Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Haitian and the False Teacher

It's a beautiful morning, gonna be hot today. Already hot in my house :)
We've got our Haitian brother, Andi, back living with us. He's doing good, seems to be in good spirits.
This morning during our bible study he mentioned something that really concerned me, and it's not right to let it go.
I don't know if you know, but we've gone through a few books of the bible with Andi, and right now we happen to be in Matthew 14, where Jesus feeds the 5000+ and walks on water.
Andi told me that while he was away from us, a man spent one day from 11 am to 7pm one day talking to him about his own personal denomination and why it's 'better'. Then came the part that needs to be addressed.
Andi said that this man told him that there were no actual miracles in the bible.
The examples he used were these three:
1. When Jesus spat in the dirt, made mud, and put it on the blind man's eyes - the man said that it wasn't Jesus healing him, but that the dirt and mud did something.
2. When Jesus fed the 5000, (The scripture we're currently studying) - the man said it wasn't a miracle, just an example of sharing.
3. When Jesus walked on water (also scripture we're currently studying) - the man said he didn't really walk on the water, he was walking along the sand.

I'm sorry, but this doesn't fly with me, and it shouldn't fly with any Christian. If you choose to discount the miracles of Christ, you're telling me one of two things, either Jesus and the Word of God is filled with lies, or this individual is a liar. In Matthew 9:5, Jesus dealt with a very similar issue, teachers of the law calling Him a blasphemer because he healed a man.

"Which is easier: to say, 'Your sins are forgiven', or to say, 'Get up and walk'? But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins..." Then he said to the paralytic, "Get up, take your mat and go home."

Christ did the harder thing first, forgiving the man of his sins. Then he proved his authority, by healing that same man, doing the easier thing second. Anyone spreading the false teaching that Jesus did not perform miracles is in essence saying that He has no authority. I'd list every miracle in the bible if it were necessary, but I assume there is no need. If any of you can do something so simple as to turn your glass of water into wine, I'll shut up.....actually, no I wouldn't.

I hold Jesus Christ at his word, and the Bible as the inspired Word of God. Truth.
I therefore hold anyone who preaches that there were no miracles to be a great teacher of the law, a liar, and flat out. That person needs discipleship and correction, and that teaching needs to be rebuked.

As it is, we spent the morning sending those lies exactly to the place they belong, which is straight to Hell. Andi Gedna knows 'better', because he has the truth given to him by the Holy Spirit.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Whatever it Takes

I'm hoping to go down to Haiti ahead of my family at the end of August or the beginning of September.  My wife will be coming with the kids either in late September or early October, depending on how quickly I can get things set up for them to come.
She was extremely nervous of the idea of coming with just her and the kids, and understandably so.  My plan is somehow to meet her in Port when they come, and get them across Haiti safely.  I don't have any transportation lined up for that yet, but I was hoping to arrange that once I was there. I'm hoping to maybe even buy something once I'm there to get us around.
I don't think she's at a place right now to be able to come without me from Port, but I think if I'm already there and I can meet her at the gate in Port, then she'll feel better and it will be easier for her and kids.

We are going through a difficult spiritual warfare right now. 
Last night we met several people for a friend's birthday party, and the usual questions began about moving to Haiti, of which there are no sound answers but to trust in the Lord.  I think I'm a bit thicker-skinned and used to seeing the troubled, wrinkled brow that is written on the faces of people trying to understand something so foreign.... but it got to my wife.  She broke down in front of them all and began to cry, because she thought she'd be coming across Haiti without me.  I've never expected her to make that trip without me, but she assumed if I were already in Haiti she'd have to go it alone.  I didn't communicate it to her that I'd be there for her somehow.
Still, I did not console her in front of them.  I know that our strength and comfort and solace must come from Jesus, the source, and anything else is just a cheap imitation.  But I'm in a different place.  She needed that hug in front of them all, and I didn't give it.  I felt I wasn't supposed to.
I'm afraid her consolation and security might be found with me, but in my mind I know the truth, that I am nothing compared to the Lord.  I love her, I'd gladly lay down my life for her, but He loves her more than I could possibly fathom.  I fear that in some way her trust is misplaced if it's put into me.  It's like walking on thin ice.  It might hold up for a time, but eventually it gives away and shows it's frailty. 
A hug looks great in front of a group of people, and it offers a respite from her despair and the awkwardness of a very tense moment, but it doesn't give her the lasting peace that she needs.  Regardless, she needed it, and I failed her.
I have a problem of looking out into the distance.  Like racehorses pushing for the finish line, the muscles and energy are not put into the moment I'm already in, but the position I will be in.  I'm looking around the corner, focused on the turn and propelling towards the finish line.  Because of that, I find in moments like last night that I'm ill-equipped.   Like asking that racehorse to pause and pose for a picture in the winner's circle, while the battle for the finish is still raging.   

For us to be available and obedient to do what the Lord is calling us to, we have to put ourselves in His arms.
Otherwise our hope begins and ends with our own comfort, security and provision.  
But in Haiti, that could vanish in a breath. What will we be left with then, as we free-fall, pulling the rip-cord on a parachute made of thin paper.  Just as with David, as with Paul, as with Christ Himself, our encouragement and strength must come from the Source, Jehovah Jireh, the only True Provider.  Had any of them found comfort in the eyes of man they would have failed.  Even at the pinnacle of his confusion, when his men thought of stoning him, David sent for the priest to inquire of the Lord.  Christ, even as they beat him, jammed that crown of thorns down onto His head, drove the nails through his bones and flesh, spat on Him and asked Him to come down off that cross if He were truly the Son of God.... still asked His Father to forgive them, still brought the sinner hanging next to him to Paradise.  Mocked from town to town, ridiculed by his own people, by Jews who were following him wherever he went, Paul still found the joy from within prison to write the encouraging letter of Philippians, telling us he'd found the secret of being content. "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."  Their solace, their testament, was putting themselves in the hands of the Living God no matter how dire the circumstance. 

That's all I know to hold onto. 

I feel when I'm with these other couples that I'm standing in the midst of a dream.  It's almost surreal, as if I see them, and us, living in this illusion of safety and comfort and protection, that is really just a man-made prison that we've all locked ourselves into.  When He comes in the sky, I don't want to be sleeping, distracted by the lullaby that Satan is singing.  I feel we should be screaming.

A friend of mine asked me to put a song together with clips from Passion of the Christ for a sermon he would give.  
It was a song by Pillar, a very hard-edged, blood-curdling kind of sound, and not at all the kind of music I'd normally lend my ear to.  I could already hear my dad saying, "Son, that is not music, that's just noise." 
But it was a way of serving Him, and so I accepted the challenge of putting the torture and sacrifice of my Savior in the company of music that if I heard it on the radio, I couldn't flip the dial quick enough.

What I realized as I waded into the work was that there would be no better way to describe the resolve of what Jesus chose to do, the pain He accepted on our behalf.  It was not a pretty song.  There was nothing harmonic about what He did for us.  It was a split from anything right in this world.  The terrorism that He and those around Him experienced was beyond sanity as they entered into the realm of a crazed mob, frothing at the mouth for the ultimate destruction of His life... and this song told that story.  It put to music the raw reality of anguish, the resolve, the harshness, the barbaric chords of what Christ endured for us.  
This, my friends, is what I feel we should be shouting from the rooftops, instead of rationalizing a comfortable way of life.  Anything we do in His service, whether it makes sense in the eyes of man or not, right down to selling everything we own and moving to a foreign land to share His story... it's worth it.  
He is worth it.  Watch this video, and ask yourself if you'd rather listen to a lullaby:

Seeing is Not Faith, But Reasoning

A South African preacher that I respect very much penned these words, and I don't think they could be any more pertinent to this day.  From Angus Buchan's book,  a Mustard Seed:

""Hebrews 11:8- and he went out, not knowing whither he went."

God reminded me again this morning in my quiet time that He always honors faith.  But we need to wait on God to get a clear Word from Him, and then to operate in faith.  When we walk in faith - the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen - it doesn't always make sense.  Two and two, in God's economy, can often equal seven.  We cannot understand how it is, but by faith we continue to walk the road that He has laid out before us.

Think of NASA, with the most brilliant mathematicians in the whole world.  They will tell you categorically that it is mathematically impossible for the bumblebee to fly.  His wings are too small and his torso is too big.  Have you never seen a bumble bee fly?  I've seen many.  That's what faith is about.  God honors faith.

I heard a beautiful saying the other day:  Waiting on God brings us to the end of our journey much faster than our feet.  To me, that means that those who wait on the Lord shall first of all renew their strength.  But secondly, faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God (Romans 10:17), which means that the more time you spend waiting on God, the more clearly you are going to hear direction from God.  And then you're going to operate in faith, not presumption.  There's a big difference between faith and presumption.   Presumption is something that you think God's told you.  Faith is something that you know God's told you.  It's better to wait and then to take the direction God sends you.

That's exactly what Abraham did.  That's why he was the friend of God.  Not because he was a good man, but because he obeyed the Word of the Lord. Abraham heard from God, who told him to go to an unknown destination.  Being a farmer myself, I can relate to Abraham.  He left everything he had (he was an extremely wealthy man) and he went to a destination that he didn't even know existed.  God went ahead of him and the rest of the story, as they say, is history.  That's why you (if you are a Christian) and I have our names written in the Lamb's Book of Life, because Abraham is our father. God gave Abraham favor because he obeyed God - and He will do the same for you and me today if we choose to walk by faith and not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7).

A man once said to me that faith is spelled R I S K.  That's quite funny but actually the furthest from the truth.  Faith is more secure than anything else in this world; more secure than the monetary system, or your health, and more secure than all your worldly wisdom and education, because God never makes mistakes.

That great preacher, Charles Haddon Spurgeon, the 'Prince of Preachers', said at the end of his life, "By attempting less, I hope to achieve more."  What he meant was that by spending more time with God and operating in faith, he would achieve a lot more for the Lord than by just working with sweat, blood and tears and no faith.

Today, let us bring pleasure and joy to the heart of God by trusting Him and walking by faith, rather than listening to the lies of the devil and the worldly systems and getting ourselves into all kinds of financial difficulties and trouble, and ending up with fear, depression and stomach ulcers and blaming God.  Let us start asking ourselves the question, "What would Jesus do?" And then do it.  Get confirmation from God through the Bible and then move on by faith. "

Monday, June 20, 2011


Staying the night at the hospital with Andi tonight. A Haitian man, filled with narcotics from an intense surgery, no rest, no food or water, gonna make for an interesting night I think. :). Though the nurses are giving him great care and they are quite soft on the eyes, tonight is their work day. They are full steam ahead and loud, and I hope he can get some sleep.
Reading Matthew 12, it dawned on me for the first time... Jesus himself said anyone who does the will of my Father in Heaven is my brother and my sister and my mother. That is all-inclusive, He didn't leave anybody out of that promise...IF we are doing the will of God.
Wow. Jesus and me and Andi....we're brothers!

All of the steps to surgery, from the medical visa right down to the nurse who will be watching over Andi and tending his needs, credit and kudos to the folks at Mission Haiti and all the doctors and nurses that made this happen.  Andi will be better off because of you.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Go Make Disciples

Our very dear friends are right now jetting across the country at 30,000 feet, on their way to Haiti for the summer.  They've accepted the call to be the missionaries for Mission Haiti, a local organization that runs an orphanage and several schools in the southern village of Ti Rivier. 
It's hard, very hard to see them go, but comforting to know that the Babbs are in the hands of God.
Their kids and ours are close, so much that we can mark the days of the seasons just in sleepovers and birthday parties.  
I was with Heather on my first mission trip to New Orleans just after Katrina, and Torrey and I have been brothers through some rough and rocky travails.  God has used our families to teach one another amazing life lessons, and we have crossed paths over and over again in His plan. We both now have a strong desire for the people of Haiti.  God's plan is that we are not yet to serve together, but we're excited and hopeful for that day, knowing that if we are united in ministry, it will be because of His Will.

But for now, it's bitter sweet.  No campfires to share, no swimming, no bbq's, no fellowship.   Just the time in devotion to remember them and pray for their work there.  Kari and I both admit, we feel like our kids feel when we say goodbye. There's no proper way to keep the emotions from surfacing.  We want to hold on and not let go.  Almost like a good, strong temper tantrum and foot stomping is in order.  
Our ride home from the airport after our goodbye's was filled with ear-splitting silence.  Not a peep.  Just reflection.  In the end, we know that this is not our home and we are not our own.  Our hope is in the Lord.

And the BBQ's in Heaven are gonna be stellar!   

Our people must learn to devote themselves to doing what is good, in order that they may provide for daily necessities and not live unproductive lives.
Titus 3:14

I thank my God every time I remember you.  In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.....And this is my prayer: That your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ -- to the glory and praise of God.
Philippians 1:3-11