Author Archives: mrjvo

Philippians 4 – Standing Firm in Christ

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Philippians 1 – The Game Changer

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Mess or Masterpiece

We have an ongoing joke in my family about my desire to stay clean.  There have been countless instances where me and my father-in-law have decided to tackle another project around the house and when we are finished, he looks like he’s been playing in the mud and I look like I watched him from a distance.  Now, I’m all about working hard and don’t mind getting dirty… I just don’t like to stay dirty.  In all honesty, if there’s a way for me to not get dirty, I’ll more than likely opt for the clean option.

The reality of life is that you can only do that so long.  You can only try to avoid getting your hands dirty for so long before you have no choice but to jump in.  As I reflect on my life, I find that more times than not, I fight for order.  “I must stick to the plan.”  I am a very analytical person by nature.  Not much of a risk taker.  I make calculated decisions, or at least try to.  So when “plans” change, it’s not always easy.

The truth is that the Gospel calls us into the mess.  The Gospel informs us to continue to move from our state of brokeness and run to Jesus.  So we are constantly moving closer to Jesus.  Before you know it, life gets messy… and quick.  Relationships change.  Plans change.  Your life changes because we are constantly reorienting our life to center on Jesus and the Gospel and we press others into that as well.  If you are like me, this isn’t always easy, because things can get dirty and sometimes ugly before they get cleaned up and beautiful.

But that’s ok.  In talking to a friend the other day, he reminded me of that.  Life will get messy but that’s ok because God is really good at cleaning things up as only He can.  It’s ok because God is worth the mess.  Ultimately, when God looks at our lives, he doesn’t see a mess at all.  He sees us as His workmanship.  He sees us as His masterpiece.  And He gets all the glory as the artist who really knows better than anyone else just how beautiful the art really is.  Jump in.

For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
Isaiah 55:8-9 ESV

Marinated in Grace

I was installed as an elder of Sojourn Church this past Sunday.  It was a special day for sure.  I began my elder apprenticeship in the Fall of 2009.  So it’s been a long road to get to this point.  A long road that I’m grateful to have traveled.  A road that consisted of a lot of time, reading, writing, studying, meetings, prayers, questions, conversations, transparency, and clarity.  It’s been such a healthy process for both me and the others involved.  I’ve had tremendous support from family and friends that’s been so helpful and encouraging.  The costs have been counted by not only myself but by my family as well and without hesitation we have pushed all in for the road ahead.

I traveled to Nashville, TN on March 3rd with David and Eric to meet with pastors Ray Ortlund Jr. and Jeremy Rose for my eldership council.  This was a very honest and open assessment of my candidacy as an elder.  There were times of laughter, rock bottom godly humility, encouragement, and the utmost seriousness.   The decision was unanimous from that council of men to proceed with my standing as an elder.  I was overjoyed.  I’ll never forget that day with those men.  One of the best days of my life.

I stood there Sunday before the church as pastors David and Eric charged me with the scriptures to shepherd the flock; to know, feed, lead, and protect the flock.  It was a powerful charge of encouragement that I greatly appreciate.  I love those guys and I know I am loved by them.  It’s an honor to shepherd alongside them.  They then invited the body to come up and lay hands on me as they prayed for me, installing me as one of their pastors.  As people began to come towards the front, tears began to well up.  That moment was marinated in grace.  A completely humbling experience.  A true honor.  I am part of a great church and loved by a great God.

I love Sojourn Church and most of all the God we worship, Jesus the Chief Shepherd.

Glorified through Art

This gem will soon find its way to the Osborne household.  This is the latest piece created by artist, Amanda Duke Brown, of Serpent& This particular piece is titled Matthew 10:16.  From the moment we first laid eyes on this piece, we knew it belonged in our house.  She is a gifted artist that creates beautifully unique pieces that many times tell a story that words cannot.

Here’s a blip from her site.

Amanda is inspired by God’s creation, written word, and the human condition.  Part of her process as an artist is to bind together nature and the visual arts.  It’s not unusual to find that her pieces have been buried in the earth, left outside to weather the elements, or primed with coffee and salt sometime during their journey into conception.  It is this intimate method that makes her works truly unique.  Each piece of art has a story all its own; a past that is layered within itself – a history to share with the viewer.   Amanda is currently creating her artwork “Serpent & Dove Art” out of her home studio and Lowe Mill Arts & Entertainment facility as part of Sojourn Creative Arts.

Amanda will have a solo art exhibit this August in Huntsville, AL.  You can find more info on her site.  Be sure to mark this on your calendar and go check out her amazing pieces.  Rumor has it that she’ll have a few new pieces for purchase.

Pride is a good soul killer

I know this picture seems to be a bit awkward (not to mention about 2 seasons late) seeing how Spring has officially arrived.  But those beautiful leaves have been covering my yard for the last 5 months.  So this past Saturday and Sunday afternoon were officially deemed as the “Yard work that should’ve been done 2 seasons ago Weekend.”  Let me start by saying that I and the help of some family members had already spent a full day bagging leaves in the Fall which amounted to about 50 large bags of leaves.  Those 50 bags were a little more than half of our yard.  We have way too many trees for my yard work tolerance.

So I was off to work in the yard Saturday morning by myself this time.  That is my responsibility as the man of the house to take care of my “man of the house” duties.  Sidenote:  One of the most defining moments in my life in becoming a man was the day I bought my first lawnmower.  I mean that is a serious rite of passage for every man with a yard.  Anyways, I think it’s appropriate to mention that Kristen would’ve more than helped me but had more important responsibilities to tend to, in the form of a 9 week old baby.  She did however pick up 3 bags of pine cones when Bailey went down for a short nap.  I spent about 7 hours bagging leaves.  Not all was lost.  I got a much needed chance to listen to a Chandler and Driscoll podcast as I raked.  When it was time to call it quits for the day, my efforts landed me close to 30 bags of leaves.  Not too bad.

When I set out on the yard work weekend, my goal was to get the leaves bagged, clean the gutters, and mow the grass for the first time this season.  As Sunday afternoon approached, reality set in and I settled on just wanting to make sure the leaves got bagged once and for all.  I wasn’t the only one doing yard work.  Our neighbors were out taking care of their yards as well, so I wasn’t alone in my efforts.  I figured I had about 15 bags of leaves left.  I had a little less than 3 hours to finish up the yard, so off I go.  I was about 8 bags in, when my neighbor Calvin got my attention on his riding lawnmower and asked if I needed a hand.  I responded the same way any prideful idiot would say…”No thanks, I got this.”  Deep down I was thinking, I would LOVE some help right about now… atleast that’s what my back was telling me.  He asked again, “You sure, I don’t mind at all.”  I fought him again, “No thanks, it’s really ok.”  Then finally he just said he would take a few passes in my front yard with his rider (that’s street language for riding lawnmower).  I finally gave in, “Alright man.  Have at it.  Thanks a ton.”

I immediately thought, this is great!  I’ll at least have part of the yard cut.  It wasn’t long before Calvin and one of his kids were in the backyard helping me bag the rest of my yard.  It took no time at all with a few extra hands.  We knocked it out quick.  Calvin borrowed my blower and he let me use his riding lawnmower to cut the rest of the yard.  Once again I told him how much I appreciated the help and his response was “Shoooot, that’s what neighbors are for.”

Me and Kristen really try to love our neighbors.  It was such a blessing to experience being loved by them as well.  Pride is such a killer for the soul.  A huge part of me wanted to attack the weekend all by myself so that I could say when it was finished, “Hey, I did that… all by myself” and then I envisioned a spot-light would shine on me as my neighbors and family gathered around celebrating in a round of applause.  What an idiot. Pride not only leads you to do stupid things, but it also cause you to miss out on grace-filled opportunities all the time.  I’m thankful God humbled me yesterday and showed me that while I need to be quick to love my neighbor, I also need to be as quick to humble myself and ask for help as well as allow others to help me too.  After all, God helps the helpless; NOT those that help themselves.

James 4:6 – But He gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”

A whole new world

Sooo… I don’t know if there is a better picture to currently depict my new state of fatherhood than this one.  I’ve officially received my license to carry a concealed baby as you try to keep cool sipping on a Capri Sun, hanging out by random brick walls.  Does life get any better than this?!  Ok, but real talk.  How did I get to this place over the last 9 weeks?  No idea.  But here I am, baby carrier and all.

In many cases, it’s been a whirlwind.  What a trip.  It’s been such a joy and yes, a sanctifying experience to say the least, up to this point.  I only anticipate that it gets better and more sanctifying in the days ahead.  One of the things I was looking forward to was seeing  how God revealed different facets of the Gospel for me through parenthood.  I received a good dose of this last Friday.

We took Bailey in for her 2 month check-up.  We knew this was not going to be a fun visit because it was going to be the first round of her vaccinations.  But apparently they didn’t tell Bailey that because she was in the best mood.  Little did she know what awaited her in the following minutes.  The doctor walks in and we do a little chit chat before he asks, “I’m going to need one of you to hold her arms down so she doesn’t nudge me or anything.”  Without thinking, I step in as the DAD and say “I will.”  As soon as I grab hold of her arms to hold them down on the examination table, it occurs to me… “this is going to suck.”

We heard a new cry that day.  A cry we hadn’t heard before.  A cry that broke my heart.  As the doctor gave her the first shot, her arms went limp.  No need to hold them down because she wasn’t restraining.  This was the first time she had felt real pain in her first 2 months of life.  Almost immediately, my mind went to the Gospel and I began to tear up.  The window I was peering through to the Gospel got a little bigger in that moment.  I had also felt a pain that was unfamiliar to me as well; the pain a parent feels watching their child suffer.

I understand the Gospel more clearly today than I did last Thursday.  God loves us greatly.  That love costs the life of His Son, Jesus.  That is the greatest love man will ever know.  I am now more grateful for the God’s love than I ever have been.  Thank you Father for the love you have for Your Son, Jesus, and for me.