James 4:14

"Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away." James 4:14

Friday, August 17, 2012

A Wedding and Guatemala


“Hey Paul, you wanna do a wedding?” I laughed at first thinking that it had to be a joke. However, my brother in ministry wasn't joking. He had agreed to doing a wedding for a young couple and then later realized that he wouldn't be able to do it. After asking probably every pastor and youth pastor in town (who were all busy or on vacation or wherever and couldn't do it), he finally called me. So I'm pretty sure I was the absolute last resort. Admittedly, I didn't really want to do it. It may have been the same friend who asked me to do this wedding who half-jokingly told me once, “Funerals are way easier for the minister than weddings. Why? Because at funerals the mothers are usually already gone.” It also seemed a little strange to do a wedding after being married for only 3 months. It's kinda like, “Hey, let me give you a message with all my 3 months worth of wisdom on marriage.” I did agree to do it and figured if the couple was willing to let me do it, then I would do it. Although one of the mothers did ask me “Are you going to be okay?” during the rehearsal, everything turned out pretty well. At least...the couple got married, signed the license, and I didn't get any rotten fruit thrown at me. So I consider that as going pretty well. I was able to know a couple in a special way and I'm super thankful that they were willing to give me that experience.


This last week, my wife and I just got back from a week-long mission trip to Guatemala. It came about because the pastor of her previous church had a trip and needed someone to play music for the group going down there. He called Sarah and asked if I would be willing to play guitar for them. We agreed and left August 3rd. This was a great short term trip. The group's focus was doing three different revival meetings throughout the week at different churches in the area. These went well and we made some good friends even in the short time we were there. The first meeting was in a fairly modern church. They had announced the meeting a couple weeks earlier, and the missionary we were working with said that they had about half of the people there. All the church members agreed to bring someone with them who didn't know Christ...AND THEY DID! It was a great encouragement to me to hear that the pastor of the church would go with whoever invited the newcomer and go to their home and that many people make their decision for Christ there. This seems like a great way to do it as opposed to our usual “raise your hand, pray the prayer, sign the card, you're in” method which may produce more false converts than we would like to admit. Either way, it was just nice to know there was a work being left behind us.

The second meeting was held way up in the mountains at a coffee plantation. About two-thirds of the way through, the rain started pouring and forced us to end early. The next morning we were given a tour of the plantation and the missionary showed us how coffee was grown and harvested and sorted, which was really cool to see. On our way back to Huehuetenango (where the main base was) there was a protest which was blocking the road. The missionary said he knew another way around, so all ten of us piled in the back of his pickup and began what would end up being a four-hour ride on 4x4 roads. This was great. We traveled way up into the mountains and saw some spectacular views.

The next day we went out to the city square and did some open-air evangelism. We explained the gospel using bracelets with different colored beads. Each bead represented a different part of the gospel. The pastor asked me before hand if I would be willing to read the sheet we had in Spanish that explained the colored beads to the people. So yeah, that was a growing experience--standing on a bench in Guatemala trying to explain the gospel with my limited Spanish. At one point, things were pretty disorganized to say the least and while I could read the sheet, I couldn't explain to everyone what we needed them to do to get organized (somewhat). Then, a young boy of about 15, comes up and says, “I speak English and I can help you. What do you want me to tell them?” After we got everything together, we complimented him on his English and asked where he was from, to which he replied, “Arkansas.” Haha, hilarious. Anyway, it was a good time.
The last meeting went well that night. As I said before, we made some very special friends there and were blessed to be there. Sarah says that, for whatever reason, she has understood and had much more of God's peace in her life after coming back from the trip, which is a wonderful answer to prayer.

From conducting a wedding to playing guitar in Guatemala, I'm just continually amazed at the different opportunities that God puts in my life that help me stretch and grow and trust Him more. He is a great and marvelous God.

Lastly, since we've been back, Sarah and I have started school....in a way. Liberty University has a “Home Bible Institute.” Some of our good friends and co-workers in the ministry are doing it and recommended it to us. It's a little weird for me to be back in a “school” and have “exams” but the material has been great so far and I'm excited to continue in it.

“Even those who trust in their wealth and boast in the abundance of their riches? No man can by any means redeem his brother or give to God a ransom for him—for the redemption of his soul is costly,” Psalm 49:6-8a

Please Pray:
--Opportunities to share Christ in Gunnison
--Wisdom about where God would have us long term
On the second one, I feel like I should elaborate a little more. We know that God has called us into ministry, but it's not clear yet where we should be long term. I don't know if we should take a “leap of faith” or “wait on the Lord.” So yeah, wisdom would be great.

Thanks so much for all your prayers and encouragement.  

Friday, June 29, 2012

Marriage, Cali, and FLDS

Another incredibly late update for those of you who still read this. Well, since my last update...there's been loads of stuff going on in my life. The biggest change was getting married at the end of March, which many of you were able to come to. Thanks so much! Aside from the whole getting married thing, the best part about the wedding is that you get pretty much all of your favorite people in the world in one place...and those who can't make it still send cards and stuff. It's just one huge, awesome reminder of all the people God has put in our lives and the impact they've had. It's really overwhelming. We were blown away by all the support and encouragement we received, not just in making the wedding happen (although there was tons of stuff with that), but also for our lives. We are so blessed!!!

After the wedding, we were able to go to California right away which was really fun. I had never been to Cali before, but liked it. One of the highlights was a restaurant that specialized in cinnamon rolls. Yeah, how great is that?!?! Perfect rolls and coffee and that's it. Anyways, we stayed there (california, not the cinnamon roll place) for a week and began the drive back on Friday.

On the drive back, I pulled the ultimate husband move of “Nah, we don't need to gas up here, we can definitely make it to Bakersfield.” Well, turns out, Bakersfield was a lot farther away than anticipated and the gas gauge drops significantly faster for the bottom half. Miles seem a lot longer when your “low fuel” light has been on for 30 minutes and the gauge is just sitting on the bottom...yeah, and then I'm thinking how ironic it would be to run out of gas in the middle of Exxon Mobile and Chevron oil fields...where you are surrounded by signs for them and no gas stations within 30 miles. Haha, that would be pretty funny....except for being stranded in the middle of nowhere on your honeymoon. Long story short, we probably had angels pushing the car, but we eventually made it to a gas station and I've never been so happy to pay $4.59 a gallon in my life.

Colorado City:
The really cool part happened after that. It turned out that as we were planning our wedding date and the honeymoon after, we decided to come back Saturday, April 7th. After planning that, I got an update from an old missionary friend in Utah that I'd served with years ago. He said he was planning an outreach in Colorado City, Utah, for what date? You guessed it—April 7th! Colorado City is almost exactly halfway, and right on the way, home from California. So we had the wonderful privilege of joining in that outreach.

What an outreach it was! In the morning, the team swept the entire town passing out invitations to a free barbeque in the park which was attached to a testimony that some of the college students had written out that talked about some truth that God had shown them in the Bible and how that affected their lives. We then went to set up for the afternoon in the park. It was such a great time catching up with the few that remembered me from years before. There is just such a special connection with those people whom you've served with on a mission field like Utah. It just brings you together in a way that you can't really describe. And, of course, they all got to meet my new wife. After being in the park for a while, one of the ladies from our group spotted several local boys sitting a ways off and mentioned how someone should go meet them. I grabbed the best “ice-breaker” tools I know—a soccer ball and cones. I walked up to them and asked if they would like to play soccer, to which one boy responded, “I'd rather soccer than frisbee.” (yeah, great answer) “Me too,” I said. So we got to play soccer for like three hours and I found out I'm not in the soccer shape I used to be in. Their older brother, though, who was a little older than me, sat on the bench and watched for the first while and read through probably 5 or 6 testimonies. Awesome! Later we sat with a family for dinner. They were very friendly and open and we even got to talk about the gospel for a bit. The father told one of his younger sons (probably 10-12) to give us a “honeymoon ride” on his 4 wheeler. Just really cool to connect in such a short time. The pastor that came with the missions group and I were able to talk with a young man for a couple hours about God and everything else and he was very hungry for it. Sarah (my wife) also had some great conversations with some junior high and high school age girls as well as some of the other women. It was AMAZING to have the conversations and connections after the FLDS leaders had told their people beforehand not to come to the “Devil's Barbeque.” Very intense, but a great outreach and a great way to finish the honeymoon (although it's never really over.)


It was nice to get back and have some extra time to move in and get situated because it was my “buffer season.” this is the time between ski instructing and raft guiding, which is nice for the time, but not as nice for the finances. However, God has faithfully provided. One of my close friends who has turned into a mentor for me had a construction project in Snowmass that he needed some help with. So I got to go with him and few others to work for a week and then again for a couple days. One the second time, I was given a great opportunity to talk with one of my co-workers about Jesus. He and I were staying in the same room and had talked just briefly about God in the car. In the morning, I prayed over my granola and said (silently), “and Lord, please give me and opportunity with this guy and open up his heart. In Jesus name, Amen.” What do you know? About ten minutes after that, the conversation turned to God and I got to share the gospel with him. Good times. I'm still praying that he will repent of his sin and trust in Christ.

Back in Gunny:

Since being back, I'm still helping out Rick with ministry stuff. While I'm mostly in charge of organizing the music, I've been able to preach several times and feel like there's more of a calling in that direction. We'll see how God leads with that. Rafting has started back up, which is really fun and God has provided me with a good amount of work. Still praying for good conversations with my fellow guides.

Married life:
It seems like a lot of people are asking us, “So, how's married life?” these days. It's actually a really weird question. It's not exactly a short, one sentence answer. It's not like it's bad. But I feel like it's not totally accurate if I just say, “oh, it's great.” If any of you are married, you know what I mean. It's awesome, but it's still got it's struggles and challenges and quite frankly, it's a lot of work...but it's still awesome. It's not like our marriage is a cake-walk with nothing wrong ever, but we're learning so much about ourselves and each other and tons about grace, humility, and forgiveness. I've found myself usually responding to the original question as “It's good. It's really sanctifying.” We've been blessed by having lots of great advice. Some friends have given us, “Real Marriage: The truth about sex, friendship & life together” by Mark and Grace Driscoll which is definitely a good book for couples to work through together. It's helped a lot....and we're still just halfway through it!

Well, as always, there's a lot more, but this is already long enough, so you'll just have to wait for another 4 months or whatever it's been till my next one. Okay, jk, hopefully I can be more consistent in my updates from now on. Thanks so much for your prayers and encouragement. It means so much.

“Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.” Colossians 3:1

Thursday, February 23, 2012


Huh....try to sum up three and a half months in a short time...okay...yeah right! It seems like years of stuff has happened in such a short time. Although I don't always realize it, when I look back, I have a seriously rocking life thanks to God's grace. Okay, I'll try to cram all the stuff in without you having to read a super long blog (I've learned they're intimidating to read). Anywho....post Grand Canyon.

Post GC:

After I came back from my epic trip down the Big Ditch, God continued to blast open doors for us on campus. We continued to go out every Wednesday at the table and good conversations seemed to pour out for us. One of the brothers who was with us had his schedule changed and couldn't make it. So the other DP and I changed tactics slightly. Instead of sitting at the table waiting for people to come to us, we decided to go to them. We “stole” an awesome method from some of our amazing brothers in Utah who spend all their time witnessing to Mormons. One of the big issues with Mormons is getting them to see their sinfulness in the light of God's righteousness. It's the mindset that says, “well, I'm a pretty good person, so I'll be okay.” Well, as we talked with people on campus, we've found this is the underlying theme with pretty much everyone. Our brothers in Utah created a “good person” survey which takes people through the Ten Commandments and shows them how they are really doing at “being good.” We did this for several weeks and had many great conversations with not only students, but workers on campus as well. Praise God! I could fill up the whole blog if I were to write out each of these stories. So incredible!


Then I started to work at the ski area and couldn't go out on Wednesdays anymore. Working has been really fun and really interesting. It certainly has a whole culture of it's own up there. I jokingly say that there are probably more devout Hindus in Crested Butte than in India. Anyways, work was pretty slow, but has started to pick up more. There have been some small conversations there though which is encouraging. I was learning from a co-worker one day and I got to ask him if he went to church anywhere. He said he watched a preacher on the TV. This was not particularly encouraging but it opened up some talks later. This guy later asked me at lunch, “So...are you like super-religious or what?” I told him it depends on how you define religion. I never really got to explain what I meant, but it was okay. Later, a friend who I raft with in the summer came up to me and said one of his friends had posted something about God and suffering as her status and he didn't get it. Another co-worker went to a coffee shop with me to read and then asked what I was reading. At the time, it was “Not a Fan” which is a great book about not just being a fan of Jesus but a follower (yeah, there's my little book plug—available now at any Christian bookstore worth it's Jesus bracelets for only $14.99! haha, jk, but seriously, it's a good book and not too long.). So....I had the opportunity to share with him what that difference was. Then one day I was taking a couple free runs when there was no work and rode up with a different co-worker. She asked me what I did in Gunny and I explained Rick's ministry and Saturday night then asked her if she ever went to church or anything. She gave me her story and then I asked her where she was at with God right now. It was short, but still a cool opportunity. There's also just some hilarious stories that happen when dealing with kids. One that sticks out was being assigned to the two year olds and having the supervisor say, “We have one kid today who doesn't speak any English...only Japanese.” Oh, sure, no problem, cause I know how to say....um.....nothing in Japanese. Fortunately, (and I say this as humbly as possible) I'm the bomb at charades. The kid didn't do too bad and had fun. Haha.


Yep, who'd a guessed. On January 4th I proposed to my girlfriend and she was crazy enough to say “Yes!” Yeah, I know, poor girl. So yeah, that was kind of a big deal and I hear it changes life a little. She's an awesome woman of God and a huge blessing in my life....and she makes really good pie which is also a plus! We're getting hitched in late March (yeah...this year) and are super stoked for it. God has shown us sooo much already in just the wedding planning. Lots of good stuff about trust and humility and grace...it's been..painful at times, but really awesome over all! So the typical question most people were asking was “How did you propose?” To which my answer is “I got down on one knee, pulled out the ring, and asked.” This answer doesn't go over too well with the female inquirers. So then I say, “well, I took her out to McDonald's and bought her a cheeseburger, stuck the ring in it, and brought it back to her. After singing her the cheeseburger song from VeggieTales, I knelt down and opened the box, revealing the ring in the top of the burger and asked her.” To this I get mixed reactions until I tell the real story about how we went down by the river walk and then pulled off by a SUPER-ROMANTIC spot and then I busted out the ring and popped the question.

Mormon Friends:

About a month or so ago, I was hanging out at the B-fizz and the new Mormon missionaries came by. We have struck up a great friendship with them and have had some good talks at least once a week and they haven't run away yet! Please be praying for these dear friends, that their eyes would be open and that they would see the wonderful grace of God. It's definitely a cool opportunity to get to meet with them every week and try to share the true Jesus with them.

Ministry Stuff:

This has been fun as well. Rick and I started a bible study at the ski area every Monday after work and it's been great to see some believers and seekers show up to that. Tuesday nights we have a 5 Minute Theologian class in town which is a good intro class to theology (and yes, 5 minute theologian is the name of the book...the actual class takes more than five minutes.) Wednesday nights there are a few faithful believers at my other church who pray...that is just an awesome time. Thursday morning ministry breakfast has been interesting. It's changed a lot..some ways for the better, and some ways, maybe not so good, but people are growing. Please pray for the direction this should take. Saturday night service has been wonderful...we actually have unbelievers coming and inviting other unbelievers! Haha, how often does that happen?!?! God is so good! One of my roommates who was leading music left in January which was a bummer, but we're stoked to see how God is leading him. So, I was then put “in charge of music.” Haha, which if you know me, this sounds like the punchline of a joke because music is not exactly my gifting. However, I am surrounded by some great guys who can play and sing louder than me so the people don't run away before the message. Haha. The trouble I have right now is that all this stuff is great, but I feel like I'm overloaded and end up not being able to anything really well and everything suffers. I expressed this one Wednesday night at prayer and one of the elders simply said, “Man, you need to learn to say 'no.'” I think this is sound advice, the tricky part is just what to cut out. So, please be praying for me that I would be able to do the work that God has for me, but also that I would have the courage to cut out the things that are only distracting from His true work for me. Yeah, that would be great.

Anyway, thanks to all of you who still read my blog that I don't update nearly enough. Thanks so much for praying for me and standing with me.

“This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope. The Lord's lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. 'The Lord is my portion,' says my soul, 'therefore I have hope in Him.'” Lamentations 3:21-24

Pray for:
--Direction for Ministry Breakfast
--Mormon Missionaries—that they would see the Truth.
--Direction/wisdom for me
--All the wedding jazz

Praise for:
--All the wonderful opportunities!
--An amazing fiancee' (hmm.....however you spell it)
--God's continued faithfulness.