The Man Behind the Curtain

OZ Pic1 “Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain”

Children of all ages quaked as they watched Dorothy; clinging to her friends, tremble down that massive hallway toward the booming voice of a glowing wizard.  We feared we may never breathe again until Toto revealed the secret.  The great and powerful OZ didn’t look so great once we had a peek behind the curtain.

That little man was working like crazy to support the false image of greatness. He frantically pushed buttons and turned wheels to make the sights and sounds that impressed his audience.

The smoke and mirrors and the bold and bombing commands of the wizard did Dorothy and her friends little good. Those things sent them on a frightening journey for a witch’s broom when their only goal was to find their way home.

Now, you would think that the moral of this story is: “Just be yourself.” In fact, Dorothy was told that she possessed the power to get home all along. Click your heels three times, and make a wish and back home again!

It is always a good idea to avoid pretending you’re something that you’re not. However, it’s not a good idea to just be you. After all, if the wizard thought being true to self was a good idea he wouldn’t have been found behind the curtain in the first place.

The Bible says pretending and being oneself are not acceptable to the life of a believer.  Consider the words of the prophet Isaiah.

Say to those who have an anxious heart,

“Be strong; fear not!  Behold, your God will come with vengeance,

       with the recompense of God. He will come and save you.”

        Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped;

        then shall the lame man leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute sing for joy. 

                                                             Isaiah 35:4-6 (ESV) 

Dorothy was trying to get home. In a wondrous land over the rainbow, Dorothy realized the truth. Home was the place where she is loved. Home was the placed where she serves. Home was the place that gives her purpose. In other words, Dorothy was trying to find joy. 

Dorothy knew her joy would be complete once she found her way home.

Unlike the movie, the Bible teaches that joy can be found only in the God of the Bible.

Dorothy was responsible for all her friends. At times she was called upon to give wisdom to the scarecrow and a heart of courage to the tin man and lion. That’s a heavy load to bear. That’s real responsibility.

As a leader, you are responsible for others. It’s in that responsibility that a profound joy is found but only if you experience it through the truth of the Bible.

Our journey begins Wednesday, November 6th. We will meet at 11:45 am and 6:00 pm. Bring your lunch or dinner.  Join with others as we learn to navigate God’s plan for our lives.

We are here for you Monday through Friday 8am – 5pm. Schedule a time on any of those days, at any hour, to study God’s Word. Create your own small group. Business leaders, bring your employees. Parents, bring your family and your neighbors. We will be happy to customize a time and a study to meet your needs.

You can come to us or we can come to you (via the internet). If you are one of our out-of-state friends or just can’t get everyone to Gilbert at one time, we will be happy to schedule a goToMeeting conference using your pc or mac.

Contact Pastor Mike at (602) 321-6695 or

New Home

138 S Hamilton Place, Gilbert, AZ  85233

Welcome to the new home of Patriarch Project. We are just beginning to move in. The Lord has provided a great location to hang our hat and get to the business of ministry. We are located in the Elliot Commerce Park, a prime business location at the crossroads of Arizona Ave. and Elliot.

Our space includes two offices, a kitchenette, restrooms, and a great meeting hall that will be home to Bible studies and Worship services. Our new space will comfortably seat 100.

Front Door

I am often asked the question, “Wait a minute… are you a church or a business?” The answer is YES! With the Lord’s help we hope to touch the lives of the estimated 2,000 folks that settle into their daily routines of earning a living on the four corners that surround us.

As a church we will focus on the Word of God. Our goal is to have regularly scheduled Bible studies during the week that fit the schedules of the business owners and their employees. We envision beginning our studies with a Wednesday evening Bible study. As we begin to network with those around us and better understand their schedules and needs, times of studies, prayer and counseling will be organized during normal business hours (Monday – Friday, 8am – 5pm).

As a business we will focus on the Word of God. (Did you pickup on the focus on the Word of God part?) We will be busy earning a living just like those we serve. The world’s best business management manual is the Bible. We will use it as our guide and teach its principles to others. Patriarch Project is about leadership and legacy…God’s way.


We pray that those who are seeking the truth in life and business will find our front door open and inviting.

Patriarch Project 007

Patriarch Project isn’t just for our neighbors at the business park; all are invited to join us. Many of our wonderful friends from ministry past will be faithfully attending and serving along side us. Our goal is to stream our studies live on this website to enable our out-of-state friends and associates to participate.

We hope to begin our first Bible study in November! Until then, there’s a lot of work to do. We will keep you posted, so stay tuned…

Building Shot 1

New Logo!



Our new logo depicts our ministry and passion to raise up Godly leaders! Networking, Mentoring, and Missions! It’s “Grandfather, Father, Son” image reflects our efforts to build a “legacy” for the Kingdom of God.

Week nineteen (What happened?)

Week nineteen? What happened to weeks 10 through 18? I’m asking myself that same question. Weeks are flying by! Much has happened.

Ok, here’s the scoop… I am still in West Virginia helping manage my brother’s company and learning the fire safety industry. It’s had challenges, but for the most part I’ve had great fun. It’s been many years since I held down an eight-to-five job. Members of the church congregation would often tease me about only working one hour a week as pastor. I speak with first hand authority when I say that working a steady 50 hour work week is a piece of cake compared to being a pastor of a church.

Since we last spoke I attended a trade show in Atlantic City where I met a number of manufacturer’s reps for the first time and had the privilege of networking with other fire safety distributors. I had the opportunity of speaking with a business owner that travels all over the world consulting and installing specialty fire suppression equipment. It opened my eyes to international networking. That was exciting!

In addition, I traveled to beautiful Marinette, Wisconsin (where?) to attend one of the world’s premier fire schools. Spending a week blowing stuff up, setting things on fire, and then putting them out with some really great fire suppression equipment is every little boy’s dream vacation. I learned more at one week of fire school than all other weeks combined. There is no substitute for hands-on training. I had the opportunity to fight every kind of fire imaginable. From basic spill fires to an entire factory section engulfed in flames…it was challenging and great fun.

With everything going on and the amount of travel I’ve been doing (including a couple of trips back to AZ to see the family), I decided to take a break from blogging. Some of the routine weeks would make for really boring blogs anyway.

Now that I have fire school under my belt, I had the opportunity last week to assist in holding a fire safety training session for one of our ‘Oil and Gas Energy Field’ customers. It was a reminder of how passionate I am about teaching. I deeply miss teaching the Gospel. I look forward to the time when I’ll be teaching on a regular basis again.

Week nine (smorgasbord)

Americans make a host of choices every day. Our lives are a smorgasbord. When its time to re-stock the pantry, we can shop at any of a dozen grocery stores. Once the grocer is selected we have hundreds of items and brands from which to choose. Not many Americans like the thought of having only one choice. If one brand doesn’t meet our expectations we simply move on to the next. It’s the American way. From gasoline to cell phones, we demand the right to choose.

There is at least one time in America when having choices cause anxiety. For a Christian, being in the center of God’s will is the ultimate goal. One of the most asked questions I experience as a pastor is, “How do I know what God’s will is?” When faced with more than one path, the Christian gets anxious. Two or three job offers often sends the Christian into a tail spin. After discussing all the options and talking over the details, more often than not I will hear, “I just wish God would tell me what to do. He could just write the answer on my bathroom mirror. Why doesn’t he?”

First, I don’t know any theological reason why God would write on anyone’s mirror. Second, think about how lazy that statement sounds. What a Christian is really saying when demanding God give a quick, easy to follow answer by writing it on their bathroom mirror is this… “God I don’t have time to dig deep into your Word. I don’t have the strength to cry out and wait. I AM HOPELESSLY OUT OF SHAPE SPIRITUALLY. I’m not like the psalmist who loves to meditate on the things of You day and night. I am a lazy American Christian…I want what I want…now please!”

Week nine has presented a host of options to pray through and consider. How will I know the Lord’s will? Prayer and the Word…fasting…spiritual disciplines…and, like the psalmist, crying out to a holy and just God. It’s hard work. But it’s a labor of love.

By the way, did I mention trust? Listen to this story that tells of a time in Abraham’s life when he had to make a choice and did so knowing God’s word and resting in the fact that he could trust God….

Now Abraham was old, well advanced in years. And the Lord had blessed Abraham in all things. And Abraham said to his servant, the oldest of his household, who had charge of all that he had, “Put your hand under my thigh, that I may make you swear by the Lord, the God of heaven and God of the earth, that you will not take a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I dwell, but will go to my country and to my kindred, and take a wife for my son Isaac.” The servant said to him, “Perhaps the woman may not be willing to follow me to this land. Must I then take your son back to the land from which you came?” Abraham said to him, “See to it that you do not take my son back there. The Lord, the God of heaven, who took me from my father’s house and from the land of my kindred, and who spoke to me and swore to me, ‘To your offspring I will give this land,’ he will send his angel before you, and you shall take a wife for my son from there. But if the woman is not willing to follow you, then you will be free from this oath of mine; only you must not take my son back there.” So the servant put his hand under the thigh of Abraham his master and swore to him concerning this matter.

(Genesis 24:1-9, ESV)

Here are some facts regarding this passage… Based on Abraham’s knowledge of God’s Word, he knew Isaac needed a wife; she couldn’t be a Canaanite; Isaac couldn’t leave the promised land; his wife would come from Abraham’s family in Macedonia. (All of this knowledge came from Abraham loving to talk with God…my point, if you don’t love to talk to God day by day, you won’t be ready to make a choice tomorrow.)

Now Abraham takes this knowledge and makes a decision. “I’ll send my servant.” (vs 4) The servant agrees to go but asks, “But what if she won’t come?” (vs 5) Abraham says, “Don’t worry, the Lord will send His angel before you! But, if I’m wrong you are no longer obligated.” (vs 8-9)

Abraham was not absolutely certain of his decision; but, based on his history with God and the knowledge of His Word, he was very, very confident. So he said to his servant, “listen, my dear servant, I am as confident about this decision as anything I have ever done. So you go. And take heart: the Lord will send his angel before you.”

This is a beautiful pattern for us to follow…

  1. Know God so well that you can understand the facts of life as God sees them.
  2. Align your plans with those facts.
  3. Take bold steps knowing God is with you!

Week eight (the weakest link)

Even a company that can be described as a “well oiled machine” isn’t perfect. Every chain when stressed past its limit will break. However, only one link breaks; the weakest one. One of the functions of any good leader is to continually identify weak links in the organization and strengthen them. The phenomena of strengthening the weak link is creating a new weak link. By definition, a leader’s work is never done.

After two months, this was a week of reflection and assessment. We have been hard at work strengthening weak links and it’s beginning to reflect improvement. When head down in the daily routine you can’t see the forest for the trees. It’s always a good idea to take a short break from the daily routine and look for results. The daily routine has a tendency to demoralize a leader. Stepping out of the routine has a tendency of encouraging a leader as you see the results of your labor. The system is beginning to take shape! The goal is to manage the system not the individual employees in the system.

I am working very closely with my brother who is the owner of the company. We are polar opposites. We don’t have the same business philosophy or always agree on how to achieve goals. We often find ourselves at odds. However, at the end of the day, we place those differences aside and we are just brothers sharing a meal or just talking about stuff. That’s also very encouraging. People who operate at the highest level go head to head from 8 to 5 and without walls or animosity enjoy the pleasure of each others company at the end of the day. It is one of life’s deepest tragedies when individuals who have a lifetime of experiences together allow simple disagreements to ruin such a valuable gift.

Still missing my family like crazy. Can’t wait to see them at months end!

Week seven (passion)

The reason New Year’s resolutions fade more quickly than the flowers of the field is passion; specifically, the lack of passion. We all know what’s good for us, at least we think we do, but we’re not passionate. That’s why they are resolutions. We are resolving to make changes. We are passionate about lying on the sofa and watching TV, and we are not passionate about going to the gym. So we resolve to change our passions. Most efforts fail…passions are powerful.

The deepest passions are discovered in the heart of the psalmists. I read through the Bible each year. I love all of God’s Word, however, I always find myself more passionate about everything in life as I read the heart of the psalmist. I am currently reading through Psalms. Listen to King David and his passion for the Lord…

I will extol you, O Lord, for you have drawn me up

and have not let my foes rejoice over me.

O Lord my God, I cried to you for help,

and you have healed me.

O Lord, you have brought up my soul from Sheol;

you restored me to life from among those who go down to the pit.

Sing praises to the Lord, O you his saints,

and give thanks to his holy name.

For his anger is but for a moment,

and his favor is for a lifetime.

Weeping may tarry for the night,

but joy comes with the morning.

(Psalm 30:1-5, ESV)

Now, before I make my main point I want you to understand three things about this passage of Scripture.

#1 David may have been king, but his life was anything but comfortable. Notice the first three verses David is rejoicing in the fact that his enemies aren’t. He sees the Lord as a Restorer and Healer. David had enemies, inside his family and outside his nation.

#2 The Lord wasn’t always happy with David’s actions. David knew what it felt like to receive God’s anger. Verse four and five acknowledge the Lord’s anger which is momentary and his favor which is eternal in David’s life.

#3 David is rejoicing in the Lord, NOT his kingship. Read David’s story in the books of Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles. Read about David’s passion in the Psalms. You will never see David passionate about being king. You will only see David passionate about the Lord.

This doesn’t mean that we can’t see David’s joy in serving as king of Israel. It’s easy to see. David took his job very seriously. David showed up for work and carried out his duties with great zeal and passion. Not because he was king, but because he was God’s anointed and he knew it.

So, here’s my main point. If David would have remained a shepherd and not been ordained by God to lead Israel as king, but ordained by God to simply shepherd a field of sheep, Psalm 30 verses one through five would have been David’s song anyway. Nothing about David’s passion would change. I don’t believe that one word of this Psalm would change whether David is a shepherd or king.

I could give you a progress report this week that included things like strategy, study, and simulation. All those things happened this week. They all pale in comparison to my journey with David through the Psalms and my discovery of passion for the Lord and what HE is doing.

Legacy is only possible with passion. Passion is only possible with the Lord.


Week six (infirmary)

This week was a little harder. It started with a trip to Urgent Care. A shot in my hip and a Z-Pack in my pocket I did the best an old man filled with antibiotics can do. Of course, it was a week filled with meetings. It never fails, just at the time you feel your worst, it’s time to hit the road and visit some big accounts. The meetings were scheduled before I got the croup. It’s too difficult to reschedule so you muster the resources, put on a happy face, and head out in plenty of time to get lost for a few moments. It’s been 20 years since I traversed these roads.

I’ve never been much of a salesman. However, I do enjoy visiting customers. It’s great fun listening to the customer’s needs and developing a solution. I always need to take the salesman type along with me to close the deal. I also need technical help seeing I’ve never spent much time in the fire safety industry. (I’m getting better at the technical stuff)

And the hardest part of all, yesterday was Valentine’s Day and my valentine is 3,000 miles away. That’s tough! You might think that after 32 years of marriage Valentine’s Day could come and go without much hoopla. Not so! My valentine reached out with a bouquet of red heart balloons and a gift card to my favorite morning hangout. (She knows me so well!)  My heart’s cry each night to the Lord is…”being away from my blessed family Lord is costly.” Oh, how I long to be with them.

I trust the Lord to make that happen soon enough. The praise report for this week is…the accounts we called on placed orders today, my family is healthy and happy, and I have a beautiful wife who loves me unconditionally. Who is more blessed than me? Praise the Lord!

Week five (Honeymoon’s over)

Week five comes to a close. Actually it was a very short work week. I returned from my visit with family Wednesday evening and reported for duty yesterday (Thursday). Two days at work and now settling into a weekend with rain/snow and cold.

Here’s the cold hard facts of starting a business; doing the planning is like going on honeymoon. Dream dreams, talk about a bright future, set goals, and even calculate a budget…all without dealing with the nitty-gritty details called life.

Thirty-two years ago Shelia and I were married; married on Saturday, setting on a beach in the Caribbean on Sunday. While on honeymoon I didn’t pay a single utility bill, cut a single blade of grass, or change a single poopy diaper. On the contrary, we dreamed about the future while experiencing the moment.

Two weeks later, we were moving furniture, paying bills, and calculating mortgage payments. My daughter soiled her first diaper fourteen months later. The honeymoon was over…well, I still think of Shelia as my honeymoon bride. Every Valentine’s Day I always think of that moment on the airplane heading to our honeymoon destination. She was setting in the window seat back-lit with the setting sun. I remember thinking to myself, “I can’t believe this beautiful woman agreed to marry me!”

Ok, ok, back to my point. Yesterday and today were filled with the down and dirty details of getting a business entity created. No more dreaming about the business, just get it going. That means talking to the IRS, State of Arizona, and the Fire Marshall’s office. As one might well imagine, I am overwhelmed with government documents and demands for the mundane, boring facts of life. I need to study regulations and take tests to gain licenses and certificates so I can knock on the first potential customer’s door.

I suppose if it where easy everyone would be doing it.

Week four (warm-up)

I have the pleasure of writing you from sunny Arizona. It really wasn’t frigid West Virginia that drove me home. This planned break is a time for reuniting with family. One month in the record books. I am very pleased with the progress. Week four was full of documentation; job descriptions, employment agreements, work flow charts, and more. It was also a time to get out in the field more to interact with customers. (Cold weather, warm receptions.) I enjoyed time spent with customers.

Best of all January numbers are nearly complete; it is a record month! The changes we began making last October are in place and working. I know morale inside the company is better. The work environment is improving. It has been a process of getting the right people on the bus, and then getting the right people into the right seats. We are breaking the mold when it comes to hiring practices. We hired a new service technician to further expand one of our best territories.

The goal is still to refine and duplicate. We are building a system that allows the right employee complete freedom to be successful. Once the majority of bugs are worked out, its time to make another start, hopefully somewhere in the phoenix valley.

Well, enough writing for now, it’s time to go enjoy family! I will be traveling back in 5 days, one thing’s for certain, time is short.