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