Mind Spackle


Storm Theology
August 8, 2014, 5:48 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

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
Filed under: Uncategorized

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



Can you see it?
June 3, 2014, 9:50 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

A post or two ago I wrote about God’s thoughts toward you and how numerous they were. Have you stopped to think about the contents of those thoughts? I know He has a LOT of thoughts about me but what is He thinking? He can see the end from the beginning and so his plan for us is measured to our highest potential. He has taken into consideration our weaknesses, our stubbornness, our fears our determination and also His ability by His Spirit to accomplish the impossible. After figuring in all the variables He has come up with THE BEST plan for our lives. This plan is best and if we follow it, we land at the end of the age hearing “well done good & faithful servant.”

Where is your life in relation to that plan? Are you on target? Have you given up pursuing God’s plan in exchange for survival? Many do.

Following God’s plan is not easy. We could easily come up with hundreds of excuses why God’s plan isn’t working or won’t work but try explaining that to the God of all knowledge and let me know how that works out for you.

I’m convinced that accomplishing God’s plan for our lives lies in 2 simple steps.

Step 1. Believe!

I know that sounds obvious and corny but it’s true. If you don’t believe that God has figured all the variables and your weaknesses you will NEVER go on to accomplish the mission and goals that He has set for you.

I do not subscribe to ‘believe in yourself’ disney theology. I simply think that if we are going to ascend to God’s plan for our lives we must first believe that He is smart enough to give us a plan that is possible and best.

I wonder if we tie God’s hands from the beginning because we refuse to believe the possibilities that are found in Him. How can God do with your life what He wants if you won’t believe it’s possible?

What if God’s plans for you are way bigger than you think? I guarantee they are. Great men & women in history are great not because they aren’t weak. They are great because they simply begin to believe that God has a plan and He is big enough to make that plan happen.

Step 2. Look at Him!

I know . . . obvious. But how often do we really do it? How often are we captivated by our inabilities, insecurities and sin instead of the King of Kings? God’s plan for Peter involved defying the laws of gravity and walking on water. That was God’s best plan for Peter. Peter believed enough to get out of the boat and then looked at Jesus in order to walk it out.

When we first start to believe (step 1) there will be a gap between what God’s plan is and what our reality in life is. That is where step 2 begins. Fix your eyes and heart on Jesus and that gap begins to disappear.

Even though God has big plans for you . . . don’t fixate on the plans. Focus on the plan maker.

But as it is written: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” (I Corinthians 2:9 NKJV)

I believe that I am living God’s best plan for my life. I am not living it because I have it all together or even knew what God wanted me to do. I am clueless much of the time. (no amens please) God has helped me Believe and helped me keep looking at Him.

I encourage you to spend time with people who can see and believe God’s plan for your life and before long . . . you will see it to.



A moment of lifetimes
May 30, 2014, 12:52 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

As the pastor of a local church I many times feel like a family doctor. I meet with people, they tell me their symptoms and I attempt to diagnose why the symptoms have arrived and then prescribe some sort of solution to the problem. Over the past 5 years I have noticed a trending ailment that is infecting many followers of Jesus. The symptoms usually include doubt, anxiety, and an overwhelming feeling that God either doesn’t like them or is really mad at their behavior and has in turn caused bad things to happen to them.

Invariably their symptoms are rooted in wrong beliefs concerning their God. Their wrong outlook on God’s heart towards them will ALWAYS play out in the above mentioned symptoms.

Last week, I was preparing for a meeting with a group of leaders who assist me in caring for the church I pastor and I needed to equip them to treat this epidemic that our church and every church is facing. As I prepared I found myself led to Psalm 139:17-18

How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand; When I awake, I am still with You.
(Psalms 139:17, 18 NKJV)

I began to ponder this Psalm of David. I imagine David had found himself in a place where there was a lot of sand and I believe God simply spoke to David and said “See all that sand? See each grain? My thoughts toward you are more numerous than those.” I imagine David scooped up a small handful of sand and began to have his mind blown about how much God thinks about him.

I had a similar moment over a year ago while on a planning retreat at the beach. I was sitting in the sand and scooped some up in my hand and began to look at each individual grain in it’s uniqueness when this Psalm jumped in my head. I looked down the beach in both directions arriving at the same conclusion as David “Wow, God sure thinks about me a lot.”

I am certain that when this Psalm was written there was not the technological or mathematical resources available to David as we have accessible to us today. So last week, my curiosity won out and I googled, “How many grains of sand are there?”

To my surprise, Google had an answer. 7 Quintillion 5 hundred Quadrillion!!!! (7,500,000,000,000,000,000)

My first thought was that someone has way too much time on their hands. But some really smart researchers at the University of Hawaii counted the grains of sand in a tablespoon and then calculated how much sand is in all the deserts, ocean floors beaches etc. and camp up with the above number. . . give or take a few grains.

Seven quintillion really is just a number that is hard to wrap my mind around so I had another thought.

What if it took God one second to think every thought that He has toward me?

Now I know that God is not confined by time and thoughts usually last longer than one second but in order to help wrap your mind around God’s thoughts toward you I went ahead and did the math for you anyway.

If God had one thought toward you every second, and the number of thoughts is at least (probably more) the number of grains of sand on the earth, how long it would take for someone to have 7.5 quintillion thoughts?

240,237,823,440 years!!!!! Yes that is correct. If God had one thought toward you per second and he has, according to Psalm 139 over 7.5 quintillion, it would take God over two hundred and forty BILLION years to think all the thoughts he has toward you.

Then I was struck by another thought . . . about how many seconds does the average human live? Google? Yesssssss.

The average person lives 2,524,608,000 seconds (2.5 billion seconds). So that means (if my math is correct) that, if God spent one second per thought that He has toward you, then God would spend about 95 years of thinking per second second of your life. So for every second you have used to read this blog God spent 95 years thinking about that moment and 95 years thinking about this moment and this one . . . catching on? 

If I had 95 years (one lifetime) to prepare for and get ready for one moment in time there would be nothing that could happen in that moment that would take me by surprise because I already thought about every possibility for almost a century. Every moment of your life God has planned, wept through, thought about and thoroughly understands. Every happy moment, sad moment, sinful moment and painful moment God has tackled it from every angle. I believe that He is pleased right now that you are reading this blog :o)

Now read the first six verses of Psalm 139 and it takes on a whole new meaning.

O LORD, You have searched me and known me. You know my sitting down and my rising up; You understand my thought afar off. You comprehend my path and my lying down, And are acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word on my tongue, But behold, O LORD, You know it altogether. You have hedged me behind and before, And laid Your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; It is high, I cannot attain it. (Psalms 139:1-6 NKJV)

Not only does God have the capacity to spend a lifetime thinking about every moment of YOUR life, He has spent a lifetime thinking through every moment of everyone’s life. Even the ones who don’t know Him. One of our greatest priviledges is to help awaken people to the reality that there is an invisible God who loves them and knows their moments better than anyone and is waiting for the ONE moment when their hearts will blossom in the light of the truth of His love for them. He may spend more than just 95 yrs thinking about that moment. I would.

Where are you? What flavor are the moments of your life right now? Filled with pain? Doubt? Fear? God knows about all of it and is prepared to walk with you through the 2.5 billion seconds of your life.

I hope these thoughts inoculate you from doubt, fear and pity and embolden you to live each moment worthy of God’s thoughts!!!

ImageJames Dodzweit



Find the Rest
May 30, 2014, 11:45 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

One day a young man will take interest in my daughter. I pray this doesn’t happen for a very long time. I often play the scenario out in my head . . . it usually involves me cleaning a large semi-automatic weapon (which I currently do not own) and I ask, “what are your intentions toward my daughter (pause) . . . boy?” Thats really as far as I get but in my imagination the ‘boy’ pees himself and runs away. I like that.

“What are your intentions?” What are you thinking about enough to put action to? That’s what I want to know.

Lately the term ‘intentional’ has been the buzz word that has made almost daily appearances in the meetings I’m a part of. As church leaders we are running ideas through the filter of intention. We have lots of thoughts but only the really strong ones find their way into action because we choose to be intentional about them.

Let me offer something that every person must be intentional about . . . Rest!

I find my rest in God alone. He is the One who saves me. (Psalm 62:1 NIRV)

Rest must be found. You HAVE to search for it. When the pace of life begins to overheat the motor of your heart & emotions . . . find rest. According to Psalm 62, true rest is found in only one place. God.

The past few weeks for me have been restless for about a half dozen reasons. Late nights, early mornings, leading high caliber leaders and leading my own self have driven the rpm’s of my life to redline. Rest was elusive to me. I wasn’t intentional to find it. My soul was jumbled and emotions frayed.

Rest was available I just had to find it. Today I found it. I stopped into the Florida Hospital in Wesley Chapel and snuck into the chapel. (see pic)

After about 30 minutes of spilling my heart out to The Lord my soul found rest. The video screens of nature and gentle ambient music helped too but I was intentional.

If this short post finds you frazzled, worried, stressed or depressed . . . find rest. Go look for it. It won’t be in a TV show or crowd of people. It may be in a parking lot in your car, an empty house early in the morning, or simply napping on the couch. Remember though that true rest is found in God and He wants you to rest in Him more than you do. Simply ask Him to lead your soul to rest. As we intentionally position our bodies to rest . . . He will give rest to our soul.

When we are rested we can then love people the right way and our lives strike a healthy balance. Go Find Rest!

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Semipermeable membrane
May 30, 2014, 11:07 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

There are very few things I remember learning in high school. For whatever reason the title of this post is one of the 8 things I do remember. Curious? Google it.

The longer I exist in this ministry context the more I am aware of a subtle growing tension wrestling in the deep recesses of my heart.  It is the tension of the scope of vulnerability.  Pastoral ministry has an uncanny way of unearthing every form of personal weakness and like a ripe zit threaten to explode messy truth all over the place. So who do we peel back the veil for?  Who get’s to see us in the middle of our failure?

The battle for purity among pastors is as heated as it has ever been.  It is the greased slip & slide that leads to affairs, church splits and wrecked families.  Accountability is the answer but it is never that simple.  Who should we be accountable to?  Do we let our  church know?  Often asked questions include  “If I admit that I am weak in this area, will people still attend my church?  Will they lose respect for me?  Will I be asked to step down?”

1 checkpoint comes mind when facing this issue of who to be vulnerable to:

#1.  Can your struggle give freedom to someone else?

There have been many times where I have shared my own personal weaknesses with small groups of men in our church or in youth ministry.  As I approach these times there is certainly a component of fear which opposes me and attempts to deter me from open honest sharing.  Fear will fight your honesty tooth & nail.  Fear of being exposed or having your weakness used against you.  When I was a youth pastor, my pastor would always say, “What you cover God uncovers; but what you uncover God covers.”  The results however have always been positive.  In almost 15 of ministry I have never had information that I shared thrown back in my face or used against me.

I remember attending a recent catalyst event where Andy Stanley and Craig Groeschel shared about the steps they take for accountability and sexual purity in their own lives.  Hearing humble admission from two of America’s most prominent pastors evoked a deep  sigh of relief in my heart.  Their honesty provided freedom in me.  Maybe that is why Paul wrote . . .

9 And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. (2 Cor. 12:9 NKJV)

It has been my experience that ministers fall too often on the safe side of things.  They don’t open up, they let no one in and allow fear to keep their testimony on lock down.

One caveat . . .

USE WISDOM!   Don’t go sharing how you struggle with lust to the single women in your congregation.  Let the Holy Spirit be your filter and follow His leading.  He will lead you into all truth.

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God of the earthquake & tsunami? pt. 1
March 21, 2011, 1:18 pm
Filed under: Discussions

“This food is gross!”  Most parents have experienced the horror of those four words.  Horror because it is spoken by their child while eating at someone else’s house.  For us, it was a friend, neighbor, and member of the church I pastor and the culprit . . .  brussels sprouts.  Don’t get me wrong I’m no fan of the sprouts but I have the wisdom NOT to speak what everyone else is already thinking.  Today I’m going to lay that wisdom aside for a moment and ask a question that I believe is nagging most inhabitants of this planet in the back of their minds but have yet the courage to verbalize.

Let’s shine a little light on the Giant Elephant in the theological room regarding the recent events in Japan.

Over the last few weeks I have gotten caught up in the turbulent release of Rob Bell’s new book “Love Wins”.  In my perusing I came across an interview by Martin Bashir from MSNBC where he grills Bell regarding his new book.  I’m tempted to log some thoughts on the issue but that is not the aim of this post.  Before he mentions the book the host asks Rob Bell’s opinion regarding the recent events in Japan and says . . .

“Which of these is true?  Either God is all powerful but He doesn’t care about the people of Japan and therefore their suffering or He does care about the people of Japan but He’s not all powerful, which one is it?”

In that one question the MSNBC host may have summed up the one thing that humans want to know concerning this disaster and the God who calls  himself  “the God of creation”.  Rob Bell never really answered the question but simply called it a “paradox at the heart of the divine”.

So the question remains.  How could a God who, on one hand is in control of nature and therefore this Japanese devastation and on the other hand labeled a God of love & compassion, allow 10,000 people to die in a day.  How can these two truths exist in one perfect person?  I have several thoughts on this but would really like to hear from you.  Chime in . . .




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