Another Ortlund Update


God has blessed us during our year in the Chicago suburbs. In July Esther and I celebrated 10 years of marriage at the very restaurant at which I proposed to her in downtown Chicago (pictured right). In August little Elijah joined us. I will never forget walking around the neighborhood just outside the hospital in Highland Park, filled with joy and amazement at being a family of 5! Unbelievable. God has been so good to us.

We purchased a minivan, which makes me feel like an official “dad.” I became quite adept at chucking snacks into the back row while driving (a skill every Dad must master). We had great fun exploring Chicago, going to various museums, etc. We knocked off almost item on our lengthy bucket list, and especially enjoyed the Shedd Aquarium, Lake Michigan, and deep dish pizza. Our friend Alicia Sturdy did an awesome job taking some pictures of us last fall downtown. This is a favorite:


My job this year has essentially been to write a book on Augustine’s doctrine of creation. I am finishing off the last 5-10 pages this month. Its currently under review with the potential title: Retrieving Augustine’s Doctrine of Creation: Ancient Wisdom for Current Controversy. In my spare time I also finished off a different book which has been accepted at Crossway, which is titled Theological Retrieval for Evangelicals: Why We Need Our Past to Have a Future. I have also done various teaching and speaking throughout the year. A special highlight was teaching a week-long class on the theology of St. Anselm at Bethlehem College and Seminary in January.

Over the previous 6 years I did not have the “space” in my schedule to follow through on a number of writing projects and dreams, so it has been such a blessing to finally chase down these ideas that have been brewing in me. But being a part of the Creation Project has been such a great experience on other levels as well. The most enriching aspect, I think, has been the opportunity for learning, friendship, and networking. Trinity Evangelical Divinity School is an amazing place with a lot of very gifted people, and there is a lot “traffic” coming through with the Creation Project. Being a part of the discussions happening here has been such an enriching experience, and I’m grateful for all that I’ve learned.

Our intent in coming to Chicago was, in addition to my writing, for a season of rest and refreshment, to prepare for our next pastoral deployment. After our last ministry experience, we really needed it, and it has totally been worth doing. (I am a huge believer in “sabbaticals” after this experience. What a difference they can make.) Over the course of the year we have considered a number of different opportunities for our next step. This has been an occasion to go deeper into waiting on the Lord, surrendering our wills to Him, and asking Him to have His way with us so that Jesus is all in all.

While we have seen God’s rich care for us, it has also been a painful, dark season. But through this time, we have felt that nothing has changed regarding our sense of calling to pastoral ministry, and our burden for the Southern California area in particular. Therefore, I have accepted an opportunity to serve as the senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Ojai, in Ventura County roughly 80 miles Northwest of Los Angeles. God made it very clear, through a remarkable set of circumstances, that this is His path for us, and we are thrilled at how He has fulfilled the desire of our heart.

Our theme passage for this season has been Psalm 121, particularly verses 3-4:

He will not let your foot be moved;
he who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, he who keeps Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.

The truth expressed in these verses is what we have looked to over the last year, and I preached on this passage in my candidating sermon. God is really there, and He is watching over us with care and attention. He can be fully trusted—not just in theory but at the deepest possible existential level. We put all our hope in this truth over the last year, and God didn’t let us down. We are grateful.

Please pray:

  • for God’s protection and guidance as we move this week;
  • that the result of my writing efforts this past year would serve the church and bring glory to Christ;
  • that God would anoint and equip me for this new, exciting phase of ministry.

Thank you all! Here is a favorite picture of the Ojai Valley. I can’t believe we will finally be “home,” and this is it.


Share this post


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Gavin so sweet to see your family and read what God is doing and directing in your life! You look so
    much like your dad!! Prayers and blessings! Kaye Gibbs

    1. Thank you so much Kaye! Please say hi to the rest of your family. I think so fondly of my memories and friendship will Will. :)

  2. Dear Gavin and family,THANK YOU for this exciting Update!LOVE the photo of the Ojai Valley and the one of 5 Ortlunds gathered.just for the good of it.Theological Retrieval for Evangelicals sounds like an exciting and very timely work. In the midst of our social, political and economic upheavals (worldwide!), it is critically important to project the strengths of our faith and the loving concerns of our mission into the dialog.God bless you. Ladd and Nona Lamb

    From: Soliloquium To: Sent: Sunday, June 24, 2018 1:53 PM Subject: [New post] Another Ortlund Update #yiv3240455085 a:hover {color:red;}#yiv3240455085 a {text-decoration:none;color:#0088cc;}#yiv3240455085 a.yiv3240455085primaryactionlink:link, #yiv3240455085 a.yiv3240455085primaryactionlink:visited {background-color:#2585B2;color:#fff;}#yiv3240455085 a.yiv3240455085primaryactionlink:hover, #yiv3240455085 a.yiv3240455085primaryactionlink:active {background-color:#11729E;color:#fff;}#yiv3240455085 | Gavin posted: “God has blessed us during our year in the Chicago suburbs. In July Esther and I celebrated 10 years of marriage at the very restaurant at which I proposed to her in downtown Chicago (pictured right). In August little Elijah joined us. I will never forget” | |

  3. Gavin, for some reason I’ve had really terrible difficulties in receiving my WP blogs, but it looks as if this was finally straightened out. I love being able to follow you again, and to think I knew you briefly when you tutored Sheridan in Bible via Westminster and Covenant Seminary! :) I see you are following in the faithful footsteps of your author grandparents Anne and Ray! How could you not? And these books sound enriching and needed for such a time as this for the Body of Christ. And you follow the long line of worthy pastors in your family as well. May the Lord continue to unfold His plan for you and your little family, and may He continue to guide your steps in His wisdom and wakefulness.


  4. Gavin, Cograts on your appt. as Senior Pastor of 1st Baptist Church of Ojai! Ojai has become a new haunt of ours since our move to Thousand Oaks a year ago April. I know it’s been a long, arduous journey for both you and Esther, but I firmly believe this will be a very meaningful and fulfilling season for you and your family.

    Dan & Joni. Ellis

    1. Thanks Dan and Joni, I don’t know you guys had moved to Thousand Oaks – very cool. I hope we can see you guys sometime. Blessings to you both.

    1. Thanks Gregg! I hope we can connect in some way. We are moving in this Friday and I am preaching on Sunday. Let me know if you ever want to grab a coffee. :)

  5. Our hearts are so thankful for your desire to serve in the Ojai Valley. We are hungry for what God has for His people at First Baptist! We are truly looking forward to getting to know you and the family!

  6. Gavin! I missed you when you left Sierra Madre and am so glad you are coming back to So Cal! You would like the new guy at SMCC. He puts MAPS up on the screen when he preaches! Who does that anymore?? I would like to write a book with you on the family of David. It’s like a bad Org Chart, but we can all relate. How do we let our family of origin influence us and sometimes steer us from God? And who was Joan and Abner? Pseudo family?? Let me know when you’ll be in Pasadena. Sad to say, Fuller is selling its campus and moving to Pomona.

  7. Sounds like you and Esther have had a good year, and now 5 of you. The verses in Psalm 121 have been a comfort to me during many all-night vigils with Lisa Joy. Both of us needed His watchful care and attention through those nights. I’m glad to hear that you will be a near-neighbor in Ojai. I have a friend who lives there who is a character out of a book. If you like I’ll have him call you once you get settled. Is your cell phone number the same? Brad

    1. Thanks Brad. Yes, my cell is the same, please feel free to pass along my contact info. I hope you guys are doing well. Its good to hear from you. Say hi to Pep from me.

  8. Welcome to First Baptist Church of Ojai, Gavin! We look forward to getting to know you. It’s incredible how God has been so real this last year!

  9. Gavin, I enjoy reading your blog and hearing your family updates. God’s blessing as you transition to California from Chicagoland. :) – Susan Speer