Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Alex's House Haiti March 2012 Video

Thanks to Frankie Creel for this.

Day 2

First, if you have a smart phone or iPad, you can get this 21 day devotion by going to Youversion and looking it up. Here's day 2:

During this fast, build an altar and lay a sacrifice on it that honors God. It will cost your convenience, your comfort, and it will also take some serious willpower and commitment. What will your sacrifice be during this fast? Make sure it's a sacrifice that will cost you something. Make your commitment in writing and share it with a friend who will hold you accountable to your commitment. Pray for God to show you what He wants you to sacrifice.

1 Chronicles 21:18-27 NLT

18 Then the angel of the LORD told Gad to instruct David to go up and build an altar to the LORD on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite. 19 So David went up to do what the LORD had commanded him through Gad. 20 Araunah, who was busy threshing wheat at the time, turned and saw the angel there. His four sons, who were with him, ran away and hid. 21When Araunah saw David approaching, he left his threshing floor and bowed before David with his face to the ground. 22David said to Araunah, “Let me buy this threshing floor from you at its full price. Then I will build an altar to the LORD there, so that he will stop the plague.” 23 “Take it, my lord the king, and use it as you wish,” Araunah said to David. “I will give the oxen for the burnt offerings, and the threshing boards for wood to build a fire on the altar, and the wheat for the grain offering. I will give it all to you.” 24 But King David replied to Araunah, “No, I insist on buying it for the full price. I will not take what is yours and give it to the LORD. I will not present burnt offerings that have cost me nothing!” 25 So David gave Araunah 600pieces of gold in payment for the threshing floor. 26 David built an altar there to the LORD and sacrificed burnt offerings and peace offerings. And when David prayed, the LORD answered him by sending fire from heaven to burn up the offering on the altar. 27Then the LORD spoke to the angel, who put the sword back into its sheath.

Monday, March 19, 2012

21 days of prayer and fasting - the beginning

I'm so excited as together we begin this 21 days of prayer and fasting. I am expectant as we set aside these days leading up to Easter to seek God. Each day I will be emailing out a passage from the Bible with a short devotion.

Yesterday I read 2 Chronicle 7:14 which says, If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land. I challenged you, using this verse as a guide for the next 21 days, to do the following:
  • Humble yourself by getting on your knees daily before God to pray.
  • Pray: Actually making time to converse with your Heavenly Father. If you don't know what to pray ask God. He'll tell you. You can also use the daily Bible reading to guide your prayer.
  • Seek God's face by fasting. Fasting is when we intentionally take something our of our lives and replace it with time with God. As you crave what you would normally indulge in your hunger and focus on God grows.
  • Turn from your wicked ways: Use this time to examine your heart and your life. Repent of your sin. Confess your sin. Ask God to reveal your sin to you so that you can turn away from it.
I am praying that God will use the next 21 days to do something significant and profound in your life and in our church. Here is today's reading.

Daniel 10
1 In the third year of the reign of King Cyrus of Persia,tDaniel (also known as Belteshazzar) had another vision. He understood that the vision concerned events certain to happen in the future—times of war and great hardship.

2 When this vision came to me, I, Daniel, had been in mourning for three whole weeks.

3 All that time I had eaten no rich food. No meat or wine crossed my lips, and I used no fragrant lotions until those three weeks had passed.
4 On April 23,t as I was standing on the bank of the great Tigris River,5 I looked up and saw a man dressed in linen clothing, with a belt of pure gold around his waist.

6 His body looked like a precious gem. His face flashed like lightning, and his eyes flamed like torches. His arms and feet shone like polished bronze, and his voice roared like a vast multitude of people.
7 Only I, Daniel, saw this vision. The men with me saw nothing, but they were suddenly terrified and ran away to hide.8 So I was left there all alone to see this amazing vision. My strength left me, my face grew deathly pale, and I felt very weak.

9 Then I heard the man speak, and when I heard the sound of his voice, I fainted and lay there with my face to the ground.
10 Just then a hand touched me and lifted me, still trembling, to my hands and knees.

11 And the man said to me, “Daniel, you are very precious to God, so listen carefully to what I have to say to you. Stand up, for I have been sent to you.” When he said this to me, I stood up, still trembling.
12 Then he said, “Don’t be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day you began to pray for understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your request has been heard in heaven. I have come in answer to your prayer.13 But for twenty-one days the spirit princet of the kingdom of Persia blocked my way. Then Michael, one of the archangels,t came to help me, and I left him there with the spirit prince of the kingdom of Persia.t

14 Now I am here to explain what will happen to your people in the future, for this vision concerns a time yet to come.”
15 While he was speaking to me, I looked down at the ground, unable to say a word.16 Then the one who looked like a mant touched my lips, and I opened my mouth and began to speak. I said to the one standing in front of me, “I am filled with anguish because of the vision I have seen, my lord, and I am very weak.

17 How can someone like me, your servant, talk to you, my lord? My strength is gone, and I can hardly breathe.”
18 Then the one who looked like a man touched me again, and I felt my strength returning.

19 “Don’t be afraid,” he said, “for you are very precious to God. Peace! Be encouraged! Be strong!”
As he spoke these words to me, I suddenly felt stronger and said to him, “Please speak to me, my lord, for you have strengthened me.”
20 He replied, “Do you know why I have come? Soon I must return to fight against the spirit prince of the kingdom of Persia, and after that the spirit prince of the kingdom of Greecet will come.

21 Meanwhile, I will tell you what is written in the Book of Truth. (No one helps me against these spirit princes except Michael, your spirit prince.

This passage is a source for the idea of a 21-day fast. As you set apart these three weeks to seek God, know that God has already heard your prayer. He is already at work on your behalf. What specific clarity of vision are you seeking from God during this time? Write down your prayer so you can reflect on it at the end of the 21 days. Spend time praying for God to speak to you and give you strength.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Coming home

March 16

Travel day number two.

We got to make the ride from Kalico to Port au Prince in the back of an open air truck today. Now let me tell you,this is an experience that all should try. It was made more adventurous by the flat tire we had in the middle of the trip. There were a few times along the trip when I knew my life was over and that if I had my arm sticking out I would be one arm short. I was able to take some great picks and see a lot of the countryside.

We saw slums, tent cities on the hillside, chaotic roadside markets, more goats wandering down the road and an armed dude on the back of a motorcycle taxi complete with flack jacket and shotgun. You don't see that everyday in Sparkle-City.

I know I said this in an earlier post, but the whole scene in my mind is so surreal. I've only seen pictures and videos of this kind of living. I can see why Haiti is the second poorest nation in the world. The sad part is that I'm told that what I've seen is decidedly Haitian middle class. Their middle class is poorer than our lower class. I guess it's something that you have to see to really grasp. That's why I want you all to come.

You gotta love the airport. The TSA ain't got nothin' on Haitian security. We had to go through three security checkpoints. I had the privilege of being patted down three times. I guess it's the thinking of "If at first you don't succeed, try and try again."

Some final thoughts on the trip.

In my Bible reading time on Wednesday I read Matthew 9:35-38. Stop and read that. This passage came to life in a new way for me.

When God looks towards Haiti and the Haitian people he doesn't look with anger at the darkness. He looks at them with compassion, as sheep without a shepherd. I see that. They are truly sheep. We all are, but we're just more self-sufficient sheep as Americans. The whole country comes across to me as sheep without a shepherd. And coming here, we aren't the solution but we can be a part of the solution as we bring Jesus to the Haitians. The problem is that the needs are great but the workers are few. I am praying that the Lord of the harvest will call more of you into this harvest field and that over time we will see individual lives and eventually, the county of Haiti transformed.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

March 15 from Haiti

March 15

We got to spend the morning at Obama Beach. Yes, it was named after our current president. Unfortunately he wasn't there. In fact, nobody was there. We had the entire beach and resort facility to ourselves. I use the term 'resort' lightly. But is was beautiful. It was rustic and super Haitian. Authentic might be a better term. We got to swim for about an hour in the crystal clear Caribbean. Goats wandered the beach. You don't see that at Hilton Head. There were a group of Haitian women were washing their clothes on the beach with salt water. It was kind of a National Geographic moment since they were washing the clothes that they had been wearing. But can you imagine washing your clothes with water from the ocean?

The best part was lunch. We got some delicious Haitian food. I had a creole fish with slaw, fries and plantains. I promise, what you have pictured in your mind isn't what was on my plate. But it was so, so good. Eating good food, overlooking the Caribbean, I could have stayed there all day.

This is such a beautiful country, but its beauty is covered up by poverty that is unlike anything I've ever experienced.

My hope is that our partnership, over time, will make a difference here.

Three hours have passed. Just got back from the kids. I didn't realize it would be so difficult to day.

When we got there the kids were getting baths. Outside. On the dirt ground. They either had a school function or church function tonight so they were getting prettified. It was funny because the girls were getting all fixed up just like they would at home except without the makeup and other luxuries that we have.

As soon as I walked into the gate, Darlencia found me and wanted to be held. She just talked and talked and talked but I couldn't understand anything. That didn't stop her.

Shenika wasn't there when I got there. She hadn't returned from school yet, but when she did she found me too.

Someone from The Village Church brought some suckers. They were a huge hit. Darlencia shared hers with me. Not that I wanted to but it was either take a lick or get smacked in the face with it. I decided to lick. Someone else brought some bubbles. The wedding kind. They were also a huge hit. One little boy who was just over two years old wants me to put his iris pocket, then get them out, then open them, then close them, then out them back in his pocket. We went through the same routine for ten minutes. It was hilarious.

When we got in the bus I was overcome with emotion. I looked over at Bryan Scott and he's tearing up to. And I really lost it. Thanks Bryan.

It just makes me sad. I've grown to love these kids who need so much love. I am glad we're in this for the long term. I just wish we could do more now.

I had a thought yesterday that I think was from God. I was a bit frustrated yesterday,but God reminded me that I could be a dad for a few hours to some of these kids. I hope my little time as a surrogate dad made a difference. I am praying that it did. And I'm glad we are coming back soon.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Wednesday from Haiti

March 14

Today was brick day. We stacked 450 cement blocks. I can barely move. On a positive note, my biceps are looking great.

I felt like we really accomplished something significant. Day three we hit our stride at the construction site. Not too bad for a group of guys with desk jobs. I will say that I'm glad I don't do this type of work all the time.

The weather has been great. I like the heat. But this has been the hottest day so far. A few on our team. That shall remained unnamed, look like lobsters... even with sunscreen. Which you most definitely need to pack since shade and cloud cover are limited.

I wrote the last three paragraphs before we went to the orphanage. I really love these kids. As soon as I got there Shenika found me and grabbed my hand. Then her sister, Darlenia, crawled up in my lap. She is four. They are beautiful little girls. I could have held them for a long time.

My camera and sunglasses were big hits. A little eight year old boy whose name I can't remember confiscated my camera and used it the entire time. They not only like to take Picts but will scroll through the pictures that I've taken over and over and over again. It's pretty fun to watch. My glasses went to Shenika first and then her sister and then another little boy who had a ton of questions and then back to Shanika again.

If you know me then you know that I'm pretty tight with my stuff, but God reminded me that it is all his. And who knew that a digital camera and sunglasses could provide so much fun.

Here's what got me today. As we were leaving a friend of Shenika came up to me, pointed at Shenika and said, "She's your daughter." ... ... ... .....

Wow. What do I do with that? I would take her and Darlenia home in a heartbeat. I know Liz would love them. All of the kids are beautiful. I can't imagine not having a mom and dad. I can't imagine wanting someone to be my dad after spending two hours over two days with them.

On a comical note, some of you know my good friend Bryan Scott. One of the nannies asked Bryan if he was married and if he had kids. He said no and she proceeded to point at one of the either young nannies and said, "She loves you." Bryan came to Haiti and got a proposal. It was awesome.

We have watched them eat the past two days. I am not sure how many times a day that they eat, but when the food is put in front of them nobody complains. They get busy eating and they eat everything in their bowl. Everything. Not a drop is left. Even the two year olds feed themselves and eat it all.

Speaking of a two year old, the little one that I held yesterday was still a bit under the weather today. It looked like she might need to go see the doc. If I were at home I would call my kid's doc and make an appointment. That's not an option here. I wouldn't hesitate to take my boys to the doctor if they needed to go. These kids don't have that luxury. It completely breaks my heart. If it weren't for Bryan's proposal I am not sure I would have held it together.

This has been a great experience. I can't wait for Liz to come. One of the boys asked me when I was coming back and if my wife and kids was coming with me. They want to see my family. I would like that.

Oma completely different note. There are no driving rules in Haiti. I thought a few times that I was going to die. People ride down the road on top of busses. It is crazy.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Day three from Haiti

March 13

We spent the morning digging up a stump. It might have well been concreted into the ground.

After lunch we got to go to the orphanage. I don't really have words to describe the experience. Their campus is about the size of my back yard. Thirty three kids and their adult helpers live in a plot the size of my back yard. They have no grass. Just dirt. They have an outhouse and a trash pile because there is no garbage service. They sleep seven to eight in a room that's the size of Matthew's. They wash clothes in tubs that look like baby pools. They get their water from a well.

The kids just wanted to be held, played with and loved on. A little two year old with a runny nose latched on to me. She just laid her head on my shoulder and then started to sing "this little light of mine." Perfectly. It was really cool. But mainly just wanted me to hold her. She wore no underwear nor diaper. She was as cute as she could be. I could have taken her home.

Then I met a ten year old girl named Shanika. She fell in love with my camera. Most of my pics of the kids came from her. Her english was fantastic. As I was leaving she just came up and cuddled up next to me and hugged me. And wouldn't let go. I could have taken her home too. She was beautiful.

Many of these kids were my kids age. All they wanted was a little love and physical touch. I just needed to be willing to hold them, hug them, smile at them.

These kids are why we partnered with Alex's House. They are now our kids.

I had trouble holding it together.

I can't wait to share pics.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Day one and two from Haiti

March 11

Mental note: never plan a trip over daylight savings time weekend. Not only do you loses an hour of sleep, but there has been massive confusion over what time it really is in Haiti. Even our pilot was confused, but supposedly the president decreed last week that haiti will stay on eastern standard time, but we've been confused since we got here.

It didn't help that we were delayed two hours in Miami. We finally landed at 6:30. There is one run way. The plane had to do a u-turn on the runway to get to the terminal. That's a first. And customs was a warehouse. Definitely third worldy. But we made it through, even though Clay had to go through twice.

God got us to the guesthouse safe. It's a two hour ride from the capital. But we made it. Driving through Port au Prince, I had my doubts. Driving rules are optional. Pavement exist between potholes. Te whole experience has been surreal and a bit unbelievable. Rubble is still leftover from the earthquake. Many buildings are still uninhabitable. It's like a scene from a documentary. But we made it.

I have to mention the bus ride. All twenty five of us rode an old school bus that seemed to squeeze magically into impossible crevices. And the horn is used as much as the gas pedal.

The accommodations are rustic but much nicer than I expected. Supper was great. Spaghetti and meatballs with bread, and creamy butter, roasted potatoes, and a salad that was lettuce, tomato, onion and pepper. I thought it was great. Best of all was the watermelon for dessert.

Cold shower was very cold, but refreshing. Brushing my teeth with my bottled water was a new experience.

Now it is off to bed. I think it's 11:02. That is if it's the decreed presidential time.

March 12

Thank goodness for ear plugs. I thought roosters were supposed to cockadoodle-do at day break. One outside our room was confused. He sang all night.

Today we toured the new facility that's in the process of being built. I have to say, I love Bill's vision and am so excited that we get to be a part of it.

After the tour we dug... And dug... And dug. I've never dug footings. Now I have. And I'm sore. And we new it would be hot, and it was a draining heat. I can't wait to show ythe pictures of water in a bag that we drank all day. I drank about nine bags. I'm pretty sure the team is fed up with me telling them to drink more. I'd rather them not dehydrate on the first day. We drove by the hospitals last night and none looked like a place I want to visit.

I want Liz to experience this, but I am fearful about my kids. This is not a place for kids. But I do want my kids to see what I am seeing. Trash everywhere. Goats, chickens and cows just roaming.

Now I am hungry. My lunch of three protein bars and dried apples is gone.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

A good word from Vince

A Parable

Picture this: It's 9/12. The morning after the terrorist attacks in New York City. Experts believe that there are people, possibly hundreds of people, buried alive under the rubble that was only a day ago the World Trade towers. Rescue workers have been called in to dig through the rubble to search for people who might still have a chance at life. And the rescue workers are standing next to the rubble ... arguing. They're debating why the terrorist attacks happened, different philosophies on how to find survivors, what's the best brand of shovel. Meanwhile people buried under the rubble are dying.

I think that's the church today. We were called by Jesus to be rescue workers, helping people to find life. But for some reason, unfathomable to me, the rescue workers spend their time arguing. Many even enjoy debating. Meanwhile the people we're called to save are dying.

For him who has ears to hear...

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

I dare you

In my "read through the Bible in 90 days" suicide Bible reading plan I've been reading a lot about idols and idolatry. God's pretty anti-idol. In fact, the first to of the Ten Commandments tell us that he's the only God and that we're not to have any God besides him. Idolatry is a biggie.

An idol is anything that takes the place of God in our life. It's anything that we worship above God.

Well, all of this reading about idols has cause me to do a bit of self-inventory asking: What idols do I have in my life? What idols do you have in your life?

Many of us worship all kinds of things other than God. And we don't even realize it.

Here's a list of common idols:
  • Money
  • Sex
  • Power
  • Busyness
  • The need to be in control
  • Relationships
There are all kinds of idols. What takes the place of God in your life?

Here's something that I dare you to ask God: Point out any idols in my life. Show me my idols. Convict me of my idols so that I can worship you and you alone.

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Enemies of the Heart - a review

There are certain books, that when I read them, I think: Everybody I know needs to read this book. This is one of those books.

Enemies of the Heart by Andy Stanley has the potential to transform your life. I'm not making that up. I'm not over-stating.

We've all got some junk inside of us that consumes and controls us. And try as we might to pretend it's not there or to sweep it under the rug, it rears its ugly head and hurts us, our friends, our family and anyone else who's unfortunate enough to get in our way.

This book talks about those inside things. Things like anger, jealousy, greed and guilt. These things control us more than we want to admit. Andy gives us a practical, doable plan for ridding our lives of these four controlling emotion.

I'll be honest. This is a tough book to read. It will stretch you. You'll want to stop reading at times because you won't want to do what it says. But you need to press on and read it.

So what are you waiting on. Order it today and read it.

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review

Hunting you down

This is so cool.

You're probably familiar with Psalm 23. It's one of those that gets read in a bunch of different contexts. It's a great Psalm, filled with encouragement.

Verse 6 says, Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life.

I learned today that the word "follow" is actually a pretty weak translation because it's more of a hunting term.

Which means that God's goodness and love hunts us down all the days of our life. How cool is that?!?! I love that.

No matter who you are, where you've been or what you've done, God is hunting you down, chasing you, coming after you with his love and goodness.

That's just so cool that I had to share.

Monday, March 05, 2012

To chew on

Last Monday and Tuesday a few of us from Hub City Church went down to the churchplanters.com conference. It was very encouraging for each of us. We learned some. Got to eat some great Chinese food. Were inspired. And grew in unity and love for God's church.

Well, I have good news for you. You can listen to the sessions from the conference. Actually, I'd like to make a few suggestions. Go here to listen. Here are my suggestions:

  • Velocity Main Session 2C: Brian Bloye
  • Velocity Main Session 4A: Pete Wilson
There were many other good sessions and breakouts, but those were the most meaningful to me.