“Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”

‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭15:58‬

Ministry is hard.

Many times over the past year I have had the opportunity to share my testimony. From growing up, to salvation, to God’s call in my life, to the places God has taken myself and my family—it has all been a blessing, but it has not all been easy. Why? The people. Now before you start thinking I am going to blast people that have been mean or have said rude things, that is not anywhere on my mind for this blog (because people are people, and we are all messed up, emotional heaps of flesh and blood).

When God calls us to something, He gives us all we need to fulfill that calling, and he equips us along the way to work out that calling. Think of it as a toolbox. God adds tools to it with every life experience-

Each mountaintop high, each valley traveled, every success, and every hard lesson learned- all these things are tools placed lovingly in our toolbox by our Father- ready to be used by us to minister to another person. We are eager and excited to use some tools in the box because we can see how they can and will be used- then, there are some that do not make sense and we might not know how they’ll ever be used- but they will. All of those tools will stay in the box forever. Some will be used often and others will be pulled out for specific, difficult jobs, but every single tool in that toolbox will be used at some point because EVERY tool has a specific purpose!  

The toolbox.

When Paul starts out chapter 15, he starts off strongly encouraging the Corinthians to not forget about their faith, particularly the faith he preached to them. Paul sees that the Corinthians have started substituting their faith in Jesus for faith in other things, and honestly, have gotten distracted. They have lost focus, and he loves them so much that it hurts him to see what they are doing to themselves. So he gets to this part of his letter to remind them of their hope in Christ, and at the end, keep focused on the one who had called them: Jesus. Even when life gets hard, even when death is looming, do not loose focus because they are not living this life out on their own accord. They have a higher purpose, a higher calling; a wild, fun, exciting journey with the creator of the universe. And he says the things he does not to condemn them, but encourage them, because of his deep love for them.

Have you ever heard the phrase, “Don’t take things so personal?” When people say that to you, it is usually because something or someone has hurt you. In most situations, those words are correct- you just need to move on and not take things to heart. But when God calls you to something, specifically ministry, sometimes you cannot help it. Why? Because this is your life- your calling. You wake up everyday and ask God to show you where to move and go and how to get things done. You pray for guidance on how to lead, how to live, and how to love- and how to do it well. And you do this for people. You go into work everyday, not to fix a car or build a house, but to serve people- and if serving people means fixing a car or building a house, well, there are you tube tutorials out there to teach us how to help them get it done! You pour and give and love over and over and over, no reserves, and when something messes up, it hurts, and sometimes does not make a lick of sense. 

Then that saying comes around…”don’t take _________ so personal!”

…like you are supposed to move on when someone hurts you. Like it does not matter or like it did not hurt. 

I am sorry, but that saying does not fit in MY toolbox.


Because of love. My wife often says jokingly, “church work would be so much easier if it didn’t involve people.” People are hard to serve and love sometimes. We’re messy and moody and needy- but I love them. I LOVE people. I often tell people that I do not have a job at a church, that I have the opportunity to do what I love, day in and day out! And honestly I would not change it. But a lot of times it is hard. It is hard to serve people, and the hardest part of ministry is when the people you pour and love and care for over and over forget about Jesus, then forget about the one who poured Jesus into them. Paul saw it. He lived it and he wrote all about it. He started the church- blood, sweat, tears, and prayers went into building the ministry he started, and the people turned their back on not only on him, but Jesus as well. “Ryan, you are putting a lot of emphasis on Paul instead of putting it all on Jesus.” Well, Paul’s struggles and hardships are a tool that God uses to work on me when I am struggling. It comforts me to know that I’m not alone. It’s a huge thing to surrender everything for the sake of the Call. The many sacrifices, the late night conversations, the time away from home, the countless meetings, laughing/crying/listening/encouraging- these are just a few things Paul gave to the ministries God called him to. And at the end of chapter 15, Paul says to do all this stuff so that you will “know” your labor is not in vain. 

Man, I wish I was more like Paul!

For me, that is the hardest part- to “know” that what I am doing makes a difference. When people leave their first love (Jesus). When people slap you in the face. When people act like you have never existed in their lives. I connect with Paul and his relational hardships because, like Paul, I have fully given my life to this ministry calling. I gotta “know.” 

Keep on working. Keep on serving. Keep on loving. 

It would be easy to say, “Bump this! I’m out- No one deserves to be treated like this. It’s not even worth it.” But oh contraire mon frère, it IS worth it. Like Paul, I can see the potential in a persons life, and will to die trying to pull that out through the help of the Holy Spirit—even through the pain. Even through the hurt. 

Keep on serving. Keep on loving. 

Now, back to the toolbox.

You see, WE are the toolbox. God puts the tools inside of us to get the job done, and the outside may be dented a bit, rusty in the corners, beaten up and tattered, it still works. And we never get a new toolbox because honestly, this one works great. That is why we do not, “labor in vain,” because God still wants to use this toolbox, no matter how beaten up it/we get. That is why we do not throw in the towel when people kick us, turn their back on us, or proverbially forget about us; we stand firm. And we do this because God is holding the handle of our toolbox (our hand) and ultimately will do the repair work in a persons life. Is it still hard? Yep. Will it still hurt? Absolutely. Is it worth it? Every single day.

Time to get up and go to work. 

A Short Devotion

A buddy of mine asked if I would write a devotion for his youth group’s summer camp.  What an honor!  Maybe it will bless you as well.  Here’s what I wrote:

Most of us would probably never admit that we are scared of the dark, and in all reality we probably don’t think about very often. It’s usually only until we walk in our house…at night…and all the lights are out…and the power is out (okay, maybe the power isn’t out, but it adds to the effect)…and we can’t see a thing. We hear a strange sound down the hallway and reach for the flashlight on our phone. Once we turn it on, we shine it down the hallway and see the cat scratching on the carpet (why do cats do that anyway?!)! All is well because we shined a light on what didn’t seem to fit in our situation.

Illustration: Make a cup with your hands (like you are holding a golf ball in your hands minus the golf ball). Look inside. What’s there? Darkness! Close your thumbs over the opening to keep that darkness trapped in there…don’t let it out! Count to 3 and release your darkness into the air. What happened?! It disappeared! Why? Because the light overcame the darkness. Think about this-light is never the absence of darkness, but darkness is always the absence of light.

Paul uses the illustration of darkness and light in his letter to Ephesus. Let’s check out Ephesians 5:8-14:

“For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful to even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for it is light that makes everything visible. This is why it is said:

‘Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.’”

At some point in your life you have experienced darkness, not just being in a dark house or building, but spiritual darkness. The darkness that Paul is referring to here is a spiritual darkness that comes from not having the Jesus in your life to light the way. Being that Jesus is the light, He comes in and reveals to you what doesn’t need to be there. Why? So that you can have a perfect relationship with Him.

Jesus wants nothing more than to come in our lives and make us holy and to move from darkness into light. When this happens, we won’t want to go back to the darkness because we know how much better living in the light really is.


~Where are you in your walk with Christ? Are you living in the darkness or living in the light?

~If Jesus were to shine a flashlight down the hallway of our lives, what would He find that doesn’t need to be there?

~What’s stopping you from getting rid of it?

~What would be the upside of exposing what is in the darkness and letting Jesus shine His light on your life?

Jesus offers us freedom, and that freedom comes when we surrender our lives to the light of the Son! May today be the day we let the Light shine in!

mick jagger is a liar.

Actually, Jerry Ragovoy is the liar here. Mick Jagger and the rest of the Rolling Stones are pinned because they are the reason why this blog is being written…

Why are they liars?  Because, Time has definitely not been on my side.  No it hasn’t.

One of my fears of starting this blog has been uncovered over the past few weeks, that I may be too busy to write.  This really stinks, to be honest, but, there have been good reasons why.

5 weeks ago I was on a cruise with my wife and the rest of Casting Crowns, having the joy to be a part of the Klove Fan Cruise.

4 weeks ago I joined Megan and Crowns as they played an unbelievable concert at Carnegie Hall in NYC.  This was amazing, to say the least (you’ll hear about these trips in a blog coming soon).

3 weeks ago I had the honor of speaking at a small town Disciple Now (youth event) in Amory, Mississippi.

The past 2 weeks I have been slammed at work and spending time with the kiddos and my bride.

So, TIIIIIIIIIiiiiiiiiiiIIIIIIIIIIIiiiiiiiiime is not on my side.  No it isn’t.  And I hate it.

It bugs me that I started this blog and have neglected it for the past month.  It irks me to think that I put a ton of time promoting and encouraging people to read and share, when my readers don’t have anything to read and share.  “But Ryan, we understand.  It really isn’t a big deal.”  Possibly, but to me it’s huge.  I made a commitment to write, and have been lax on my discipline to do so.

If I’d have to make a guess, I’m sure we all have been at a point like that at one time or another.  We make a commitment to do something, and “X-Y-Z” comes up and we tend to forget about our previous engagements.  Sometimes our distractions aren’t on purpose, yet others we put ourselves into.  At the end of the day, it all comes down to discipline.

Discipline.  Some have it/Few use it/All need it.

When we first hear the word discipline, it usually takes us back to a time and place where our parents would punish us for doing something wrong.  I grew up in the time where the punishment for the things we did wrong was a spanking, and I got my fair share of them for sure.  That’s not the kind of discipline I want to talk about.

I’m talking about the discipline it takes to complete a specific task or group of tasks that need to be done.  Saying to ourselves, “No matter what happens or what comes up, I’m going to complete (or do) what I set out to do.”

The problem is that we tend not to be disciplined enough in the things that matter the most.

The great truth is that we aren’t the first ones who ever dealt with discipline issues.  In the Apostle Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, he encourages them to be more disciplined as well, and gives some awesome parallels on how we can train ourselves to be more disciplined.  Let’s take a gander, shall we?

“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize?  Run in such a way as to get the prize.  Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training.  They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.  Therefore I do not run like a  man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air.  No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified from the prize.”  [1 corinthians 9:24-27]

In chapter 3 of this letter, Paul refers to the Corinthians as, “infants, not yet ready for solid food.”  What he meant was that they needed to get the fundamental truths of the gospel down before they got the meat of it.  As we get to chapter 9, we see that Paul really wants them to dive deeper in their faith, so he uses himself as an example.  He shares with them his passion for preaching and why he does what he does (check out verse 16).  As we read the scriptures we are discussing today, we see that Paul wants them to understand the importance of being spiritually disciplined.

When I first started Crossfit (yeah, I’m one of those crazy people), I had never worked out a day in my life and was to a point that if I didn’t make a lifestyle change, I was going to have potential health issues or possibly something worse.  I made the effort that every morning at 6:30 I was going to wake up, go to the gym, and grind my way through the workouts.  After time, the hard work started paying off.  Now, 5 years later, I’m 70+ pounds lighter than I was, but all that weight didn’t come off over night, I had to work hard day in and day out for it.

Just like me, you may have gone through something that took time to work out, and it finally paid off.  Whether it be an addiction, weight loss, or something else, you had to discipline yourself because you knew that the end result will be so much better than where you were at the beginning.

Paul encourages us to do the same thing with your spiritual walk.  How do we do that?  By getting disciplined in running the race of what He’s called you to do and be.  Here lately, the main theme of my life has been coming up more and more in random situations; to love God, reach people, and make disciples.  There is never a “day off” from these three things in a believers life.  Look back at what Paul was encouraging us to do in those verses in chapter 9.  I have 3 things written down in my bible, and honestly I can’t remember if it’s something that I’ve preached myself or something that I heard someone say, but I wanted to share these things with you because they are relevant in our discussion.

Stay out of Last Place (v 24)

No one likes to lose.  No one jumps on the track or the field and says, “You know what?  Today looks like a good day to get my butt kicked.” Why?  Because you like to win!

In the race of life, it’s not much different.  The goal is the Kingdom of God and unfortunately anything less than first place, is hell.  As a believer, your goal should be to run after the Kingdom with everything you have.  What’s the point of being in a competition and not having a finish line or goal to get to?  If that’s the case, you just run around in circles, hopeless with no direction.  That’s not the kind of life that God wants for us.  God has a rich life of victory for you, but it just doesn’t always happen by one huge “blessing,” sometimes it takes work (James 2).  You have to work to keep control of yourself and your desires, and shift them to God and his desires.

Runners can’t run with extra weight strapped to them.  Fighters can’t move efficiently if there are things weighing them down.  They have to get rid of the weight of things to run/fight with speed and agility.  You  have to do the same thing.

When you decide that your ready to compete, you have no choice but to…

Feel the Breeze (v 25)

What does this look like in a believers life?  Self-control.  Just as a runner or a boxer goes into strict training to get a competition mindset (as we discussed above), a believer has to have a Jesus mindset;  meaning that everything that you do is focused on the end result:  the Kingdom of Heaven.

There are 2 different people who feel the breeze though, those who are competing, and those who are standing and watching others compete.

Those who feel the breeze in competing feel the rush of the contest.  They know that the beginning is going to be the easiest, the middle is going to be the hardest, and the end is going to be the gut check.  The cool thing is that this is what they’ve trained for. They know what to expect and how to fight to the finish.  They live for these moments.

Those who feel the breeze from the sidelines have no clue.  They haven’t invested their time or energy in the training, so they either cheer the competitors on wishing it was them, or they get mad because they feel the athletes could have done better.

Question:  which one are you?  Are you running this race of life knowing what to expect, or are you pointing out the faults in others because you’re too scared to join them?

At the end of the day, you should do everything you can to…

Play to Win (vv 26-27)

In every sport, there’s you and your rival.  In this case, do you know who you are competing against?  How are you going to beat someone at a race if you don’t know your competition?

Here, Paul is saying that you are competing against the enemy.  Who/what is the enemy?  Satan.  Now, I really don’t think Satan himself is dealing with little old you (don’t think so highly of yourself), BUT, being that he’s not like God and can’t be everywhere at the same time, his soldiers are after you.  Howso you ask?  By using anything that distracts you from the end goal.

You have to have a complete understanding that the enemy wants to do everything he can to trip you up in this race.  He’ll throw his leg out to trip you up at just the precise moment that you’re not ready.  How does he know?  This isn’t his first time contending.  He’s been at this for a long time, and you’re not his first competition.

So how do we fight?  How do we win this race?  By drawing near to our coach (Jesus), not being weighed down by distraction, and being disciplined to what God has called us to do.  These read like they are so easy to do, but I can assure you there is hope.

Over the next few posts we are going to take a look at what it looks like to really live a life focused on what God has called us to do.  We are going to dive into what it looks like to truly Love God, Reach People, and Make Disciples.  By the end, I’m looking forward to seeing us run this life with victory as we follow hard after our King!

4 reason why my ink pen rocks, and when you hear why, it’ll blow you away.

Catchy title, huh?  Thanks.  I thought you’d like that!

But seriously, my ink pen really does rock.  Go with me on a trip back on how I acquired such a piece of handwriting art.

Years back when I was attending the Baptist College of Florida, the only Christian Bookstore around was about 20 minutes away in Dothan, Alabama.  No, we didn’t have a Lifeway or a Family Bookstore, it was called Dove Christian Supply.  This is where we students had to go to pick up the latest cd or reading material.  On this particular day, I remember going and buying Third Day’s, Come Together album, getting to the counter and pulling out my checkbook (debit cards were just coming out, and who in the world would use one of those?  What a fad…), and just like normal, I didn’t have a pen.

I asked the young lady behind the counter if I could borrow a pen out of the pen cup.  As I sifted through the Bics, Uni-balls, even a few sharpies, I saw it. It stood out like an angel.  A black roller ball with gold trim and a white star on top.  The pen of all pens. The heavens opened, a beam of light shone down, and big fat baby angels started flying around playing the Hallelujah chorus.  It was none other than a Monte Blanc.

When my eyes saw it, I couldn’t believe it!  I thought to myself, “Is that what I think it is?  Is that an authentic Monte Blanc (cause after all, it was in southern Alabama…I KID! I KID!)?”  Pryer to this day I had only seen one in person, and it was given to a friend of mine as a gift.  All I knew was that it was expensive, cool, and that I wanted one!

“May I use this pen?” I asked.  “Well absolutely, ” the clerk replied.

When I picked it up I could feel the coolness and prestige that came with the pen.  As I began to fill in my check, it wrote exquisitely, and I knew that I must have this pen.

“I know this is a strange question, but, do you think it would be okay if I kept this pen?”  I was hesitant to ask.  I didn’t want to be let down, this pen was amazing!  The cashier looked up with a smile and said, “Sure, it’s yours.”

I almost did a backflip.

YES!  The pen was mine!  I was excited but in shock that she really just gave me this awesome gift.  My dayweekmonth, YEAR was made!  I couldn’t wait to get back and tell all of my friends about my awesome new pen.  I used that pen everyday taking notes.  I used it to doodle.  I kept it in my bag so that I would never be without it.  And the crazy thing is that if I left my pen somewhere because of my forgetfulness, I would always find my way back to it.  I’m telling you, this pen ROCKS.

“Dude, you got a little excited over an ink pen, didn’t you?”  Yes I did!  And there’s a good chance that perhaps you’ve been just as excited about something you’ve received at some point in your life time.  Maybe it was a christmas/birthday gift, maybe it was something that was passed down to you from your grandparents, or something your children gave you.  Whatever it may be, it meant and means a ton to you.

Gifts like these are awesome, and here’s 4 reasons why your gifts and my special pen rock:
1)  We got our gifts at the perfect time
I got my pen at the exact time I was in need!  I needed to fill out my check, and BAM! There it was!
2)  Our gifts were free
My pen didn’t cost me a dime.  All I had to do is ask and it was given to me.
3)  If we ever misplace our gifts, they are always waiting right where we left them
Any time I’ve misplaced my pen, I always come back to it.  There have been times where I thought I lost my pen forever, but once I realized where I had left it, I picked it right back up and began to enjoy it again.
4)  We show/tell everybody [about] our gift
I wanted to tell everyone about the awesome score that was made that day!  For so long I wouldn’t shut up about it!

So why did I just spend the past 700+ words describing to you my experience of finding my pen?  Because I really think that my pen, your special gifts, and Jesus have a lot in common.  Go with me for a few.  Let’s just use the 4 things that I just described about how awesome my pen is, and correlate them with Jesus.

**Disclaimer:  This is where the “super christians” tune out and click on another webpage because they can’t believe that I just paralleled an ink pen to the Savior of the Universe.  If that’s you, thanks for stopping by and getting to this point!  Click HERE to be mystically taken away to another place in the interwebs.  If you are still reading, thanks and let’s do this!**

Numero Uno:  We got our gifts at the perfect time

“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.” [romans 5:6]

“‘In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you.’ I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.” [2 corinthians 6:2]

At one point in my life, maybe you’ve been there as well, I was without hope, lacked purpose, and had no direction.  I love the way christian rapper, Lecrae, puts it, “I was on my way to hell with a full tank.”  I was living for myself and my glory, and when God stepped in, He changed my life in a way that I couldn’t turn back.  I was in need, and He offered an intervention–a free gift of salvation through His son, Jesus.

Numero Dos:  Our gifts were free

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God–not by works, so that no one can boast.” [ephesians 2:8-9]

You see, since the time sin entered the world, there was a need for a savior.  What was the savior saving us from?  Honestly, ourselves.  Even before Eve took that first bite of forbidden fruit then gave it to her husband, God knew that mankind was going to be the most selfish thing of all His creation.  For centuries, people lived for themselves.  In the Old Testament we see countless men and women that would come and help those who sought after God, but none of them had the power to ultimately stand in the gap between a sinful world and a saving God…until Jesus comes on the scene.

Paul states in Galatians 4:4-5 that, “When the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons.”(niv) OR, “When the proper time had fully come, God sent His Son, born of a woman, born subject to [the regulations of] the Law, to purchase the freedom of (to ransom, to redeem, to atone for) those who were subject to the Law, that we might be adopted and have the sonship conferred upon us [and be recognized as God’s sons].” (amp)

Not only did Jesus give you a perfect example on how to live, He laid down his life on the cross as a ransom so that you wouldn’t have to pay the penalty of breaking the law (sin), which would be death.  If that wasn’t enough, Jesus rose from the dead, conquering death, hell, and the grave, that you may have life and to give it to the fullest (John 10:10).  Not only do you have a chance at a big life through Jesus on earth, but you can spend eternity with Him, never to leave His presence.

Because of what Jesus has done, you have this free gift of salvation.  Let me say that again, free gift of salvation.  Like Paul says above in his letter to the Ephesians, it’s FREE!  I’ve kind of coined a phrase over the years, “If it’s free, it’s for me!”  This is the best freebie yet.  There’s nothing you have to lay down to get it.  You just partake!  Paul says in Romans that, “If you confess with your mouth that, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you WILL be saved.”  What an awesome truth!  God saves us, despite us.  DANG.

Numero Tres:  If we ever misplace our gifts, they are always waiting right where we left them

I’ve been a believer in Christ longer than I haven’t, and there have been more times than I would care to admit that I’ve left Jesus behind.  Jesus is a perfect gentleman.  He will never force Himself on you, but through the work of the Holy Spirit, will draw you back to Himself.  Even when you leave Him, push Him away, turn your back on what He’s done for you, He’s still there.

Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”  [matthew 28:20]

“‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.'”  [hebrews 13:5]

Maybe you’ve ran or are running from God.  Don’t.  He loves you so much that He wants a relationship with you that is real and deep!  Come back to Him.  He’s there, not as a judge slamming a conviction on you or as someone pointing out your failure, but as a loving Father who is waiting on you to crawl back up in His lap, tell Him what you’ve done, and let Him mend and repair you from the inside out.  Best yet, He looks at you and says the words that offer hope and encouragement…”I love YOU.”  If you’re hiding, if you’re running, if you’re at a stalemate, come back to His arms.  You know where to find him.

Numero cuatro (yeah buddy, 4 years of Spanish really paid off!):  We show/tell everybody [about] our gift

God’s love, grace, and mercy shouldn’t be something that you keep to yourself, but something we tell everyone about!  You shouldn’t keep it to yourself!  In fact, scripture is pretty clear that we shouldn’t be quiet about it:

“Go into the world and preach the good news to all creation.” [mark 16:15]

“Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”  How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in?  And how can they believe in the one whom they have not heard?  and how can they hear without someone preaching to them?” [romans 10:13-14]

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations…”  [matthew 28:19]

“But I’ll be made fun of.”  Perhaps.
“I could lose my friends.”  Maybe.
“No one will listen.”  Possibly.

It’s totally worth it, but you’ll never know unless you try it out for yourself…

What if today we got so excited about the free gift that God offered us in Jesus that we choose to brag on Him like we do our stuff?  How different would life be?  I think that’s all in how we look at it.  If we treat Jesus like the best thing that has ever happened to us, who cares what people think!  I told you my pen rocks, but Jesus rocks WAY more.  And that’s what should blow you away.

Good morning, Daddy.

This post is very impromptu, written really quickly and spur of the moment…les go.

Almost every morning when I wake up, I go through the same routine.  Over the past few weeks, that routine has changed because of one little person.


Lucie is my 4-year-old little princess.  She’s our middle child, and from what I’ve heard about middle children, they are all about the same…tornadoes.  Her room is an absolute wreck, filled with little toys all over the place, yet she knows exactly where each and every one of them are.  She loves to laugh, dance, play, and my favorite, snuggle with her daddy while she watches her night-night show before bed (Curious George).

On a typical day when my alarm goes off, I’ll wake up, go brush my teeth, wash my face, get dressed, grab a cup of coffee and have my quiet time, but lately my routine has been interrupted by my little 3 foot tall daughter.  Now, when I open my eyes, she is already awake and standing by my bed (or laying in the bed where she got in at some point), looking at me and smiling.  Talk about a great way to wake up!  Seeing that beautiful little smile is awesome, but the only problem is…she wants to follow me around all morning watching me do my morning routine.

She follows me EVERYWHERE!  And that’s where this today’s blog comes from.

Same tune this morning-wake up, see Lucie, morning routine (with her by my side).  I came up to my office to grab one of my devotionals (Tozer on the Almighty God, AW Tozer-check it out, it’s awesome) and read it in my office, and what do you know? Lucie busts in the door asking me question after question, wanting to sing and dance and play.  She keeps talking while I’m reading (oblivious to my subtle hints) because all she wants is attention from her daddy first thing in the morning.  She wants to spend time with me because she loves me and cares about me.  Then it hit me.  This is the exact same way I need to wake up and spend time with my heavenly Daddy.

Too many times this is lost in our everyday routine.  Waking up (usually late because we’ve hit the snooze button a few or 20 times), getting ourselves ready, getting the kids ready, making breakfast and lunch, tossing everything in the car and heading out, only to forget to feed the dog, turn off the coffee pot, and wondering all day if we closed the garage door!  Our morning activities are so hectic and crazy that we wish they just would slow down.  We really do want to change things, we just never really do it.

You may be asking yourself, “Could I really squeeze in a few extra minutes talking to Jesus, and at the same time, is it really important doing it anyway?”

A lot of people have asked me throughout the years, “What exactly is a quiet time?”  A basic quiet time consists of 3 things: Prayer, Bible Study, and Listening.  The second question asked is usually about the timing of when to do it.  My earlier story of Lucie makes the connection to the point of this post.

Check out this verse:

“Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” [mark 1:35]

Can we just break this verse down a little bit?  Even if you said “no,” Imma do it anyways. (K? Thanks!)

Very early in the morningJesus had a busy day/night prior to when this verse was taken down.  You think your day-to-day grind is hectic, Jesus had just gotten to Capernaum from Galilee, over a 3 mile walk.  When he got there, he spent the day driving out evil spirits, healing Peter’s mother-in-law, then spent the evening healing the sick and driving out more evil spirits.  V. 33 says that, “The whole town gathered at the door.” I can imagine Jesus was pretty dang tired!  That sounds like a busy day to me!

Yet, very early in the morning, while it was still dark, shows us that the sun had not yet risen (deeply theological, right?).  What does this tell us?  That it was the very first thing that happened.  Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed Jesus made it a priority to wake up early in the morning to talk to his dad–He wasn’t going to miss a chance to spend some quality, one-on-one time with Him.

This kind of dedication to his heavenly Father is HUGE, and speaks volumes to how you and I should go about our morning routine.  I would be hard pressed to think this wasn’t Jesus’ every day action. He knew that if He didn’t spend time with the father first thing in the morning, that there might be a chance he would get so busy later on in the day that he wouldn’t get the opportunity to.

Sound familiar (minus the healing and stuff)?

You rush through the morning, tell yourself that you’ll read your bible when you get to work/school, then time flies by, you head home and take care of things there, and before you know it it’s 11:27pm and the last thing you want to is to read (I mean, Jimmy Fallon comes on in 7 minutes!).  And even if you do, you may just fall asleep reading and forget everything you read!  But, what if, just maybe, you set your alarm 20 minutes earlier and made a point to start your day with Jesus?

“How in the world could I ever wake up 20 minutes earlier?!  That’s crazy talk.”  But is it really?  Think about this:  Your boss said he had some inside information on the company competitor and that he prefers you to be at work early for an optional 20-minute meeting to discuss some potential problems that may arise that day.  And if you chose to come in early you could, 1) be better equipped to face the challenges the day brings, and/or 2) be so fully prepared to face any possible confrontations with complete confidence of how to proceed. Would you go?  You’d be crazy not to!  Inside information from the boss himself?  Of course you’d be there.

It’s exactly the same with our quiet time.  God wants to meet with you so he can prepare you for the things that could potentially happen.  God’s thoughts on everything are written down in the Bible, and all we have to do is pick it up and check it out.  (All of a sudden, 20 minutes doesn’t really seem that bad after all, does it?)

“But Ryan.  Seriously.  My mornings are crazy.  Is it bad for me to have my quiet time any other time than in the morning?”  Absolutely not!  You’re talking to Jesus, and that’s awesome whatever time of day it is!  I’m just trying to point out that maybe if it was a good enough routine for Jesus, maybe we could give it a shot as well.  I mean, what better way to start your day than spending time alone with the one who made it?

Think about this:  How do we really know people?  Answer:  Spend time with them.  Want to know Jesus more?  Spend time with Him!

I’m so thankful Lucie gets up every morning and wants to spend time with me!  May we have the same attitude, even this week, with our Heavenly Daddy who so desperately wants to spend time with us!

Extra thoughts:

How long does my quiet time need to be?  That’s totally up to you.  You don’t set a time limit for a phone call with a friend, so I don’t think there is one for Jesus.  I would suggest there be enough time to at least pray, read, and listen.

What/how do I need to pray?  I had a friend a while back teach me an easy roadmap for prayer, and he called it the “ACTS” prayer.  A-Adoration, thanking God for who He is; C-Confession, confessing our sins/shortcomings and asking forgiveness; T-Thanksgiving, thanking God for the blessings/people/friends in our lives; S-Supplication, praying on the behalf of others, and asking God to help you in throughout the day.  Prayer shouldn’t be a bunch of huge words said in fancy Shakespearean english.  It should be like you’re talking to a friend who means a lot to you–just be you!

What should I read?  That’s up to you! There are a ton of different ways to read scripture.  I would suggest that you NOT start in Genesis right out of the gate, because you’re probably going to get stuck around Leviticus and be so confused and just stop reading all together…and don’t start in Revelation–that’s tough for even the brightest Bible scholar.  One thought would be to start in the book of John.  (I like John because he was Jesus’ best friend and writes from a best friend’s point of view.)  After that, try Acts, then James, then Philippians and Paul’s little letters.  Some people read a chapter of Proverbs a day.  Others use a devotional book (My Utmost for His Highest, Streams in the Dessert, Jesus Calling, Tozer on the Almighty God are just a few examples) and read the section of scripture that the author pulls the main verse from. Maybe you read a chapter a day, underline the verses that jump out to you and take notes on what you read.

Do I have to read my Bible to have a quiet time?  Not necessarily.  I’ve had my quiet time in my truck.  I’ll pray, then crank up some worship tunes and just have a little “church.”  Sometimes I’ll spend my whole set aside time praying.  But I wouldn’t make this an everyday habit.  The Bible isn’t just a book of do’s and dont’s–it’s God’s thoughts.  He has something to say to you though it, so why not try to read it?

What should I listen for?  (This one might be the hardest to explain, and maybe the most controversial.)  It seems like when we’re having our quiet time, or even at church for that matter, we spend a ton of time talking to God, but we never really listen to what He has to say to us.  I’m not saying that there’s going to be an audible voice talking to you (I’ve certainly never heard God’s audible voice), but I ask myself a question after I’m reading, “How does what I read apply to me?”  As a believer, when I ask that question, I think the Holy Spirit speaks to me and shows me things about myself.  The Spirit councils us on how to live and go throughout our day.  Listen to what the Spirit says, and then act accordingly!

Have other questions?  Hit me up!  Go to the contact page and shoot me a message and I’ll do my best to respond as soon as I can!


Have you ever thought about time?  I mean, really sat down and thought about it.  I know, I might be the only one…but go with me for a second.

Let’s break down a year:

60 seconds =1minute//60 minutes=1 hour// 24 hours=1 day//7 days=1 week//365 days=1 year//52 weeks=1 year//12 months=1 year

Or a week:

7 days=1 week//168 hours=1 week//10,080 minutes=1 week//604,800 seconds=1 week

Or a day:

24 hours=1 day//1,440 minutes=1 day//86,400 seconds=1 day

I throw all those numbers at you ultimately to pose a question:  What do we do with all of our time?!  Even more of provoking question might be:  How do we do we react to the things that happen in our time?


2014 might have been, probably was, was, without a shadow of a doubt, the absolute hardest year of my almost 33 years on this planet.  I was stretched, pushed away, forgotten, talked about, lied to, and any other form of emotional hurt that you could think of.  This past year would be something that I wouldn’t wish upon my worst enemy.  I’ll never forget coming in the door of my home and collapsing on the floor, looking at my wife through the tears in my eyes and telling her, “I was fired.”

I was in total shock.  We all were.  Never in a million years did I see that coming.  I honestly can say no other thing but that I was crushed.  I’ve been a youth pastor for the past 14 years and a part of youth ministry leadership since I was in High School.  Growing up, I was that crazy kid who didn’t want to be a fireman, police man, or ride in the rodeo. I just wanted to preach.  From the moment I got saved, I never thought of doing anything else but being a pastor.  I mean, c’mon…I could teach God’s word, love on people, and get paid for it???  WHAAA?  Sounded 100% like something I would want to do.  I’ve been a pastor longer than I’ve been married, been a dad, heck, almost half my life.

God has allowed me to serve in a few different churches, granted me the honor of speaking in many states, and given me the opportunity to minister in several countries.  He birthed in me a heart of making disciples for His Kingdom. I’ve had the joy of discipling numerous students in a one-on-one setting, preaching once, sometimes twice a week for years on end, baptized so many teenagers and adults, and the highest honor of all–being able to consistently give the gospel of Jesus and consistently see people accept Him as their Savior.

Almost all of my life and even to this day, all I long to do is what God has called me to do, which is to be a faithful servant of the gospel. And, in the span of a 47 minute meeting, it was all taken away–14 years of all I’ve known, gone.

We all at some point have experienced a blow like that, and if you haven’t, I hate to break it to you, you most likely will.  Maybe it was a doctor telling you you had the C-word.  Maybe it was a spouse that looked you in the eye and told you of their unfaithfulness.  Maybe it was when the child that you raised, loved, cared for, looks you in the eye and says, “I hate you.”  Maybe you didn’t get the promotion you were looking to get, maybe you got demoted, or maybe, like me, got fired from your position.  Whatever the maybe might be for you, it’s the same for all of us.  It hurts.  It stings…honestly, it just plain sucks.

Many times when we are faced with these situations, our flesh takes over and tries to figure out how to fix these them.  “Who can we call?  Who can help?  Who can intercede and take the pain away?”  We tell ourselves if we can just make it to tomorrow, everything might be better; everything might just be okay.

I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait that long.  I’m inpatient. 24 hours?  That’s a long time.  Just look back at how many seconds, minutes, and hours are in a day.  A TON.  What if we changed our thinking from, “I’m taking things day-by-day,” to,” I’m going to take things moment-by-moment.”  Change our mindset from, “If I can just get through this day,” to, “If I can just get through this moment.”  The good news is that God’s word gives us a plan of how to respond when issues knock the wind out of us.  In fact, one of the most famous Bible characters, Peter, helps us understand how we might need to look at our setting.

Let me give you a little back story on Peter:  We meet Peter in scripture as he is a fisherman in his family business.  Jesus comes on the scene and totally interrupts his day, telling Peter to come follow Him.  So he did.  For 3 and a half years, Peter ate, talked, walked, hung out, learned from, joked with, and had the opportunity to look the Son of God in the eyes.  All these moments were incredible.  He was bold, almost to the point that sometimes he could be brash. Before Jesus was lead to the cross, Jesus told Peter that he would deny knowing Him 3x’s.  Peter was hurt, but before sun broke the horizon and the rooster wailed his wake up song the next morning, he did just as Jesus said.

Imagine how Peter felt in that moment.  The pain, hurt, confusion, isolation he experienced.  He was told that [what we know as] the church would start with him, and all that was taken away in what seemed to be an instant.  In the time where Jesus was gone, Peter went back to the only thing he knew before Jesus met him-fishing.  Peter probably sat on his boat and just wished the time would speed up to where he could just be released from the pain he was feeling.

But I’m so glad that’s not the end of the story.  3 days after Jesus’ death, He appears to the disciples, including Peter.  Jesus looked Peter in the eyes, gave him instructions, and in that moment ultimately said for him to forget what had happened and follow him (again).

Jesus ascends into heaven, and Peter goes on to do some radical things in Acts, even at one point seeing 3,000 people get saved.  He also was given the opportunity to have 2 of his letters published in the best-selling book of all time.

In one of those letters, Peter writes these words:

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.  Cast all of your anxiety on him because he cares for you.  Be self-controlled and alert.  Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.  Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings. [1 Peter 5:6-10niv]

I have no doubt that as he’s dipping his pen into the ink and as these words are being inscribed on the parchment, his mind thought back to his moments with Jesus.  He was reminded of the good times he enjoyed, but also the excruciating pain he experienced.  Yet, he doesn’t want anyone else to go through what he went through.  He doesn’t want others to feel the emptiness of the moments he had.

When you experience a tragedy in your life, those times when you think you just can’t make it to the next day, what if you broke the day down into moments, and remind yourself that if you can just get through this moment, you can make it to the next one, and then the next, then the next.

These scriptures should encourage you to do just that.  How? Peter says, that as a believer, whatever you go through, eventually on God’s timing (whether it be in life or through death), you will be able to see your Savior face to face.

He also says that you’re not alone in feeling the way you feel.  There are people not only on the other side of the hemisphere experiencing what you’re experiencing, but even on the other side of the country, possibly, on the other side of the pew you sit in or street you live on.  The enemy will do whatever he can to make you lose focus, so you have to be cognizant of who you are in Christ and ready for those times to come.

The verse that stands out to me in this is the one highlighted, “Cast ALL of your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”  I couldn’t say it any better than how the Amplified Bible puts it:  “Casting the whole of your care [all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares for you affectionately and cares about you watchfully.”  What hope Peter’s story gives us in our moments of hardship!

This is not something we need to do tomorrow.  This is not even something we need to do in a few hours.  This is something we need to do right now.  Right in the moments of our struggle.  Right in the moments of our pain.

Here’s the beauty…never let the hard moments overshadow the good ones.  We can’t focus on the negatives and not see that there are way more positive moments that we participate in.  Is this easy? Sometimes it’s easier said than done.  We are so used to just getting through this day to get to the next that we forget about the moments that make up today.

When you’re at the point of greatest need, stand firm in the moments you’re living in, knowing that nothing has taken God by surprise.  God never flinched on his throne when your life and His will collided.  This isn’t just something I’m suggesting you do, but something I’d encourage you to work through alongside me.  May we have a change of heart from taking things day-to-day, to living with a reality that our lives are made up of millions of moments, some great, some horrible, some fun, and some tougher than others.  All these moments have one goal that we must adhere to-Jesus wants our moments.  He wants us to hold his hand and allow Him to love us all the way through until we get to the climax of our faith, seeing Him face to face. Why? Because he cares for (insert your name here).

My prayer is that our moments may be blessed and our mindset be changed from this moment to the next, knowing that God is waiting on us to get there with open arms.

So much to say and plenty of time to say it (but not really).

I guess I am just like everyone else.  I want my life to count.  I want it to mean something.  I want to look back at my life when I’m old and gray and know that I did something that mattered, something that made a difference in history.  I want that after I die, people will see the legacy that I have left and carry it on for generations.  I want to be a history maker.

“Dang, that’s pretty big right out of the gate,” you’re probably thinking.  Well, to be honest, it is. But if you didn’t know where I was going to go with this blog from the very beginning, then it would have no direction, no purpose, no passion.  It would probably be like my last blog…11 years ago.

Before Facebook, before Twitter, before Pinterest and Tumblr, even before Myspace, there was “Blogger,” and yes, I had one.  Just Before Between was the name of my blog, and it was a place that I could go and write about random things.  It really was a long-form format of Facebook, before Facebook was invented.  From fishing, to sports, to family, to Jesus, to whatever, it was a place where I could put my thoughts; there was no central theme or purpose.  Fast forward 10 years.

I’m sitting in my bonus room, at the desk in the picture above, staring at the cursor.

Blink. Blink. Blink. Blink. Blink. Blink. Blink. Blink. Blink.

I’m at a stalemate.  There are so many places I could start, but none of them seem right.  So many aimless topics to fire out of the gate with, but that wouldn’t serve the purpose I want to have.  My mind keeps circling back to 3 questions:  “Where do I start?  What could I say to make you want to come back?  How in the world is this blog going to change history?”  Well, let’s just tackle those 3, one at a time.

Where do I start?

If you’re going to come on this journey with me, whether you stay for a while or hop off the train after a few stops, it might be a good idea for you to know who I am.  My name is Ryan Garrett (guess you’ve already figured that out!).  I am a believer, son, husband, father, and pastor.  I have been a believer in Jesus for 22 years, a son for 32 years, a husband for 11 years, a father for 9 years (15 if you add all 3 kids together), and a pastor for 14 years.  I’ll share more about me in later posts, but there’s the Cliff Notes version.

What could I say to make you want to come back?

Honestly, I’m not sure there’s a secret sentence that is going to bring you back here.  I am, however, convinced that if I don’t leave you encouraged, I won’t be effectively doing what I feel like this blog is intended for.  There’s a chance you are going to LOVE what I have to say.  That’s GREAT!  I’ll pass the offering plate around and you can leave a larger donation.  But let’s be honest, there’s a good chance that I’m going to offend you at some point or another without trying or meaning to in the process.  So let’s make a deal from this point forward–I will work hard to give you something you can walk away with that will leave you encouraged, and you will read with an open heart and open mind that maybe, just maybe, it’ll keep you wanting more.

How in the world is this blog going to change history?

Out of all of these questions, this one had to be the easiest.  I’ve got so much to say, but I don’t have to say it all in this one post.  Where I came from, what I was like when I was growing up, my calling to ministry, my family, how I got to sitting in front of my computer at 9:40pm with my eyes fixed on my screen wondering where to start.  And here’s the beauty–it’s not all going to be all about me.  You’ll hopefully see stories of my life through my writing, but hopefully it will bring you a sense of hope and comfort.  My hope is that God’s word will ultimately leave you challenged and encouraged in every line you read here.  And all this will come, but it doesn’t have to all come tonight.  That’s the hardest, and best part.  I’ve got so much to tell you and plenty of time to do it in.  But there’s a catch (thus why I put, “but not really” in the title).

Time is short.  We are not promised tomorrow.

“What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” [James 4:14]

With that in mind, I don’t want to waste your time.  I don’t want to waste my time.  I don’t want us to waste our time.  God has something to speak to both of us about, and my prayer is that He might use me in some small way to do that.

So friends, if you’re willing, let’s head out.  The train is leaving the station, and honestly, I’m not driving.  I’m just the conductor making sure you get to the destination the Engineer wants you to go.  I’m thoroughly looking forward to the journey, and I hope you are too.

Choo, Choo.