Friday, December 24, 2010

Living Water

Have you ever experienced the tenderness of God flowing through you into another person’s life? Would you like to be part of this work that God is doing through my life? I want to invite you to participate in ministry with me. I have been serving at Grace Ministries International for four years now as a discipleship counselor who leads people into the joy of their salvation. As I live in the grace of God, and embrace my union with Him, He lives through me to reach those who need to know His love. God has called me to express His love in listening, compassion and conversation filled with truth. On a daily basis I see people come alive to an intimate relationship with Jesus. They discover the confidence that comes from knowing how He has transformed their spirits and given them a new heart.

Perhaps you would consider investing in this work of the Kingdom. Ministers at GMI are supported as missionaries so that we have the freedom to share the message of Christ with people regardless of their ability to pay. There are opportunities to give financially or to provide prayer support by being in contact through our newsletter. However, there may be other ways you are led to share the abilities and resources God has put in your hands.

My goal is not just to generate financial support or one time donations but to develop lasting relationships that will lead to more effective ministry. If you are lead to join our financial support team, click on the link below to donate, or Email me if you would like to discuss more fully how our support works.

This letter may answer some of your initial questions about what I do and how you can participate, but I welcome the opportunity to begin a conversation and share what God is doing through me. /404.271.5947

Click Here to support financially and begin a partnership online.
Please scroll down to my name under Staff Contributions

Monday, December 20, 2010

Gentle Mary
frightened by the Angel’s words
a teenage girl caught up
in the passion of the Most High

Greetings favored one
The Lord is with you.

Questions flutter
in your heart like birds.
How could you bear
the life of God Himself
in your body?

And yet you said, “yes.
be it unto me
as you have said.”

Now He comes to us.
We each have
our own Annunciation.

The Spirit comes
and words are spoken
over us, not a question
but a powerful proclamation.
Life begins deep within.
We are born from above.

And so Paul could write
“My children, with whom
I am again in labor
until Christ is formed in you.”

So we abide in wonder
and in awe.
How can I bear
the life of Christ
in my body?

Greetings favored one
the Lord is with you.

by Charles Spoelstra

Landscape of Love - Listening in Prayer

Remember what I said to you this morning.

You were designed
to live
within the landscape of My Love.

What does that feel like Lord?

It feels like a view down a mountainside
filled with snow, and freefalling through pines.

Like a lush garden, secluded
filled with flower, leaf and fruit.

Like the warmth of the sun on your skin
on a cool fall day.

It feels like the rush of many waters
crashing on the shore of your heart
wave after wave
each one saying “I love you”
Never ceasing, never failing,
each one powerful,
perfectly formed,

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

I hear the quiet singing (for Leif)

I hear the quiet singing of you
restless in your bed
gently passing the moments
until sleep shuts your little mouth
and brings only the
sound of the clock, breathing
on and on in the electric silence.


Toddler says “No” for days on days
even when he means “Yes.”

Training himself to a contrary will
for the sake of an unhappy
but necessary independence.

The first time he lisps an ‘Okay’
and means it
is an Ode to Joy
in Father’s ears.

This New Life

Love carries her precious one in arms of care
Joy leaps up in the heart of the parent aware
Peace sings her song to the infant asleep
Patience waits by the bed til he wakes
Gentleness cradles the head so frail
Goodness prepares a meal for the child
and Discipline labors with Joy
to see this new life unfurl.

(for Owen and Dawn)

Small Window

into the heart of God,
your eyes reveal what mine cannot always see:
the joy of the Maker in the simplest of things.
A flower pulled, a stone thrown,
falling water cupped in your hand,
all these you notice with clean consideration.

With your smile so slight, infectious laughter
eyebrow furrowed, your attention held
moment by moment you lead me through
into a world that has been lost to me
since I last looked at life
through the eyes of a child.

In the shifting sand, time holds you captive.
In a game of chase you are endlessly fascinated.
With each floating leaf
each trip down the slide
you unveil a landscape of joy to me.

When my heart is broken and far away
You bring me near to the heart of the Father.

In my love for you I find His love for me.

(for Leif)

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Experiencing Life In Ministry

Charles: Experiencing Life in Ministry

I work as a discipleship counselor and trainer at Grace Ministries. The job involves a great deal of personal interaction, which I love, but it can also be stressful because God leads the people who come to me to face the most broken and wounded places in their lives. If I had to carry the burden of all the emotional pain and struggle that I hear about even just from one week, it would be overwhelming. Thankfully, that's not how I see my job at all. My job is to be present to people, as a willing manifestation of the love and life of Jesus, and to let Him speak to them, minister to them, heal their pain, deal with their flesh and reveal their spiritual identity in Him.

One of the roles I have been called to at GMI is to be the storyteller for the ministry, to get the message of Grace out to people through sharing the testimony of those who have come to an encounter with Jesus. I will be doing this through newsletters, and other means that God has only just begun to show me. I hope that you will follow along as I go on this journey of discovering how to capture what the Spirit is doing in people's lives.

Another role that I play here is to participate on two committees as part of what we are calling the Good to Great process. To see the book we read and the process we went through look here. The first group is designed to develop the roots of our organization, to assist the staff with support raising, and work through policies and procedure to create the most efficient and effective work environment. The second group, called the lighthouse, to begin in four months time, will be focused on developing new materials and nurturing creative endeavors among the staff of this ministry.

Friday, July 04, 2008

My Inheritance

Jesus, Thy blood and righteousness
My beauty are, my glorious dress
‘Midst flaming worlds, in these arrayed,
With joy shall I lift up my head.

Nikolaus L. von Zinzendorf, 1739,
trans. by John Wesley, 1740 hymn 241

Dad heard me playing this on the piano today, and he pointed out that it was my Grandfather’s favorite hymn. Dad said, "Well, I don't know if it was his favorite but it was the one he always chose in church when requests were taken." I love the tune, but these words are even more powerful still. Somewhere deep inside where he never showed me, my Grandfather must have understood and cherished his identity in Jesus, because these words speak of a glory that stirs the heart with longing and fills the life with a sense of true nobility.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008


I need to listen and walk
and pray in the woods
because there my heart
is like a receiver
tuned in
to the heart of God.

All the computers and desks
and phones and walls of the office
transmit only interference,
pressure and guilt,
They hum their static
performance based mentality.
It is the sound of man’s shame
at his own futility.

But the trees of the forest,
growing without effort
in the radiant breeze
by God’s power alone infusing them,
each branch an antennae
tuned to the light,
each spreading leaf
a network of receiving fibres
each tendril and root
part of a vast web
anchoring the bole
to drink in life,


His signal to me
and I see
and I hear
I breathe
I am
I receive.

It is a journey with God
to step for a moment
out into what He has made
and with each step deeper
the Peace of God
beyond my comprehension
comes to settle me down.

Now I lay me down to sleep
Amidst the branches soft and deep
If I should dream before I wake
In a copse or in a dell
by sound of stream or some still pool
Over stony woodland glen
or beside a grassy fen
I know my Lord
my heart
will take
He always has
He always will.

Ian Thomas, The Saving Life of Christ

I decided to type this up because it captures beautifully the things that God has been teaching me. I'd like to share this with all the people that I meet with. I hope you enjoy it.

There is something which makes Christianity more than a religion, more than an ethic, and more than the idle dream of a sentimental idealist. It is something which makes it relevant to each one of us right now as a contemporary experience. It is the fact that Christ Himself is the very life content of the Christian faith. It is He who makes it “tick.” “Faithful is he who calls you, who also will do it” (1 Thess. 5:24). The One who calls you is the One who does that to which He calls you. “For it is God who works in you, both to will and to do of His good pleasure” (Phil. 2:13). He is Himself the very dynamic of all His demands.

Christ did not die simply that you might be saved from a bad conscience, or even to remove the stain of past failure, but to “clear the decks” for divine action. You have been told that Christ died to save you. This is gloriously true in a very limited, though vital sense. In Romans 5:10 we read, “If, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.” The Lord Jesus Christ therefore ministers to you in two distinct ways—He reconciles you to God by His death, and He saves you by His life.

I would like to examine with you what this implies. The very first word of the Gospel is a word of reconciliation, so that “we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us; we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God” (2 Cor. 5:20). This is a call to the sinner to be at peace with God Himself. How is this possible? Only by virtue of the fact that “God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself” (2 Cor. 5:19).

God in righteousness has no option but to find you guilty as a sinner and to pass upon you the sentence of death, the forfeiture of His Holy Spirit, and alienation from the life of God—by nature dead in trespasses and sins. But more than nineteen hundred years ago, God in Christ stepped out of eternity into time, and there are extended to you today the nail-pierced hands of One who suffered, “the just for the unjust,” to bring you back to God (1 Peter 3:18). “He bare our sins in his own body on the tree” (1 Peter 2:24).

This is what makes the Gospel at once so urgent! Mental assent is not enough—a moral choice is imperative! Christ is God’s last word to man and God’s last word to you, and He demands an answer.

Your response to Jesus Christ will determine your condition in the sight of God—redeemed or condemned!

This, however, is but the beginning of the story, “for if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, [now an accomplished fact,] we shall be saved [as a continuing process] by His life” (Rom. 5:10). The glorious fact of the matter is this—no sooner has God reconciled to Himself the man who has responded to His call, than He reimparts to him, as a forgiven sinner (ie. saint), the presence of the Holy Spirit, and this restoration to him of the Holy Spirit constitutes what the Bible calls regeneration, or new birth. Titus 3:5 and 6,--“Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and the renewing of the Holy Ghost; which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour.”

On the third morning after His crucifixion, the Lord Jesus Christ rose from the dead and appeared to His disciples. He instructed them for some forty days and then ascended to the Father. On the first day of Pentecost He returned, not this time to be with them externally—clothed with that sinless humanity that God had prepared for Him, being conceived of the Holy Spirit in the womb of Mary—but now to be in them, imparting to them His own divine nature, clothing Himself with their humanity, so that they each became “members in particular” of a new, corporate body through which Christ expressed Himself to the world of their day. He spoke with their lips. He worked with their hands. This was the miracle of the new birth, and this remains the very heart of the Gospel!

“Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it.” The One who calls you to a life of righteousness is the One who by your consent lives that life of righteousness through you! The One who calls you to minister to the needs of humanity is the One who by your consent ministers to the needs of humanity through you! The One who calls you to go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature, is the One who by your consent, goes into all the world and preaches the Gospel to every creature through you!

This is the divine genius that saves a man from the futility of self-effort. It relieves the Christian of the burden of trying to pull himself up by his own bootstraps! If it were not for this divine provision, the call to Christ would be a source of utter frustration, presenting the sorry spectacle of a sincere idealist, constantly thwarted by his own inadequacy.

If you will but trust Christ, not only for the death He died in order to redeem you, but also for the life that He lives and waits to live through you, the very next step you take will be a step taken in the very energy and power of God Himself. You will have begun to live a life which is essentially supernatural, yet still clothed with the common humanity of your physical body, and still worked out in the things that inevitably make up the lot of a man who, though his heart may be with Christ in heaven, still has his two feet firmly planted on the earth.

You will have become totally dependent upon the life of Christ within you, and never before will you have been so independent, so emancipated from the pressure of your circumstances, so released at last from that self distrust which has made you at one moment an arrogant loud-mouthed braggart, and the next moment the victim of your own self-pity—and, either way, always in bondage to the fear of other men’s opinions.

You will be free from the tyranny of a defeated enemy within. You will be more than conqueror, for even death itself is conquered by His life. Christ through death destroyed “him that had the power of death, that is, the devil” (Heb. 2:14). This indeed is victory!
You will be restored to true humanity—to be the human vehicle of a divine life. Your faith will open the windows of heaven, for God will move in to do the impossible,--and this is the specialty of creative Deity. Your friends will be baffled, for in reality you will have become a new creature—old things will have passed away, all things will have become new (2 Cor. 5:17). Through peace with God you will have found the peace of God, which “passeth all understanding.”

Now if it is true that the Lord Jesus Christ will live His life through you on earth today, as He lived His life once in His own body on earth more than nineteen hundred years ago, it is both interesting and necessary to discover how He lived then, so that you may know how He will live through you now. Let us look at Scriptures that show how He lived.

In John 6:56 it says, “He that eats my flesh, and drinks my blood, dwells in me and I in him.” From the context of this passage, we understand that the Lord Jesus Christ here uses the expression “to eat and to drink” as representing “to come and to believe,” so that those that come to Him and believe on Him enter into a unique relationship with Him—they dwell in Him and He dwells in them.

Verse 57 continues, “As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me.” (see also John 4:32-34;Mt 4:4) As He lived by the Father, so you are to live by Him. How then did Jesus Christ live by the Father? Once you know the answer to this question, you will know thereafter how you are to live by Him, and at first the answer is very surprising.

In John 5:19, Jesus said, “Verily, verily, I say unto you. The Son can do nothing of himself.” Verse 28 of chapter 8—“Then said Jesus unto them, When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself.” Here we see Jesus Christ as man, living in total, unquestioning dependence upon the Father. Thus He fulfilled His true vocation as man, for He came in His sinless humanity to be what man through sin had ceased to be—the willing vehicle of the Divine Presence, allowing the Father to express Himself in action through His humanity. (John 14:9)

So the Lord Jesus prayed in John 17 verse 19—“For their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified [set wholly apart] through the truth.” That is to say, as He lived in unbroken dependence upon the Father, taking no step except in recognition of the fact that apart from the Father He could do nothing, so He calls upon you to live in the same total dependence upon Him—taking no step except in recognition of the fact that apart form Him, Christ, you can do nothing.

“I am the vine, you are the branches: He that abides in me, and I in him, the same brings forth much fruit: for without me you can do nothing” John 15:5). In other words, you can do no more without Him than He could do without the Father. But how much could the Father do through the Son? Everything!—for He was available to all that the Father made available to Him. “Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands . . . “ (John 13:3.) “It pleased the Father that in Him should all fulness dwell” (Col 1:19).

How much then can Jesus Christ do through you and through me? Everything! He is limited only by the measure of our availability to all that He makes available to us, for “in him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily, and you are complete in him” (Col. 2:9-10). What then is the faith that releases divine action? How may you be saved by His life, as you have already claimed to be redeemed by His death? This is the critical question of Christian experience, and the answer is simple—“The just shall live by faith” (Rom 1:17).

Faith in all its sheer simplicity! Faith that takes God precisely at His Word! Faith that simply says, “Thank You.”

If you are to know the fullness of life in Christ, you are to appropriate the efficacy of what He is as you have already appropriated the efficacy of what He has done. Relate everything, moment by moment as it arises, to the adequacy of what He is in you, and assume that His adequzcy will be operative; and on this basis in 1 Thessalonians 5:16 you are exhorted to “rejoice evermore!” You are to be incorrigibly cheerful, for you have solid grounds upon which to rejoice!

Again, “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17), and here the word to pray does not mean to beg or to plead as if God were unwilling to give—but simply to expose by faith every situation as it arises, to the all-sufficiency of the One who indwells you by His life. Can any situation possibly arise, in any circumstances, for which He is not adequate? Any pressure, promise, problem, responsibility or temptation for which the Lord Jesus Himself is not adequate? If He be truly God, there cannot be a single one! “And (He is) declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead” (Rom 1:4)—and of this, His resurrection life, we are made partakers!

This being so, applying His adequacy by faith to every situation as it arises, will leave you with no alternative but to obey the injunction of 1 Thessalonians 5:18—“In everything give thanks!” In how many things? In everything—without exception, “for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”

If there is any situation from which you are not prepared to step back, in recognition of the total adequacy of Christ who is in you, then you are out of the will of God. You are asserting by your action and by your attitude that He has nothing to give you for that situation, which you do not have in yourself. This is the very negation of dependence, and you disobey the injunction of verse 19—“Quench not the Spirit,” for the office of the Holy Spirit is to make known to you, and to make experiential to you, all that Christ is in you.

This, of course, is what it means to be filled with the Holy Spirit—to allow the Holy Spirit to occupy the whole of your personality with the adequacy of Christ. This is the sublime secret of drawing upon the unlimited resources of Deity. “Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Eph. 5:19,20).
How stupid it would be to buy a car with a powerful engine under the hood, and then to spend the rest of your days pushing it! Thwarted and exhausted, you would wish to discard it as a useless thing! Yet to some of you who are Christians, this may be God’s word to your heart. When God redeemed you through the precious blood of His dear Son, He placed, in the language of my illustration, a powerful engine under the hood—nothing less than the resurrection life of God the Son, made over to you in the person of God the Holy Spirit. Then stop pushing! Step in and switch on, and expose every hill of circumstance, of opportunity, of temptation, of perplexity—no matter how threatening,--to the divine energy that is available.
With what magnificent confidence you may step out into the future when once you have consented to die to your own self-effort, and to make yourself available as a redeemed sinner (SAINT) to all that God has made available to you in His risen Son!

To be in Christ—that is redemption; but for Christ to be in you—that is sanctification! To be in Christ—that makes you fit for heaven; but for Christ to be in you—that makes you fit for earth! To be in Christ—that changes your destination; but for Christ to be in you—that changes your destiny! The one makes heaven your home—the other makes this world His workshop.
I may wish to return to my home in England, and I stand in New York, but ever since I was born I have been bound to this earth by a law that I have never been able to break—the law of gravity. I am told, however, that there is another law, a higher law, the law of aero-dynamics, and if only I will be willing to commit myself in total trust to this new law, then this new law will set me free for the old law. By faith I step into the plane, I sit back in the rest of faith, and as those mighty engines roar into life, I discover that the new law of aero-dynamics sets me free from the law of gravity.

So long as I maintain by faith that position of total dependence, I do not have to try to be free from the law of gravity—I am being set free by the operation of a new and higher law. Of course, if I am stupid enough, way out across the Atlantic, I may decide that the cabin of the plane is too stuffy, and step out through the emergency window—but the moment I discard my position of faith in the new and higher law that is setting me free, I discover that the old down-drag is still fully in operation, and I am caught again by the law of gravity and plunged into the water!

I must maintain my attitude of dependence if I am to remain air-borne!

So you too are called upon by God to walk by faith, to walk in the Spirit, resting the whole weight of your personality upon the living Christ who is in you; and as by faith you walk in the Spirit, so God declares you will not fulfill the lusts of the flesh (Gal 5:16). You will be liberated, emancipated, set free from the down drag of that inbred wickedness, which Christ alone can overcome. You will be made more than conqueror through “Christ, who is our life” (Col. 3:4).
I wonder how it is with you? Have you ever put your trust in the Lord Jesus as your Redeemer? Have you been reconciled to God by the death of His Son? I wonder, if reconciled, whether you are at this moment being saved by His life? Have you learned to step out of every situation and relate it wholly to what He is in you, and by faith say “Thank You?”

Lord Jesus, how I thank You that You have not only redeemed me with your precious blood, reconciled me to God and established peace between my guilty soul and God my Maker, but I thank You that You have risen from the dead, that at this very moment you indwell me in the person and power of Your divine Spirit; that You have never expected of me anything but failure, yet You have given to me Your strength for my weakness, Your victory for my defeat, Yourself for all my bankruptcy! I step out now by faith, into a future that is limited only by what You are! To me t live is Christ! For Your Name’s sake. Amen.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Vision and Trust

Oswald Chambers writes, "We can all see God in exceptional things, but it requires the growth of spiritual discipline to see God in every detail. Never believe that the so-called random events of life are anything less than God's appointed order. Be ready to discover his divine designs anywhere and everywhere.”

Lord, I want to see You in every detail, every leaf, every blade of grass, every step I take, every breath, every revolution of the wheel, every kiss, embrace, handshake, word, work will and wish of my heart. Thank You for blessing me with such a powerful sense of your presence this morning as I was running through the trees and the light was just coming up above the horizon.

In the past few days I have seen and heard so much that you are doing, it’s hard to write any of it down, but I will try.

I have seen a man in the midst of a terrible financial crisis— betrayal by an employer and loss of a job— choosing to trust in God’s provision, rather than his own ability to earn what he needs. He is looking for a new job, but looking to God to supply all his emotional and spiritual needs in Christ Jesus.

I have seen a woman in tears, who has never believed in herself and lived a life in fear, beginning to see that everything that she has is a gift from God, and beginning to truly rely on Him for the emotional support to get through her present circumstances.

I have seen very capable self sufficient men, brought to the end of themselves by the stress of jobs and family responsibilities, men who have lived by always pleasing others to earn acceptance and avoid rejection, beginning to lay down their strategies for living and trusting Christ to do their job, and love their families through them. They are moving from bondage into freedom, from death into life, from self-sufficiency into Christ’s sufficiency and it is a wonderful thing to see.

There are no words to describe the essence of what I see, because it is a work of the Holy Spirit in the hearts and minds of the people I meet with. I only listen, and speak the truth as I am led. He does all the work of transforming their minds and convincing their hearts that He is completely trustworthy, present to them, and loves them more than they could ever imagine.