The Third Chapter

In my life, there have been several times when I felt completely hopeless and helpless. But three of those instances came to mind this week, and I want to share them with you. 

In 2015 my migraines were out of control, and my diet and new job stress were the double whammy of almost madness. The pain and fear was paralyzing. Once or twice in a 20-day stretch, I thought that ending my life would serve me better. 

The second time was in 2022. My daughter got COVID, and her stomach stopped processing food. The nerves in her stomach got jumbled with long-haul COVID, and we could not find the solution for months. Nothing I could do would stop her from throwing up and feeling severely sick and nauseous. 

The final time was also last year when the new house we bought fell apart. The renovations caused more renovations. It seemed like a new emergency and thousands of dollars every day for months. It was like we were living in the movie, The Money Pit. I felt foolish and nowhere close to being in control. 

In time, God saw us through it all. He connected us with the right tests, doctors, friends, and contractors. But it was hard. Brutally hard. 

Early this week, I woke with a migraine, Anna deduced Cora’s weekend stomach bug was the return of her stomach nerve issue, and we had a mishap in the kitchen where there was almost a fire. As each issue popped up, I was strangely calm and without fear. God seemed to pause with me each time and ask, “Is something different this time?” Which got me wondering what was different. Am I different? Are the circumstances different? 

The simple answer was repetition and trust. 

God saw us through all of it once, and we knew with meds, a little discipline, and some elbow grease, our lives could be safely put back into order.

The story of Elijah in 1 Kings 18 has always mystified me. In this showdown with King Ahab, his faith is bold, daring, slightly sarcastic, and unapologetic. God sent him out, and he blazed a trail of God’s Power and Glory as he went. I have always thought about how brave Elijah was! I wish I had the calm and power that comes from having that kind of faith. But my awe comes from only looking at the 3rd chapter in the story. Elijah was standing on his experiences where God had already come through in a big way. 

There was a pattern: God instructed, Elijah obeyed, and a miracle took place. Once God used a dried-up brook and ravens to feed Elijah while he was in hiding. Another time, God empowered Elijah to raise a child from the dead. So, by the time we get to the part of the story where Elijah squares off with Ahab, he has been prepared and is confident that God will come through. 

Sometimes writing these blogs is exciting when I hear God’s voice so clearly, and sometimes it’s a labor of love listening to whispers. But what I appreciate the most is having a written record of how many times God has had a word for you and me. 

Even though it’s been a few weeks since we last hung out, it doesn’t change the story. God loves us and has chosen to use us as His plan of Hope in this world. If we are listening and obedient, just like Elijah, we get to be a part of some amazing things along the way. You and I are God’s Chosen. 

Your adventures strengthen all of us. I would love to hear your story too. You can shoot me an email at, or you can drop it in the comments.

I love being in this with you.

In His Service and at yours!

Nailed to a Tree

Several years ago, I wrote about why I don’t like Easter.

Each year, my relationship with Jesus grows closer to a friendship. But yet, this week still holds a sting. I find myself short-tempered, irritable, and restless as I internally struggle, knowing that my sin nailed my friend to a tree. 

Maybe it’s because my self-worth has yet to grow into being worth that sacrifice. Or perhaps it’s because my dance with sin is similar to Paul’s when he says…”For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” Romans 7:15

Ugh! Like almost anything in life that gives me unrest, I realize I have two choices. I can draw closer to Jesus, explore why I feel this way, or distance myself and numb those feelings. This week I intentionally chose to draw close and listen to what God had to say. 

When I came across this scripture on Tuesday morning, these words changed my perspective for this Good Friday. “Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son.” John 5:22

God didn’t make Jesus die on the cross for me. Jesus made that choice. It’s silly to think that I put Jesus on the cross on my own strength. It would be like my seven-month-old nephew trying to pick me up and put me on the kitchen counter. Sure, it would be cute to watch, but it would be impossible to achieve.

“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” ~Jesus
Matthew 28:18

“I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.” ~Jesus Revelation 22:13

You can’t force the author of authority to do anything. 

The sin of Adam and Eve in the garden is so much bigger than the self-soothing ways I have picked up in the last 40 years. Jesus solved the original sin issue by choosing to be the sin offering/sacrifice/atonement and declaring that we were worth enough to be covered by it too. 

Friday was a brutal day for my King. Sunday, a great victory was had! We are a prize worth fighting for, dying for, and beloved enough to return for. That is the posture that I am working on this week. Thank you for walking with me through it. 

Happy Easter! 
In His service and at yours!

Getting it Wrong

I really dislike getting things wrong. I was flying on the smallest plane I had ever flown on last week, which meant no WI-FI, movie, or phone charger. Flashback to the early 2000s when our phones were not our everyday escape and solution to boredom. How did we ever survive!?

I dug deep into my carry-on for some form of entertainment and found a cool gift a friend of mine gave me—a small written collection of the Gospels. The book is by a faith-based nonprofit organization called, Plus Nothing, whose entire goal is to get the teachings of Jesus into as many hands as possible.

The book creates a cohesive timeline of Jesus’ ministry, and by the end of my short flight, I had made it to where Jesus was meeting with the woman at the well (John 4). This unlikely story is my favorite for many reasons, and I have read it often. However, reading it this time, I noticed this book left out the part where Jesus tells the woman to “Go and sin no more.” 

Confused, I wondered why they would leave the rebuke part out. 

While our plane taxied to the gate, I reread John 4, and sure enough, that phrase wasn’t there in the first place. It was me who had gotten it wrong all these years. Jesus does tell others to “Go and sin no more” in two other situations in John 5 and 8. But he didn’t say it to the woman at the well, and I don’t know why I always added it to this story in my head. But, at that moment, it magnified something to me.  

Jesus never once spoke any correction over that woman. None. He tells her what she has done and is doing, but never a harsh word, rebuke or condemnation. Instead, Jesus tells this woman that he knows her. Jesus understood that this woman knew what she was doing was wrong, but even more so, he understood her need to be known. 

Pastor Chris Hodges said, “God has placed in us all a deep need to be needed and to be known.” Jesus says to her I know who you are, I know where you have been, I know who you will be, and I need (and want!) you for my purpose. Jesus tells the woman, “A time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” John 4:23

Jesus had the opportunity to disqualify and rebuke this woman. She was an outcast and a sinner. However, he calls her into purpose. There is such great wisdom in this. I love the expanded version of this story in The Chosen. Jesus knew her heart, so her sin and circumstances didn’t phase him. People getting things wrong has never stopped Jesus from spreading his perfect message through imperfect people. 

So, I guess I’m ok that I got it wrong this week so we could spend some time together today. Have a great week!

In His service and at yours!


When I Rest, I Rust

My small group and I have been digging into how we trust God daily, and the other morning I felt God tugging at me to text these 3 questions to our group, and their answers rushed in with honesty and without haste.

The Questions…
1. Do you FIGHT like Jesus did? Meaning do you speak the truth in love (Eph. 4:15), love your enemies (Matt. 5:44), and show kindness, tenderness & forgiveness to others (Eph. 4:32)?

2. Do you GIVE like God instructs us to? (Tithe – Mal. 3:10) 

3. Do you REST like God does? (Sabbath – Gen. 2:2)

The Responses…
1. Yes! Getting better. Yes. Sometimes. Yes.
2. Yes. Yes. Some of that. Sometimes. Yes.
3. No. No. No. Sometimes. Um, what is rest?

    I won’t disclose which of these responses was mine, but my little poll revealed that we all stink at resting, which was no surprise to me because even my wife tells people, “Shawn will never retire. He loves to work. When Shawn rests, he rusts.” 

    I don’t like underachieving, and I’m always up for a good challenge, so I took the plunge into resting last Sunday. I did nothing. We slept late, took naps, watched a little TV, spent the evening with family, and hit the pillow early that evening. But, as I was falling asleep, all I could think about was what a waste of a day it was. The next day I felt even worse! I had an unLabor Day hangover. It’s like I drank a hefty dose of relaxing remorse mixed with a heaping cup of guilt for wasting weekend time. On top of it all, I felt terrible for feeling this way. 

    I didn’t understand why God’s best did not fit me best.

    Monday was a rough day. Tuesday was a long day at work. Wednesday was filled with challenging conversations, and I spent Thursday at the Atlanta airport. But check this out: my temper stayed in check for all four days, my anxiety was low, and Anna and I laughed more than we had in a while. Was it a strange week, or was God fulfilling His promise? Looking back, I think I expected God to replace the “doer’s high” of accomplishment with some “rester’s rush.” Instead, in God’s perfect way, He was preparing me for the days ahead. 

    What’s your relationship with rest? Are you strangers or buddies? Do you feel like you’ll rust and be worthless if you rest, or do you feel refreshed, renewed, and ready for what lies ahead?

    We are all in this together, so please leave a note in the comments. It may take me longer than usual to respond to comments or emails because I’m on vacation this weekend trying to give this rest thing another try. 

    In His Service and at yours!

    Make the Connection

    I know I have a hard bend not to like being told what to do. I blame some of it on my Catholic school roots. There were a lot of “Do what I say, not as I do” expectations. 

    I remember listening to a school Mass one Friday when Father G’s sermon warned us about addictions…”Don’t drink! Don’t smoke! Don’t gamble! Only do want is right!” Only to come home that afternoon to find my favorite priest Father Dan was coming over for dinner and a beer. He and my dad talked long into the evening about him running our school’s 5th annual casino night over a smoke. Talk about mixed messages. 

    So when Philippians 4:8 pops up on my Bible app saying, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.” I instinctively think, what’s that gonna get me but more hard work keeping my nose clean? Especially when I fully believe that my sin has been wiped away – my past, present and future sins are all as far from me as the east is to the west.

    If Romans 8:38-39 are really true, and Paul was “convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers,  neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” That is good enough for me.

    So, if all that is true, why would I want to work that hard?

    Then I saw verses 8 and 9 of Philippians 4 positioned beautifully together. 
    “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me–put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” 

    Paul is saying, “Hey, I get it. Things are hard out there. Trust this old man and put these things into practice, and God will be with you and bring His peace to you.” Peace. If I’m being honest, whenever I veer away from doing what is noble, right, pure, lovely, or admirable, it’s because I’m looking for the shortcut to some form of fabricated peace. 

    Want to see what else connects? Let’s take it back a few verses.
    “Do not be anxious about anything. Instead, in every situation with prayer and petition with thanksgiving, tell your requests to God. And the peace that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7

    OOOOHH! I guess that’s why it makes sense to read the Bible in order. Thanks for letting me catch up and make the connection with you today. What about you? Have you tried to skip over some Biblical truths to find a shortcut to what you want faster? What connections have you missed? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

    We will get through this together.
    In His service and at yours!

    Faith and Trust

    I recently made a new friend from Haiti, and during our conversation, she said in a beautiful Haitian accent, “You know…Faith is KNOWING God can do it. But, trust is LETTING God do it.”

    Ooof. That statement knocked the wind out of me for a minute.

    It made me think about how I have a disconnect between my faith in God and my trust in God. The two seem like they would walk hand-in-hand, but they can be very separate, and that separation is never more evident than when I’m reminding a friend about God’s promises for the same situation that is playing out in my life. It’s easy to have faith for someone else, but the stakes seem much higher when it’s MY kid, MY finances, MY marriage, and MY future.  

    See, I know “…faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1) And I also know “…that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

    But, even though those two scriptures have been branded into my memory, it’s still a struggle to accept them both simultaneously. I’ve found that it comes down to that I believe God will work things out for my good, but I don’t trust that He has my best interest at heart. Or, I should say I don’t trust that His timing in working those things out will be in my best interest. I don’t want to be uncomfortable. I don’t want to wait, and I want to have the answers that I need when I want them.

    The words “faith” and “trust” are so often overused and assumed that many of us forget their true definitions and importance in every area of our lives. For another read about trust, check out my previous blog here. As you can tell, trust is a subject I need to revisit often. What about you?

    It’s been a while since we’ve talked, and I would love to hear from you. How have you built up your trust in God? Where do you see it play out most? Leave a comment below or email me at

    We will get through this together!
    In His service and at yours.

    Who Wants a Tee Shirt?

    “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. Isaiah 43:18-20

    Such a great scripture to start the new year! So encouraging but quite difficult to do.

    I was driving to the office and saw that scripture on a church sign and wondered, “How do I accept God’s new thing when my life is so full of the old things I have collected?”

    Have you ever caught a tee shirt at a professional baseball game? We go once or twice a year but I have never been in the right place to catch one of the shirts they throw out. Except this one time…

    My brother and I had this great idea that we would send our wives out for the night and we would take the kids and a couple of their friends to the baseball game. We loaded the minivan with toys, tablets and diaper bags and headed to the game. We were running late, and arrived in the middle of the second inning. We entered the park and added a layer of chicken tenders, peanuts, drinks and cotton candy to our already overloaded tribe. As we finally made it out of the concourse and into the stadium the whole place erupted in response to the announcer shouting, “Who wants a tee shirt!?!”

    With everyone on their feet the place went crazy and also blocked any chance of us getting to our seats in the upper tier. As we were standing there circled up trying figure out where to go, with every hand, finger and shoulder loaded to bear, a launched tee shirt falls right in the middle of us. My brother and I could only laugh. We had no way to pick it up without sacrificing a nugget or pack of wet wipes. What were the chances….?

    I think the older we get the harder it is to put down our old ways, habits and stuff to accept the new things God has to offer. New relationships, perspectives, behaviors, forgiveness, direction for our lives. You would think it would be easy. But it’s not. 

    We may have survived this long doing things the way we’ve always done them, but with God, the things we have built are wastelands compared to what God can provide for us.

    So, what could you put down in order to free up some space to pick up something God has for you? 

    We are in this together!

    In His service and at yours!



    A dear friend and I were having a conversation this week, and in a moment of vulnerability, he shared, “If I’m being real, I have been following Jesus for several years, and yet I am bad at trusting God. My life growing up was too complicated and hard, and because of that, I can’t seem to trust Him completely even now.”

    I was so grateful for his refreshing transparency. After our conversation, I began to think about what actually goes into trusting someone. In my online search, I stumbled upon an article that summarized it well. The author states that the four elements of trust are: consistency, compassion, communication, and competence. 

    If we look at the issue my friend brought up about not trusting God and then look at those four elements of trust, the next question we can ask ourselves is, “Can we trust God?” Let’s see what Scripture has to say about it.

    Is He Consistent?

    “The Lord, our God is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” 
    Hebrews 13:8

    “Lord, your constant love reaches the heavens; your faithfulness extends to the skies.” Psalm 36:5 

    “For I the LORD do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed.” Malachi 3:6

    Is He Compassionate?

    “The Lord is gracious and full of compassion, slow to anger and great in mercy. The Lord is good to all, and His tender mercies are over all His works.” Psalms 145:8-9

    “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” 2 Corinthians 1:3

    “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted. and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18 

    Does He Communicate?

    “Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.” Jeremiah 33:3

    “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.” John 10:27-28

    “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

    “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.” Revelation 3:20

    Is He Competent?

    “Good and upright is the Lord…” Psalm 25:8

    “The Lord! The Rock! His work is perfect, for all His ways are just; A God of faithfulness and without injustice, righteous and upright is He.” Deuteronomy 32:4

    “As for God, His way is blameless; The word of the Lord is tested; He is a shield to all who take refuge in Him.” 2 Samuel 22:31

    God has proven Himself to be trustworthy over and over again. It’s not always easy to take the plunge into trusting Him completely, but trust will soon grow if we allow these Truths to settle in and take root in our hearts, souls and minds.

    I’m so grateful for my friend questioning his faith because it made me double down on who God is in my own life. If you are struggling with trusting God, please email me at so I can pray with you. 

    “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” Proverbs 27:17

    We are in this together!
    In His service and at yours!

    Every Breath Counts

    Over the holiday, an old friend reached out to me to wish us a Merry Christmas. It was good to hear his voice, but after a few moments, I could tell he had to say more than just the typical merriment and walking down memory lane. 

    He told me that his wife had been diagnosed with terminal cancer. It’s hard to know what to say in those situations, and after I hung up the phone, I did the only thing I knew to do. I prayed for God to give me wisdom on how to be there for him and his family during this season of their lives.  

    I felt God impress upon me three words. “Every breath counts”.

    I am heartbroken for my friend and deeply saddened by the weight of concern and sadness he must feel on his shoulders. As my thoughts wandered, they got me thinking about the things I take for granted. Not only the obvious things like food, work, and shelter but the fact that my heart is pumping life and my lungs are consistently giving me breath. I know we’re designed not to be distracted by the functionality of our bodies keeping us alive, but wow! I am amazed at how we were created. 

    There are several mentions of God breathing in the Bible. 

    “Jehovah God formed man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul.” Genesis 2:7

    “But there is a spirit in man, and the breath of the Almighty gives them understanding.” Job 32:8

    “And when He had said this, He breathed into them and said to them, Receive the Holy Spirit.” John 20:22

    “All Scripture is God-breathed and profitable for teaching, for conviction, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,” 2 Timothy 3:16

    Everything God breathed was a gift for us! Our Creation, The Holy Spirit, and His Living Word.

    We are mere hours away from the New Year, and I find myself asking familiar questions. What will be different about this year? What if this year was our last? Are we making every breath count? 

    God and I will be talking about this over the next couple weeks. So, I will keep you posted as to what He says. If you hear Him talking with you about this too, would you drop a note in the comments or shoot me an email at

    Happy New Year! I am praying is a special one for all of us!

    In His service and at yours!


    The Right Answer

    The Right Answer

    I’ve been spending time in the book of Luke reading the Christmas story to catch the spirit of Christmas as God laid it out for us. Take a look with me.

    “In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” 
    Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”
    “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?” The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. For no word from God will ever fail.” “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.”

    I had always assumed Mary had already heard of the consequences of Zachariah doubting the Lord’s messenger, causing him to be mute. But that is not how it’s written. Her response was as pure as her heart.

    “I am the Lord’s servant…”

    That response is why she was asked to be the mother of the most high God, and I didn’t get that call. I can just imagine Gabriel coming to tell me that the Savior of the world will be in my care. What a conversation that would be! I can see ole Gabe now, pacing back and forth as I ask him thousands of questions about who, why, what, when, and how over and over again. But Mary gave the right answer. She said yes. 

    Looking back at the scripture, I wonder if her answer was solidified by Gabriel’s promise right before she answered. “For no word from God will ever fail.” What a bold proclamation! What an incredible guarantee we have in Christ even today. If God gives us a word, His truth, it will not fail.

    Is there something God has placed within you that feels like there are too many challenges or obstacles to face or that you may not feel equipped to handle? Today, I get to be the messenger of good news to you. “For no word from God will ever fail.” Ever. 

    I would love to pray with you through this. Send me an email to, and let’s courageously give the right answer together.

    In His Service and at yours!