Out of the Mire

Sorry it’s so long, but it’s honest.

January of 2014, I was so excited to be back serving at a ministry. No more long days of staring at my computer screen working on projects I cared little or nothing about, and had seemingly no eternal value!

I poured myself into the students around me. My official work hours were Monday-Friday, 8-5pm, but actually, I was there from 8am-8pm, or 9pm… or 10pm.

“Are you sure you’re taking enough time off and getting enough rest? You could go to the dorm and get some time to yourself.” – I remember Mr. Matt asking me that so many times, and each time I replied “Why would I want to go home? I’m happy to be here, and being alone would be boring.”

Days turned into weeks, weeks turned into months, and by September my brain finally caught up with my body long enough to shout into it’s stubborn ear “STOP IT! I’m TIRED.” – I had hit a wall. I didn’t want to be “on” all the time.

I wanted quiet. I wanted an off switch. I found a needed haven in three good friends who were also physically and emotionally spent. We relaxed together, shared together, prayed & fellowshipped together… we bonded, and they became some of my dearest friends. (In fact, this past June I married one of them! ^_^) The time we spent was a blessing. I had found an oasis in the dessert, and God used it to bless the rest of my life!

BUT… as 2015 began, my job changed drastically. I was no longer teaching in the classroom, I was working in the office. I was excited to finally work on my many projects uninterrupted! – My hours also changed in a good way that helped me to stop on time.

Unfortunately, it also meant that I wouldn’t be joining a family group in the morning, but I thought it would be okay. [I didn’t need the accountability of a family group to make sure I did my morning devotions, right?] Well, maybe if I had been spiritually healthy at the beginning, that would have been true — but I wasn’t, so it wasn’t.
My quiet times got shorter, and fewer, and more haphazard.

Moreover, I began to avoid human interaction. I didn’t want to be constantly surrounded by people, or be responsible for what was taking place, or be involved in the game over at that table, or go to the movies with that group, or go out of my way to build relationships …I was purposely backing myself into a job that entailed [long days of staring at my computer screen working on projects] again!
What was wrong with me? I had always cared about people!

I’d like to say that when I realized what was happening, I prayed and got right back on track! But… that would be a lie. I have prayed, but I’m still in the mire. Mostly by choice. Simple choices like hitting the snooze button “just one more time”, and working on my projects “just 5 minutes longer”.


The most amazing part of all of this, is that I have never once felt that God has left me – that He has behaved toward me as I have toward Him. While I have ignored Him; choose sleep, work, and just about everything else over a conversation with Him, He has never failed me yet.

I find it so unimaginable — because, if I were Jesus, I would have cut me off months ago — then again, I keenly sense that this is the very grace I have long known and am merely tasting again, afresh. He is continuing to give me what I do not deserve. Himself.

By His hand, I see a light at the end of this tunnel… not because He’s going to make me climb out of this mess I’ve made for myself by myself (which is what I would probably do if I had such an ungrateful servant!), but by simply reaching up to grasp the hand He has continually had extended toward me all along. – By spending time WITH HIM.

He is so faithful. So kind. We serve a Good Master.

“1 I waited patiently for the LORD; he inclined to me and heard my cry. 2 He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. 3 He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the LORD.

11 As for you, O LORD, you will not restrain your mercy from me; your steadfast love and your faithfulness will ever preserve me! 12 For evils have encompassed me beyond number; my iniquities have overtaken me, and I cannot see; they are more than the hairs of my head; my heart fails me.

17 As for me, I am poor and needy, but the Lord takes thought for me. You are my help and my deliverer; do not delay, O my God!”

– Psalm 40

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!



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.


Shaken by the Gospel

“Shake well. Settling is natural.”

Have you, like I, ever ignored that warning of shaking first – only to find that it would’ve been much better had we listened? Smoothies & life might not have a lot in common, but, this “warning” label is just as important in our spiritual life as it is in reality.

Sometimes I like January 1st; other times, I truly resent it. This year, I was taken aback. I saw myself in a way I had never before. Desperate. I had become desperate for change. I realized the mundane had affected my life, heart, and soul. My passion & zeal for life needed to be more than a spark – I wanted a burning flame.

God doesn’t want us to be stuck in the ordinary. He may have us there for a season, but, it is for only that – a season. He will interject times of ‘shaking’ where everything we know might be changed – for us to thrive & flourish with passion; fulfilling the purpose that He created for each one of us to do. Prepare now for that time – it will come.

For the past three months, He has been doing a lot of ‘shaking’ in my own life. I’ve seen Him place me into situations outside of my comfort zone, and realized the potential for new growth. New church; meeting other young people from my area who have the desire to live like God is real in their own life; taking a course on missions & culture, and loving every minute of it . . . with all of this being only the beginning!

Peter challenged the early Christians in Acts to believe the things they had seen & heard, and drove the Truth of the Gospel into their hearts & minds. His encouragement and the passion in his soul transformed their lives, and ours as a result. After being shaken by the Gospel, they became open and willing to do whatever was necessary to spread the good news of Jesus and to take care of one another. {Acts 2:42-47}

That first Christian church in Acts had two goals: 1) Meet each other’s needs; 2) Take the message of the Gospel to the world. With these two goals they turned the world upside down.

Almost 2,000 years later, what are some ways you think our generation can turn the world upside down just like those early Christians did?