Redeeming the Time

Well, here we are. The State of Oregon is in its seventh week of Governor Brown’s Stay Safe, Stay Home orders in an effort to slow the spread of the Coronavirus. It has been a disorienting experience as we try to stay informed with the latest developments, learn to navigate a changing landscape, and incorporate new technologies that enable us to stay somewhat connected during a time of practiced distance. What weird times we are living in. Not unprecedented, of course, but weird, nonetheless. How does one live and make the best use of time during this season?

When the Apostle Paul wrote to the church at Ephesus he instructed them, “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil” (Eph. 5:15-16). “Making the best use of time” is, more literally, “redeeming the time.” Paul sees time as a precious gift given to us from the Lord and we must seize it, rather than squander it. We ‘redeem time’ by freeing it from useless pursuits and instead dedicate it for purposeful endeavors. If we don’t listen to Paul’s instruction; if we don’t relate to time wisely, we will unwittingly, waste it.

But what does redeeming the time look like in a worldwide pandemic? How can we, under the Lord’s leading, use our time wisely, making the best use of it? Let me offer three suggestions.

By recalibrating your spiritual priorities: This season we’re living in has afforded us the opportunity to recalibrate our spiritual practices. If you find yourself with more time on your hands than before, see it as an invitation from the Lord to spend more time in prayer, reading God’s Word, and engaged in His mission. You fail to redeem your time if you fail to prioritize your spiritual growth. This season is a great opportunity to recalibrate your spiritual priorities, but you’ll need to be diligent in it as we’re prone to get distracted. As John Piper famously (and ironically) tweeted, “One of the great uses of Twitter and Facebook will be to prove at the Last Day that prayerlessness was not from lack of time.”

On the other hand, if you’re one of many who have less time on their hands than before, as you’re now homeschooling and working, then remember it was Martin Luther who said, “I have so much to do that I shall spend the first three hours in prayer.” The busier we are, the more necessary prayer becomes.

By renewing relationships: One of the interesting developments that has come out of this pandemic is that our normal routines have been forced to change. I was speaking with an older friend the other day and he mentioned that because his health club is closed, he has been walking a loop of about 3 miles and he has connected with several other neighbors out doing the same. Trea and I have had a similar experience. While we were out for a walk, we reconnected with one of our neighbors who we have not seen or spoken with in a very long time. Could this season be an opportunity to renew relationships with neighbors and in time, enable us to share the reason for the hope we have within us amid uncertainty (1 Pet. 3:15)? Could the Lord be using these renewed relationships to draw others within our communities into the Kingdom? Yes! The Lord uses people to draw other people into His redemptive work, and this unique season is providing us a new avenue to connect with those we otherwise would not have. So, redeem this time by looking to renew relationship with neighbors and community members.

By resolving not to return to ‘normal:’ For many of us, these last 7 weeks have forced us into a different way of life. We have had to reconsider the Psalmist’s words, “Our days may come to seventy years, or eighty, if our strength endures; yet the best of them are but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away…Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (Ps. 90:10; 12). This counting of our days, in light of eternity, is crucial. It causes us to reevaluate practically everything. It forces us to ask questions such as, ‘Have I been seeking and building my kingdom or His?’ ‘Have I been so busy making a name and an image that I’ve failed to rest in the knowledge of being created in God’s image?’—the very thing that happened at the Tower of Babel (Gen. 1:26; Gen. 11:4). ‘Have I been so preoccupied with building a life, that I’ve neglected my family life?’ ‘Have I been seeking my identity in my children, rather than finding my identity in being God’s beloved child?’

This season of our lives—living in a worldwide pandemic—will not be wasted if it causes us to reevaluate our lives, our relationship with the Lord and resolve to not return to ‘normal.’

My hope is that when the COVID19 crisis passes, we will have used the time wisely.  Maybe even by adopting a pandemic pace of life, where we purposefully carve out enough margin in our days to hear the Lord’s voice through His Word, seek His face in prayer, and in His name love well those within our family and community.


Pastor Travis

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Life, Learning and Jack

September 9, 2018. I didn’t know that day what I now know. It was the first week after school had started and we fully expected Taitum to have a great year in 4th grade. So when our neighbors Bob and Mary (best neighbors in the world) called Trea and asked if Taitum would like to take ownership of Jack, a 25 year-old Arabian we thought, ‘sure, that’ll be a nice addition to Taitum’s life.’ She had been taking lessons for over 6 months and I knew there would come a day when she would have a horse. I just wasn’t sure we were ready for it, but Taitum was.

Tait meeting Jack

Most days, Taitum is up early feeding and caring for Jack, and as soon as she’s home from school, she’s off on a ride. They are inseparable.

The great expectations for Taitum’s school year never materialized. She did great academically, but each day was a battle. The little circle of girlfriends she had rejected her. They wouldn’t speak or look at her. This went on for weeks, which for a 10-year-old girl felt like eternity. It got to the point where I asked her one morning, “Taitum who do you talk to during lunch?” And she responded by saying, “Nobody. But I have a paper sack that I make into a face and talk to it and then when I get home, I talk to Jack.”

Now this isn’t a rant about mean girls, because we don’t think these girls are bad kids, in fact, we really like all of them. It also wasn’t the result of parenting, as we think highly of their parents. (By the way, even if you had good parents, if you reflect upon your childhood there are probably things you did that you aren’t proud of, people you spoke harshly towards and didn’t treat as well as you should have, right?) So, if it’s not mean girls or poor parenting what was it then? It was 4th grade kiddos growing up and navigating life. This is the sin nature being expressed, and we as humans, tend to sin against those we’re in closest proximity to (which is why it might take greater spiritual discipline to be married than to become a monk).

As this school year comes to a close, I’m incredibly grateful to the Lord for Jack. Jack was Taitum’s stabilizing reality this school year. He was her friend. He listened to her when nobody in her class would. He gave her something to look forward to each day. She’s gained a certain independence with Jack, gained confidence, and through the 4H Horse program, gained a wider circle of friends.

The course of learning the Lord had Taitum on this year was different than my expectations, but in all reality, it was better. She learned how to navigate disappointments, how to give her best academically when she felt her worst socially. She learned (and is still learning) that her younger sister will always be her best friend and biggest supporter.

Tait Fair practice

And truth be told, I learned as well. I learned that the love of a girl for her horse is immeasurable. I re-learned that I can trust all the details of Taitum’s life to the Lord. The Lord knew long before I did what Taitum needed. Jesus told His disciples, “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” (Matt. 7:26)

I take great comfort in the fact that the Lord knows the needs of our children better than we do, and as the heavenly Father, He can orchestrate our lives to supply our needs and exceed our expectations. We can trust the Lord with every facet of our kids’ lives, knowing that ultimately, He knows their needs better than we do, and loves them with a love more lasting than ours.

Taitum and Jack Eyes


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What is an Evangelical?

The Presidential election season is ramping up and in an ever-increasing manner for the next 18 months we will be bombarded with advertisements, both television and print, touting the accomplishments of one candidate, while bemoaning the opposing candidates record. Now might be a good time to make a commitment that for every five minutes of watching cable news, you’ll spend 10 minutes reading your Bible!

One of the interesting developments to come out of the last Presidential election is our culture’s disdain for the term, ‘evangelical.’ It became a term of derision in our culture. Some Christian’s and respected Christian organizations (such as the Gospel Coalition) suggested the term ought to be jettisoned by Christ-followers. Alan Noble, editor of Christ and Pop Culture states, “For much of society, ‘evangelical’ describes a specific voting bloc.” Noble’s statement reveals that the term ‘evangelical’ has been co-opted. The term in our society has shifted from a theological category to a political category. The term ‘evangelical’ has nothing to do with politics (Thank God) and everything to do with what Gospel-centered Christ-followers believe.

British Historian David Bebbington helpfully suggests there are four primary convictions of an evangelical.[1]What are they?


  • Conversionism: The belief that lives need to be transformed through a “born-again” experience and a life-long process of following Jesus. Nicodemus, a member of Israel’s religious leadership was told by our Lord Jesus, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God” (Jn. 3:3). So an evangelical is one who, along with Peter would exclaim, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead…” (1 Pet. 1:3).
  • Evangelism: The conviction that God commands His disciples to engage the mission of God through communicating the Gospel both at home and abroad. After His resurrection Jesus tells His disciples, “All authority in heaven and earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matt. 28:18-20).
  • Biblicism: A firm belief that God has spoken in His Word, the Bible and we are to live in obedience to God’s Word. The Apostle Paul tells us, “All Scriptureis breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:16-17, emphasis added). An evangelical is one who has a high regard for and obedience to the Bible, as God’s revealed Word.
  • Christocentrism: The conviction that Jesus’ life and sacrificial death are the only possible means of redemption. The Apostle’s, referring to Jesus, boldly proclaim, “There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). An evangelical makes it their aim to live their life in honor of Christ.


So what should we do with the term ‘evangelical?’ Should we jettison it as has been suggested? I don’t think so. If we’re asked in the upcoming election cycle, are you one of those evangelicals? I think we should (gently) take that as an opportunity to share what we believe and the hope we have, not in politics, but in Christ and His grace to us.




[1]I’ve changed some of Bebbington’s language to make it more helpful. His four are Conversionism, Activism, Biblicism, Crucicentrism.

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A Normal and Natural Witness

Tucked away in Acts chapter 11, is a fascinating account that at first glance doesn’t seem that impressive; Luke uses only three sentences to convey the scene. He writes, “Now those who were scattered because of the persecution that arose over Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia and Cyprus and Antioch, speaking the word to no one except Jews. But there were some of them, men of Cyprus and Cyrene, who on coming to Antioch spoke to the Greeks also, preaching the Lord Jesus Christ. And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number who believed turned to the Lord” (Acts 11:19-21). This is amazing! These Christ-followers, who were scattered over the persecution of Stephen decided they would take a chance and tell the message of Christ to fellow Jews, but also, they would cross a cultural barrier and share the message of Christ with non-Jews. The Lord blessed their witness and a great number of Greeks responded to the Gospel and put their faith in Christ! What caused these anonymous men (Luke doesn’t even tell us their names) to share the message of Christ with both Jews and Greeks?

First and foremost, they have a deep love for the Lord and a concern for His glory. These men, no doubt, have a deep love for the Lord, having tasted and seen that the Lord is good. They have served Him in Jerusalem, and now having arrived in Antioch due to persecution they, out of love for Him and concern for His glory, continue to tell as many people as possible of His great mercy and love. The fact is God is glorified when His mighty works of mercy and grace are made known, which is why the psalmist encourages us to “tell of his salvation from day to day. Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples” (Psalm 96:2-3)! When you or I tell an unconverted person about the Lord Jesus Christ and His saving power, that in itself is honoring and glorifying to God.

The second thing that prompted these men of Cyprus and Cyrene to tell Jews and Greeks about the Lord Jesus is a love for their fellow man and concern for their welfare. The desire to win our fellow man to Christ is the normal and natural outflow of a heart that’s been rescued by Christ! It’s the heart behind Paul’s words when he said, “I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers…” (Rom. 9:3). If we have personally experienced and known the love of Christ and if we are filled with gratitude for His grace, which has rescued us from death and hell, than our normal and natural desire will be to tell others of the salvation that Christ offers them, as there is no greater good that we can offer another than to tell them of Christ and His grace. If, as J.I. Packer says, “we find ourselves shrinking from this responsibility and trying to evade it, we need to face ourselves with the fact that in this we are yielding to sin and Satan. If (as is usual) it is the fear of being thought odd and ridiculous, or of losing popularity in certain circles, that holds us back, we need to ask ourselves in the presence of God: Ought these things to stop us loving our neighbor? If it is false shame, which is not shame at all but pride in disguise, that keeps our tongue from Christian witness when we are with other people. We need to press on our conscience this question: Which matters more—our reputation or their salvation?”

May our lives overflow in love for the Lord, which will produce overflow in love for our fellow man and enable us to find it normal and natural to share with others the message of Christ, and that we too, like the men from Cyprus and Cyrene, would be used of the Lord to bring others into a saving knowledge of Christ Jesus, our Lord.

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Communion: Past, Present & Future Significance

communionFor I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.”  In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

So then, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup.  For those who eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ eat and drink judgment on themselves.”

1 Corinthians 11:23-29


When the Apostle Paul wrote these words to the church in Corinth, he described the significance of communion with past, present and future language, and every time that we come to the Lord’s Table, we proclaim its three-fold significance.

We see the past significance of the Lord’s Supper clearly by the Lord’s double usage of the phrase, “Do this in remembrance of me.” As we take the bread and the cup we remember His substitutionary death on our behalf. The broken bread symbolizing the Lord’s broken body and the juice representing His blood. As we hold these material elements we remember that God became a man, willingly went to the Cross in our place, for our sin, where His body was broken and His blood was spilt so that our sins can be forgiven and we can be reconciled to God.

Communion also has a present significance. Paul writes, “Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup.  For those who eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ eat and drink judgment on themselves” (1 Cor. 11:28-29). Therefore, communion is an occasion for examining our lives and hearts before God in light of our profession of His death and resurrection. This examination is crucial, because it would be sheer hypocrisy to pretend we are in communion with God while actually harboring and cherishing known sin in our hearts and lives.

Lastly, communion has a future significance. The Apostle Paul said, “For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes (1 Cor. 11:26; emphasis added). During the last meal Jesus shared with His disciples He said to them, “Truly I tell you, I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God” (Mark 14:25). So every time we take communion we are proclaiming our belief in Christ’s resurrection, and at the same time proclaiming our belief in our future physical resurrection, and still yet, proclaiming our belief in the resurrection of the entire material universe at which time we will see Jesus face to face and partake in God’s great banquet (Is. 25:6-9; Rev. 21:1-7). This future significance of communion should cause us to live our lives in light of this future reality and to long for the day when we will be in God’s presence!

So communion anchors us in the past work of God, stabilizes us in the present love of God, and focuses us on the future glory of God. What an honor to share this table!

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Baptism: How Should It Be Done?

After His resurrection, Jesus and the Eleven were in Galilee when Jesus commanded baptism in His commission of the disciples:  “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” (Matt. 28:19-20).  Therefore, all evangelical churches that take Jesus’ words seriously baptize their people, but how it gets done is where the differences are.  Some (especially Lutheran, Episcopalian, Methodist, and Presbyterian churches) believe that all infants of believing parents ought to be baptized as they are part of the “covenant community” of God’s people.  Some baptize by immersion, others by the sprinkling of water; one group (the Greek Orthodox Church) baptizes their folks three times forward while naked!  Don’t worry; we’re not ever going to switch to that practice!

At Trail Fellowship, we immerse people in water after they have made a conscious decision to repent of their sin, trust in the finished work of Christ (His death and resurrection) and pledge love and loyalty to Jesus Christ as the risen Lord, their Savior (Rom. 10:9-10)!

We practice this mode of baptism for several reasons:

First, the Greek word βαπτίζω (baptizo) literally means to plunge, submerge or immerse.  This is the commonly recognized meaning of the term in ancient Greek literature, both inside and outside of the Bible.[1]

Second, the representation of our union in Christ’s death and resurrection is best expressed through immersion.  The Apostle Paul writes, “Don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?   We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life” (Rom. 6:3-4).   As one theologian wrote, “One can hardly deny that baptism carried out as immersion—as it was in the West until well into the Middle Ages—showed what was represented in far more expressive fashion than did the affusion (pouring water on those getting baptized) which later became customary, especially when this affusion was reduced from a real wetting to a sprinkling and eventually in practice to a mere moistening with as little water as possible.”[2]

Lastly, we immerse people in water because the Scriptures suggest that baptism by immersion was the practice of the early church.  John the Baptizer baptized people at Aenon “because there was plenty of water (Jn. 3:23).  When Jesus was baptized by John he “came up out of the water” (Mark 1:10, emphasis added). In Philip’s encounter with the Ethiopian eunuch they went down into the water and came up out of the water (Acts 8:36-39).  In light of these considerations, immersion seems to be the most adequate and faithful mode of baptism.  While it’s not the only valid form of baptism, it is the mode which reflects the meaning of baptism the fullest, and therefore at Trail Christian Fellowship it’s the model we practice.

We must remember that baptism is more than a simple rite that believers undergo.  As a sacrament it is a symbol of something far bigger.  Baptism is a declaration of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Being baptized in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit expresses our death to sin, burial of the old life, and resurrection to a new life in Christ Jesus!

[1] Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology, pg. 967

[2] Karl Barth, Teaching, pg. 9-10

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The Shaping of Timothy

Within the pages of the New Testament a young man appears, who quickly grows into a mature Believer, a valued co-laborer alongside the Apostle Paul, and a respected pastor.  His name is Timothy.  As we read through the book that bears his name, and we read brief accounts of Timothy’s life from the book of Acts, we see a picture of a young man who loves the Lord, and is growing in Christ-likeness.

How did Timothy grow into this type of a man?  Let me bring out a couple of things about Timothy’s life that are good for us to think about.  Timothy’s life is a challenge and an encouragement for every generation of Believers.

His grandmother, Lois imparted the knowledge of Scripture to Timothy from a young age (2 Timothy 1:5).  This reminds us of the power and influence believing grandparents can have on their grandkids. I have seen this firsthand with Trea’s grandparents, Jay and Pat and Leo and Polly and now I witness it on an almost daily basis with Mike and Cyndi as they impart Godly wisdom as the grandparents of my two young daughters.  If you have grandkids, take the time to teach your grandkids the Scriptures, spend time with them modeling Christ-like behavior, teaching them to pray and to worship and to trust Christ through difficult seasons as well as good seasons.

Timothy’s mother, Eunice, was a Jewess married to a nonbelieving husband, but Paul writes in 2 Timothy that she has passed the faith onto Timothy.  It’s a good reminder for women who are married to unbelieving husbands that by your faith, by your constant prayer for your kiddos, and by your modeling of Christ-likeness to your kids, you will have a huge impact on their souls for eternity.  Continue to trust the Lord with your kids.

For young women the encouragement is that there are young men likeTimothy in the world.  Young guys who love the Lord and want to serve Him with their life.  Maybe not in pastoral ministry, but with their business, with their hands, and with their life they want to bring honor and glory to the Lord Jesus.  There are young guys like this, I know them! Look for this type of a guy.

For older men the challenge and the encouragement is this…Timothy was mentored and shaped by an older man, the Apostle Paul.  And his impact on Timothy was profound, and shaped his life.  This is the call to older men to invest some of your time into the lives of young men, who have all sorts of questions about faith, life, love, and about marriage.  If you’re an older guy with some time on your hands, pray about mentoring a young guy. Your impact will be felt for generations to come.

Lastly, for young guys the challenge is to imitate Timothy’s devotion and faithfulness to the Lord Jesus, and to continue to grow in the knowledge and grace of our Lord. Notice, Timothy’s growth was the by-product of spending time with older, wiser Believers, who had experienced tremendous hardship and trusted the Lord through it!  If you’re a young guy who want so grow in your knowledge of the Lord and the grace of the Lord, it’s essential that you invest in relationships with older, wiser brothers and sisters in the Lord!


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