Project Defined

Project. Definition: an undertaking requiring concerted effort.

While the definition of project may not change, admittedly, as a “white-collar” worker, the term project means something a little different to me today than it did when I was growing up on a farm in Eastern Iowa.

To open a window into my career, there are times when you feel like you are juggling dozens of projects at a time all with different timelines and deadlines. It’s rewarding work, but there are times when you desire the simplicity of a given task, a foreseeable deadline, and joy of reaching the finish line.

Project. Defined: transfer hosting service from existing host to new host (perhaps the reason will be a future post…)

While this initially might not seem like an exciting task for someone who works in the financial industry, for me it was a challenge worth taking. For those of you who have done this before, you are probably thinking “big deal”, a couple of hours of work, pretty simple stuff. For those of us who haven’t, let me say how thankful I am for online resources…

I’m happy to say that tonight I was able complete the process by pointing the domain to my new host by changing the nameserver (man don’t I sounds “geeky”)!

That being said, if you notice issues with our Eternal Outlook website, I would like to be able to promise you that it is not my fault… but it probably is…

Perhaps that will lead to another project…


All You Have and All You Need

*Adapted from Advent Devotion written for First Family Church


“I wait for the Lord, my soul does wait, and in His word do I hope” Psalm 130:5 (NASB)

Hope – a word that can spark emotion and elation in one’s heart. Hope – an expression of the expected fulfillment of one’s desire. Hope – a quality of existence with unique implications for the Christian. In the native Hebrew language of the Old Testament, the word for “hope” is “yachal”,  meaning to “wait with expectation.” Nearly half of these occurrences are in the book of Psalms.

The author of Psalm 130 spoke of a hope that transcends mind, body, and soul. This Psalm of lament has great implications for the present day Christian. In the character of God, we see One who hears the cry from the depths of our heart. Despite no underlying merit from the psalmist’s debased soul of misery, He entertains his plea for mercy. The faithful cry and plea is rewarded with forgiveness. What a God worthy of our worship and gratitude!

While the soul’s cry and plea are often immediate external expressions, waiting and hoping are enduring internal motivations. We live in one of the most affluent societies in the history of the world – where the ease of instantly gratifying our desires nearly invalidates the idea of waiting and hoping. Our consumer driven society allows us to bypass “hoping for” and “waiting for” in most instances. Is it really surprising that this all affects our spiritual lives as well? We can become so comfortable in this world, that it replaces the yearning and the hoping for the soon coming of our Lord and Savior, King Jesus.

“…my soul does wait, and in his word I do hope”

Do we have this confident hope and expectant waiting in God? In His word? In His judgment? In His mercy? In His redemption? Can we make this confident expression of expectation in the God who is always faithful to His promises (see Hebrews 10:23)? Does your soul wait and hope for a new heaven and new earth where God himself will dwell among us (see Revelation 21)?

If you can go back to the moment where your soul first cried out for Jesus, you will realize that hope was all that you had. My prayer is that we will find that this hope in Jesus is all that we ever need!

Father God, thank you for gifting us the blessed hope, Jesus. In the midst of our busy lives, teach us what it means to wait with hope for your coming kingdom. Let our souls find complete satisfaction in nothing but you! In the blessed name of Jesus, AMEN!

How Will I Be Recognized?

Do you ever feel like you are having a tough time living up to the expectations that you have placed on yourself? Do you ever feel that your best, simply isn’t good enough? Have you ever come to the realization that you are not perfect? Well, the good news is, if you’re like me, you have aced this test!

As I poured forth effort this past week to study our small group’s weekly passage found in Acts 4, I was in awe of the spirit-filled life of the Apostle Peter.  My awe of the life of Peter exemplified in Acts 4, left me cut to the heart.  Here are two men, Peter and John, who are “uneducated and untrained”, whom are clearly recognized as having been with Jesus after speaking with authority to the religious leaders of the day.  They were initially observed as confident (Acts 4:13) and later exemplified boldness (Acts 4:20).  My heart concurs for this to be the reality of my life, but then I am left to an honest revelation that I am no where near that “bold”.  To be utterly transparent, I often look a lot more like Peter in Mark 14:66-72 (i.e. cowardly denial).  Ever been there?

Unfortunately (or fortunately) for my small group, I was unable to teach past the point where God is dealing with me. Sometimes my desire to appear “educated and trained” gets in the way of “being with Jesus” (can I get an “amen” from the fellow “type A’s”?).  Notice this is the exact opposite of Peter and John in Acts 4:13. To put it plainly, I often seek out answers for questions instead of seeking the Person who answers.

So this is where I stand, needing to place myself under the authority of God’s word.  To spend time daily with my savior to know the heart of God, while I ‘m left pleading to God for a fresh filling of the Holy Spirit.  Not so that I would appear “educated and trained”, but so that I would appear as nothing but a vessel, and that I would only be recognized as one who has been with Jesus.

I must also realign my thinking for the questions that I opened this post with.  For I should have no expectations but Jesus’ and because of Jesus I am “good enough” and one day I will be perfect (Revelation 21).  Until then, I put forth effort to be will make it my desire to be content with being recognized as having “been with Jesus”.

“Now as they observed the confidence of Peter and John and understood that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were amazed and began to recognize them as having been with Jesus” ~ Acts 4:13

Who Sets Your Agenda?

Last week, I took a break from the daily grind of work and walked to my car which is parked in the parking garage at my work.  I shut the door to my car and resisted turning on the radio for some background noise.  I picked up my personal cell phone to put it on silent and noticed that I had multiple texts that I had yet to address… so I quickly worked through them.  While doing so, my blackberry from work was “dinging” with e-mails and calendar reminders… once again, I scanned them quickly and put my phone on silent.  My attempt to withdraw has already been sidetracked multiple times!

To some extent, I believe that this 10 minute exercise represents a microcosm of my life (I’m guessing yours as well).  There are phone calls to make, deadlines to meet, agendas to keep, and that is just during the work day.   My effort of even putting this all aside during the middle of my work day has led me to conclude:

1. Communion with God requires effort

I’m typically not one to shy away from effort, with the caveat being that my effort is for something that I desire!  Too often, I find that my desires are based on selfish motives.  I desire success in my job, the feeling of being a valuable member of my team, and the satisfaction of a task well done.  I was recently challenged to consider my use of time as a plumb line for determining my desires (any one else not want to answer that challenge?!).

2. Communion with God requires the denial of self

Too often, my thoughts are more “kingdom” focused than “Kingdom” focused (little “k” vs. big “K”).  My outlook is more temporal than eternal and my desires more superficial than genuine.  In fact, my entire purpose of withdrawing during the middle of my work day was to test myself regarding the driving force in my life: work or communion with the living God?

3.  Communion with God requires the submission of one’s will

Until I was able to shut down “Travis’ agenda”, I had no chance for true communion with God.  I praise God that he works in me through the power of the Holy Spirit, consistently and faithfully drawing me into communion and prayer.  While my shortcomings are many and my faults easily identifiable, I can boldly ask God, just as King David did, not to cast me away from His presence nor take His Holy Spirit away from me (see Psalm 51:11).  I am forever indebted to the grace of God and my God does not withhold good from those who walk uprightly (see Psalm 84:11).

To reduce it all down to one sentence, communion with God requires effort, denying oneself, and the submission of one’s will.  I pray that my journey to true communion with the living God will come quickly today!





What Can You Learn From a 3 Year Old?

Q: So after 28 + years on this earth, what can you learn from a three old (or a pair of “three-year olds”)?

A: You are never too young (or too old) to begin to memorize Scripture.

Tonight, as we began our family devotional time, my three year old twin daughters, Isabel and Elliana, wanted to demonstrate to “daddy” what they have learned at “school”.  With my wife’s help my children began reciting Psalm 1:1-3.  As they anticipated my wife’s whispering, I couldn’t help but sit amazed by the goodness of God.  After they finished, my six-year-old son, Abel, was able to recite the entire passage without help.  My slightly more timid (and creative) daughter, Amariah was last.  She insisted that she needed help starting, but ultimately ended up finishing the passage by singing the song they have learned while memorizing the passage of Scripture.  What a humbling example of God’s grace to my family!

No matter your learning style or age, Scripture memory should be a priority.  As I think about my work, I realize that I am constantly committing tasks, projects, and solutions to memory.  My daily tasks and situations are absorbed into the core of who I am as an employee.  I am often left wondering… what if I applied the same raw intensity to the Word of God as I do to my work?  While from a simple time availability standpoint,  that would be nearly impossible.  But that is no excuse… this man’s journey needs some intense, absorption in the Word of God… to be continued…


“How Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers!  But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in his law he meditates day and night.  He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers.” ~ Psalm 1:1-3

Working Unto the Lord…

23 Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, 24  knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve. ~ Colossians 3:23-24

I thoroughly enjoy the work that I do.  It is a unique and rewarding career, of which I am part of a small office that allows me to work pretty independently with a flexible schedule.  In fact, it is hard to believe that I have already been there over 6 years.  God has truly blessed my family through this job, as I  have had great opportunities set before me.

Most jobs have some cyclical nature to them and mine is no exception.  Our office is typically busier in the winter, spring, and fall, with a summer slowdown.  However, the past few months have been extremely busy for me at work.  By no means is that a complaint, just a reality of my current work situation.  After a busy spring, I was looking forward to having a nice relaxing summer, with frequent Friday afternoon golf outings with my son and friends from church, and surprising the kids by coming home early to go to the park.  Instead, due to a resignation in our department, I found myself picking up extra work, while keeping the clubs locked in the trunk of my car.

Despite our plans, God often takes unexpected life situations to teach us the truth of Scripture.  In this case, I was constantly energized by the Scripture passage in Colossians (quoted at the beginning of this post).  I’m thankful that God is not silent regarding the day-to-day tasks of this life on earth.  And why would he be, because he cares for his children.  This summer, God gave me great perspective that even though I was drawing my paycheck from my employer, it is not them whom I was ultimately serving.

To be honest, it would have been easier to “mail it in” and do the minimum to get by, or to stress out and lash out at those close to me (something I would have done in the past).  But God (yes, one of those “but God” moments), gave me the grace to persevere.  In fact, the greatest reward for me is hearing my wife say, “I feel like you have done a good job of balancing work and family”.  I often fear allowing those two seemingly competing time and effort requirements to become unbalanced.  I praise God that he gives us the victories that we need.




SIDE NOTE: Don’t get me wrong, this by no means indicates that my family and I did not have a great summer (complete with a family vacation, trips to grandparents’ houses, and a fun filled day at the Iowa State Fair).  However, this probably means that our summer didn’t quite go as “we” had planned.   God ways are not our ways for his ways are higher (see Isaiah 55:9).


Family Shepherds…(like with the Rod and Staff?)

I would classify myself as an avid reader (as avid as you can be with a demanding job and a family six).  If you were to checkout my bookshelf, you would quickly notice that I am not much for “fiction” reading and spend the bulk of my time reading books that I feel will benefit me professionally, personally, and / or spiritually.

A lot of people write reviews of books and most would provide a more eloquent or technical review than what I will be able to expound.  My primary goal in writing a review is to have a forum for my reflection on the work that God has done in my life through reading this book.  Or simply the work that God was doing in my life while reading this book.

I recently finished a book titled, “Family Shepherds: Calling and Equipping Men to Lead Their Homes”, written by Voddie Baucham Jr.   For me, the book’s title alone was intriguing enough to warrant the time to read.  I also had become familiar with the author through his book, “Family Driven Faith”, which I also previously read and thoroughly enjoyed.   For those of you not familiar with Voddie and his ministry, I offer a link to his website.  For some, his view on the role of the church regarding youth ministry may be controversial, but it is hard to ignore some of the evidence that he presents.

Voddie starts the book making a simple point about “knowing” vs. ” doing”.  To summarize in my terms… if Christian men were asked the question, who is responsible for discipling and training your children to walk in the ways of god, 99.999% of people would get the answer right… the parents.  You could count me among the 99.999%!.  However, I found myself increasingly frustrated with my lack of understanding for accomplishing this task.  I could easily point to the passages in scripture that admonish me to fulfill my role as the spiritual leader and the head of my household, but I found myself weak and powerless in fulfillment.  I believe that part of my frustration was driven by the fact that I didn’t even really know what it looked like to be the spiritual leader and head of my home.  A second part of my frustration may have been due to the desire to find some new effective method (i.e. shortcut).

I’ve certainly found good news throughout this process of sanctification, because God is not hiding wisdom from those who seek him.  In his book Voddie lays out a compelling case that the Bible calls men to shepherd their families.  As a man, who has tried to “get things right” with parenting, it was a profound truth for me to realize that “discipling our children is not about teaching them to behave in such a way that won’t embarrass us”  but rather to raise “our children with a view towards leading them to trust and to follow Christ”.   While, I still seek to avoid public embarrassment, I am learning to understand my role as shepherd of my family.

In the second part of the book, Voddie goes to great length to lay out what it might look like for a man to herald the Gospel in his home.  This section perhaps cut me most deeply, as it became readily apparent that my half-baked attempt at family devotions were more “going through the motions” than birthed out of a true desire to with the biblical viewpoint of leading my children to trust and follow Christ (ouch!).  Don’t take me wrong, I sincerely desired for my children to follow Christ, but given our schedule of nightly devotions, by the time 8:30 rolled around and I just labored through an intense day of work, I was ready to “check out” (selfishly).  If you have young kids… I’m sure you’ve “been there”.  While we are not perfect, my wife and I have had great victory over the past couple of months in the quality of devotion time that we have had with our kids in teaching them the word of God and worshiping as a family (more on that in another post).

Overall, as a man this book was a welcome nourishment to my soul.  I need to be challenged and instructed in the word of God.  I need to cry out for wisdom.  God has been effectively working on me (“sanctifying me”) for over a year regarding this topic (see recent blog post here).  The book, Family Shepherds, has certainly been a part of the journey and a tool that God used to exhort me about the deep truths founds in scripture concerning leading my family.  I pray that the Lord will continue to mold me into an “under shepherd” for my family, and I pray that if you are reading, God will grant that desire to you as well!




If you are interested, you can read some “real” reviews and purchase the book off of Amazon here.  If you are interested in borrowing the book let me know.


The Man Who Helped Shape Me

I started this post a few months ago… but decided that I wanted to save it for Father’s day.  While the actual content of this post may be a few months in the making, this tribute is way overdue.  More accurately, this post is  years late.  Regardless of what society may try and tell us, our parents have a huge influence in shaping us into whom we will become.

While no childhood is perfect, I am fortunate to live today without the scars of abuse and neglect that so many individuals have to deal with.  Thank you God for your grace.   In fact, earlier this spring my parents celebrated their 30th wedding anniversary!

While a letter to my dad would be an appropriate way to share my feelings, we live in a society who devotes sitcom after sitcom to tearing down the leaders of households and I wanted to make a “public” statement regarding the impact of a father.  And while I by no means am claiming that my dad is perfect (or any man besides Jesus), he has helped to shape me into the man I am becoming.

It’s hard to even narrow down topics or areas where he has influenced my life, but I have attempted to share a few of the areas that are important to me.

1. Hard Work

I wish I could say that this was the easiest thing for me to learn.  My dad is a farmer and works hard every day.  He truly earns his living by the sweat of his brow.  You would think that I would have had a leg up in this area… but in all reality… I would have classified myself as lazy throughout my childhood.  I found myself so “busy” at school in extracurricular activities that I was often too “busy” to help my dad on the farm.  Looking back I have a lot of regrets regarding my attitude towards the work requests that my dad brought forth.  Indirectly, God has used this regret to light a fire in my life to not shy away from hard work.  The teaching of my father in this area has helped to lay the groundwork for my success in my current career.

2. Provision

My dad was a tireless worker.  We NEVER went without.  That’s not to say we always got the latest fad, were the first to have cable, or had the most expensive shoes.  But we NEVER went without.  My dad taught me that provision is stepping up and taking the role of provider for your family.    This laid the groundwork for what would become my decision with my wife that if at all possible she would be able to work at home full-time in raising our children.  More importantly, my father’s work in providing for our family growing up taught me about the loving provision of our heavenly father.

3. Sacrifice

My dad gave up a lot for our family.  My dad didn’t have outside interests taking him away from family.  A few years into my role in fatherhood, I am starting to see the wisdom in his decisions.  All throughout my school years, I can scarcely remember times when my dad was not present for events at which I participated.  I don’t think I will ever fully know the sacrifices that my parents made for me and my siblings.  If my Dad had not modeled sacrifice, how would I ever have known how to sacrifice for my wife as the Bible mandates.

4. Love

I never doubted the love of my father.  There may have been times that I didn’t think the he particular liked me (when I was disobedient and lazy), but I never doubted that my father truly loved me for who I am and never doubted that he wanted the absolute best for me.  This love ultimately showed me about the unconditional love of our heavenly Father.

I don’t chalk things up as coincidence.   God’s grace is so evident throughout my childhood.  I thank God for choosing my dad to raise me and my siblings.  Thank you Dad for helping to shape me!  As the years pass, I become more and more thankful for your involvement in my life and the lives of my children.

Happy Fathers Day!

With love,

You son, Travis


Leading My Family

I really enjoy writing and laying out my thoughts, whether by journal in private or by blogging for the world to see.  I wish I could say that I have done well at either of the two in the recent past.  If you are reading this perhaps you can identify with my struggle.  My heart’s desire is to have a vibrant growing personal time of devotion, prayer, and journaling and to turn that into ministering effectively through the use of this blog.  The reality is I barely have time to keep up with the daily grind of life and my personal devotion life.

Last Sunday’s sermon at my home church, First Family Church, struck home with a point as we are studying the first chapter of the book of Acts.   Pastor Todd challenged us with a pointed statement: “Being “on mission” — making disciples — is not merely an opportunity for us; it is a responsibility for us…”.  On our way home from church, I asked my wife what this meant to her and where she saw her “responsibility” fleshing out.  Her response, was simply that our children were her primary responsibility for discipleship .  It’s hard to argue with that… we have a 6 year old, 4 1/2 year old, and twins that will turn 3 at the end of next month.  Given my wife’s role in our family as a stay at home mom and primary educator, she is right.  Admittedly I struggle with this… it seems like there should be more that I am doing…

In my personal devotion time, I found myself asking God, “what is my responsibility and am I fulfilling that responsibility?”   While I have yet to hear God speak to me in a clear audible voice, I could feel His Spirit that indwells me confirming that leading my family and discipling them is currently my primary responsibility.  But instead of feeling burdened or inadequate of this calling, I found freedom.  Instead of feelings of despair because of my failures, I felt empowered to overcome them.

My thoughts over this past week, have certainly put a bow tie on a lot what I have pondered for the past 10 months.  While God has certainly put many opportunities before me, it is vitally important for me to take my biblical responsibility for making disciple seriously.   While, I know that I will never perfectly disciple my family, I know that God can take my imperfect effort and use it to accomplish his eternal purposes.  Praise be to God!

Psalm 127: 1-6 – “Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it; unless the Lord guards the city, the watchman keeps awake in vain.  It is vain for you to rise up early, to retire late, to eat the bread of painful labors; for He gives to His beloved even in his sleep.  Behold, children are a gift of the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward.  Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth.  How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them; they will not be ashamed when they speak with their enemies in the gate.”‘



Scheduling the American Dream

Daily Schedule: Wake, shower, and commute to work from the suburbs before the kids are even out of bed.  Work on projects, field calls, and prepare presentations until I realize that the day is over and my wife is calling me about what time to have dinner on the table.  Pull in the driveway a little after 6 pm to be greeted by 4 children and a wife eager to see me and share about the events of their respective days.  Enjoy a home-cooked meal and the remaining 90 minutes of family time before putting the kids to bed around 8:30 pm.  Relax, catch up on the day’s events, while preparing for tomorrow’s, before drifting off to sleep knowing the bills have been paid and my family is being provided for…

Sounds like my personal slice of the American Dream, eh?

The truth is, from the outside looking in, my life appears to have met the requirements of this so-called American Dream: home in the suburbs, a satisfying, well-paying job, a wife and children.  Perhaps four children is too many to qualify for the American Dream, but we have foregone the dog and cat for the time being (which sort of evens it out).  The schedule listed above could be classified as a typical outline of my days for the frist half of 2011, and truthfully, there has not be a lot for me to complain about.  Life “looks good” to the eyes of men.   

There is nothing inherently evil with the aspects of the so-called American Dream which are present in my life (job, home, wife, kids).  In fact, I contend they are all worthwhile and profitable endeavors.  However, as a Christian man, is the American Dream what I should ultimately be striving to accomplish?  The answer should be “no”, but for whatever reason this has become the benchmark for success in our society today.  As with everything else in our society, the goals of the American Dream are short-sighted.  Politicians make decisions based on what will make them more electable for their next term.  Football programs bend and break rules to land the prized recruit who will lead them to glory for his four years of eligibility.  The list of examples could go on forever.  We are stuck in a world obsessed with instant gratification.  At the root of instant gratification screams the desires of the selfish, sinful nature.  There is no eternal outlook.

What if my schedule was evaluated for its impact on heavenly / eternal things?  How would it stack up?  Would it meet the litmus test?  Granted, there are things of eternal impact that did take place throughout the day of the schedule listed above.  However, the evidence would suggest that I was scheduling the American Dream, and not a heavenly minded reality.

Lord God, help me to approach each day with a heavenly minded, eternal outlook, instead of seeking the securities of the American Dream.  Lead me as I lead my family in seeking the fullness of Your being and satisfaction in the fullness of Your presence.

One Man's Journey Serving the King of Kings