Who Knew???

Yesterday was city inspector day. Over the 9 hours of waiting, I saw 4 inspectors and spoke to another one by phone. The longest inspection lasted all of 3 minutes. The most pressing issue in our meeting space…we need an open face seat on the toilet. This in fact is such a pressing issue that it was mentioned by two inspectors and requires a follow up inspection.

So today, I will locate an open face toilet seat. And since 2 of my inspectors never showed up, I will have to schedule another down day to wait on them.

Hoops, hurdles and miscellaneous red tape

When I opened my investment firm in 2001, I signed a lease on my office, transferred the utilities in my name, installed the phones, moved in some furniture and hung the sign. Of course that was Great Bend, Kansas and nearly 8 years ago. In Corpus Christi things don’t work quite as easy in the year 2008.

I started the day off by shopping for an electric service provider. The first provider had a good price, $.o96/kwh; however, the $400 deposit was a deal breaker. So I moved on down to the next provider also at $.096/kwh with no deposit. Now we’re talking…sort of. Since Texas is a choose your provider state, the electric companies are required to provide a 3 business day right of rescission, which means no electricity until Monday. Ok, I can live with that. Sunday morning 10AM the first weekend of November won’t be oppressively hot and our storefront has large windows…no problem. Then came these words, you will need an inspection from the city before we can connect the meter…say what?

Needless to say the city of Corpus Christi has a nice little thing going with the power provider. If commercial service has been off for more than 24 hours, it requires an electrical inspection for $76.88. Well okay, that is the price of doing business in the big city…so I bebop on down to the city development office and tell them my need. I fill out the form wait for 20 minutes and then meet with the friendly fellow behind the desk. He asks me where we are moving the church from and I tell him, we are not this is our first location. He then informs me that we don’t need the first piece of paper I had filled out, but instead we needed a certificate of occupancy, which by the way would cover the electrical inspection. So $211.15 later I leave the development office with 5 appointments scheduled between 8AM and 5PM tomorrow. We have to be mechanically, electrically, plumbing, vector, fire, health, etc… inspected….remember all I wanted to do was sign up for electric service and turn the lights on. Then next Tuesday I’ll wrap up with the fire inspection…barring any unforeseen inspection issues.

The landlord had the building re-keyed today as well. When I went by to get the new key, no one was in the office and there was no expected time of return. My calls to the contact numbers were unsuccessful. So hopefully I will be able to get in tomorrow for the inspections.

On a brighter note, I met with my favorite group of pastors today and they laid hands on me and prayed over me as we get ready to launch. This was a real boost for my spirit as I was feeling pretty drained after everything else today.

Watching God Work

Today was an amazing day. This afternoon I received two emails through the website inquiring about where to find Simplicity.

One of these emails led to a phone call that allowed Jesus to use me to speak words of peace. What a blessing! That’s what Simplicity is all about, experiencing the person, presence and power of Jesus in all of life’s seasons.

I also received an email from a friend in Pittsburgh, who was thrilled about the work and gave me great encouragement.

We signed the lease on the building today and picked up 75 folding chairs from the church that I have been serving. What a blessing those chairs are to us.


Many of us have been on a flight when we hear a message similar to this: “This is the Captain, we are turning on the fasten seat belt sign as we are encountering some turbulence in our flight path.”

Mike and I were meeting today and I told him to be prepared for weird “crisis” items to arise as we move towards our launch on Sunday. Mike laughed and said that his car had a mechanical failure last week and his central air at home was making noises that central air conditioning systems shouldn’t be making. Then he laughingly questioned if that was the weird kind of stuff I was referring to?

When I got home I was greeted with my crisis situation as well. We have a house in Pennsylvania that never sold when we moved to Corpus Christi nearly 2 years ago. Since our move it has had the pipes burst twice in subzero temperatures, the inground oil tanks leak and take on water, the copper plumbing and boiler control stolen, water damage to the lower floor from the busted pipes on the upper floor…you get the idea. Fortunately this last spring we were finally able to get the house rented, unfortunately this summer the roof started leaking. Two separate roofing contractors looked at it and declared that it could not be patched and needed to be totally replaced. Needless to say we have not had the funds to do that and so we had the roofer tarp the roof as best as he could. Unfortunately we learned today that the tarp is not keeping the water out and we have to do something.

So with no savings, no cash flow, etc…we are asking God to show us the way.

At least we know we are on the right track.

One week and counting

It is hard to believe that we will actually hit the ground running next Sunday. Every day we see how the Lord is bringing things together for us.

Yesterday we got confirmation of our 501(c)(3) group ruling. Today we were given 75 folding chairs by the church where I have been serving as pastor. This was such a great blessing for me as it is not only a material provision, but also the blessing of those I have been serving as I follow God’s leading.

This week I will be writing press releases for the the local newspaper and television media; signing the building lease; and spending a large amount of time alone with the Lord.

Hearing God’s Voice

Today started out as a bit of an emotional/spiritual crash day. I received an email this morning that twisted the things God has placed upon my heart and took dead aim at my obedience to His leading. Being misunderstood is never easy and Satan doesn’t miss the opportunity to exploit these occasions either.

I was reminded of an event early on in Jesus’ ministry that seemed to mirror my experience this morning:

Mark 3:21 (NASB)
And when His own people heard of this, they went out to take custody of Him; for they were saying, “He has lost His senses.”

God is good, He doesn’t let me wallow in self-doubt very long. This afternoon I had lunch with a close friend who allowed himself to be God’s vessel. As He spoke God reminded me that my life is lived out for an audience of One. The understanding, support or approval of anyone else must come a distant second. Later this afternoon, I prayed with a group that I meet with on Thursdays and the conversation turned to our ability to hear God’s voice. One of the men in our group made this statement that I found to be very dead on: “Our ability to hear God’s voice becomes much sharper, the further out on the limb of faith we go.”

On a different note, I finally got the lease to look over and will be formalizing it tomorrow or Monday.

This weekend I will also be putting up some additional pages on the website for both the Simplicity Network and Simplicity Church – Corpus Christi. My wife will be out of town this weekend, so I will be PTA dad tomorrow.

Keeping worry in check

Today I found myself experiencing a bit of a slump.

The practical side of me hears the ticking of the income time clock as the days, hours and minutes go by. I will receive my final paycheck from my current pastorate in 9 days. We are beginning to see some donations come in, but I don’t have enough pledged each month to even make my house payment at this point. So my “worry wart” decided to break through for a while today.

The Lord reminded me that this is a journey of faith. There will be days when I don’t even know where the next meal may come from…this is the less comfortable side of faith. We love to tell children about manna in the wilderness and the provision of food from the mouth of a raven, but living it ourselves…well that’s another story.

Days like today the fleshly part of me says, “just plant a standard church with staff and programs; then you can utilize the church’s giving for your salary.” Then deep within my spirit, I hear the voice of truth…you are starting this ministry, because there are others who will depend upon your ability to be a conduit of blessing.

Tonight I was reminded of this truth. I received this in an email from one of my partner pastors in India:

I am so glad to inform you that those aid boxes that we sent to the persecuted Christians in Orissa have been realeased yesterday. We are thankful to you for your valuable prayers offered for this matter. God is great.
Now we have to pray for the financial needs for making/repairing few houses for Christians in Orissa and also in flood hit Bihar. It will cost Rs.12000/-(USD 300) minimum for making a house with Bamboo and grass.

$300 to rebuild the house of Christian who has been devastated by those who seek to destroy the name of Christ. This evening I also spoke by phone with Sam, one of my newest partners in India. Sam was overwhelmed with joy at my call, proclaiming: “You are the first foreigner who has spoken to me or even cared about my work.” Sam is using song and dance to bring Jesus into remote places.

These two interactions remind me of why I am walking by faith. For the money a church would have to pay me at my current salary level, I could build 20 houses for people who have no home. I could feed widows, orphans and the lame in a remote village in India. I could help a man tell the story of Christ in places I will never see.

I don’t know how God will provide, but I know the cause is worth the price. I keep it simple…that Christ may be known to every nation, tribe and tongue in my generation.

Informational Meeting

Tonight we held an informational meeting with a group of 14 people. The paradigm shift brought the most questions as people wrapped their minds around how the Simplicity model works. We decided that our first Simplicity Church service will be at 10AM on Sunday November 2nd.

If we launch with the group attending tonight, we will be starting with 2 or 3 Organic Groups.

And they’re off

Today we finished putting our donor letters and pledge cards together. We also finished our constitution and bylaws, along with the supporting documentation for our 501(c)(3) affiliation ruling. Before we went to the post office, we prayed over the letters and asked for God release all of our needed provisions.

God is still revealing new facets of the ministry to me by the day. We will use the Simplicity Church locations as church plant incubators open to any starting ministry that is pursuing Great Commission ministry. I am already dreaming of seeing 5, 6, 7 or more congregations birthing in one location on a continual basis. Since our model is based on the incarnational ministry (being the church in your day to day world) of the Organic Groups, the facility is truly only used for a weekly coming together of the groups for mutual edification. This great stewardship, and again something birthed in my spirit in prayer many months ago.

I think the most difficult part of this for those coming out of the institutional design of church will be the paradigm shift. It has been so ingrained to have the building as the hub of activity, to have the family split out by ages, to have programs for your leanings and to have designated leaders. In the Organic Group the Holy Spirit is the leader. We know from Scripture that He is the one who joins the body together for effective service. He is the one who will equip the teacher, servant, administrator, evangelist, etc…

Someone to journey with

Last night my wife and I had dinner with a couple with whom the Lord has given us a special relationship. They have been seeking the Lord’s direction for their lives and saying “Yes Lord” as He asks them for greater steps of faith. After much prayer and searching they sense God calling them to join us in this journey to Simplicity.

This man’s heart was the prototype the Lord impressed upon me when He unfurled the structure of Simplicity. What a thrill it is for me to see God call this specific individual to fill that gap. The Lord impressed upon me the new beginning last night as we stood in the parking lot of a local restaurant discussing the excitement of the journey the Lord has put before us. I will always be able to look back to last night and say…”It officially began over dinner in a restaurant….” We truly are mustard seeds in the hand of Almighty God.

On the boring side of life, I have also been putting together constitution and bylaw documents for the Simplicity Network. I was very blessed today to find governing documents from another catalytic church planting ministry, so I am now in the process of adapting them to our particular ministry calling. We did get the donor letters completed and ready to mail, so those will go out tomorrow.