near Lake Superior in July past

The thunder was the test of You,
dropping from heaven in heavy bursts.
Ravenous lightning licking up the sky
was the test of You and me
and if I could find peace in a
Man who stood up to storms and
hushed the savage wind.

I'd paid $400 for this nylon wrapper
that lit up like a candle flame
with each electric bolt from above.
My scattered belongings
and my weak heart were illuminated
and tired from wrestling
the elements inside and out.

Was it four hours I spent walking the beach
in the half-dark, the cold quiet
of midnightness? Time had passed slowly,
choked down to a gasp by the panic
in my bowels. I heard an urgent message
that all was not well--- there was doom
behind the midnight silence!

But You convinced me to lie down,
to lie down and take it, to lie down and
hear the urgent message slip away into the
sand of Lake Superior. I laid down in that
false candlelit cave and the panic in my gut
ran down from hysterical skies as wind,
as rain, as thunder, as lightning.

To choose and live with courage

I've had occasion to reconsider my decision to leave my pastoral position in Oregon and remain in Michigan for PhD studies. Often I've wondered if I've made the wrong decision. If I had remained in the original path and gone back to Oregon...

...I would be in Oregon right now. Back home at last!

...I would be moving into a bigger house, not into my in-laws' basement.

...I would be buying that new couch I've wanted for the last 6 years.

...I would finally be pastoring in a local church-- legitimized as a pastor.

I try to push thoughts like that away, reasoning that I've already decided: pastoring in Oregon is not my reality right now, and

the Land of What Ifs is not a very magical place to live.

But what gives me the most courage lately to embrace this new (financially challenging and professionally uncertain) reality is knowing that courage is needed.

I made a difficult decision, but I made one and now it's mine.

And I can be proud of the fact that in just about every way this is the more difficult path.

There is a reason that the road less travelled has less foot traffic: it's harder to walk there.

Somehow this encourages me, somehow it calls upon the courageous part of me to stand up and to remain standing with resolve. I want to spend my life on hard things; I want to be heroic.

There are much greater heroes in the world than I will ever be, and giving up security to get a doctorate is not among the most self-sacrificing or dangerous acts of history. But it takes a long courage and I believe that doing a brave thing is commendable, and that it is in every way superior to doing no thing. Therefore

to make a courageous decision is in every way superior to making no decision


In the end, I may not succeed in this small endeavor of mine, but

if I choose and act courageously have I not triumphed in the world?

She looks brave to me.

She looks brave to me.

So. I have some news.

No. I'm not pregnant.

Important things happen that don't involve babies, you know ;)


I have resigned from my position as a pastor with the Oregon Conference in order to pursue doctoral studies at the theological seminary at Andrews University. Yes, my knowledge addiction has taken me this far.

Seek Knowledge. Affirm Faith. Change the World.

Seek Knowledge. Affirm Faith. Change the World.


Q. What are you doing your PhD in?

A. Religion (Theological Studies)

Q. When do you start?

A. August 2012.

Q. Why are you waiting a year?

A. Because right now my brain is tired from three full-time years of MDiv coursework, and I'd like to start the PhD excited rather than exhausted. Also, taking a year off of formal coursework will allow me to narrow down my interests, to study for (and pass!) the prerequisite German and French exams, to save a pocketful of change, and to read a bunch of books that have nothing to do with theology but will nourish my creativity.

Q. How long will it take to do a PhD?

A. If I was really fast, 3 years. If I'm really slow, 10 years.

The entrance to Andrews University. Come visit sometime.

The entrance to Andrews University. Come visit sometime.

Q. What are you going to do once you've finished the PhD?

A. Start paying back my loans.

Q. No, seriously. Are you going to be a professor? I thought you were a pastor.

A. People who have 10-year plans use a lot of erasers because you know what? Life changes. People change. Loves change. Doors turn into walls and walls into doors. The horizon expands and contracts and sometimes you're in the fog and sometimes on the bluff. So I don't know what I'm going to do when I'm done with this degree. I would love to be able to return to full-time ministry and I think the local church context is a really important and really fun place to do ministry. But classroom ministry might be cool too. And I shed more than a few tears saying goodbye to my campus chaplaincy job. Let's revisit this question in 10 years and we'll see what the Lord has done with me.

Q. Are you crazy?!

A. Yes, a little. This is clearly the crazier path financially because I just let go of a real job with a real salary and real benefits in order to get an expensive degree which will provide no salary-raising qualifications in the end. // And it's crazy, too, because I don't really know if I can do this PhD thing. Supposedly it's really hard. And the only way to find out if I can do it is by trying. So, here we go!

headed into the risky future of the unknown road. here we go!

headed into the risky future of the unknown road. here we go!

the test of the commandment

The Sabbath is doing its appointed work in me today. As the sun sank past the corn fields I was restless and exhausted, sleepy but stressed. I have several assignments left to do in an impossibly short time period, and discouragement settled heavy as I discovered that I had lost all the notes I had made for writing a book critique due Sunday. Joshua was gone and I laid alone in the dark, unable to sleep and unable to

rest in the Savior

 because every impulse in my body was saying

go! do it! work! pick it up! type it out! write it down! labor! accomplish!

but the commandment of God says

rest. stop. slow. quiet. remember Me. reclaim holiness.

 at which point I must decide if I will

  • trust, and
  • obey

which, as it turns out, is the exact same thing more often than not.

And in obeying the Lord's command to rest, I am forced to redefine what "okay" means. If I obey the Lord and the work doesn't get done, will I be okay? If I obey the Lord and my grade suffers and I disappoint people, will I be okay? Obeying the Lord for these 24 hours means letting go of my






 and recognizing that the world spins on regardless of my grades and that, in fact, I am still a whole person under His care.

And so in the Sabbath, God cures my anxious hurry by commanding me to stop. And in the quiet created by the recess of my labors He is able to remind me that the solution to my problem is not more productivity, but more Him.