The past few days were great. We spent Monday-Wednesday down in the Cities with the Templetons and Fulks. Jon, Lorena, and family flew in from Pennsylvania and spent three days with us, talking, planning, laughing, and herding toddlers.

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It was exciting to talk about moving over to Spain in the next few months. We brainstormed about home location, volunteer opportunities, and even things like furnishing our apartment. We also just talked about life. We shared what we were learning, where we were struggling, what excites us, and what scares us.

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I don’t think I can overstate the importance of friends with whom you can open your heart. I thank God that people like the Templetons and Fulks are teaching me how to do that through their example.

Staying Healthy and Losing Weight

I have been ruminating (never a good sign) on some ideas lately concerning diet and exercise. Strange, I know, since it isn’t even the beginning of the year when everyone is supposed to think about those things, but nevertheless I have been thinking.


I don’t think diets or exercise are wrong. Especially if you consider that a diet is just a compilation of what you eat. You can have a good diet or a bad diet. You can eat healthy food in healthy proportions or you can eat unhealthy food in unhealthy proportions (and any mixture of those four).

The question I have been thinking about the appropriateness of saying “I need to exercise/diet/get surgery/etc. in order to lose weight.” 

I believe there is biblical principles why we should do certain things to be healthy, but when the reason is to lose weight, I wonder. I know that sometimes to be healthy, you have to lose weight. I am fine with that! Just call it what it is, “I am doing this to be healthy.” Perhaps it is just the amount of people that I see that have lives which revolve around weight (and often times their looks). Perhaps it is just sensitivity to the gods that food and appearance can become in our lives. Whatever it is, I wonder if it is every appropriate to say, “I am doing this to lose weight.”

In my mind, when we talk about being healthy, I see “healthy” as not being the end goal. The end goal is being able to do something because you are not healthy. That may be to live, to feel better, to be able to walk, to avoid illness, to avoid surgery, to save money, etc. I would hope that the glory of God in whatever I eat or drink (1 Cor 10:31) is the foundation. However when weight is the issue, that seems like the end goal as well. “I want to be this weight.” Why?

Granted, the attitude can be the same in either case. I can be self-centered, egotistical, and body-worshipping about my health as well as my weight. It really isn’t the phraseology that is the most important. But, I have to wonder…

Here is a post that started me thinking.

What would you say?

Moms and motherhood

A Mother

There are many facets to the concept of “mother.” A mother is not someone who has merely given birth to a child. In its most basic sense that individual is a mother. However, the biological action of giving birth to another does not make one a mother in its fullest sense. In the same way, the reality that a woman has not given birth to another does not necessarily exclude a woman from being a mother. Motherhood is not merely a biological link between two people. Motherhood is deeper than an action. It is a life.

Motherhood is a mentality of a woman who has invested her life in nourishing, mentoring, and sending another out on their own. A mother seeks to feed, not force; to model, not manipulate; to encourage, not control; to illuminate, not quench. Her goal is maturity, not infancy.

A mother gives up her desires and enjoyments in order to foster the development of others. Her hobbies change. Her dreams are modified. Her focus narrows. She thinks of others before herself.

It is sad that the term “mothering” is known by an aberration, rather than its intended purpose. In its proper sense, anyone should be honored to be “mothered” by a woman. To have a woman give her live in order to nourish, mentor, and send out another is love. It is a gift of God worthy of our note.

Many give birth but never mother. Many never give birth but give their lives mothering. I praise God for each of those who truly mother. I have had various women in my life who have mothered me in the fullest sense of the term. My birth mother is a true mother, one who God graciously gave to me. My mother-in-law who gives of herself, and gave her daughter to me. My grandmothers, one of whom became a mother of four by speaking the two words, “I Do.” They both have been godly mothers. There have been moms while living in foreign countries. A five foot Gloria Villalobos who loves her 6’4” white son as her own. There is Becky Carlton who opened her kitchen for cinnamon rolls and genuine care. I thank God for my wife, Crystal, who not only mothers our child, but has been a mother to many more. God gives godly woman to mother us, and then gives them His love so they might shower it upon us. I thank God for them.








Comfort and My Experience

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3


In the previous posts we looked at four different types of people when it comes to comfort, and then some of the reasons why we suffer affliction – namely to experience and give comfort. What I would like to do today is share some thoughts on how to use your experience to give comfort. These are not necessarily ones I am good at, but ones that have been modeled before me recently.

Comfort First Aid

1. Listen before you share

Failing to listen demonstrates that I may understand the situation, but I definitely don’t understand comfort. Often times the most comforting thing that I can do is just listen. Ask anyone who has experienced a deep loss “What did people do that comforted you the most?” I guarantee that “they just listened” will always be near the top.

When we listen we affirm the person’s struggle. We agree with them that this is hard. We help them heal without trying to fix them.

Confession time: I am awful at this. I like to fix the person’s logic, theology, memory, attitude, and possibly even their personality all in one fell swoop. While Jesus did correct Martha’s theology (John 11:25-26), he did so in the context of genuine sorrow (John 11:35).

2. Share enough but not more

When God has placed you in the position to comfort someone who is suffering, share enough, but not too much. Let’s imagine a person just broke their arm. Tell them you understand how badly it hurts, but don’t tell them you broke both arms and both legs, in multiple places, at the same time, while rescuing a drowning baby, and didn’t get any time off work. That may be true, but when you top their struggle, the hurting person just feels like an idiot.

Think back to what you were feeling and mention what hurts, fears, frustrations, etc. that you felt and then…

3. Point to God, not to you

If I am the hero of my story, I don’t understand comfort. God is the God of all comfort, not me. He was the one who comforted me, and he is the one who will comfort this fellow person.

If I point that hurting person to me instead of God, what will they have when I leave the room? Nothing. If I point them to God, instead of me, what will they have when I leave the room? More than enough.

These are some ways people have ministered to us, sharing a God-given comfort experienced in their life. We thank God for giving us people like this in the midst of struggles, and pray that we too will comfort others with the comfort God has given to us.

What other suggestions would you add?

Comfort and Affliction

Part 1; Part 2

Part 3
“Why?” is a tough question. It seems like every time I try to burp an infant I get this, “Why are you beating me?” look. I try to explain, but it seems to fall on deaf ears.


We don’t always receive answers to our “Why?” questions. Why did I lose my job? Why did I experience this loss? Why did this happen to me? Job is probably the best example of God choosing not to give answers to the “Why” questions of life. God never gave Job reasons, instead God reminded him who was God.

2 Corinthians 1:3-7 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 5 For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. 6 If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. 7 Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort.”

Paul addresses the reality of affliction in the lives of the believers of Corinth. That city, as you probably well know, was not the ideal place for a believer. (Judging by Paul’s letters to the church there, I am not sure that even the church was a good place for a believer at times!) Undoubtedly they experienced affliction from both natural and supernatural causes, as do all believers. Paul’s use of “affliction” refers to “trouble that inflicts distress, oppression, affliction, tribulation” (BDAG). Affliction is an external reality that often produced an inward anguish (2 Cor 2:4).

In this passage we have a partial answer to the question of “Why?”

1. Believers suffer so that they might share in Christ’s suffering (5)
Suffering with Christ was seen as a privilege in the early church. The apostles were martyred, the early church fathers laid down their lives, believers accepted their fate as they confessed Christ. Believers around the world share that same idea today.

2. Believers suffer so that God may comfort them through Christ (3-5)
God is the God of all comfort. He is not a God who is far off, but one who has chosen to suffer for his creation (John 19) and suffer with his creation (John 11:35). No other religion offers that.

3. Believers suffer so that they might comfort others (4)
When a believer has suffered, that individual has been given a unique ability to comfort someone else. The greater the pain felt, the greater the understanding of comfort.

A friend of mine works in a jail. In order to carry a stun gun, each officer must experience the power of the tool. They do not do so by watching a video. They must receive the shock themselves. This gives them an appreciation for what they hold in their hands.

Someone who has felt the pain of affliction can now sympathize with another in that situation. They are able to point them to the God of comfort as someone who has received it.

Next post I would like to give several suggestions about using your experience to give comfort. These come from watching others model them recently in our lives.

When you have experienced affliction, how has God given you comfort?

Some Helpful Posts:

“My Spouse Doesn’t Meet my needs” – This post argues you have the wrong “needs”

“Is there Hope for Dealing with Anger?” – The Bible says “yes!”

“Christianity in 25 Objects” – If you aren’t following this series by Challis, you are missing out on a great way to learn church history.

Ice Castle:

Pretty neat, but I am sure glad it has melted!

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Comfort: 4 Groups

Burdens are weights. Weights crush if the burden bearer is not strong enough. Do you remember the burden that you had? Do you remember sharing it with someone else? Chances are you shared it with one of these four types of people:


1. Those who don’t understand the situation and don’t understand comfort

You have talked with these people. You share with them that huge boulder on your soul and the conversation just moves on. You may get a momentary pause, but the awkwardness prevails and you return to the importance of the weather forecast.

You probably don’t get upset at most people like this. They just don’t understand what comfort is, or why you would need it. The worst part of the whole deal is normally just that sinking feeling you have after your burden comes rolling back on you. You can get used to this.

2. Those who don’t understand the situation but understand comfort.

This second group of people are special. You share your burden with them and they feel the weight. They love you by recognizing how hard it must be for you. They have no idea of what it would be like to be experiencing what you are right now, but they know you hurt. They hurt with you.

We have had these people call and leave voicemails during very difficult times in our lives. All they could say was how sorry they were for us. There were pauses where you could tell they were choking back tears. These people recognize that your burden is heavy and wish they could carry it with you…and by wishing they could they actually are.

3. Those who understand the situation but don’t understand comfort

Sadly, I have been this person for too many hurting people. We are the ones who spend our time trying to tell you our story so you understand that we understand. In all of that we miss out on giving comfort. We like to prove to you that we can understand your pain because we have experienced something similar ourselves. In an effort to dig up our own burden for you to see, we roll yours and ours right back on top of you.

Normally I just assume that I am building rapport. I think sharing my burden with you will help you somehow. I may have been in a very similar situation as you, but it was not the same. I am not feeling it at this very moment like you are. You are feeling the full weight, I am not. I forget that though my situation may have been “worse” for various reasons, you are in the midst of it, not I.

4. Those who understand the situation and understand comfort

These people are “tenderhearted” (Eph 4:32) because they feel with you. It were as though they were suffering too. They understand what you are dealing with. Maybe they have lost a loved one too. Maybe they have spent weeks in the hospital too. Maybe they have felt the sting of unexpected loss. Because they have been there, and because they understand comfort, they let the weight of your burden rest on them for a while.

These people seldom dig up their burden to show you. And because they don’t, you may believe they are in the second category. But their silence, understanding, and reassurance show that they understand comfort, and they understand enough of your situation to know what to do, give comfort.

We recently experienced this. They had visited in the hospital, prayed, cried, and reassured. It was only several days later that I realized that this individual had experienced something so similar to what I was in the midst of. When that realization hit I thanked God for sending true comforters.

Would you add any categories? Have you seen these in your own lives? Leave a comment.

Later I would like to address 2 Corinthians 1:3-7, and a possible way to give comfort by sharing your personal experiences.

My Grandfather’s Funeral – A Tribute

I am not exactly sure why Grandpa planned for me to speak at his funeral. In reality, I had asked him to be a pallbearer at mine. Apparently he had forgotten his responsibility.

Perhaps he wanted me to speak because of his unique view of me. In a journal he filled out for me he answered the question: “What are ways you are different from your grandson?” by stating “Dumb as a box of rocks. You, not me.” What can I say?

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Grandpa regularly talked with me about Gods providence. He included it in his journal. We would talk about it around their sun room dining table. We would talk about it on the phone.

Providence is God’s continuing and often unseen activity in sustaining his universe, providing for the needs of every creature, and preparing for the completion of his eternal purposes.

The story of Grandpa’s life is the calling of his God and Savior Jesus Christ. Often times behind the scenes, sometimes in visible ways, but always with the intent that Grandpa Jack would come to him.

Jesus called him into existence


  1. Grandpa loved making things. I suppose he had a hand in starting the whole “reuse/recycle/repurpose” movement, or at least a more backwoods and slightly less fashionable rendition
    1. He made birdhouses out of scrap lumber that used to be old sheds that used to be old houses, that were probably something before that!
    1. He loved to create things, and that was the outworking of God’s image in him. John 1 tells us “All things were made through him, and without him nothing was made that was made.” It was Jesus who called Grandpa Jack into existence, and it was Jesus who Grandpa Jack was mirroring when he made things.


But that wasn’t the only way that Jesus was calling Grandpa Jack.

Jesus was earnestly pursuing Grandpa Jack through visible and invisible, direct and indirect actions.

Jesus called him into his flock (John 10)

  1. John 10:14-16 “I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own. As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd.”
  1. Jesus laid down his life for Grandpa Jack, and then spent 28 years calling him to himself until Grandpa Jack finally heard his voice in June of 1943.
  1. Grandpa Jack was not embarrassed about that. He loved Jesus because Jesus had first loved him, and Jesus continued to love him even in his grouchy old self.
  1. Grandpa Jack needed Jesus because he was a sinner. Though Jesus had called him into existence, he had rebelled and chosen his own way, just like the rest of us. But Jesus still called him, even when Grandpa Jack didn’t want to listen.
  1. I remember Grandpa Jack calling me out from under the ping pong table after I had disobeyed and kicked a ball in the house, breaking some of Grandma’s tea cups. I had watched the ball hit the tea cup shelf by their sunroom door, and as if in slow motion I remember a cup falling and hitting the floor, shattering. I then remember the mad dash down the stairs and into the first hiding spot I could find. But Grandpa didn’t leave me there. Probably because of Grandma, he came looking for me and we made things right.


But Jesus didn’t give his life, and spend so many years calling Grandpa Jack just to give him something to do for his 98.5 years. No, he had a bigger purpose. He wanted Grandpa Jack to know him face to face.

 Jesus called him into his heaven (John 14)

  1. That same Shepherd who gave his life for his sheep, promised to come again and call Grandpa Jack and all the other followers of Jesus to be with him.
  1. John 14:1-3 “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.”
  1. This is the reason why we call this a celebration, not a mere funeral. It is because Grandpa Jack won’t just be buried, he will be planted. His new body will not be hunched over. His new hands will not need those purple gloves. Jesus has called Grandpa Jack to be with him, and now Grandpa can see his Savior face to face.
  1. I remember staying with Grandma and Grandpa out at the Cabin in Montana. When I would stay with them I got the loft. It was uniquely constructed by some stroke of brilliance (that runs in the family) so during the day when you wanted to take a nap it was about 120 degrees, and then at night it normally averaged 20 degrees. You would spend the night tucked into an old musty green army sleeping bag that spent all but two weeks of the year sealed up in an old suitcase. But when morning came, you could hear Grandma getting breakfast ready and Grandpa would be starting a fire in the stove, and then he would call you down. He would call you because a new day had started. There were trout to catch, mountains to climb, driftwood to collect, and white-water rafters to pester with fishing hooks. It was a new day and Grandpa Jack was calling you down.
  1. Jesus has called Grandpa Jack to his home. It is a new day.


Jesus is the only way, the only truth, the only life. No one comes to the Father except through him (John 14:6). Jesus is calling right now. The same voice that called you into existence can be heard today. Jesus stood up in the temple and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” (John 7:37-38). Do you hear his voice?



In the face of fear – the Promise

Last post we looked at David’s four fold cycle to move from Fear to Trust with the acronym “PRAY.” He 1) Prayed; 2) Rehearsed God’s Character; 3) Actively chose to trust; and 4) Yielded his “control” of the future – Boasting in his promises.

But what is the result? My thoughts immediately go to Paul’s reminder to the believers in Philippi, “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).

He tells them, don’t be anxious/worry/fear about anything. Pray. When you do this the peace of God will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. This peace is better than anything you have ever experienced!

I am so thankful that Paul didn’t say, “When you are fearing – change your circumstances” because I normally fear when I cannot change the circumstances! Fear comes when I am not in control.

Instead, he reminds me to do something that I can do no matter what is going on around me – pray. When I do that, God’s peace has a channel through which it can flow straight to my heart and mind. It is an IV drip right to my vital organs – stronger than any drug.

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And then the promise – the peace of God will guard my heart and mind in Christ Jesus. Christ Jesus is there guarding my heart and mind. No enemy, circumstance, or spirit can ever touch me when I am guarded by Jesus.

Praise God! In the midst of fear, Jesus Christ is my sentry. I need not fear what man can do to me. I trust in God.

To hear our personal testimony about Fear and Trust you can listen here.

In the face of Fear – Moving to Trust

When surrounded by enemies, and feeling fear’s strangle hold bearing down, we often do not take time to think logically. More often than not we follow our instincts – which are rarely the best solution. Pat McManus, the outdoor humorist writer, tells of how he would react when lost. The picture was of a spring tightening as he began to realize that he did not know where he was. Slowly he would wind himself up and then, with just the right noise, normally the snap of a twig caused by a hungry Sasquatch in the bushes, he would explode. His trajectory would only be redirected by trees, boulders, small cities, and gravity, until he exited the forest and could regain control. That is one way to deal with fear.


David offers a different solution for fear in Psalm 56. Here he demonstrates that you can choose trust in the midst of fear. Fear and Trust do not mix. You either have one or the other. If I am fearing, I am not (and can not) trusting. If I am trusting, I am not fearing.

David gives four steps to move from fear to trust, a cycle which I have to repeat not only daily, but often times hourly or more.

In order to remember it at 2 am when I awake and begin to fear I had to put it into an acrostic. (If you can think of a better one that I could remember at 2 am, please let me know in the comments. I could use it.)

The 4 steps that Psalm 56 explain to move from fear to trust are these: (P.R.A.Y.)

P – Pray – Take the problem to God in prayer (this entire psalm is a prayer to God). If you can remember and act on this one, you are already beginning to experience the peace of God.

R – Rehearse – God’s Character. Look at what the psalm says about God. He is: Gracious (1); Supreme over the peoples (7); All knowing (8); Remembering (8); Caring (9); Deliver (13). This is stunning placed in contrast to the limitations of humanity (5, 11)!

A – Actively choose to trust (3,11). Talking to yourself isn’t bad (it can be awkward if you do it out loud in front of people, don’t get me wrong!). We need to be preaching to ourselves, actively choosing to trust. David says, “I will trust” several times in this short prayer.

Y – Yield your “control” of the future – Boasting in his promises (4,9,10). The term translated “praise” in the ESV is הלל (hallel). You have probably heard of the Hallel Psalms, those which are focused on praising God. The idea can also be “boast.” Praising God is boasting in him. He is the true God! Here David praises/boasts in the promises God has given. His word can be the source of our boasting.

To hear our personal testimony about Fear and Trust you can listen here.