Monthly Archives: June 2012

Preparing to do the Unthinkable

One of the guys in our shop asked if I would meet with him for prayer, Bible study, and talking life together.  I said, “Great” and we set Thursday mornings for our get-togethers.

Ray* and I are still getting to know each other and he shared how God is at work in his life and the life of a family member he is distant from.  A few years ago, he would have never expected that he could have a relationship with her after the rift that separated them.  Even when he came to Christ, he did not think he would ever have a good relationship with this relative.  Then she came to Christ and they are rebuilding their trust relationship.  Who knows what might happen next.

Ray encouraged me this morning to be open to the Lord’s plan and never think that there are any closed doors.  How often have any of us said, “Well, THAT will never happen!”  Then the thing we thought could never happen becomes plan A.

Right now, Cheryl and I would really love for our home in Oregon to sell.  Houses around it are selling, but our house is not garnering any offers.  What’s up with that, Lord?  We have had more than one (Oregon) friend tell us that He is saving that house for our move back.  That is not in our plans, but might the Lord have a different plan?

It is easy to over think our circumstances and discount the seemingly remote possibilities that could unfold.  When something does not go our way, we may cry out in despair, “What now, GOD?!?”  If we are really bent on having our own way, we could yell more defiantly, “What NOW, God??” (You’ll have to rely on your own voicing to make it sound desperate or defiant).

What I heard in Ray’s encouragement was to come to the circumstance with an attitude of anticipation and ask, “What now, God?  What is your plan and how can I get on board?  I want what you want.”  That’s not far from Jesus’ prayer he taught us to pray, “Your will be done.”

Are you considering a next step or feel like you are moving into a new season of life?  Do you have a plan?  What if the Lord wants something entirely different for you?  I hope that you (and I) are prepared to do the unthinkable, to go with the plans the Lord makes, that give us hope and a future, even when they were not our idea to begin with.  Here’s to the attitude of anticipation in our hearts as we joyfully ask, “What now, God?”

Mike Spinelli


*name and circumstances have been changed.

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The Curse of Knowledge

We were in the board room at Fresno Pacific Biblical Seminary with the typical large table and leather seats – portraits of past presidents gazing benignly from the walls around us. I stood there staring into the faces of the 15 high school students sitting around this massive table and I wondered how I would get through to them. What can I say, or better yet, how can I help them understand what I’m trying to communicate?

Unfortunately, at that moment I’d been cursed. No, this wasn’t some Harry Potter dream I was having. The curse came at my own making. I was cursed by something completely different from the world of magic. I was cursed by knowledge.

A couple summers ago I read an eye-opening book. It’s called Made to Stick and was written by two brothers, Chip and Dan Heath. Chip teaches at Stanford and Dan is a consultant and former Harvard instructor. In other words, these guys know their stuff.

The Heaths try to figure out why some ideas survive and thrive (think about the bogus stories you’ve heard from friends that they’ve taken off the internet) and why other very good ideas die. They present six principles that are essential for retaining good ideas. These principles are: simplicity, unexpectedness, concreteness, credibility, emotions, and stories.  I encourage you to pick up the book and read it.

But it wasn’t one of their principles that I was cursed with that day. It was the barrier the Heaths’ indicate which stops people from implementing these creative ideas. They call it “the Curse of Knowledge.” The Heaths put it simply, “Once we know something, we find it hard to imagine what it was like not to know it. Our knowledge has ‘cursed’ us. And it becomes difficult for us to share our knowledge with others, because we can’t readily re-create our listeners’ state of mind.”[1]

As I stood there in front of these 15 high schoolers, I realized in spite of all my preparations, I had been cursed by my knowledge. What do I do?

I had to think fast. I knew I had to mentally stop my “information truck” and move it back up the ramp that I was going down. I had to remember how I felt and thought before I knew the information I was trying to present. As those memories returned, I began to teach differently and the students started responding. We all learned something new that day.

The presidents seemed to appreciate it as well.

Pastor Rick

[1]           Chip Heath and Dan Heath, Made to Stick (New York: Random House, 2007) p 20.


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