Saturday, December 22, 2012

How to Change the World

As long as I can remember, I've wanted to make an impact on this world—for my life to have significance and purpose. In the American culture, we are taught from a young age that we can do anything we set our minds to, and that we can quite literally change the world. Whether it's making a scientific breakthrough, becoming a successful businessman, working to eliminate poverty, or simply being a positive influence in our family and community, most of us have aspired to do something meaningful with our lives.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Where Your Treasure Is...

Today is "Cyber Monday", the premier online-shopping day of the season. To my own surprise, I was nearly lured into making an impulsive purchase within an hour of rolling out of bed this morning! I sat down at the computer with the intention of quickly checking my email. But after a few mouse clicks I mysteriously had a $129 item in my Amazon shopping cart!  

Now, I have to admit, it's really no mystery how the item got in my cart. I have wanted a product like it for a long time, but had decided to wait until I could afford a more expensive model that would better suit my needs. But this less expensive one seemed like such a great deal! How could I pass it up? An offer like that doesn't come along every day! Isn't it better to have something now? Something is better than nothing! And so on... Fortunately, I stopped this line of reasoning before clicking "Place Your Order".

As an engineer I tend to think analytically, and I can identify a number of irrational tendencies that nearly led me into making a foolish, impulsive purchase. Behavioral economics is a fascinating topic to me. But is there a deeper issue? Not an issue related to psychology, logic, or irrational human behavior, but a matter of the heart?

These words of Jesus are recorded in Matthew 6:19-21
"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."
We are bombarded by a culture that tells us we need more stuff, and constantly encourages us to compare our material possessions to those of our neighbors, family and friends. The holidays are a prime time for retailers to fuel the fire of discontentment that threatens to consume us. Ironically, this is also a time when we celebrate all that we are thankful for, and express gratitude for the blessings God has given us.

There's a lot I could say regarding these issues, and Jesus' words in Matthew 6. But as this blog is centered on our missionary aviation ministry, I want to take the opportunity to express my gratitude for all of those who have heard God's call to partner with us in taking Christ's love and reconciliation to the world, and who are sacrificing earthly treasure in order to store up treasure in heaven. My guess is that most of you who give of your time and resources do not consider it a sacrifice at all, because you understand the truth in Jesus' words. You look forward to the day when you will inherit the incorruptible treasure that's being stored up in heaven, and hear the words "Well done, good and faithful servant! ...Come and share your master’s happiness!" (Matthew 25:21). Thank you so much for the example you set, and for encouraging us to steadfastly follow the vision that God has placed in our hearts—to take the Hope of Christ to every corner of the world!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Update: November 9, 2012

One of the challenging, yet rewarding, aspects of our ministry with MMS Aviation is gathering a team of ministry partners. This group of individuals, families and churches will be a vital lifeline as we minister through missionary aviation. The value of our ministry partners goes beyond providing monetary support, but today I want to give an update on our progress toward our financial goal.

In order to begin serving with MMS Aviation, we must reach 100% of our monthly financial quota. I am happy to report that we have reached 13% of our goal. There are also a number of families who have expressed their desire to support our ministry but have not yet settled on the details. While 13% might not sound like a lot, it's exciting for us to experience God's provision, and it encourages us to continue sharing the vision He's placed in our hearts.

Once again, we thank God for those who have chosen to partner with us through prayer and financial support, and all who have been an encouragement to us as our family follows this new path. We continue to trust that God will meet every need as we faithfully share our vision for the ministry He has called us to. That's not always easy, and we are sure to face times of discouragement. We appreciate your prayers as we weather the difficult times, strive to keep our focus on Christ, and remind ourselves of His past—and future—faithfulness.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Lessons from the E.R.

Last week started out with a bang...or should I say, "a snap"? Monday after school, Ian was playing with some friends at the playground. While jumping off a platform his foot got caught, causing him to land on his arm, which took the brunt of the fall. As soon as Tara saw his arm from across the playground she knew something wasn't right.

Tara gave me a call while she, Ian, and Ella were on the way to the emergency room. I met them at the hospital. Although he was being very brave, Ian was obviously in a lot of pain, and the doctors gave him morphine as soon as they found a bed for him.  As parents, it was quite shocking to see our son's arm visibly broken and bent out of shape, not knowing whether it was only a broken arm, or whether there was more serious damage. As Ian's father, it's still difficult for me to look at this picture and remember the pain and fear that Ian was enduring.

Soon after giving Ian morphine for the pain, the hospital staff took x-rays, and eventually sedated him to set the bones in place and put his arm in a splint. Fortunately, although he had broken both bones in his forearm, there did not seem to be any further complications. Now, after several days, the worst of the pain is over, and Ian is on his way to recovery.

I am so thankful for the medical facilities that are available here in the United States. In a matter of hours, Ian was attended to by well-trained medical professionals, and the healing process had begun. But what if he had been born in a third-world country? What if he lived in a remote jungle village in South America? Would anyone know how to set the bones to heal properly, or would Ian have lived with a deformed arm for the rest of his life? And how would that affect him? As parents we certainly would have been fearful, not knowing what the outcome would be.

As I ponder these questions, I can't help thinking of the important role that missionary aviation plays in meeting the physical needs of people living in remote areas of the world. While our vision for our ministry in missionary aviation goes beyond physical healing, meeting physical needs is often a first step in demonstrating the love of Christ to people who are in need of Him. What a privilege it is to be able to be involved in this kind of work! I am so excited to have the opportunity to devote my life to taking the love and hope of Christ to the world—hope that lasts not only for this life, but for eternity!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Be Still

It seems that I have been going non-stop the last few weeks. In addition to working full time, being a husband and father, and giving leadership to the music ministry at church, I have been preparing for the last step in earning my pilot certificate: my practical test. Then, as if I wasn't feeling overwhelmed enough, I received a call from the examiner on Monday, asking if I could be available the following morning for my test. Yikes! I thought I would have a little more notice than that, but I had already run into several delays and just wanted to get it done. So I went ahead and scheduled for Tuesday morning.

I took one last practice flight Monday afternoon, and studied a little that evening. Before bed, God brought Philippians 4 to mind. Verses 6 and 7 provide this assurance of the peace that God offers:
"Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
You'd think this would be second nature by now, but it's still easy for me to hold on to my anxiety! That night and the next morning I consciously gave my anxiety over to Him.

Tuesday morning, I flew the Cessna 162 from Lambertville, Michigan to Bowling Green, Ohio for my practical test. Despite a somewhat windy morning, my test went well. The examiner was great and actually made the morning enjoyable. And the best part? I am now a certificated pilot!

I have been looking forward to earning my pilot certificate, since my training and studying has been consuming a decent amount of my time, energy, and focus. Wednesday, after work, I had the house to myself for a few minutes and was going to lay down and rest. Yet I found myself anxiously pacing back and forth in the kitchen for no apparent reason. Another verse came to mind. Psalm 46:10 says
“Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”
Perhaps I've had so much going on that I have cultivated a lifestyle characterized by busyness and anxiety, rather than stillness and peace. I've been working hard to get things done, and not taking time to remember that He is God. He is the one who is in control, and He is the one who will make a path for us as we follow this calling into missionary aviation.

If you're like me (and I know I am), it can be hard to find time to be quiet before God, to meditate on who He is, and to allow Him to speak. So yesterday I took a half day off work and went to a nature preserve with my Bible and my journal. I just spent a couple hours enjoying creation, reading God's word, speaking what was on my heart, and listening to what He might want to say to me. It was a much-needed time of rest and relaxation.

I hope you'll join me in renewing my commitment to surrender my anxiety and receive His peace daily. Life won't always slow down when we want it to, but let's cultivate the practice of taking time every day to be still and know that He is God. Then, even when life gets crazy, we can have that peace that surpasses understanding, which only comes from truly knowing and trusting Him.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Baby Steps

Slowly but surely, we're making progress down the road toward serving with MMS Aviation. This progress may be in the form of baby steps, but at least they are steps in the right direction!

We were excited to welcome two new ministry partners last week. It's so encouraging whenever another family or individual chooses to partner with us in prayer or to invest their God-given resources in our ministry. We trust that God is preparing more people to help send us into mission service with MMS, and we are continuing to share our vision with prospective ministry partners. We have about three months to reach 25% of our monthly financial goal, so please join us in prayer as we work toward reaching that milestone.

In a previous post I wrote about the delays I have been experiencing in my flight training. Well, I'm happy to report that I have now satisfied all of the training requirements in preparation for my practical test. My instructor signed me off today, and I hope to schedule my check ride next week! It will be a huge relief to have earned my private pilot certificate, which will free me up to devote more of my energy to other things. Not to mention I'll be able to fly without the constraints of a student pilot certificate, and to carry my first passenger (yes, Dad, I'm talking to you!).

Thanks to all of you who have been praying and supporting us over the last several months. We are truly blessed!

Thursday, September 20, 2012


I've been told by many people that flexibility, patience, and the ability to adapt to changing circumstances are important traits for anyone in the aviation world (and especially in missionary aviation). Well, I have been experiencing that for myself lately. I've been "almost ready" for my check ride for a few weeks now, and yet I don't feel that I am getting any closer. This week alone, I have had to cancel three flights. The reality is, no matter how hard I work or how well I plan, there are some things that are just beyond my control. Planes need unexpected maintenance, the weather doesn't always cooperate, and scheduling conflicts arise.

These delays can be frustrating, but they remind me to slow down and not to be so worried about "getting things done". God is also using my experiences to strengthen character qualities that I will need in increasing measure as we progress down this road toward serving in missionary aviation. I am reminded not to lean too much on my plans and ideas, and that this life of faith is more about a real, dynamic relationship with Jesus, than it is about accomplishing things for him.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Going Public!

This morning I had the privilege of sharing my story with our church family, and of telling them about our plans to join MMS Aviation. We had been speaking with individuals as we had the opportunity, but this was the first time that we shared our plans in front of a large group in a public setting. Now that we've told our family at Grace, I'm able to speak more openly about our plans.

I am up on stage most weeks at Grace, but it was a little different not having my guitar in front of me. I thought about turning my talk into a song, but abandoned that idea pretty quickly! I am thankful to have had the opportunity to share about the process that God has brought us through, and some of the lessons he has taught Tara and me over the last several years. My hope is that—by hearing our story—people at Grace will be encouraged to partner with us in our ministry, and to listen to God's voice in their own lives.

Thanks to everyone that came this morning to hear what was on my heart, and for your support and encouragement as we move into this new chapter of our lives. We are truly blessed, and look forward to what lies ahead for us!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

One down, one to go!

Yesterday, after several months of preparation, I passed the first of two tests required for my private pilot certificate! Now that I've passed the knowledge test, I can focus on preparing for my practical test. I've completed all of my prerequisites for the practical test, so at this point I just need to brush up on the skills I will need to demonstrate. I should be able to take this test within the next few weeks. After a successful practical test I will be a certificated private pilot!

Even though it's not necessary for me to be a pilot before beginning my apprenticeship with MMS, I wanted to ensure that I enjoyed flying and had some aptitude for it before pursuing this new path. My goal was to earn my private pilot certificate by the end of the summer so I could begin focusing more of my attention on gathering our team of ministry partners. It looks like that just may happen!

We'd appreciate your prayers as we start to shift more attention to building our ministry support team. I am still working full-time and have plenty of other responsibilities, including those of a father and husband. If we are going to see our financial support raised in a timely manner, it will only happen through God's grace.

We have seen God's hand at work in so many ways over the past several months that we are confident He will continue to provide for our every need. But we have also experienced opposition on this new journey. Please pray that God will give us wisdom and strength as we continue to pursue this calling, in spite of the challenges that we are sure to face. Thanks, and we look forward to sharing how God honors your prayers!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Remembering God's Faithfulness (Part 2)

Isaiah 45:2-3
I will go before you and will level the mountains; I will break down gates of bronze and cut through bars of iron. I will give you hidden treasures, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the Lord, the God of Israel, who summons you by name.
As I read this Scripture one morning last November, God used it to reassure me that nothing can stand in the way of His plans. Even when the path ahead seems impossible, He is able to demolish any obstacle, no matter how great.

In the last post I mentioned a few obstacles we have faced over the last several months, and some of the ways that God made a way to overcome them. In this post I'll briefly touch on a few more ways that God has made provision for us.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Remembering God's Faithfulness (Part 1)

I recently had a conversation that got me thinking about the last several months, and the ways that Tara and I have seen God's hand at work. I wanted to recount some of those here—both for my benefit and yours. It would take too long to give the details of each story, so I'll just touch briefly on a few of them.

When I started seriously considering missionary aviation in 2011, many issues weighed heavily on me. I was burdened by questions like "How will I ever pay for this?", "How will I support my family?", "Can someone with a color vision deficiency become a missionary pilot?", and "Is there a mission aviation organization that will accept me for service if I am over 40?" (believe it or not, that is "old" for a new pilot, by many organizations' standards!). But one-by-one God brought the right people into my life, at just the right times, to chip away at these concerns and increase my trust in Him.

Saturday, July 21, 2012


Welcome to our new blog! In the future we will use this space to provide updates on our preparation to serve in missionary aviation. For now, please take a look at the pages we've created to tell you about our vision and our future ministry.

Check back in soon for updates!