Category Archives: Inspiration

Discovering Ohio

Well hello again dear readers!

Part of me feels that I owe you an explanation for my lack of posts in 2015, and the other part of me wants to spare you. Fortunately for you, I have decided NOT to take you on the world’s worst roller coaster of emotions and take the KISS route, (Keep It Simple Stupid) for those who don’t know that phrase.

Long story short, last year after about 6 months of careful deliberation, prayer, seeking wise counsel and many long conversations with my mentors, I decided to resign my role at our church, without any job or prospects lined up. I would be lying to you if I told you that my heart was not broken over it. The bottom line is that in every way, it was the healthiest thing for my church. I also hated every minute of leaving. I’m not going to tell the story because quite frankly doing that would be in bad taste. Also, as my mother would say, it’s “NONE-YA'”! I’m not even sure that anyone would be interested, so you will just have to connect the dots yourself I’m afraid. But if there is a silver lining, it’s that I can look back and say with pride that I left the right way. Every church in the world has a story about someone who didn’t leave correctly, forcing the people they “love” to be stuck with a mess. Now I know that God is the MASTER of restoration, but I had determined that I would love God and love my church, by honoring them in every way possible. I quickly found out why so many people don’t do the right thing here… because it’s hard! Doing the right thing, is sometimes the most difficult thing to do. But with the power of the Holy Spirit and God’s word as a guide, the most difficult situation is conquerable, and I will defend that truth for the rest of my life.

My celebration in all of this is that I believe that God’s purpose of our time in San Jose, was fulfilled. On top of that, our lives were unimaginably enriched by the people we met. The people that we had the privilege of serving, are honestly some of the most unique I’ve ever come to know. I will never forget what God did there, and for that I am grateful.

About a month after leaving my position, I discovered an opening at a church… in Cleveland… in OHIO. Yes you read it. You know of it right? Ohio? that place that we have NEVER visited, heard anything about, or knew anything about? Yep. That’s the one. I recall standing in our kitchen reading this description: “Church in a western suburb of Cleveland, looking for a Worship Pastor. We are a healthy church…” Wait a minute. Did they say a healthy church? It took me about 3 seconds to decide that I wanted to be a part of something like that. Aaaaaand it was about 3 seconds after I sent my resume, that I realized I have NO intention of moving to Ohio.

A wise man once said “Be careful what you wish for, you might actually get it.” I’ve been wishing and imagining that Adrie and I would find a place that we could grow some decent roots, but never in my wildest dreams did I ever think it might be in Ohio. I mean, come on, we are Californian city slickers for goodness sake! We are in love with “The four S’s”, sunshine, sushi, and sand, and surf. We don’t use plastic bags for groceries! We are in a love/love relationship with Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s, we make fire pits on the beach, and as much as I hate to admit it, I would consider In’n’out to be a major food group. And yet…when God calls, He makes things very simple. The question is, will you choose to obey, or will you miss out on the His plan for your life? I was graciously given an opportunity to actually go to Ohio and visit this church. My friend told me that I’d better just go or I could be missing out. And boy was he right.

You know how you have those moments when your world is flipped completely upside down, and you are left wondering how could I have not seen things like this? Well walking into Harvest Ridge Church was one of those moments for me. Over the next 3 days I fell completely head over heels for this community. 500 of the most incredible, caring, hard working, Jesus loving, Bible believing, healthy church keeping, people I’ve ever known, sitting right here in this West-Cleveland suburban paradise. We all made the discovery that God had prepared us both for exactly this time and place. I still ask myself the question, how could such a perfect match be made from two completely different things? The only answer I can come up with is that God’s grace is so masterful that He alone could create a situation that would result in a complex puzzle like this fitting together. He must really love us to have thought this up, because every day has been so full of joy and peace, that I hardly know how to contain myself. We were invited to become a part of the staff here in a Chipotle. Yes. Epic win. To be honest, that is just what I loved about this place. I’m not interested in the pomp and formality of practical ministry, although it does have it’s time and place, I believe that real conversations happen at places like dinner tables, not board rooms. Adrie and I flew home to California to think. It was 75 degrees and sunny on a beautiful day in Los Gatos, at the park sitting on a blanket that we decided that we would move to Ohio. Ironically, the flowers were blooming in February.

I drove out in April and Adrie stayed behind to take care of some things and followed in June. That drive across the States did something to me. I got to spend some time with one of my best friends, Travel. I stood and watched old faithful erupt as the majestic buffalo grazed nearby. I walked on the moon in the badlands of South Dakota. I gazed in wonder at the beauty of a somehow BLUE, Devils Tower as the snow fell around me. I met a mountain goat, and had lunch with prairie dogs. I sat on the roof of my car and looked up at the grand Tetons. I took a moment to meander down a trail made by the many pioneers of the West. I came face to face with a carving made by William Clark as he himself as he was making his way East after having completed the first trek across North America. As the land grew flat, I looked out onto the Great Plains and stood where no tree could be seen for hundreds of miles. I contemplated how my life would no longer be lived on the road, but would come to know life with bags permanently unpacked. Travel and I had a very, interesting conversation. We agreed that we would never part ways, but that we must learn how to give each other some space. I can say with great confidence that Travel and I will always know and love each other.

I pulled into town with the windows rolled down and a song in my heart. I spent my first hours in Ohio at Harvest Ridge Church with my new family, and since then, haven’t experienced a dull moment. Harvest Ridge, has been growing and stretching me for sure, but most things have been fantastic. We currently have three services on Sunday and another on Wednesday’s because there are so many people who call this home. In fact, we are in the middle of building a new sanctuary so that we can all fit. My capacity as a leader has risen exponentially, partly out of necessity but mostly because that is what this family deserves. I’m looking forward to seeing what is in store for this body of believers but I am even MORE excited that I get to be a part of it. God’s plans for our lives are always certainly better than our own.

Well friends I have achieved my original goal, to write about my journey as I discover full time worship ministry. What I’ve uncovered in the last 10 months in my new role, is that any person dedicated to a full time role in ministry, will never only be doing solely one thing, nor SHOULD they. Being on a ministry team means that you will bear each others burdens, and help accomplish your goals together. And so, I have decided to continue writing because no matter how much we may fight it, life will manage to change. As long as God has me on this Earth, I assume there will be new things to learn, and new things to share with you. And so as I experience them you can find them here. Remember that God’s ways are higher than ours, and that trust in Him is really the only way to have lasting peace. Good bye for now!

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Discovering A New Era

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I realized that my life was about to change while sitting on the floor in a room in Sydney Australia. In my hand I held my phone; Which ten seconds earlier was being used to communicate with a pastor on the other side of the world in San Jose California. The conversation? A need for a worship pastor. I told him that my wife and I would pray about moving forward because moving forward basically meant picking up our life in Sydney and relocating to one of the most expensive places in the world when it comes to living, all the while having no means by which to do so… I knew it would HAVE to be a move of God getting us there because we had no plane tickets home. We had no transportation, no immediate plan, and in about thirty seconds, I would have no job. I put the phone down and we prayed a simple prayer that went something like this… “Lord, the last thing we want to do is ask you to, yet again, prove plan for us before we make a move, but on this one… we’re going to need a sign. Please let us know what to do… Amen”. I put the phone down on the bed and ten seconds later, before I could finish my next sentence, it rang. It was my employment agent, “Garrett, they like you at your assignment, they like the work you do; But the fact of the matter is, they just simply don’t have the cash flow to keep you on board, I’m sorry. Thank you for your service but at this time you wont be able to continue.” I said “thank you” and hung up the phone. I’d like to tell you readers that I was calm and collected, and that I recognized this incident for what it was… but I wasn’t, and I didn’t. Thoughts began to rush through my head. “I sacrificed so much for those guys! I woke up at 4 am everyday, and took the bus to get down there for months! I killed myself there everyday and they re-pay me by dumping me out on the street?! Did God really bring us all the way down here to abandon us like this?!”

Sound familiar? Perhaps from a particular part of Exodus?

Some times we miss God’s still-small voice, and some times we miss God’s loud and obvious voice. For me, this one was the later. As my wife reminded me that this is EXACTLY what we had just asked for about 2 minutes earlier, my blood ran cold. I looked down at the floor, and I felt a peace come over me. I began to realize that this was no accident. This was the living God, the creator of our universe reaching down to us in all his splendor and majesty, for just a moment … providing us with a map in which to lead us though the desert. The rest of the story is simple. God provided. He brought us into a season of promise. Specifics aside, Through giving us some extra work, He provided the money for plane tickets home, he gave us a timely exit out of Australia, and even allowed us the chance to take a trip to Texas to see my family and pick up the rest of our things that we left there before our trip around the world. We now are privileged to be a part of a church here in California, called “The Journey” (The perfect church for us by the way! That fact in itself is reason to be ecstatic!) We are officially back in our home state, just as God promised we would be all those years ago when we left. What began as an impossible situation, culminated in a return to my original home, The Silicon Valley, which, for us, completed one circumnavigation of the entire globe (from California to California; a dream we also had hoped to accomplish.

How many of these moments have we missed I wonder? How many times have we allowed our freak-outs to blind us to the hand of God working in our daily lives? I learned something really important that day in Sydney. I learned first-hand that sometimes God closes each and every door to get the attention of his self-centered people. God knows the desires of your heart. He knows what our true passions are. I think sometimes we are too excited about the things we THINK we want, and not enough about the things HE wants for us. Today you may find yourself in a situation that seems hopeless. You may be reading this, expecting me to write some truth that will encourage you. But the REAL truth is that nothing I can say will satisfy your desire for peace. Only God, in His time, can do that. What I DO know is that In the meantime, He’s asking you to trust Him. He asks us to be faithful with what we have, and to be obedient to the calling in which He’s arranged for us. Stay the course. Be courageous enough to trust Him, and I promise you that in time, He’ll show you His plan.

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Growth Spurts

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Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. James 1:17

Our time in Sydney reminds me of this verse as it’s sadly now coming to a close. Despite our viewing this time as a perfect gift, let me assure you, it has not felt perfect. But I can say, looking back at it now, that God has made all things work together for good. We had been here for about 2 seconds when we realized how difficult this part of our journey would be. Many times we were at a loss for what to do getting into less than comfortable situations. Many times we felt the absence of Gods voice. But for every one of those times we felt lost and alone, there was one more situation in which He came through for us. We can testify that His promises are true even when his voice is quiet. His power is perfect even when our weakness takes hold of us. And even though we fail consistently, His love for us never has.

Our time here was an emotional and spiritual roller coaster that never seemed to end. Beginning with the initial persuasion of finding out that I would be executing a plan that was vastly different from the one I had intended, and ending with beginning our search for a ministry to become a part of back home. I originally had come to understand that God called us here to ready us for our coming time in ministry, and that ended up being true. But the way he did it was a huge surprise. I began to ask Him, “God, what do you want for me? Show me what you want me to do, show me what I should do, and I’ll do it”. Slowly I began to hear from Him. On one particular occasion I felt Him draw me to the thought that I had spent lots of time working on becoming a better Worship Pastor. I then heard his still small voice say that I had been focusing on the “worship” part, and had often missed, the “pastor” part. It became clear that He had brought me and my wife half way around the world to Sydney Australia, taken us away from familiar ministry, from family, and from the comfort of familiar culture to prepare our hearts for the “Pastors” part of “worship pastors”. If you knew the name of the particular church we serve with, you would assume as I did that during our time here our hearts focus would be on the “worship” part, and that God would be preparing us to lead a team musically and spiritually. Upon my first opportunity to serve, I realized quite the contrary. I was put on the New Christians / New People team. Something I realized that I had never actually officially focused on before. It occurred to me that although this is an area I felt comfortable in, it’s was also an area in which I needed growth, and by God’s grace, I can say that I have grown immensely. As a result of taking those first steps with a grateful heart, I’ve been given a spirit of boldness, the likes of which I’ve never known.

2 Timothy 1:7 says: “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.” This is NOT just a pastoral idea, this is a CHRISTIAN idea. God’s desire for us when we do whatever we do, is to be empowered by the Holy Spirit in a way that personifies His strength, not ours. Pressing into this thought I began to discover that being bold is partly about having courage, and partly about taking the first step, but ultimately it’s about fully trusting that it’s by His power that all things are made possible. I served in a number of different areas during the weekends and studied the word and read books profusely during the week, something I’ve wanted to do for ages but never had time for. In the time we were here, I’ve been able to read 35 books, which has deeply expanded my basic understanding of God’s nature and what our role on earth is meant to be as disciples of Christ.

I’ve learned a lot about people, and what it means to care for them during this time. One of the things I’ve heard said a number of times but never really fully grasped was the importance of just listening. One pastor put it this way, “There are three rules to remember when building relationships, 1. Listen 2. Listen and 3. Listen”. It amazes me how different a conversations can be when you choose to focus on just listening. It would surprise you to know how many people who come to you with an issue, are only looking to be listened to. Think about it. One of our human characteristics is the desire to be noticed, to be wanted, to be held as great in the eye of the public or adoring fans. Why do you think it is that so many people have an internal desire to be celebrities? It’s because at the core of who we are, is a desire to be significant to someone, to be recognized, and to generally be important. As most of God’s human ideas placed in us can become distorted, his design is often used incorrectly here. God put this desire in us to aid us in caring for each other. When you sit down with a friend, or and person in need, it’s ok to make it all about them, it’s ok to give them your full attention, in fact, it’s that very desire to be special that helps us open up to people who can help us, if only for a brief moment. This desire is brought full circle when we understand that our significance is ultimately in him. When the world says “You don’t matter”, He says “you are His children”. (Galatians 3:26) When the world says “There’s nothing special about you”, He says, “You are my workmanship”. (Ephesians 2:10) When the world says “You failed” He says You are MORE than a conqueror” (Romans 8:37) And when the world says “No one loves you” He says “Nothing can separate you from my love” (Romans 8:38-39).

Gods design in our longing for significance is being used in a way that glorify’s Him when we cherish our time with others, and that’s the name of the game. Granted there will always be people who genuinely need advice, and to them it should always be given with a biblical perspective, but there are many cases when a person just needs to be heard, to be listened to, to be cared for. They may need it for a number of reasons but in the end, if you attempt to fix a problem that does not need to be fixed, you could end up just causing more damage. Just dwelling with a person in the right circumstance in the presence of God can bring significant healing. In the end its God who heals not us, but we are meant to be used to administer His healing touch here on earth in this way, and a listening ear can be a much greater help than our opinion could ever be.

Listening to an angry person won’t always cool them down but there is something to be said about what happens to a persons anger when they discover that you are really attempting to understand them. I’ve found that by confronting anger with an open ear rather than a quick defense, has an extremely profound effect on them. They can see that you are open. They can tell that you care about their issue and more importantly that you care about THEM. “Harsh words stir up anger, but a gentle answer turns away wrath”. (Proverbs 15:1) How many arguments have been fought needlessly simply because neither of the individuals were able to remain calm? Isn’t this what we as Christians have been called to? Isn’t this what Jesus did when his accusers put him on trial? I’m not talking about being passive, I mean we need to say what NEEDS to be said; I’m talking about making a REAL effort to show someone you care by just being there. There’s a difference between listening for the sake of hearing, and listening for the sake of understanding. It’s possible to hear someone, without actually truly hearing their heart.

Waiting for the Holy Spirits guidance requires silence sometimes. At the end of listening there will most likely be an opening to speak the word of God into someone’s life and this requires being connected to the source of all wisdom. It will require diligent prayer, and soft hearted sensitivity to speak Gods heart into a persons life correctly but It’s helpful for everyone, and it glorifies God.

Our time here has taught me many other things but this was a big one. I won’t bore you with every detail but the bottom line is that God did work on my heart. This time has given me a chance to invest in myself, and prepare for a time of fully allowing myself to invest in others. The Bible says, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.” I think this captures what God was saying to me during this season of inward change. It captures the idea that if your heart is to be a pastor you must first be a servant, and takes it a step further by saying that servant-hood honors God in a way that’s pleasing to him, making it worship. Yes worship is a lifestyle but it’s also personified in our actions. Worship leaders, what do you do with your time? Are you investing in the lives of the people around you or are you just leading songs? Our calling is to serve. So serve well, not only by doing what you do with excellence, but serve well by LOVING the people you come in contact with every day. That’s what real ministry is meant to be about.

Australia has been extremely good to us. We saw God move in powerful ways though us and in the lives of our friends and family. He made a way, when it seemed as if there was no way. As our roller coaster life here is beginning to level out a bit and as our season comes to a close I’ll be describing our journey in more detail. We are beginning to seek out the right ministry for us to become a part of in the States. I can say that we are beginning to feel a change in the air which is exciting to say the least. We’ll be wrapping things up here and taking another step of faith in the weeks to come. God has been arranging some amazing things already and I can honestly say that we are excited beyond belief about the months ahead of us. That’s all for now, but If you are interested in following our journey please check back soon and join us as we discover ministry together. Be Blessed!    

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Discovering Jealousy

Jealousy. What is it really? Is it anything more than a thought, emotion, or action in which we invest once the opportunity appears? Or is it perhaps something within human nature in which we all live with each day on different levels? The answer of course is both. Jealousy is a part of our earth suit. It’s the instinct within us that involuntarily looks to others and begins to compare our situation with theirs. It’s the creature that lives in the core of our insecurity. The bad news is that at one point or another everyone comes into contact with this destructive habit. The good news however is that it is possible to master it. So how do we overcome this obstacle? When taking control of this conflict we all must begin where most battles of this nature are won and lost; in the heart. Whether you are on the winning or losing side of the battle, it takes continual control of both mind and spirit to continue going in the right direction from day to day. Here are three practical points to remember when you inevitably discover this challenge.

1. Maintain The Right Heart Condition (Selflessness)

Consider for a moment: What is your view with consideration to your own immediate situation? What level have you reached in the proverbial ladder of human life? What is it that you feel you deserve? You may be surprised with what comes to mind. We can easily stumble upon a stint of jealousy when we feel that we aren’t getting what we deserve out of life, and others around us are. We take one look at someone else who seems to have everything that they might desire, and enter into the thought that it should have been us. You feel that something must have gone terribly wrong because you have paid your dues and now somehow, someone else seems to be reaping the benefits. You feel that since you’ve done the all the right things, you now deserve a piece of that pie. You actually need to get over yourself. Realize that everything isn’t about you. If you can’t do that, perhaps you need a reality check. The best experiences in life have to do with giving, not receiving. A selfish heart is often a jealous one.
We often hear the term “life isn’t fair,” but have you actually accepted it? Anyone who has lived two seconds on this planet can tell you that this is the truth, but what many people miss however, is the idea that it was meant to be that way for a reason. I won’t deny that there seem to be certain extenuating circumstances in which people are just given better opportunities than others simply for being in the right place at the right time. Some might call this “luck”, but I call it life. All of us are born in a different place at a different time. So why then do we gravitate towards the idea that we deserve certain things? I’ll tell you why. It’s because, for whatever reason, we create for ourselves a sense of entitlement. In other words, “I deserve X,Y, and Z because life owes me something.” I’m telling you friend, it just isn’t true, and this thought is a trap. So before you decide that you are missing out on the things you should have for no reason, remember that the world is not meant to be your personal butler, delivering to you all the things you might desire on a silver platter. The reality is that God’s gift of life is an nothing short of an opportunity to be who you were meant to be. We were designed to be overcomers. If we never encountered obstacles, we would never know how sweet victory tastes. Life is a moment in which we make certain choices for good or for evil. At the end, we all take with us the same amount of earthly things. We need to decide that it’s more important to do the right thing than it is to have a bunch of nice stuff that won’t last. Our hearts are designed to be happier that way.

2. Maintaining Perspective (Patience)

Sometimes we may find ourselves yearning for things that don’t belong to us because we forget that there is a time and place for everything. How often do we wish we were living the life that someone else is living? The truth is that when we spend time longing to be living someone else’s life, we miss out on the great things about ours. Imagine for a moment that you are hiking up a mountain. Yes, making it to the summit and enjoying the view is an amazing part of this journey, but if you spend all your time complaining about the difficulties, and only thinking about how amazing the top is, you will undoubtedly miss the natural charm of the trail, the way that plants and animals enrich the experience, and the pure grace and beauty of nature itself. With your focus on someone else who stands on the summit right now, you will surely fail to capture the joy of experiencing the expedition. Remember that God has reserved your success for a purpose. If you know that you are on the right path, it’s as simple as this: You may just need to be patient.
Let’s say that you encounter a situation where someone else has something great, and you don’t. I know that’s never happened to you right? Let’s get real, it’s happened to everyone. Ask yourself another question; what did that person do to get what they have? It won’t take long for you to discover that this certain someone has earned it. Even a great inheritance was once earned because someone was willing to work diligently for it. Ask yourself, if I really want something great for myself, am I willing to do what it takes to get it? Am I willing to put in the blood sweat and tears? Am I willing to wait until the right time comes for that opportunity? If not, you really have no business yearning for those things do you? If someone you know has a great marriage, chances are that they fought for it. If someone tells you that they climbed Mt. Everest, it’s most likely that they trained for years to be able to do it. If someone you know has a successful career or business, it’s because they built it brick by brick. Consider whatever it is that you are jealous of. Has this person earned it? Realizing that the people who have great things probably worked very hard for them, is vital when it comes to disarming jealousy. Understand that it’s important to have proper perspective when it comes to your own journey. The position YOU are in, and the position that OTHERS are in, can be two very different things. Be willing to work hard to get the things you are after. Instead of becoming jealous of someone else’s success, use their story as inspiration for your own. If anything, the people who have been where you want to go, and are doing what you want to do, will be able to help you along the way.

3. Attitude

I recently heard the tale of the town with no shoes. Two different shoemakers moved into town in order to check out the scene. One shoemaker saw that no one had shoes and decided that this was no place for someone in his profession. After-all no one seemed to be interested. The second shoemaker decided to stay and build a shoe factory because after-all, there were a lot of shoes that would need to be made. He then proceeded to make his fortune. The difference in these two shoemakers was their attitude. It probably took the second shoemaker about three seconds to realize that this was the opportunity of a lifetime. But it probably took a lifetime of good attitude to make his dreams come true. It’s true that some are given much, and some are given little, but even though these circumstantial incidents do occur, only a fool would believe that there is nothing that can be done about it. The first thing you can do is get the right attitude. Once you have that down, what other people have and what you don’t have, will be of little importance. Ask yourself if you have the kind of attitude that might earn for you great things.
One of my favorite people in history is Thomas Edison. The reason why he is known today as the inventor of the modern light bulb is not because he deserved the title, it’s because he was the one who tried to invent it enough times. Renowned astrophysicist Stephen Hawking was once told that he wouldn’t live beyond his 20’s due to his condition called nuro-muscular dystrophy which limits him to a wheelchair and renders him with the inability to speak. Yet he went on to become one of the most influential thinkers of our time. Both of these men could have easily given up, and no one would probably have blamed them. The reason they became successful was all in their attitude. During their rise to fame there were undoubtedly people who were currently leaders in their fields. I can almost guarantee you that they didn’t spend much time stewing in jealousy. They both saw what they wanted, and ignored the rest. Your attitude will determine much of your success, and you can take that to the bank.

What is it that you want to achieve? Let me encourage you, rather than throwing a pity party and wallowing in your own “why not me” stew, why don’t you just go and get it. Most likely it won’t be easy, but remember that nothing of great value will ever come easily. Be the person that decided make your dreams become realities. Replace your jealousy with decisive action. Try to identify and get rid of selfish thoughts, have perspective, be patient, take action, and have the best attitude you can possibly have, and I promise you that your jealousy will begin to subside. Don’t forget that it’s a daily battle. You can let the heart of jealousy take control, or you can be the one to take control of the beast itself. The choice is up to you.

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Re-Orientation + (Italy, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, and England)

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Good morning everyone! Hope your day, or night (depending on which part of the world you live in) is going well. I decided that it was about time for an update, now that life has finally begun to calm down slightly. I know that I’ve been absent for quite some time due to the fact that I’ve been in transportation mode for almost 3 months but for those of you who are willing to accept excuses, writing was much more difficult than I expected. But now I plan to be back with more content more frequently while I attempt to make up for lost time. I was going to expand a little bit on the Europe tour with a few more posts but I have decided against it. I realized that I was kind of falling away from the real purpose of this blog which was to describe my transition from the secular work world, into life in full time ministry. Things that don’t match up with that idea can prove entertaining sometimes, but I really can’t say I’m doing what I set out to do if miss the point all together. So, I’m getting back on track starting now. However, this particular blog entry will finish off what I’ve started in the area of travel but will also re-orient readers once again with the topic in which I am meant to be writing on. I’ll touch on the end of the tour, to close this chapter before moving on.

If I’m not mistaken, I last left off on the coast of Italy, just about a third of the way into our trip. We hit Rome and the Vatican City and spent three days strolling the cobblestones of an ancient civilization. We endeavored to see the entire city. We gazed up at the masterpiece of Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel ceiling and contemplated if there was anything more brilliant in existence made by man. The guy spent four years with a crooked neck, paint dripping on his face, day in and day out, refusing to look at the figures from the floor until the work was finished. You can literally see the brilliance unfold from one end to end to the other as he continuously attempted to out-do himself from painting to painting. With one side dull-colored and simplistic in nature, and the other vibrant, rich, deep, indefinite, and masterfully crafted in every way.  It’s clear that this was a journey far more epic than could ever be understood by anyone other than the master painter himself. We will never know the extent of the true drudgery when it comes to this labor of love but we can at least catch a glimpse by looking up at it. God’s gift of life, story of human kind, sacrifice of his only son, and His plan for the end displayed in this stroke of genius is brilliant enough to bring its viewers to tears. You aren’t allowed to take pictures but Ill never forget the experience as long as I live. The Highlight of Vatican city was of course the chapel but I must note that seeing the pope speak was a trip of its own. We moved on to Rome itself. It was busy, beautiful and altogether fascinating.

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After tossing our coins into the Trevi Fountain, ensuring our return, we took the train to Pisa to see the leaning tower, then to Florence to experience the magic, and then to Venice to hit up some old fashion adventure. We found all of those things and so much more I’m happy to say. Pisa is a small town in an old world. Florence is much more romantic than Paris and doesn’t get nearly enough credit. Venice has narrow, comfortably busy, Purely Italian streets with ten million ally-ways, water ways, and bridges, all of which seem to lead nowhere.

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If you would like to find out more about these places my advice is to save up money and go there. It’s the only way to really experience them. No account of mine or anyone else’s for that matter could really do this these places any justice. Tuscany was just as beautiful as anyone has ever described. We took the train through most of this stunning countryside but managed to stop and smell the proverbial pasta along the way. We spent Pre-Christmas traveling through Austria, Germany, Denmark, Sweden and took a ferry from Stockholm Finland. We saw my pal Niko (in Turku) who has been my good friend and mentor since 2007, which was amazing as always and very much needed.

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Scandinavia is a wonderful place with Long hot summer days and Short dark winter days, where everyone has a sauna in their bathroom. The people of Scandinavia are perfectly pleasant, love coffee and good beer in equal measure, and often smile everywhere they go. They aren’t all happy but for the most part, they welcomed us with all the warmth, kindness and generosity of a pleasant summer day. With consideration that this is the middle of winter it was rather nice to be in such good company if I do say so myself. Adrie received flowers from a random man simply for being beautiful. 

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When it was time, we made our way back to Austria. We got back on the boats and trains and made it back just in time for Christmas Eve with the family. We went to the local Christmas Eve service and sang “Stille Nacht” (Silent night in its original language, German) just miles away from where it was written and performed for the first time on Christmas eve in 1818.

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Christmas in Austria was absolutely incredible. Uncle Heinz chopped down a tree that he grew himself and decorated it with candles, sparklers and all the traditional trinkets. We spent a few days drinking coffee, eating homemade cookies, and hanging out with each other till the wee hours. We went on a cross country skiing expedition which proved much more difficult than I expected but was non-the-less absolutely wonderful. The white sky lit our way along the path through the open white fields and sparkle dusted pines of the Austrian country side. The cold air filled our lungs and carried us across the big spaces, and through the frosty woods.

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As we turned the page in this chapter we took the last train on our tickets to Vienna to catch the plane to London. We couldn’t help but feel a change in the air. We had finished our tour and were on the verge of another epic adventure. We were about to join up with Pastor Dave Reidy to help out on the Vertical Love 2014 Tour. The goal was to take an expression of worship to the nations, to minister individuals who have a hunger for becoming better leaders through worship and teaching, and to point the way to the cross. We spent three weeks traveling through England and the Netherlands on the team. God did so many amazing things for so many people on the tour. We met too many incredible people to list, but the friendships we built during this time will undoubtedly last a lifetime.

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The days and nights blended together in utter oblivion, which is to be expected when taking on a challenge of this nature. Looking back it feels more like a month long day in which we sometimes slept. God showed us the vast number of different ways that his people all over the world enter into his presence; One method no more correct than the other, but all different and beautiful in their own way. We observed so many different cultures and people that we discovered that even with the amount of places we’ve seen, we havn’t even begun to scratch the surface of diversity when it comes to this. In fact I’m beginning to think that, it may never be possible to experience every one of them; but, the idea to remember is that God has a plan for each person and created each of us to express our worship in ways that only our own hearts can understand. Its not about what it looks like on the outside, its about what your heart is on the inside. What became of our journey is grateful hearts. Grateful for the experience, grateful for His loving kindness, grateful for the opportunity to gain wisdom and strength, and grateful for the faith to be able to count on His provision. We were reminded that He is, was, and will always be faithful to his children.

After the tour, we began gearing up for the next season in our lives in Sydney Australia, which is why I have re-oriented this blog. In the last few months we sold our car, and most of what we own, and have endeavored to begin a new life in Australia before returning to the states to continue our ministry. What started as a documentation of my experience as an artist, has become a look into the heart of a desperate soul. Over the course of a year, I have become an entirely new person. Once I stood on the foundation of my own ideals, plans and self-satisfaction. Now I find myself immersed in the vastness of the unknown. Once I had my own plans. Now I lay them all down in order to find God’s plans. Once I felt that I didn’t need faith, because somewhere inside I though that I could ultimately take care of myself. Now faith is the very breath I take from day to day. I realized that as humans we just simply cant be who Jesus call us to be on our own. Its His power that makes it possible. But it doesn’t make it easy. The questions mount and the uncertainties have become clear, but one thing is for sure, my soul is well, knowing that no amount of uncertainty could take me away from his provision. We don’t know what’s about to happen, but what we do know is that He is in control. And that’s enough for me. I hope that you will stay with me though this experience. The Idea is that once we settle down, we will attempt to become a part of ministry life here and give God full control of our hands, sharing our experiences though this blog. What-ever that means we aren’t entirely sure, but we do know that we have the peace that passes all understanding, and that when you give your heart to the potters hand, he will know exactly what to do. I’m looking forward to taking my first steps in this direction and writing down my thoughts so that you can be a part of them. In any situation it’s always nice to be able to share thoughts and experiences with people who care, and I for one am glad that for me, those people are you. Until next time, I hope that you are blessed, and that you find joy in Him wherever you are. That’s all for now! Don’t forget to stop by and read up from time to time as I continue to discover ministry.

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Sails

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One of the most influential forces on Earth is wind. Wind opens up worlds of endless possibilities. When the first exploratory boats were set in water, it was wind that allowed them to sail. When Meriweather Lewis, William Clark and the Corps. of Discovery became the first Americans to cross North America in 1806, it was wind that aided them by helping to push the Keel boat upstream to the Continental Divide. Wind puts forward legions of energy when captured by the arms of a windmill. When the Mayflower crossed the Great Ocean on its way to the New World, it was wind that got it there. Its wind that causes the beautiful, majestic rock formations in the American West. Its wind that allows navigation across the globe based on patters. It was wind that lifted Oliver and Wilber Wright off the ground, enabling the first human flights in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina on December 17th 1903. It is wind that blows a gentle warm breeze at your back on a barefoot, soft grass, firefly, summer night. Its wind that comforts us by the sweat of our brow when the sun beats down on a day of hard labor. Its wind that, in the beauty of Autumn, brushes your cheek and rustles the fallen leaves, which become caught in the folds of your scarf on a blustery, golden day; And yet… It was Wind that struck fear into Peter causing him to sink as he walked across the waves toward Jesus.

Wind is a powerful and beautiful force of nature but it can also inspire insurmountable fear. Everyone knows that the wind will blow, and right now I am learning to capture it. I’ve learned that when you set sail on any voyage, there will at different times, be different forces of wind. Some may be gentle, and others not so much, but what you do with the wind is the difference between success and failure. When the wind bellows its destructive forces you have your choices. You can be a testimony, or you can blame everyone else for your past and present difficulties. You can hold a grudge, or you can forgive others for their mistakes. You can cry out in terror, or you can sing praises for future success. You can slow everyone around you by kicking and screaming, or you can embrace change. You can exude joy in the fact that a harsh wind can also blow you across the ocean, or you can give up and lay down in the bottom of the boat. You can let the wind sink your ship, or your can capture it in your sails. The choice is now, and will always be up to you.

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Simple Nets

Well, Its been two weeks since I experienced a dramatic shift of focus. I have known my whole life that this would eventually become my full time occupation but just never thought it would be now. Yet here I am on the cusp of my future in ministry. Drawn by the spirit to live on the edge of my comfort zone and preparing to take the leap into the great abyss. Believe it or not, I’m actually not afraid. Towards the beginning of Discovering Dimes, I was quite timid and shaky, but there is a big difference when you know something is in capable hands. When we risk our lively-hood for dreams of our own, of course its terrifying because our lives are in our own hands. But when we risk the same for dreams not of this world there is peace knowing that our lives are in the hands of the one who sent us, made us, and takes care of us.

My favorite verse is Proverbs 3:5-6. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” I loved this verse when I was younger and I love it now. How comforting to know that we can be taken care of. Yet as I have discovered, its also extremely difficult to swallow sometimes. You do have to give up your selfish dreams. You must forfeit “acknowledging” yourself, in favor of acknowledging Him. It may be the most difficult thing for one to do; But the longer I live, the more I’m figuring out that I don’t want things to be completely in my own hands, on my own path, in my own time. My humanity is just too flawed. That’s why God invented the idea of human mistakes, for us to know who exactly to trust.

Much to my amazement, the plan is beginning to form. In short we will be moving to Sydney Australia to be a part of Leading Edge International. To begin with, we will be spending December in Austria with family, which is something we have been talking about doing since we got married and are ridiculously ecstatic about! Then, We have an opportunity to serve as a part of Leading Edge on a worship conference tour which starts on December 28th in London. Throughout January we will travel through England, The Netherlands, Belgium, Italy, and possibly Germany. We will be traveling to churches and putting on seminars designed to teach on worship, and leadership. We’ll be holding worship concerts and other events. Throughout our days we will be rehearsing and preparing for these events in which these pastors allow us to speak into the lives of their churches as a team. Ultimately we hope to be a resource to the body of Christ in which we can be used to empower other believers to reach their full potential and therefore help to further the Kingdom.

At the end of the tour we will return to Sydney. We will be working and traveling under the leadership of Pastor Dave Reidy, who is one of my heroes in the ministry. He is a worship leader based in Australia who, in the days of Frank Houston, worked with other worship leaders in the early days of the amazing church we know today as Hillsong. He was the Worship Pastor for seven years and was instrumental in the founding of “Youth Alive”. Needless to say, I have my humility close by, these days. Whats intriguing to me is that he talks like he’s blessed to have us come help this ministry and I don’t doubt that, but it’s actually the other way around. We are the ones who are blessed to be getting the opportunity to serve in this powerful ministry. I don’t see that he feels like he’s a BIG DEAL, even though he is. But even though he’s highly influential, he doesn’t view himself as this great person, or Gods gift for mankind; Just a real leader that recognizes his humanity as equal to mine, but lives a life of extraordinary significance in which he is called. A Godly person who is empowered by the Holy Spirit to do incredible things.

We have our work cut out for us that’s for sure. This will be far from a leisure trip. It will be a lot of hard work and will require great sacrifice. It requires us to give what we have to the cause, but In the end isn’t that what we are supposed to do? Jesus died in our stead and paid the ultimate price for our security in Him, so is it that much to ask that we drop our simple nets, as the disciples did, to follow Him? As far as our day to day life in Sydney, we don’t have many details nailed down; However, one thing we know for sure is that the one who knows when each sparrow falls, is guiding and directing our every step, and that is enough detail for me.

Look forward to more updates if you are interested in following along on this journey, and please click the follow button to get an email upon each post. I’m planing on updating as much as possible with the things God does on the tour and in ministry. And thanks again for being a support. You really don’t know what it means to me. Until next time, Be blessed!

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