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.

Getting back on track

Last Wednesday and Thursday were difficult days for me.  I could not escape negative thoughts.  I felt overwhelmed by everything, and as much as I want to see things through, I found myself wanting to give up at the same time.   I knew I was struggling, so I entered Thursday evening’s prayer time empty and open.   As we began to pray, the prayers began to focus on me and my lack of strength.   Before long a new voice joined us and I heard someone praying in tongues as I was praying.  All of the sudden I found myself out of words, but our guest simply picked up where I had left off.   As our prayer time went on, the group laid hands on me, anointed my head, lips, ears and hands with oil and helped me recommit myself to the battle for this city.

As we entered into Friday, I had a new outlook and a fresh wind in my sails.  Before the day was over, God had answered Carol’s prayer for the provision of school supplies.  A friend had called burdened that she and her husband were to provide our children’s school supplies.   Carol had not even mentioned the need to them.

Over the last few weeks, several who have been praying for me from all of the world, had been speaking a word to me that dealt with trust and not abandoning my call.  Carol also began sharing with me, that the Lord was leading her to pray for the shutting of all of the potential doors of employment.  In light of our current financial situation, it seemed suicidal to pray that way, but I was wrestling with the same question.   Sunday, the Lord gave me the clarity I had been asking for…in the form of loving correction.   The Lord rebuked Carol and I through my primary prayer  intercessor.  The issue came down to trust, I had given up on trusting God and have been trying to make my own way through this job search.  The Lord reminded me that He conquered death and hell, raised Lazarus from the dead and multiplied loaves and fishes; yet, our actions were denying that very power in our own life and circumstance.

Carol reminded me that Paul’s tentmaking went with him everywhere he went.   She pointed out that all of the businesses the Lord has entrusted me with go around the world with me.  I have done work from Asia and Africa when I have been before.  She also acknowledged that we had tried to make these businesses work in our own wisdom and it simply had not worked.   We both realized that we needed to repent…for grieving God and walking in our own understanding.   We repented together and asked the Lord to shut the doors He never intended for us to open.

We realize that God has to be our all.  He can’t be our #1 priority, the top of our list or any other position…He must be everything.   We have to rely on Him for everything.  He reminded me of something I’ve often said from the pulpit:  “How can you trust God with your eternal salvation, if you can’t trust Him with the smallest details of everyday life?”  How true this is…how can I teach the stories of Abraham, Noah, Moses, Elijah, David, Peter & Paul while not trusting in the same God who was there every step of the way for them, to be there every step of the way for me?

The icing on the cake for the weekend came last night.  As we were coming home from the baseball game, we were discussing our prayer time on Thursday evening.  Carol and I got to discussing the praying in tongues that our guest was doing.   Collin, interrupted and asked when she was praying in tongues, because he only heard her speaking English the whole time.   I quizzed him about some specific times that she was praying and he again indicated he had heard the whole thing in English.   Carol and I both find ourselves amazed at what God has been doing in him already at such an early age.

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.”

Desolate Places

About 6 weeks ago, the Lord began to speak to me through several people of lonely times ahead.   The main thrust of the message was along these lines:  “Even if it is just you, keep pressing on and don’t give up.”   I am so thankful that the Lord was preparing me for such a time as this.

In these last 6 weeks I have seen people move on from our ministry, I have had others act as though they never even knew me and my greatest well of strength was capped off and sealed.   Financial deadlines have come and gone with no answers revealed and everything I have set my hand to could best be described as barren and lacking in fruitfulness.

Sounds pretty dismal doesn’t it?  It certainly is not much fun, but it would have been much worse without the warning.

A few days ago, I was really struggling as I watched a financial deadline come and go without deliverance for the need.  I often discuss that in my life God tends to operate on the 11:59:59 principle…arriving at the last second, but right on time.   This time however, there was no deliverance…the deadline came and went.   So I retreated to a quiet place and poured my heart out to the Lord.   His instruction to me…go to the beach.

As I followed the Lord’s prompting, I drove to the Padre Island National Seashore.  I parked my truck, kicked off my shoes and began walking along the water line.   After nearly 45 minutes of walking  began to see a figure in the distance that I at first thought was a radio antenna.  As I drew closer I found that what I had been seeing was not a radio antenna, but a barren tree.   Actually it wasn’t even a barren tree, but instead was a 12 foot tree limb that had been planted in the sand.

Under normal circumstances, this tree limb would not even be noticed.  In fact, it would be dismissed because it was barren and distressed; however, on the seashore this tree limb is magnetic.   It is the only thing standing for miles of shoreline, and because of that distinction you are drawn to it.  You find yourself wondering what it is, and on closer inspection you find that it has been planted in the sand.

As I looked at this scene the Lord began to speak to me about my circumstances.  He pointed out that my life is much like that branch.   He has planted me in a place of isolation and loneliness where my life becomes magnified to all who see it.  The sight of a man standing under such difficult circumstances draws them closer.   As they come closer they see the establishing work of God taking place in my life.  If I had been planted in a lush, fertile environment, God’s work in my life might be overlooked; however, it is through my unique presence in such a barren place that His work become prominent.

I must admit, I didn’t at first find much peace in those words…in fact, they were somewhat difficult to hear.   Then the Lord showed me something else.   He had me turn around and look out at the waves as they came ashore.   He had me take note of the pelicans flying over the water and the crabs in the sand.   He reminded me that this sad looking tree had something no other tree had…a front row seat to the beauty of the Gulf and all that comes with it.

This morning, Mike led us through the transfiguration.   The Lord again spoke to me some deep truths during this time.  The two men who appeared with Jesus were Moses and Elijah…two men who knew what it meant to go it alone.  We speculated as to what the conversation might have been, and I felt impressed that some of it was a reminder that the path of glory often includes extended visits to desolate places.

The Latest Buzz

I really feel as though I’m dropping the ball on blogging.   My business pursuits have taken the majority of my time and they still don’t really provide for our family, but if I have learned anything over these last few months it has been the necessity of casting the nets again and again, even if you don’t see the catch.   The Lord has taught me that sometimes the provisions come through the sweat of my brow and many times they come from the unseen riches of heaven.

As I mentioned a few posts ago, we are going through roster changes right now in the ministry.  Baby Micah was born a few weeks ago, some who started with us have moved on, two more will be moving out of state in the coming weeks and Carol and I are now in a different geographic and cultural setting.

We were hoping to launch a Wednesday night Organic Group at the first of March, but the enemy began to rear his ugly head in the lives of those who were to host it.   That group is currently on hold and we are praying for a deliverance to take place in this family’s life.

Carol and I have begun to make some new acquaintances here on the Island and have decided to launch a new Organic Group starting this Thursday.   We are excited about returning this home to the Lord for His use and glory.   We have already had opportunity to bless the kids in our neighborhood by having them over to swim.

The Lord has been speaking to me about my call to the nations for the past few years.   In May, I will return to that call as I spend May 6-19th in Western Kenya and Eastern Uganda.  I will be teaching pastors and church leaders during my visit, plus I have been invited to speak in a large prison in Kenya.   The highlight of the journey will be the oversight of the graduation ceremonies for Redeemer Bible College, which Simplicity became the sponsoring ministry for last year.   The 28 students graduating will be the first Bible College graduates in the Bukwo District of Uganda.  This is such a big event that several high ranking government officials will be in attendance.   The Lord has been building my contacts in Uganda for the past 3-4 years, so I am excited to begin meeting these men of God face to face.

In October, I will once again return to India to work alongside my dear brother Paul in Tamilnadu.  In addition I will be working with another dear co-laborer, Santhosh, in Andra Pradesh.   My trip to Andra Pradesh has been in the works for a number of years as well, so the opportunity to bless these workers in the Lord’s fields is a great honor.

This past week also allowed one of the core values of Simplicity was seen working as it is intended.   We learned of a dear brother and sister in Christ who had a pressing need that required financial provision.   We were able to make a large donation in conjunction with other believers to meet this need.   Our part was made possible, because we don’t pay salaries, cell phone bills and other staffing costs.   Working in this bi-vocational capacity is tough, uncertain and at times down right hair raising, but this week the value of the sacrifice was played out and Jesus was seen in His body.

Right now, I find myself waiting upon the Lord’s revelation in a few key areas.

  1. Allowing the Lord to show me the true nature of my call at this point in the journey
  2. Allowing the Lord to provide the financial provisions for the work that He has called me to
  3. Allowing the Lord to show me His ongoing source of provision for our family

From Theory to Reality

I’ve been talking quite a bit lately about the business model that I call Simplicity Solutions that is meant to run along side the ministry of Simplicity.   One of the 4 purposes of Simplicity Solutions is to create business opportunities for those who are getting back on their feet.

There are currently two people that God has put into my life that fit that description.  Both have overcome difficult odds and by God’s grace have made the choice to move beyond the past.   In both cases finding work has been difficult due to transportation, education, related work experience, etc…

Today the Lord impressed upon me that it was time to move Simplicity Solutions from theory to reality.  So I established dealer relationships for both of them with Fuller Brush Company.  Starting next week we will begin canvassing businesses and neighborhoods with Fuller Catalogs working to build their businesses.   It is my responsibility to help them be successful in this venture, so I will work very closely with them in the early stages to get them moving forward quickly.

It will be interesting to see where this part of the journey takes us, but I believe when all is said and done God intends to leave us all in awe of His work on our behalf.

If you would like to see what Fuller Brush has to offer, we would love to have you as our customer.  Please visit to see our product lines.

The Wonderful Ways of God

Today my business partner and I met with the factory rep for the Spinner II product that his company sells.   My business partner had asked me at the end of last week if I would change my relationship from that of a consultant to that of a key player in the company.   He and I share the same vision of using commerce as a means of bringing Christ into the market place and furthering the ministry work of God’s kingdom.

I shared with him, that my concern was the same as with my own companies…I can see the future potential, but what do I do to pay today’s expenses.   At that moment my friend said, “I meant to tell you I’m going to pay you the X dollars you need each month to make ends meet.”  I asked him if we could stop right there and I expressed my gratitude to the Lord for His glorious provisions.

I taught Sunday on Jesus feeding the 5,000.  As part of the teaching I talked about the need to look for the places that God is bringing order to the chaos of our circumstances.   For example Jesus instructed the crowd to be seated, but then he had them divided into groups of 50 and 100.   Jesus was bringing order to the chaos as he brought the miracle of the feeding into full view.

I have been watching the Lord bring order to my friend’s business for the past 3 months and have had a strong sense that we were about to see an amazing move of God in it.   Today I am even more convinced that the hand of God will be unmistakable in the days to come.  The Lord has been preparing me this week by having me study Gideon once again.  Gideon was addressed by the Angel of the Lord as a “Mighty Warrior.”   This title was not an accurate description of Gideon at that moment in time, but instead described the man God would transform him into.

The molding of this journey has been difficult, but the crucible is a place of refinement for the fulfilling of our God given purpose.

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.

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?