Friday, February 10, 2017


Recently, my family and I have returned back to Mozambique after our first furlough.  A first furlough can in itself be a source for endless blogs, but we will keep this one focused on the topic of grief. A topic that we have been astounded by how little is actually talked about within the missionary community and the church for that matter. This entry is not to criticize those communities in anyway but rather to allow space to process and maybe shed light on areas we may need to grieve.

In our journey as a family to unpack and debrief our first year and a half in a foreign, impoverished, and very challenged country we found ourselves with some other foreigners looking into a passage of scripture in Luke chapter 24. What we discovered as a family was one of the most effective scriptures I have ever seen on grief, especially in the setting of a family or a community. Now I have read this passage so many times in my life, but putting on the lenses of processing brokenness gave me insight I had never had.

Beginning in vs 13 Luke shares the story of two disciples walking down a road discussing the recent things that had happened pertaining to the death of Jesus Christ. As they are walking and grieving together a man (Jesus) appears and begins to walk with them asking them questions. One of the disciples answers, "are you the only one in Jerusalem that does not know what has been going on?"
For they did not recognize Jesus. Of course Jesus knew! However, Jesus decides to ask a question. "What things?" he responds. Wow! He basically says, I want to hear your side of it. I want to know your feelings on the matter. I want to know why your heart is in anguish over this. He invites himself into their grief process. He gets them to put out their whole heart, as they say in verse 21, "but we had HOPED that he was the one to REDEEM Israel." Hope deferred makes the heart sick, and their hearts were sick. (Proverbs 13:12) They continued, to make things worse his body has vanished now and some of our community is saying they have seen him. We don't know what to believe!

Jesus takes the time like the good counselor to examine their hearts, and see where they are really at. He doesn't just come out and say here I am. They weren't ready to receive him in that way yet. They were grieving! Their hopes had been dashed. At this point Jesus is able to engage them in truth because they were honest and vulnerable with him. The two of them had bared their true expectations of the man that had been called Messiah.  And they had done all this to the very one they were grieving the loss of. Man God's ways are above ours, or maybe in this case I should say walking beside ours. He engages them with the reality of a stranger who is seeing things clearly outside of their grief, and who better then him. (though they did not know it was him yet)

By this time the day is getting dark and they are at the end of their walk, but they don't want him to leave! A very interesting thing happens next. They invite him to stay the night in their house....a complete stranger!!! Why? Because, he has listened to their grief, confusion, and sadness! They now trust him. Most of all they choose to now let him enter into that grief in their most intimate place, their house. The next scene is so amazing! We find Jesus at the head of their own table! The visitor who 7 miles before they did not even know is now 'The Host' in their house! Ha! You have to love the remarkable ways of God.

While the disciples watch him, Jesus decides to share communion with them. Except this time their eyes would be opened wide. The savior takes the bread; blesses it, rips it in half, gives it to them, and disappears out of their sight. Now they know exactly who it was all along. This is the part where my wife and I also had our "uh huh" moment! He asks them about their grief, then he listens to them about it, then they decide to let him enter into their hurt, and finally he would show them his own suffering and how it has covered them in their grief. It is this revelation that would open their eyes permanently. The revelation came when they decided to ask him to 'enter in' to their suffering. And it was ultimately then that the true revelation would come, the revelation that would allow them to 'enter in' to his. But not just enter in. To 'bless it' to give thanks for it. To partake of it (to rip it). And to 'give it' away to others! The revelation of who he truly is came through grief. It came through breaking! And it would be Jesus at our personal table that would model the physical and spiritual breaking first, on our behalf, so that we are able to process grief properly. To fix our eyes on his suffering so that we can have right perspective daily to walk through our grief and that of our neighbors. What an example that has been set by our King!

As our family has journeyed through processing this passage, I wrote a song called 'Emmaus'. One of the verses says, "In our grief and confusion, He unveiled our true communion."
I posted it here at the end of the blog for you all to hear. May it bless you.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015


This morning I walked this road with Abba (God The Father).  The first thing I saw on this journey today was a water well. Gathered around this rare resource was a mom and three children. The children worked together to pump the pump and fill the large oil buckets used for water. The oldest child helped the mother get the water onto her head to walk back and the other children grabbed smaller buckets to start back as well. I continued down the road and noticed on my left a large machamba (field) where a young mom and her two children were working. Down the road further a mom walked her probably 8 year old daughter, who had a 3 year old attached to her back, toward the school. Then the mom went down the road herself with two other women. The scene continued to play out in front and on the sides of me as I witnessed three other families; all moms and children hoeing in the fields with their kids sometimes infants just sitting next to them as they worked early in the morning.
As my friend Sam has said to me many times in different ways the last few months that our
world view leads to our beliefs and our beliefs grow our values and our values grow our practices. It would not take long for a small child to walk the road I did this morning and have their world view in Mozambique all figured out. Where are the Fathers? Where are the men? When I got to the end of my walk I stopped and pulled out my bible and prayed....I prayed and spent time....with my good, good Father! I was reminded of the mission. We are to go and tell the world that there is a good good Father, and that He sees them. He sees them working in the field with their kids, and that though their men and fathers and husbands are absent, He is not absent. He will not forsake them! Abba will smile down on them and cause the rain and sun to shine on and water them. As I walked I pondered; God what can I do about this? He whispered to me, "Ian you can wave at them, and say hi, and show them they are noticed...even by the most unlikely person, at the most unlikely time, they are noticed, and I have sent you to notice them."

Saturday, May 30, 2015


As an music artist you get used to sharing your music in front of crowds of people. Sometimes big crowds and many time small crowds but an audience none the less. When you move to a place like Mozambique that all changes. In fact an artist who makes a move like that is fully aware there may well never be an audience again other than the audience of ONE they are living for daily.

This thought was on the front of my mind as I walked out onto my porch to finish a song or two I had been writing to the Lord. Overlooking the south valley somewhere in central Mozambique, where the land is full of dense tall grass, covered in mango trees, dirt paths, and someone could be lost in an instant I sang out a chorus ironically. "The ancient of days has called me by name, hallelujah, hallelujah! How endless His love is, we're not forsaken, hallelujah, hallelujah!" In the middle of the singing I noticed 5 boys on the other side of the chain link fence walking as little ducklings youngest to oldest through the grass. Their ages ranged from I would think 9 years to 3 years old. The oldest of the bunch in the back began to hear the music and pointed getting his brothers attention. He was getting so excited that he was dancing and swinging his arms and legs for the others to see. As I waved back at them and smiled I also found myself walking out to the fence line continuing to play and sing. My chorus continued as we all stood face to face studying and staring at each other through a thin metal fence. Their eyes were full of joy and gratitude. When I finished they screamed for more. It was becoming obvious that they wanted to be on my side as badly as I wanted to understand and be on their side of the fence.

I asked them all their names in my best Portuguese. The oldest answered first saying his name was
Mito (Me-too). They went down the line telling me their names with pride and laughter. I asked them if they wanted to hear one more song. With very excited body language they answered yes! As I began to play a bouncy up beat chorus singing the words " The Joy of the Lord is our strength..." the boys clapped and began to dance, and dance, and dance some more. Mito kept staring at me with a grin from ear to ear with a look that would say "Wow, this man has stopped to play just for us". Who knows how far they had walked that day. Who knows if they even have parents. All I knew was they didn't want this moment to end, and neither did I. As the sacred moment drew to a close I told Mito the best I could that if he ever walked that road again and sees me to please say hi. His reaction was priceless. Beaming and excited in his best English he replied "Ok!"

I told them "muito prazer", which means pleasure to meet you. Then, I turned to walk back to the house. When I reached the patio I continued to strum the guitar and expected them to be gone. As I turned and looked down the road a thought came to my mind that Mito's name could easily have been 'Me too' in this situation. They wanted to be on my side of the fence and I thought well 'me too'. They didn't want to be alone and I thought well 'me too'. I began to sing out a song idea and allow tears to flow for what would be the next hour. As I began this time of processing this event with tears and guitar plucking I looked down the road and was shocked to see in the distance a yellow shirt and the eyes of guessed it....Mito staring back at me as well. "Mito I hope you know your not alone," was my final thought as I began to write this song.

Friday, May 22, 2015


When the music on your heart sends you to a distant land...

It sounds like the lyric to a song, but for my family and I it is a reality in just a few days.


In John chapter 7 Jesus walks up on the most important day of the great feast and yells out

 "Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them."

We have been here in Mozambique now for three months. Recently we spent four weeks in the capitol city about an 18 hour drive south of us. The purpose was to study the Portuguese language so as to communicate the kingdom more effectively. Though very grateful for the opportunity there, while driving back last week on the long road I saw things that would show me how to communicate the kingdom far better than any amount of language study. In just the first three hours that Sunday morning there were hardly any cars on the road, but there was person after person walking. Moms dressed in their only pair of clean clothes, the youngest of the young walking bare feet carrying things or even their own siblings who are often only a few years younger. Wise grandmas carrying grandchildren and small fruit as gifts to give to those they will see at the end of their long walk. Even though they might not have eaten for the last two days. For three hours I watched person after person of all ages and I mean all ages walking and walking. But where? I listened to a song playing in the car with the lyrics "....I'm walking through a garden full of burning bushes, but looking up to heaven for a sign."

This passage from John 7 hit my heart as I was experiencing my own Sunday church service right in the back seat and realized these faceless, priceless ones were all walking to quench their thirst to draw close to God. Step after step just to hear the word of God. Who can know how far some of them walked that day. This begged the question all far would I walk? How thirsty am I.....I mean really?

There in the temple that day was Jesus standing and declaring for anyone who is thirsty and wanting to believe to come and receive rivers of living water that would flow from them! In the west where I am from, many people on that Sunday that I was driving home gathered in the comfort of their beautiful churches. Churches not so different from the one Jesus stood up in. Why do they gather? Often to gain nothing more than knowledge so they can debate and miss the one that can not only quench the thirst causing the debate, but He desires to exchange the drink for a river of life giving answers to flow from them to the world. Are we truly thirsty? Are rivers of LIVING water flowing from our mouths?  How far would we walk? That is what this song is about.

Thursday, October 9, 2014


The more times I see the movie August Rush it is fast becoming one of my favorite movies of all time. Not only is the acting fantastic, but also the story is one of the most beautiful and human stories I've seen on screen. The main plot is that of an orphaned boy named August who longs to find his parents, who themselves never meant to abandon him but were told he was dead. The theme through the movie is that music is what brought the parents together and it is music that will bring him home to them and them to him. It's a climactic tear jerking drama about love, grace, mercy and perseverance, and most of all hope. I can't help but get a much better glimpse of Christ constantly beckoning us to him with His perfect melody that the scripture says (Zep 3:17) He sings and dances over each one of us individually. His singing and rejoicing is harmonic and contagious, freeing, and redemptive....can you hear it? Will you follow it? One of the lines from the movie was so relatable to our Christian journey here on earth and to those who are in need of Christ's salvation..."if you could be anything in the whole world August, what would you be?" August replies confidently..."Found!". Amen!!

We all want to be found, truly found and God wants us all to be found. Until we are truly found there cannot be a sincere, honest, gospel impact. A gospel impact in our actions, with our spouses, with our children, in our communities, and in the world. The disciples are a great example of this for us. They knew Jesus loved them, and they loved him and fully committed to following him. It wasn't till after the death and resurrection though did they realize they had been found from their lost and hopeless state. Prior to that they believed who Jesus said he was the Son of God, but they didn't understand what Jesus would do for them and humanity, and most importantly the price he would pay in doing it. This lack of understanding and embracing the cross made them want to horde Jesus and keep him as close as possible, very much like a child would hold onto a possession. After the cross and the upper room the Holy Spirit brought to life the understanding that they had been found. That is when their true gospel impact happened and changed the world, as we know it.

What was the impact of the gospel when they realized they had been found finally? They gave it (Jesus) away! Unafraid and unashamed and with urgency they gave it away! Acts 3 was a great revelation of this fact for me. Peter as one of the key disciples before the cross would guard and follow Jesus out of performance time and time again but yet also showed that he was trying to measure up in a way. This led to his eventual denial, but what needs to be seen is that he did not know the cross was going to happen and what it would mean to how Jesus truly saw him. Peter already measured up because of Christ, but it would be in Christ's death that he would finally understand it....just like with all of us. In Acts chapter 3 though Peter says to a crippled man with confidence this time, "Money we don't have but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth get up and walk." When we know we have been truly found the impact is that we will give that gift away, and with urgency! Let's go give it!

Friday, September 5, 2014


One thing that continues to amaze me in this life is how God can use anyone at anytime to fulfill His will. It's never too late for God to call on us. Some of you may know, but most of you aren't aware that I used to be a baseball player and coach. I had devoted my life to it at the early age of nine. It was an obsession from the first catch of the ball (even though the first catch was off my forehead). From nine to twenty one years old there were very few moments I wasn't practicing or thinking about improving at the sport. At night dreams of playing in college and championships saturated my mind.

After much success and playing in college for a bit, I still strove to continue in the sport and found myself creating a baseball instructional school that was successful for many years...Praise God! However, as passionate as I was about it all there still seemed to be a void in my life. There was a bigger and different calling still stirring in me that could not be shaken out. Have you ever felt that way, like there is a calling bigger than you, stirring deep, that there is something you are to pursue in complete dependence that God will open the doors and give you the courage and strength to accomplish it? That's how music ministry was birthed in my spirit.

The desire to lead worship and write music was always a resounding theme in my heart in different ways, but if someone had said that is what I'd be doing for the kingdom I would have laughed it off. With some Holy Spirit prompting and encouragement from my wife, friends, and family, music is exactly what I ended up pursuing. Doubts daily plagued my mind that maybe I was too old to start such a new endeavor. After realizing the ability baseball gave me to stay focused and disciplined on a repetitive task, and Carla and I losing our first child to miscarriage out came the intense passion needed to grow me toward a music ministry.

I believe I am not the only one out there that has recognized how God many times will give us natural abilities in things that in the long run we are not called to. This one thing alone may scare many out of fulfilling their calling in life. I remember being so nervous and scared pursuing something as different for me as music and singing, but knowing that it could bring such healing and encouragement to others with God's leading. It's the natural abilities though that will often help us through the rough and rocky seasons of what He has called us into for the kingdom. They give us the tools needed to stay sustainable and not grow weary of the good that we are drawn to.

You might have something stirring in you, but your reading this thinking I'm to old, or I don't have the right skills, maybe I have to have a degree, what do I have that people will need, I'm not strong enough, or whatever else. These are some of the things that all different age groups and ethnic backgrounds thought when God called them in the old and new testaments. David was great at worshipping, writing music, and tending sheep, but yet other than a few times for King Saul he was never a worship leader. Have you ever pondered that David wrote most of the psalms and yet that was not his calling? He was called to kingship and being a brave leader after the heart of God. His worship however was what strengthened, sustained, and guided him in much of his decisions. Paul was a leader by nature and good at it, even if for the wrong reasons. Then in one swift kick off a horse he was called by Jesus to preaching and evangelizing the gospel, and mostly to people who hadn't previously followed him. Esther was a commoner who was called to be Queen. Joseph was good at being an obedient and pesky little brother. He was called to be a prince of Egypt and his brothers. Peter was great at fishing and hard work, but as we know his calling was to preach, evangelize, and lead the first church. Finally one of the most over looked is Mary who was a peasant girl called to be the mother to the savior of the world. Wow! The list goes on and on, and I believe continues with the person you see every morning in the mirror.

You may be thinking God there is something You have caused to stir in me, but I am just a ballplayer, fisherman, businessman, stay home mom, younger brother, or construction worker, but God has given you these qualities to help sustain you in some way during times of desperation for Him in what He has truly called you to. God has proven over and over that it is never too late. There is not one of these bible leaders that did not feel inadequate in their calling even though they were good at other things. Ask the Lord what are you asking me to do for you in my small bit of faith. When do You want me to act on it? For when people have asked and acted on those two things; giants have tumbled, kingdoms have been saved, thousands have received the gospel, waters have parted, countless have been healed, and the Savior was born.