Saying Goodbye to 2008

When 2008 began, the journey to Simplicity was the furthest thing from my mind.   I had just completed year number 1 in my latest pastorate and was boiling over with excitement with the addition of a full-time worship minister, the first in nearly 5 years.   2007, had been filled with some bumpy road along the way, but 2008 was looking grand.

As the year progressed, the Lord would take me through the deepest spiritual journey of my life.  I would spend a week in silence before the Lord, culminating with the deliverance of the most devastating message the Lord has ever had me speak to a group of people.   I spent the summer being pressured by others to back away from the proclamations of that message and ultimately watched as all the Lord had declared came to pass in September.  By the time it was all said and done the ministry was on life support, the staff were released by the Lord to follow Him in new directions and I found myself asking, “Where do I go.”

The answer to that question had been formed in my spirit some months earlier.  The Lord had birthed a desire for simple faith, that was powerful in its manifestation.   In a matter of 6 weeks, Simplicity moved from prayer journal to reality.   I began to see God moving in and through me in ways, I had been yearning for.   I watched as lives changed and God’s love released the prisoner from their chains.

Of course, powerful moves of God do not come without opposition.  The hiccups and obstacles have been constant…cars, toilet seats, personality conflicts…yet God remains faithful.   With each obstacle the vision is refined and reinforced.

2008 could best be summarized as the refining of my faith.  It all began with the question:  “Am I the Lord of every kingdom of your heart.”   It is ending with the challenge:  “How far will you trust Me?”

As Mike and I prayed over the direction of our lives and ministry yesterday, the Lord’s direction was clear.  Focus on building the foundation.  In this directive are many things that we know will stretch us both further than we’ve been stretched before.   In our ears rings the question:  “How far will you trust Me?”

Mike and I both sense that 2009 is a turning point both personally and in our ministry call.  For my family 2008 was the completion of what I am understanding to be a 7 year crucible of refinement.  The past seven years have included surviving a direct hit from a killer tornado, a business failure, financial loss and hardship, a miscarriage, personal trials on every side.   A few months ago, my intercessor inquired of God as to why the pressure was great on my life?  The answer given to her was that the Lord was making me “unbreakable.”  I laughed and said, “If this is what it takes to be unbreakable, what is the pressure I will be up against in the future?”

I look at our world today, and I understand that God needs unbreakable men and women.  People who will say yes, in spite of the personal cost.   The message of Christ is no longer gladly received and many will choose to hide their light in the heat of opposition.

As we approach 2009, I believe God is opening a door of opportunity for the body of Christ.  I believe the difficulties in our nation will once again have people crying out to God for deliverance.  It is for this very reason that I believe God is molding and positioning us to be the bearers of the “Good News” we’ve been given.

Christmas Eve Reflections

For the past decade, I have always conducted a candlelight Christmas Eve service at the church.   This services were  usually filled with church members and their families.  Christmas carols were sung and the account of Jesus’ birth was told.

This year the Lord led me in a different direction.  During our first visit to South Bluff Park, I saw so many who had no family to call their own; no place that they could truly call home; no one who took an interest in their life.  Mike and I talked, both feeling that we should be in the park once again on Christmas Eve, bringing the tangible love of Christ through the body of Christ.

This afternoon we fired up two barbecue pits in the center of the park and commenced to cooking 64 hamburgers and 56 hot dogs.   Over a two hour period we fed men, women and children, even making deliveries to a few nearby shut-ins.  Some of those we fed had not eaten yet today and possibly even yesterday.   For those who have been hidden from the light of Christ’s love, there is a magnetic quality to their encounters with His presence.  Mike and I see that we are beginning to earn the trust of those around the neighborhood and we believe it is only a matter of time before we are allowed to begin quenching the spiritual hunger as well.

Tonight about 10:15, my phone rang.  It was one of the men I had ministered to last Thursday.  He was not able to get lodging at one of the shelters, because he didn’t have any identification.  He had arranged to stay with a co-worker in Flour Bluff, but needed a ride there.   I was the only person he could think of and he still had my business card.   As he and I drove, the evidence of God’s love for him was evident.  He had already found new work and had been able to work three days this week.   He asked if after he got back on his feet, he could hitch a ride with me to church…I told him that he didn’t even need to be back on his feet for that to happen.

As I left him at his co-worker’s home, I found myself overcome by two deep seated emotions.   One was sadness.  It saddens me in a nation of opportunity, that so many are in such bondage.  Make no mistake, many are there because of their own decisions.; yet, I know that Jesus came to seek and save those who are lost.   I grieved tonight to see so many without hope, without life, without the fullness of Christ.   On the other hand, I was equally moved by joy and gratefulness.   As I cooked hamburgers and hot dogs today, I was surrounded by my wife and children.  I was joined by Mike, Kim and their daughter Brooke.   I knew I would leave the park and return to a familiar place of residence, sleep in my own bed, eat when I was hungry and spend the evening laughing as I relished the company of those I am closest to.

Tomorrow we will be opening our home to the young man I took fishing last week.  Tonight we made his stocking (and Elishba’s too) and wrapped his presents.   For him this will be his first ever family celebration of Christmas.  He grew up not knowing the love, support and joy of family.   I hope that what he will truly see is the family of God in all of its fullness.

I hope you have a Christ filled Christmas.

Simply a vessel

Today I have watched as the Lord reached into His toolbox and chose me as His vessel of choice.   What a thrill it is to be used of the Master as He goes about the work of the Kingdom.

This morning, Carol and I were talking and she mentioned that she really felt as though the Lord wanted me to spend some time in prayer at the building today.  I felt much the same, as I have been wrestling through my own uncertainties over the past few days.

After having lunch with a friend I went to the building and began praying.   The Lord led me to deal with some things in my life, most notably my “attitude” this Christmas.  This is the first year in my life, that I have not had a Christmas tree up in my home (it is buried in a stack of storage boxes in the garage).   This is the first year my wife and I have not trekked out to joyfully purchase presents for our children (finances have not allowed for it).   Needless to say, I was having a bit of a pity party.   The Lord; however, is always good about bringing me back to reality and today was no exception.   He reminded me that I have been ministering to people this week with no roof over their heads and no source of food and no bathroom and no family and no….you get the picture.   I spent time in repentance over the “importance” I have placed upon the “traditions” of our family.   In reality having our family and having our Savior are simply enough.

As I finished working through that, I went into a time of silent listening.   As I was listening, I heard the door open and looked up to see two men entering, removing their hats and looking down at the floor.   I learned that they had been living out of a truck at one of the parks while they were doing framing work on the island.  Unfortunately, the man who they were working for skipped out with their money and the Marina Patrol was threatening to tow their truck if it wasn’t moved.    I offered to put gas in the truck to help them get down the road.  Unfortunately, when we got to the parking area, the truck had already been towed.

Both men were horribly distraught and so we returned to the church and prayed.   They asked me to take them to a co-worker’s apartment and as I was driving there, the Lord prompted me to ask a simple question:  “Have you guys eaten?”   I learned that it had been a number of days since each man had eaten, and so I immediately found the nearest Whataburger and ordered these men their first hot meal in days.   As we were driving one of the men reminded me of this passage of scripture:

Hebrews 13:2 (NASB)

2 Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.

Tonight I picked up a man who we met on Saturday during our breakfast at the park.  Sunday we were able to find him housing and Tuesday he joined us for Organic Group.  When I watched him Tuesday I noticed a conflict going on in his spirit as the Holy Spirit began to move through our time together.   Tonight, I asked him about the conflict and he shared a raging battle within, one side calling him the enemy of God and the other calling him a child of God.  I told him that at some point in the evening I wanted to lay hands on him and pray.

As we were getting started Mike all of the sudden changed gears.  He later shared with me that God told him to go no further with the Bible discussion he had planned, but instead directed him to focus us on the God’s love.   As we began to talk about what God was showing us through the Holy Spirit, I again noticed the conflict welling up within this man and the Lord prompted me that I needed to pray over him.   I asked him if he could tell me who Jesus was to him?  He responded by giving me a historical account of Jesus, so I asked him again, “who is He to you?”   He began to stammer and shift, at which point I asked him, “Are you able to say these words:  ‘Jesus is Lord of my life?'”   He immediately began laughing and said its hard for me to say that.   He then laughed again and I asked if I could pray, to which he responded, “Do you what you have to.”    As I began to speak the name of Jesus over him, he began to sigh deeply and then he began to weep.    Once I had finished praying we sat in silence for a few moments, when he asked if he could pray.  I said yes, but I’m going to let you pray from your heart.   As he began to pray tears  were still visible in his eyes and he made this profession, “Jesus you are the Lord of my life, my Savior and King.”   Mike told me later that at this point his countenance had changed.   We both sensed that the bondage of this man’s soul was broken this evening.

One of the things I am learning about this man is that he has never had a true friend or even a family.  We will be opening our home to him this Christmas and tomorrow I am taking him fishing for the first time in his life.   God could have used anyone, but today He chose me.   Glory unto His name!

Partners and Pancakes

As I shared in my last post, the Lord gave me a business model that does nothing less than make my heart leap with excitement.   There are four main things that this model seeks to address:

  • Providing for missionary pastors
  • Furthering the spread of the gospel
  • Meeting the physical needs of others
  • Giving an opportunity for those getting back on their feet to work

The Lord led me to use network marketing and affiliate marketing as the primary vehicles, because we can help a struggling person move from unemployed to employee (dependent upon a company) to business owner (controlling their own financial future).

I shared this concept with a room full of friends on Friday and everyone got excited, the ideas began flowing and we all agreed that the Lord had just birthed a Kingdom venture.

Today we went to South Bluff Park to make breakfast for the homeless.  South Bluff Park is home to a large transient population and is primarily known for the drug dealing and prostitution that takes place.   Our group had the pleasure of cooking up pancakes and ended up feeding about 20-25 people throughout the morning.  Many quickly grabbed their food and moved on, while others stayed and allowed us to build relationships.

There is a battle going on for the heart of our city.  I am convinced that we will never see Corpus Christi transformed until we see this part of the city transformed.   The sweeping move of the Holy Spirit is necessary for the bondage of addiction to be broken.


Simplicity Solutions

I am developing a for profit business model called Simplicity Solutions that will be used to help fund the church planting, benevolence and other ministries of Simplicity.

Simplicity Solutions is a conglomeration of MLM and Affiliate commerce ventures that will be used to provide an income for new church planters, people getting back on their feet and the lead pastors for the Simplicity network.

Simplicity Solutions…Life Shouldn’t be Complicated

Mission: A for profit corporation that is in business to create financial funding for the furtherance of the Great Commission through Simplicity Church Network and its affiliated ministries.

· Purpose

o Bring Christ into the Marketplace

o Use commerce to fund the work of the Kingdom

o Give the servants of God a means to support themselves

o Give the lowly a tool to improve themselves

· The Model

o A business of businesses

§ Utilizing ecommerce and MLM strategies

· Creates ownership

o Profits used to for:

§ Financial provision for Simplicity Church Network pastors and their church planting efforts

§ Seed money for church plants

§ Ministry projects

§ Reinvestment for further profits

o Creates a tent-making role for church planters

§ Constant contact with the unchurched

o Creates a place of work for those needing a fresh start

· Goals

o A complete support solution for church planters

o Support for Kingdom work worldwide

o Providing employment opportunities for those getting back on their feet

You can join in on the action as well as we will be looking for affiliates for our the different businesses and people to market product. This is also an opportunity for you to make some additional income as well.  The primary thrust of these businesses is marketing, although some of these offer a traditional sales model.

Here are the first few pieces of Simplicity Solutions:


Advantage Nutritionals



Reverse Phone Detective


Cash Making Powersites

Unlimited Game Download Website

Homemade Energy

Taking my foot off of the gas

This week I have done some evaluation of the landscape of my life and allowed others to speak into life. Out of this has come an awareness that Simplicity is growing fast, but the foundation is not complete. I find myself needing to put the brakes on Simplicity for the moment to get the foundation shored up.

My greatest issue is the monthly provision for my own family and our needs. I do not yet have a sufficient source of income established to effectively provide for our family. If I continue at this pace, Simplicity may grow, but it will not be on solid footing.

I will be holding off on adding any further to Simplicity until I get my family’s needs completely covered. God has given me a business model that will allow me to not only further the ministry, but also support others in the future. As with any new business venture it takes some time to get up and running. I am beginning to see some income generated, but the start up expenses are still out pacing the flow of income.

God has given me an entrepreneurial spirit and He has impressed upon me to maximize that spirit. I look forward to getting the foundation shored up, so that I can continue on with the greater work of the Kingdom of God.

And the hits keep coming…

Today started out as one of those days that you really would have just liked to have gone back to bed and gotten up again tomorrow. I’ll keep my whine session brief…basically, the house I own in Pennsylvania and can’t get rid of, is now empty once again, because of the damage being caused by the leaking roof that we lack the funds to replace at this time. Secondarily, the house I’m now living in will be going through an estate sale, so we have to find new accommodations by January 15th and lastly, we will need to revisit our 501(c)(3) status after I came across a doctrinal/philosophical issue that I am unwilling to compromise on with our current parent association of churches.

Ok…enough pity party!

God continues to blow me away with His movement in the hearts of people. This week I have visited by phone with men in Cedar Rapids, IA and Ballinger, TX who will be launching house churches in January and would like me to walk beside them in their efforts. In tonight’s Organic Group I watched the Holy Spirit begin to work on the heart of one of the young men as we began discussing the differences in the new covenant and the old covenant.

Lastly, we began a working relationship with a Bible College in Uganda. I had the privilege of putting together certificates for each of the students that they will be given as they enter the mission field for hands on instruction beginning in January.


Today, I was finally able to complete the certificate of occupancy process with the city. After multiple inspections, hours of waiting and an open faced toilet seat…we’re finally done.

Tonight’s Organic Group was great. We have been ministering to a family that my wife has gotten to know through contact at my children’s school. This week one of their family members passed away and I showed up a few minutes after her passing. I had a chance to minister to the grieving husband and tonight he called asking if he could join us for Organic Group. I think we will develop a great relationship in the days to come.

Constantly in Awe

Walking with God is such an amazing journey. I find myself constantly in awe of His handiwork. The precision with which He conducts the symphony of life is a beautiful thing to behold indeed.

Today of course is no exception. Today I sat down to pay the first of the month bills and as has been the case these past 5 weeks, there was just enough. I’m not rolling in excess, but there was just enough to meet the needs of today.

The two websites that I launched yesterday made a combined total of 10 sales in the first 24 hours of operation, so that was also another praise. I am working on some marketing techniques that tap into my love for writing…in short bursts I might add (perfect for those of us with attention deficit disorder).

Tonight we had a large and diversified collection of people in our Organic Group. One of our group was wrestling with some fears that were born out of a season of testing she was going through. Our discussion led us tonight to the promises of God, how they are so huge and from our perspective nearly impossible; yet, we take confidence in those promises because they are rooted in the very righteousness of God. When this woman left tonight, she was testifying of the weight that had been lifted through the reminder of God’s character and faithfulness.

Tonight I received an email from a pastor in Iowa who would like to begin a dialogue of how to start a Simplicity work in his community.

Excuse me while I go to the fire hydrant for another overwhelming gulp of “Living Water.”

Catching up

With Thanksgiving I’ve gotten behind on the blog. So let me give you a quick rundown of some of the happenings over the extended weekend.

On Thursday we spent the morning at Mission 911. Mission 911 is around the corner from our church building in the South Bluff Park area of Corpus Christi. Mission 911 offers people the opportunity to get back on their feet with food, shelter, spiritual food and a sense of purpose. Mission 911 had already held their Thanksgiving celebration the week before, so our purpose was simple…hang out and get to know people.

We spent Wednesday evening baking cookies, pastries and other treats for the residents to enjoy. Once we arrived, we laid out the goodies and spent our time getting to know people. I had the opportunity to minister to a man who had been a resident the year before. His wife had left him recently and he arrived that morning looking to connect with the counselor that had helped him in the past. As we talked, he shared that he had given up hope and didn’t know how he could press on. By the time he left, God had done a work within Him. Just as he knew God had brought him up from the depths a year before, He also knew that God was willing to walk with Him through these dark days as well. Our greatest impact during the day was with the neighborhood children. We have been asked to consider starting something for the children on Saturdays and will be praying through that in the coming days.

About 2 weeks ago, the ministry was given a 1992 Jaguar. The car is currently in my driveway and not running, as the fuel system needs some work. On Saturday one of the men from the church and I spent a good portion of the day dismantling the fuel system, only to find out that the fuel pump we had was too large. This week we will try to complete the work and sell the car to further the ministry of Simplicity.

On Sunday, Mike preached his first message. He kept telling me he was terrified, but God spoke through him in spite of any fears he may have had. The video of his message is on the website under “media.”

Over the weekend, I began working with some e-commerce ideas I have had. I am hoping to develop a business model that can be developed to help support future church planters and ministry leaders. I currently have two websites up and running and I will be looking to develop a marketing strategy that can be cross pollinated for future use by other planters.

The development of a secular business model has become somewhat of a priority for me, as I realize that the one stumbling block for many potential Simplicity leaders will be the question of supporting their families, since one of the values of Simplicity Church is the use of bi-vocational and self-supporting pastors.