Sunday, December 20, 2020

Sweet Redemption

I was asked to share my pastoral burnout story with a group of pastors at the request of a Western Seminary professor. Here's what I shared... 

There might come a point in your life where you go, “I think I’ve heard this somewhere before?” That moment came for me on March 12th, 2018 when my Lead Pastor came to me and said, “you’re doing too much, you need to slow down.” 

Around 2015 my mom began been telling me, “you’re doing too much, you need to slow down.” But… you know, that’s just mom. I’m a 30-something-year-old gainfully employed man and she still buys me socks; of course she’s going to say something like that! Then, my wife began telling me “you’re doing too much, you need to slow down.” Me being me, made up great excuses as to why she was wrong. And that’s where I was wrong. At some point in my pastoral journey of being completely sold out for Jesus, another desire was introduced. The desire for being ‘effective’ overrode my sense of what was actually right, healthy and good. This stemmed from broken personal desires to feel validated in what I did (as opposed to who I intrinsically was as a child of God) from myself and community. My ministry story is too common. It started with not maintaining margins and then sacrificing well-being to continue. At the time I knew absolutely nothing about emotional health. I went from event to event with little to no downtime between. By November of 2017, I began experiencing chest pain, pitiful sleep experiences and teeth grinding. “I just gotta get through these holidays into spring…” That December, I actually forgot about Christmas, being so consumed with the events around it. Four massive events later, my Lead Pastor came to me in March 2018 and said, “you should probably nix the fifth.” In my stubborn pride I didn’t listen. I was thrashed but didn’t want to feel like a failure if this spring break trip fell through. On that outreach, I said the right things and performed the correct motions but felt nothing on the inside. March 18th, 2018 marked the beginning of what I would later learn was burnout. A mentor told me that “burnout occurs when physical output exceeds emotional buy in,” and that’s the single most true thing I’ve ever heard on the topic. I had done too much for too long. I didn’t listen to those who loved me. Driving home from the Seattle airport after a leadership conference in San Diego on April 25th gave me two hours to think of ways to ‘accidentally die’. I’m not sure if I was suicidal- but I knew I definitely didn’t want to be alive. In August of that year, a famous pastor in California killed himself with his wife and kids outside. In that moment I understood exactly what he had been feeling and knew something had to change for me. In March of 2019 I verbalized my feelings of not wanting to be alive off and on that past year with my Lead Pastor after my wife told me she was worried about coming home and finding me dead. Within two months of verbalizing my feelings, the darkness lifted. I began to stop feeling like a success or failure depending on the day and was able to genuinely love the people in front of me regardless of the group size.

If I was given a chance to talk to my 2017 self I would probably say something like 1) your life matters because God’s story matters and you get to be part of it 2) Your value isn’t connected to what you produce, you’re an adopted child of a KING! You could never earn more than what he’s already given to you, dummy! 3) Get off your phone 4) Tell someone how you really feel, that’s when your healing will begin 5) No one’s a failure when they’re faithful. The kids won’t remember that epic event you pulled off, but they’ll remember how you made them feel 6) Slow down and rest! Jesus changed the world walking around. Moving at ‘Godspeed’ is actually 3 miles an hour 7) LISTEN TO YOUR MOM SHE BUYS YOU SOCKS. Friend, if ‘2017-19 me’ is ‘2020 you’ and you don’t have someone you can talk to, I’d love to connect over Zoom. You can reach me at For the full emotional health journey check out and scroll down to the part that says, “Physical Health Journey Ends.” May God bless you in 2021. Remember that you are fully known and loved by the God who spoke you and the universe into existence.



Tuesday, November 17, 2020

What A Month

    Let’s start back where we left off in late October. We’ve truly felt the love of our Door of Hope community here in Portland. After church one Sunday we were invited over to a floating home by a retired couple from our church for an amazing afternoon. We were also invited out to a small Halloween party with some fellow Western students. Lauren and I were the two oldest in the room at 34 and 30 which didn’t compute to my Sequim brain where most of my favorite people are twice our ages. 

I was hand-stand-man for Halloween

    Following the news of Lauren’s sister’s emergent surgery, she flew out to Colorado on October 31st to take care of her niece and baby nephew. The day after Lauren left, the veteran brother of one of my closest friends was found dead having overdosed and died on fentanyl. Many tears and much grief followed. I had been praying for him for years, and we believe that despite his bout with addiction, he knew Jesus. I was blessed to have my dad come down and stay the following weekend with me in Portland which encouraged my heart as I showed him the cities amazing fall colors. 

Took dad to Hood River

    Lauren and I had been feeling generally unsettled in Portland in our little apartment until recently, but we’re trusting God and committed to this ride. We’ve been looking into buying a mobile home or condo on the outskirts of town and are trying to discern what’s best with all that’s going on around us. Recently, a gang member was shot and killed within a three minute walk from our apartment complex. His gang then shutdown the major road it occurred on for 2-3 hours during rush hour traffic, completely unopposed, as local business owners looked on in dismay. Being a Friday night in Portland, no police units were available to come to the scene unless the gang started firing weapons. The gang let a few cars go by from time to time while they did burnouts and donuts with their vehicles in the middle of the intersection. It was a strange feeling to realize you’re largely on your own out here. 

Division Street was shutdown for 2-3 hours for Burnouts 

    On November 12th, I was able to meet a Norwegian pastor (and fellow student) I share an online small group with through a Western class I take at a Turkish/Mediterranean restaurant in Gresham. He and his wife just moved from Oslo to Portland to attend school which is hands down the furthest I’ve heard anyone travel to seminary for. From this amazing lunch meeting, I traveled to Gerry Breshears’s church to interview a pastor on their staff. My intro to seminary class required us to interview someone in the future field we might pursue. Before this day, I had no idea that the role of: Pastor of Community, Outreach and Small Groups actually existed in one package. These are a few of my favorite things! This was a massively encouraging interview and very excited to see what God does after seminary. The next day I typed the report out and packed my bags for Sequim. That night I was going to stop off at Krispy Kreme to get Birthday Donuts for my brother in law’s 30th and take him out to dinner. The following day I was going to catch up with students and leaders from DCC at Hurricane Coffee. That Saturday night I was going to take my mom out for her birthday and then attend DCC on Sunday. After church, I was going to cook a pre-Thanksgiving celebration lunch and watch Seahawks football with the family. Sunday night I would head to Bremerton to see dear friends and drop off our dog. None of that happened 

"Head in Parking Only" ... unless you need to be towed out

Scene of the Crash on 82nd

    On Friday the 13th, during rush hour traffic, I was in a collision with a Honda Passport while making a left in heavy traffic. The Passport was relatively unscathed, but the Prius was totaled. I sustained a concussion (and some back pain) and nearly vomited trying to walk across the street to see if the other driver was ok. The wreck sent the dog flying through the car as I watched the whole thing in slow motion, but he was uninjured too. Portland recently went from 800+ police or so to around 300, so no officers were available to assess the wreckage or pronounce a judgement. Everyone walked away though which was amazing. I was able to drive my mangled Toyota home before the engine started hissing. With my nurse wife thousands of miles away in Colorado, I was so thankful my new friends from Western that also live in the apartment could be there for me that first night. The man directly beneath my apartment is a nurse and was just on his way home from work. He came in with scrubs and stethoscope to assess my heart/lungs/concussion etc. What a gift he was to me. We got to talk about God’s goodness despite circumstances. I don’t believe my neighbor knows Jesus, but he’s surrounded by seminarians that care deeply for him. This was an amazing unplanned moment as we ate dinner in the apartment and shared stories. Afterward, I filled out traffic/insurance paperwork late into the night and began the unknown journey having never been in an accident. I know it’s a Prius, but it was hard watching my car get towed away to greener pastures yesterday. With Lauren being so far away, the head bump and subsequent brain fog left me feeling alone which was hard. Amazingly, our church community group(s) blessed me like crazy by bringing a meal and checking in with me regularly. I truly felt loved. 

Off to greener pastures

Usher and Slide Changer at Door of Hope

Next stop Texas

    I’m currently on a flight to be with my friend who lost his brother and will then catch up with my wife for the first time in three+ weeks as we celebrate Thanksgiving with her dad in Charlotte. What a ride it’s been. Thank you for your prayers.  


Saturday, October 31, 2020

Night of the Living Profile

It was a cold December night 5 years ago that I experienced a moment foreign to my existence. 


There was an electric excitement among local folks for the multi-church concert coming the following night. To celebrate the months of planning reaching its near fulfillment, my wife and I took the headlining rapper and DJ out to a wonderful dinner in a nearby town. After amazing food and conversation, we headed home. Our parallel parked Honda made up the metaphorical meat, sandwiched between two larger vehicles on a one-way street. As I attempted to merge into the flow of holiday traffic, I didn’t think anything of it when a law enforcement vehicle passed us in the nearby lane. Traffic let up a few moments later and we entered the stream.  

    As we laughed and joked in the car, I noticed something strange. The law enforcement vehicle that was some 15 cars ahead of us shifted into the slow lane. Car after car began passing them in the left lane as their speed declined. Less than two minutes later they were parallel to us in the opposite lane. They looked into my car and I looked back at them. Then they pulled behind me. I did what anyone in this situation does… immediately begins wracking their brains with all the what-if’s. Had I stuck my nose too far out into traffic on the street trying to merge? Maybe a headlight was out? I wouldn’t have to imagine what happened much longer when the ominous red, white and blue flashed. I slowed to a stop in front of a pizza place and then waited. Both officers approached the car from both sides with flashlights. “License and registration…” to which I obliged, and they disappeared for what felt like 10 minutes. “Where are you going,” was the question asked when they resurfaced, all the while peering into my backseat. “I’m headed home.” As the words came out of my mouth it began to dawn on me what might have been happening. “I’m a pastor, what’s this about?” They disappeared again for what felt like another 10 minutes. 

    Carefully approaching the vehicle for the final time, the officer hands me a ticket and my license, informing me my tabs were expired. I had no idea, and immediately apologized. How could I be so careless? 

    As we drove home it dawned on me that when they first passed us, it would have been impossible to see our tabs angled into the sidewalk. I then realized it was the contents of my car that got me pulled over; a white couple with a black and Mexican man. 

Shame turned to anger.

     I apologized profusely to them for this seemingly random Washington experience. My friend, made in the image of God, told me it actually wasn’t my fault. It was his. He was pulled over on a regular basis. Did he represent an isolated occurrence? His experience was then confirmed by the mutually shared experience of the other man. In this moment I realized that our lives were tremendously different. I began to think of rare times where I accidently drove to Redbox without a wallet (or with expired tabs). I had a squeaky clean record and hadn’t been pulled over for years until that moment. What if I got pulled over more often though? Chances are my record wouldn’t be as clean. In this moment I knew our lives as Christian men in America were very different. 

    The next night the main event required my entire focus… and from there the busy-ness of life just rolled on. Having been given a window from God to a different world, I never did anything with it. In a way, I still don’t know what to fully do with it other than share the experience. If you’re like me and don’t know how to enter into this arena, the Gospel Coalition’s podcast ‘As In Heaven’ season 2 is a great place to start

( ). ‘AIH’ approaches the history of race in America from a profoundly Biblical perspective and I can’t recommend it enough. 

    In closing, I want to say I’m deeply thankful to law enforcement. I live in city where they are few and far between. I’ve witnessed a car gang (not political at all) shut down a street during rush hour traffic unopposed and guys walk down the street late at night with multiple bikes (or barbecues!) in their arms. There simply aren’t enough law enforcement around to restrain the escalating crime and gun violence. The racial issues of our day go uncomfortably deeper than police though... It’s me. No easy answers, but as a white dude to other white people, I want to encourage you to listen to black voices that might challenge the way you see things. Before God, I know their life experiences are very different from ours and that isn’t right. 

    In Deuteronomy 29:1-3 Moses speaks to Israelites who didn’t experience the exodus from Egypt as if they actually did. They were presented a choice of life, that required obedience in light of the God who miraculously saved them. Would they listen to his commands and succeed? These young Israelites weren’t even there when the previous generation failed but were held responsible for their future choices as if they had directly experienced God’s gracious rescue. I’m not sure if this principle directly connects to America with slavery in the past and civil rights today. What I do know is that we need to be faithful today to what God has for us as an entire people in light of what he’s done for us in the past. This looks like seeking justice for all, loving mercy and walking humbly with our God.

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Day By Day

     Fall is by far my most favorite time of year. Who could imagine dying leaves could look so good? After hesitating for months, I committed to being in a long(er) term relationship with Oregon by submitting the various car tests and inspections to the Salem DMV to transfer my WA license plates for one with a big green tree on it. You know, writing that made it sound so much easier than it really was.

    Over the last few years I’ve been pursuing a monthly rhythm of all day solitude and spent my first day alone in Oregon at ‘The Grotto’ in Portland. The prayerfulness of the place is unreal. Some prayers must have been heard because the following day I got my first major assignment graded that took me weeks to write; 96.7%. I could have cried, but didn’t. That weekend Lauren and I got away to my favorite Fall place on earth, Lake Quinault. On top of a beautiful drive to get there, we got to watch an impossible Seahawks win that night that really set the tone for the weekend. We made the 3 hour drive around the lake to see the leaves and waterfalls which really charged up my batteries. Lauren paddle boarded and I swam. That night (10/12) we met a sweet retired couple from Louisiana and became temporary Saints fans to support them. We talked about life and God and what lay ahead. The Saints came marching back from a 21(?) point deficit to form an ‘inclusio’ on our Quinault experience. It’s funny what God can use to lift spirits. On the ride home the next day we saw elk and drove over the longest continuous truss bridge in the United States as we stopped in Astoria for dinner. I knew the two day vacation was over Wednesday when I received my first B- on a major assignment since 2011. After disagreeing with the marker on multiple points, ultimately I think it was good for me and even learned some stuff about truly formatting papers correctly. 

    This last weekend brought a quick Sunday drive out to “Fruit Loop” in stunning Hood River after a friend from our Monday Bible study recommended it for fall colors. The hour+ drive out of the city to the gorgeous countryside to pick up fresh pressed apple cider from Draper Girls Farm, was a solid change of pace. We got to see such sights as ‘The Bridge of the Gods’ and a phenomenal sunset over the river. Since moving here, I feel prayer has become a more central act in my life and recently praying has become even sweeter. I don’t fully know what’s brought that on, but I’m thankful for it. On Monday the 19th came an answer to prayer that I had long forgotten about. In the Western cafeteria that afternoon I was stopped by a random guy on a Zoom call while I microwaved leftovers for lunch. “Do you, do you ride a bike and live at Anchor NW apartments?” The morning before we rode the elevator up to our apartment after church and saw a dressed up guy get in with us briefly and said hello. “Are you the guy from the elevator,” I replied?! We later concluded that there must be another Christian guy living here as that wasn’t him, but we both discovered that low and behold, there was another Western Student with his wife living in THE SAME BUILDING. Sharing the news with my wife, she reflected that God had already answered our prayer months ago in July (when they moved in a week apart from us) but had just revealed it to us now. That was a profound insight on God’s over the top faithfulness. Today I wrote the last entry in a journal that spanned 2.5 years. Reflecting on God’s faithfulness this morning was overwhelming as I flipped through the worn pages. Many memories. Some good, some painful. All amazing though in light of what God has woven together. Tonight we go out to dinner with the christian couple that lives in our apartment complex and I can’t help but think that this is the start to something beautiful. 

Solitude spot at the Portland Prayer Grotto

Lake Quinault Lodge

Quinault in early October is unreal



"Fruit Loop"

"Fruit Loop" pt. 2

Hood River Sunset

2.5 Years in these pages

Monday, October 5, 2020

Falling Into Place

Above: Western Mugshot 

Yep. That’s right. Start as you mean to continue… and I began the blog with a horrible pun. What hasn’t been horrible is the wild journey God has brought us on. Learning to trust more and more even when I have less and less idea of what we’re doing here. I’m becoming ok with this, at least today.

Above: Door of Hope

(9/20) After the fiery exile of smokey Portland air, we kicked off Fall right by attending the first in person service at Door of Hope. I then made my debut as an usher the following week (9/27) with Lauren. It’s been a wonderful experience to be reunited with the saints here. There was more than just smoke looming over my head as I decided to drop a class and attempt to test out of it. With all the wild happenings, I felt overwhelmed and underprepared to write essays for three classes given the circumstances. (9/23) The oral examination took up a lot of real-estate in my brain as I prepared for it- but fortunately I passed the hour long test with at least some colors flying. Very thankful to receive credit for a class and not actually have to take it as my academic adviser originally instructed. (9/24) That evening we met all of our neighbors at the apartment complex as a fire alarm went off which made for some cool opportunities to chat with many people at once.

God has blessed us relationally by going out twice with couples from school and our homegroup. We got to take one of these couples from North Carolina to In-n-Out Burger for the first time (10/2) which is always a tremendous honor. A small library crew of guys is developing as we study together. My study philosophy has always been “if the libraries open, I’m in it,” and that remains true today which has provided a helpful rhythm of daily work and rest. I’ve been cranking out essays and feel like I’m getting back into the swing of things. What remains uncertain is to what we’re to be doing here when not studying. I feel a pull to get back into ministry (maybe?) but don’t know what to do with that. Portland is expensive and since everything is over Zoom we’re not sure what the future really looks like but optimistic. It’s truly one foot in front of the other as we keep be-leafing in what God is going to do this October and beyond.

Above: Jumped in the icy Willamette River on a smokey evening... 

Sunday, September 20, 2020

When Things Burn Down

Above: Wrong city, but right sky color

What an eventful two weeks this has been. Classes started and I was the first student in the Western library in the C-19 era when those doors opened. They hadn’t had a student in that building for nearly 7 months so I’m really not sure who was more excited, myself or the librarians. The last day (Monday 9/7) Door of Hope held it’s month long, early morning prayer meeting for revival, was the first day the smoke hit. I actually had a vivid dream the night before that someone tried to break in, and the apartment burned down, so it was on my radar strangely. All the recent poor sleep has left me exhausted. Then the wind and smoke came. Wind like I haven’t seen for years. Having thought about what possessions I’d prefer not to lose, we began packing our bags ‘just in case’ as the evacuation line crept 9 miles from our complex. I began tearing the place apart for my external hard drive to backup my precious laptop memories (essays, sermons, pictures etc.) but couldn’t find it. I went to bed that night discouraged. Tuesday (9/8) rolled around and I tried to study but another poor sleep from the windstorm brought fog to my brain as I tried to read and retain scholastic material. Another hard drive search proved fruitless. I decided to go back to bed in the middle of the day which isn’t my style at all. This is when God began to work. Upon waking up out of a groggy afternoon sleep, I accidently knocked my wife’s watch off behind our bed. With how small our room is, it was going to take some work to get to… then I had the idea to pull the mattress off and see if I could reach the small item between the wooden frame slats. What I discovered was that I could remove the slats and get to the packed contents under the bed. Instead of finding the watch at first, I found my hard drive. I know it sounds trivial, but in that moment (and even today), it was a small miracle for me. I saw God working in the struggle, leading me directly to what was missing, in my sleep almost! What a sweet reminder of his presence. On the 9th the Oregon fires started getting real bad real quick and when we left at 5pm, it looked like it was night. The sky was an ominous red-orange ashen color making the city look like the surface of mars. Breathing was a challenge and it wasn’t until nearly Olympia that we saw the stars in the in the night sky. 

We celebrated a wonderful weekend with family and DCC at their first live service since March. What was supposed to be a quick weekend trip ended up being a 10 day excursion as Portland reported the most hazardous air in the world and it was clear we shouldn’t return. This combined with a lack of sleep and falling behind in studies (all but one study book was in Portland) produced some serious discouragement especially when already struggling with online learning (not my strength) and limited M/W/F library hours. Were we on the right track in the right place? Did we hear correctly? Should we be in school right now? I spent an early morning in the woods praying as we prepared to go home the next day.

We returned home 9/17 and the air cleared completely 9/19. Tremendously grateful, especially hearing from a fellow pastor how multiple families in his church lost their homes. Today we celebrated the first in person service with Door of Hope in 7 months and it was a sweet time. Next week I begin ushering and I’m thankful to be learning what I’m learning, just taking things one day at a time. 

“And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” -Jesus, Matthew 28:20b  

Thursday, September 3, 2020

Not the Way it's Supposed to Be

Maybe you’ve looked out your window or scrolled through your news feed when this horrendous feeling squeezes you with, “everything is wrong.” Yesterday, I saw a cardboard sign in the middle of the road pointed to a vast homeless camp with the inscription, “Turn right for stolen bikes.” This occurred at 1pm, off a major Portland road in broad daylight. 100’s of bikes and tires were strewn about. This isn’t even a unique experience. To be honest, I’m not sure if I’ve been this heartbroken or angry with all that is happening in the world than at any other point in my life. Let me back up a minute though and start where we left off together...

On August 16th, I started attending early morning prayer on Mt. Tabor with Door of Hope Church, meeting some truly fantastic people. The first guy I met was a wild prophetic type dude known throughout Portland as *Bob from QFC*. Bob and I got talking, and he found out that I had been to an underground church of 50ish people or so in China. We began talking about small groups meeting and praying as a means to revival. In North Carolina the week before, a good friend speculated that the next revival in this country will be of quality in the church, not quantity of people. That resonated with my spirit. Bob believes the American church will need to go underground in a couple years. This resonated with my spirit too. The next day at early morning prayer I met a guy named *Charlie* who ended up inviting me to an Ezekiel Bible Study that also promised a bounty of Chick-fil-A goodness. Lauren and I eagerly showed up on time. From the Bible Study we were invited to serve the homeless at the Portland Rescue Mission (if you have spare Gideon Bibles around your house, the Mission could really use them) the following night. Parking near downtown and walking across the Burnside Bridge with a group of Door of Hopers, I met a guy named *Hendrix* who like me, had had his bike stolen. He shared his story and I shared mine. He told me not to lose hope as his stolen bike had been returned by the police a month after it was taken. Little did I know in that moment that his insurance had already replaced his stolen bike and he’d end up selling me his returned bike for 10% of what it was worth. That night I got to look 100’s of homeless people in the eye and tell them Jesus created them and loved them profoundly before handing them a meal. When the evening ended, I experienced God’s love afresh with the gift of an essentially free bike; a true answer to prayer. Incredible.


Returning back to Sequim to prepare for the DCC summer celebration was beautiful and devastating. After a string of disappointments surrounding school, we found out my last remaining ‘in person’ class was canceled. “What are we even doing here in Portland paying outrageous rent for? With Zoom, we could be anywhere in the world.” Driving down a forest road later that day that had meant so much to us over our April/May sabbatical as a healing spot to pray, a ‘CLOSED FOR COVID’ barrier stood. I lost it. I’ve literally not sworn that much for just over a decade when God transformed my heart in early 2008. Fuming, I drove half an hour all the way back around to Lake Sutherland when it was only minutes away via the closed road. Getting into the lake water seething, I clearly heard “do you want to enjoy this or do you just want to be angry?” I responded, “I want to enjoy this.” Swimming a bit further, the line from the movie ‘Grand Canyon’ popped into my head; “it’s not the way it’s supposed to be.” “You’ve got that right,” I replied. I finally reached my swimming destination and I clearly heard God say, “do you trust me?” In this way, God affirmed my feelings but called me beyond them. I began crying, then asked His forgiveness. I left the lake water differently than I entered. I believe what God, in his kindness, lead me to that afternoon is true for us today.


1) Do you want to enjoy my presence, or do you want to be angry? 2) It’s not the way it’s supposed to be 3) Do you trust me?


School starts tomorrow and despite circumstances, I’m excited, knowing and feeling God is in control. There is a heaviness and weight in this city over the people we meet. We don’t really know why we’re here, but confident in what God is doing around us. In Exodus 2:23-25 God hears the cries of his people and remembers them in their suffering. What a tremendous passage reminding us that even when it’s “not the way it’s supposed to be,” God is still present and active even when we can’t feel it.

Above: Inaugural ride on amazing new bike God provided 

Above: One of the many bike theft camps in our area. The one closest to our apartment uses marketing

Above: A couple students spontaneously came down to Portland to say hello

Above: After worshipping in Pastor Evan's backyard on August 22nd, we made a new friend walking back to our car

 If you have spare Gideon Bible's around, Tim+Linda and Amaury would love to hand them out at the Portland Rescue Mission 



Thursday, August 13, 2020

Limit Lifters

2015 wasn’t the first time I’d been told I had cancer. During a school break in 2011 a doctor told me I probably had leukemia which left me in tears. The second time around I had this deep conviction that God would use it for good. Unlike the first time around, it actually was brain cancer that God in his grace had prepared me for. Living in Portland (and life in general) feels like one limit lifter after another.  In 1st Samuel 25:1-13 David while on the run from Saul had his faith limits lifted through a rude dude named Nabal. David was prepared to take matters into his own hands but was stopped by a woman that eventually became his wife and God fought the battle for him. Less than a week later Nabal had a heart attack. Limit lifted. Fast forward in the future kings life to a situation with a trusted adviser assuring him in 1st Samuel 26:8 that God was granting him victory over Saul with an easy assassination. David could have caved, but he had seen God move too many times before. He was ready. He trusted. He waited on God and his faith capacity was lifted watching God fight his battles for him.

Walking the streets here, Lauren and I could feel the weight of people’s pain in this city. So much hurt, where do we even begin? God put *Lucinda* (the daughter of a Black Panther) in our path to love, listen to and pray with the day before we flew out to Atlanta to visit friends and family. Like having the bike stolen last week, God is daily (and graciously) lifting the limits of what we’re experiencing in the city. Fast forward two weeks after having a bike stolen, we walked out of lunch at Zaxby's into the back of a Charlotte parking lot. We were awkwardly approached by an older small guy out of nowhere asking for a ride. We initially obliged until he brought out a massive guy that needed a ride too. I’ve not felt that sketched out for a long time. Saying a quick prayer, I knew I couldn’t let them into the car and we took off. That truly felt dark and disorienting. We had just come from a sweet overnight trip with Lauren’s family on the way back to the Gilliam’s house. If it wasn’t for the bike, thievery probably wouldn’t have been on my radar. God had prepared us. I lost sleep that first night replaying the parking lot scenario over and over again in my head envisioning all the terrible things that could have happened. Danny dropped some wisdom on me from God the following night challenging me to focus on “what is,” instead of dwelling on all the “what if’s.” How true and freeing is that? How many times have we held imaginary arguments with someone in our heads or been anxious thinking of some terrible scenario that could possibly happen. “What if’s” can rob us from the good God has presently in front of us. God brought to light that I’ve spent way too much time in my life day dreaming “what if’s” and that needed to stop. I slept great that night. 


So what limits are being lifted in your life through difficult circumstances? Where’s God prying you open, to open you up to new possibilities? What is he allowing you to experience so that your faith can grow?



After our friends wedding got covid-canceled we took a quick Vacation to Georgia, NC, SC and Tennessee

Georgia is way more beautiful than I realized.

Free shower

Found some Covid-19 :( 

Lauren's fam (minus brother Chris) in Charlotte, North Carolina 

#17 Nick Lanza bringing the heat

In the Gillam's topless/doorless Wrangler outside of Hayesville, NC

Visited a former student in Canton Georgia 

Stayed with dear childhood family friends in Atlanta and it just so happened to be Natalie's (center) bday

Friday, July 31, 2020

A Whole New World

It only took 34 years for me to move into a major US city. Sweet mercy, life is different here. Another first is living in an apartment complex with a few hundred people… which means you’re never too far away from your next conversation. Contrast this with living in the relative isolation owning a home in Sequim affords. It’s a whole new world. I like it. 

Above: Coho Ocean Front lodge in Lincoln City 

This evening marks our 10th day in Oregon and 7th night in Portland having taken a break from the 100 degree heat that the coast offers. Lincoln City for Lauren’s 30th Birthday and our 6th year of marriage was spectacular. We witnessed a couple flawless sunsets over a sprawling beach. Truly fantastic. Leading up to this city break was pretty eventful. On Wednesday the 22nd we signed up for a live Bible study on the Psalms with Door of Hope, located just over a mile from our house. Thursday, I found a primo Specialized road bike from Craigslist and picked up that asphalt eating machine. With gyms being closed I’ve had extra time/money to eat junk food so this bike represented a welcome opportunity to sweat again and shed those Covid pounds. Friday rolled around and we met a woman named *Margaret* at our local food truck court. We had just finished praying for our meal when she came up to pet the sweet poodle. We were floored as she shared her testimony of fleeing Iran after meeting Jesus in her sleep. Her family wasn’t too accepting of this religious shift so she high-tailed it to Belgium and eventually made it to the States. To this point, I was largely planning on coasting into town and getting to know folks before sharing Jesus. As her spectacular testimony closed, I felt we all needed to pray together in the middle of that place. God made it clear to me that I didn’t need to worry about strange looks when this woman had risked her life. This was awakening #1. Awakening #2 came about an hour later when I discovered that my new bike had been expertly extracted from our apartments ‘secure’ bike storage area. Around 2am Friday morning (a mere 5 hours after purchasing the bike), two men broke into our complex through two heavy steal door with crow bars. They made off with approximately $10,000 in bikes. It’s hard to feel sorry for yourself when the person next to you lost their $3,000 bike to your paltry $375. The apartment head of security told me that organized criminals break into places (often with power tools) then take their spoils back to a makeshift tent-city chop-shop nearby created to look like a homeless settlement. My sunny Sequim, 3/4 inch wire Master lock lasted about 4 seconds. On top of this, with everyone wearing covid masks its hard to identify the men on camera. This was a rough night for us, complete with our wedding photo falling off the wall, breaking the frame. It was ultimately one we were thankful for though. We realized that we were in a spiritual/physical war zone where we couldn’t quietly settle in and coast. Having met *Margaret* hours before, put a new fire into my heart and this loss of property sealed it.

Above: Thieves after stealing a handful of bikes even stole this persons tire just for fun.

Above: The floor was littered with anti theft devices, two nights in a row.

Sunday night rolled around and we attended the outdoor, 100 degree, Door of Hope Psalms study and it was amazing. We met two of the pastors and a variety of Jesus loving people that night. As the study concluded, I invited everyone out for food and fun at our food trucks for Lauren’s actual 30th Birthday. We ended up praying together (and again with a homeless guy name Jacob) and sharing testimonies of God’s faithfulness in our lives. Memorable evening. Memorable weekend. We’ve since decided to commit to Door of Hope as our new church family which is a HUGE answer to prayer. Thank you to everyone who has prayed for this.

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Here Goes Nothin

On Sunday, January 10th, 2010 I landed in Auckland New Zealand not knowing anyone but the two Kiwi’s I met on a layover in Fiji. I ended up living with that couple, getting connected with Avondale Baptist Church across the street (becoming their youth minister some 6 weeks later) and watched God take bold plans that had fallen through, and expand them beyond what I thought was possible. Driving down to Portland this Tuesday night with my dad felt a lot like 2010.

In the last 5 weeks my wife and I have: publicly announced our resignations, gave/sold most the stuff in our house, signed a year lease on an apartment in Portland, moved our remaining stuff into that 409 square foot apartment via a friends horse trailer, enrolled at Western Seminary (me), ran a last youth surfing event + preached my last sermon (me), sold our house, threw a surprise 30th Birthday party for Lauren featuring Citizens and Saints, sold our car, said farewell to all the people we know and love in this town and... climbed into the unknown. Life feels like that scene from my favorite movie, Secret Life of Walter Mitty where he jumps into a helicopter with a drunk pilot to chase down a dream of his in the middle of a storm. I believe God, far from drunk, wants me to take on my poodles mindset; “I have no idea where I am, or what that smell outside is, but I sure am happy curled up next to you.” I’m not sure what I’m really doing or what’s next, but pretty excited. Would you say a prayer for us about being sensitive to Gods leading, especially in regards to finding a new church during covid-19? Again, I have no idea what I’m doing. 

Today I teared up a bit when reading Hebrews 11:21 about Jacob, an old man filled with stories, barely able to stand, worshipping God with all the strength he had left. Finishing well, means living well. We have no idea where the finish line is so we press on to win the prize. Here’s to starting a brand new life in Portland with a desire to finish strong, whatever that looks like.