the normal things that we look to for stability and security. As a woman, not knowing where we’re going to live is pretty hard on my wife. As a man, running my own business on a very tight budget is pretty stressful for me. As a couple, it can be a challenge to maintain our relationship with each other when we’re spending a lot of time taking care of our staff and students at photography workshops. All told, our lives have felt a little bit like an earthquake recently!

The conclusion that I have come to is that I am really grateful for things that are secure. Even though life has been stressful, never once have I doubted the Goodness of God, or the salvation that He has freely given me. A lot of other things depend on me doing something, or filling out the right form, or booking a ticket at the right time. Salvation is out of my hands… I have been adopted into God’s family, and it is now His job to ensure my eternal security. And that gives me Hope!

Leading with Passion

A couple weeks ago I photographed a big event in Texas. As the main photographer, my role was largely to follow around the main speaker, photographing him and anyone connected to him. It was a lot of work… But I learned two really important lessons on life and leadership.

1. Live with Passion. Life is so much better when you care about things, deeply. I’ve found myself not wanting to be hurt, or thought silly, or to be labeled, and so I shut down many things that I care about. The leaders that I watched were labeled, thought silly and I’m sure have been hurt, but they still cared passionately and lived deeply.

2. Go It Alone. When you care passionately, you have to be willing to step out, often alone. I saw that people follow people before they follow a vision or an ideal. Followers want to know that it’s possible and that you (the leader) believe in your vision yourself. If you wait for your vision to become popular opinion before you do something, you’ll never change your world.

Being a leader is never easy, and I think doing so for Christ is even harder, but I believe that God has called us to be his tools to bring hope and change to the people around us.


Under God

Saint Paul's Cathedral

I’ve been reading the book With by Skye Jethani. I have not finished it yet, but just the first few chapters have been keenly insightful to my relationship with God.

Jethani talks about how many times we view ourselves in an “Under God” relationship with our Heavenly Father. This view rightly acknowledges Him as the Creator who is over us, who has the right set the moral rules and laws in this world. The problem comes when we try to manipulate God into blessing us by being morally good. Have you ever heard someone say, “How could God let this happen to me? I’ve always gone to church!” Or, “How could so-and-so be dying of cancer, they have done so many good works for God.”
This view, which started out so well, quickly turns into nothing different than that of the heathens of old, who offered sacrifices so that the rains would come, the locusts would stop or their flocks and herds would grow.
As C.S. Lewis describes, God “isn’t safe, but He is good.” We cannot manipulate Him into giving us good grades, a new car, health, wealth, or salvation. Jesus Christ didn’t save us because we were morally good, but because we could never be good enough to earn anything from God except eternal separation.
Let’s live like God really is who He says He is and that He does what He says He will do. Stop trying to manipulate Him into giving you what you want and being offended at Him when it doesn’t work. Realize that in Christ He has blessed us not because of how good we are, but only because of how good He is!

Getting Over Myself

I think the biggest hindrance to God working in my life is myself. My own pride is the thing that prevents me from hearing constructive criticism or changing the way I do things to make them better. What if I didn’t fear the opinions of those around me? I would have so much more freedom to be who I really was and do the things I really felt called to do.

Scripture says that God hates pride (Proverbs 16:5). It also says that God is opposed to the proud but gives grace to the humble (James 4:6). This is good news! It means that God is on our side to help us get over ourselves! He hates our pride even more than we do and sent His Son to die on the cross to save us from ourselves.

Here are a couple ideas for getting over yourself:

  • Pray Boldly! You know that God is on your side!
  • Plan Ahead. Make decision ahead of time when you know that you will be in high pressure environments where you won’t want to do the right thing.
  • Say No. When you find yourself leaning into something that is not what God has called you to, say no.
  • Live Boldly. Watch diligently for the fear of others opinions in your soul and act against it when it comes.

Remember, Christ DIED for your sins, so that you could live in freedom FOR Him. You are not alone!