Author: benarrowminded

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What Is Timshol?

So you are curious about the name Timshol and what it means huh?

Glad you asked.

A while back I read a book called East of Eden by John Steinbeck. While I won’t spoil the entire book for you, there is a part in the story where a man goes on a journey to understand the meaning of a Hebrew word found in an Old Testament book of the Bible.

Genesis Chapter 4 is the story of brothers Cain and Abel. In it, both men made offerings to God. Abel offered his first and his best to God while Cain did not. God accepts Abel’s offerings and rejects Cain’s. This angers Cain.

God comes to Cain and says, “why are you upset? If you do what is right won’t you be accepted? If you don’t do what is right, sin is crouching at your door and it wants to devour you. But you must rule over it…. (the Hebrew word TIMSHOL)

Essentially God is offering grace and a new identity if Cain will receive it and walk in it through repentance. He doesn’t have to be identified by his past and what he has done.

In the story East of Eden, a man sees this Hebrew word “Timshol” and wants to find out it’s true meaning. After extensive research, he concludes that Timshol means “thou mayest” – as in “the choice is yours.”

The choice was up to Cain whether or not he would receive God’s grace, allow his identity to be changed, and walk in favor with God. It was also his choice to reject God.

In Thailand almost 96% identify themselves as Buddhist. That is their identity. In Thailand every fabric of society coerces you to perform mindless peer pressure in following the teachings of Buddha. It’s devastating. Even after 100’s of years of Christian missionaries coming in to Thailand, the number of those practicing Buddhism remains the same. Why? Because their entire identity is wrapped up in it; their past, present, and sadly their future.

The same way Cain was offered a grace, the Lord is providing the Thai people an opportunity to leave behind their cultural identity and choose to receive a new identity by following Jesus Christ. I want to see the people of Thailand receive the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ and be adopted as sons and daughters. My hope and prayer is as the Gospel is presented to them, they will choose to make the decision that brings hope and fulness of life – no matter what it costs.

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A City Boy Farming In Thailand

My intent here is not to mislead you. There will be no “show and tell” pictures or video of me making a fool of myself trying to work the fields of Thailand. I can’t keep flowers alive longer than 3 days – even with that packet of sugar that gets attached to the stems at the stores. While I would one day love to know how to grow food from the ground, today is not that day, so if you came to read about a guy who is afraid of spiders and big bugs show how he has overcome those fears in a three month period, my apologies.

This story however, is much better in my opinion. It starts off rough, but ends well…… so be patient!

Imagine I gave you a Billion dollars. Billion. Nine Zeros. To wrap your mind around a billion let me break it down this way: a million seconds is equal to 11.5 days. 1 Billion seconds is equal to 32 years.

So imagine I handed you a BILLION Dollars and said it would all be yours, but not until 2 more years. After two years you could do with it what you wanted, but in the 2 year time frame you could only use $10 a month and have no other income to use.

If you could survive for two years under these conditions, you could reap a wonderful harvest! If you couldn’t – well you would either be dead or have simply have to forfeit all the money.

Those are the rules. Could you do it?

You’re probably wondering where I’m going with this, so let me finish connecting the dots for you: For the last 3 months here, this is how it has felt to live here in Thailand.

I know Jesus Christ, I have a desire to make Him known, I have a passion to teach and equip Thai leadership so they can reach their people, and I don’t want to waste a single moment of my life sitting in a place where 9.5 out of every 10 people have never heard of Jesus. I have everything I need to do all that God has asked of me except one thing: I can’t speak the language and realistically it could take up to 2 years before I am able to have a real conversation with people about the glories of God.

Enter frustration stage right.

The Gospel to me is invaluable. It is priceless. It is something we can not earn on our own merit – it was something that was given TO US. Good News – Christ in us the hope of Glory. Emmanuel. God coming on earth to rescue his people and restore our broken relationship to harmony and saving us by dying for us – NOT counting our sins against us for those who are in Christ and trading our sinful lives for the righteousness of Jesus.

Not only that, but through Him we receive the fullness of life – Abundant Life and the promising of a day that will come where we will see Him face to face and stand in awe of our creator, our savior, our redeemer!

I don’t know where I would be today without Jesus Christ. I don’t even like to entertain the thought…. And yet here I am with this precious gift, in a country where practically no one knows who He is and I can’t do a single thing about it.

Do you understand how frustrating this might be? For the past couple months, it has been crippling to me.

So I have tried to buck the system and make my own way here. A helpless mentality is not in my DNA so I started to work my way around looking for opportunities to feel like I’m making a difference here. I have made relationships with organizations and people who are actively doing social ministry to help the people of Thailand. I’ve worked as hard as I can to find a way to make a real difference today – because it is not an option to have all of this light in such a dark place and stinking hoard it in my own house.

That’s how I have felt lately: Like a guy with a billion dollars to spend in a place that needs help and I can’t even give it away.

As a man… As a Christian… I have felt like a complete failure. My whole family (except Makayla) has struggled here after I ripped us away from everything and everyone we loved in the States, and I have felt like such a failure as a father as husband, and as a follower of Christ….

At my lowest point however… God stepped in.

Someone texted me 2 weeks ago and said they would like to keep in contact with me by doing a scripture reading plan together at the same time, so I agreed and we jumped to Genesis.

The end of Genesis has an account of a guy named Joseph.

Joseph’s story begins with a dream that one day the Lord was going to raise him up and put him in charge of many things. He’s young, arrogant, and has the love of his father, so his brothers beat him up, throw him in a ditch and sell him into slavery.

He ends up becoming the slave of a very powerful man in Egypt.

Joseph grows up, lives a life that is honoring to God, and serves his master so well that he is put in charge of the entire household. It seems as if God’s promise is coming true.

However, the story turns when Joseph’s master’s wife accuses Joseph of attempted sexual assault and he is consequently thrown in prison.

Then comes my favorite part of the story!

The next day God sends a couple guys in to break Joseph out of prison. Joseph and these couple guys lead a group of militia armed with pitchforks and they make their own destiny by staging a coup and over throwing the Egyptian leadership. Joseph thereby becomes one of the most powerful men in all of Egypt.

yeah that didn’t happen. God left Joseph in prison for a long time…but
24: But while he was in prison, the Lord was WITH Joseph and showed him steadfast love, and gave him favor so that whatever he did (while he was in the prison), the Lord made it succeed.

Joseph was at least in prison for 2 years according to Chapter 41, but all this time while Joseph was completely trapped and unable to set himself free – the Lord was at work. He positioned Joseph where he was until the time was right for the Lord’s plan to come into motion. Joseph made relationships, showed his character, showed the Lord was with him, and then God in all His sovereignty raised Joseph up at just the right time through those relationships and He used all that time in prison for Joseph’s good – and the good of ALL of God’s people who would come from the future tribes of Israel.

Nothing in Joseph’s life was wasted: Not the beatings, the slavery, the accusation, or the years of waiting patiently on God. It was all used as ingredients in his life to show the power, wisdom and might of the Glory of God. The time in prison, I would argue, was a time of real growth for Joseph to prepare him for what God had in store for him in the next season of life.

Joseph’s job was to be faithful to God and all that he had been entrusted with. Where he was faithful with a little, God eventually put him in charge of much.

Now I know I’m not Joseph. The story is not about me. I’m not reading any promises for myself into this.

What the Lord has taught me through this is the need for me to be patient as I wait on Him. While I wait, it is important to plant myself everywhere I can and make relationships with whoever the Lord allows me to cross paths with.

One day, with proper care, my prayer is that all the seeds that are planted as I wait, will one day produce a massive harvest! While I can’t speak the language now, there will come a day when I will be able to…and trust me, when that day comes, I will be going full speed like there is no tomorrow and may the Lord allow all those places I have been planted to flourish under His sovereign hand.

Be faithful with all the Lord has given me for today.

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Our First Week

While our transition from the States to Thailand had it’s fair share of rough edges, it wasn’t so bad. I’ll admit after sitting for 25 hours in planes and airports and coming home sleep deprived and jet lagged to a house with broken air conditioning and flickering lights, the thought did cross my mind once or twice that maybe this Thailand move was a bad idea. I mean what if this was a foreshadowing of the future? Did I mention it was 98 degrees outside with 80% humidity at 9:30 in the morning? We had no vehicle, no AC inside, no fans available, and no refuge out in the humidity. On the positive side, a work crew did show up to “fix” everything, and they were the sweetest people – but we both quickly grew frustrated with one another because we exhausted all the in-common words we knew in a matter of seconds. It did get fixed by the end of the night however.

That night, exhausted and ready for bed, we were happily greeted by a new Thai friend of ours hiding in our bathroom:

Now don’t let my poor photography skills mislead you into thinking that is a small ordinary spider – that bad boy right there was the size of a grapefruit and he possessed special dodgeball skills. The first adventure Erika and I shared in Chiang Mai was drawing straws for who had to be the unlucky sucker to knock that guy down. You see, we had been there less than 24 hours and had no broom or shotgun to reach him. God wonderfully created Erika and I to be average height (in thailand) and this morphed spider knew this about us and he was just out of our reach. So we got creative: we grabbed the bidet next to the toilet and tried to shoot water at him. He must have anticipated our move because as water came at him, he dodged it! I’m serious: This demonic spider ran on the ceiling and came right at us. It was like a transformer movie. So Erika and I ran screaming out of the bathroom, slammed the door behind us, and repented of our sins since this would more than likely be our last day on earth. What a terrible obituary: couple sold everything to take the Gospel to Thailand and they were killed by a spider their first day there.

So shooting water at him didn’t work. What next? We thought about just never going in that bathroom again….or just lighting it on fire: but we thought the spider might possibly have a fire extinguisher handy, so we went for plan B: Take a towel, throw it at him, then stomp him. We bravely opened the door and went charging in and I threw a perfect Tom Brady spiral at our foe, but do you know what he did? He DODGED IT! I’m serious…he DODGED IT! Dodged a towel. So I did it again and clipped him, but it bounced off of him like it was a tissue. So I tried one more time and this time he dodged it and ran behind the toilet. We took the bidet and tried to “flush him out” (no pun intended) but he was gone. Dude literally vanished behind the toilet. We looked and looked and Houdini spider was no where to be found. We closed the door and left it shut for the next 3 days. We never saw him again.


So we woke ready to face the day. A school representative offered to drive us around Chiang Mai to buy our necessities. We went driving all over the city including a street called “big tree road.” That’s not its name, but since our drivers don’t speak Thai that’s what they called it because both sides of a two lane road are lined with huge Yang Na Trees. From what I understand, Legend is that the King of Chiang Mai and King of Lamphun decided to ride toward each other on a specific day to set the territory line between Lamphun and Chiang Mai by planting these huge trees. However, the king of Chiangmai arrived at the location hours before the agreed meeting time and planted more trees first, ensuring that his principality would cover the most land.

The trees have huge gold ribbons on them because they were blessed by monks – ensuring their survival. You see, people who live in that area of Chiang Mai don’t like the trees. They want them to go away because they are a nuisance and very dangerous. Limbs often fall off the trees into the street and kill people on motorcycles or cause accidents. The law also states that if you accidentally hit the tree, you will be punished. The trees are sacred. So people do everything they can to ensure they don’t hit the trees – no matter what: even if it means they hit a human being…. and that’s exactly what happened when we arrived on the scene.

Our second day in Chaing Mai – I witnessed my my very first traffic accident fatality. It is not something that I will ever be able to unsee.


We shipped half of our stuff on a cargo plane to save a ton of money. I called beforehand, got a contract for around $800 to ship our stuff through our airline and $117 to clear it through customs. It was supposed to arrive in Chiang Mai the day after we arrived – and it did. We however didn’t receive it the following day due to a discrepancy on our air bill where I put one of the containers had stuffed animals. The clearing agent called me and asked me to itemize all of our stuffed animals because they wanted to know what kind they were. I said, “I don’t know.. we have bears, winnie the pooh, a horse, a dog…” It was at this dog statement that they stopped me and let me know that I couldn’t have this container of “stuffed animals.” Come to realize that they thought I was literally talking about animals I had killed that had been stuffed by a taxidermist.

Toys I said. How do you fit a bear and a horse and a dog and winnie the pooh in one tub? They are toys!

So they finally said they would allow our shipment to clear customs….IF We gave them 62,000 baht. That’s like $2000 USD. I said I was quoted $117 after our airlines spoke with you and gave you an itemized list of all of our cargo. That includes VAT.

No I’m sorry. The values you placed on your used household items are too low. We have placed new values on your items. So the VAT is higher now. If you don’t pay, we will not allow your stuff to clear customs. What do you do? 4 days in, No AC, Ninja Spiders, My first death, and Now our household goods are being held hostage.


So I have a lost a few pounds. Mostly it is water weight and lack of cheeseburgers. We had our first gathering of families in the girl’s school. I sat down with a few missionary families and listened to what they do here in Thailand. Finally someone asked me what I was doing in Thailand and after I told him I was launched from our church to disciple and raise up leaders in a local Thai church, he encouraged me not to do that.

He said, “I’ve been a missionary all over the world for the past 20 years. What I’ve learned is, church time is your time. It’s for you. You need to join a local church of people who are similar to you. Who worship like you do. Who speak the same language you do. You can do ministry 6 other days a week, but the church is not a place for ministry.”

He then cautioned me that if I didn’t join other local churches with other missionaries, I would “eventually get drowned out by larger groups with more resources and more people.”

So day 6 I encountered the missionary mafia.

Day 7

I went to church with my family. It was 99.99% in Thai. Except these words: “God is not American. God is God. He loves the Whole World. ” He’s right. It is not hard to see why John 3:16 is one of the most cherished verses in the Bible. Packed into this verse are the greatest realities that exist: God. Love. The world. The Son of God. Faith. Perishing forever. Living forever. Whoever. These are the greatest things that can be. What could be more important? What could be more relevant? What could be more urgent or momentous than to know where you stand in relation to what God says in this verse? 68 million people in this country I live in haven’t had the opportunity to hear about living forever. They haven’t heard of a God who loves. They don’t know it is Faith that saves, not works. They don’t know the fullness of love, because the fullness of everything is found in Christ alone.

Like there is no tomorrow… my new mantra. I know where I am supposed to be… I know what I’m supposed to do… I have all that I need to accomplish all that I’ve been asked to accomplish. I serve the One who owns the cattle on a thousand hills. I have the working power of the Holy Spirit alive in me. All that’s left is obedience. This is going to be an interesting journey.

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