Reflections, re-acclimation and renewal

I’ve been back from India for just over a week now.  My body is finally getting back to normal and the case of Delhi Belly that hit me upon my return home is finally gone.  I’m finally sleeping at normal hours and getting back into my normal routine.

As I’ve taken time to reflect on my time in India, there are a few things that stick out:

First of all, God used my absence to bring about some strengthening in those around me.

My first Friday out of the country, Mike and Kim learned that their brother-in-law had been killed in Afghanistan.   Mike and Kim were able to be a source of strength to their family, even though they did not have my presence to draw from.   Mike and Kim were forced to lean on the Lord in a way they had not had to draw on His strength before.  Carol also felt led to join some meetings that I normally attend, and also led out with our monthly overseer’s meeting.  This was a large growth step for Carol as well and she now sees her role as my ministry partner much more clearly.

I believe the second primary purpose of this trip was my influence on some key people:

My interactions with Tom and Santhosh, in particular were part of a molding, shaping and directional process that the Lord is taking them through.  In the case of both of these men, I watched God take them through some stretching of their comfort zones and standard modes of operation.  Additionally, in two of the cities where I led meetings, the pastors came under conviction about their need to work cooperatively towards the purposes of God’s kingdom.  In the wake of our meetings, these pastors have committed to working together towards the fulfillment of God’s plan for their individual communities.

The third key issue was the reminder of the completeness of God’s power and strength.

On two particular occasions, I was speaking with almost no physical or mental strength.   On both of those occasions, I spoke not with force or vigor, but the power of God was incredibly overwhelming.  On the first occasion a demon manifested in a man as I was speaking and threw this man into the adjacent river.  He was immediately delivered from the demon and received the life giving touch of Jesus that night.   The second time I gave the invitation after making a very simple gospel presentation and I watched as over 30 people came forward to give their lives to Jesus.

It was good to be back home on Sunday.  Sunday was the first anniversary of the launch of Simplicity – Corpus Christi and the Simplicity Church Network.  We all marveled at how quickly the year has gone, and how much God has molded, shaped and changed us in this first year.   We also decided to replace our big orange water cooler outside with some of the sack lunches we have put together.  Sunday we set out 6 lunch bags with Vienna Sausage, fruit cups,  and crackers.  By the time church was over, only one bag was left.

Tuesday was a great day of victories as well.  Carol and I were short on making our house rent.  Our rent is $1,000/month and we only had $179 to our name.   We asked some people who are close to us to pray with us over this need.  One of those individuals told Carol, “I’m praying that someone will show up at your doorstep with a check in hand.”  Not 10 minutes later this same individual called back and said she would be bringing a check by…she ended up being the answer to her own request.

Tuesday evening we were praying at the church when we heard a knock on the door.   A young man entered and said, “I believe God sent me here.”   We then told him how he got to us and he agreed…I told him we were praying for him to come, we just didn’t know it was him that we were specifically praying for.  This man has been in Corpus for 2 weeks.  In the past his life has included many pitfalls, and of course he found himself in the epicenter of those things here in Corpus Christi.  He knows he has a call on his life, but his frustration with his circumstances had led him back to some places he swore he would never go again.  After speaking into his life we offered to walk with him as he works to rebuild his life.  Over the past two days I have had the opportunity to help him find new housing arrangements and to begin looking for work.   While I was in India, the Lord spoke to me about someone he was raising up to become the leader of Simplicity – Corpus Christi…something in my spirit, says this man may eventually be the one God was speaking to me about.

The weekend in review

Yesterday several of us returned to South Bluff Park.  The need to return for more ministry in this park was laid heavily on the heart of one of our ladies.   She ended up being ill and unable to make it, but she lovingly prepared sandwiches for the hungry wanderers who frequent the area.   Others who participated provided chips, drinks and a desire to let Christ be seen in their lives.

Our time in the park was a time of contrast.   We met and prayed with folks like Adam, Will, Smiley and Jenny.   Each one with a unique story.   As we were praying and serving one group of people, 100 yards away another group actively utilized the men’s restroom for illicit activities that involved a steady stream of customers.   As we took note of the contrast, we asked the Lord to pierce the darkness with the light of His love.

Yesterday was also a day of provisions for my family.   A check was received that will allow us to pay one or two bills.  Money was also received that covered the cost of a month’s supply of my medications.   When we returned home an envelope was found in our mailbox with the following words:  “You have been on my mind lately and I felt that you might need this.”  Inside the envelope was a gift card to a local grocery store.     Last night we welcomed friends into our home to celebrate with us our ability to call a place home after 2 1/2 years.   The provisions for the meal came from friends and the fish caught on our wedding anniversary.  At the end of the night we were blessed with our latest need…toothpaste and an additional package of toilet paper.

Today during our Sunday worship gathering, we were treated to the gift of music as the Holy Spirit led us through songs about God’s faithfulness and the firm foundation of His presence.   He allowed us to sing a new song that a couple of teenagers had written after a church camp nearly 6 years ago.   The Lord’s presence was strongly felt throughout the morning.

This afternoon, I received a call from a man in Rockport.  He had seen our ad on Craigslist for the house church we are working to launch on Padre Island.   This man has worshiped in a house setting since 1971 and recently moved to Rockport.  He and I agreed to work together with Holy Spirit’s guidance to form a group in his home.

Through all of these things the Lord has continued to affirm the decisions made on Wednesday.  My efforts of laying a financial foundation had caused me to neglect the very call that they were meant to support.   The Lord is helping me to define a proper balance in my life.   The work of the Kingdom is much to0 important and the time is much too short.   This week I will be seeking to further clarify God’s balance for vocation and ministry.

The journey of faith is a crescendo as the house payment is due in two days and there are still bills in arrears and needing to be paid.   The lesson of this past week has been the power of God to maintain joy and peace even when circumstances are not in your favor.   I find that this critical place is refining me in ways that can only be described as tremendous.

My late friend Daniel Trickey made a sign for me nearly a decade ago that has hung in my office ever since.   The sign simply says “Tumultuous to Tremendous.”

A leap of faith

Last night I found myself awake until about 3AM. The Lord began to convict me of something. I have set out on this journey to be a bi-vocational planner, but the Lord impressed upon me that I needed to take a greater step of faith. I need to be supported by love offerings that are separate from the giving of Simplicity. My wife was awake when I came back to bed…she had the same message for me. We agreed that I should only consider opportunities the Lord brings my way, not those that are produced from my own pavement pounding efforts.

My support will ultimately come from the people I minister to or from monthly partners who believe in my work, but none the less it will be a “give us this day, our daily bread” type scenario. So today I am thinking through the legal/financial structural issues. Do I even need to incorporate or obtain a 501c3?