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!

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.


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!


Moving Day

Just about a week ago was moving day for Rowan and Jocelyn.

We had been living in a nice studio apartment above a friend’s garage in rural Sandy, Oregon. Then, on December 28th, we received a notice that our lease was expiring and that we would have to move by January 31. It threw us off a bit and made us really nervous. Where would we go? What would we do? Neither of us had ever gone out shopping for a new apartment before.

But shop we did. We looked at lots of places online. We looked at places all over the Portland metro area. We even looked at places in San Diego! Then we had to go look at some of them in person. So we set a date, drove to downtown Portland, and began visiting the places we had seen online. Some of them were really nice. Some of them we knew we didn’t want as soon as we pulled up outside the building.

As we were looking at one place, Jocelyn said, “Hey, what about that building over there?” There was a phone number outside the building, so Jocelyn called it, set up an appointment for a few minutes later, and soon we were exploring the new building we hadn’t seen online. When we walked into the apartment Jocelyn knew it was the one she wanted. The kitchen was just right, the style was kind of vintage, the bedroom was small and cute, and there were nice big closets.

It took us a few days to sign all the paper work, and a few days more and the help of some good friends to move all of our stuff, but we are now living in our new apartment in downtown Portland!

Even though this apartment feels like home, it is not really. We only have a 6-month lease, after which we can move to somewhere else, or the landlord can decide they don’t want us here any more. We love our neighborhood and how we can walk to the grocery store and our favorite coffee shops and restaurants, but let’s face it, Jocelyn and I know that we’re not going to spend the rest of our lives in this neighborhood.

Our time here on Earth is a bit like that as well. I love it here… I love my friends and neighbors, I love the scenery, I love flying to the four corners of the globe and exploring this amazing planet God has given us. Our lease here is short, and soon we will all be moving. It’s OK… it’s part of the plan. Jesus told us this a long time ago when he said in John 14, “Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.”

Jesus is preparing a place for us, a final, complete, and perfect place where we will go to live forever with Him. I can’t wait!


The Quest for Humility

The Quest for Humility

I own my own business, and this title has been the theme of my business interactions for the past 6 months. Humility is not something that I have found in a “How to Start a Business” guide or on the cover of the latest Entrepreneur magazine. However, it is something I find all over in Scripture. The classic passage that comes to mind is “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”

Let’s imagine for a moment that God is real, that He really is who He says He is, and that He will really do what He says He will do. “God is opposed to the proud…” Does He really mean that? What does “opposed” mean? Will He wreck my business? Destroy my relationships? Waste away my money? I do not know, but if He’s real…

Now quit pretending and start living. Drop the fronts and be who you are, nothing better, and nothing worse. Acknowledge your mistakes. Build upon your successes. Be the man or woman you were made to be for the glory of God.

Rowan Gillson

God and the Volcano

For me this week, “living like God is Real” means resting. I have been in the United Kingdom and Ireland since March 31, but was supposed to travel back home last week. Then the Icelandic volcano erupted, throwing me, and millions of others, into a perpetual state of uncertainty. Travel arrangements have been disrupted, meetings canceled, plans destroyed, and there is no end in sight. No one knows what is going to happen and when, or even if, things will go back to normal.

So today I write from Oxford, England, at the table of my good friend Judson. I have spent countless hours making alternative travel plans, waiting on hold for airline agents, and taking buses, ferries, taxis, and trains to try to get around the volcanic ash that has changed my life.

God IS real, and He IS good! I choose to rest in Him. I will do my best to get home, but I am going to enjoy the extra time I have in England along the way. I can do nothing to make flights happen, but I am confident that my loving Heavenly Father has me safely in His care.

Carefree in Oxford,