Saturday, December 31, 2011

It's A Wonderful Life

Happy New Year everyone.

I just wanted to take one more chance to say thank you for your support this year. Your generous giving allows many people to know Jesus in an intimate way and come to trust Him for everything that they need.

As I watched It's a Wonderful Life last night with my mom and my wife Dawn, I was reminded in a very moving way how much each of our lives touches the people around us, and how much God pours His Life through us to serve each other, even when we don't realize He's doing it.

I could completely identify with the moment of anger and despair that George Bailey experienced as he came home to his family on Christmas and carried the knowledge that his world was coming crashing down around him and all because of a loss of $8000. Mind you, I'm not complaining because we are not suffering from lack, I'm just saying that I often respond to my own family in an unkind manner as George did because I'm carrying worry about money and how I will provide for them. But then George Bailey learns what the world would look like if he had never been born, if every opportunity to show the grace and strength and love of God had been missed. How great is the love that God pours though even a single life. (Side note: If you get a chance to watch the movie, watch the   way Clarence the angel talks to God. I so identify with that conversational style of relating to Him.)

As George Bailey/Jimmy Stewart stood at the end of the movie and received the support of all the Bedford Falls towns people whose lives he had touched, I was reminded of you, because you have touched my life in this way. Not only have you poured out God's blessing into my lap, but you have allowed me to touch the lives of other people with the power of His Life, and this is a gift beyond comparison. So, thank you for being participants in the outpouring of His Love.

I have the privilege to belong to a wonderful church where I see this love of Christ demonstrated in a vivid way all the time. The Church at Grace Life (a sister ministry to GMI where I work), and our pastor, Herb Sims is such a beautiful expression of God's grace in my life that I want to share with you a letter Herb recently wrote. If you have time I encourage you to read it, if not, I'll just let you know that it is about the readjustment of our perceptions of the new year from goals and responsibilities, to the opportunity to let God display His kindness towards us and through us.

As I reflect on the kindness of God, I'm reminded of a conversation I had with Jesus this morning. You see, my little boy Leif is sick. In fact, we just got back from the hospital. He has a fever, an ear infection and chest congestion, so he coughed and cried through the night, and Dawn and I were both up with him (mostly Dawn). I tend to have a pretty negative attitude about these things, and feeling tired while facing a 17 hour drive back to Georgia is not my idea of a good time. I confess that I even have a tendency to complain to God sometimes. Well, as lay awake in the night listening to Leif coughing, wincing each time heard him cry in pain, I spoke to God about this suffering. This morning Jesus shared the most transforming thought with me.

"Charles, when things go wrong for you,
or for the people around you,
you don't have to complain or get angry.
When you see suffering it is an opportunity
for you to experience and to show My Kindness.
So take advantage of suffering
by allowing my Kindness to flow through you to anyone in need."

I immediately thought of Leif, and how many times I will have a chance in the coming days to show him the tenderness of God towards his suffering and sickness. I realize that as we travel, I will have so many places where I can show Dawn, Leif and Owen the care that God shows towards them through me. Of course, I could also get impatient and complain, feel sorry for myself or get angry, but in the light of God's perspective and His words to me, those just don't seem as attractive as the kindness route right now. I take great pleasure in the thought of God manifesting His tenderness through me, and maybe this pleasure is the power of the gospel. I may get impatient, but I know that at those times I will need to know His kindness towards me most completely, and so extend it to my family.

Even now, as I reflect further, I see how Jesus saw each crippled or sick person brought before Him not as a problem to be fixed, but as an opportunity for God to display His Grace to them. Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Matt. 9:12-13. People who don't think they need anything, aren't looking to receive kindness or grace, but those of us who realize our need are all the more ready to receive, and offer grace to each other. So in the coming year, as I focus on God's kindness to me (the more I think about it the more I think that kindness a wonderful word that helps me connect with what Grace really means) I'll have His words resonating in my heart.

 Every time you see suffering, it is an opportunity to receive and express My Kindness.

Be Loved,


A New Years Letter from my pastor, Herb Sims

Hello All,

Happy New Year, almost!!!  What are your goals for 2012?  Many begin setting their goals by asking questions like:  What do we do to make the year better than 2011?  What do we do to make our finances stable?  What do we do to protect our health?  What do we do to make our loved ones happy? 

There is nothing wrong with resolutions or goals unless they lead us to be so focused on the past or the future to then, as a result, miss the present.  Often we spend more time measuring our failures and successes than enjoying the present tense moments of life.  Jesus had an answer for approaching life that many of us are very uncomfortable with.  He said, “I do nothing of myself…” and He went on to say, “I can do nothing of My own initiative…”   Jesus defines present tense living. 

I think I want to control the different outcomes of life.  Who wouldn’t?  I want to control my business, control the church, and control my family, maybe even control God.  For me it is in the name of avoiding pain.  Goals could be just another way of control for me. But I’m not!  In control, that is.  So what are my options for 2012?

Option one:  Focus on what you need to do to be in control and set the appropriate goals.  Then manage (motivate) yourself through self-condemnation or pride.  Then as the year progresses you shift the focus from your unmet goals by measuring others. 

Option two: Experience the miraculous life of Jesus Christ.  Approach life in 2012 as Jesus approached life some 2000+ years ago.  What if you did nothing of yourself?   Listen…

I am the vine, you are the branches.  He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.  John 15:5

When we are faced with all the unknowns of 2012 it seems foolish to not redouble our efforts to make things work out.  But maybe “things” working out is not what life is all about. 
What if 2012 is all about a year of kindness?  Have you heard the phrase "kill them with kindness"?  That is NOT what I'm talking about.  I'm talking about a kindness that draws people to change their messed up perceptions.  What if 2012 is a year of discovering a life of relationship found in truth and grace?  What if 2012 is a year of being with each other without judgment and condemnation?  On the other side of control, judgment and condemnation is kindness.  Though it may appear that this is "anti-responsibility" nothing could be further from the truth ... for it is all about our RESPONSE to Christ who is our life and giving up the control we never had.  This miracle is a response to His kindness.  Kindness is a supernatural walk in the Spirit.  Christ’s kindness is what changes our lives. 

Remember, without Jesus we can do nothing.  But through the first movement of our Creator we see His movement in our life today, right now.  I didn't regard myself as a kind person but I really am, surprise!  God is love and God is kind.  As a fruit of His love and kindness you and I can expect the very REAL working of God in our life.  We are free to be with each other without measuring successes and failures; without being defined as a failure or spending our life defining others as failures.  We will discover the miracle of kindness and love not because we have resolved to be more kind but because God in and through Christ has made us a kind and loving people. This requires the very life of God, Christ in us, the hope of glory… and the hope of a kinder 2012. 


Sunday, December 25, 2011



I love you in your loneliest moments.
When your need feels the most extreme
going beyond what another human being can offer you,
I am present with you
for all that you need.

You have seen infinite need
in the faces of your children
and you know how limited
your resources are
to meet them in their loneliest moments.

Their constant cry is “pay attention to me”
and the same is the cry of your own soul.

Just as you come up against the wall
of your limited attention span
and feel the loss that your children experience,
in equal measure as you perceive
the lack,
so you find that
I am miracle
that knows no bounds and leaves no lack.

I Am
the only one
who truly knows you
and I love.

I am all knowing, infinite Love
so I know and cherish
your every thought, word and wish. (Ps. 139)

I Am the loving Father
who dotes on every moment of your life.
I play with you
when no one else will.
I listen to you
when everyone else ignores you.
I dance over you and exult.
This celebration of the one I made
when I made you
is only fitting.
It is your heart’s deepest desire
to know how much I delight in you.

If your heart is open
You will cherish and adore
the baby in the manger
because in Him,
all Heaven adores the individual.

In Jesus I intend to reveal
that small is beautiful
in each person
especially in you.

In Jesus,
I myself present as that baby,
the knocked on door is opened
and I adore each soul
in sweet communion.

Know then Charles
that your little child within
delights in the nativity
because you know
that it is a sign of how loved you are.

You carry a crèche,
a spirit led worship scene
embedded deep in your soul.
Go there often
and enjoy.
Go there, enter in, and hear
all Heaven rejoicing:
I bring you good news of great joy
which shall be to all people,
but first and foremost
to your lonely soul
right here, right now.

I AM Emmanuel.
with you here and now.
and so
The afflicted will eat and be satisfied;
Those who seek Me will praise Me.
Let your heart live forever!
All the ends of the earth
   will remember and turn to the ME,
and all the families of the nations
   will bow down before ME
and right here, right now, this means You.
Let your heart come alive forever! (Psalm 22:27)

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Our Life in Pictures

Owen learns to kiss the Christmas ball, not throw it.

The Kiss

Leif and Mommy Decorate the Tree

Leif loves to set up the nativity with everybody watching Jesus

Christmas lights are everywhere, even in the MiniVan

Leif and Owen playing with their new pirate ship

Okay, now he's going to throw the Christmas ball.

Deer in the headlights

Leif is Santa's little helper. Mommy is Santa.

Smiles by the tree

Obedient children pose for their portrait

We visited a pumpkin patch and a farm

Daddy pulls the boys up Kennesaw Mt.

We took a nice ride in the country on our anniversary.

Owen watches our friend Ben take a ride in a Bi-plane.

Ben enjoyed his flight

Owen is not sure about the loud engine on that plane

Leif is very excited to be Jake the Neverland Pirate

He wore the costume every day for a month

Dawn and her Halloween minions at their photo party

Crazy Dad's last minute pirate costume

Owen is a baseball player

Leif at the house of dreams, Berry College

Leif: House of Dreams

Leif on the tree swing: Berry College

Leif fell asleep in the shopping cart at Target

Owen likes Papa's plane: Trip to NJ

Owen and Hailey play together: Trip to NJ

Bacon Boy

Leif is a fireman at heart: Trip to NJ

Owen Loves Grammi

Andy, Owen, Leif, Sammy (we love our cousins!)

Owen contemplates a career in skateboarding.

Sometimes we fall asleep before lunch is finished.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Jesus is our provider, our peace and our security.

Today my wife posted this on Facebook, and it made my heart glad. Read the comments below and you’ll see how people responded. My comments are at the end.

Dawn Spoelstra: Amazed how God provides for our family.
LikeUnlike · · 2 hours ago ·

      Jim Wheatley, Donna-Marie Rothnie, Gail Pickens Hayden and 8 others like this.
            Debra McDonald Blake Tell me, did something wonderful happen?
            about an hour ago · LikeUnlike
            Jocelyn Goranson Amen
            about an hour ago · LikeUnlike
          Donna-Marie Rothnie Honestly, I am too. You guys always seem to have all you need or want even when finances are short. It's cool.
            about an hour ago · LikeUnlike
            Dawn Spoelstra Well, we got support from someone for this year and next year, which will help us get a paycheck for the rest of this year, at least. Leif was short on pants in his size, and I went up to the attic for something else and spotted a bag of clothes from Andrea Fowler FULL of pants that fit Leif. We figured out about Peachcare for Kids (thank you, Rebecca Capistrant, and the state of GA) and have gotten free prescriptions and doctors visits for both of our kids...I know there is more, but this is all in the last few days!
            6 minutes ago · Like Unlike · 2
            Charles Spoelstra: I'm even more amazed than Dawn is, because I spend more time wondering how He's going to do it! I'm also incredibly grateful to everyone who responds to His prompting in support and love for us. You know who you are!

To add to my last comment, since I admit that I do spend a little time worrying, I think the most powerful provision that Jesus gives to me is emotional. When I first began in ministry, if you had asked me if I thought we would be able to do it, live off of support, and then add two kids to the mix, I would have said “no way, you’ve got to be kidding me.” Some days, if you catch me in a bad moment, I might even say that now. O Ye of little faith. That’s me, but I guess Jesus gives me just enough of His faith to move the mountain of my doubt, and the fig tree of financial burdens out of the way. Of course, we don't do it, Jesus does. 

 Beyond even that, He provides the peace and comfort I need in my soul to keep me living on support. His presence with me in my soul feels like life support in God's ICU more than anything. On any given day, I could have a panic attack if I think about how the money in our account is always just about to run out. During any given night, I could wake up in a cold sweat and lay awake for the rest of the night wondering how we are going to survive, and condemning myself for not doing enough to raise more support. What does enough look like? I don’t know, but I always know that it’s more than I’m currently doing. These emotional catastrophes are (mostly) held at bay by one simple thing: Jesus is my peace. He has taught us (Dawn and I) to rest in Him, and in that place, no amount of worry can have power. 

I’m not writing this to plead for more support from anyone who is reading, because that is not my path to peace. Instead, my path to peace is to enter into relationship with Jesus moment by moment, and trust Him not only to provide financially, but emotionally as well. Because I trust Him to work through my faithfulness in asking, I will gladly provide you with an opportunity to join in what HE is doing to support us.

Does it work? Well we’re still here, and we’re enjoying our lives with Him, and we’re richly blessed by the Life that He keeps pouring through us to give to other people. And again, He keeps pouring through other people who love us, to provide everything we need: love, friendship, clothing for the kids, finances, childcare you name it, He provides. I think this is just how Grace is supposed to work, and it feels so good.

Friday, December 16, 2011


who now knows by what divine art
the sacred star hovered over
the crèche that night
or what scare the virgin felt
entombed within it’s lonely light
her womb bursting with God’s life
coming to renew the race?

Scarred by men’s scorn, waiting on
our heart’s desire to be born
a heart-full of holy warmth
burns bright holes
in the side of mercy’s Lord,
drives the harrow deep in pity’s paths.

O Come lowliest of lonely ones

Dress the vine, burn the branches
bear the fruit, and bless the staunchest
observer of a stubborn law
with a flash of death in life:
prefiguring of life through death.

Vie for a riven world
to call each one your own.
Hear the whisper of the inner ear
and heed the tears of every heart tonight.

Humbled; bled; bonded and adored.

Only You can wipe the hearthstone clean
of disconsolate ash
breathe into the dust new life
kindle the clinkers
and tear the seams of eternity
to let the bright new angel in.


lonely one
only yelling lies
against the dark
laying without hope.

rest gentle soul
sing noel
and be merry again

God has come home
to be with you,

Embrace your merriment.
He roosts and crows
on the roof of your heart.

Angel cries of joy surround Him
with lights and gentle sighs
from another age.
arcing across the void,
descend from their sacred cars
into her waiting arms.

Rest, your Lover is here.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Reign with your finger
on the fringe of a finer grief.
Feel the ire of a furnace
the stillness of the fir tree.
Ring fen and fern with fire.
Hinge your farms
with fealty and with gin,
and grin at all the burning.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Fitness Journal December 9-14.

I want to keep a record of my journey with physical health, but I've been lax about it (writing not exercising) for the past few days. So here goes a quick update.

Friday Dec 9: Nothing, Nada, Rest Day.

Saturday Dec. 10: 20miles on the road around East Cobb: Sandy Plains area to Mar Lanta, to Loch Highland (pretty lake), Wesley Chapel, to Highbourn Dr. (including Sweat Mountain) and so on. Then 22 miles on the rollers in the house while watching Bones on Hulu. (it got really cold outside). Average Speed: outside, slow (16ish). Inside, Fast (22+ (no wind or hills)). I felt really great after all this riding, really enjoying the endorphin high for the rest of the weekend.

Sunday Dec 11: I did a wonderful mountain bike ride at Rope Mill Park, a new trail opened up in Woodstock Georgia, quite near to Blankets Creek where I've been riding for years.  It was a very cold day, so I was quite bundled up at first but slowly removed layers as the ride went on because you always have to. The trails were fast and rolling, a little tacky in places with mud, but overall it was just a terrific adrenaline rush: tight switchbacks through dense trees, short steep climbs and roller coaster descents. I only fell once on a patch of slippery pine straw, but it wasn't too bad, I got right up and kept riding. If you ever get a chance, get out there and try it, and let me know cause I'd like to meet you there. (Average Speed: 11mph (woo hoo that's fast on a MTB!), HR 143, Time 1hr. Distance 11miles.)

Monday morning Dec 12: 60 push ups, 36 pull ups, 60 sit ups, 30 burpees. I try to do this workout every Mon. Wed. Fri. morning to have some kind of fitness in my upper body and core.

Tuesday Dec. 13: at the YMCA. I ran for about 25 minutes, 3miles, 4x100 yard sprints on the soccer field. Then went inside and rode the Expresso Bike for 15miles. First lap on a trail called Oddysey was 22:19 (2nd place on the leader boards!), average speed 20mph. The second lap was considerably slower, but it was still raining sweat! A great hard workout. The Expresso bike is a computer simulation riding game where you can enjoy scenery, hills and turns, and even compete with other riders via the internet. It tracks every detail of your ride including Wattage, heart-rate, speed and cadence. Odyssey is a pretty humorous setting from Greek Mythology, complete with cyclops, giant minotaurs strolling by and pegasus flying all over the place. At one point you ride past a virtual coastline where the kraken is fighting a giant cyclops. Really funny and distracting!

Wednesday Dec. 14: Same round of basic calisthenics. Dawn and I did this workout tonight as well. We did the workout that required no equipment, because we don't have a sandbag or anything, the bonus abs workout. 7 minutes total. short but intense.

My numbers were:
push up 2x with squat jump to bench 7
star jumps 23
surfer kick out push up 9
cross leg push ups 17
bicycle crunches 23
bench tucks 37
sit up and dumbell press 12

Friday, December 9, 2011

My Heart in the Presence

                   sometimes                  a fountain,
a flume jetting into the loud air,
struck through with scintillating light

and sometimes                              still water,
a silent spring welling up from deeps below
barely disturbing the surface of the dark pool

and sometimes                              a star.