Two Years Later

2014-06-23 19.10.42

On this date, two years ago, we lifted off from Los Angeles headed for Czech Republic. Just prior to lifting off, I wrote this Tweet:

I sent that Tweet out at 10:00pm and I remember feeling really tired. I also remember getting our kids settled into the plane and thinking to myself just how crazy we were. I also distinctly remember sitting on the plane reflecting on a story I once heard from a missionary about his feelings when he took his family, with their little baby, to the jungles of Papua New Guinea. I remember him saying, “I was sitting in the airport in San Diego thinking to myself, ‘What am I doing?! This is crazy! Should we really be doing this?!'” We weren’t on our way to the jungle, but those were my feelings exactly. A little excitement. A little fear. A little “oh man… what are we doing?!”

We did make it to Czech that day. In fact, that was the night that I wrote my very first blog that would be come the daily blog of our life in Czech. You can read it here: — In it you can hear my excitement and my tiredness. Just re-reading that post brings a few tears to my eyes (which is what basically happens every time I read one of those blogs!).

I originally wanted to title this post “The Two Years That Weren’t.” We had made a two year commitment (minimum) with our organization in Czech and I was very intent on keeping that commitment. In fact, I thought it would pretty easy because in our minds and hearts we were basically “lifers.” You could say we were “all in” on being and living in Czech. But as many who read our blog and know our story, that wasn’t what God had in mind at all. Right around a year and a half later, we were back on a plane headed for the States.

And here I am. Two years later sitting at the same desk, writing on the same blog, but in a very different place. Last week I took a group of students from the youth ministry I direct to camp called Hume Lake in the Sequoia National Forest here in California. Never in my wildest thoughts would I have imagined that. But we had a blast! Bethany and the kids were able to come and enjoy the week while I worked. It was so much fun to hang with the students and be in the mountains, but it wasn’t the fun I had imagined just a few years ago, and those definitely weren’t the mountains I imagined being in.

Hume Lake (2016)

Despite the changes the Lord has asked us to make in the past two years, I don’t sit here upset or angry or even second guessing any of it. Have I had my moments? Sure. But as I sit here today, I’m thankful for all the Lord has done because it’s growing our family to look more and more like Jesus.

Right now I’m taking our students in the youth ministry through Kevin DeYoung’s book The Hole in our Holiness. We’ll be finishing the book this Sunday and in the last chapter he makes a point about how often we should use our “spiritual thermometer.” Helpfully, he writes,

…you shouldn’t take your spiritual temperature every day. You need to look for progress over months and years, not by minutes and hours. As David Powlison likes to say, sanctification is like a man walking up the stairs with a yo-yo. There are a lot of ups and downs, but ultimate progress nonetheless.

The only question I’m asking myself tonight is if I look more like Jesus today than I did two years ago. If Kevin DeYoung is right, then this is a good opportunity to check my spiritual temperature. As God uses His Word and my circumstances to form in to who He wants me to be, do I look more like Jesus today than I did on June 23, 2014? In my pride, I always want to say yes without hesitation. But is that the truth? Have I really grown? My honest, humble answer is yes. Yes, I have. In fact, I’d probably tell you that I’ve grown more in the past 6 months than just about any other time in my life.

God has used our time here in the States to stretch me in ways I didn’t know I needed stretching. And just like stretching new muscles doesn’t feel good, it hasn’t always felt good to me to be in the midst of a little Godly stretching. But that’s part of growth. That’s part of becoming more like Christ. It takes work and it might even hurt a little at times, and yet the Lord promises us that it’s for our good.

Today has already brought it’s own challenges. Today was even one of those “harder” days where both Bethany and I have to look to the Lord for strength and comfort. And just because we’re not on an airplane taking what we thought was a huge leap of faith doesn’t mean that today we can just relax on faith. Oh, that we would believe always and trust always in the Lord! This is my prayer. This is my heart tonight. Thank you Lord for using whatever you have to make us trust in you.

Christianity Family Personal

On a Friday

On Friday morning I got a voice mail from my dad at 7:00am. He said, “Call me back when you get a chance. Your grandmother died this morning.” Click.

For some of you, reading that last sentence might have you thinking, “oh man, sorry to hear that.” Well, thank you, but honestly I didn’t really know my mom’s mom. I spent a few sporadic days with her as a child and maybe have seen her only a handful of times since I was little. It’s just the nature of my family situation but I was never really close with any of my grandparents. I was the youngest of many kids and my grandparents have always lived a good distance from us. Obviously, I’m a little sad. Death is never something you can just balk at, or at least you shouldn’t.

This might sound weird, but I actually think about my dad dying a lot. Not because I want him to, of course, but because I know it’s going to happen some day. I think about his funeral and what I want to say. I think about how much of the family will be there and what I would want them to hear. I assume I’ll be able to speak at my dad’s funeral? Thinking about death is something we should do. For me, it keeps me “numbering my days” and “making the most of the time.” I don’t know why, I just think about it a lot. Even this afternoon I was playing with my 2-year old Titus and wondering what I would feel if God somehow took him. I would definitely be in pain, but because I know God is sovereign over everything I would hope that would keep my heart above water. I guess I just don’t want death to surprise me. I want to be ready, at all times, for death. It’s hard enough as it is to lose a friend or relative, so maybe by thinking about it more often I can try and minimize the hurt? I don’t know–I just know what goes through my head.

When I think about dying I realize that the individual days matter. What I’m doing right now at this very moment matters. It all adds up to the whole. I don’t want to get to the end of my life and think “man, I wish I would’ve ____________.” What is that? That kind of regret starts today somewhere. Whether it be spending time with my wife, kids, family or other things like reading the Bible more or working out to stay fit. I remember my friend in high school asking his mom if she was going to make it to our soccer game. She had a pretty intense job in the medical world. But she said, “Of course I will be. I won’t be at the end of my life thinking ‘wow, wish I would’ve worked more’. I’ll want to have spent more time with my family.” That’s making the individual days count–that’s thinking long term.

Christianity Personal

D-Day – June 6, 1944

It’s the 68th anniversary of D-Day today. This video is the prayer that President Franklin D. Roosevelt prayed that day. You can read the entire prayer here.

I’ve been thinking a lot about WWII the past few days. As I’m reading the biography on Bonhoeffer, it’s been leading up to the rise of Hitler in Germany and last night I came to the year 1933. This was the year that Hitler came in to power as the chancellor of Germany. Obviously, if you’re an American you have heard about WWII from our perspective, that is, as an Allied force that had to spend the lives of many men and women in order to stop Hitler. But in reading Bonhoeffer my eyes are being opened to what it was like over there during that time. In just the first few months of becoming chancellor Hitler turned a republic in to a dictatorship and then quickly turned the Germans against the Jews. I guess I always thought it took him more time than that, but it really was just a few short months and he was on a path that lead to murder of millions of people.

I’m thankful to God today for the people who willingly gave their lives to protect not just the German or Jewish people, but many others. They did not, and do not, bear the sword in vain.

Romans 13:1-4

Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval,for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer.

Books Christianity Personal

Reading Bonhoeffer

Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, SpyAfter 119 pages (of 608), I’m absolutely enthralled with Eric Metaxas’ biography on Dietrich Bonhoeffer. The life of Bonhoeffer is amazing to me (even after only 20% of the book), and Mextaxas is opening my eyes to a world that I just didn’t know about before. One thing that I just can’t get out of mind is the perspective Bonhoeffer has on the world around him as his extensive travels take him literally every where, including the USA in 1930 (post World War I). As a German national, he provides a very unique perspective our this side of the Atlantic, and it has challenged me to think about what it means to be a Christian and live in a specific country at any point in history. It’s a challenging thought as I think about how much living in America shapes my view of the world around me. Even though I strive to see it through a Biblical lens, I often see it through my American one, and that is sometimes hard to swallow. All that to say, I’m excited about the remainder of this story and this man. I hope to learn from his experiences, his insight, and maybe even his death.

If you’re interested in following my progress, I post regular updates on GoodReads.

Christianity Personal

The Other Side Of Global Missions

This is just good:

If we want to see the fabric of American evangelicalism aligned to the heart of God, we have to go to the nations. We have to step outside of our individualistic, ethno-centric cultural grid and have our value systems shocked to the core, our perspectives wildly flipped upside down and our little worlds of comfort deeply rattled by the discomforting reality of a world population that desperately needs of Jesus. It will forever shift our affections, realign our priorities, and catalyze us to relentlessly pursue the exaltation of God among all peoples, counting as joy whatever cost, whatever personal sacrifice, and whatever American dream that must die in us along the way. Your going there will forever change how you live here.

Read the whole article.


A Christian Manifesto

I realize many people don’t like reading anything long-form online these days. It’s a plague that I hope will one day be cured, because there is so much we can learn from spending the time and listening to well crafted arguments. That’s why I think you should spend the time reading this address from Francis Shaeffer that he gave at a church in 1982. Maybe you have read his book A Christian Manifesto which is basically summarized in this talk, but I think it’s worth your time either way.

Even though he shared this 30 years ago, it’s urgency is still relevant. It’s probably one of the best discussions on culture I’ve ever read and I commend it to you for your sanctification and growth. Here’s a snippet that I thought was worth sharing, but definitely take the time and read the entire thing (remember this is 1982):

The January 11 Newsweek has an article about the baby in the womb. The first 5 or 6 pages are marvelous. If you haven’t seen it, you should see if you can get that issue. It’s January 11 and about the first 5 or 6 pages show conclusively what every biologist has known all along, and that is that human life begins at conception. There is no other time for human life to begin, except at conception. Monkey life begins at conception. Donkey life begins at conception. And human life begins at conception. Biologically, there is no discussion — never should have been — from a scientific viewpoint. I am not speaking of religion now. And this 5 or 6 pages very carefully goes into the fact that human life begins at conception. But you flip the page and there is this big black headline, “But is it a person?” And I’ll read the last sentence, “The problem is not determining when actual human life begins, but when the value of that life begins to out weigh other considerations, such as the health or even the happiness of the mother.”

We are not just talking about the health of the mother (it’s a propaganda line), or even the happiness of the mother. Listen! Spell that out! It means that the mother, for her own hedonistic happiness — selfish happiness — can take human life by her choice, by law. Do you understand what I have said? By law, on the basis of her individual choice of what makes her happy. She can take what has been declared to be, in the first five pages [of the article], without any question, human life. In other words, they acknowledge that human life is there, but it is an open question as to whether it is not right to kill that human life if it makes the mother happy.

Read the whole thing here.

Family Personal Video

The Family Tree 2011

Christmas Tree 2011 from Shay on Vimeo.

Family Personal Photography

Titus and Leaves

Just waiting for baby sister to come, so we went out and played with some leaves.

Titus and Leaves

Titus and Leaves

Titus and Leaves

Titus and Leaves

Titus and Leaves

Family Personal


You hear it all the time, everywhere, but you don’t always believe it. “They grow up so fast” you’ll hear parents say in the supermarket, the department store, and while you’re at Starbucks. There’s just something about the speed of life that dramatically increases when you begin to watch your kids grow up. I only have one, but as Titus turned 18 months old today it’s hard not to think he’ll be 18 years old in a short time. He’s got a mouth full of teeth, he’s saying new words every day, and he’s “growing like a weed” (as my dad used to say to me). The last year and a half has been a joy. I’m thankful for my wife and my son as we enjoy the journey called family together.


After These Messages, We’ll Be Right Back

The blog has been sparse of late, but life has been full. New posts coming soon, I hope. Maybe something different from me–not sure just yet.