Bethlehem Conference for Pastors and Leaders: Olivia, Riddley, and I

Tomorrow Olivia, Riddley, and I will be heading to Minneapolis on the annual trek to the Bethlehem Conference for Pastors and Leaders. It will be my 13th year in a row. I am always excited about what God will do as a result of these three days.

IMG_2769This years speakers include Francis Chan, Kevin DeYoung, Miguel Nunez, Sam Storms, Jason Meyer, and of course John Piper. The theme is, “Gospel Power: The Christ-Exalting Work of the Holy Spirit.”

As usual it will be deep in spiritual growth, worship, networking, and learning how we all work together for the gospel to be spread with a joy and passion for all people.  I will be writing here on my blog three times during the conference. Tomorrow night, Tuesday afternoon, and Tuesday night. Thursday after I return home I will give a summary blog of the conference.

In the meantime please pray for safe travels, an open and soft heart to what the Holy Spirit has for me, and a refreshing time of worship and fellowship with like minded believers. AMEN!!

Olivia, Me, and PTSD

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.               –1 Corinthians 1:3 (CSB)

IMG_2668Some of you may know Olivia my 11 month old Beagle/Swiss Mountain dog. I got Olivia last March after not having a dog for two years. I have had many dogs throughout my life and have thoroughly enjoyed each and every one.

When I originally picked Olivia up it was just to have another family pet and close companion. I just like to have a dog around to keep me company. I am not a big fan of being alone. The problem with that is I am also not a big fan of being around to many people. You see the real problem is I have a great fear of being completely by myself or being overly crowded. It is a fear of being abandoned and of being suffocated.

This fear comes from having PTSD. It comes from events that have occurred in my life in general and from my time spent in the military. I am not going to try and explain everything that is involved but will let you know that when PTSD kicks in it can be debilitating for me and causes great anxiety. Anxiety to the point that in recent months when it is getting hard for me I have headaches and dizzy spells that cause me to fall down and not be able to walk. Back in 2008 I had a series of mini strokes so when the dizzy spells started it gave me great concern.

An interesting thing with all this though is I noticed that Olivia can sense when this anxiety is occurring. One of the things she will do is lean up against me or sit on my feet when she senses I am getting uptight. This helps me realize the situation and find ways to change the situation that is causing my distress. Because of this Olivia is now in training to be my service dog. I adopted her for a pet but God already knew she would have a greater purpose.

Admitting I have PTSD has been a difficult thing. Why? Because as a typical man I didn’t want to admit my weakness. I have always tried to push through and tell myself and others I will be alright and I don’t need help.

Even tougher than admitting I have PTSD is coming to grips with the fact I can’t fix it on my own. I need help. Doctors, family, Olivia, and most of all God and my Savior Jesus Christ. You see I know that my God will not let me down. I don’t understand why I have to go through this but I do understand that He is sovereign and in total control. It is up to me to lean on His strength and allow Him to use me and my PTSD for His glory. That is where I will ultimately find my peace.

And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. –Philippians 4:7 (CSB)

Swimming Like a Frog On Ice

 “Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us, 2 keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith.” Hebrews 12:1-2 (CSB)

Do you ever go through the day and think, “Wow, I am totally worn out but don’t feel like I have accomplished anything.”? It is as if we have spent the day trying to make progress while all the while slipping on ice with no grip to be found.

On a recent day while walking my dog Olivia around the lake at one our local parks she discovered a frog. I found it kind of odd and at first thought the frog had gotten himself frozen and stuck in the ice. Low and behold though he was alive and trying to swim on the ice as he would in the water. Watch the following video, chuckle a little, and then I will discuss this further. Please scroll down after the video.


Remind you of yourself sometimes. Trying hard to move forward with much effort and little progress. Don’t lose heart but recognize that this is how God has designed things to go sometimes. To remind us through faith and promise that He is there.

Many times He is trying to instill endurance and perseverance into our lives. Endurance and perseverance help to increase our faith and prove that we truly believe what God says is true and that we will hang in there. We must keep pushing and striving to fulfill His will for where He has placed us in this world and the situation where we currently reside to do His will. Often times it is not to teach or instruct us, but to remind us that He is the one in control. The one guiding our steps even when those steps are on ice and we just keep slipping when we try to move forward. For in the end and in His time we will arrive at the place He has promised.

“For you need endurance, so that after you have done God’s will, you may receive what was promised.” Hebrews 10:36 (CSB) 



Version 2

Olivia is my Beagle/Swiss Mountain dog. Her and I go pretty much every where together. She brings constant and enthusiastic joy with her on our journeys and is a great reminder of the love and commitment our heavenly Father has for us. Her and Riddley sock monkey can often be found adventuring together.