Setting off explosions

Over the last few months, the Lord has been speaking to us about the importance of praise in bringing down the spiritual walls of the Simplicity – Corpus Christi neighborhood.  So when the opportunity to host The Burn 24/7 was extended, it was a “no-brainer.”

This past weekend, people from a variety of denominational backgrounds came together at 805 S. Staples and for 24 hours, they worshiped, prayed, danced, painted, played and glorified God.   During this time, we had several people come in off of the streets and were able to minister to them.  It was truly a nuclear event in the spiritual environment of this neighborhood.   One of my intercessors said it best:  “Foundations were shaken.”  This weekend was also strategic, because it was exactly 1 year ago that my church voted to release the staff and ministry, so they could afford to keep the church property.  It was that set of events that led to the implementation of the Simplicity vision that God had been birthing in me for a number of months.

Sunday was in my mind, the best worship experience we’ve had at Simplicity since we began in November of last year.  We shared how God had touched our lives throughout the week and during that time I began to look at the banner that had been given to us by one of the worshipers over the weekend.  The Lord prompted me to hand the banner to Brooke and I gave her permission to move throughout the room with that banner to praise Jesus to the best of her 3 year old ability.   The Lord then took me to a song that I had not sang since I was a child…His Banner Over Me is Love.   We sang that song and then the Lord began to write the verses.  Before our time together was done, the Lord had given us 6 or 7 new verses to this song that we sang with great joy.   Our service ended up lasting nearly 2 1/2 hours and yet no one seemed to notice or care.

Yesterday, Mike and I attended a pastor’s prayer retreat in Banquete.  This retreat has become a highlight of my year each year and this year was no different.   The morning speaker came out of the worship time with a word for nearly each one of us.  To Mike and I, he said this:  “Sit in the saddle.”  “All that you are going through is by God’s design, don’t rush the process.”   Throughout the day, God reminded me of the need to be a conduit, not just a cup.  The day ended with 2 intercessors praying over each of us.   The words spoken over me included:  “Courage; a willingness to go where no one else will; the opening of multiple harvest fields unto me; the need for me to have wisdom to manage the resources that God is releasing into my hands; and a prayer of thanksgiving for the resources being released that are not only sufficient, but exceedingly abundant.”

I ended my day by speaking via phone with Pastor Santhosh about our upcoming ministry in Delhi and Kerala.  Pastor Santhosh has been unable to raise the $2,000 necessary to put on the conference he had intended in Delhi, so I had suggested that we invite a handful of leaders for a few days of private meetings.   Santhosh had been praying and fasting over that suggestion and is being led to invite 15 pastors to join us.   We talked about my lack of air travel and fiances, but I assured him that God was going to provide.   It is now 13 days until I leave and the airfare is beginning to creep up, so I know that we are not far from the provision, but this is an exercise in faith and trust.

If you would like to contribute to the India ministry effort, please visit the donation link

Rain and renewal

Yesterday afternoon it was raining pretty heavily. When I am at 805, I always have the front door propped open with a brick, inviting people to come in.

During the rain a man walked in who I have become somewhat familiar with, because I see him walk by almost every day. This man is easily recognized, because he always has a bandanna on.

He said “I need you to pray for me, I’m a crack addict.” He went on to tell me that he had woken up yesterday morning and something was different. He knew he needed to leave the drugs alone and he was asking me to pray for him, because he needed extra strength.

Robert, as I learned his name to be, shared with me his story. He had once been very active in church. He played guitar in worship, served as a deacon and seemed to have it all together until crack cocaine entered his life. Robert has been looking for companionship with the local prostitutes, but he finds it empty and meaningless. He recently became a grandfather and his daughter told him that he would not see the grandbaby as long as crack was a part of his life.

I also learned that Robert wears the bandanna, because it makes him look tougher, so no one will mess with him.

I placed my hands on Robert and began to speak to Jesus about his life. Robert left with a new look of peace on his face. He made me write down our service times and he told me to look for him in the coming days.

God is awakening righteousness in the hearts of the people in this neighborhood. Continue to pray for Robert and so many who are like him.

A testimony that just keeps getting better.

Ugandan man coming to faith in Christ

Ugandan man coming to faith in Christ

During my time in Uganda, this past May, I had the privilege of preaching in the PCM Church in Kapchesoy.

One afternoon as I had finished preaching and was sitting down, the whole church erupted in celebration.  I learned that they were celebrating, because a man (pictured) who was the village drunkard and troublemaker was giving his life to Christ.

In the days that followed, I learned his story.  He was cooking beer a mile and half from the church.  He had been drinking all day and was already drunk.  As he explained he heard a voice telling him that he needed to run as fast as he could to the church and give his life to Jesus.     He had arrived, just as I sat down and he went forward and gave his life to Jesus.

The next day, his closest friend was at the front of the church giving his life to Jesus, because of what he had witnessed the day before.  Now if that was the story, that would be absolutely amazing in itself, but it gets even better.   I received this update from Pastor Adams today:

The lord is still working great things and fire as never ceased!
The man you prayed for him during the conference in Kapchesoy church who came smelling alcohol is still firm. The lord has used him to win 12 other drunkards to Christ and many are coming to get saved because of his salvation.
We have enrolled him in our Bible College and taking certificate. I was with him and told me to send you his personal greetings.

He has a hunger and passion to reaching the lost. He told me he will resign soon from teaching to start preaching the Gospel but I told him first he should seek the lord before taking any step.

One transformed life, transforming the lives of others.  The power of God is truly amazing to watch.

Sunday recap

We were joined yesterday by two representatives from Burn 24/7.  We are hosting September’s Burn this weekend, so they were here to scope out building and neighborhood.   This was a very moving experience for both of them.  I wanted to share with your Rachel’s thoughts to her email list:

Good evening CC Burning Ones!

This morning I visited Simplicity Church- where we will be holding Burn CC this month. I was left utterly broken. Last month someone told me, “your feet will go to dark places” I never imagined that would mean I’d be taking the Burn too!
Simplicity Church is located right across the street from a gay bar where the rainbow flag hangs proudly, its down the street from the abortion clinic and its passed by many lonely travelers- all walking alone- all holding baggage (physically and spiritually). With an open door and a bright orange water cooler with the words “compliments of Jesus Christ” boldly written these few hold church every Sunday morning. Oftentimes people wander in- stare and leave or ask for prayer. Inside little kids sing along their parents and even ask questions and pray for prayer requests during the service. While we read I watched a Dad give his son a bottle and let the little boy fall asleep on his chest.

And the entire time the Lord was speaking to me-
His banner will hang higher than any of the enemy’s flags.
AND His banner over us- over everyone is LOVE!

Hearing the simple prayers and the sweet off-key voices of children made me cry with sweet happiness and I was reminded why the Lord loves these “little ones” who wisdom and faith and trust is SSSOOO much greater than mine!

I believe its pivotal that’s we’re here.
That we are lifting up praises and going to impact the atmosphere!
That our praises will tear down this wall that this church has been coming up against.
That we will raise the banner of Jesus Christ over that area and light a lamp in the darkness- and see His people saved and set free- He will “see the reward for which He was slain.”
Please everyone be in prayer.

“Gird yourselves- consecrate yourselves… for tomorrow the Lord will do increasingly wonderful things!!”
Worshipers- soak up His oil in your secret place- because it will be lit on fire this weekend.
And remember in our intimacy we have victory- it is in this place that we are given our boldness- our words- our strategies- our battle orders.

Also please be cautious-
this is not a safe neighborhood- no one walk anywhere alone- please watch your surroundings. Use caution and be wise.

And please be in prayer for this church-
pray for fiances, for co-laborers and “arm- holders” to share the load, for strength and endurance to keep plowing this land, for walls to be broken, and for the Lord to provide for all of their needs.
And if anyone would like to donate nonperishable food and bottles of water or articles of clothing, shower supplies, etc. (they pass these gifts out to many of the people that visit their church) I know it would bless them tremendously
During the morning and afternoon we met and prayed with Charlie, Everett (our first time to meet him), David and his friend (both believers in Christ), and Richard (I see him walking by almost daily).  Some of these men allowed us to pray with them.  Others shared lunch with us, since we were cooking out in the parking lot.   Each one was a reminder of how God wants to move in this neighborhood.
I am still struggling to get airfare together for India, even though I leave 3 weeks from today.  If you would like to help by contributing financially or even donating frequent flier miles, please let us know.

Balance and Powerful Encounters

One of the things I know about myself is that I am a “high” justice and “low” mercy type individual.   Fortunately Mike is just the opposite.  He is high on the mercy scale and low on the justice scale.   God knew what He was doing when He put us together.  Here is a great example.

As we were getting into our cars on Tuesday evening a lady approached and asked us for $2.  I asked what she needed it for and she said she needed it so she could stay at the mission for the night.  When I asked her the name of the mission she couldn’t tell me, but said it was on Agnes (I did not know of any missions on Agnes).  I asked her how much lodging for the night cost and she said it was $8.   I commented that she then obviously had the other $6.  She said she had $5 and that she was going to ask someone up the street for the rest.   I then told her that I would think if she really needed lodging she would ask for the entire $8, and that I was concerned she was looking to use the money for other purposes.   At that she left and walked off.

Mike and Kim got in the van and we began to talk about the conversation.  I could tell Mike was troubled and he said that he believed we were supposed to take her to the shelter and provide for her room.   So we went and looked for her.  We caught up with her a few blocks down the road and ended up taking her to a shelter in the area.  I found out when we arrived, that she had been staying there and had left a day before.  They were happy to welcome her back…God’s will was done…and I had to repent.   I’m so thankful for balance in the body of Christ.

Today a woman and man entered the building.  The man asked if I remembered him?  He had entered into our service about 6-8 weeks ago and asked us if we could pray for his mother.  He had received word that she had nearly died that morning and was in ICU.   We had all gathered around him and prayed over him and his mother.    Today he stopped by to tell me the story of the miracle that had taken place in her life.  He had called to check on her that afternoon and learned that she had made a miraculous recovery.   What was more profound to him though was the way he had entered our door.   He explained to me that he had actually passed by and was nearly 2 blocks down the street when he was compelled to cross the street and come straight towards the water jug.  He told me, “I even remember what it said: ‘Cold water compliments of Jesus Christ.'”   He told me he had no intention of coming here, but the compulsion was too strong and the words on the water penetrated deep within him.

In talking with this couple (over a cup of cold water from our new fangled refrigerated water cooler, donated by one of our overseer’s church) I found out that they are needing to find housing in the next day or so.  His companion once served the Lord in ministry, but she fell into sin and has walked away from the faith.   The Lord impressed upon me that the stain of her sin, makes her feel unworthy and that she has given up.   Before they left I prayed for them hand in hand and asked them to keep me informed of how they are doing.

This visit was a validation for me once again.  I found myself wrestling with doubt as I got here today and this encounter was helpful in crucifying those lies.

Wind in the sails

This past week has been full of wind gusts in the sails of our lives and the ministry.   Let me give you a few examples.

Last week one of my overseers came down to the building and we talked about his recent trip to Africa, the ministry and the challenges.   After re-arranging our worship space (and he did a fine job I might add), he rattled off a list of things that he felt we needed to make us more inviting to our community.  Before the week was over we had an oscillating ionic fan, a water cooler (with hot water option I might add) and a sofa and love seat.

Last weekend, Carol and I had been faced with a decision.   We became aware of two needs in the lives of pastors we minister to and we felt very burdened to somehow meet that need.  Of course we have many needs in our home as well.  Within 24 hours, we were given an amount of money that would meet the need for the 2 other pastors and we felt prompted to forgo our own needs and send that money off to these two ministers.   Last Thursday I was handed an envelope containing that same amount of money and told to use it for my own household needs.

Carol and I had been praying for the replacement of the rear brakes on Carol’s van for about 4 or 5 weeks.  Last weekend we were blessed with a new set of brakes and someone to install them with me.

Yesterday morning we had a man enter the church.  He said “I’ve been watching you guys handing out water at the bus transfer station.  I designed some T-shirt logos for you. ”   He handed a series of designs with scripture, water and Simplicity.  Saturday while we were at the bus stop, we had talked amongst ourselves that we ought to get some T-shirts printed up to help identify us as helping hands to those who are there.

Also yesterday we had a man with us that has been with us for 3 weeks now.  We met him 3 weeks ago around the water cooler on the parking lot.  He was running from God, so God ran him into us.  This man is now working, has shelter and is building a solid foundation for his life once again.

I am beginning a time of focused preparation for India next month, but I still find myself lacking airfare.  I know that God will provide, but I still am not sure how that will come about.

Family and freedom

This past week and weekend was filled with great reminders of God’s work all around us.   The man we had met the previous Sunday, spent several hours with me on Tuesday.   He was able to get settled in at the local mission, and he is interviewing to do carpentry work on behalf of the Marine Corps for the families of soldiers who are deployed.   He is still fighting the old ways and habits, but I believe he will see victory, if he will fully surrender himself to the Lord.

Wednesday, my brother-in-law, sister-in-law and my niece came down for a Labor Day weekend visit.   My brother-in-law twisted my arm real hard to go deep sea fishing on Thursday and Friday.   Here are the results of our time together:

Thursday's catch

Thursday's catch aboard the Gulf Eagle

Friday's catch aboard the Gulf Eagle

Friday's catch aboard the Gulf Eagle

Sunday was another great day of ministry.  Our morning service had ended and we were all sitting around talking.  A woman, named Elizabeth,  walked in and asked if we would pray for her.  In fact her request was worded this way:  “Please pray for me.  I am in bondage to addiction.”   We gathered around this precious woman and prayed for freedom in her life.  Her tears flowed and joy entered her countenance.  When we were finished praying, she allowed us to minister to her with food and water.  One of our ladies then took her where she needed to go.   I believe Elizabeth has received freedom; however, she must now choose to walk in it.