Pressing On

Uncertainty…that is a good word to describe my thoughts these days.  I am certain of a few things:

  • the ministry of Simplicity
  • my role in the body of Christ

My point of clarity is in my call, most everything else seems up in the air.

As we finish out the month of June, we have only been able to pay a few household bills and are past due on the rest.  We are $25 short of having the rent on our church space paid for.   The businesses are only producing a few dollars here and there.  I have been trying to find work, but not finding anything other than commission only positions that seem to want to nibble.

I have a unique situation, basic manual labor jobs won’t hire me because I’m overqualified or don’t have experience with that particular manual labor.   White collar jobs think I’ve been away from the corporate world too long.   I find myself unsure of what my steps should be.

God’s timing is interesting.  As I was writing this I was called by a staffing company to come in for an interview tomorrow morning.

Yesterday was another kingdom encounter on South Staples.   As we were getting ready to leave after the morning service, I heard someone shouting from across the street.  A woman came over and asked if we could help her with groceries until her disability check arrived later this week.   I could smell the alcohol on her breath, so I told her we would take her to the store and pick up a few staples if she would like.   She agreed and off to the store we went.

I spoke to her about the alcohol on her breath and expressed my concern that it was 11AM.  I asked her to be honest with me about her situation.   I learned that she had just moved back to Corpus from Austin, and that she was originally from New York.    She has been exposed to church and actually knows she needs to be in fellowship somewhere.  Her mother is in frail health back in New York, but her relationship with her father is strained and it prevents her from going to see her mother.   Her brother just finished a 15 year prison sentence, but came out a changed man after encountering Jesus in prison.

When we were done, we took her home…across the street from the church.   We have been praying for a person of peace in the neighborhood, and in this woman we found the greatest receptivity to the touch of God that we have encountered since starting Simplicity.  It is my hope that she will be our first person of peace in this troubled neighborhood.

The View from the Street

I haven’t been staying too up to date on the blog lately.  My mind has been pre-occupied with the concerns and burdens of life.   When I returned from Africa, I was greeted a few days later with the news that the small salary I was receiving would no longer be offered.   Right now our only income is Carol’s and what few donations we get.   I have begun sending resume’s to employers around the area and answering help wanted ads, but so far with no success.   I have enough left from cashing out my retirement savings in April to pay our rent for the next 2-3 months, but there is no money for anything else.   Carol and I are currently praying about which things we let go of.     I find myself telling God that my trust is fickle.  I trust Him with eternity, but for some reason I struggle to trust Him with our well being.   Bare cupboards and empty gas tanks have a way of revealing what is really inside of you.

The past 4 Junes have been very painful times for me.  In June of 2006, I informed my church leaders that I felt the Lord was telling me it was time to move on.   They received this news with an offer of their own….cutting my salary in half.   In June of 2007, I was working to bring a Hispanic house church group into a partnership with the church I pastored.   I spent most of June being called many unkind things and being accused of giving away “our church.”   In June of 2008, the Lord called me to a week of silence, really a modern day equivalent of sack cloth and ashes.  Daniel chapter 9 was the focal point of the week and by the time the week was over the Lord had me deliver the most devastating call to repentance I have ever spoken or heard.   Now we come to this year…I gave up on making ends meet several months ago.   I’m just asking the Lord to give me some guidance and to arrest the fear within me.

On the streets near Simplicity things are beginning to happen.   Normally the things I described above are directly proportional to God’s activity somewhere else in my life and this period of life is no exception.

4 weeks ago we began an open prayer time on Tuesday nights.   We placed two bright posterboard signs on our front windows with the simple question: “How can we pray for you?”   3 weeks ago as we were preparing for Sunday morning worship, a man ran across the street from the auto repair shop.   He pointed at the sign and said “I need to find an apartment today.”    We prayed over this man, Eddie was his name, and just as quickly as he entered, he departed.

2 weeks ago we found an envelope in our mailbox, addressed to the Simplicity Prayer Group.   In this prayer request a woman cried out for deliverance for her husband from physical, emotional and financial strain.

This past Thursday as we were having our Organic Group, a disheveled man walked in off of the street.   He smelled of alcohol and his request was the common request for the area…money.   I spoke to him for a few minutes and offered to feed him, but I asked to pray for him first.   The Lord led me to place a hand on his should and one on his chest.  As I prayed over the pain in his life, the tears began to flow.   The Lord began to release the pain in Kevin’s life.   Kevin is still out on the streets, but he has been stirred by the touch of the Lord.

On Sundays we set out 5 gallon cooler of ice water and some donuts or other snacks for people to freely take.  This last Sunday I watched as a woman walked up and took the whole box of donuts and all of the snacks, leaving none for anyone else.  She stuffed them into her trash bag and talking out loud as she went immediately walked across the street.   A few moments later, I saw her headed the other direction, the trash bag was now gone, but she was carrying “her box of donuts.”

We are seeing the effects of spiritual walls that permeate this neighborhood.  It is our prayer that the walls come down, the eyes come open and Holy Spirit rains down.

Revelation 4

A few months back I challenged our church to spend 30 minutes repeating the worship of the angels from Revelation chapter 4:8

Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty; who was and is and is to come.

A few weeks I heard a song that puts this worship to music…it has quickly become the cry of my heart and I find myself repeating these words even without thought.   I wanted to share it with you.

Living Water and Old Friends

Since getting back from Africa, I have been a little negligent on my blogging.   These last few weeks have been a bit of regrouping time for me, and I am slowly getting my thoughts untangled.

A few weeks ago, we began setting a large cooler of ice water and styrofoam cups outside on our parking lot every Sunday as we meet.  The cooler has a sign that says “Cold water compliments of Jesus Christ.”   As we’ve watched people these last few weeks, we’ve begun to see a greater significance of in the offering of water.   The water has come to represent the livng water that Christ offers each of us.  Some in our ministry neighborhood gladly receive the water, while others stand and stare at the cooler…an inner battle as to whether or not they will draw from it.  Today, I watched as women spent nearly 2 minutes walking back and forth in front of the cooler with a war raging deep within her…would she take a drink or wouldn’t she?   As we battle for the souls of men and women, we realize that this cooler represents the greater truth of our ministry…using a simple cup of water to introduce the thirsty to the living water that leaves them permanently satisfied.

Today was also a joy for me, as we went to McAllen this afternoon to meet up with some old friends who were in the region on a mission trip.   We have known Mark and Shannon for about 11 or so years now.   They were in a Sunday School class that I taught in Dodge City, Kansas prior to surrendering to the ministry.   I could see God’s hand on Mark even then, and I told his wife that he would be in the ministry before it was all over.   Little did I know I would beat him there.   It has been fun watching him grow in the Lord.  We celebrated his first pastorate and his ordination.  I now find myself spurring him on in his quest to be all that God has created him to be.   I’m thankful that the relationships in the kingdom are not bound by time and distance.

This past Thursday as we were having our Organic Group, we saw the woman who we had taken in off the streets walking past the church.   She stopped and began to cross the street towards us, but suddenly stopped and turned the other way.   I believe God allowed her to experience something in those few days with us, that is unlike anything she has ever experienced; however, the battle for her soul continues to rage.   I know that in due time, God will push back the darkness that blinds her, I hope that day is sooner than later.

Amazed and Yearning

Today I received a number of testimonies from Kenya and Uganda that are overwhelming and humbling.  Once again I am awestruck, how God can use an ordinary man like me as His instrument to do only that which He can do.   I have seen some of these types of things before on my visits to India; however, the Lord did things in Africa that I had never even imagined.

As seems to always be the case, I find myself yearning for more.   Why does the anointing of God seem so strong when I’m overseas and almost non-existent at times when I am here?  The people of Corpus Christi need the touch of Christ just as desperately as the people of Kitale, Bukwo, Kapchesoy, Madurai or Chennai.   The only answer I seem to come away with is a spirit of unbelief.   It is said in scripture that when Jesus returned to His hometown, He was able to perform only a few miracles….the problem unbelief.

Our city, our state, our nation all desperately need the life altering touch of Jesus…what must change in me to be used the same way here that I am used overseas?

Testimonies from Kenya and Uganda

These are some of the testimonies that have come in since my arrival back in the US.

From Kitale, Kenya:

Greetings in Jesus name.Hope these email finds you well in the lord there.Thanks very much for coming to Africa.Thanks for speaking to my life prophetically.Today i have been given a lot of Testimonies after i announced yesterday in the church that i have heard the voice of God and he has given me the direction in the ministry that the lord has called me to do.The ministry of worship that he has put on my life.Many of the people have testified on how these ministry of worship has affected their lives and they are wondering how the lord is doing through these worship.We have met with those three pastors today during lunch time,we prayed together and also we prayed for your journey.Apostle Stephen reminded me to tell you that we shall be organizing together pastors and leaders conference here in Kitale town on August.Our target is to have 1000 pastors to come for the conference.I will give you the schedule of august when i finish working together.i have read the book that you gave me and i have come a cross some powerful messages,experience is a good teacher and i have discovered that it is true.I will be sharing with you testimonies as we communicate.Have a safe journey with powerful meditations.

Also from Kitale, Kenya –

We were honored to have you minister in our church during your mission trip to Africa.The lord is continuing to do incredible things in our church.We are seeing great move of God in our church members and church leaders.

From a denominational leader in Uganda –

Greetings in jesus name.Thanks for your message sent to me

Truly you have helped opur people especially in such trainings of bible shool.

I do really see the need to work as a team so as to accomplish what God has planned to do through us.

Please Sir,your input is very essential in such a nation for the welfare of the gospel to go forward.

There are many fields to team up together and allow God to be lifted through us.

Testimonies from Kenya and Uganda –

Thank you for your worm love. We bless the lord for your previous trip to East Africa.We ware tremendously blessed with your ministry. Mary my wife was completely healed from her back pain up to now, she doesn’t complain of any pain like she used to be. She does her regular work without any problem at all. We bless our God for what He did through you in Africa. The lord came before you to prepare the hearts that is why there was open reception of your apostolic teaching and receiving of the revelation of the mystery as referred to Ephesians 3;4-6 We saw the lord doing awesome work in Africa through you as many saints, pastors and church leaders received the grace of revelation and understanding.
Many had a transforming experience in both their lives and ministry as radical as the new birth.
In every meeting you ministered, the people received your teaching and received the lord as he came with conviction, releasing impartation of grace and through confirming signs and wonders.

The man you prayed for him in Uganda testified that the power of God did touch him when he heard your voice through the microphone from a two kilometer distance where he was drinking local brew (alcohol) Something within him told him to leave drinking and run to the church, he run so fast that people though he was mad. He found you had just stopped preaching and came strait to the pulpit and gave his life to Jesus.
This was the power of God. Hell had a blackout in Uganda. Demons and devils trembled as God of Glory moved in these darkest sites of the world. God is begging to raise an army who will match forward in His grace, putting hell in mess and establishing His kingdom in these days. Hallelujah!!

I have received several testimonies of healing, breakthroughs, deliverance, salvation and many incredible things that the lord did across Kenya and Uganda.

I want to share with you one from the pastor in Uganda and I will send to you many soon.

Pastor Stephen-Bukwo PCM church-Uganda
I had never experience the power of the Holy Spirit in my life until the servant of God Rev Carl Willis laid his hands on me and anointed my head with oil. For the first time the power of God touched me. I felt like fire burning from my toes to the head. My body shook terribly and there was an inner peace.
Also for my church we had never witness such a move of God, for the first time the Holy Spirit entered our church in power. He was awesome to see Him deliver a lady who was possessed with evil spirit. Such a thing had never happened in my church.

I saw everybody running in front with desperation of meeting with Jesus. The whole church was prayed for. The last two Sunday, the lord has blessed us tremendously and He has raised different ministries that we never had in our church. We acknowledge that we were so religious and we had never given the Holy Spirit a room. We are now enjoying the atmosphere of the Holy Spirit. We bless the lord for sending you to us. Indeed it was the Macedonia call of Paul.

More testimonies from Uganda –

The lord is still healing and delivering.there is this lady who attended our our meeting and invited us for a diner.Whose son got saved,the one came running to recieve jesus Christ.She had been abundoned by her husband for 30 years.The family you prayed with them at night whose daughter has been cribbled.

She shared with me that her husband came back to her.She is not only happy for her husband but also for the salvation of her son.

people are so happy for what the lord did.

There is this lady also from kenya who had growth in her stomatch.She had gone to many hospitals seeking for medical solutions but it never beared any fruit.She took your word by faith.

She got healed.She is now eating the foods she was told not test or eat.She has resummed to her work.She is a primary teacher.And many Rev that pen can not write.