Counsel for the 17 year old me

Last month I celebrated my birthday. If you missed it, that’s ok, I’m still accepting gifts. My birthday got me thinking about areas I would like to grow in. I considered who I am and where I want to be, as well as who I was and where I used to be. Those thoughts were magnified when I learned that my high school graduating class is having its 20 year reunion next month. Twenty years doesn’t quite seem possible. There are days when I feel like I just graduated high school last week – the beautiful bride laments that there are days when I act like I just graduated high school last week.

So, now that I have been out for two decades, what would I say to my 17 year old self? What counsel would I give to myself in my senior year?

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Does NANC need a new name?

A little over a week ago, an email arrived from NANC stating that they intend to change their name. NANC is short for the National Association of Nouthetic Counselors, and if you are not familiar with them, I suggest you fix that immediately (if not sooner). I was first introduced to nouthetic counseling while in seminary. Having graduated from a secular, government university with a major in pscyhology, I was totally unprepared for the nouthetic model. It contradicted everything I was taught in college, and at first it offended me, primarily because it contradicted everything I learned in college. Why did I even waste time at that place and pursuing that degree? But, over time, it became clearer to me and became an integral part of who I am and how I think today. Much of my present theological convictions can be traced back to classrooms at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, NC where I was privileged to learn under men who taught from a nouthetic perspective.

Presently, I am not a member of NANC. I am in the very early stages of pursuing certification with them. I do not personally know anyone at the leadership level for the organization, and no one has specifically sought my input on the name change (not that they would have any reason to). But, I am very much interested in what this organization is doing, and how they are doing it. Truthfully, they could re-name themselves the Royal Order of Spotted Eels, and if they were still equipping and training people the way they currently are, I’d still be all in with them and for them. I’m not picking a fight, or starting a campaign, or questioning anyone’s wisdom. I just disagree. Continue reading


Covering great distances

It seems I am repeatedly, throughout every day, thinking about the word distance. If I’m not just thinking about it, I am planning for distance, or traveling some distance, or attempting to craft ways to either eliminate or shorten distance. There are three arenas that distance perpetually appear in my thinking.

First, I have the privilege of coaching the cross country team at North River School just down the road from us. The junior high team runs 1.5 mile races, while the high school team runs 3 mile races. Part of my responsibility as coach is to get my team to the point where they can cover those distances. Somehow though, my team is surprised when I tell them how far they will be running in practice on any given day – I have to remind them that: a. cross country is a running sport, and b. running two laps on the track is insufficient to get them ready for meets. Instead, we need to run longer distances. So far, we have topped out at 4 miles, but I’m hopeful by the end of the season that we will get in one long run a week of 8-10 miles. For those of you wondering, yes, I do run with my team, though I am tempted to coach them running on the road from the comfort and ease of my vehicle.

The second arena that distance is becomes a considerable thought is everyday life. As a reminder, we are in a fairly remote part of the country. Certainly there are other places far more remote, but for two raised-in-the-city-with-every-convenience-within-minutes-of-us folks like myself and the beautiful bride, this is remote, nearing isolation. From our driveway, it is 18 miles to a grocery store. 16 miles to a gas station. Three miles to a visible cell tower (the tower is still far off – three miles is the distance from our home before you can actually see it) – that makes sending and receiving calls a challenge. Some of you might be aghast to know that we are 19 miles from a Starbucks. We are around 60 miles from Target or Costco. When we run out of things, we have to think whether our need for that thing is greater than the distance we would need to travel to get that thing. More times than not, we choose to go without that thing. That was a hard adjustment for the guy who used to be able to walk to Fred Meyer at 10:30 at night to get the needed thing, and be done getting it by the time the store closed at 11. Our remote location has often caused me to wonder – what would happen if I ordered a pizza to be delivered to us? Would they even come? If they did, would my pizza still be warm? Would the delivery fee be twice the amount of the pizza? I may test this one day. Stay tuned.

Some days, thinking about either arena of those distances is an unpleasant task.

“Do I really have to run this far?”

“Why can’t somebody have enough vision to put a gas station closer to us?”

“If we go into town for that needed thing, we might as well get the rest of all our needed things, and that is going to take us all day.”

“How hard is it to put up a cell tower?”

I’m not proud of having those thoughts, just telling you what the thoughts are. Usually though, those thoughts diminish with two other thoughts.

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Cities you (likely) have never heard of

Encampment, Wyoming. Halsey, Oregon. West Bethel, Maine. Meadview, Arizona. Trail, Oregon.

What all of these places have in common is that they are relatively unknown. In some cases they are all but forgotten or ignored. But there is something special about each of these communities – they are home to churches that are served by Village Missions Christian Community Church in Encampment, WY. Grace Community Bible Church in Halsey, OR. Pleasant Valley Bible Church in West Bethel, ME. Meadview Community Church in Meadview, AZ. Trail Community Church in Trail, OR.

Each of these churches and the communities they are in are served by a missionary pastor, that is, a missionary to the community and a pastor to the church. Almost two years ago, the beautiful bride and I had the great privilege of attending Village Missions’ Candidate School with the missionary couples serving at the above locations. Everybody is a little different, with different backgrounds and gifting, but what unites all of us together is our love for the Savior and a call to serve in rural ministry and exalt the name of Christ in forgotten towns. Rural ministry is neither easier or more difficult than any other ministry setting – just different.

How different? Great question, and fortunately for you, Village Missions has produced an answer of sorts. Below is the most recent video Village Missions has released about a missionary couple, Jeremiah and Elizabeth Knoop, serving at Chalk Hills Community Church in Scotia, Nebraska (population: 318). Watch and see how God is at work in cities you have never heard of.




Finding no fault

Yesterday morning, the beautiful bride caught me with a thought she had gleaned while reading some of Charles Spurgeon’s writings. Spurgeon is one of my all time favorites, and I’m hopeful that as she continues to read him, she will become convinced more than ever that I need to grow a Spurgeon-esque beard.


Perhaps a new personal slogan. Image is from a t-shirt available at

Beard growing is not what this post is about though. In her reading, she was struck by his inclusion of a verse from Daniel. She shared it with me, shared her thoughts with me (so, really this post is nearly completely framed in by her) and by doing so, it became my consistent muse throughout the day.

Here is the verse: “Then the high officials and the satraps sought to find a ground for complaint against Daniel with regard to the kingdom, but they could find no ground for complaint or any fault, because he was faithful, and no error or fault was found in him.” (Daniel 6:4, ESV)

We can and should read this passage, and the overall story arc of Daniel’s life and character, with admiration. Just a simple understanding of Daniel’s life would lead you to conclude that his is an example worth following – passionate about the Lord and and strong in character. What jumps off the page is the fact that Daniel was doing this while under the rule of a pagan nation. His conduct was so above reproach that even those who wanted to deal harshly with him could not find anything legitimate to complain about. If he were in American schools, his conduct would have earned him the good citizenship award, with a fancy ribbon and a perhaps even a fancy certificate. We see in his life that he did not neglect His worship of the One True God (which the Babylonians were not real thrilled with) but in nearly every other way, he submitted to the authority over him.

I’m afraid we are lacking men like Daniel today in our churches. We (because I know I am just as guilty) are really good at following God, but not so good at following the government laws. That whole Romans 13 idea gets in the way, as does Jesus’ summary statement about taxes (and broadly includes other forms of government submission) in Mark 12:17. Kind of puts aspects of our God following in question, does it not?  Continue reading