Road Warriors: Tips for Itinerant Ministry

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This is a subject I have been asked about most frequently by people who have been “reinventing” their lives. As we transition out of traditional roles, we are looking for more creative ways to share our message and value with the world. Continue reading

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Building Self-Confidence

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I often encounter coaching clients challenged by a lack of self-confidence. When trying to move into new seasons or spheres of influence while lacking character capital to sustain a new level of performance, we may dial back our level of … Continue reading

The Four Stages of Competence

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The Four Stages of Competence Understanding these Four Stages of Competence could save a-lot of frustration when you’re learning a new skill or trying to master a new subject.  I was considering these four stages recently while teaching in our … Continue reading

Boyhood Dreams

Our childhood dreams give us a glimpse of what our lives are to become. Like the preview of an upcoming movie, they arouse our interest and invite us into the adventure of living while give shape to our unfolding destiny. Summers were the best for dreaming.

I can remember waking up to the glorious adventures that awaited. My upstairs bedroom was located on the North west corner of our two story house in the county. The morning breeze through my open windows made my curtains dance with excitement and like arms reaching toward my bed, they beckoned me to come explore. Then, as if slowly arising like a melody, I listened to the symphony of sounds. The rhythm of a distant hammer from a neighbor driving nails, accented by a chorus of morning doves, to Bob Hermes’ lambs in his nearby farm, bleating for their breakfast, the soundtrack of a summer day had begun. Then, the smells from my mother’s kitchen wafted up the stairs, through my bedroom door danced around my nose until appetites became duly aroused. The fragrance of bacon, eggs and bread lured me from my cool sheets. Its time to get on with the day.

The one unchanging constant of those days- exploring! Something new was waiting to unfold. It was summer after all. Maybe our motorcycle gang would go cruising down Taylor Road looking for adventures. Yes, our motochildhood-dreams-randall-arthurrcycle gang. Our bicycles were easily transformed into motorcycles by clipping playing cards to the spokes by using my mother’s clothespins. Then there was…. The Lane. Bob Hermes had a lane that traveled from his farm to access the many acres of fields he used for growing things. But to us, The Lane was magical. Perhaps we would fight the Enemy in our make-believe war as we fashioned  our weapons out of sticks and dirt clods. There were dinosaur footprints back there as well. We saw them.

Another great backdrop of adventure was The Creek that snaked through the fields, slithering beneath the railroad tracks and under the bridges of Mason and Taylor Roads. Crawdads, minnows and other jittering creatures left little puffs of mud as we walked through in our bare feet. I carefully coached the younger explorers on how not to walk downstream while trying to catch specimens. Eventually they grasped the concept of “muddying up the waters.” We weren’t really choosy about our playmates back then. Any kid was invited along on our adventures. All he needed was an imagination and a willingness to get dirty.

During Life Coaching, I often ask, “How closely do your childhood dreams resemble your life now?” By looking within our dreams and along the path our unfolded life, we look for “Destiny Clues.” I believe within the Father Heart of God was conceived the desire for adventure… and for exploring. Our dreams of the future must have an impact on our lives. They whisper to our hearts, inspiring us to become “More.” Through our imagination we can explore the future, bringing back the identity and inspiration to go there, into the present moment. The future is designed to make us brilliant and infuse joy into the present. This, I believe is how God created us to explore the idea of “destiny.”

God speaks to us from the future. Since He is Eternal, He has already been where we are going. When He speaks into our present through dreams or prophetic words, we begin to create a clear path to go there within an intimate partnership with Him. God uses our imaginations to cultivate His intentions for our lives. Consider this verse from the Book of Ephesians, “Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think.” (EPH 3:20 RSV) What is beyond thinking? Surely that would be imagination and dreaming. God invites us to live our lives beyond the limitations of logical thinking. I realized this as a boy.

It was a long journey to recover this dreaming part of my heart. Much of our modern life tends to drive our hearts into the remote regions of our soul. The gradual drift toward the adult world often requires the heart to become more tame. Policies and procedures, rules and schedules are all designed to harness one to the plow so to speak, making producers of us all. But the heart refuses to be harnessed. It does not want to be confined to planners and deadlines and the endless expectations of others. The soul longs for passion, for freedom and adventures… and for life. In the words of John Eldredge, “A man needs to feel the rhythms of the earth; he needs to have in hand something real- the tiller of a boat, a set of reins, the roughness of rope, or simply a shovel. Can a man live all his days to keep his fingernails clean and trim? Is that what a boy dreams of?”

Do Sweat the Hard Stuff!

Richard Carlson tells us in the title of his wonderful little book, “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff … and it’s all small stuff.” He goes on to remind us, and I whole heartily agree, that as you focus more on becoming more peaceful with where you are, rather than focusing on where you would rather be, you begin to find peace right now, in the present. Then, as you move around, try new things, and meet new people, you carry that sense of inner peace with you. It’s absolutely true that, “Wherever you go, there you are.” I love that… peaceful, easy feeling. But sometimes, life isn’t always easy. Especially if you are trying to get an edge in a highly competitive world or inflame passion by the way you live your life. Even if you are competing only with a less inspired version of yourself.

My Jr. High football coach was an intimidating force to reckon with for me and my friends. We were all ready navigating the precarious minefield of puberty, let only the prospect of becoming real men. I remember well the impact his words had on me one day as we were wrapping up another practice where I once again had my lunch handed to me by the bigger kids. “Tonight, when you go home and while you’re laying on the floor in front your TV like a bunch of sissies …” he barked out like a drill sergeant, “Remember, there are kids out there doing the HARD stuff, like doing crunches… Why? Because they want to get an edge on you. They want to kick your pansy butts all over that field!”

His words resonated. That evening, while watching Gilligan’s Island, I do remember as I was getting up off the floor to get some more potato chips, I actually did a few sit ups. The rest of that season, I continued to have my lunch handed to me but those words have continued to resonate.

I have embraced the practice of always trying to do the harder things that, I am supposing, others were less inclined to do. It’s the hard things that are the easiest things to avoid. For some, it’s daunting to choose to prepare nutritious meals rather than eating dinner from a paper sack passed through a window by a pimply faced teenage in a drive up “restaurant.” Its easier to sleep in an extra hour rather than get up early for a vigorious work out or invest time in prayer and meditation. Some choose to invest in a life coach or mentor to help them get that edge while others never ask for help of any kind.

Here is a helpful list of some harder things complied by blogger Dan Waldschmidt:

  • You have to make the call you’re afraid to make.
  • You have to get up earlier than you want to get up.
  • You have to give more than you get in return right away.
  • You have to care more about others than they care about you.
  • You have to fight when you are already injured, bloody, and sore.
  • You have to feel unsure and insecure when playing it safe seems smarter.
  • You have to lead when no one else is following you yet.
  • You have to invest in yourself even though no one else is.
  • You have to look like a fool while you’re looking for answers you don’t have.
  • You have to grind out the details when it’s easier to shrug them off.
  • You have to deliver results when making excuses is an option.
  • You have to search for your own explanations even when you’re told to accept the “facts”.
  • You have to make mistakes and look like an idiot.
  • You have try and fail and try again.
  • You have to run faster even though you’re out of breath.
  • You have to be kind to people who have been cruel to you.
  • You have to meet deadlines that are unreasonable and deliver results that are unparalleled.
  • You have to be accountable for your actions even when things go wrong.
  • You have to keep moving towards where you want to be no matter what’s in front of you.
  • You have to do the hard things.

The things that no one else is doing. The things that scare you. The things that make you wonder how much longer you can hold on. Those are the things that define you. Those are the things that make the difference between living a life of mediocrity or outrageous success.

The hard things are the easiest things to avoid. To excuse away. To pretend like they don’t apply to you.
The simple truth about how ordinary people accomplish outrageous feats of success is that they do the hard things that smarter, wealthier, more qualified people don’t have the courage — or desperation — to do. Don’t be afraid to sweat the hard stuff. You may discover how incredibly amazing you really are!

Truth Held in Tension

My mind became very busy after I awoke this morning. I reached recklessly for my cell phone on the table next to the bed and touched the screen to light up the time. “5:05 AM Sunday, August 4, 2013” Once I noticed the time, I felt committed to begin my day. Prior to looking at the time however, I had already been processing for a while somewhere inside my sleepy self.

It is interesting how the waking moments can become a “thin place” of hearing the Voice of God. It is apparent that there is a part of me actually communicating with Him. “A thin place” is an ancient Celtic belief, where the boundary between heaven and earth is especially thin. It’s a place where we can sense the divine more readily.[i] I have noticed there are specific places like that but none so consistent as when coming out of a REM stage of sleeping where I had been experiencing dreaming.

As I lay there thawing out in the sheets, I waited for my mind to catch up to my spirit, which had already been quite active.  It was as if I had my own private movie theatre so I could watch previews of coming attractions. Except none of the upcoming films appealed to me. The images looked negative and none too favorable. Actually, they were the opposite outcome of what I believed God for. But then another thought came to me… this is a test.

“Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.  For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.  So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.”[ii] So, this test is an opportunity for “great joy.” Not just a smile, or warm fuzzy feeling, but “Great” joy. How do I accept this as truth when I don’t know where my family will be living in less than a month and I have no official employment to leverage a deal?

How can I reconcile the facts that exist, to the truths I believed? God has promised in His word that according to the apostle Paul, “And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.[iii] When we sold our home of seventeen years and left our ministry and careers to pursue our High Call, we stood on the promise Jesus made about leaving houses for His sake.

“And everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or property, for my sake, will receive a hundred times as much in return and will inherit eternal life.” Jesus Himself said that. We seriously could use one of those houses right now, I was thinking to myself.

I was feeling the frustration mounting of not having steady income. After all, I reasoned, I need housing accommodations, I need to pay tuition, we have bills… ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ Wait, these are things Jesus said, “Don’t worry about those things… your daddy knows you need them. But seek first the Kingdom and His righteousness and all these things will be added to you.”

Truth. One of the more challenging times in our journey with God, is learning to be comfortable with mystery. Keeping our faith strong and heart at peace in the “in-between place,” is a crucial discipline to embrace. The in-between place is a place where truth is held in tension, between a need and the fulfillment of a promise.

It is one thing to obey God and live a life of faith, when our most pressing needs are satisfied. It is another thing altogether to live your life of faith according to the revelation you received, but having not received the desired outcome. I feel the swell of doubt trying to exalt itself over the revelation of the goodness of God. My doubt, like a prosecuting attorney, has so much circumstantial evidence to build a case. But to trust God only when a favorable outcome is guaranteed isn’t faith that pleases Him.

My heart rests when I choose to believe He is intentional in His interaction in our lives. “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.”[iv] So, because I can’t see how a promise will be met, should I “cast away my confidence” and consider Him unfaithful? Isn’t living with mystery what a life of faith is all about?

Just an hour ago, my 14 year old daughter asked me to take her to Target to make an exchange of something she had purchased. Feeling a sense of urgency since she wasn’t empowered by a license to drive herself, she wanted a commitment from me. When I assured her I would drive her there in the afternoon, she let out a deep sigh of relief.

As peace settled her stormy agitation, she skipped out of my room onto her next activity. Her daddy promised her, so she could release the burden of an unresolved issue. She is now living comfortably in the in-between place. She is at peace knowing her daddy promised her, and I have a happy heart because she counted me faithful to my word. Trust like this is the fabric of relationship.

So beyond a trust issue, I also believe when our faith is tested, there is something deeper being worked into our character. We already looked at a verse about endurance, but I also believe a deep hunger also is stirred. Hunger is necessary because hunger assures that we will be faithful to steward the answer once it is birthed. We don’t always do well when our answers come to us easily.

Consider Hannah, the mother of Samuel the Prophet. She was barren and without hope of barring children apart from a miracle. In her desperation, a hunger was birthed in her that helped her fulfill her destiny. She presented the child she had birthed through her pain back to the Lord. When miracles and ministries are birthed through desperation, we tend to treasure them more than if no price had been paid.

Bill Johnson tells a story of a prophecy he received from Mario Murillo twenty years ago. It came to him during the years when Bill felt the frustration of living in the tension of “theory without fruit”. Bill hadn’t seen any miracle of healing in spite of believing for them after praying for many people. Mario referred to the story of Hannah and her closed womb referring to Bill’s present season of desperation.

He said, “God has closed up the realm of the miraculous to you, not as punishment, but to draw you into the desperation needed to maintain it as a lifestyle once you received your breakthrough.” This testimony is inspiring consider the realm of the miraculous that Bill stewards so well in his ministry today. Entire nations are impacted by his obedience to the revelation he embraced and contended for.

So, as I sit here today in my virtual barrenness, I am left to ponder my own motivations for wanting to experience breakthrough in Supernatural Provision. Am I looking for God to come through because I merely need a place for my family in the next month or is there something more? Yes, of course we need the promised provision, but in contending for this “miracle”, I believe we will open up a new realm that we can help other people experience for themselves.

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My conclusion to the matter after processing, while enjoying my morning cup of French Roast, is I am right where God wants me. I am responding to an invitation to embrace His realm of the miraculous which includes being comfortable with mystery. Truth needs to be held in tension.  Wisdom, and not reasoning apart from God, is the operating system, which allows us to process these tensions.

When we grapple with truths held in tension with wisdom, faith is released in our hearts that positions us to bless the world around us.  The testing of our faith produces something glorious. Remember, this is only a test and this kind of test I am reminded, is taken with great joy!


[ii] James 1:2-4 NLT

[iii] Philippians 4:19 NLT

[iv] Romans 8:28 NLT