Bonjour

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Welcome to Haiti!

I so wish I could capture all the sights and sounds and smells. My attempts to do that here will be lame at best.

It feels like we’ve been here a week already. Perhaps that has something to do with the fact that of the over 48 hours that we’ve been gone, I’ve clearly been awake for over 40 of them.

This morning we rose much before the sun to travel to the church where we’d be worshipping and serving today, a World Orphans partner church. Don’t ask me the name, I couldn’t pronounce it or spell it correctly, so we’ll just leave it out.

Here’s a peek into the service from the side

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We arrived quite late, but when the services are over three hours, it’s not a big deal.

The singing was beautiful. And even though I don’t understand French, the heart felt worship was undeniable!

After church we visited several homes where orphans were living, something like foster homes as we no them here. (without DCFS of course). Getting to these homes was no simple task. We easily climbed over a mile up rocky terrain, around corners, up steep hill, through narrow passage ways, into home after home to meet these precious ones. These were indeed their homes, but many of us would hardly consider them a tent. A canvas ‘roof’ was the main feature and many of them housed upwards of 10-12 people.

A few photos here…

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This is steeper than it looks, don’t tell my pt.

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Known

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Along the same lines . . .  (as my previous post)

http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/scottysmith/2012/03/13/a-prayer-about-the-joy-of-being-completely-known-and-loved/

A Prayer about the Joy of Being Completely Known and Loved

by Scotty Smith

“Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?” John 4:29

Lord Jesus, I wish I could have been present to watch this liberated Samaritan woman recount the tale of her collision with the gospel—her story of meeting you and coming alive to the transforming power of grace (John 4:1-42). Water from Jacob’s well was superseded by the water you alone can give—the living water that alone can slake our death-doling thirst.

You exposed her sequential affairs—her penchant to look to men to satisfy the deepest longings of her soul. Yet instead of ridiculing her, you redeemed her; instead of condemning her, you cherished her; instead of shaming her, you saved her; instead of sending her away empty, you sent her on her way full—full of peace, hope and love.

En route to the nations, you brought the gospel to the dark continent of this broken woman’s heart. I wonder if some of the six men with whom she’d been heard her proclaim, “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?” Standing vulnerable in the public square of her community, she’d never been so free. The gospel dealt a fatal blow to her need to pose or pretend.

I want more of that freedom, Jesus, much more. Freedom from the approval of men. Freedom from wanting to look better than I am. Freedom from minimizing and marginalizing my present need of you.

Nothing but the gospel can free us for being thoroughly known without fear. Jesus, your love is unlike anything else we can experience in this life. In fact, your love is better than life itself. We adore and praise you this day as the Christ—the Messiah, our Lenten Lord, the heart-knower, our holy lover, our righteousness from God, our only hope of glory!

You know every vain, foolish, and evil thought we’ve ever conceived; every lustful, greedy fantasy in which we engage. Only you hear every grace-robbing, grandstanding, gossipy word we speak. Only you know the broken cisterns of our choices—our idols, the many things to which we turn to find life other than in you. Yet you pursue us, you welcome us, and you love us… and you are changing us.

What a wonderful, merciful Savior you are, Jesus. Life—temporal and eternal, can only be found in you. So very Amen we joyfully pray in your transcendent and transforming name.

Back Online

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I’ve taken a long break from writing here … I’ve been busy with other things.

This weekend I travel to Haiti with our oldest daughter and a team of 15 from our church!  We’ll be there for one week.  I plan to write a bit each night and post here, updating those interested about our journey.

I’ve been enjoying the artist Audrey Assad as of late.

One of my favorite songs of hers is Known.

 

As the dew falls on the blade
You have touched all this fragile frame
And as a mother knows her baby’s face
You know me, You know me

As the summer air within my chest
I have breathed You deep down into my breast
And as You know the hairs upon my head
Every thought and every word I’ve said
Every thought and every word I’ve said

Savior, You have known me as I am
Healer, You have known me as I was
As I will be in the morning, in the evening
You have known me, yeah, You know me

Oh, and as the exhilaration of autumn’s bite
Oh, You have brought these tired bones to brilliant life
And as the swallow knows, she knows the sky
This is how it is with You and I
Oh, this is how it is with You and I

Savior, You have known me as I am
Healer, You have known me as I was
As I will be in the morning, in the evening
You have known me, yeah, You know me

From the fall of my heart to the resurrection of my soul
You know me, God, and You know my ways
In my rising and my sitting down
You see me as I am, oh, see me as I am

And as a lover knows his beloved’s heart
All the shapes and curves of her even in the dark
Oh, You have formed one in my inward parts
And You know me, You know me, yes

Savior, You, You have known me as I am
Oh, healer, You have known me as I was
As I will be in the morning, in the evening
You have known

You have known me, in the morning, in the evening
You’ve known me, God
In the morning, in the evening You have known me
Yeah, You’ve know me

You have always known me
You know me, God, You have known me
You have always known my heart

ingratitude

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A great prayer from Scotty Smith, posted on his blog today.  You can check out his blog here  http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/scottysmith/

SCOTTY SMITH|4:00 AM CT

A Prayer about the Grossness of My Ingratitude

[The older brother] was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him, but he answered his father, “Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him!” And he said to him, “Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours.” Luke 15:28-31

Heavenly Father, unlike the older brother, I’d never boast about my many years of serving you and I’d never even think of boasting in my record of obedience to your commands, nevertheless, there are times when my ingratitude matches his. I’m in one of those seasons and I want to repent before it gets any worse.

I do my best repenting not by groveling and beating myself up; not by ratcheting up my ill power and rededicating myself to you. No, my deepest repentance comes from preaching the gospel to my heart—remembering who you are and every good thing you give us in Jesus, so here goes.

Father, you are constantly running to us in the gospel—welcoming us to the dance floor of your grace, inviting us to enjoy the music of your mercy, imploring us to make merry to the glory of God. It’s a rich relationship, not a set of rigid rules, into which you’ve called us. To avoid you is to avoid oxygen, for you give life. To hide in my pouting, rather than Son-bath in your presence is the definition of crazy. I am so glad that you’re just as tenacious as you are tender. You incessantly say to our grumbling, discontented, self-righteous faces,

“My son, you’re always with me because I’m always with you. Nothing will ever separate you from the everlasting love I have for you and all my children. I greatly delight in you. I rejoice over you with singing. With my love I intend to quiet your restless heart.Everything I have is yours.

All your sins are forgiven, including your gross ingratitude. I’ve declared you to be righteous in Christ. I’ve hidden your life in his. I’ve begun a good work in you that I willbring to completion. I’ve made you a co-heir of the new heaven and new earth. You are destined for an eternity of perfect relationships—perfect everything. Come, let us rejoice and be glad.”

Father, I do repent this morning, but don’t relent. Keep beating down my ingratitude with love offensives of the gospel. By the Holy Spirit, compel me to delight in you today and dance to your glory. So very Amen I pray, in Jesus’ peerless and praiseworthy name.

what is your agenda for God?

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My notes from Sunday’s sermon …  (we are currently going through the book of Matthew, verse by verse).

Matthew 16:21-28

[21] From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. [22] And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you.” [23] But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”

[24] Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. [25] For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. [26] For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? [27] For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done. [28] Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”

What is your agenda for God?

-we all have God’s agenda for our life .. like Peter, we want our lives to play out a certain way.

-many of us would agree, “I want a trouble free life … I will follow on the path as long as the path is safe, secure and predictable.

What do you do when God doesn’t allow your agenda and when God doesn’t feel safe to you?

How do you respond?

-we often respond in fear, depression and anxiety.

-many of us just shut down.

Maybe God is  messing up your agenda because He is trying to get your attention!

-He wants us to become undone and to surrender to His agenda for us.

Matthew 16:21-28 looks at the Gospel agenda of God.  This is an agenda we should rejoice in.

v. 23 Jesus rebukes Peter for questioning Him.

-Peter is not setting his mind on the things of God, but rather on the things of Satan … denying what Jesus says and what He came to do.

Jesus declares that Peter is a stumbling block.

Peter is trying to play God here, to declare how things should be.

We must ask ourselves, “Have I put myself back on the throne as a little god?”

Those of us who claim to trust in Jesus, would say that He is Lord of our life, that He is on the throne in our life.

But practically, are we living that way?

What Peter is starting to get here is that the kind of Messiah Jesus is has implications for discipleship.

Are we ready and willing to ask, “ok God, what is YOUR agenda for me?”

v 24 talks about Peter wanting to maintain control of his life.

Jesus says, ‘no.’

-denying yourself says you forsake the idea of self-preservation, whatever that means.

-turn away from safety and step out and follow Jesus.

Taking up a cross is taking up an instrument of death … it’s not as some would say as a hardship in life. It’s following Jesus.

God’s agenda for us is for us to follow Him.  To risk.  Safety is what we want, but it’s not God’s agenda.

So what would compel us to choose a life that does not have an agenda of safety?

What would be our motivation for following Jesus?

 v 25 states that whoever tries to save his life will lose it.  Only through faith in Christ are we accepted by God.

Jesus is our righteousness.

He is our treasure.

Why would we follow Him?

It’s the only way to eternal life.

If you abandon God to pursue the world you forfeit your soul.

Faith expresses itself in following Jesus.

Application:  In what areas of our life can we risk ‘safety’ and self-preservation to follow Jesus and live for His Kingdom

1.  Giving

-how are we risking personally in our giving?

2.  Justice / mercy

-in what ways are we showing mercy to those who are abandoned or oppressed?  the needy in our community and in the world?

3.  Neighbor

-in what ways are we risking in our neighborhood? community? schools? as a result of following and living for Jesus?

4.  Gospel proclamation

-are we speaking the good news of Jesus to others?

the wise sunflowers

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This was my view during a leg of the bike portion of a triathlon I did this past weekend in Kalamazoo, Michigan.  I was struck how all the sunflowers had their back to me as I was riding by.  What I quickly realized was that while they had their backs to me, they had their eyes on the sun as it was rising in the eastern sky.  They would keep their eyes on the sun all day, moving with it until it sets in the western sky late in the evening.  They know what gives them life.Picture of Sunflower - Free Pictures - FreeFoto.com

How often do I have my back to God, looking at the bikers riding by when the sun is behind me?  I easily forget what gives me life.  These dear sunflowers were a great reminder to me, (on my 25 mile ride), to keep my eyes fixed on Jesus, the author and perfecter of my faith and to stop looking around at what passes by, here for a second and then gone.

2 Corinthians 4:18
So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

Hebrews 12:2
fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.