Thursday, September 10, 2015

Island Encounters - Oasis Farm

Oasis Farm

Top left to Bottom right: Entering Oasis farm; farm house; tool shed; dorm building.
There are so many aspects to Island Encounters and our adventures in Fiji that it will take a few blogs tell you about all that God did and is doing. As I begin writing I want to focus on the farm and what God is doing through that part of the ministry. This is a key component to the Pittman's vision for ministry in Fiji, both in hosting teams from around the world as well as witnessing to the native Fijians and Indians.

The History:

A few years back the Pittman's acquired this 14 acre plot of land that is currently known as Oasis Farm. When they took over the property it had been used as a sugar cane farm and the main farm house was so run down that their first instinct was to burn it to the ground. Now they have cleaned up and remodeled much of the farm house, built a dorm building and removed all of the sugar cane.

The Ministry:

Island Encounters vision for the farm is multi-faceted. First it serves as a location for teams to come and stay while they are serving and ministering on the island of Fiji. They are able to help in the production and growth of the farm and have a base of operations while they help the Pittman's in other areas of ministry. The farm also serves as a source of income that gives some of the locals work, and eventually will help fund Island Encounters. When you talk to Ray about the farm, though, the vision goes much deeper. He sees it as a place where people of every race and religion can come to learn about farming and build relationships. As Island Encounters continues to develop the farm they see it becoming a place where other farmers can come to learn about methods of farming that are new to Fiji. Then, as they are learning they will build relationships with the Pittman's and others on the farm that will lead to sharing about Jesus. Most of the people of Fiji are either Muslim or Hindu and if you approach them to share about Jesus they will not listen and they will never darken the door of a church. However, if they come to Oasis farm to learn about farming they will experience the Love of Christ through the Pittman's and those that are teaching them. It's about sharing Christ through relationship, not preaching. As it's name describes Oasis Farm is a fertile spot in a desert where water is found, both in the natural and the spiritual.

The Plant Life:

Plants on the farm include mango, coconut, pomegranate,
cactus, lime & passion fruit.

As you walk around the farm you will see many types of trees growing including papaya, mango, coconut, bananas, breadfruit, passion fruit, pomegranate, and limes. They also have a tree there that is called Moringa Oleifera or Moringa Tree. This tree is also known as the Miracle tree because it has so many vitamins and nutrients in the leaves that it is used in many vitamin supplements. It has 7 times the vitamin C of Oranges, 4 times the vitamin A of Carrots, 4 times the Calcium of milk, 3 times the potassium of bananas and 2 times the protein of yogurt.

The Crops:

Sugar Cane is a failing industry. It doesn't produce a lot of money, but many of the locals think that once a field is used to grow the cane it cannot be used to do anything else. The Pittman's vision is to introduce new ways of using the land that was once thought to be able to grow only one thing: sugar cane. Currently they are harvesting Papaya and have now started growing water melon and beans. They also have a small crop of Cassava. This is a woody shrub that is harvested for the root, which is prepared much like we prepare potatoes.

Papaya Farming:

Once  a Papaya tree is planted it takes about 9 months before it will produce a harvest. At that point it will be harvested once a week until the tree stops producing good fruit, which is about 3 years. Island Encounters harvests every Monday and then they take the fruit to the market on Tuesday. In our limited time on the farm Nicole and I were able to participate in 2 harvests, which includes picking, washing and sorting the fruit. Currently, the Papaya trees that are producing are reaching the end of their life. Because of this Ray and Laura, with the help of the Edge team, recently planted a new field that will hopefully be ready to harvest by the time the current field is done.


Another source of income for the farm is the eggs. With just over 30 chickens currently laying everyday they have quite a few eggs to sell at the market every week along with the Papaya. Island Encounters is able to get more for their eggs since their chickens are free-range and are fed papaya and moringa leaves along with their regular chicken feed. The chickens are fed twice a day and the eggs are generally collection 3 times during the day.

From left top to bottom right:
Banana trees; Papaya tree; Moringa Tree; Papaya Orchard; Chickens.


Aquaponics is an innovative type of farming that I had never heard of prior to Island Encounters. It is a self-sustaining system that allows you to farm both fish and vegetables at the same time. In this system the water cycles out of the fish tanks and through the garden beds and then back in to the tanks. As the dirty water (w/fish droppings) cycles through the garden beds, which work as a filter, the plants are able to use what they need and clean the water so that it returns to the fish tanks clean. Currently on Oasis farm the fish that they are growing is Tilapia and the garden beds are growing lettuce. It is still in development, but once it is fully functional all they will have to do is feed the fish and then they will be able to harvest both fish and vegetables.


Recently Island Encounters has ventured into the land of bees. This will serve a dual purpose on the farm. First, they will be able to harvest and sell the honey. And second, the bees will help pollinate all the crops and therefore increase the productivity of the farm. Right now Island Encounter is in the early stages of this venture, but plan on harvesting their first batch of honey in the next few months.

The Van:

The farm van w/ Ste standing next to it.
Now I am very excited to be able to tell you about this part. This is what all of you have been helping raise money for over the last few months. Our goal in this was to raise all the money that was needed to pay off the van so Island Encounters could own it outright. As of yet we have not reached that goal, but we were able to bless Island Encounters with about $2000.00 toward the $5000.00 that was needed. I can't begin to thank you enough for all the generous donations. There are a couple of churches that I want to call out that partnered with us in raising this money - Connection Church of Oregon City, Misseo Dei Fellowship of Oregon City, Oregon Trail Fellowship of Oregon City and City Center Church men's group of Redmond Oregon. Thank you all who donated. As I mentioned we have not yet finished paying off the van and if you would like to help you can go here to make a donation.

The Critters:

Finally, I want to tell you about some of the critters that you will see on the farm. As first step out of your vehicle you will be greeted by the farm dogs. In this picture you will see two of those dogs. They were rescued by the team that was at the farm prior to us being there. In the top left picture you see what they looked like when we got there (they were pretty frail and you could see their ribs) and the bottom right shows how they looked the day we left. In this picture you will also see some of the other animals that we had to watch out for while on the farm. The top right shows a picture of the frogs. Once the sun went down they were everywhere. As you would walk it would seem as if the ground was moving. They have no natural predators, so they thrive and are everywhere. In the bottom left picture you can see some of the red ants. You could find nests like this one scattered around on the farm. Every once in a while when I was working I would start to feel pain in my foot and I would look down and realize I was standing in a nest and my foot was covered in them. They didn't hurt too bad, but were definitely a pain. Also, in this picture you see one of the spiders and gecko's that you could find running around on the farm.

More Information:

If you want more information about Island Encounters and the work they are doing in Fiji you can go to their website - You can also check out or subscribe to their blog - And last but not least, if you want to get involved financially with Island Encounter's to either help us finish paying off their van or to help support them in other areas you can do that here or if you want to support the Pittman family you can do that here.

More views of the farm property.

Stay tuned for more blogs about our adventures in Fiji.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Will you be Jesus to me?

Will you be Jesus to me?
A tribute to the victims of human trafficking

All I see are walls closing in around me
I’m surrounded by darkness
with no glimpse of light
All I know is pain
with no end in sight
and if I fight?
The abuse comes more frequently then
No, all hope is lost
There’s no way I can win
You say that there is hope?
I’ve heard that before
from the one lying next to me
passed out on the floor
You say I’m not forgotten
but no one knows my name
When I open my eyes
I see darkness and shame.
And even worse is the fear
It creeps in and all around
And I cower and cringe
every time I hear a sound
From a creak in the floor
to a rattle at the door
Not knowing what’s in store
Or the horrors that await me
So I wait and see
As fear engulfs me
and swallows me whole
I’ve lost all hope
Which my circumstance stole
Then, in the midst of my suffering
While I am lost in my fear
A voice cuts through the darkness
And this is what I hear:

“I know your pain
I’ve been where you are
You may find it hard to believe
But let me show you the scars
I was beaten and bloody
and raised up for all to see
Displayed on a cross
with nails in my hands and feet
But worse than that
The pain that comes from within
Left all alone
and betrayed by a friend
I was abandoned
as I took on the world’s sin
I was in utter darkness
The grave, hell and beyond
Separated from God
All hope seemed gone
But then...
On day number three
I was resurrected by the power
That is inside of me
Now, I am with you in your darkest hour
I’m setting you free
I am with you in your darkness
I’m the light that you see
I am with you in your pain & shame
And even though it seems you are forgotten
I know your name
I came to earth for you
I died for you
I was resurrected for you
Now I live for you
Hope is not gone
Because I’m bringing you near
Let my perfect Love
Drive out all your fear
In your pain and despair
Rest in the fact that I am here”

Then it goes quiet
and my mind begins to wander
In this new-found silence
I begin to ponder
Who is this Jesus?
who comes to me in my dreams
Who is this Jesus?
who says life is not as it seems
He’s brought me so far
but I have so far to go
He’s shown me so much
but there so much I don’t know
What is coming tomorrow
and what will I do?
So many struggles
How will I get through?
These questions and more
still echo in my mind
but now a truth that’s louder
Jesus helped me to find
I know where I am going
I know who holds my eternity
Right now I may be held captive
but one day I will be free
So as you sit and listen
and wonder, “What can I do?”
I want to ask you a question
that will show your Love true
Will you continue in life
and pretend that you do not see
Or will you open your heart;

Will you be Jesus to me?

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

In this world you will have trouble....

"In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." 
John 6:33b

Life brings many things. Some are good, but we can be sure that there will be troubles. Jesus promises it, but then He gives us hope. He has overcome the world. Jesus is an over-comer and we can be an over-comers through Him. Unfortunately for us, though, it is not going to just happen. We have to do something!

One of the first things that we must understand is that hard times do not dictate our future. It is what we do with those things that determines what direction our life is going to take. We are not the result of our circumstances, but rather the result of the decisions we make in those circumstances. You can take two people, put them through the exact same things and have their lives take two entirely different paths. One person takes their hard times and uses them to better themselves and produce a positive outcome, while the other focuses on the problem and lets it consume them. Same problem; two entirely different outcomes.

I have heard it said "Attitude determines altitude", meaning that with a good attitude we can actually rise above our troubles and turn them for good. This is such an important concept and if you take hold of it I guarantee it will change your life. You ever notice how certain people always seem to have drama? It seems like no matter what they do something bad always happens? And then there are those who seem to always have 'good luck'? I challenge you to take a look at these two different lives and compare them. More often than not you will see many similarities. Both have problems and issues that come up, but the difference comes with the attitude each person has through their troubles. One person focuses on the problem and it brings them down, while the other looks past it and keeps going.

I say this as an encouragement to those who are facing impossible odds. Even though sometimes it seems that there is no hope, there is always hope. We must make a decision to look up from our problem and look past it. When you do not focus on your problem it will not seem to be as big.

Another way to think of this is that whatever you focus on is the direction your life will head. If you focus on the problem you will run right into it, but if you focus beyond the problem you will move past it. This is not saying it will not affect you, but it will not stop you.

I also want you to take a look at God's promises. If you are living your life for Him you can rest assured that He is is wanting the best for you. God Loves you and His Word tells us "that in all things He works for the good of those who Love Him, who have been called according to His purpose."(Romans 8:28)

In order for God's promises to help us through our problems we must have faith in them. "Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see."(Hebrews 11:1) We all hope for a better future or a way out of our current crisis. Faith is knowing that hope will become a reality. It is
being able to look at all that is going on around you and seeing how you can use it to better yourself.

See, we have the promise that God will bring good out of every circumstance, but until we believe in that promise we will never see it.

To give an example I will use a situation out of my own life. My mother died when I was 13. At that time my younger brother and I lived with her in a small town in Washington. It was a tragic situation that turned my life upside down. At the time I was going through it, and for that matter many years after, it was hard for me to see the good that was coming out of it. Now, as I look back on the situation I can see how God orchestrated every detail as He was working to bring good out of it. I can see how God's hand has directed me since then, beginning with moving to Oregon with my Grandma all the way to meeting and marrying my wife.

I am not saying that moving to Oregon and meeting my wife wouldn't have happened if my mom hadn't died, but it would have been different. And everything that I went through has made me who I am today because I allowed God to work good through my negative circumstance.

Now I'll stop my rambling and give you the bottom line. It really just comes down to God. If you keep your focus on Him even when you are facing hardship you will come out of it victorious. Remember, through Christ we are more than conquerors because He has overcome the world. All these other things, such as attitude and faith, play important parts, but are nothing without your focus being God.


Friday, June 19, 2015

You're not my enemy.......You're my brother!!!

As a parent there are many times that my children say things that stand out from their normal banter. Some times it provides conviction and other times it just provides a laugh. This is a story that provides both. Also, please note that the pictures have nothing in particular to do with the story. They are just included because they make me laugh.

Before I begin my story I want to mention the dangers of teaching your children the difference between right and wrong. The danger is this: If you ever mess up (not that you ever would) they will be the first to remind you about it.

Now, this story takes place (as most of the interesting ones seem to) on a day when it is just me and the kids. My wife was out with her mom and sisters. I decided to take the kids and go to Costco for lunch and groceries. To brag on them a little, they actually did great at Costco. And to brag on my accomplishment for a minute I fed all 5 of us lunch with dessert for under 12 bucks. That's the beauty of a Costco dogs and frozen yogurt. Leaving Costco is where the the title of this blog comes from.

I got the car loaded with all the kids and groceries and start to back out. As I am about half way out of my spot another car comes rushing up behind me like they are not going to stop. I hesitate my backing because I am not looking for a wreck or anything. At that point the car stops...just close enough to make it really awkward to turn any further as I continue to back out. Well, I managed to finagle my way the rest of the way out and as I do so I comment to nobody in particular, 'That guy is being an idiot."

Just then my daughter speaks up, "Dad, you said we are supposed to Love our enemies. That means we shouldn't call them names."

OUCH!! Correction from my seven year old. As I am thinking of what to say my boys come quickly to my defense.

"If you're not supposed to call them names, then why are you always calling us names," they said.

Without missing a beat my daughter responds, "You're not my're my brothers!"

That response made me laugh a little. Then I made my apology and acknowledged that my daughter was right and we are supposed to Love our enemies and do good to them, even when you don't feel like it.

So there are a few things that I learned from this conversation. 

1. If I teach my kids something I better make sure that I practice it or I am going to find myself asking them for forgiveness (which is bound to happen sometimes anyway).

2. My boys will come to my defense (at least if it means verbally attacking their sister)

3. Apparently siblings are in a different category from enemies, so it is OK to call them names
They were supposed to smile

They were supposed to be serious

They were suppose to be funny

If you have anything kind of funny that you have learned from your children please comment below. I would love to hear it.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Fiji - Things are coming together!

Oasis-FarmBula friends & family! It has been awhile since my last update on our Fiji mission trip. All is going well and things are coming together nicely. Nicole and I have purchased our plane tickets, we have a schedule for who is watching the kids while we are away, and we have been trying to catch a few sun rays to avoid getting totally burned when we get there. And most importantly, money is already rolling in to pay off the van for Island Encounters (for more info see my last update). We are already over a tenth of the way there!! At last count there has been $590 donated.

There are also a couple of new things that I have to share with you. First, I need to graciously thank Katrin Duckworth and her mother who have been hard at work setting up a website filled with information about our upcoming adventure. Please check it out at and let me know what you think.

Nicole has also been hard at work putting on garage sales to try and raise some spending cash for us on our trip. Thank you to all who have donated stuff to these. She will be having a couple more before the summer is up. If you are interested in donating anything top help us out or coming to one of them out please email me and I will get you more information.

If you haven't had a chance to give to the Fiji van fund, or even if you have, we now have a way you can give and you will get a pie in return! A couple of the ladies from our church have organized a pie fundraiser (Thanks Zena & Kristen). These pies will come from Shari's restaurant and are $25 apiece (keep in mind you are giving to a good cause). For each pie that you purchase you will be entered into a drawing to win a second pie. All profits will go directly to the van fund. So to sum it up, you get a pie and help the people of Fiji at the same time!! It doesn't get much better than that!

If you are interested in purchasing a pie to help out Island Encounters please email me or just write a comment to this blog and I will get you an order form. This fundraiser will go through June 27th - or June 28th if you drop it off at Connection Church during the service. See order form on the right (or I can send you one) for more information and pick-up details.

Nicole and I would like to thank all of our friends and family that have been helping to make all this come together. You are amazing and we couldn't do this with out you!!

If you want to keep up to date with all that is going on with our Fiji trip just add your email in the 'Follow by email' box that is in the right hand column of my blog page and you will get an email every time I post on here.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

20 years and counting.......

That morning was like any other, or so I thought. The day was Friday, May 19, 1995. I woke up as normal to get ready for school. As I left my room I looked across the hall and noticed that mom was still in bed, "That's weird," I thought, "Mom was supposed to go into work early today." I quickly dismissed the thought and figured that I must have been mistaken. 

As I hopped in the shower and continued to get ready for school I began thinking of the week before. Last Sunday was mother's day and we (Mom, my younger brother Matt and I) had made an impromptu trip to see my Grandma Roake in Oregon City. During the trip we had discussed and decided that it was time to leave our 'old' life in Chehalis and move to Portland to be closer to my mom's family. There was so much baggage and financial burden that we were carrying and it seemed there was no reason to stay. As I thought about this new start a sense of relief swept over me, because I knew how stressed my mom had been lately.

Soon I finished in the bathroom and headed to my room to get my school stuff. As I passed mom's room I noticed she was still not up. Even if she wasn't going to work early she should be up by now. I peeked in the door, "Mom", I said, "Are you getting up?" No answer. Mom was laying on the bed in her pajamas with the covers kicked off and one leg was hanging off the bed. I went in to shake her and still nothing. 

At this point I really started to freak out! Mom wasn't waking up; she wasn't even moving! Fear entered my mind and clouded my vision. I had no idea what to do! I ran to talk to Matt who was just starting to get out of bed. "Mom's not waking up!" I yelled, "You continue trying to wake her and I'll call Harry & Lucy." I couldn't think of what else to do, Harry and Lucy were like grandparents to Matt and me and they lived in town. I thought they would be able to help.

"Hello," Lucy answered groggily. I could tell my phone call had woken her up, but that didn't matter to me right now. 

"Mom won't wake up! I don't know what to do!" I stumbled through my words because I wasn't thinking clearly.

"Call 911 and Harry and I will be there as soon as we can." Lucy responded.

As I called 911 and told them about my mom I realized that I knew what had happened, but I still refused to believe it. My mom was dead and life would never be the same.

Picture of my mom and brothers before she passed away.

Today, as I close my eyes and relive this moment that changed my life forever it still brings tears to my eyes. Then I am able to look at where God has brought me since then and it brings Romans 8:28 to life. "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who Love Him." 

This event in my life that Satan used to harm me, God turned around to bring good. That's the beauty of a relationship with God. Finding my mom dead at the age of 13, could have sent me to depths that would be hard to come back from. As I look back at all of the things that happened that day and the days afterward I can see God's hand leading me and protecting me. From Harry & Lucy taking my brother and I for the day, to my Grandma Roake offering to take us in and let us live with her. Now today I am blessed with a life and family I could never have imagined. 

Why do people die before their time? I've heard that question many times. It is hard to lose people, especially when you are so close to them. Some people try and answer the question and say that God wanted them early, but that is not true. It is never God's will that someone dies. Death is a result of sin and the fall of man. 

I don't have all the answers, but there are a couple of things that I do know: God Loves us all and He can't do evil. He is just and good. I also know that God will give you the strength to go through whatever comes your way, but you have to give it to Him. He wants to help you; He wants to comfort you, and if you let Him, He will bring good out of every situation. 

I know it may seem hard at first, truthfully, it may be hard for a long time. It may take a while before you see any good, but if you put your faith in Him and thank Him for what He has done for you, you will see good come out of your situation.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Fiji: You can't get any further away, before you start coming back.

Of course that is not entirely true, but until a couple years ago this quote from the Truman Show was all I knew about Fiji. That is about the time I reconnected with a couple of old friends on Facebook. I met these friends, Ray and Laura Pittman, about 15 years ago when I spent some time in Kona with Youth with a Mission (Y-Wam). While many of the students in our discipleship training school were still searching and trying to discover who God was and how that would play into their future, Ray and Laura were grounded in faith and knew what God was calling them to do next. They were going to Fiji to minister to the people that live there. That was their plan and now 15 years later they are living out their vision of "Equipping students and the poor for greater life encounters" everyday in Fiji with their ministry Island Encounters. I encourage you to check out what Island Encounters is all about by clicking here to watch a video and then explore their website,

Image result for fijifamadventures

Now, comes my part of the story. Ever since I first did overseas missions with Y-Wam I caught a bug. For awhile that was all it was and I knew it was not the right time to pursue it, but in the last couple of years it has gotten worse. It slowly became an itch that I couldn't scratch away. That is about the time I reconnected with Ray and Laura on facebook and started to get a peek into what they are doing in Fiji. As they would post pictures and make comments my heart was drawn to what God was doing through their ministry. This summer God has opened the door for my wife and I to make the journey to Fiji and check out Island Encounters first hand and reconnect with some old friends. We will be leaving in August and will be there for about two weeks.

That's where you all come in. We would love to have you connect with us on this new journey we are about to make. There are a couple of ways that you can do that. First of all and most important, we ask that you join us in prayer. Here are our prayer requests:

1. Pray that God would use us to further His kingdom in the land of Fiji
2. Pray that we would be attentive to all that God wants to teach us through this adventure
3. Pray for safety for my wife and I as we trek half way around the world
4. Pray for our children as this is the longest we have ever been away from them
5. Pray for Ray and Laura and Island Encounters that they would be blessed in their ministry
6. Pray for the people of Fiji that God will open their hearts to hear His message  

Help us pay off their van which they use to transport teams
to ministry locations and to get around on the farm.
Here is the second thing we need your help with. As we are going to Fiji we want to join with them in their vision of meeting practical needs as well as Spiritual needs. In saying that we have decided we want to help Island Encounters in one of their biggest practical needs. We want to pay off their van. Recently they had to take a loan to get a vehicle that they use to transport student teams around the island as well as basic transportation around the farm. In order to pay off this van we need to raise $5000 and we want your help. Anything and everything helps.

If you want to give to Island Encounters you can do it in a couple of different ways. First, we have a fund setup at Connection Church where you can give and you will also receive a tax deductible receipt. To do this, just make a check payable to Connection Ministries and mark Fiji in the subject line. You can give this way through our offering on Sunday mornings or you can mail it to:

Connection Ministries
PO Box 1973
Oregon City, OR 97045

Or if you just get it to Nicole or me, we will get it into the fund. All of the money that you give, unless specified otherwise, will go directly to Island Encounters.

The other option is that you can go directly to their website and they have giving options there as well. To give from their website click here.

Be sure to check back as I will continue to update what we are doing and our progress on paying off the van. God bless and thank you for partnering with us in this adventure!!

Friday, February 13, 2015

Cleaning up the crap - Life Lessons from a 3 year old.

Having a 3 year old is one of the greatest joys you can experience. It is also one of the greatest challenges you can face. A 3 year is so impressionable, but they also really like to push their limits and test their boundaries. Sometimes when you speak to them they listen intently as if your words were the only ones that matter; other times they run right past you as if they never heard you. One thing is certain, having a 3 year old (or child in general) will leave you with plenty of those times when in the moment you want to cry, but looking back at it you will laugh hysterically at the shear ridiculousness of the situation. This is one of those moments. I hope you can laugh a little, and then take away a truth that will help you in your walk with God.

Nicole (my wife) was gone on a women's retreat with our church. I was spending the weekend with my 4 children. It was Saturday afternoon and I had a movie on that I was in and out of watching with the kids. At one point I am sitting on the couch and notice that my 3 year old, Jaden, is missing. As any good father would do I yell down the hall because I am too lazy to get up off the couch.

"Jaden?" I yelled.

"What dad?" I hear from down the hall.

"What are you doing?" I asked, still not wanting to get up.

"Pooping!" he replies.

Normally this might not be too concerning, but Jaden is still in the middle of potty training. He knows that he is supposed to go to the bathroom in the toilet and he is perfectly capable of getting on there himself, but it is still questionable if he will. Too often he would make it to the bathroom too late, after already doing the duty in his pants. Most of the time we still use a diaper for him; he has learned to pull it up and down like a pull-up, but this afternoon was different. You see, Jaden had already used the toilet a couple of times that day. He even went poop already that morning with no issues, but the last time that he went in there he took his diaper off. I had thought about it and since he had already pooped and was doing really good with going potty I didn't worry too much and figured I would take care of it in a little bit.

So that is why his response had me a little worried. I quickly got off the couch and hurried to the bathroom. When Jaden told me he was pooping I knew it could be trouble, but I was not really prepared for what I found. As I stepped into the doorway to the bathroom it took me a minute to process what was unfolding before me. Jaden's pants were on the floor next the floor rug. He was standing wearing only his shirt and he had toilet paper in his hand. I continued to assess the situation and saw there was poop on the rug and all over the floor, which had been tracked around from his foot which was covered from his toes all the way up his leg.

This is the part where you feel like crying, or yelling, or pulling out your hair, or whatever you do to release frustration. After the initial shock wears off I am left with the question, "Where do I start?" If I start with him I will inevitably  step in the 'crap' on the floor. If I start with the floor he will likely move and create more of a mess. I quickly pick him up and stick him in the tub, then proceed to collect all of the clothes and towels and the rug that have poop on them and get them in the washer. Then I clean the floor and flush the toilet, which he had filled up with toilet paper as he was trying to clean up his mess. Lastly, I moved to him and the bath tub and cleaned him up.

Now, here's the breakdown of what happened. Jaden had been hanging out with us and then must have realized that he needed to go to the bathroom. Without telling anyone, he heading to the bathroom, but was too late. Once in the bathroom he attempted to take his pants off so he could clean himself up, but in doing so he pulled his leg and foot through the poop that had filled up his pants. As he tried to clean it up he kept making it worse and inevitably left his mark everywhere he went and on everything he touched. Then I found him, standing in the midst of a mess that he could not fix.

Based on the title of this post I promised a 'life lesson' from this situation. Technically, I don't know if you would consider it a life lesson, or just a picture of our lives and our struggle with sin. Think about it. How many times have you known what you were supposed to do, but you did the opposite, kind of like my son did in this situation. Then, realizing that you messed up you try to clean it up yourself. As you do you inevitably make a bigger mess than when you started until everything that you touch becomes infected with your sin. It becomes a hopeless situation.

That's when the Father steps in and picks you up out of it. Now, we must understand that just because he picks us out of our mess it does not mean we are completely free of it right away. Sometimes there is a process involved. With my son, I had to clean up the mess in the rest of the bathroom before I started on him. Meanwhile, he had to patiently wait on me and trust that I was going to take care of him.

I think there are times we get ourselves into trouble because we try to get back out into the 'world' before God is done working on us. If my son had gotten out of the bathtub before I was finished cleaning him up he would have continued to make a mess and gotten himself into more trouble.

So, I guess all in all, the lesson that we can learn from this is that when we do screw up we don't have to try to clean it up ourselves, in fact we really can't. We don't have the ability to.

If Jaden had made it to the toilet before pooping he would have been fine, but once he made the error, it became a situation that was out of his control. And if he had come to me at that time it would have been a lot quicker and easier to clean up, but since he tried to handle it on his own it became worse.

In the same way if we avoid the sin to begin with there is no issue, but if we do sin we must recognize that it is beyond our ability to fix it. If we go to God right away we will avoid making a bigger mess, but if we do not go to Him it will only get worse until we do.

So, if you mess up, go to God first. Don't let the situation get more out of control. Confess to Him your sin and let Him cleanse you and set you free. The sooner you let God take control, the less of a mess you will be in.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

A New Direction

About a year ago I was praying for direction in my life. More specifically, direction with my writing. I had been writing regularly for awhile, but had shared it with very few people. That is when I started my blog. I felt God leading me to do this as a way for me to continue writing and challenge myself by sharing it with others. When I started doing my daily devotions through my blog I didn't want to start and do it for a couple of days and then fizzle out, so I committed to myself to do it for a year. Then, when I made it a year, I would determine whether I would continue with it, or whether I was to do something else. Well, that year has arrived.

Over the last year God has really spoken to me through my blogging, and I have been very challenged. There were times when it was hard to make sure I made my post, but with God all things are possible, and I made it through faithfully. My prayer is that my blogging has spoken to some of you as I was sharing my heart and what I was getting from God's Word, I know it spoke to me.

More recently there have been other writing projects that God has impressed upon my heart to tackle. Now that I have reached my goal with my blogging I feel that it is time to redirect my focus towards another goal. My first project I am going to take is putting my story on paper. God has brought me through a lot in life and I feel it is time to put that to use to help others.

Now to be clear, I am not done with my blogging. I still plan on doing some writing on here from time to time, just not everyday. Another thing I want to spend more time on is writing my rhymes, which I hope that the few I have shared over the last year have been inspiring. This is something I enjoy doing and I feel that God has been developing in me over the last couple of years.

Last of all I want to thank you all for staying with me through this journey of daily devotions. You have been an inspiration to me to keep going and stick with my commitment. Every time I would think about quitting God would bring someone along that would tell how much it meant to them, so I thank you from the bottom of my heart. I pray that as we go forward you would continue to follow me as I explore new avenues of writing. God bless you all.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Galatians 6:2

Galatians 6:2 - Carry each others burden, and in this way you fulfill the law of Christ. What is the law of Christ? When asked what the greatest commandment was Jesus said, “Love the Lord your God.” He then continued by saying, “The second is like it, Love your neighbor as yourself.” Later Jesus was asked, “Who is my neighbor?” (Luke 10:29) Jesus did not answer this question directly, but told a story of a man who was traveling and got attacked by robbers. These robbers took everything from the man and left him on the side of the road beaten and bloody. A series of men walked by, most of whom avoided this man and walked by on the opposite side of the road. It wasn't until a Samaritan man came by that this man received any sort of help. Now you have to understand that in the eyes of the Jews Samaritans were like dogs. And this ‘dog’ was the only one who helped the dying man on the side of the road. After tending to his wounds the Samaritan carried this man to a nearby Inn and paid for him to stay there until he got better. Now Jesus returns the question, “Who was a neighbor to the man who fell among robbers?” “The Samaritan man,” they answered. Then Jesus left them with a simple, but powerful statement, ”Go and do likewise.” That is how you fulfill the law of Christ. “Go and do likewise.” If you see anyone who needs help follow the example of the Samaritan in Jesus story and help them. We are to carry each others burdens. Do you see someone hurting? Is there someone close to you that needs help? Of course there is. To deny it would be living in ignorance. It doesn’t take a detective to find someone who could use your help. There are people all around us. And here’s the beauty of it: it doesn't take much. God will never ask you to give what you do not have. Sometimes it is just befriending someone and talking to them. Other times it may be an act of service or a gift of money. Whatever it is, don’t hesitate to give it. As you follow God’s commands and give to those around you He will always take care of you as well. Paul says that God gives seed to the sower and bread for food (2 Corinthians 9:10). You can rest assured that God has given you what you need and given you what you need to give away. So, carry each others burdens. Help out those around you who are less fortunate than you. And in doing so you will be fulfilling the law of Christ.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Galatians 5:22-23

Galatians 5:22-23 - But the fruit of the Spirit is Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

In Galatians chapter 3 Paul tells us that “all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.” What does it mean, though, to be clothed with Christ? As we read through the Bible, particularly in the New Testament, we see how we are to imitate Jesus. We are to live like He lived and do what He did.

As Christians our actions ought to be like those of Jesus. Now, to be clear, it is not our actions or works that save us. It is faith in Christ that saves us. Our actions should, however, line up with our salvation. And what should these actions look like? This verse is a great place to start as we answer that question.
Our actions should look like the fruits of the Spirit. We should have Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness and self-control showing up in what we do. When we act in accordance with these, there will be no law that can come against us. That doesn't of course mean that the law will be gone, it just won’t have any hold on you.
When you sin and do things contrary to the law it will come against you and punish you according to what you have done. But when you live according to the fruits of the Spirit you will not break the law, because you will be holding yourself to a higher standard. Now the law will not be able to come against you, because you will not have broken it.
As you live your life be careful to watch what kind of fruit you are producing. You ought to be producing fruit that lines up with your salvation. In Christ we are a new creation, the old is gone, the new has come. If the fruit you are producing does not line up with Christ, then you need to take a look at what is inside you and make sure you have given all you are to Jesus.  

Monday, January 5, 2015

Galatians 4:4-5

Galatians 4:4-5 - But when the time had fully come, God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive the full right as sons.

In yesterday’s blog we addressed how you know whether you are a son or daughter of Christ. In this verse we see how that is all made possible. Of course on our part it is by faith. We are to believe in Christ and all that He did, but what exactly did He do? How is it all possible?

This verse holds the answer. Paul breaks it down for us like this, “God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under law.” But why did Jesus have to come to earth as a man? What is the importance of those details? Wouldn't it have been easier for God to just save us?
In reality, God couldn't do that. Not because He didn't have the power, but because He cannot deny who He is. God is Holy and Just. Sin deserves death. In order for God to be God He couldn't allow sin to go unpunished. That is where Christ came in.
In order for Jesus to be able to pay the penalty for sin He had to walk as we walk. He had to come to earth through all the same ‘channels’ as we do, including ‘born of a woman’ and ‘born under law.’ By coming in this way Jesus was able to go through all that we have to, but He did it without sin. That allowed Him to be the perfect sacrifice and He could take care of sin once and for all.
Now, since Jesus has faced it all and won, we can become like Him. As Paul explains here we have full right as sons. Everything that Christ deserves we also have a right to. We have become joint-heirs with Him. Now we are redeemed and sanctified as God’s children.