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.”

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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.

An Update: Getting Up Again

“We did not see this coming. But Daddy wants us there. Why? I don’t know. I already told you that he won’t speak to us right now.”

So much is happening in the world right now. Brexit. Clinton vs. Trump. Black lives and white lives and “blue” lives that are no more. The world, including our country, is spinning out of control.

And then there is Allison, Ezra, and I. Granted, our problems and disappointments are relatively small when compared to others. For example, one of the Dallas officers shot and killed was married only two weeks ago. He was 27. And his wife? Well, because some loner army guy was looking for an outlet for his anger and hate, she will suffer for and hurt for the next 50 years. And you know what is ironic? Several of these officers shot and killed were fellow officers with other black officers. In other words, there are black officers in Dallas that are now suffering because of a black man who wanted to pay the “whites” back. They lost some of their friends. This is not about white and black. This is about hate. Sin. Evil in the human heart. That stuff is color-blind. Racism is only one form it takes.

I guess the only point I am making is not that there was no reason for blacks to be infuriated (there is definitely injustice in our land), but only that violence on top of more violence will only breed more and more and more violence.

Where are the Martin Luther King Jr.’s and Rosa Parks of our day?

So back to our little lives.

I did not get the Ph.D. scholarship in England. After being a finalist last Fall, two professors from this university grooming me (to some extent), moving my family to Spokane to “beef up” my resume (by teaching as an adjunct at Whitworth), and reading several books and articles to improve my 7-page Ph.D. dissertation proposal, I was not even shortlisted for an interview this time. And it gets better. Since I did not even make the interview list, no one will respond to even give me feedback.

What happened? I have no idea. But I did not get it.

So now we live in Spokane, Washington. We are not giving up yet. We will continue through the Fall to submit applications. But if I am honest, it doesn’t look good. At age 37, time is ticking for a Ph.D. At least this is how I feel.

So what is God up to? We honestly don’t know. Allison and I have constantly said to each other since moving to Spokane that God is not speaking. Not even a word. Silence. I have only heard God one time, that’s right, one time, since moving to Spokane. He told me to pick up an older guy on a street corner who looked lost. It was close to freezing. Come to find out, he needed a ride to a local shelter but due to his age, had no idea which way to go. He probably would have been stranded that night.

But that’s it. No other word.

For now, we are taking one week at a time. Helping our friends build the home-based church. Securing more opportunities to teach at various colleges/universities in the Fall. Spending a month in Texas and Mississippi to reconnect with family.

And when we get back, we have rented a house. Yep. There is a time for putting down roots, even if you don’t know for how long. We hope it is not for long. But who knows.

Here is one thing I am excited about: Daddy God is taking greater possession of my heart. I believe that one thing that is truly happening in my life is a deeper sort of surrender. He won’t speak to us right now, but he is near. I keep getting up early, delighting in his presence through the Word, dreaming dreams, loving my wife and son, and opening my heart to the fact that for now, Spokane is home.

We did not see this coming. But Daddy wants us there. Why? I don’t know. I already told you that he won’t speak to us right now. But he doesn’t have to. He doesn’t owe us anything. We are not victims. We are only brokenhearted sojourners who still refuse to quit dreaming.

For now, we are getting back on our feet, keeping our eyes on Daddy’s radical love, and wondering what he has for us. It may not be what we thought. But I know this. I want everything dot and dash and ounce and inch of what he desires in his heart to be satisfied. If God will not give me my desires, then I am sure he will change my desires to match what he has in store for his kingdom and glory.

May our hearts burn and burn and burn for his kingdom to come in all of the little bitty corners of our life so that Jesus shines brighter and brighter and brighter to all those watching.

 

 

 

I Fell Short…Again

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Again, if this blog is to make any sense, you will need to read two previous ones:

  1. No Longer a Pastor
  2. The Story Continues

My second international interview for a Ph.D. scholarship/salary was this last Thursday. It went great. I thought it did. Maybe it did or maybe it didn’t. Whatever the case may be, Friday the dreaded, yet all-too-common, email came. The sentence that began with “Unfortunately” crushed my heart and made me physically weak for the next three hours. Finishing work that day was extremely difficult. I know one thing. Through all of this, I will never again underestimate the power of disappointment in someone’s heart. It can be brutal, cold, crippling. I will have more compassion and thus be more like Christ in the future because of the disappointment and heartache that my wife and I are having to walk through on our way to the door that we STILL BELIEVE God is going to open. One day. Some day.

For now, I will continue to read, study, think, and redraft my proposal. This is what God wants. The ONLY THING IN MY HEART is the desire to get my Ph.D. in philosophy. How can you quit pursuing that thing which fills your thoughts during worship, helps you get up in the morning, and occupies your thoughts multiple times per hour? I can’t. I hope you will not.

After the powerful and near debilitating news Friday, my wife had the chance to talk with one of her best friends. Yesterday I had the chance to talk with my dad in the morning and one of my best friends later in the day. As a family, we went out of town and had some fun. Life keeps going. The dream is not over. The one thing I cannot shake that keeps me looking and moving forward is that I believe WITH ALL OF MY HEART that this is God’s will for me. Well, and there is one more thing: my wife hasn’t given up on me either. She dreams with me. We dream together. My Ph.D. topic has become something we are passionate about together. We will share it. We are in this together. She is a dreamer. We are dreamers.

This morning I read the Scripture, “Not to us, Lord, not to us, but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness.” I had this thought: This last decline was a manifestation of God’s love and faithfulness toward me and my family. Only his will matters. That is it. That is all. I do not want any idol in my heart that blocks that authentic, embodied confession. This decline must mean that God is not ready yet to open that door. In other words, this particular door at this particular time would not have brought him the most amount of glory.

So here we are.

I fell short again. Or did I?

Maybe God simply exercised his providential sovereignty.

Maybe, just maybe, Romans 8:28 still rings true.

Maybe this is not all about me. Us.

Maybe Daddy wants a deeper trust, a deeper dependence, a deeper reliance governing my every breathe.

Okay Lord. Here am I. Here is my family.

The Story Continues…

  For this post to make much sense, you will need to have read “No Longer A Pastor” from a little over a month ago. What a ride this has been for my wife and I (and Ezra, but he is blissfully unaware). I am not going to share every detail because I am almost finished with my 5th book that will tell the entire story. For the most part, it is a collection of raw journal entries from throughout this process. We are hoping that this “waiting” part of the story is nearing an end. We shall see. 

Two weeks ago I finally, finally, finally cracked the code. I received “the” email for which we have longed. A university in England had shortlisted me. I was one of the final candidates for a Ph.D. scholarship in Philosophy. If won, they would pay for part of the doctorate and provide a yearly stipend. My wife and I were so excited. HOPE! Maybe we We didn’t give up both jobs and our house for nothing. Now it all made sense. God was doing this. Surely Daddy would not let us get this close to our dream and all that we have sacrificed for only to let us be disappointed.

Wrong.

The 20-minute interview with three professors in England went well. We just “knew” we had it. The three profs said that an email would arrive the next day informing me of their decision.

I woke up at 3:45am the next day to go to work (a little overtime). The email awaited. My application was declined. Again. What is more disappointing, to not get an interview or to get that close and watch it slip away? At 3:45am I woke my wife up to share the news. We were so sad and disheartened. I whispered to her, “I don’t know how to get out of bed and do this day.” But I did. I am a man and my family depends upon me. That is enough. That is what my dad always did and there is nobody I would rather be like than my dad. I love you dad.

We made it through that day and were actually doing okay though it was hard. Then Friday and Monday happened. A university up in Spokane (where so many of our berst friends are) contacted me and offered an adjunct position. Yet, it was not enough to move my family across the United States. We turned it down. I could not believe it. Nothing else loomed on the horizon. This was our last security blanket. If we give this up, we have nothing pending, only a blank horizon. 

I cannot believe the faith of my wife. Once again, she spurned comfort, rejected security, and looked me in the eye and said, “This story demands a big finish. The Lord did not take us all of this way for one course.” Most men are married to wives that after a month or so of the heartache and disappointment we have experienced, would have called it quits. But not my wife. In our low moments we look at each other and say, “We are dreamers.” So a door opened and we shut it. 

Monday night was hard. I had been declined in England and we had shut the only door that has opened thus far. We knelt beside our bed and prayed a VERY honest and messy prayer.

The next day a young lady who knows very little of our situation read my blog post, “No Longer a Pastor” from over a month ago. She called Allison and told her that she does not do this kind of thing but that she felt that she HAD to call and deliver the message, “Don’t give up.” The Lord had finally spoke. We had not heard him in months. It was good to hear his voice (see John 3:29).

And then Wednesday happened. While at work, I received an email from another university in England. It had been several months since I applied at this school. Shortlisted again! Another interview! How could this be? They informed me that initially, their quota for scholarships was full. They now have more to give and without having to reapply chose my application for consideration. I get another chance. 30 minutes with a few British folk in a couple of weeks. It’s actually quite fun.

What is more interesting is that this is a Christian university and they are interested in reclassifying Ph.D. proposal from the field of Philosophy to Theology & Religion. What is God up to? 

Paul wrote, “We walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Cor. 5:7). Our hearts have been ripped out, put back together and given wings, ripped out again, and now given wings once more. What a process. What a journey thus far. 

But it’s our fault. Since February, Allison and I have been crying out to the Lord, “We want to go on the adventure of a lifetime.” God’s adventure. A new land. New people. New places in nature to behold. New experiences. And do it all, ultimately, for his glory. 

I’ll keep you posted.