When You Fall Behind on Your Bible Reading Plan…

It’s February. And even though I happen to be born in this month, I still will argue it is the worst month of the year. Where I live, in Missouri, it’s cold and dreary. There are few holidays on the horizon. We somehow are still recovering from that feeling that Christmas and New Year brought us. The hopes, dreams, and goals we set for ourselves at the coming of the 2023 are either still being practiced or maybe, you’ve given up on them.

One of these goals might have been reading the Bible in a year or simply reading the Bible each day. And perhaps you have decided that using a Bible reading plan is the best way to go. I am a firm believer in the use of Bible reading plans simply because they allow me to know what I am reading each day of the year rather than having to find passages to read on my own. While these reading plans are great, it can be extremely discouraging if you start a plan and fall a few days, or a week behind. This is especially challenging when you have decided to do a plan which requires four or more chapters of reading each day, like many “Bible-in-a-year” plans.

So what do you do when you fall behind? Some may decide to push themselves and read everything they have missed in a day or two. This is noble, but still very challenging to many who are new and even those who have read their Bibles for years. Many may be tempted to give up, thinking that there is no reason to continue. I hope to offer my advice and just maybe someone will be helped by it.

  • 1. God is not disappointed you fell behind in your Bible reading plan.

For those of us who feel the guilt of not finishing a Bible reading plan or even the guilt of falling behind (that’s me), it may be helpful for you to understand that God does not love you less or think of you less because of your failure to read His Word. He is not staring down with fiery disdain because you stumbled a bit when you got to Leviticus or Chronicles (shudder). Instead, the Lord only desires that you desire Him. He has witnessed my lackluster prayer life for years and yet He still loves when I pray to Him. In the same way, He longs for you to know Him as you read His Word. He wants you to discover more of Him, not to push you out because of the challenge of reading the Bible.

  • 2. Continue to for content and clarity, not to complete your plan on time.

As I wrote above, the tendency for some when they fall behind will be to read everything they have missed in one or two days. I think this is very ambitious and I would not fault anyone for trying. But, we must remember why we are reading the Bible. It is the access we have to the very thoughts of God. It the “God-breathed” (2 Timothy 3:16) words of the Living God. This is not the textbook you skimmed in high school or college to get through. The real question you must ask yourself is did I understand something more about the character of God when I read? Did I understand something more about how I should live obediently? Do I love Christ more because of what I read? Many times you will be able to answer one or all of these questions. But, if you finish your plan on time and can’t answer any of these questions, was it really worth it?

  • 3. Bible reading will profit and bless you even if you don’t finish your plan on time.

Returning to the verse I listed above, 2 Timothy 3:16 says that “All Scripture is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.” I believe that is true whether you made it through all of your Bible reading plan or half of your Bible reading plan. I believe this is true because these are God’s very words. I believe this is true because God wants you to know Him more intimately. But ultimately, I believe this is true because I believe that God will keep His promises. He is faithful, even when we are not.

  • 4. Try listening to the Bible rather than reading it.

There are days when I simply have a harder time finding the time to sit down and read God’s Word than others. For those day, I am glad there are many apps that will read the Bible to me. YouVersion has a great read along feature as well as Dwell Bible. There are others, but those two are my favorite. Is there a guarantee that I will gather more from listening to it, that reading it? Probably not. But again I trust God to use His Word, even the hearing of His Word. We need to remember that much of the New Testament epistles would have been heard from the elders of the churches. If God was willing to use the hearing of His Word then, certainly He can use it today.

  • 5. Challenge yourself – You are capable of doing it!

I think many of us start the year off believing we can’t read through the Bible in a year or two, but we start the plan anyway. When we get behind, it’s easy to get discouraged and give up. But what if we had the mindset that God is using every word in His Word to change us further into His image? What if we believed that God has equipped us in such as way that we can read through His Word in a year? What if we found out that God was going to use this year of Bible reading for the advancement of His Kingdom in tangible ways in your life and in the lives of others? Would you push through the discouragement? I hope you would! Because you can do it! Pray that God would give you the resilience to push deeper.

Bible reading plans are challenging! It’s easy to get discouraged when you fall behind. But don’t let that stop you because God will use His Word in your life. He has promised it! He wants you to push forward! He wants you to know Him! He wants to feed you through His Word! So continue on. You will be glad you did!

What I Liked (and didn’t like) from 2022

2021 was not the year my wife and I had hoped it would be so when 2022 came around, we were hoping for something far better than the previous year. And I am happy to say that 2022 was a far better year, but still a year filled with ups and downs. As a way for myself (and maybe others) to remember it, I’ve created a list of things below that I enjoyed and a small smattering of things I did not enjoy from 2022.


I managed to read a couple of books this year (27 out of 35 on my Goodreads goal, just in case you were wondering). Here is a list of my favorites.

  • The Gospel Shaped Leader by Scott Thomas – I finished this book at the very beginning of 2022, but it began a string of books focusing on the character of christian/pastoral leadership that I so desperately think is needed in the American Church today. If not by the American Church, then it is character that I so desperately need! This book prioritized the humility and servitude emulated by Christ over the often bombastic displays of brash character we see in the church today. I would hear Scott speak not even two months earlier on the topic. Although it was not my most impactful read of the year, it is certainly one I will return to as a refresher of the gospel-way of ministry.
  • The Imperfect Pastor by Zack Eswine – Three key takeaways from this book for pastors. 1) You are not sinning because you are not omnipresent. You’re in sin because you are trying to be. 2) You are not sinning because you are not omniscient. You’re in sin because you are trying to be. 3) You are not sinning because you are not omnipotent. You’re in sin because you are trying to be. Another pastor I heard from this year, Zack reminds us that pastors are sinful, finite humans. There is nothing special about us. There is nothing to be praised, only One to whom we point where that praise should be directed. I cannot recommend this book any more highly. It is a must read for anyone who hopes to be a pastor or is a pastor.
  • A Collection of Spiritual Discipline Books – I don’t have enough to say about each of these titles for a section under each of them, but I think these two, Emotionally Healthy Spirituality by Pete Scazzero and Deeply Formed Life by Rich Villodas are both worth checking out. Both focus on some of the spiritual disciplines we tend to ignore like Sabbath, silence, and solitude. Scazzero’s work on silence and sabbath has done wonders for my own spiritual life.
  • The Lord is My Courage by K.J. Ramsey – I (read) this one on audiobook and I’m glad I did. Narrated by K.J. I am thankful for the way she tells her story alongside short phrases from Psalm 23. In this work, Ramsey divides the psalm into 35 small sections and walks us through the hurt she and her husband experienced from their church. As one who has been hurt by churches in the past, Ramsey was able to put “language to” and “sympathize with” my hurt. For anyone who has ever been hurt by a church, I encourage you listen to her narrate her story. It’s worth the listen!

Honorary Mention: Live No Lies by John Mark Comer


  • The Workshop Podcast – Look, I think it’s fair to put my own podcast on here. Sure, we haven’t recorded anything since the end of 2020. No, I’m not sure if we’ll ever record again. But I still enjoy going back and listening to some of the moments when life as simpler (kind of). Is there a chance we’ll record more…maybe? All I know is there is something fun about listening to two friends banter about (sometimes) silly things.
  • The Russell Moore Show – This goes into the serious category. I love about everything Russell Moore puts out! I don’t think there are many other voices that are as thoughtful or consistent on topics that deal with engaging our culture as Russell Moore. Which is why I appreciate every episode that is put up whether is a Q&A episode or one in which he speaks with a guest about topics ranging from politics to the family. If you want to live faithfully as a Christian in an ever changing world, this one is worth the listen.
  • Kluck – I’ve listened to The Happy Rant and The Gut Check Podcast for a long time. And while I enjoy both of those podcasts, I was very surprised when I heard about another podcast with Ted Kluck. Much like two friends talking Kluck has this same feel. Josh Lofthus and Ted Kluck spend their time discussing whatever they’d like which always has me laughing. For this reason I think Kluck is worth checking out.
  • 40 Minutes in the Old Testament – The Old Testament can be hard to understand. Hebrew is hard to understand. This is why I listen to this podcast. It is exactly as it is titled. Each episode Chad and Daniel spend 40 minutes unpacking an OT text. They may get through a chapter. They may get through a couple of verses. Either way it is packed with insight about passages I might have found difficult to understand before hearing their explanation.


There wasn’t a lot in music that I loved this year. I honestly think it was a disappoint year of music. But I have one album that I enjoyed.

  • Live Archive by Kings Kaleidoscope – My 2022 Spotify Wrapped said I listened to this artist more than any other this year and I believe it! This album was the reason. Live Archive is filled with every live recording since 2015. While I enjoy the studio versions of each song, I’ve appreciated the difference of the live recordings. The album is made up of 43 tracks and 2.5 hours of listening time. Perfect for those shorted road trips this holiday season.
  • Things I did not like – Can we address Taylor Swift? I get it, she’s rerecording her albums the way she wants them and that is (I guess) kind of noble of her. But she’s also gotten a massive payday from them which is something that has been largely overlooked by her fans and mostly everyone else. Taylor Swift is something I’d like to hear less of in 2023.

General Things

  • My Church – The church I’m currently an Associate Pastor at has had a rough 2022. We lost our lead pastor and a number of elders as a result in June and July. Much to my dismay, this was not my first experience in which leadership has hurt the people it should be shepherding. In spite of all this, I am proud to be a part of this church. The elders, the staff, the deacons, and the members have beautifully strove together amidst events that have closed other churches. I find immense joy from serving alongside each and every one of them! Repeatedly, I’d say when I started this position, “Not everyone can be this nice.” The truth is, they are all nicer, more gracious, and more sincere than I originally thought. I am underserving of being at a church so beautiful! Still, I look forward to serving them in 2023 and many, many more years to come.
  • A Healthy Pregnancy – Many who have read my previous posts know my wife and I lost a baby last year due to Trisomy 18. As a result, we were hesitant to “try” again. I am happy to say that my wife is over 20 weeks pregnant with another boy, Shiloh Koa. While it is too soon to guarantee, we have rejoiced in health of our baby boy and are praying for continued health as we approach his due date.
  • Things I did not like – Anger culture and a reason to be angry about everything. Division in this country is at a high-point. That, I can take. We can be divided about a number of things and talk with civility. What has been unenjoyable and downright wicked is the vitriol with which we attack each other over our difference from politics to who got what they deserved: Chris Rock or Will Smith (yeah, that was this year!). And unfortunately, Christians have not been excluded from this trend. When we should be marked by gentleness, self-control, peace, and love, we look more like the rest of the world. My hope for this next year is for unity brought about by Christians being more defined by the Spirit than desirous for petty arguments.

For those of you who have made it this far, I hope that you might find enjoyment in the things I enjoyed (and didn’t enjoy) this year. Additionally, I want to wish you a Happy New Year and many blessings on 2023!

Death and Resurrection: Thoughts on Losing a Child One Year Later

You probably are familiar with this experience: Time feels like it has passed so quickly and yet in many ways it also feels like you have lived a lifetime. Time has such a funny way of doing this, especially in the midst of grief and sorrow.

One year ago today, my wife and I lost our son. These words seem so heart-wrenching and yet at the same time seem like such a matter-of-fact way to express what happened. The whole of it still feels like a nightmare. It still feels like a bad dream that I might one day wake up from. It leaves me with waves of grief which arise from nowhere like a gulf storm. It pounds hard against my mind. Tears flow. Sorrow floods in, wanting nothing more than to see Finley taking His first steps.

But these experiences have been used by God this year in ways I could not have imagined. He has allowed me to minister out of my pain, out of my sorrow, and out of my loss. He has shown Himself to be a Good Father and Good Shepherd. He has tended my soul and allows His kindness to shine upon me. Like the warm sun of spring on my skin after a cold winter, God has warmed my souls with His Presence.

But He has taught me quite a few things as well. Things about Himself that I knew but had never experienced. Things about myself that I didn’t know I was capable of and the many ways I still need the Spirit to grow me. Yet the most surprising thing I think about almost on a weekly basis is death. Not just the death of Finley, although that is certainly thought about, but specifically what death means for the Christian.

Christians actually believe that the most important event in human history was marked by death. We believe that God sent His very Son to this earth in the form of a baby. That He lived a life perfectly obeying God’s law. And then, He was placed on a cross where He died. Death is not only important to Christians, it is required! We believe that we actually share in that death symbolically when we go under the water of baptism. We are told to put to death the things of the flesh in Scripture.

But Christians believe in more than death. We believe in life after death. We believe in resurrection. Jesus didn’t stay in the tomb. He rose three days later! He defeated death with His resurrected life! And those who believe these things are promised this same resurrected life not just here in earth but one day when time is rolled up like a scroll and we will dwell with God forever. It is in this after-life, eternal life when I will see my son again. With a glorious, new, resurrected body that is no longer torn apart and tarnished by genetic malformations. This is my hope!

But there is still more. Pete Scazerro in his book, “The Emotionally Healthy Leader writes this about death and resurrection: “death is a necessary prelude to resurrection. To bear long-term fruit for Christ, we need to recognize that some things must die so something new can grow.” Even though Scazerro is likely speaking about church ministry, this applies to everything in our lives. We must die to ourselves before we experience the resurrection of Spirit’s work in our lives. Ministries and churches must put some old policies or ideologies or visions to death before they experience a fresh, resurrected life they have never unknown to them before. For the greatest rescue plan to be executed where God saved sinners, Christ had to die before He was resurrected. Sorrow had to come before the joy.

As I write this, my wife I pregnant. It’s another boy. Genetic testing and ultrasound reveal that this child is healthy and developing as he should. Does this diminish the sorrow and grief I felt and still feel when I think about losing Finley? No. But beyond my sorrow of the death of my son is something that has been resurrected in this last year…Hope.

Family Devotions

I’m a bit sheepish to write about family devotions because I’m still not excellent at it (which maybe explains why it took me so long to write this post). Even as a Family Pastor, I find that the practice of Family Discipleship is still daunting. For years, I simply didn’t practice any form of family devotions or family worship because the idea seemed impossible. This is because, for some reason, I had this idea that family devotions had to be something like this: Sitting around a table with my wife and four-year old, opening the Bible to the book of Leviticus, and expounding on the vivid details of animal sacrifices while they listened intently (because why not do family devotions out of Leviticus) and then following it up with a skillful playing of Christ Alone on guitar. If this is your family, I commend you and you need to write a book for the rest of us struggling through!

But for many, this is not the reality you experience when practicing family devotions. Instead, the kid(s) are often staring at a wall, trying to get your attention, or hitting each other. You might try to quiet them down or get their attention, but often they return to doing the exact same thing they were doing before. You and your spouse might carry in the frustrations of the day, so your mind is often elsewhere. Maybe you’ve been fighting with each other. In any case, family discipleship and family devotions are messy more often than not. So why practice them? Is it really worth it?

If Scripture didn’t point to the overwhelming importance of family devotions, I honestly wouldn’t practice it. I’d leave my son’s spiritual development up to the nursery I place him in once a week at church or the private Christian school. But one such Scripture reminds me of just how important Biblical study is to the family. Deuteronomy 6:4-9 says,

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates (ESV)

I’ve posted a sermon I preached through this text a couple of weeks back, so I won’t go too far into the details of this text. Instead, I want to focus on the beginning of verse 7. It says, “You shall teach them [these words I command you today (vs. 6)] diligently to your children.” Devotions and spending time in God’s Word with our families is, therefore, not a job for the pastor, or the children’s pastor, or the youth pastor, but a command for the family. The family takes the primary role for teaching their children God’s Word.

As I mentioned earlier, this is a daunting task. But thankfully, there have been many who have produced an abundance of resources to help struggling parents like myself. I thought I’d just share a couple of my favorites:

  1. Family Worship by Donald Whitney – It is a short and rather excellent book on the biblical basis of family worship and also gives some practical advice on how to implement it in your own family. I love this book because it is so short and written by a man who has practiced Family Devotions or Family Worship for many years with his own family.
  2. New City Catechism – I was a bit skeptical when I first started this with my four-year old son. Would he be able to remember the questions and answers to fifty-two questions? We’ve been using these questions for about 7 weeks now and we’ve done just under a question a week and my wife, son, and I love them. We take time to answer them right before we go to bed, in the car, or when we are at home. What makes these even better is the Spotify Playlist which has a song for each of the question. The songs make the questions and answers easy to memorize and a fun way to end our evenings with Wyatt.
  3. Jesus Storybook Bible – I am a Bible snob which also makes me a children’s Bible snob. Too many Bibles my wife and I have been given for Wyatt are either very shallow or downright heretical in the way they tell the biblical narrative. This is why, when I heard there was children’s bible that looked at many of the stories and used those stories to point to Christ, I knew this would be the one that we would use with our son. The Jesus Storybook Bible does exactly this. It doesn’t make heroes out of the patriarchs or prophets or judges or kings of the Old Testament, but uses their stories to point to the true Hero, and Prophet, and King, Jesus. We’ve read through it once and it continues to be a Bible we go back to time and time again.
  4. Tiny Theologian’s ABC Cards – These cards are simple, but effective tool to use with your child. I mean, they have to learn their ABC’s anyway. Why not also teach them the ABC Names of God, or ABC’s of Theology, or the ABC Attributes of God? That is exactly what these cards do. Now, we are a little bit early in implementing these, even though we’ve had them for some time. But so far, Wyatt will pull these out when he wants to run through his ABC’s. It allows Taylor and I to read through the words associated with the cards. On the back, there is also a definition of each of the terms for those kids that are a bit older.

I know Family Devotions and teaching the Bible to your children is a constant challenge, but I’m hoping that the list above will help in some way that maybe you hadn’t thought of before. All I know is that I’m extremely thankful that we serve a God who speaks to the hearts of children, using flawed and sinful parents like myself. And that alone is enough to keep trying, to keep pursuing, and to keep learning how to best teach my children God’s Word.

Continue On!

Why Family Discipleship?

“Raising kids is an endlessly challenging adventure, and it comes with a never-ending list of responsibilities. One of the grandest of those responsibilities is the call to all parents to be disciple-makers in their homes. A disciple-maker is a follower of Christ helping others to follow Christ. No matter what your household looks like, your family is the primary instrument and environment for discipleship in all the fantastic and flawed ways that it might be worked out.” This is how Matt Chandler and Adam Griffin begin their book on family discipleship. These two pastors clearly believe that family discipleship is vital to the life of the family. They believe this because God believes this and makes it clear in His Word. The primary disciple-makers of their children are their parents. 

It’s for this reason, I want to spend the next couple of weeks promoting resources I have personally found helpful to disciple my son, Wyatt. No, I’m not being sponsored by any of these resources (although, if anyone wants to…just kidding, but seriously), but I personally know the struggle to disciple my own family and my hope is that someone might find these resources useful. 

For today, I want to post a sermon I preached last year around this time about family discipleship. The text is from Deuteronomy 6:4-9. I pray this might give you a foundation for why family discipleship is important. 

God Bless! 

A Personal Case for Bible Reading Plans

It’s that time of year again! Time for New Year’s resolutions.

It’s become somewhat of a joke in our culture. We set a goal to lose 10 pounds in a year only to gain 15. We plan to eat better, but still find ourselves at Chickfila twice a week (let’s be honest, you know those salads aren’t that healthy). But one resolution is a certainty for many Christians and that is reading their Bibles daily. How many times have you tried to read the Bible daily, only to make it a month and then stop? How many of you a goal to read the Bible through in a year only to stop once you get to Leviticus or Numbers? So let me throw my hat in the ring with every other Christian website that has talked about reading your Bible this year. My hope is that you will be convinced not only that reading your Bible daily is worth it, but that one of the best ways to do this is through a Bible reading plan. I think I can use myself as an example.

My History before Reading Plans

Growing up, I was never a big fan of Bible reading plans. This, perhaps, was because I was always told that reading the Bible should never be forced or coerced. Instead, I was told that reading the Bible should be something that I desire to do. Bible reading plans were seen as ‘checking the box,’ ‘rote,’ and ‘mechanical,’ something that was frowned upon in the Christian life. But in my early teens, my reading of the Bible generally consisted of me opening up my Bible to some random spot and starting to read. Because of the way the Bible is layed out, I generally would flip open my Bible somewhere in the Old Testament, maybe something like Isaiah or Jeremiah (you know, the easy books to read…). Bible reading was sporadic and I’m not sure I got too much out of it. As I got older, in my late teens, I started reading larger chunks of the Bible when I could. One summer on a trip from St. Louis to Colorado Springs, I read the New Testament. This method proved to be better and the retention of what I read was greater. Still reading was sporadic.

By the time I was called to ministry in my early twenties, I felt the need to work my way through the Bible. Unfortunately, I did not quite have the tools or perseverance to complete it. I would start in Genesis and read as much as I could one day and then pick up where I left off the next day. Some days I would read one chapter and other days I would read ten. It all depended on how much time I had. Still, problems with reading consistently occurred. Frequently I found myself reading large passages of Scripture in books like Exodus and Leviticus and come away from it wondering what I had just read. Turns out instructions for building the temple and how to slaughter animals isn’t nearly as interesting as you would think. My attempts at reading through the Bible would last longer than it did in my teens. I might get to the book of Deuteronomy or maybe Joshua, but eventually I would tire of reading day after day and eventually stop. My sporadic and incomplete reading would continue through the first few years of my marriage.

My History with Reading Plans

Flash forward to January 1st, 2018. Taylor had given birth to Wyatt just two months previous. We were stressing because he was not growing nearly as fast as we thought. I’m working for a lighting company as their project coordinator, although I desired to be in ministry vocationally. But the lighting company was a great gig because it gave me a lot of time to listen to music and podcasts. At that time there was one podcast I would listen to almost daily called the Ask Pastor John podcast. On it, John Piper would take listeners questions and spend some time answering them. The question that day was about daily Bible reading or reading through the Bible in a year, something I was extremely interested in. Piper mentioned that He has used a Bible reading plan called the Discipleship Journal Reading Plan to read through the Bible in a year for many, many years. Now, say what you will about John Piper, but this is practical advice I have taken to heart. That day I started the Discipleship Journal Reading plan by downloading the day-by-day plan off of the Navigators website and started reading. What I found was that it was easier to follow and easier to read daily than the previous times I had tried to work through the Bible. But again, what I found was that it was difficult to grab my Bible, grab my check sheet and read through the chapters day by day. That is until I discovered that the Bible app I used contained the very same plan. This changed the way I practiced daily Bible reading. With the YouVersion Bible app, I was able to follow this plan with daily reminders on my phone to read my passages for the day. Sure, there were days that I fell behind and had to double read the next day. There were days I didn’t want to read or had to divide the time I read rather than reading it all at once, but at least I was successfully getting through the Bible. At the end of 2018, I found that I had read the whole Bible in a year.

Bible Reading Now

This is a practice that I have continued. I still read through the Bible in a year. I’m currently on my fifth time through. I’m still using my phone to read more often than not. Still using the YouVersion Bible app although there is another app called Dwell that I enjoy using as well. There are still times I fall behind and have to catch up. After reading through the Bible last year with a different plan, I am back to the Discipleship Journal Bible Reading Plan.

Now, let me make a short case for why I like this plan. First, it is a plan that is a read through of the entire Bible. I’ve written on why I like this a little more in depth on another post that you can check out here. Second, the daily readings contain a variety of Scripture. There is always one reading from a gospel, one reading from the rest of the New Testament, one psalm or proverb, and a reading from the Old Testament. Some will not like this because they will feel like they are jumping around, but I enjoy the variety. Third, and most important for those who fall behind, there are always four/five days at the end of each month which are ‘make-up’ days. In other words, if you have missed a day, you can use these five days to catch up on you plan. Fourth, YouVersion and Dwell give the option to listen to the Bible as well reading it. This makes it far more accessible. One year, I found myself listening to the Bible driving to work just as much as I read it off the app. It proved to be another way to get Scripture into my life. Finally, I like having a set pattern to my reading every day. Humans are creatures of habit and I find that the consistent pattern in this plan and many other Bible reading plans helps me refocus my day on Christ. Reading Scripture reminds me we have a God who has revealed Himself to us because He wants us to know who He is. It reminds me that even in the chaos of this world and of my busy life, God has given us His word to set to order our lives under the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

So whether or not you choose to use a Bible reading plan this year. Whether or not you decide to read the whole Bible or part of the Bible. Whether you decide to read out of a physical Bible or a digital one, pursue the Lord one day at a time through His Word. I can assure you, you will be better for it!

Below you will find links to the Ask Pastor John episode, the downloadable copy of the Discipleship Journal Reading Plan, and a link to the Discipleship Journal Reading Plan on the YouVersion App. Happy reading!

Ask Pastor John episode

Discipleship Journal Bible Reading Plan

DJBRP through YouVersion

He Will Hold Me Fast

I was woken up by a huge ‘gasp’ from my wife, Taylor. “Eric, my water just broke!”

I looked over at the clock. 1:10 am.

“You need to go and wake up my parents,” she says.

We should be happy about this moment. We should be rejoicing about meeting our son. But all I feel is dread. I run upstairs to her parents and knock on their door. I hear stirring. “Taylor’s water broke,” I say loud enough so they can hear me, but quiet enough not to wake my son in the next room.

I go back down the stairs, into the room, and enter the bathroom. Taylor is standing, crying. “Today is Wyatt’s birthday,” she cries. I can see the pain on her face. Another feeling of dread washes over me.

We quickly pack up our stuff, get in a car, and make the twenty minute drive to the hospital.

What would follow would be the hardest moments we have ever experienced in our marriage, in our parenting, and in our entire lives. We arrived at the hospital around 2 am. The nurse used an ultrasound to locate a heartbeat. Still there. We were moved to another room where routine tests were done to ensure Taylor’s water had actually broke. There was no doubt. By 5am we were moved into yet another room, where we would remain for the next nineteen hours. In that room we would discover our son’s heart had stopped beating. Twelve hours later, Taylor gave birth to our stillborn son, Finley Samuel.

People have asked me throughout these past couple of months one repeated question: “How are you doing?” And while my answers to people have consisted of a number of responses such as, “We’re sad” or “We doing as well as we can.” I’ve spared most people from the answer I’ve wanted to say. Since finding out Finley had Trisomy 18 back in early June, I have been living out my worst nightmare.

Trisomy 18 is a chromosomal abnormality (1 in 5000) which leads to three copies of chromosome 18 instead of the normal, two. In many cases Trisomy 18 babies are lost in the second or third trimester or are stillborn as was the cases with Finley. Only about ten percent make it past their first birthday.

Knowing these statistics, Taylor and I lived with the dreaded prospect of never being able to hold our son. We spent twenty plus weeks grasping what it might look like to never hear him ‘coo,’ never to watch him roll over, craw, or take his first steps. Never to celebrate his first birthday, first day of school, or his first practice. All things that we have experienced with our eldest. This wasn’t right. This wasn’t how it was supposed to be. As Christians, we had hoped for better. We had hoped God was going to heal. But he chose not to.

My greatest nightmare had become my reality. Taylor and I were in a situation in which we could do nothing. Doctor visit after doctor visit we discovered that Finley’s body showed more signs of Trisomy 18 and further signs that his little body would not tolerate a life outside the womb. My wife, my son, and my family were grieving a life that had not even left us yet. And yet, in spite of the nightmare I was now living daily, something was happening that I had not expected.

The last time I’ve felt this much heartbreak was November of 2019 due to a miscarriage. Even thinking about it now conjures feelings of loneliness. But there is another event in my family that has haunted me just as much. I wrote about it back in 2018 in my post When Head and Heart Don’t Match. At that point in my life, I was a new dad. My son wasn’t growing. We had been given a child, but my wife and I worried that he wouldn’t make it. My first inclination was to blame God for His failure to provide. I thought He was simply heartless and didn’t care what happened. I thought I was receiving a punishment I didn’t deserve. I had lived faithfully, desiring to serve Him in ministry, so why wasn’t He doing what I wanted Him to do?

I certainly thought the above response might be repeated in this very hard season we were experiencing. I thought worse might happen. I thought my faith would be torn in two. I thought there was no way my faith could last. My faith certainly wasn’t strong enough to ‘make it’ through another lost child.

But I was wrong. Or at least I was partially wrong.

I was right about my own ability to keep faith through an event as tragic as losing a child. I would have crumbled if it were based on my own ability, my own faith to hold fast to Christ. What I was wrong about was Christ’s willingness to hold on to me. I’m reminded of the words Jesus prays to the Father in John 17:10-12,

All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them. And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one. While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost”

The Lord has done exactly for me what He has done for All His people. He has kept me in His Name. He is the Good Shepherd who does not lose any of His sheep but goes after they when they attempt to flee. It is not because I am deserving. It is not because He knows I can handle the lot that has been given to me. It is simply because I am His and He is faithful to keep His promises. He is faithful to hold on to me even when I have doubted and been unfaithful. He holds on to me in spite of the bitterness I harbored in my heart in the past. He holds on to me because it is His pleasure to do so. And I trust that He will continue to hold on to me because He is faithful and changes not. Through heartbreak and sorrow, He will draw near to my brokenheartedness because He is good and merciful (Ps. 34:18).

I may never know the reasons why God has allowed our son to have Trisomy 18. It may provide opportunities to minister to others who have suffered the same pain, but it may not. It may be that God has used this experience to draw me nearer to Him. None of this is for me to know. But in spite of all the unknowns, I know one thing for sure: Christ will hold me fast. This hardship has put new meaning to one of my favorite hymns, Christ will Hold Me Fast. The lyrics read:

When I fear my faith will fail
Christ will hold me fast
When the tempter would prevail
He will hold me fast
I could never keep my hold
Through life’s fearful path
For my love is often cold
He must hold me fast.

He will hold me fast
He will hold me fast
For my Savior loves me so
He will hold me fast

Those He saves are His delight
Christ will hold me fast
Precious in His holy sight
He will hold me fast
He’ll not let my soul be lost
His promises shall last
Bought by Him at such a cost
He will hold me fast

He will hold me fast
He will hold me fast

For my Savior loves me so
He will hold me fast

For my life He bled and died
Christ will hold me fast
Justice has been satisfied
He will hold me fast

Raised with Him to endless life
He will hold me fast
‘Till our faith is turned to sight
When He comes at last!

He will hold me fast,
He will hold me fast;
For my Savior loves me so
He will hold me fast.

The day after Finley’s birth, we were discharged from the hospital. I remember vividly the last moments holding Finley’s body. Taylor and I cried. We said our goodbyes. We watched as the nurse wheeled away his body. More crying. We would never hold him again on this side of eternity. But even as I type these words, I’m reminded that Finley is the same hands as I am. He is being held fast by the Lord. And there is no better place to be.


This sermon titled, “Creation,” is from our series The Story. Scripture for this sermon are from Genesis 1 and 2. If you want to know more about True Life Students or True Life Community Church you can follow us on instagram or Facebook by searching HaveTrueLife or you can find us at our website at Havetruelife.com.