Groceries, Public Transport, & Minimum Wage in Southern France

I suppose one thing I’m proud of is that I found a conversation between two real humans much more interesting than a book.


OMG. Took the bus into Morningside to pick up some groceries.

There are simply too many people. Long lines. Rainy outside.

On the way here I tried to read a book. However, a man who lives in France was talking about how many rights workers have in Southern France and that teaching gigs at international schools are great. He also said that a person earning the minimum wage could buy a flat in Southern France. *Sigh* That is insane.

Not in Edinburgh.

Definitely NOT in the United States.

Anyway, this is a quite pointless blog. I’m bored. And wondering about Southern France…

I suppose one thing I’m proud of is that I found a conversation between two real humans much more interesting than a book. There is hope for this PhD student after all.


Book Update (Kindle and Paperback Available)

“I am convinced that one of the major ways that God’s grace manifests is in Him withholding information. If He told us all, our fickle, weak hearts would crumble under the weight.”

As promised, I wanted to let everyone know that the print edition of my new book “To a Land I Will Show You” is now available (click on the title). Of course, it is also available for Kindle as well. If you are currently reading it or about to begin, please don’t forget to leave feedback on Amazon. In addition, if you feel that this book can help someone, please share it on social media. Doing so is like giving a bag of gold to a self-publishing author!

IMG_1241This book is a different kind of book. It is my journal from the last three years. The entries are arranged chronologically. Reading the book will take you on a roller-coaster. Living this was a roller-coaster. It is our story of pursuing God’s dream, hanging on to that dream, and not throwing in the towel when the dream appeared dead in the water.

It is a story of debt, disappointment, friendship, family, trust, anger, confusion, prayer, desperation, broken hearts, depression, sickness, etc. If the Lord had told us what was ahead when we started, we might not had taken the journey. I am convinced that one of the major ways that God’s grace manifests is in Him withholding information. If He told all, our fickle, weak hearts would crumble under the weight. We are simply not that strong.

Just to give you a different perspective, I am including an excerpt from the forward written by my great friend Thomas Lambert. If I sell a million copies, I am going to buy him a $15 gift card to Starbucks. Yep, that is the kind of friend I am. He wrote:

“As with most stories of anyone following the call of God, this story has moments of triumph. Our faith grows from seeing the faithfulness of God displayed. Consider Sarah and Abraham’s joy at the birth of Isaac or the joy of Abraham’s children as they crossed the Jordan hundreds of years later. In these times, we are compelled to worship God for his wisdom and the power to work for the good of those who love Him. In BJ’s story, however, those moments are far outnumbered by moments of disappointment, heartbreak, and doubt. Like Abraham, it seems that sometimes the reasons to doubt far outweigh the reasons to believe what you have been promised. Thankfully, the bitterness of the trials makes the triumph that much sweeter.”

In addition, you will find below a couple of reviews that were posted on Amazon. Irina Martin wrote:

“This book is an undeniable confirmation that God still speaks to His children and calls them to accomplish specific tasks. If you desire to walk by faith, the book will prepare you for the journey. It will give you a good idea of the daring trust it takes to carry out God’s purposes. You will learn how to keep a humble and loyal heart amidst heart-wretching disappointment, and what attitudes to avoid in order to pass relentless tests of faith with flying colors. You will see the growth that occurs in the process, grace for each step, but most importantly God’s good heart behind all happenings.”

Kat Dufrene wrote:

“A heart-wrenching, raw, very real read of a journey of obedience to the voice of God. Whether or not you believe that God still speaks, you cannot deny the genuine expression of humanity in the process of discovering one’s own purpose in each journal entry of this book. You will find yourself yearning, crying, dreaming, and rejoicing with B.J. as you follow along in the chronicle of his and his family’s path from what they had always known to an adventure that taught them more than they had anticipated. It is difficult not to hope alongside him and desire for God’s voice and direction to break through each successive page. No matter where you are in your life (and in your walk with Christ) you will connect with AT LEAST one entry in this book. I definitely did. I dare you to find out for yourself.”

Paul wrote, “We walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7). My prayer is that the Lord would speak to each and every person who reads this book.

Our Lives Are Not Boring!

On a bathroom floor across the Atlantic, Allison’s labor progressed at such a rapid rate that neither the midwives nor paramedics could make it in time.

Our beautiful Rhema Skye is here! Mom and baby are doing great.


In the days to come, Allison and I are going to write out our birth story. Wow. On a bathroom floor across the Atlantic, Allison’s labor progressed at such a rapid rate that neither the midwives nor paramedics could make it in time. It was her, me, and our three-year old. Of course, he was eating a bagel in the other room and his main concern was that I had not put honey (in addition to butter…our morning routine) on his bagel (in my defense, I was a little busy!!!).  This was definitely one of the lighthearted moments of the morning. I cannot wait to tell you the story. My wife is a hero. You wouldn’t believe the things she did. I am in awe. More details to come!

On a LESSER note, I have not posted anything yet on my blog regarding my new book: To a Land I Will Show YouIt is a collection of honest and raw journal entries arranged chronologically that tell the story of our pursuit of a dream that God placed in our hearts and the roller-coaster journey of confusion, faith, disappointment, friendship, debt, hope, and anger that ensued.

April 17 2017
(image from book) Last April, we moved out of our home in Spokane, WA and into the Lambert’s (once again lol!!!)

The digital version is available now (click on the title in the previous paragraph) and the print edition will be available on Amazon by the end of the week. I am really excited about this book because I believe it has the potential to impact hearts, inspire faith, give hope, and convey the message that obstacles, resistance, and heart-wrenching disappointment does not necessarily translate to “this must not be God’s will.” God is so faithful.

For now, I am really, really ready for “boring.” After my dad’s serious heart attack a few weeks ago and our terrifying experience Sunday morning, I am hoping for some long, slow, boring days. We shall see. I get a week off from work and do not have to return to my PhD studies for another few weeks.

Over the course of the next few days, I will post the birth story and also mention when the print edition of the book is ready.

2018: A New Year

New Year’s Day represents something powerful in the Western psyche. We love the idea of a fresh start, a second chance, hope, and the idea that this year might be different than the last.

newyear2018_24-dea0cc09d9b756a44574e87b010b6115To be honest, I am beginning this year simply grateful. On December 29th, my absolutely amazing dad had a serious heart attack. Though I will spare you the details, I sat for an hour or so waiting for a text/call from my mom (dad had been care-flighted and mom was driving that way) that might mean I never get to see his face, hear his voice, or say “I love you” again. I will never forget those 60 minutes. Due to God’s providence and an amazing collection of factors, not only is my dad alive, but even better, his heart sustained NO permanent damage. I would share more, but it is too personal and I am still processing through some difficult emotions. This year could have been so different. I am thankful. I am so thankful. I love my dad who has always been such a tender, strong, Biblically-grounded, inspiring, persevering, visionary, encouraging, hard-working, responsible, present, and trustworthy man. Yep, that about sums it up.

We we are weeks away from our little girl being born. We will then have one son and one daughter! I have no idea how I will juggle family, work, and a full-time doctorate, but there is no point trying to figure that out. Not possible. One must be thrust into a situation before they can know how to arrange the beautiful parts. For now, I am working hard to get ahead on my Ph.D. work (if there is such a thing as getting ahead). Worrying about the future is not fruitful (though I can be quite good at it). Jesus said, “Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” (Matthew 6:27)

New Year’s Day has come and gone. It goes without saying that there is nothing particularly magical about a specific day. That being said, New Year’s Day represents something powerful in the Western psyche. We love the idea of a fresh start, a second chance, hope, and the idea that this year might be different than the last. For some reason, it is at the beginning of the year when we Westerners are willing to let our hearts dream a little, consider an alternative future, and relinquish at least some of our skepticism.

For this reason, this is usually the time when we all make insanely impractical resolutions. Setting goals, especially if you have someone holding you accountable, can be really helpful. It may be time to lose weight, implement a discipline in your life, enroll in school, ask for the raise, exercise, or plug into your local church in a meaningful way (instead of being a useless bump on a log). In a word, it is a time when we pledge to be more intentional in one or more areas of our lives. Sadly, most people are not very intentional.

Making resolutions is not an intrinsically bad practice, but it may not always be useful either. I think Christians should go about this cultural practice a little differently. What if the majority of your resolutions were birthed out of prayer? In other words, your resolutions are something that the Holy Spirit is already committed to realizing in your life. Granted, I don’t think every resolution has to be of this nature, but I am absolutely convinced that hearing God about the upcoming year is the best recipe for Kingdom success (not just success), personal growth in Christ, influencing neighbors and co-workers for Christ, seeing a relationship restored (God may tell you to take the first step), stepping into the freedom of Christ, forgiving someone, or taking the risk you have been scared to take.

So make the little resolutions and strive to improve. That is great. But take time as an individual and a family to pray, seek God’s face, hear his voice, and make resolutions that not only have eternal value, but are backed by God’s word and his specific vision for your life.

Happy New Year! Let’s begin the year as we ought to begin each day: seeking God. Only his will and desires truly matter.

Ezra and What I Am Learning About Compassion

In the midst of trying to do a much better job, I have really started paying attention to how Ezra responds to her.

eye_Markell_xc_And-A-Little-Child-Shall Lead-Them-1_smallThis morning I woke up early to do some online work before heading to New College to study. I have had a little cough for the past couple of days. Ezra has had one for the last 3-4 days. Due to this cough, he has had trouble sleeping. Thus, he was awake around 6 am this morning and had trouble going back to sleep. Around 7 am, I was working in my home office and started to cough a bit. All of the sudden, I hear him say all of the way from the bedroom, “Daddy, are you okay?” At first, I ignored his question because he was in the room with Allison and I was afraid that if I responded it would keep him from going back to sleep. However, he asked again. He then asked a third time. At that point, I knew that he wanted to know that I was okay before he could go back to sleep. I rose from my chair, poked my head in the bedroom and said, “Yes buddy, I am okay. I just have a little cough like you.”

One thing I have noticed about Ezra is that in the midst of all of the typical three-year-old craziness, he has a very tender heart and really cares about people. It is our job as parents to protect and nurture this. In one of our recent talks, Allison was talking to me about the fact that I do not always respond to her with the same grace and compassion with which she responds to me. Regrettably, she was right. I didn’t even try to argue. In the midst of trying to do a much better job, I have really started paying attention to how Ezra responds to her. He responds to her in a wonderful, tender, caring manner when she is hurt or if something is wrong. I have caught myself lately saying to myself, “I need to check on her like Ezra just did.”

I am reminded of the following verse:

The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them. (Isaiah 11:6)

Granted, I am taking this out of its eschatological context, but there is still a useful application here. I can honestly say that at times, Ezra is leading me. There is nothing like a child to reveal your true heart.

In my opinion, this is a timely reflection. Over the next 7-8 days, Christians all over the world will celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. He entered the world as an infant. Even at the age of 12, he was found in the temple teaching, helping…in a word, leading.

We can learn a lot from children. They are one of several channels that the Holy Spirit can use to open our eyes, knock on the door of our heart, convict of sin, and extend an invitation of transformation.

May we have the mind of Christ (Philippians 2:5) and truly imitate our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (Ephesians 5:1).


Excerpt from My Upcoming Book

Sometimes, like Abraham, you have to leave Ur before you can see Canaan.

I am almost finished with the book I promised months ago. It will be available on Amazon in January. It is a book about dreaming, failing, persevering, friendship, and seeing the unthinkable. The book consists  of my journal entries over the past three years. It chronicles my journey (and my family’s) from pastoring, becoming extremely unsettled, walking way from jobs with nothing on the horizon, moving to Washington, and then ending up where we are now. It is very raw and honest and quite often feels like a roller coaster. Depression, fear, anger, and other emotions marked the path.


My heart is to encourage people to follow Christ into the unknown places that he is calling. Sometimes, like Abraham, you have to leave Ur before you can see Canaan. Frequently, God only gives you bits and pieces. He wants trust. He is jealous over your trust. He hides information so that in the end, you must look into his eyes and take the leap because his “yes” trumps the pending uncertainty.

The following excerpt is from September 1st, 2015. After pastoring for over 10 years, this was my first full day after stepping away. Yet, no door had opened.

“…this means that there is now nothing for the Fall. Now what? We have believed that it was Fall all along. I gave up both jobs. I am so far behind in academics because of the years that you had me pastor. And now, you are going to drag your feet and toss aside a semester of my life? I was hoping with all of my heart that you were going to show me great favor and even accelerate this part of my calling. I “feel” so far behind academically, yet you are not allowing me to move forward. Nothing? No job, no income, and no philosophy? Nothing? And if you don’t open a door, how am I to see your face and be confident that you will speak when the reason we are where we are at is that we thought you did speak. It so looks as if we were wrong. Why are you going to waste me?”

I will keep you updated.

PhD Reflection: Surround Yourself with Better

I am experiencing a deep sense of satisfaction and fulfillment knowing that the people around me are going to make me better over the next few years.

I am supposed to be working on my PhD thesis. However, I just finished a meeting with my doctoral supervisor and wanted to jot a thought or two.


In the School of Divinity at the University of Edinburgh, it doesn’t take long to realize that you are just one of many. I had to quickly face the fact that I am not one of the smartest people here (understatement!). You don’t come to a place like this to rule the roost. But I find that there is great peace and joy in confessing this truth. I am here to learn. I am here to grow. I am here to get better. I am here to make connections. I am here to prepare for what God has planned. Besides, being the best is not what this is about. Rather, I want to maximize the abilities that God has given me. This is about faithfulness and preparation.

Regarding intelligence, you may think that I am referring to various professors and lecturers. I am, but my comments are not restricted to that group. I have met several PhD candidates that are several steps ahead of me from a theological perspective. Because my past education is in psychology and philosophy, I have some catching up to do. On the other hand, all of our projects are different, so there is nothing wrong with having different areas of expertise.

Today my supervisor sat with me and discussed my work for over an hour. It always amazes me when he takes this much time to discuss my research. The dialogue is always challenging, stimulating, and enjoyable. It is also humbling. I told my wife the other day, “If I studied the next ten years, I don’t think that I would know as much as this guy.” He is that intelligent and articulate. But this brings me to the main point of this blog: I am experiencing a deep sense of satisfaction and fulfillment knowing that the people around me are going to make me better over the next few years. To get better (no matter whether you are speaking of a skill, virtue, intimacy with God, etc.), you need people around you that are better than you in that specific area. Now, I could feel insecure and threatened. If I let insecurity rule, it would steal the opportunity to glean from those around me. And notice I said, “If I let insecurity rule…” I chose this wording on purpose. When you step out of your comfort zone, of course you will experience insecurity at times. But who cares. It is not the end of the world. The question is not, “Will I experience insecurity?” but rather, “Will I let it take control of me or will I set it aside and move forward?”

The bottom line is this:

Better people make you better. 

You can apply this to motherhood, fatherhood, pastoring, teaching, studying, playing a sport, learning a language, starting a church, cooking a new recipe, repairing a car, getting better at your job, etc. You fill in the blank. So you can hold on to your pride if you want. Or, you can put a little humility in your pocket and glean and grow from other people’s strengths.