Wednesday, November 11, 2015


Great faith is forged in the fires of persecution. When the grapes are trodden the precious fruit becomes that potent moment of trust in His perfect sovereignty. It is witnessed in the Amen and the Alleluia. -d.c.elliott

Friday, September 18, 2015

Do We Hold These Truths To Be Self-Evident?

The argument for Planned Parenthood is basically, "Hey, wait a minute, 90% of what we do is good, preventative health. Let's not get carried away. We don't want to just throw the baby out with the bathwater..." Exactly, atleast not until we've had him or her on the table long enough to harvest their brain. I mean, c'mon, that's just foolish... 
Here's my question. We get so upset about that living baby boy or girl on the table, heart beating, long enough to remove the brain...Why is that any more atrocious than the full on assault that is already happening, in the one place meant to be the safest haven for any helpless child, inside the mother's womb? Whether dissected on a cold stainless steel table or still inside mom, isn't it the same? Taking a life is taking a life. Stopping a heart from beating is what it is. Why is that such a hard thing to define today? When we choose for that doctor to end a life, we deny that child any rights, any choice. What would happen if this unfolded just a little further down in the course of that child's life. Now no longer on that cold steel table, but in the crib at home, under the mobiles of giraffes and sheep. If we picked up the phone and called a doctor to say, "You know, we've really just changed our mind. Can you come and take care of this?" What might they say? Who might show up at your door, Child Protective Services, the local Sheriff?
On the other hand, if it wasn't our choice, we would fight to the bitter end if we knew someone was coming to take our children from their beds and end their lives, and we wouldn't care a bit whether that person had some initials after their name. Our society would condone any such act as self-defense. No policeman in the world would throw you in jail for the unalienable right to protect your child. So in the end, it must really come down to choice. You choose to end a life, or you choose to protect.
It is so disheartening to think we must put labels and definitions on what exactly "life" is, because it is no longer a truth that we hold to be self-evident. Today there is no discernible line between a mother's womb and a steel table. What might tomorrow hold if we don't start standing up for those who cannot stand up for themselves?
The photo of the little girl holding the cross, that's my baby. Once she was an infant in her mother's womb. Then she was a child whose little fingers clutched onto mine as she took her first steps. She was 5 years old the day she cradled that white cross, in a sea of white crosses that were meant to represent other children whose lives had been taken from them. Today she is 12. She plays the piano, rides horses, and she just walked some fresh tomatoes over to our elderly neighbor to spread a little joy. She sings all the time, even on the rainy days. She loves life, and her life is precious. At what point do you get to decide it isn't?

Friday, July 3, 2015

Words Unspoken

Words Unspoken
The words that drive the deepest knife
and leave the soul so broken
live in the grief and pain and strife
of the silent words unspoken.
Be mindful of the words you say
yet more so of those you spare,
because both yet speak to a heart
that needs to know you care.
When you look upon a rose
freshly plucked and in the vase
its beauty or wither shows,
written there upon your face.
Not in the present circumstance
of that lonely flower there,
but in your own heart lies the dance
of which you must beware.
Will you ride your pride and die,
crush the petals by your gloom,
or celebrate and hold them high
and love the present bloom?
Do you see the wither or the rose?
Do you see life or only death?
It matters not what you suppose,
but what power is in your breath.
dc elliott 7.1.15

Sunday, April 5, 2015

John the Doubter?

I’ve been studying John the Baptist for some time now, and I have a new theory.
Please bear with me? 
Could it be that John the Baptist didn’t really doubt from prison?   I know we have no reason to assume otherwise, because of the perfection of Christ’s response, but is Christ responding only to John or is He merely doing what we see Jesus doing in so many of the other gospels, searching out the heart of the questioner, looking behind the face-value of the issue and digging into the the marrow of the real matters of the heart?

Think of Jesus when Nicodemus says to him, “we know you have come from God”, and then Jesus’ response, “Truly, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless his is born of water and the Spirit.”   Nicodemus hadn’t even asked a question, and Jesus went straight to the heart.  Nicodemus went away with his mind and his entire theology blown out of the water.  

Look at the conversation with the woman at the well. He shifts gears from talking about water to using water as the analogy of eternal life, answering the deepest questions of her soul.  

Or take the rich man,  “Good teacher, What must I do?”  to which Jesus replies, “Why do you call me good?” He began to uncover the real matter, following up with the answer to the real question in the man’s heart, “One thing you lack," he said. "Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” At this the man's face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.’

Even in the account of the invalid by the pool in Bethesda, Jesus healed the man, and then later found him and told him, “See, you are well again.  Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.”   He knew the heart of the problem was sin.

Matthew 9: ‘Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts?’

Matthew 25: ‘But Jesus, knowing their evil intent, said, “You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me?’

When Peter in his confidence said, “I’ll follow you to prison, even to death.”, it’s Jesus who looks at this man whom He loves and says, “Before the cocks crows, you will have denied me three times”, as if to say, “I love you so much, but there’s still this glaring problem in your heart that you yourself cannot see.  You have one more great mountain to climb before you will be truly ready.”

Even On the cross as they were driving the nails, Jesus cried out, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”   These men had not a clue that they were killing their Savior.

And finally in the end, stretched out in perfect Love,  He looks to one of the other poor sinner dying on the cross next to him and speaks those beautifully insightful and authoritative words of life , “Today you will be with me in Paradise.”  Hanging from that cross we still find the Son of God peering into the soul of the man, answering the real cry of the heart. 
How could he know these things?  He is God, and he could see the heart of the man in front of him.  Over and over, our Savior’s ability to see the truth uncovered the masks of men as he zeroed in on His target, the very salvation of the soul before Him. 

I then see John's character on display in the epistle of John, so vividly before his imprisonment, in this great transition as the Baptist points so wonderfully to Christ and the coming of the New. 

So, In Matthew and Luke as we get to peek from behind the bars of John’s prison, does it really fit with the man to doubt what he so confidently affirmed in the other pictures?  
In John 3 when the arguments arose between his own disciples and a certain Jew, it was John who readily affirmed Christ, this Lamb of God, as the one they should all be following.  When some of his own disciples left him, it wasn’t John’s jealousy on display, it was John’s humility that hushed the murmurers.   “He must become greater; I must become less.”  
He knew who he was, and he knew his mission. ”I am the voice of one calling in the wilderness, 'Make straight the way for the Lord.’" 

I understand that John was just a man, even though the greatest, and certainly all men doubt, all men waver and hesitate in the storms and trials. 
But still it makes me wonder if John from prison wasn’t just pointing the last of his faithful disciples onward, saying “go ask Him if He’s the One?”  This man who ate the locusts and wore the camel’s hair, had not a care for himself or a fear for his own life, even when warned of prison and death.  It makes me wonder, would this be the man to doubt, to trip in the last leg of the race?

I do not have a knowledge or understanding of the original text, Greek or Latin, and this is why I’m posting this theory here, as well as submitting it to the most learned scholars of this modern day.  Do you, who know the ancient text, see the confirmation of doubt in such confidence because of the language and meaning conveyed by Luke?  
When Thomas doubted after the resurrection, it was affirmed by Christ, “Thomas, why do you doubt?”  There’s no disputing the condition of his heart.  Even the other gospels confirmed.   Is there more that we simply are not afforded in the English language to express the meaning of Christ’s reply, something that seals this verdict for us, or have we made John the Baptist into the fall-guy that he wasn’t?  Has history given this man a bad rap for 2000 years?  

I’m not one to look for something new, some fresh revelation never before understood. I’m just looking at the character of the man, what he stood for and what he was prepared to lose his life for.  It was to John so simple; Christ, and Christ alone.

I see in Scripture the response of Christ, ‘Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me.”   But was Christ addressing the prisoner or the messengers? I can understand the disciples’ doubt, faithful to John to the end, but could it be that Jesus is peering once again into the hearts of these men who still do not follow, addressing the doubt of the disciples and not the doubt of the Baptist? These men were still clinging to the man in prison, when the man in prison knew they should be following Christ.
John knew his ministry was complete, his job was done.  He applauded as did Moses and Paul, the idea that others were pointing to Christ.  Anything less would seem to contradict his very reason for breath. 
So many of the other accounts in Scripture find John the Baptist so confidently making the claim to the supremacy of Christ, the perfect fulfillment.

Yes, I see Christ telling them, “Go back and report to John…”  But does that include somehow definitively that John himself had personally doubted?
I almost imagine John saying in today’s terms, “Look, you’re still hanging around me after all I’ve taught you?  After I’ve pointed to Him with every bone in my body, you still linger?  Go! Ask HIM if He’s the one.”  As if a master is making the faithful dog to run away by raising up at him a threatening rod, even though he would never find it within his bones to actually strike such an unconditional love.

This is why I pose the theory.  Does the text in its origin absolutely apply to and for John the Baptist alone?  Or is there room here that we have merely assumed?  Could it be that Christ was in fact replying to John that the prophecies were being fulfilled, as a nod of affirmation, and then switching his gaze to the doubt of the messengers before Him, once again giving them the truth to the answer that was hidden in their own hearts?  

Monday, February 9, 2015

Special Delivery

Yesterday, my son delivered his first case of Bibles, solo via the moto, to an old pastor down the road who is losing his eyesight and can't walk very well.  I asked the pastor to wait in front of his house for his delivery, and I hollered for my son.
"Got a little job for you son."  I said.
"Yes, Dad?"  He said, always a little leery of what monstrosity I might require of him.  It could be to go climb that tree, shovel some dirt, weed the garden, haul the garbage or....well you get the idea.  A young man never really knows.
I threw the case on the back of the moto and said,
"Hop on and deliver these Bibles for me.  They go to the Pastor at the church down the road.   His house will be the one in front of the little church, and he should be standing outside waiting for you.  If not, just ask around."
Gulp. Pause. Silence. And then his feet were moving, I think before even his mind was in agreement.  He was saddling up.
It was a very sweet moment to me. He left a little nervous and unsure, and it felt a little like kicking the bird out of the nest.  When he vanished from sight after looking back, onto the Haitian National Road, I felt like I might puke.  Waiting for him to return was a lifetime, but the look on his face when he returned told me it was good for him, windswept hair and all.
I love this young man...
20 more people in our community will have their own copy of God's Word, thanks and glory to the Lord and His provision.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Bucket Tests

Without launching into something that might bore you, let me just explain that I love to get my hands dirty. I love to work the in the soil, to plant seeds, and to watch the miraculous. Gardens are where I can go to be quiet, where I can be alone with the Lord, where I can speak about whatever might be a burden to my heart. God loves gardens too, and I know this to be a fact simply because He saw fit to start us all out in the Garden. If God loves it, I should think it’s ok for me to love them too.
That said, I’ve been running several tests this year, gardening out of buckets.
I’ve employed several methods, maybe these will be useful for someone down the road, maybe they’ll just serve as notes for me. At any rate, here’s my findings.
single bucket, global bucket (double bucket), half buckets, holey buckets (for air pruning), and holey buckets with screen to help retain the soil. I used local soil mixed with some compost, and some bamboo that we cut nearby for support, with rock on the bottom for weight and to keep the drainage holes free from sediment blockage.
The Global bucket (double bucket) plants have grown much taller and have produced bigger, better fruit than any other method, while taking less water. We live next to an artesian well, so water really isn’t an issue, but the rest of Haiti would benefit from these because the water doesn’t evaporate so easily or just run away. It’s almost all used up by the plant. I planted 2 tomatoes per bucket, and we’ve been enjoying large tomatoes. I added some fertilizer about 4 weeks in. I did not run a test with just 1 tomato plant but I can only assume the yield would be better. With this method, the bottom bucket becomes a closed reservoir of water that is wicked up in the soil from the top bucket. There is a hole between the two with a perforated plastic cup. Through osmosis the water is sucked up by the roots. In some case I think the roots have even grown into the bottom bucket, giving them constant fresh supply to the water.
These methods universally seemed better at repelling viruses and disease, but the Global bucket plants resisted virus better than any other method.
I tested air pruning vs air pruning with screen to withhold the soil, and saw virtually no change between the methods. Between a single bucket plant compared to a single bucket air prune bucket however, the plants in the air pruned bucket are almost a foot taller, producing their fruit later but also seeming to be more healthier in the stalks.
Plants that have grown exceptionally well: peppers, tomatoes, cucumber.
Plants that have had some difficulty: melons and broccoli. Broccoli needs more space, and melons want to crawl everywhere.
SWEET PEAS! This one gets me excited because they are almost impossible to grow in Haiti, but with a bucket method, they actually “held hands” with one another as they grew, tangling up in each other and producing almost identical branches until they finally reached some chicken wire that I provided for them to climb. They are currently flowered and producing sweet peas!
There is a calcium deficiency in the soil here, and the virus is either airborne or in the soil itself. Ground up egg shells with a bit of ash seems to balance the soil easily, and watering only the base of the plants and not the leaves seems to really help the plant to control the virus and overcome. I pruned any leaves with the virus, and also made sure to prune any branches below 6 inches from the earth. Last year the virus hit our crops and while we still produced a good harvest, the fruit was smaller and less tasty.
Bugs almost completely ignore plants in the buckets. We only had 1 infestation. I sprayed only 2 times a very light pesticide. In Haiti pests are so common you can lose entire crops, because hardly anyone sprays for them. This was a big note, because I don’t like spraying pesticide chemicals. I’m fairly certain we could have just used neem (a natural deterrent) from the local plants, but I already had some pesticide and decided to just use it up.
One of the biggest advantages, we can let the fruit ripen on the stem. This is almost impossible in Haiti. Most fruits and vegetables must be picked early, partly because the bugs will eat them, partly because they can’t withstand the heat, and the birds and chickens will come along and peck them, destroying them. In the buckets, they are left alone and can ripen naturally.
You still have to water when it rains. If you think because it rained you don’t need to worry, you’re wrong. Because the plants are contained, they quickly lap up what little rain (even from a downpour) that makes it into the bucket. Best method I use, collect the rainwater or overflow water in a bucket to conserve the water.
The plants are portable! Awesome point. I can move them when they get too cluttered and turn them to get more light.
While I put holes in all the buckets to allow for drainage, the Global Bucket was best. The plants never get too waterlogged and there is less chance for disease.
After the garden is finished I will break open the root system, but I’m thinking the air prune method gives the most roots. Maybe I can combine this with the Global Bucket method and marry the two ideas?
I pruned most of the suckers from the tomato plants and went on to plant them in our other gardens as well as in the fields. It’s a great way to keep the garden perpetuating younger generations. I also started several seeds in the buckets and used them as a kind of ‘protected’ seed bed, as an alternative from the Haitian seed beds. In Haiti, it’s very difficult to just plant your seeds in the rows. The elements, rain and sun, are too harsh for feeble young plants, and what survives is usually eaten by chickens or wild birds, and sometimes goats. The occasional pig or cow on the loose can destroy the crop. It’s best to grow seeds in protected seed beds, and then propagate or transplant. The bucket methods allow for this in a more secure environment.
(global bucket toms)
air prune method, no screen

air prune method with screen

single bucket

Global Bucket


sweat peas walking eachother up the buckets

Within His Breath

Experience has taught me well;
There is no sequestered peace,
If on my own I tie the sail. 
The tempest does not cease.

It's only when I've gone to Him
And wakened His long arm,
Do I find He has within His breath
The power to calm the storm.

d.c. elliott 1/29/15

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Accolade for Saving Lives

Five years ago I remember talking with Antenor Frantz at our home in Haiti. I asked him about his dreams, and he told me of his vision to form a mission that truly invested in the lives of just a small number of kids. I asked him what would make his mission different than any others, and he told me, "I would invest fully in those kids. In their families, their education, their understanding of the Bible, their job skills, everything. With those few I would try to make a real difference in Haiti."

Then a few months ago he formally left his position with another mission, and when I asked not long ago what he was up to, he cheerfully presented me with the paperwork for his new mission, Accolade for Saving Lives. In short, my good friend has not been sitting still twirling his thumbs.

Instead he's partnered with other like-minded Christian Haitians who have the same goal of making the world a better place, and those plans have been rolled and formed into action. Yesterday I had the opportunity of photographing their new beginnings as they began to convert and remodel a small, humble office space in the city.

"How did you come up with the name, Accolade for Saving Lives?" I asked him.
"I can see it in my mind. Coming to these kids who need help, and almost like an embrace, raising them up and encouraging them in life. This word, 'Accolade', is the best word that describes what I see."
Accolade by definition: an award or an expression of praise.
I wasn't sure at first. But as I think of kids who need a helping hand, someone to encourage them, to guide them, to lift them up. it sounds more and more like a fitting word.

As I watched him painting the wall, I noticed the onlookers, the kids in the street, the old man who lived next door, everyone taking a curious note of what my friend was doing. I laughed inside, because with him, it always starts this way. This artist steps into a black and white world with his paint, or his clay, and he begins to create something beautiful. Before you know it, an old dry wall that was once sleepy and bland has been transformed into the very picture of the sun itself, setting in the Haitian sky. Already in the office yard, there are papaya growing. There are cherries in the tree and banana. I think of the fruit that may yet come from this place.

People begin to stop him as he's working, and the questions -that is, the opportunities - begin to form.

"What is this?" "What does Accolade mean?" "What is your goal?" I begin to hear the people say.
It will be such an interesting story I think, and such a beautiful painting it will be as this Haitian man who loves his people begins to pour out his faith and his belief onto the canvas of this city.

The Space for Prayer

In a rebuke from a brother
There must be space for prayer
To know that words are said to build
And never meant to tear.

Words do quake to sound and speak
And yet I bid them mute and meek.
The heart itself must be revealed.
The statement signed, delivered, sealed.

When now no stone is left unturned
The humble brew does steep,
To learn what might be yet unlearned,
How wide, long, high and deep...

d.c.elliott 1/29/15

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Marrying Up

My son wrote a paper today that showed me there is hope. His instructions were to read a story about some Greek who hated women so he sculpted one of his own out of ivory and then married her when the Goddess Venus gave her life. (Whack, yep, I thought so too) Then he was to retell the story in his own words. 

Well, he not only retold the story, he related it to the foolishness of man and how he began to blame God for everything so he left His commands and became the children of idols. He used the Greek philosophy to point to the foolishness of man in needing to create visible things, and used their own theology to teach about the character of God. God loved man, so He purposed for His Son to become the bridegroom of man, and man the bride of Christ, so that he could still marry into God's family and be accepted in His kingdom. From there he launched into an all out sermon and gave the Gospel.

My wife, the teacher, took out her red pen and made the dozens of corrections that a good teacher makes, using the proper code that only teachers know, R.O, (run on sentence) P (paragraph) arrow here, arrrow there, foxtrot charlie, tango, victor... She filled the remaining margins with questions to challenge his thinking and if he was really following the instructions by telling an entirely different story and not following the Ivory Woman/Greek God, (Whack) story.
She really is an excellent teacher, and wants him to grow into a fine young writer. I see her point...

Then I was allowed to critique, from the freedom of just being Dad...
"In the world of grammar and in view of all things proper, one might leave this paper scribbled with the red ink of correction. After all, there are rules. But, in the light of God and His uncanny character of breaking into the narrative of even His own Story, I say, Good Job Son. A+"

The following is Logan's story:
Man found much to blame God for so much so he began to leave the commands of the One who made him. Taking matters into his own hands man decided to be the children of idols who's names were Sexually Immorality, Impurity, Lust, Evil Desires, Greed, Anger, Rage, Malice, Slander And Filthy Language. Man crafted for himself other gods that were visible to the eye but invisible to the spirt. He wanted to believe in something physically seen rather than something invisibly seen. If man was truly seeking after truth he would have found that God is indeed visible. You see, God was only invisible by man’s definition of the word. If man was really searching for God he would have seen Him in the creation around him; in the plants that grow without anyone telling it to, in the wind that blows without ceasing, in the star that shines with all it’s brilliance, and in the moon that reflects with all it’s magnificence. As you search to obtain and look to discover you find that God is very visible and the visibility of the visible depends on the glasses you are looking through. Even though man in his foolishness despised God, God in his wisdom loved man. In that love, God chose before He created Creation to send his only Son in man’s definition of a visible being to be visibly crucified on the cross for man’s sins. He did this so that man may have a recorded document of His great love and faithfulness to him. Written from men who have seen the glory and power of God through the death of His only Son Jesus. The purpose of His Son is for Jesus to be the bridegroom and man the bride. So that man may have a way to marry into God’s family and become His son’s and daughters. No one can come to the Father except through Jesus, so without this marriage into the family of God, man has no way of inheriting the Kingdom of God. To do this man must accept Jesus as God and to acknowledge that He was crucified for man so that man might be able to be accepted into God’s family, inheriting His Kingdom. Ultimately it comes down to Love. For if man loves Him he will Obey Him and we love because He first loved us." Logan Elliott

By the way, he told me that he prayed before he began to write, so he really can't take the credit.   


I think often of the idea of a man like me standing for a God like Him. An ambassador of Christ? With mud and sweat and scruf and sin, half blind and achy all over. It's laughable, despicable really, were it not that it points to such Amazing Grace.

'Think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before Him. It is because of Him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.” ~Paul 1cor1

Monday, January 19, 2015

A Consuming Fire

What is meant to be accomplished in the 12th chapter of Hebrews, when we hear that God is an all consuming fire? Was this something to be sought after, something the writer hoped would pour out like a river upon the Hebrews? Was it to be celebrated? No. 

It was a warning, reminding the people with the very words of Moses, in Deuteronomy 4:24, to not forgot what God did to a people who disobeyed and were disrespectful to His commands. We can find the root of these words in Numbers 15 & 16, where God gave the Israelites His commands regarding intentional sin. In view of UNintentional sin, God was willing to pardon through sacrifice and atonement, but for INtentional sin, God chose for His wrath to be poured out. It was a matter of the heart. Willful, defiant sin is blasphemy to Him.
A man among the Israelites was found gathering wood on the Sabbath, and the people detained him. God saw into the man's heart, and determined his sin to be INtentional. His punishment was death, and so Moses had him put to death, and following the instructions of God he told the people to tie blue tassles to the corners of their garments, to have as a visual reminder, a way to remember the commands of God.
"You will have these tassels to look at and so you will remember all the commands of the LORD, that you may obey them and not prostitute yourselves by going after the lusts of your own hearts and eyes." God said.
This is when Korah and a group of leaders stood up and told Moses "You've gone too far! This whole community is holy!" It was basically a public "How dare you!"
Moses called them out, to stand before God and let God decide. Some came, and some were insolent, and this is where we finally get to the meat of this "All Consuming Fire" when the glory of the Lord appears...
In Numbers 16:19, 'When Korah had gathered all his followers in opposition to them at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting, the glory of the LORD appeared to the entire assembly.'
The ground opened up and swallowed them alive. People began running in pure terror, and here it comes, are you ready, verse 35: 'And fire came out from the LORD and consumed the 250 men who were offering the incense.'
The All Consuming Fire.....Consumed them!
Did you catch it though? They were making an offering to God. They thought they were right. They believed themselves to be the holy ones, and Moses to be the man who had gone too far. God showed them in one moment, through His consuming fire, where He stood.
In their hearts, God found them to be serving themselves, living for their own interests, in essence, counterfeit. (Think of Psalm 46, where God breaks into the scene of insolent men and declares "I will be exalted.")

The next day even more people rose up and grumbled, "You've killed the LORD'S people!"
They were still so deceived, so darkened, and so blind to the true work of God that they couldn't see. God again began to pour out His judgement for their disrespect, again looking at their hearts and their INtentional sin. He sent out a plague among them to finish them off, but Moses sent Aaron running into the midst of those who were being put to death, to beg for their atonement. God searched their hearts and halted His wrath, but almost 15,000 people were dead.

This, brothers and sisters, was the experience of Moses with God. Moses was warning his people by reminding them of God's all consuming fire, His judgement, and what would happen if they allowed that same disrespect and irreverence.

Finally, this is the same context of Hebrews 12. It is a warning, and a bold one at that, to "throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles," to "fix our eyes on Jesus, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross", to "endure hardship as discipline", even though it can be painful at the time. If you are disciplined, you are loved. We are warned to strengthen our faith, our confidence, to be in check and search our hearts constantly regarding our relationship with Christ. We are to "make every effort to live in peace," to "see to it that no one misses the grace of God."

At the very heart, we are not to refuse Him. Can we claim to be God's holy and anointed, and yet be blind, on the wrong side of judgement? Absolutely we can, if we don't check ourselves and hold steadfast to Him and His commands. This is where we are to test the spirits (1 Thes 5). Does the work of the Holy Spirit point to Jesus? Does it exalt the Lord and oppose Satan? Is it soaked by Scripture, dripping with truth, producing the fruit of a genuine love? God points to Jesus. The Old Testament and the prophets point to Jesus. Jesus points to Jesus. The apostles point to Jesus. The New Testament of course, and even the work of the Holy Spirit is to point to Jesus.

Are we? Is our message about power or the gifts that can be ours, the adventure, the encounters, the blessings or the better life? Do we want the glory? This is our earthly nature, the very things we must put to death according to Paul (Col. 3), lest we find ourselves in the wake of pride, lies, false humility, anger, rage, malice, slander, filthy language, sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.

God takes these things seriously. "I will be exalted."

Discern. Be Berean in your searching of the Scripture. Ask God to reveal your heart. There is stark contrast between the Pharisee and the Berean. One loves Jesus and will stand for the Word, whatever the cost, and one is too blind to recognize Him at all, because of pride.

The people in the day of Moses didn't escape His judgement here on the earth, even though they thought they were right. We shouldn't expect to escape either if we worship idols and chase after only what feels good. We must take care to keep our walk and our worship acceptable and pleasing to God, sights focused with reverence and awe, remembering that we will one day be there in the midst of His glory, where there is a river that makes glad the City of God, in that holy place where the Most High dwells. We will be with Him there, face to face with the Knower of Hearts, and if we are with Him, if He is in us, we will not fall.

His desire is that we should all repent and turn to Him, that we should ask forgiveness, and find His Grace. If we've been rescued, we should be pointing to Christ and Christ alone.

But, if we have let go of His commandments and have created our own idea based on what appealed to us, 'going after the lusts of our own hearts and eyes', then we serve an idol that is really ourselves. Many on that day will say, "Lord, Lord, didn't we do this or that in your Name?" and He will tell them plainly, "I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!" We bear no resemblance to Jesus Christ, and in view of our intentional sin, our God is a consuming fire.

Monday, December 15, 2014


We didn't have a Nativity scene down here in Haiti, but we did have a lump of clay.   I thought it would be perfect to stick 5 candles in that lump of clay, remembering over the weeks of Advent that we are all still in the hands of the Potter, being formed and shaped.  Kari came out and looked at my 'lump' idea and said, "It's ugly.  Do something and make it pretty."

So we did.   I pushed out that lump of clay and made a Manger, and then with some broken pieces of dried clay from last year, Abby and I began to carve out our scene. There is Mary kneeling, baby Jesus bundled, Joseph standing, the sheep curled up asleep, the little drummer boy and even an Angel keeping watch.  

It won't last forever as there is no kiln.  It's more like dry mud than anything, baked in the Sun, so it crumbles easily.  It's passing away just like the rest of us in this old world.
But there's one thing it certainly is.... it's pretty.  It adorns our table as the centerpiece.

If God gives us another year, I'll make another, and I'll form the Manger to be the cupped hands of God, because at least that much is lasting.  He is always shaping and making us into something holy, something beautiful, and we are, always, in His hands.

'Has not my hand made all these things, and so they came into being?" declares the LORD. "These are the ones I look on with favor: those who are humble and contrite in spirit, and who tremble at my word.' (Isaiah 66)

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Prayers for Peace

The government here seems to be standing on sinking sand. With all the hasty remarks that have began to take flight, please pray for peace and for the memory of the words that aren't meant for such to be forgotten and laid to rest in an unmarked grave. 

Fools are best to keep themselves silent, lest they open their mouths and remove all doubt. But it’s for those with wisdom and understanding to speak, using words with restraint. 'The words of a man’s mouth are deep waters, but the fountain of wisdom is a bubbling brook.’ Being slow to speak, yes, but sharing the choice meat that God gives, that’s important. The Bible says that death and life are in the power of the tongue.
We aren’t supposed to go around starting forest fires with these tongues of wrath, but we are to do something with them. Something grand. We are to share life...

'Let the righteous smite me; it shall be a kindness: and let him reprove me; it shall be an excellent oil, which shall not break my head: for yet my prayer also shall be in their calamities.’

We’re supposed to sharpen one another, keeping the shields well-oiled and fit for battle. Those conversations, if not sought after, should at least be embraced as something precious, remembering there will come a day when the giver may well be the receiver, thirsty and in much need of a drink from the well of Christ. All our thirsts will one day be quenched in the river, and I hope we will sit along the grassy bank and share some of the fruit from that miraculous tree.

Until then, remember to Whom it is we pray, with humility and reverence and relationship, and share Him with the waxing world.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The Balance

From both ends the pendulum swings
When a Creator is painted by created beings.
Though now through darkened glass we see
What faith, what hope, what Love might be.
Oh! The joys and sorrows found
When from on high the trumpets sound
And we are left with what we thought,
What was Truth and what was not.
And yet as Grace expands our view
We will but know it to be true
The heart, the soul, the matter is
He is ours, and we are His.
D.C. Elliott

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Mutadis Mutandis

Mutadis Mutandis:  To change only that which must be changed.

Our kids were out playing with the kids in the village yesterday, and they all began to climb a Breadfruit tree.  10 feet up in the air, they all felt like they were on top of the world, surveying the back fields from their 'lofty' position.  It wasn't until they began to think about getting down out of that tree that something else began to set in...

They reached the point where the only thing left to do was to get their bellies down on the branch, swing down to hang, and then, gulp, let go.
For my daughter, she couldn't quite wrap her mind around the hanging and letting go part...  She became stuck in the tree as she faced her trial.

There was Fear.  There was Shaking.  There were the Weak Knees, but then came Discouragement, and eventually what began to seep in was none other than the darkest of foes:  Timidity.

Mocking and Jeering came running along soon afterward, and suddenly for one little girl, playing...well, it didn't really feel like playing anymore.  It was more like a battle, a struggle, a tease, and it wasn't very fun at all.
Slowly she became paralyzed by the words that take life, and defeat began to soak in with tears.  A Haitian man eventually climbed to get her down and she ran into the house.  

So today we talked about Mutadis Mutandis, about how there are plenty of good things about us, and some things that aren't.  But instead of throwing the baby out with the bathwater, maybe we should just try changing only that which must be changed.
The Bible says God did not give us a spirit of timidity, which is not to be confused with humility.  He doesn't mean for us to be faint-hearted or feeble-minded.  He wants us to live abundantly, in confidence, with courage.

We all marched back out to where the Battle of the Breadfruit Tree happened.  We acknowledged the defeat, and we attacked.   We came armed for battle.  Along with us were Encouragement, Love, Respect, Patience, and Honor.

Her brother climbed the tree, several times, and jumped down, several times, to give her a good example.    She studied him and watched his skills as he slowly became more and more exhausted.
Her Haitian sister climbed the tree and showed her the best way, the Haitian way, to climb.
Her mother and her father stood down below, arming her with Courage, promising to catch her, and eventually, a little girl who could still taste the bitterness of defeat found herself hanging, and then dropping down into Victory.  
She Overcame.  She Conquered.  She prevailed.  She lived.

That's how your Father sees you, did you know that?
Of course He sees you from time to time, stuck up in the tree, but that tree doesn't define you.  It's just a place where you happen to be stuck.   You can't see that when you're hanging, your toes are really only dangling a few feet in the air.   From your perspective, that fall is an eternity.   But how far does it look from God's perspective?
To give us just a little special dose of illustration, God saw fit to let a Haitian man walk up to us just after my daughter jumped out of the tree.  My Haitian daughter, Oberline, was up there still, just about to jump herself.
"You shouldn't be up in Breadfruit trees!"  the man yelled.  "People die from climbing Breadfruit trees all the time!  A man just died the other day!"  He said.
"It's ok, my friend." I replied. "She's used to it, and they aren't going to climb any higher, just to the first branch."
"It doesn't matter!"  The man responded again.  "You can fall out of a Breadfruit tree from just a few feet, and DIE!"  He warned.
I looked up at Oberline, who was now clinging to the branch, much like my other daughter was last night.  I could see Fear once again coming out to play,  and I knew Timidity would soon be on the way....
"Don't discourage, please."  I said to him.  I looked at Oberline,  "Don't listen to that discouragement Oberline.  You're doing just fine.  You come on down when you're ready.  You can do it."
I watched her take that defeat and throw it away.
She smiled at me...and she jumped.

"And we urge you, brothers, warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone."  1 Thess 5:14

Sunday, November 23, 2014


We got to participate in a few medical clinics lately, and though medical is not my niche by a long shot, I tend to find the Spirit lingering in sharp contrast to my natural desires. When I go against the flesh, there I find the blessing.  I wonder how many times I've missed it...

James Courter with Arise Haiti is a sort of mentor to me.  I watch him and learn.  Love is an action, but it's also a choice.   James tells me love has to look like something.  His team not only ran clinics but they cut hair and gave free photos.  The teenagers from the Arise kids program came along and gave people manicures and pedicures, raising money for other kids who are hurting in Ethiopia.    
Haitian kids, working to raise money for Ethiopian kids.  Is that not beautiful?  Is that contrary to what you might expect?  Isn't every work of the Spirit signed with that same signature?   I watched my daughter serve.  I watched my Haitian daughter lead.  I watched people soak in love.

I asked Darin Kaihoi if I could use his song to help tell the story of the beautiful hands and feet I witnessed this week.  His music and words are a paintbrush.  Darin readily laid down himself for the Kingdom and agreed.

What might you do for the Kingdom today?  Not because it gets you any closer to Glory, but because He is just that worthy of our all?  Did He rescue you from the fire?  Lay yourself down, see what He might rise up from the ashes.  I'm betting it's beautiful.

I think on God's mantle He keeps the most broken vessels.  I think it's that way because He doesn't think the way we do.  In our weakness we find His strength.  In our yielding, His masterpiece.
It's because of the cracks and the misshapen form that the Light is most revealed as it pokes out into the darkness and cuts through the hiding places.

See the video here:

Saturday, November 15, 2014


For days and days we heard the music for Satan. Then the rains came and washed it all away. As soon as it let up a couple of nights ago they danced and screamed all up and down the path again, so last night we decided to have a music-fest all our own. We lit some cardboard on fire (we don't have wood to burn), and danced around for awhile singing praises to God and beating on our oil can. Then we stopped to make good use of the fire and roasted some marshmallows. I took a shot of my little tribe. I have to admit, I never knew my Sweet-Pea of a daughter had this kind of Roar inside her, but I will tell you this, if I were her enemy and encountered her on a dark night, I would tuck my tail and run, fast as I could.
By the way, pray for a man named Sergo. He likes to play guitar and seems to be a leader in the music. Pray that God turns him inside out and upside down for Jesus, and that his guitar will reach thousands more in the name of Christ.


Tranpe. To soak.
The Haitians have this word for soaking, whether it be laundry that is soaking in detergent, or food that is soaking with spices in a pot, but there seems to be almost no conveyance for the idea of soaking in the presence of God.
I'm told I can't use that phrase, to soak in the presence of God.
One Haitian pastor told me that I can say I want to stand in His presence, or that I want to come before him. Another friend tells me I can say I want to fill up before him, or to stay at His feet, but those ideas just aren't what I'm feeling.
I don't want to just come before Him, I don't want to just sit at His feet, and I don't think it's even possible for me to stand in His presence.
Throughout the Bible from Isaiah to the elders of Revelation, everybody seems to be able to do only one thing when He comes near, and that is to fall down flat on our faces.
Do I think I will stand? It's highly doubtful, unless He sends to me one of His Trusted with tongs and a live coal to touch my lips, and even then I'll only be worthy to stand if He wills it. I will worship, and I will listen.
There are times when my soul thirsts the same as the deer who pants for the streams of water. With that vision in mind I can say with near certainty that when I come into the presence of God and His grace I will be most like that of a Gingerbread man, falling headlong into a vast ocean of warm milk. By my very composition, I will fall down, flat on my face, and soak...

Thursday, November 6, 2014

A Quaking in the Bended Spring

We were reading in Ezekiel this morning about a people who had gone off the deep end. The laundry list of their day-to-day began with things we might consider mild, but then God's description of them takes us further and further down the rabbit hole, to a place so dark and void of reason that it doesn't even seem possible. And yet we know these things live under the rocks in the world today, these days even more so in the sun. They once peeked out at us from the headlines of some far away news story, but not anymore. Today they visit us nearer than the shadow of our steeples.
In the beginning, with the people in our story, it was the little things. But the little things did something, something maybe so subtle in the beginning that one can only assume it was never noticed or taken seriously, and thus began the slipping, slipping, sliding... The people began to ignore the Sabbath, but came to despise God. They lost their hospitality, but then they began to look at ways to even trick strangers and rob them. They didn't respect their mothers and fathers, didn't obey them, and then they began to despise them and even mock them. They became disgusted by Mom and Dad.
Maybe those didn't seem like big things, society was free after all. The rules and laws of God were coming down, the old way of the parents was stale and silly, and besides, this was a time of freedom for all men. Tolerance was the new world, and that was a world that didn't need God. How sweet is a false liberty, like a mouse to the beckoning fragrance of cheddar, so bathed in bliss that it can't hear the quaking in the bended spring...It has no thought of such evil contraptions, and neither do we.
God continues to turn out the light of the lantern in our story. The brightness begins to chase away and, if you're looking, you can see the battle for inches between good and evil, a rumbling that must have played out over the course of years. Mostly it must have lived on in the shadows of the mind where none could see the smoke to call out the alarm and ring the bell for all to come running with buckets to what may have surmounted to a 4-alarm fire. The world was burning, but they didn't see.
They began to worship idols, and the violations spread from the carved things of clay and wood to that of flesh and bone. Men began to take what didn't belong to them. Fathers even began violating their daughters, brothers violating their sisters as the twisted curse began to leave it's brand on the hind quarters of man. Bribes were accepted for murder, and all anyone could think about was me, me, me. The light of the lantern dimmed to a hiccup of a flame, and then the glow was lost in a smolder of smoke. Snuffed so nonchalant that there was not even notice of the cold and empty sadness.
The single overbearing question in the back of the mind is, "How?"
How does a people arrive there, where THAT becomes OK, normal, nothing special? How do you fall that far? How does someone not stand up and fight for the light to return to the blind?
Then God gives His answer. How? They forgot Me.
Mezanmi! (That's just Haitian for Wow!)
That's all we have to do? Believe it or not, the rest of the battle is fought in small measures, inches here, but miles there.
Haven't we all given inches already? Haven't we compromised and tolerated and loosened ourselves from the hand of God already, and all in the name of freedom and liberty?
If you can't say it, I will. Yes. We have. And I know we have, because I have. I am guilty. My back is not turned to God, not today, but isn't that only a question of time if I play with the ideas that we are playing with today?
God's laws, God's rules, are for Life. He looks at us kicking in our blood, and He breathes upon us. He says, "Live!" And by His Word alone we can have that. Real life. That's His desire for us, and He lavishes the blessing upon us. But then what? Light comes into our world, but men love darkness instead of the light, and we turn it away.
Why? Who would do such a thing, turn out the light in a dark world?
We each have a natural root that drills deep into the soul, always looking for a little bit more of ME, unwilling to yield, and the addiction of Self helps us to make up our minds as we decide that laws and rules shouldn't apply to us or anyone else for that matter. We give up God's laws and rules for anarchy, for a life of no-rules, and what do we find? We find the simple opposite to the life that God would desire for us.
We find death.
When it has crept into the very nostrils of our souls and we can't breathe or even remember what the fresh air smelled like, will we too have arrived at that final place of getting what we've asked for?
Do we really want what we are asking for, an eternity without Him?
Or will we awaken in time to see that with His rules and laws, there is life and life abundant? The time to choose is now, to wake up to the horrible truth that in a society with no moral compass it is entirely possible to fall so very, very far, even to a place where there is nothing left but death and a way that seems a man.
"And this is His command: to believe in the name of His Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as He commanded us. Those who obey His commands live in Him, and He in them. And this is how we know that He lives in us: We know it by the Spirit He gave us." 1 John 3:23-24

Wednesday, November 5, 2014


Nearly 5 years ago I was with a group of Americans in Haiti. It was my first time in the country, and we were looking for a back route to one of the villages on the mountain from the other side. A couple of guys inadvertently entered in the wrong coordinates and waypoints into their GPS, and no matter what I said with my map and compass in regards to our position, they decided they were going to 'trust the technology' instead, and that technology got us lost. We got out of the car and took a turn to the East, walking down into a deep ravine and up over the top of another mountain.
We walked for miles, and it took literally the entire morning, afternoon, and early evening before we finally made it back to our village.
I called it my Haitian Walkabout.
If you're not familiar with that word, a Walkabout is a kind of self-journey that one takes while sojourning into the wild to seek the spiritual side of life, to discover the meaning and the purpose of it all.
That day felt to me as if it embodied so many more things than I could comprehend, things that I knew might take years for me to understand. It became a rite of passage that led me to trust God down many more trails in Haiti.

It was only hours into the venture that it began to dawn on us that we weren't lost at all, that God knew, and planned, exactly where we would be that day. One of the women in our group found a family she'd met months before as we stumbled upon the home where they lived, and God answered a big prayer of mine from the night before.

I had asked Him why He would have me meet a little girl named Oberline on top of some obscure mountain that I would never return to, a girl I'd probably never see again...I remember asking Him why He would break my heart over someone I couldn't possibly find again in a sea of Haitian people.

And then it happened on the Walkabout that we popped out right next to her village. I remember the men scratching their heads at the GPS, admitting they were lost. I remember the tears that welled up in my eyes when I realized we were back at the exact spot where I'd met that little girl.
To me it was simple. God got us 'lost' so that she might once again be found.

Now, almost 5 years later, I was on that same mountain, visiting a new pastor at his church, making plans to get Bibles to him. Another pastor had mentioned in our conversation that there was a new, beautiful road that went up over the mountain.

"Are you kidding me?!" I said.
"I'm telling the truth." He smiled.
I had to go and see for myself.
I don't know how it is, but when I came up over the hill I almost cried. There before me, in exactly the same footsteps that we'd taken in our Walkabout 5 years before, was a road, plowed through what was once a wilderness in my mind.

They've made a road where once there was only a footpath. In places more suited for goat than a man is now a road wide enough to travel comfortably in a 4wd or on a moto. Exactly where we'd left the car years before, down the exact ravine, and through each village we'd passed, in exactly the place where we'd walked, there is now a road.

What once was a Walkabout in the Wilderness...Now a road. A big, beautiful road.
What do YOU think it means, reader?
What does this say to YOU?
Just a coincidence? What would be the odds?
If you got out of your car in America, alongside some National Forest, you walked for a full day, zigging here and zagging there, scribbling your way on a map, and then returned to that same spot 5 years later to find a road bulldozed, would it make you pause?
Would you consider what God might be trying to say?

"See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland." ~Isaiah 43:19

When I was with a group of men this summer we were walking in a State Park. We purposefully left the trail and walked into the wilderness. The trees crowded in, the wind coursed through the branches and the forest became our cover. But then, out of the blue something caught the eye of one of the men. "Look at that! Is there some purpose to the bench?" He said.
"What?!" There in our 'wilderness' was a beautiful bench, sturdy and well built.
"Wonder who would put a bench like that clear out here?" I said.
Then we saw the path. A trail, and in the trees just a little further, a sign. On the sign was a map of the trail we'd stumbled upon, and written in large letters with an arrow were the words "YOU ARE HERE."

I laughed immediately. The entire day fell into meaning for me, as that day I heard God say the same thing I hear Him saying here in Haiti.

"You may think you're lost. But with Me, you are found. You can walk to and fro, zig and zag, blindfold yourself and spin about in circles. You can walk for miles in the darkness, but regardless of where you are or what storm you're in, if you are with Me, I am with you. Wherever you go, YOU ARE HERE. I know exactly where you are."

'But you will not leave in haste or go in flight; for the LORD will go before you, the God of Israel will be your rear guard.' Isaiah 52:12

Saturday, October 25, 2014

School and LIFE

"School is good, but whoever made up school didn't realize there's alot more school in LIFE."  - Abby Elliott,  11 years old.  
(there is supposedly a new road in the mountains where a new pastor is waiting for me, a new church to find...pretty sure Miss Abby is thinking she would much rather come with me on the moto. I can't blame her.  I was always the kid looking out the window in school, and she is my daughter.) 

Friday, August 1, 2014


Years ago when talking to a good friend about reaching out to people for Christ, he said something to me that I’ve never forgotten.
“People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care.”
I didn’t realize it until much later that it was actually Teddy Roosevelt who first said that, but this idea has carried with me ever since.
Really, it’s what I love most about Jesus.  He is comfortable with sinners.  He is comfortable with me. He hates the sin but He so loves the sinner.  
He can always relate to us.   Wherever we are, in any circumstance.  He is there.
Always, He is there.
Some time later, I found myself working in the corporate world for Wells Fargo, with a little startup photography business that was every day growing and taking up more and more of my time.  90 hours a week, and I was burning out.
Once again I found myself with that same wise friend. We were unloading chairs for the church at the elementary school, and there I was unloading much more than chairs and I rambled on about what I should and shouldn’t do, should I leave Wells Fargo, should I give up the benefits, the security, the money, the comfort…
"I don't think God really cares what you do, so long as you bring glory to Him.”

That word from my friend invested in my life.  It made a difference.  The next day I put in my resignation at the bank and started to work full time at my photography.

We built a studio, then added on our house, and were living our dream.
Kari went on a mission trip to Mexico and came back broken for missions, and I didn’t understand it at all.  “Why do you think you need to cross some manmade border or an ocean before you can serve.  There’s people right next door that don’t know the Lord. Go make them some spaghetti or something.”  I said.
For almost a year we were on different pages, until one morning during prayer when I yielded and prayed to God, “Here I am. If you want me to go, I’ll go.”
Immediately after that I got a phone call from a missionary in Haiti, who asked since I was a photographer if I would come and photograph kids for school sponsorship.
Just before we were due to fly out, Port-au-Prince was struck by the earthquake, and since the airport was badly damaged, it was another month before we could fly in.
When we finally did touch down in the country, it was pure chaos.  Everyone’s luggage was stacked in a giant pile, and then they were herding us out the gates, into a mob of thousands of desperate souls.
On a mountain in a packed palm-tree church, I heard a missionary ask the people who there knew of the Christmas story, and the entire church fell silent, save one old man who raised his hand and said, “I think it has something to do with a shepherd.”
I realized a different kind of hunger existed that I knew very little about.  It was a hunger for the Word of God.  I noticed that almost no one there had a Bible in their hand.
That’s God called us to Haiti, and over a series of strategic events He confirmed over and over to us that we were to get Bibles distributed in Haiti, and that we were to go.
I sat down with a Pastor from our church, and he tried to encourage me to go into missionary training.
It would have been a year and a half of school, with only the possibility of being placed in the field we felt called.   I loved the man but I had no patience.  I felt God had called us to go, and go we would, so that sweet Pastor chose to just love us through it.
God began to wipe away all of our dependency on things.  He was opening our hands and releasing everything we were holding onto.
We had no training.
No credentials.
When we reached the point of desperation with finding a house for my family, I resolved to just buy 4 hammocks and planned to string them up between the palms.  I was so confident that God would handle it.
And God did show up.  A man in the same village where we moving had built a home and needed to rent it, and so our family moved to Haiti.

We entered into a time of great humbling, crumbling, and schooling as we learned the language and sifted through the discernment of relationships.
Because we were just there as a family with no missional organization, we began to see the missions model from the outside looking in.
We learned that we don't have all the answers.
Our ways are not better by default, just because we come from a country that has been blessed by the hand of God.

I learned through my own failures that whatever I did had to be done in the strength of God.  God humbled me greatly.  My own ideas and theories went out the window, and I began to seek out my identity in Him.   Jesus related to me.  He took me down a several notches, and I began to see that I needed humility to serve and relate to the Haitian people.

Paul said, “For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them….  To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some.  I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings.”
This was the view that we knew we had to adopt.
So we moved to a village of farmers, and I became a farmer.  The color of my skin was enough of a barrier.  In some way we had to relate.
Mudboots, tattered jeans and a hat. This became my daily attire.

We grew peppers, tomatoes, cabbage, eggplant, and we hauled them to market with the men in my village, haggling with the Haitian momma’s over the selling price.
Friendships formed.  Real relationships.
We met in the mornings for devotions and taught the parables of the weeds, the seeds and the sower.
I preached in the churches.
My wife taught English and Bible in the village.
We ran kids to the hospital, to church. Our church was a hut, yet a room filled with some of the best worship I’ve heard in my life.
We rushed people to the doctors to deliver babies by c-section and I
had the honor of naming the baby boy who survived as a result.  Nathaniel is his name.
My kids made friends.  A Haitian girl named Oberline came to live with us,
We did life and invested in the people around us.
Discipleship began to take root as we planted the seeds of faith.
And the harvest has been a bumper crop.
We have seen real change.
I watched as God began to hammer away at my neighbor, Jean Wilbert, who was a drummer at the nightclub across the street from our house.   His Word drilled away at the walls, until one day he came to plant corn in a field.  All of the village men told him he’d be a fool to plant, because it hadn’t rained in a month and it wouldn’t raing for a month more.  He prayed and asked God if He loved him, to please bring the rain, and after he planted that last kernel of corn in the ground, the rain drops began to fall.  He ran to my house, pounding on the door, and said, “He is Undeniable.  I cannot deny Him any more.  That day he accepted Christ and was baptized in the village river.
Edain, a shady character that I told my kids to stay away from, came to work with me in the field.  He’d had terrible ulcers that would bend him over and take him to the ground.  We prayed for him, and the ulcers left him.  That man is now on fire for the Lord with a gift of evangelism, and has brought 4 other men to the Lord.
Men, who have nothing to gain from me, but have awakened to an eternity with Christ, are realizing God’s purpose for their lives.
I’ve seen the sick healed.
I’ve seen demon possession, driven out by prayer.
I’ve seen provision at the most desperate hour.
I’ve seen peace that passes understanding.
I’ve seen an angry mob immediately silenced by the Word of God.
I’ve prayed for my enemies, and I’ve seen them either leave, or be transformed.
I’ve seen the power of God confuse, interrupt, contort the plans of my enemies.
I’ve seen real forgiveness.
Pure Mercy.
Amazing grace.
All these things as I stand before you today I bear witness to.
I was born blind in one eye, and I became a photographer, and I have seen the hand of God.
Does anyone here want some of that today?

People come to Haiti and they are stricken by the hunger, the poverty, the hard living, to the point they jam their fists down into their pockets and pull out their money.
The #1 response I get from foreigners to our mission in giving Bibles in Haiti:
“I’m sure that Bible looks delicous.  I wonder how many bags of rice you might be able to get for the same amount.”
The #1 response I get from Haitians:
“Thank you so much.  This is my family’s first Bible.  We are so happy to have a copy of our own.”
We don’t understand that this is the only life they know, that they are survivors. This is because we live in a bubble, where we are in the top 6% of the wealthy in the world.
Yet some of the happiest people I’ve seen in the world live in Haiti.  They have nothing, and yet they are filled with joy.
Our knee-jerk response to the struggling world is relief, when what the people really desire is development, and the impact can hurt them.

We then get frustrated when we don’t see the change, when we see no progress.
We get angry when they fall into a welfare state, when we see them sitting around waiting for a hand-out, no longer looking for a hand up.
What we don't realize is that we are doing the same thing to ourselves in America, self-medicating as if we had the morphine button, trying to kill or fill a yearning.

Dependency, I’m convinced, is the single greatest obstacle that faces the Church and America today.
Dependency…  A word we that disgusts us.  Yet we are some of the most dependent people on the face of the earth.
That word hits every one of us differently.
To be Chosen
What are you dependent on in your life?

Isaiah reveals to us God’s desire, and that is for us to be dependent on Him.
Turn to me, Turn to me, Return to me. Over and over we find these words.
He doesn’t desire our prayers, our worship, our celebrations or our festivals if our hearts aren’t in it, if we aren’t totally dependent on Him.
Without that, our prayers and our songs become noise, our sacrifices meaningless, our silver becomes dross, our princes become rebels and companions of thieves.
We find ourselves in contempt of court as God says, “I will not listen.”
And yet, though are sins be as scarlet, He tells us that His desire is to make them white as snow.
"Come and let us reason together", He says.  Can you hear His heart?

When we open the door to that idea,
the door opens for healing.
That's just the beginning,  reconciliation, redemption,
Addictions are broken, broken marriages are restored,
In that darkness there begins to break forth a new dawn.
Hope comes.
Empowered by the Holy Spirit.
Boldness replaces fear and timidity.
Your desires become a reflection of Gods desires
And your entire worldview awakens to something you never even knew was there.
You realize that what you have is treasure that so many are looking for, but so few have found.
The news you have is so good that you are bursting to share it.
Some of you here today, you don’t yet know.  I’m here to tell you!
We are all sinners.  We’ve broken God’s laws.  The punishment and the wages for our work is death.  But Jesus came, and because it’s the heart for which God is most concerned, He amplified God’s laws.  No longer is adultery just the physical act, but even to look at a woman in lust is the same in the heart.  No longer is murder just by the sword.  No, if you even harbor that bitterness and anger you are guilty.  Because to God if you have wished it then it may as well have been committed.
We think we can circumnavigate God’s laws, and we miss the point altogether.  So Jesus became the curse, your curse. He hung on a cross and suffered the most terroristic death imaginable, for you.  And if you believe, if you repent, He is Yours and You are His.  In John 17, just before they arrested Him for the last time, Jesus prayed for all of you, long before you were ever born:

"My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.

Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them."

You’ll fail sometimes, you’ll flounder and screw up, but you’ll have Jesus in your corner, so you’ll continue to grow as you begin to let go of your own weakness and grow stronger in the power of The Lord.
And then you’ll find yourself walking in a brand new life as Paul's words become your own,  “I know the secret to being to content in all circumstances.
I can do all things through Him who gives me strength.”

Teddy Roosevelt said, “The things that will destroy America are prosperity-at-any-price, peace-at-any-price, safety-first instead of duty-first, the love of soft living, and the get-rich-quick theory of life.”

Let go of all of that tail-chasing!  It’s smoke and mirrors.  A fairy-tale spun by the Chief of Liars. Some say Christians are weak.  That’s not what I’ve seen in my days.
I see courage under fire.  I see determination, commitment, charity, encouragement, boldness to stand up for what is right.  I see a people who want to be part of something better, bigger.  I see a people who want to make the world a better place.  I see the very fabric and tapestry of what our country was founded on, what made America great to begin with.  

I challenge us all to a higher road.
Attempt something so impossible that without God it’s doomed to failure.

“Who is this Christ of whom I speak?” says John Haggai.
“To the artist he is the Altogether Lovely
to the architect he is the Chief Cornerstone
to the atronomer he is the Bright and Morning Star
to the baker he is the Living Bread
to the biologist he is the Life
to the builder he is the Sure Foundation
to the carpenter he is the Door
to the doctor he is the Great Physician
to the educator he is the Great Teacher
to the engineer he is the New and Living Way
to the geologist he is the Rock of Ages
to the author he is the Living word
to the farmer he is the Sower and Lord of the Harvest
to the florist he is the Rose of Sharon, the Lilly of the Valley
to the horticulturist he is the True Vine
to the judge he is the Righteous Judge of All Men
to the journalist he is the Good Tiding of Great Joy
to the philosopher he is the Wisdom of God
to the preacher he is the Word of God
to the statesman he is the Desire of All Nations
to the toiler he is the Giver of Rest
to the sinner he is the Lamb of God who takes away the Sin of the World
to the Christian he is the Son of the Living God, the Savior, the Redeemer
to the Disciple He is the commander in Chief who gives us our orders with unmistakable and unconditional clarity, He is Christ the incomparable.”

The only thing I would add to that is that to me, a photographer, he is the Light.
Have you ever tried to take a picture in the dark?
Who is He to you?  To your community?  To your country?
Did He rescue you from the fire?
Share Him!
When He calls you, will you answer?  Will you stand up for Him the way He stands up for you?

Maybe you haven’t been called to Haiti or some far away field, but you are certainly called.

Matthew 28 calls us to “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

David Livingstone said that these were the words of a gentleman.  To me, they are the words of my Savior.

Do you feel ill-equipped, unprepared, uneducated, unfit
Anymore than I?  Really?

“I turn to Hope and dig for Strength
Where in ancient words I see,
'Sufficient for you, in your weak place,
is the perfect grace of Me’.”   ~ D.C. Elliott

The honesty of Paul as he vulnerably shares his own personal weakness.

“Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me.  But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

Your weakness is good. Use it, because it’s there that His glory will be made known, and everyone will know it was not borne of your own desires.  God uses what you give Him and He wastes nothing.

What God is asking of you will not be found
in your ability but in your availability.
You will not stand on your righteousness but His alone.

Do you want to see that kind of change in your life, in the lives of your family and those that are dear to you?
Then let’s seek His face with prayer and thanksgiving and make our requests to God,  so that today the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.