Mind Spackle

Will you believe?
July 22, 2019, 7:16 am
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And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness. (Gen. 15:6)

The past month has been pretty hectic for my family. I’ve been travelling, we packed our house up in FL, sold it, and drove up to NC to enter into a brand new chapter of our lives. This whole season of transition has proved to be a very testing, trying time. There were dozen’s of tense moments, arguments, doubts and disappointments. There were many times where my wife and I would hit an apparent road block where all options were off the table and we didn’t know what to do. I wish I could say I responded in the following way 100% of the time, but its not true. I don’t know the exact percentage but its not as high as I want. In those moments, I would grab my wife’s hand, we would sit on the bed or couch and we would pray. Our prayers weren’t overly spiritual or flowery but they were real and they were desperate. We would simply declare our trust in God. “Lord, you brought us here, and you are leading us to North Carolina, so we simply ask that you would . . . we declare our trust in you. We believe . . .”

I’m convinced that there are very little impresses the Lord as when we simply believe. Abraham, in Genesis 15 was given this incredible promise from the Lord. It seemed impossible. In light of the situation, Moses’s age, and other factors, what God promised was deep in “miracle land”. In spite of all that Moses believed. Moses knew that God was holy and didn’t lie. He had at least some understanding of the nature of God. He knew that God’s words and promises were connected to His nature thereby ensuring the fulfillment of what was promised.

If you find yourself like we did, in the middle of crazy town, tension, staring at a mountain of impossibilities, I would encourage you to do 2 things. #1. Drill down into the nature of God. Grow in the knowledge of God. Abraham would not have been able to believe if he didn’t know God’s goodness, character and ability. If you are having a hard time believing God, it is probably because you don’t know Him well enough. #2. Declare your belief out loud. Sometimes your soul needs to hear your mouth declare God’s promises. When I grabbed my wife’s hand to pray, I didn’t “feel” like praying. I didn’t feel full of faith. I prayed because we had no other options. I probably should have prayed a lot sooner. It was so good for us to stand on God’s nature, character & promises.

There is tremendous confidence in the place of prayer when your life is surrendered to God.

Thank you God for ALWAYS coming through. You truly have never let me down. Even in the death of loved ones, colossal heart break and unimaginable disappointment, you never change and your faithfulness has carried me. Help us to believe. Anchor us in your promises. Amen.


Bondage or Adoption
April 22, 2019, 10:47 am
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‘For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” ‘ Romans 8:15

It is peculiar here that Paul compares or contrasts the spirit of bondage with the Spirit of Adoption. We know that the Spirit of Adoption is The Holy Spirit. In order to help the church better understand who God is, Paul in his letters will often use a contrasting statement. He does this here.

Paul would not have needed to explain what bondage looked like here to the Roman church because they saw it every day. Their nation was in bondage to the Roman empire. They would also daily see servants and slaves who were in bondage to their masters. They experienced a spirit of bondage all around them. What liberty the Roman church must have felt as this letter was read in their midst for the first time. Paul doesn’t only use the term bondage, he writes “bondage again to FEAR.” Apparently the church was a slave to fear. God had called them to live a life of faith but instead they were shackled to fear. We were all slaves to fear at one time. We were not free to live in faith.

Bondage, simply put, is a lack of freedom. If I am in bondage to alcohol then I don’t have the freedom to say “No” to it. If I am in bondage to fear, I wake up to terror and have no freedom toward faith.

I could think of many other “opposites” to contrast bondage to fear with other than adoption but Adoption that is the word Paul chose.

Someone who is adopted has know the bondage and fear of rejection. “Will anyone ever want me? Who will love me? What’s wrong with me?”

I can’t think of many things more terrorizing than not belonging and not being loved. Before Jesus, we were just that. Orphans. Then in Jesus we received the Spirit of Adoption. The Holy Spirit who comes to live in us and affirm to us that we are no longer orphans but children of God. Heirs of God’s Kingdom.

Praise be to God who has set us free from EVERY spiritual bondage.


The other side of Love . . .
April 16, 2019, 7:33 am
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‘And so it was, on the next day, that Moses sat to judge the people; and the people stood before Moses from morning until evening. So when Moses’ father-in-law saw all that he did for the people, he said, “What is this thing that you are doing for the people? Why do you alone sit, and all the people stand before you from morning until evening?” And Moses said to his father-in-law, “Because the people come to me to inquire of God. When they have a difficulty, they come to me, and I judge between one and another; and I make known the statutes of God and His laws.” So Moses’ father-in-law said to him, “The thing that you do is not good. Both you and these people who are with you will surely wear yourselves out. For this thing is too much for you; you are not able to perform it by yourself. ‘ Exodus 18:13-18

It is uncommon, especially for recovering people please-ers like me, to see, understand and express the kind of love we see here demonstrated by Moses’ father-in-law Jethro. My favorite side of love is the encouragement side. The ‘little engine that could’ kind that lifts people up, and empowers them toward great things. I naturally lean that way. This other side, however, is just as necessary and is more a proof of genuine love than the kind I like to dispense.

Moses was running himself ragged judging all the issues of the Israelites. It kept him busy from dawn till dusk. It worked but it took Moses away from more important things. “I make known the statues of God and His laws.” Sounds noble. Good ole Jethro- comes in and says “You are not able . . .” That doesn’t sound at all like love . . . but nothing could be more lovingly said. Let’s be careful how we choose to love people.

The Holy Spirit who lives in us knows exactly what to say, when to say it and how to say it. One love might say “You got this!” Then next day Love might lead us to say “You need to stop!”

Imagine if Jethro came to Moses and said, “Wow, you have a lot of work here, let me help. Let’s do this together.” That sure sounds like love but its not.

There are many facets of Love and God calls us to display and radiate his Love to the world. When we listen to The Holy Spirit and obey, people will encounter the Great God of Love.

A simple Bible Study habit.
February 18, 2019, 7:26 am
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So over the years I have used all different kinds of Bible study tools and habits. Lately, though, I have employed a very simple method that is yielding very positive results. When you read it you may say “duh!?!?!” but until you try it, you won’t experience the benefit.

For the last year or so, I have taken one book of the Bible and slowly (very very slowly) rewritten the words in my journal. One word, one sentence at a time, word for word I simply write the Bible.

When I do this several things happen simultaneously. First- I forces me to slow down and really digest the text. So often we get in a hurry and race through our Bible reading so our guardian angel can check some box in the heavenly IRS that we did our duty. The retention/meditation factor goes way up because you are not just reading. You are reading, comprehending, and then writing. I usually don’t get more than one or two sentences into this process before thoughts, questions, insights start popping. I write those too. This process has been, in part, what has motivated me to beginning blogging again.

I’m not preaching or preparing sermons any more but when I read the Bible it comes alive and I need a place to dump my thoughts.

Working here at Samaritan’s Purse is so cool. At 8am, the entire staff (over 600 people) gather in the dining hall for devotions. Just about every morning I’m wiping away tears because of the richness of God’s Word. After devotions we head back to our perspective buildings to begin our work around 8:30. I show up at 6:30-ish just so I can make some coffee, and feast on the scriptures. (pic below)

If you ever wrestle with Bible reading, try this method. I hope it helps. The journal will some day pass on to my kids and hopefully inspire them to read the Bible as well. bible study

Hey, let’s blog again . . .
February 15, 2019, 7:42 am
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In a nutshell,

10 years ago I planted a church. About 6 months ago the grace to pastor was starting to wane. I turned the church over to my young padawan Matt and waited for God to open the next door. The week that we made the announcement to the church I applied for a job with Samaritan’s Purse as the Central African Regional Manager for Operation Christmas Child. I got the job and am now living in Boone NC and my wife & kids are still in FL until my daughter graduates high school at which time we will sell the house, buy one up here and get on with this next season in our lives. If you want more details on the journey, check out my FB posts over the 6 months.

Every morning I wake up early and head into the office about 1.5 hrs before I need to be here. I make coffee. I put on my head phones and read the Bible and write down my thoughts. Some of them are good . . . I think. They may help some people. This is a blog I started many many years ago and life and ministry squelched any time I had to keep it up so it fell away. I’ll give it another go and see where we land.

You are welcome to join me for the ride. blognIMK48m

Storm Theology
August 8, 2014, 5:48 pm
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This past weekend our Worship Pastor Christopher Dobson mentioned this story before a specific song and it has been churning in me all week. In a meeting today the buzzer went off on the crock pot of my heart and I had some thoughts that I hope are as helpful to you as they are to me.

Setting: This story in the book of Matthew immediately follows the feeding of the 5000. Read below.

Immediately Jesus made His disciples get into the boat and go before Him to the other side, while He sent the multitudes away. And when He had sent the multitudes away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray. Now when evening came, He was alone there. But the boat was now in the middle of the sea, tossed by the waves, for the wind was contrary. Now in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went to them, walking on the sea. And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out for fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.” (‭Matthew‬ ‭14‬:‭22-27‬ NKJV)

So the story is pretty clear and the point that Christopher made on Sunday was that the disciples obeyed Jesus . . . and by obeying they landed themselves in the middle of a storm.

It could be that you are in the middle of a storm right now and not because there is any big mistake that you have made or sin that you can pinpoint.

Realize this . . . Jesus knew when he sent the disciples into the boat that he was sending them into a storm. He also sent them without his immediate presence in the boat. They waved goodbye and didn’t think anything until the wind picked up. When the wind and waves reached a certain strength, they began to doubt, fear and question what Jesus had done. “Why isn’t he here?” “Why would he send us into this?” “Has he forgotten about us?” “Are we going to die?” Then Jesus comes to them walking on the water. At first they thought he was a ghost and were all the more afraid. Eventually they reconized him and then Peter asks Jesus to call to him so he can walk on the water too.

2 things stand out in this for me:

#1. Jesus didn’t immediately calm the storm when he approached the boat. The disciples would probably have recognized him a lot easier if there weren’t waves, wind, spray tossing everywhere. If they didn’t have to fear for their lives, it would be much easier to focus on Jesus.

This tells me that Jesus’s priority isn’t our comfort. He is even ok with us not being able to see him clearly. I believe the reason Jesus didn’t immediately calm the storm is . . .

#2. He wanted to meet the disciples in the storm. This was the same Jesus that hours earlier they had seen on the shore, waved goodbye to and glanced back at as they drifted into the sea. When they said goodbye, there was no urgency, no fear of death, no questioning or doubting. I can only imagine how much Jesus loved being himself in that storm environment. He always cared. Always loved. Always rescued. But in a storm the disciples could finally see him for all he really is.

All that to say this . . .

If you are in a storm and Jesus isn’t calming it as fast as you want . . . it’s probably because there are parts of his nature, care and love that he can’t show you on glassy seas. Only in the storm do you see him for who he loves to be. Let him be that to you today in your storm and maybe just maybe . . . one day you will thank him for the storm you in right now.

My #1
August 5, 2014, 8:47 am
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We all struggle. Period. Annoying people, that rattle in your car that you cannot find, the pot hole in your neighborhood that no one fixes, that phantom dog on your street that leaves 15lb piles of digested chow in your yard . . . only your yard. If we listed our annoyances and struggles I’m sure they would be in the thousands. Only one sits on top of the list. My number one was the same one for decades but recently (last 5 years) it has been unseated by a fresh new difficulty that, for now, has my number and is eating my lunch. My number one struggle is comparing. Ugh!!
Satan has clued into the fact that nothing will discourage me faster than when I’m comparing my life/ministry with others. This is something I fall into daily . . . and by falling I mean running as fast as I can swan diving face first into the sticky abyss of using other’s experience as my measuring stick. Those who know me know that I’m also fiercely competitive which makes for an explosive combination. I want nothing more than to succeed in my calling and WIN!!!! I hate losing. So this new found turmoil trifecta of #1. hatred of losing, #2. comparison trap and, #3. a ferociously competitive nature have drawn me into many a depth of discouragement feeling like I’m putting the SUCK in Success. The icing on this dung cake is that I’m a leader. Not only do I have to have this mud-wrestling match going on in my own head, I have other great leaders on my team who will follow my lead are highly susceptible to all of these traps as well. I can only imagine how easy it is for them to look at other churches/pastors and immediately begin to compare with our situation and be left in the mental mire with their pastor.

Lately though God, in His great mercy has been gently applying a healing ointment of truth to my heart & mind to alleviate the above struggles.

Truth #1.

“Jesus Christ’s life was an absolute failure from every standpoint but God’s.” Oswald Chambers

Boy did that one help. Jesus’s ministry lasted only 3ish years, he had 12 disciples and all of them bailed on him at the end but one. All of his followers had the wrong idea about him for the entirety of his ministry thinking that he was going to overthrow Roman oppression.
Truth #1. begs the question- “Am I willing to live my life in such a way that it appears to be a failure in regards to man’s measure of success only to be met with “Well done . . .” when I see my Jesus face to face?

Truth #2.

“We must never put our dreams of success as God’s purpose for us; His purpose may be the exact opposite . . . What we call the process, God calls the end.” Oswald Chambers.

More important than the goal is our character on the way to it. I wonder how many false finish lines of success have I run through only to find that God wasn’t applauding at the end. God is way more concerned with our heart and Christ-likeness than He is with achieving some goal or strategy. Is there some financial or business goal that seems all too elusive to you? Could it be that God, in His mercy is cloaking it so that your faith and spiritual stamina develop in the process? Maybe it’s time to take another look.

Truth #3.

Nothing good comes from comparing.
If one of my children excels academically and I communicate their success to their siblings in order to motivate them to achieve . . . I will have successfully gained . . . FAMILY THERAPY.
Each of my kids is unique with specific gifts, talents and calling. It would be grossly unfair to compare them with each other. But we do that with churches all time. While the number of megachurches has increased exponentially in the last decade, they still only make up less than 1% of the number of churches in America. Comparing my church with the one down the road produces nothing positive.
One caveat-
This final truth could easily be twisted to enable unhealthy ministry. Every ministry has blind spots and leaders should diligently seek to expose them in order for growth to happen. 2 question to help with this dynamic . . .
-are you walking in obedience to what God is calling you to do?
-have you invited others more experienced than you to help you grow?

Truth #4.

True success happens after you die!!

Only after Jesus’ death & resurrection did the impact & truth of his ministry make sense to his disciples and affect the world. The Apostles all died horrible deaths as martyrs propelling their influence and effectiveness. Every flavor of death will produce success as well. When I die to other’s opinions of me, when I die to worldly expectations . . . I win. Paul wrote “So then death works in us, but life in you.” (2 Cor. 4:12)

I thank you Lord that I am crucified with Christ and it is no longer I who lives, but Christ who lives in me. Let these truths set me free and those who read this. Let us run with endurance the race that YOU have set before us and live for the day that you return. AMEN

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