Wednesday, October 31, 2012

In Spite of Us All

One intentional native missionary is going to have more impact on his own people than 100 American missionaries with American agendas, coming from a world so foreign to their own.  For us, the fallback seems to lurk in the back of the mind that we can always just throw our hands up and head for home.  Why do we think in such terms?  There is no calendar to X out the days 'until we get to go home'.
Home isn't here, as in, it isn't here, on this planet.  Not for any Christian.  If you think, right now, you're home, one day you'll be rudely awakened to the reality of your illusions to grandeur. 

We can Google our philosophical God questions all day long, and soak knowledge from the world's best scholars. But in Haiti today, they have a Bible only translated 30 years ago, and not translated very well at that. That's if they have a Bible.  Throw on top of that the dogma of 50 years of missionaries telling them if they smoke, drink or chew or hang out with girls that do, they aren't Christian.  Paint your toenails, wear earrings, or don't wear the proper shoes and you won't be accepted.  Oh yes, and you're not really saved if you haven't been baptized... Because apparently someone with 'credentials' decided that Jesus dying on the cross wasn't enough.  It's Jesus AND the water that paid the price for you??  Let alone Vodoo and a distorted Catholicism, historically dedicating the country to satan, and what are these kids supposed to think?  Heap on the latest babble we are hearing from the local Jehovah Witness church about how Jesus isn't God and didn't die on a cross, and then our Christian brothers who could help yet don't, because they have their minds somewhere else and don't want to bless these people because it doesn't fit the current thought of the day, you know, structure of the church and all.

Now here is the kicker, they get a wretch like me to stand up and tell them about Jesus.  They don't even get a CT Studd, shooting crocodiles in one hand and baptizing souls with the other in the infested rivers...they just get a sinful fool, a man who sold everything and still can't get the silver spoon out of his butt.  Yep, I've sold just about all of it but I'd still rank in the top 5% of the richest people in the world.

HOW do they even have a chance?! Only by the grace of God!  And that chance is real!  God is working!  In spite of it all. 
One of the boys in our class now has a mother who is a witch doctor.  He's already told her he's not interested in keeping up the family tradition.  Do we have any idea what kind of guts that takes in Haiti today?
The girl we've sponsored for years came to the house tonight.  We swam in the ocean, my family and her.  She's tough as nails.  One look at her and I know she will live out her days as close to the edge as possible.  I can see that fire in her eyes.  Abused from slavery, 13-years old and not even a Kindergarten education, yet today she still trusted me to carry her into the deeper water.   
I held her in the water while she giggled.  'How?   How does she still find a place in her heart, to giggle?'

Only Christ can push through all that, only that kind of goodness can penetrate this kind of evil.
Tomorrow I'm supposed to stand up and speak to a church about discipleship.   Me?  
I don't need a book, or a scholar, or a professor, or an Einstein.  I'm already blind in one eye.  I have one, count it, one good eye.  
And with it, I'm thankful He's let me see the Splendor.  His grace. His love. Jesus is beautiful to me.  I'll point to Him in spite of me all the days of my life.  

Monday, October 29, 2012

Have You Run Away

I woke up very early this morning with terribly dark thoughts from an equally terrible dream. I got up and made my way through the darkness until I found the kerosene lamp. I lit it and sat in the warm glow of the yellow, flickering light. I closed my eyes. Then I began to strap on my armor...

"This is my belt of truth, that I am in Christ and He is in me. He died for my sins, and was raised again. He is My King. Through Him I stand on a righteousness that is not my own. I stand on the righteousness of the Son of God, and that is my breastplate. Because of this truth and His righteousness, I find peace, anguish is vanquished, and my feet are fitted for the battle. I take up and own as my own the shield of faith, which is nothing more than to say that because I believe in Jesus, because I have His righteousness and peace, I refuse and reject these thoughts, these insults. They are not my own, they are nothing more than the fiery darts of my enemy, and they are hereby extinguished. There is a day of salvation that waits for me. It is my true north and my compass. I will stand before My King, and this is my helmet. There is now only for me to take up the Word, the scripture that God calls to my mind in conversation with the Spirit, and with this sword I will parry the thrust of my enemy's attack. And now I counterstrike. I pray to The Lord, who is a Warrior, and ask these things in The Great name of Jesus Christ, and today, instead of a simple 'amen', I believe an 'Oo-Rah' will suffice."

After that I opened my eyes. Where are you, my enemy? Have you run away?

Friday, October 26, 2012

Look UP!

It's rained now for 5 days. Sandy has moved on, but her aftermath is still upon us. Unbelievable wind and rain. Trees down. Crops laid flat. Mud everywhere. We've managed well by the light of the kerosene lamp for most of our journey. My boy keeps asking, "Do you think the Sun will come out today, Daddy?" He needs just a sliver of hope. My girl is fidgety and is making funny faces. Every night she wants 'family game night'. My wife has come to me and whispered on occasion, out of reach of little ears, "I need the rain to stop," or, "this is messing with me." I am tired of wet things. Sandy took care of my good camera. With the highest winds and rain, at the peak of the storm, there was this sort of mist that sprayed in the house. Some came from the surf of the ocean waves that reached our back steps, and some was from a horizontal gale that drove the rain through every tiny opening of the house. When I reached for my camera yesterday to photograph a great cargo boat that had been cast upon the shoreline, I found that my trusty tool had been compromised. No more pictures...grrrrrrrrr. Then as the rains still pound at the dawn, we read this passage, and I find it worth it to use the last of my battery power to pass on to you, Reader...

'If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like–minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose.' (Phil 2)

What leaps out to me are the 'if's' and the 'any's'. I want to rewrite it the way I feel it.

'If there's a sliver of encouragement or any puff of wind in your sail, if there's a dash of comfort or any dry clothes to put on, if you've got a drop of tenderness or even a hint of compassion because you know that as bad as you've got it, you're neighbor has it much, much worse....then chin up! On your feet! Snap to! Wake up...and Look UP! Knock off your squabbling and give the Devil a good kick in the rear! Send him packing. Get along and sing! There's work to be done, and while you're doing it, give it a little whistle! Sing because you're happy!'

Time to go get out the guitar....


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Hello Sandy

She's only just began, and already we've dumped 20 gallons of water from the pots and pans in our house from Sandy.  Amazing to me, the eye of the storm is over in Jamaica, and hundreds of miles East there is this giant storm just sitting out there, like a wall.  Together with the rotation of this soon to be hurricane, the two cells act like gears in an old clock.  In the middle, where we are, there is this funnel, a kind of vortex, of which the  fury of Sandy is squeezing all of her energy.  The storms just keep cranking up, shooting through these gears, over and over again. 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

"I Am What I Am"

'Paul's background was anti-Christian, and he could never get completely away from that. He had been the most hostile, brutal persecutor the church had ever known. After his conversion to Christ, he doubtless encountered families whose loved ones he had put to death. He was often reminded by people that he was not one of the original twelve apostles, and they continually called his apostleship into question. Writing to the Corinthians about these very matters, he says of himself, "For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God."

What grounds for discouragement! How easy it would have been for him to say to himself, "What's the use? Here I am working my fingers to the bone, making tents and trying to preach the Gospel to these people, and look at the blessing God has brought them--but they don't care! They hurl recriminations back in my face! What's the use? Why even try anymore?"

But that is not what he does. The very next verse says, "But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace to me was not without effect." Here we see Paul using the breastplate of righteousness. He says, in effect, "I don't care what I have been. I don't defend what I am. I simply say that, by the grace of God, I am what I am. What I am is what Christ has made me. I'm not standing on my own righteousness---I'm standing on His. I am accepted by grace, and my personal situation does not make any difference at all."

So Paul's heart was kept from discouragement. He reminded himself that when he became a Christian, he had put on the breastplate of righteousness. He never allowed himself to be discouraged by looking back. He always looked forward, to Christ.' ~ Stedman (Spiritual Warfare)

This man, once the accuser, the murderer, the self-righteous patriot, and where do I find him at the end of his life, after the storm of Jesus Christ. He is broken. He'd been beaten, flogged, whipped, stoned, shipwrecked. I imagine the men ripping open his shirt as they are about to whip him, only to see scars upon scars, some wounds still fresh, still pink. 

I see him at the end of his life, so broken in humility as to the wretchedness of his offense. So weak in himself, and so strong in Christ. This chief of the sinners. This rescued son, and I understand. I can look at any wretch and hear my own heart, "he's no more a wretch than me."

I see his friends urging him not to go to Jerusalem, even the prophets warning him that he will be bound and delivered over to the authorities, and still we have the record of his answer to their pleading, "Why are you weeping and breaking my heart? I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die in the Jerusalem for the name of The Lord Jesus." His leaving them hurts so much that the words used to describe his departure are here for us...."After we had torn ourselves away..."

I hear his heart in his words to the Church, "If we live, we live for The Lord, if we die, we die for The Lord, so whether we live or die, we belong to The Lord."

I feel his brokenness..."For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought." This man once respected, now despised, and yet not by his King. Only now is he remodeled into the weapon of God, now that there is nothing left of him. 'The Lord is a warrior...the Lord is His name.' I stood before a church on Sunday. I looked into their eyes. I felt the Spirit. I wept. Only by the grace given me...

I agree in my spirit with his resolve...."I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task The Lord Jesus has given me--the task of testifying to the Gospel of God's grace." Even now as I write, a tropical storm is bearing down upon us. It is only fitting that the greatest storm of my life should come during the greatest storm of my life. When all else is stripped away, you see the marrow. You see what you're made of. Is it God that drips from you when you pull away the bark from the tree. Is the soft, tender fruit of the Spirit living there? Is the offering fragrant? 

It's when I fully know that I am what I am, I can hear with new ears a new sound. Moses knew who he was. He knew what he was. He didn't feel like he deserved to be God's instrument, even though God was calling him. God answered him by saying it simply. "I AM WHO I AM."

I watch the children working away at their school by the light of the kerosene lamp. I see that I am nothing more than this lamp. It's not I that burns so bright and gives such warmth and glow. I am only the wick. The dry and thirsty cloth soaking up the source of the real fuel. I draw Him up into me and He sets me ablaze, and when He goes out from me, there will be no more light to shine. It's not about us. Not at all. Not even for a moment. All that matters, all that this world comes down to, is Jesus.

This great and magnificent power already outside my window today. The rains pour and the heavens are opened. The palms are bending and swaying. The waves are crashing. Already every bucket and pot stands at the ready, stationed by my kids to receive the endless drip drip dripping. The tempest comes, and she is still a hundred miles to go. Such wrath, and yet my King will tell her how far she can go. Only by His grace can we rest in the midst of the storm. 

The Tan Pou Tann

Our voyage across the sea was days and days ago, but it has certainly left its wake, carved into my soul by the sound of endlessly rowing oars, the lapping of the waves against the belly of our little ship, the flap of a sail and the Boatman's creaking rudder. So many lessons learned that day, and so many more learned as the light of day gave way to a moonless night, and a distant coast with no electricity. Just darkness and the sounds of a vessel trying to reach the sanctuary of safe harbor.

The 'Tan Pou Tann' was the name of our little boat. The Wait For Wait. The idea is Haitian. When you need something and you don't have it, you just have to wait. Patience, it will come. Don't be in a hurry. It was a fitting name for me. The message was clear. It's not going to come from you. Relax....the wind will come. It won't be easy, but I will bring you home.


Monday, October 22, 2012

Unutterably Happy?

'EVEN in a state of innocence, when all was perfection and
excellence, when God was clearly discovered in all his works,
every place being his temple, every moment a time of worship,
and every object an incitement to religious reverence and
adoration-even then, God chose to consecrate a seventh part of
time to his more especial worship, and to hallow it unto his own
service by a perpetual decree. Who then shall dare to reverse
this order of God? Had the religious observance of the Sabbath
been never proclaimed till the proclamation of the law on Mount
Sinai, then it might have been conjectured that this, like several
other ordinances, was a shadow which must pass away with that
dispensation; neither extending to future ages, nor binding on any
other people. But this was not so. God gave the Sabbath, his
first ordinance, to man, (see the first precept, Ge 2:17,) while
all the nations of the world were seminally included in him, and
while he stood the father and representative of the whole human
race; therefore the Sabbath is not for one nation, for one time,
or for one place. It is the fair type of heaven's eternal day-of
the state of endless blessedness and glory, where human souls,
having fully regained the Divine image, and become united to the
Centre and Source of all perfection and excellence, shall rest
in God, unutterably happy through the immeasurable progress of
duration! Of this consummation every returning Sabbath should at
once be a type, a remembrancer, and a foretaste, to every pious
mind; and these it must be to all who are taught of God.'

God rested on the seventh day. Not because He needed to, and not just because He was finished. He rested, and in doing so He led by example. He was teaching us 'preventative maintenance.' 

In my coal mining days, every now and then they'd call me on the radio at the end of a shift. 
"Park 325 at the PM bay. She's due." 
It meant that I was to drive my 2-story coal truck to the shop when the shift was done, because the next crew was going to pull it into the shop for 'preventative maintenance.'

It was faithfully practiced at the mine. It didn't mean Truck 325 would never break down or fall under some mishap. It just meant that the old truck would have LESS problems if properly checked and maintained, lubricated and cleaned. Dirty filters would be swapped out. Cracked windshields replaced. Brakes, the ability to stop, were always given careful attention. It all just meant that someday WHEN some calamity would raise its ugly head, the damage wouldn't be so tragic. A little PM, and you just replace some worn out brake pads. A little PM and you don't wind up losing some truck and driver over the edge of a cliff. 

The old adage, 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it' is foolishness. Why wait until we are fully stranded on the side of the road, incapable of advancing under our own steam? 

Are you following, Reader? A little PM, a little Sabbath, a little rest being unutterably happy and in awe of the Living God and in His grace alone, and we won't find ourselves plummeting over the edge of our own misery. 
How can we, when we are reminded of what it feels like to bask in His light? Even the most miserable of us can come into that sanctuary, that refuge of Christ, and feel mercy and love. Our clogged and dirty filters changed for a breath of fresh air, our brake pads replaced so we can stop when we find that the bridge is out ahead....The maintenance of our heart awaits, if we will but just yield. I promise it to be true. It's something I've yet to learn.

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Wednesday, October 17, 2012

God's Surprise!

My Haitian momma loves to sing.
We love to sneak up close enough to hear her when she's working outside or when she's cooking.
If she doesn't know you're there, you can really be blessed by some of the most beautiful, genuine praise ever to grace your ears.
Yesterday she came right up to me, resolute in her posture, calling my name.
"Din! Din!" (that's how she says my name.)
"Wi, Momma."
"I have a song for you.  It's for you!  Where is the Haitian Songbook?" she said, all smiles.
I handed it to her and she flipped right to a specific song.
It was written in a mixture of French, and actually a quite poor translation of Creole.
She didn't care.
She sang the song to me, verse by verse, word by word.
Then she promptly handed me the book, told me not to forget, and to make sure I had it translated, because THAT song, she said, was FOR me.
Then she wheeled around on her heels and shot out the door, back outside, grabbing her broom with a bounce in her step and a little giggle under her breath.

Here is the song, translated:

If Christ were not with me, how would I be
When problems threaten my life?
With His love all around me
I'll put in my heart a true song for Him.


Christ has a surprise for you, my brother.
Christ has a surprise for you, my friend.
If you leave it to Him to lead your life.
His grace will be a surprise for you!

If my tears would shed often,

If their whip would blind my eyes,
If my enemies would defy me,
My deliverance is in Your grace.

Our Lord, Help me to arrive

On the other side of the mountain, that's where I want to go.
Where peace is, and joy
That's where I will rest my soul.

The surprise of God that my Haitian momma wants me to receive, is Grace.
It's a free gift,  I can do nothing to earn it, nor do I deserve it.  I have only to receive it.
She's a smart lady.


Can there be begged in the heart a more honest problem to which is yielded a most elusive answer?
To ask is 

And yet to deny ourselves the pursuit is inhumane.   

We may never know.  
He may never have need to show us. 
We may never understand.
He may only require our perfect obedience.
His reasons are 

'Unless the Lord builds the house, the workers labor on in vain.'  

Yet I am still unable to refrain from asking of the most High God:


I wait in silence.  Such a place to be.  Anguished quiet. Purposed stillness.  Underwater.  Holding my breath. 

'Those who live without You surely die.'

Does He smite me from the Earth? Does He blot out my frame from the space of time?  Do His cheeks flush red, hot with anger?  Does the back of His hand raise above me with the shadow of His wrath upon my face?

'Ah, Sovereign Lord...nothing is too hard for you.'

Instead He shows me, in a way that a child can understand.  
The painting is not finished.  

He decides to tell me a little story.  

A picture story.  
About a little boat upon the sea, rocking to and fro, cradled in the glassy arms of waters undisturbed.  
The wind is but a sigh upon our already cumbersome brows, and the sun is setting calm.

The Boatman plots our course to North, then West, South, then West, and back again North, hoping to find reprieve. 
But we are upon the waves of the unforgiving, and rest will not come for the weary...not yet.
Prayers are lifted, but there is no breeze to carry them aloft to God.  They seem to rise not even high enough to peek over the mast.  
There is only darkness coming.
We beg for a breath from God, to fill the sails and carry us to dry ground, but it will not come.  The cover of night fills our eyes, and only the stars give light.  

But then, as if to offer hope, the water sparkles to life with plankton glowing green, as if some kind of fairy dust has been poured into the sea.   Our journey takes on a magical note, and we all know there is an undertaking here beyond the physical, stretching now into the spiritual.   The voyage carries an illustration, a teaching.  Some stealthy message in a bottle, stolen away from our understanding.  We are out upon the water and there is nothing to do but carry on.  One of the oars is broken.  
I ask if I can help, if I can do something, anything.
"You cannot. You will only turn us in circles. You aren't accustomed to this.  You can just sit."

In my helpless mind we draw our letters upon this wet canvas.  Cursive letters.
Hours waft by, and none of us in the little boat understand why the Boatman captains the way he does.  'Maybe he's lost his mind?  Maybe the heat has overcome him?  Maybe we are lost in this moonless night forever?
Minutes rise and fall with the stern...
How can a fisherman be lost, a man whose lived on these waters all his life, a man I've seen a hundred times come home late in the night from a long day's work, hauling in the catch?....WHY?

And then, when we cannot carry on, when there is no more within us, when we are empty of ourselves and given over completely, we hear waves crashing upon the shore!

9 hours upon this lesson of the heart, and our feet haul over the edge of the bow, plunging into the shallow water of the beach.  Dry ground, oh the joy of it, is but a few inches further!  Bones are weary and ready to fold.  A minute later and a bed becomes our embrace as we give over to exhaustion and the close of such matters too trivial for me to comprehend upon the still rocking waves in my mind. 

The next day I begin to search out the answers as I study the ocean from the shore.  
I find that the fisherman's work, the pointing to and fro, was actually a classic maneuver, well recording in the books.  
He was 'tacking', 'close-hauling', and a half dozen more nautical terms I'd never heard before, doing all he could to work with an opposing wind, using what little wind there was to pull us home, inch by inch.   

The night before he was insane.  A crazy, mysteriously quiet, tale to tell.
Today I see he was brilliant.  He was purposed.  He had reason.  He had skill.  He was gifted.  Most importantly...He got us home.

I didn't understand 'Why' at that exact moment of my despair.  I couldn't understand.   

The story has been told.  My heart soaks in interpretation.

From brokenness I can still hear Him.  
I can still speak, though the bark is stripped away, and parts of me are laid bare in the wind and the sun.  I can still find words on my tongue that give praise, because there sprouts within something new. Something not from me. 

"If you are here, breathing, today...God is not finished with you yet." I say.

A heart is pricked.  A breath is caught away.  A soul is moved from a place of refuge, from a stronghold, into the open plain with the noonday Sun.  From the dark comes one into the light. 

And we yet may never understand.... 'why?'

Sunday, October 14, 2012

The Drummer

The Drummer at church this morning, in a tiny fishing village called Krabye, reminded me of this passage as he brought such a heart-pounding beat to the worship, leading the church and encouraging them to give praise to God: 'Now in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver but also of wood and clay, some for honorable use, some for dishonorable.  Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work.  (2Tim2)

Friday, October 12, 2012

The Big Island (Actually...Cow Island)

I have a friend here who is a fisherman.
I have a great deal of respect for him.
I watch him almost every morning, heading out to sea to work his trade.
He usually doesn't come back until late in the night, sometimes soaked through. 
Some days he stops at my house and offers me a big fish from the ocean, and tells me stories of the great wind or the giant wave that almost became the end of him. 
I always bid him a good night, glad that this man loves the water, as I certainly do not.
I grew up in Wyoming.  Wyoming, land of dry, dusty, hard-baked earth.  I've always been happy to have solid ground between my toes, and I've never been afraid of a blizzard or three. 

Today he came by the house, and tomorrow, he's asked to take my family across the sea.  To an island we've always seen, in the distance, 8 miles away, the big this boat.  We will have oars and a sail, and the breath of God to carry us along.

Even my Haitian brothers have both told me they will be pre-disposed, occupied, too busy, to come along, "Besides," they say, "That boat is too small for a trip like that." Still, I know we could use this.  I know it's what my family needs right now. It's something God can use, so I will not be afraid, even though Tikilene's response to the idea of going was,
"No! Huh-uh! Cyclone Dan! Cyclone!"  (Hurricane)

"That's not what I hoped to hear from you.  I hoped to hear something a little more uplifting, like, 'Courage!' or 'God knows everything!'" (popular sayings to evoke resolve here). 

"Ha!" they laugh,  "You dont hear me saying that because in this case, you have a choice.  You don't have to go, so...."

No matter that if we miss, it's only thousands of miles of Atlantic ocean until we come upon Africa....
No matter that I just read Acts 27:13-44, about some guys a couple of thousand years ago who set out to sail within sight of the shore on a day with a beautiful gentle breeze, and 2 stormy weeks later finally shipwrecked and came ashore on the planks and what remained of the ship.... No matter.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Passing Notes

Kari's teaching was going long, so my daughter and I passed notes during class today.
Haitians can go 2-3 hours no problem...but not kids.

"Daddy. Do you know how much longer. I would ask mom but I don't want to be rood."
"Half an hour."
"What? An Hour and a half? Wow! Are you sure?"
"No, honey, 1/2 an hour. 30 minutes."
"That's what I said, an hour and a half. Well, since that's settled I was wondering could me and Logan and Onelson (Haitian friend) go in the car cause I'm very tired."
"Almost finished."
"Yeah, you said a half an hour, that's a long time."
"Not really."
"To children it is."
(sigh) "Go."
"Mesi ANPIL!" (Thank you SO MUCH!)

The Certificate of a Life

I was handed a very thin plastic baggie, the same kind you can find at the market for buying food.  Inside was a certificate written in French.   In Haiti that meant I was holding something official, something important.
It was fragile.
It had been torn and ripped apart over the years...taped, and then torn, and then taped again, with first-aid adhesive tape.
It had certainly seen better days.

It was the Birth Certificate of a little girl that we love very much.  It had come down off of the mountain, was handed to a close friend, and that close friend brought it to me.

I asked if it meant what I thought it meant.  My friend took his hands, cradled them like a baby, and pretended to give it to me.

It was this family's way of saying, "Take her."  They have no care of the paperwork, the procedure, the proper course of action.  They don't realize that we must make everything legal, cross every t, dot every i.

But it breaks my heart.  The condition a family must be in, to arrive at such a decision.

And how this must make her feel....

When she comes to visit, I see her.
She is something.
Something important.
She's been torn and ripped apart over the years...taped, and then torn, and then taped again...
She's has certainly seen better days.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

What He Sees

Sometimes when we walk through the valleys of the shadow of death, all we see is darkness.  Within the trial there seems to be nothing but an inky black void, and before the storms pass we still only find signs of life in the shades of gray.... that's how we see it. how God sees it.
That black cover is merely the slate wiped clean, ready for His next Masterpiece!  And HE is the Painter of Rainbows!  You ready for this?  AHHHHHHH.  I know it in my heart to be true.  It's going to be beautiful!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Scuttled Salvage

There is a work, a labor, and an endurance with suffering, but as with any destined trial, there yet remains this most gentle gift from the Holy Spirit...Joy. 

While it may not be something I've yet claimed, I read of it in the Scripture, and it breathes hope to me. I see the Christians, flogged, stoned, beaten, martyred, and yet filled to overflowing with absolute joy.
An unnatural season for such a gift, and yet we stumble upon it so casually distributed, a free will offering from our Lord in the midst of any calamity that might befall the hearts of men.
I'm reminded therefore that, regardless of my condition, each face before me holds the potential to be the next jewel in the crown that awaits in Heaven, a crown that I will be eager to cast before the King in humble gratitude for having the grace to salvage such a scuttled shipwreck as me. He knew my heart and still had the mercy to wear a crown of thorns, a debt prescribed for me, yet credited to His account, free of charge.
'Why should any living man complain when punished for his sins?'

Monday, October 1, 2012


We got the call to drop everything and drive across Haiti to meet the guy who had our Bibles. We set out this morning, praying for safe travels and for the Lord to keep us out of harm's way. The storm clouds broke up, and we didn't even see a drop of rain on the windshield. Kari wanted to stop and eat half way across, so we took about half an hour to rest and grab some lunch.
Back on the road, a Haitian police truck whizzed by us going the opposite direction with officers in the back holding guns, ready to jump out. (Amazing what you get used to seeing in this country.) I thought it odd, because they were from a town about 20 miles away. They were obviously after someone, looking like they were on a SWAT raid.
Haiti's had problems with extortion blockades, where they can quickly setup a roadblock and either take all of your money or slash tires, take car keys, you name it. We wondered if that's where they were going.
Then we popped up over a hill and saw a large bus turned sideways in the road.

Cars began to slow down, and I'd already prepped the family for what that might look like if we ran upon it. Instead, we saw a Haitian police officer emerge from behind the bus, waiving the traffic.
We drove slow around the bus and when we came around the other side, there were 15 or so UN troops, AK-47's at the ready, prepared to keep the peace. It appeared we'd just missed the blockade, and the police and UN troops had been called in to break it up.
We gave God praise.
I told the kids and Kari, "I'll take God's provision any day of the week and twice on Sundays."
We got our Bibles, 16 cases, and headed for our village.
There was a good breeze and good music on the radio, and then we even listened to a sermon about how salvation is a free gift of divine mercy, totally devoid of human merit. My heart was ministered to.