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1 Year Into Dreaming Big!

Are you considering making a change of career, location, or something else? Like, one of those changes that requires a ton of thought and prayer? We were in one of those moments just over a year ago. And let me tell you….

Cailey (my wife) and I downsized everything we owned, fit what was left into a U-haul truck, and left the place and people we had called home for 4 years and headed for the Oregon Coast. You can read more about that decision here. I guess you could say that we became members of the ‘Great Resignation.’

Six of the top reasons people left their jobs in 2021 applied to Cailey and I. ⏩

I wrote about my #OneWord focus for 2022 just 6 weeks after landing at the Coast, and if I’m completely honest I haven’t reflected on my word once since then. Sure, it’s come to mind here and there, but I’ve come to realize that most things worth doing in life don’t happen without a plan or intentionality.

I LOVE writing, living an organized life, and taking time often to reflect on where I’m at and what God is leading me into. This past year has been an incredible dream come true, but not completely void of challenges.

  • Car accident
  • COVID
  • Knee injury
  • Prolonged illness
  • Anxiety

In all of the tough times, God has been right there with us. And we continue to recognize His loving hand in all of the blessings. We have been involved in a really great Monday evening virtual group of loving followers of Jesus, and are praying toward launching a Missional Community here in Newport in January, 2023.

Definition: A Missional Community is a committed group of Jesus followers, the size of an extended family (12-25), empowered by the Spirit, to participate in God’s mission of redemption in a particular neighborhood and/or network.

Missional Church Network

I can’t speak for Cailey, but for me this past year has looked a lot like settling in to transition and new careers. Simply getting through the work week to rest a little on the weekend just to do it all over again next week. This has felt largely internal-driven and not so much focusing on others around me. This is one area I see changing in 2023…my focus.

It is time for me to move from transition to CREATE.

The holiday season is upon us and I plan to make adequate time to contemplate what my #OneWord365 needs to be for next year.

Who knows, maybe I’ll even be blogging more 😊

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Christianity vs. Social Issues: A Real Battle!

Faith vs. daily life. Where society is vs. where God is headed. What various people groups say is right vs. God’s Word. If you’re a believer in Jesus (like me) you’ve likely wrestled with these issues.

Recently, I’ve seen issues like the reversal of Roe v. Wade, gun control, gender identification, and immigration separate people of Christian faith. How can this be? Has this frustrated you too? Maybe it’s differences in opinion, how we interpret the Bible, our upbringing, or simply what we give most credibility to.

What disheartens me right now online is that I’m seeing very emotional reactions from Christian women regarding what the Supreme Court just did with abortion. That’s not what troubles me. It’s that some Christian women are celebrating the ruling, and others are outraged. This is causing a separation in the family of God! Which leads to an absolutely critical question.

Is it possible for Bible-believing persons of faith to have different views on social issues and still get along, or is being ‘right’ most important?

If I’m honest this post could have easily taken the form of a rant of frustration. But God kindly directed me to take a higher approach. He held my hand this morning as He walked with me through Romans 12.

In this scripture, God challenges believers to allow our minds to be transformed. How do we do this? Well, we are also supposed to resist being conformed to the world around us (v. 2). This is one of the most difficult things about being a follower of Jesus. Holding to the teaching and guidance of God’s word while living in a society that mostly pulls us in the opposite direction is a constant tug of war.

It is my personal belief that Christians can live peacefully together while holding vastly different views on politics, faith, and social issues. The question becomes, however, how much are we willing to work at it? There is a cost involved. It will cost you and I large sums of humility, patience, and persistence.

Followers of Jesus are called to genuinely love one another, being generous and helping each other (v. 9-13). The Bible takes this a step further by telling us to leave our vengeance and anger for God to deal with (v. 19). Our social posture is to live at peace with everyone whenever possible (v. 18).

Do I struggle with this? Yep! Practically every day. I’m working on not becoming irritated or judgmental as quickly. I’m praying for God to allow my eyes to see the good in people before negative assumptions slide in.

Our biggest witness, our most convincing display that we follow Jesus and His goodness, is in how we are seen loving one another (Jn. 13:34-35).

For me it boils down to this very hard truth. We cannot say that we fully believe God and His teachings while simultaneously living and acting as if the world around us is also true and good. It’s not. We either live for Jesus, with Jesus, in love…OR we don’t.

Join the discussion and LEAVE A COMMENT below.

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Our Faith is Trash Without _________.

What is the KEY to your faith? Have you ever really pondered that? Our faith completely hangs on one single thread. The resurrection! Look what Paul says about our faith.

And if Christ has not been raised, then your faith is useless and you are still guilty of your sins. - 1 Cor. 15:17

If Jesus had not been brutally put to death on a cross and then raised from the dead 3 days later, our faith would be worthless. Also, our sins would not have been forgiven and we would still be dependent upon the Old Testament Law to ‘work’ for our forgiveness.

BUT…..

This Sunday is Easter. The day that followers of Jesus reflect and celebrate our forgiveness, salvation, and life in the loving person of Jesus Christ. He is Risen. He is the Messiah, savior of all humankind. He is Emmanuel, God with us.

Personally, I will be reflecting on what the Resurrection means to me this weekend. How it is the one single key to my faith. And gratitude to Jesus for his sacrificial love.

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My Top 10 Most Read Posts

My Top 10 Most Read Posts

Hey y’all!

I’ve been blogging for over 15 years now. I love writing, creating, and encouraging others. So…I thought I would share with you the top 10 most popular posts on my blog. Starting with number 10.

#10 Interview with Country Recording Artist April Kry July, 2019

#9 Manage your life, or your life will manage you September, 2013

#8 4 Healthy Steps For Your Current Season April, 2015

#7 The Ocean Is Calling Us November, 2021

#6 Best Connection Methods With Those Attending Your Church February, 2015

#5 Team Appreciation is Important July, 2013

#4 Interview with Country Recording Artist Kaitlyn Baker July, 2019

#3 3 Things To Do While Sitting In Darkness January, 2015

#2 A Tribute to Craig Jutila December, 2018

#1 The Fruit of the Spirit in Leadership April, 2013

Bonus: My current personal favorite. A Stroke of Genius December, 2021

I would absolutely LOVE to hear which one is your favorite, and why?

Lastly, what do you want to see more of from me on the blog? Drop a comment below or email me.

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The Ocean Is Calling Us

Exactly 4 years ago we felt God drawing us to serve in Yakima, WA. And it’s been an incredible ride! We’ve made so many new friends, gained additional family members via marriage, and witnessed God do things that led our jaws to drop. Honestly, I don’t think we would’ve imagined ever leaving Yakima.

BUT…

It’s also been a couple years of financial, physical, and emotional challenge. We’ve been primarily working at Winco Foods making slightly more than minimum wage. Cailey (my beautiful wife) has been working hard in regular therapy to deal with some childhood traumas. Both of us have held multiple additional part-time jobs in the last 3 years just to help make ends meet. On top of all that our landlord just sold the home we’ve been renting for 1 year.

These issues recently caused us to rethink our current situation. A huge factor in this we owe directly to our oldest son, Garrett. He was home on leave from the Navy in September. Over dinner one day he shared his concern for us burning the candle at both ends with a flame-thrower. And he proceeded to challenge us to ‘dream big.’ He asked, “What changes to your lives can you make that would position you in a happier, safer, and more secure place?”

We left dinner that night kind of in shock…in a good way. Then Cailey took it a step further. She said to me, “What the heck. Let’s try to dream BIG!” If we could live anywhere we want and change our careers so that neither of us would need a second job what would that look like? What kind of employment would that require?

We have always loved the Oregon Coast. In addition to its beauty, we had a tradition of taking family vacations there most summers with the kids when they were younger. So we began tossing our resumes to employment opportunities on the coast. Newport surfaced quickly in our ‘test’ search. Cailey worked in banking earlier in our marriage, and will be sliding back into that. She enjoys it and this will provide a regular schedule with almost no stress. This is what she wants/needs. I will be doing counseling/social services with a non-profit agency that offers much needed resources to families in multiple coastal counties.

We are incredibly grateful for all our kids. Their support and encouragement in this “life reset” has meant the world to us.

I’m sharing this post just 4 days after arriving in Newport, OR. Multiple obstacles and change of plans hit us along the way here. The truck cost WAY MORE than we estimated, averaging only 7 miles per gallon! Housing is tight like it is most places, so we are making our temporary home in a cozy hotel room for an undetermined number of weeks while we look for what’s available.

In spite of all the difficulties, God is still working on our behalf! He has provided just enough in the moments when our faith was weak but resolute. Here’s a thought I read in my devotional titled, ‘Navigating Transition.’

“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”

This quote connects to our life reset, and I would venture to say even more broadly to how the pandemic has impacted us. Cailey and I didn’t LEAVE people, circumstances, and hardships in Yakima. Rather, we RAN TOWARD change, health, and discovery together in Newport.

(My world in a single picture!)

That’s enough for now. We’ll be sharing tons more over the coming months on our LIFE RESET and incredible journey of following Jesus into the crazy unknown. We’d love to hear from you. Drop a comment below, leave a prayer, or encourage us to remain connected to friends and family.

Until next time…..

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COVID Life Sucks, but God Still Offers Peace!

(Not a political blog post, but one of personal struggle and faith)

I live in Washington State. Yesterday, our governor announced a state-wide mask mandate for everyone regardless of vaccination status.

Now, I have made the personal choice to receive the vaccine. But I was against it for a very long time. It simply bothers me that government institutions are pressing heavily on people to get a vaccine injected into their body that to this day still has not been approved as safe and effective by the FDA. I chose to get it on my own timing and for my own reasons. And I completely support those who have chosen not to get it.

This entire discussion will change once the FDA fully approves it.

For now, however, we are stuck with a gigantic question. How do we approach daily life at work and at home with positivity and hope when virtually everything we see in the news and that is being forced upon us by our elected officials points to despair and frustration?

I have come to realize something this week. Allowing ourselves to float aimlessly down the river of societal unrest not only does not help us, but it actually causes us to get more unhealthy. Our clarity of thought, mental health, and overall outlook on our world gets flushed down a truck stop toilet when you and I allow mainstream news outlets, social media, Hollywood, and self-serving politicians to shape how we decide to live our day and treat others.

Do you agree?

I spent the entire evening last night feeling sick to my stomach. My anxiety was higher than it’s been in months. “Take slow, deep breaths. Stop looking at the news” I would try to tell myself.

I slept 9 hours last night and I still awoke feeling like I had been drug on the ground behind a running horse through the desert. After taking my wife to work I came home, took a shower, and sat down at the table with God, His word, and my journal. It was time to have a discussion.

Next, I was reminded of the Fruit of the Spirit. Galatians 5 tells us these traits are ‘love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.’ These are character traits that God hopes His followers will develop for every season of life.

One of my favorite quotes over the last 30 years comes from pastor and author, Charles Swindoll. He says, “My attitude is made up of 10% my circumstances, and 90% how I react to them.”

Ouch!!! My 90% reaction last night contained none of the above-mentioned 9 Spiritual traits.

This is what led me to write this post today. I am a pastor and follower of Jesus. If that’s you as well, we are called by God to be set apart from the norms of the world. God asks us to stand out in how we love and how we posture ourselves when facing fear, frustration, and uncertain times.

May I encourage you today? Especially if you have been feeling similar to me recently, take time first thing in the morning and again right before bed to meditate on God, His goodness, His promises, and His power. I’m going to do my best to do this too.

I’ll leave you with this. Yes, I have very strong opinions on how our leaders are facilitating the COVID situation, what’s occurring in Afghanistan, racial injustices, the current labor shortage in America. But when it boils down to it, our character and public posture must be shaped by God’s word and strength, NOT by the social issues that dominate today’s news headlines.

Do you agree? What do you struggle with most today? Have you figured out how to keep yourself centered and positive in the midst of the current chaos we live in, or do you struggle like I do?

Please leave a comment below. I’d love to hear from you.

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What If Pike’s Peak Disappeared?

God’s love for you and I is more consistent, guaranteed, and tangible than it is for mountains and hills to be in their same place each morning.

Our family lived in Colorado Springs for a couple years. The front range was majestic. And Pike’s Peak could be seen virtually from any location in town. Residents could count on it being there.

And yet, scripture tells us that it’s more likely for Pike’s Peak to disappear than it is for God’s love for us to cease.

Rest in that truth today. And if you are finding it hard to believe, take that to God. Be honest with Him. He only has warm, open arms for you.

Be blessed.

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Have Recent Months Been Hard?

Perspective is everything!. Here’s what my wife and I have been experiencing in the recent six months.

  • Moved into a new home.
  • Three positive COVID tests in the family.
  • Two quarantines.
  • Finally bought a second car.
  • Missed Thanksgiving due to quarantine.
  • Gave up a great job.
  • Our first grandchild was born.
  • Missing out on a big leadership retreat in Lake Tahoe.

And the list goes on. Challenges and blessings, all of it. That’s where perspective comes in. It would be easy for me to say that the past six months have been really difficult. While that may be true, I’m challenging myself to change my perspective and language. Another way to frame this is to state that it’s been really BIG. See the difference? It’s still true, but ‘big’ identifies both the negatives and the blessings.

Know what else? God…God is BIG! His promises, power, and love for us is absolutely enormous. We don’t even have the ability to comprehend all that he is.

Great is our Lord, and abundant in power; his understanding is beyond measure. Psalm 147:5

God has proven to be bigger than my worst trials, and active in BIG ways with every single blessing I’ve had. Is this true for you too?

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A New Thought on the Feeding of the Five Thousand

Don’t you just love it when you’re reading a familiar scripture, one that you’ve read or heard taught on many times before, and something completely new jumps off the page and grabs your attention? Well, that happened to me today so I wanted to share it with you.

I was in Mark 6 today, reading probably one of the most popular and well-known stories in the entire New Testament. Remember the feeding of the five thousand? Let me sum up.

The disciples had just wrapped up a ton of ministry work and teaching and were blogreporting to Jesus. To which, Jesus asked them to come away with him to a remote place away from the demands of ministry for a time of rest and rejuvenation. They haven’t even really had time to eat. When they had arrived by boat to their destination the crowds met them there. They were recognized from the shoreline and word got around (as it usually did with Jesus).

So, Jesus had compassion on them and continued many teachings into the evening time. This is where it gets interesting! The disciples suggested sending the crowds into the nearby villages to get dinner. I think they really wanted to just get something to eat for themselves. I don’t blame them, I’d have suggested it myself. I love food. But no, the work was to continue because Jesus instructed them to give the people something to eat.

The disciples replied with (I hear a bit of sarcasm in this text) asking him if they should spend a large amount of cash to buy enough bread to feel them all. Jesus asks them quite simply, “How many loaves do you have?” To this, the disciples said, “Five, and two fish.” The story continues from there with how they organized the crowd in groups and everyone ate until they were full. And of course…the leftovers.

Here’s my reflection point. Jesus didn’t ask them anything about fish. He simply asked how much bread they had. I have a couple thoughts on this.

First…the disciples knew their teacher’s heart. Maybe they were simply saving time getting him their entire food inventory knowing he’d probably ask after hearing about the fish.

Or…they could have suspected Jesus was about to do something miraculous (this is my belief) and their hearts were inclined to bring all they had to him in faithful obedience.

This is what God spoke to me in this revelation. When Jesus is about to do something incredible and asks you and I to be part of his work, it’s best to allow him to work with all that we have to offer. This doesn’t always mean that he’s going to use all we have, but I think it’s a heart thing. Don’t you? Just because Jesus doesn’t ask us for something specific does not necessarily mean he doesn’t want it.

What does this section of scripture speak to you today? How is God talking to you through his Word in this season? Comment below 🙂

 

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Please give my podcast a listen this week. We engage in discussions of faith with popular actors, musical artists, and athletes. Check out the Faith & Entertainment podcast!

 

 

Interview with Holly Tucker

Next up for the ‘Faith and Entertainment’ series is Nashville recording artist and song writer, Holly Tucker!

Holly Tucker 1

Holly began her career in music at the age of 8, and received a rare four-chair turn in 2013 on Season 4 of The Voice. She advanced all the way to the top 6 vocalists that season and was invited back for the finale.

I thoroughly enjoyed visiting with Holly. I could tell that she has a true heart for Jesus and his calling on her life, solely based on her honesty and openness about her own struggles and doubts with God in difficult seasons. All of us wrestle with God’s timing, quietness, and call from time to time. But not everyone is willing to be gut-level honest about what that has looked like for them.

I’ve linked her music on Youtube and Spotify below. Be sure to give her a listen. But for now, enjoy our encouraging discussion around her authentic faith journey. 

[Brent]: You recently retweeted a quote by Bob Goff. “Fear and insecurity will always try to talk us into settling for lesser things.“ Can you speak into that a bit? Does anything come to mind?

[Holly]: Man, it has been a very tough one and a half years for me. Lots of set backs and losses, especially in my music career. To be completely honest, I’ve been really angry with God, that he’s given me a gift to use for his glory…it’s a calling but I don’t feel like I’m being used effectively right now. I’ve said yes to opportunities I shouldn’t have said yes to. Every opportunity isn’t a good opportunity. Lately when I pray to God it sometimes feels like I’m talking to air. I’m really working hard to hold on to my faith, but I’m in a deep valley right now. I’ve just been settling. This tweet was mainly a reminder for me.

Holly Tucker 4

[Brent]:   What is one of the most helpful pieces of life advice (outside of family) anyone has ever offered to you?

[Holly]:  At 13 years old I saw Darryl Worley perform at the Grand Ole Opry for 1st time. I was with my parents and we learned about a secrete alleyway artists would use to exit the Opry and slip off to one of the nearby bars. He was a big influence to me, so we went to the back after the show and I got to meet him! I shared with him my dream of pursuing a music career. I’ll never forget what he said to me. “Well, that’s a great dream, Holly. Keep singing. But don’t let this business change you.”  This industry is all about changing you to what it thinks you should be, so it’s a constant battle to remain unique and true to your message.

 

[Brent]:   What does Holly’s personal quiet time look like?  How do you connect with God best?

[Holly]:  It’s been longer than I’d like to admit. I usually like to sit down with a pencil and highlighter. And I always come with questions, and I write them next to the scripture I’m reading. This is one way I engage in conversation with God, and I find that I am encouraged later on down the road when he provides me with solutions or knowledge pertaining to questions I’d jotted down weeks or even months ago.

Holly Tucker 2

[Brent]:   We all experience constant hills and valleys, and the seasons in between. Regarding your most recent valley, can you describe how you weathered it? Prayer, scripture, wise counsel, music?

[Holly]:  I haven’t quite figured this out yet. Praying and reading the Word would be the most logical answer, I guess. I don’t know! Maybe this is why I’ve been in this ‘valley’ season for so long. Even though I avoid talking to God, and he still finds ways to talk to me. I still make myself go to Church every Sunday. I’m still figuring it out. But I know this won’t last. It will eventually pass. I’m not asking to be a Taylor swift, I simply want to survive in this industry.

 

[Brent]:   Is God teaching you anything new right now?

[Holly]:  It seems like he’s always teaching me patience. I’m constantly over-thinking and worrying about every possible outcome. God’s always working on that with me. I need to stop being in control all the time. As for new, I don’t think I’ve ever had my faith tested this hard.

Holly Tucker 3

[Brent]:   If you were to pass on to heaven tomorrow and all but one of your songs ceased to exist, which one would you want to remain for people to hear and why?

[Holly]:  I’ve never been asked that before. Haven’t written this song yet.

 

[Brent]:   If you could travel back in time and witness any moment of Jesus’ life while he was in the flesh on Earth, what would it be…and why?

[Holly]:  Instantly in my mind, it would have to be his talk with the woman at the well. To witness that conversation. To experience his example of mercy here. Those stories make my heart happy. Also, woman who touched his robe in the chaotic crowd. It goes back to his mercy and her faith being so strong.

 

[Brent]:   What made you want to do this interview?

[Holly]:  Honest, I don’t get a lot of requests for faith-based country.  It’s refreshing to talk about my faith like this, especially right now in this season.

Enjoy one of my personal favorite Holly Tucker songs, ‘The Finer Things.”

Connect with Holly, subscribe, follow, etc. HERE > > >

Spotify, Instagram, Twitter, website, youtube.

Join the discussion and LEAVE A COMMENT below.

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