Thoughts from Haiti

Last Friday, I returned home from spending a week in the Mountains in Haiti, I have been meaning to post an update just haven’t got to it until today.

Let me first just start with the fact that has been so evident in my life over the past few years that God is Faithful! He is Faithful, in ways He uses us and answers our prayers. Over the past few years I have found myself praying, “Ok, God if You want me to go somewhere, please show me where and provide the means, time off work etc., and I’m there.” And He has been faithful in answering that request. And for the second year in a row He sent me to Haiti, to a group of people who I have absolutely fallen in love with.

As I was praying first of this year for an opportunity to go somewhere, I got a call from a Ministry that I went to Haiti with last year, asking me if I would be willing to lead a church from Crossnore, North Carolina back to Haiti. One of those times where you don’t have to pray long about it, because the Command to Go has already been given to all believers, not just the special select few who are “called” to be missionaries. As believers, we are all called to go, whether around the world or across the street we are all missionaries. Charles Spurgeon says:

Every Christian is either a missionary or an impostor.

In Spurgeon’s mind, and I agree, we can’t separate the idea of being a Christian and being a Missionary, they are one in the same. As a believer we have a story that God has done in our lives, and we see God for who He is, so we go and tell! We go and share the good news that Christ has commanded us to go, and we go in the His promise that “He is with us, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:18-20).

 

So two Fridays ago I landed in Haiti, 373 days since I was there last, hoping the trip would be as great as last years, hoping and praying that God somehow and someway would use me to help show His love and His grace to all He would put in my path.

The trip didn’t disappoint. Once again, God is Faithful! We were there to do a VBS with the kids there and then in the afternoons do whatever it was they needed or asked us to do. So we put on a VBS, we cleaned their school, unloaded bricks, played cards, played soccer and basketball, ran electrical wire for lights throughout all the property, and mostly loved and served the people there at Canaan Christian Community, in Haiti. The people there have become very special to me, it was a blessing to be there again to love and to serve.

Here are a few highlights of the trip, and things God was showing me:

1. Was there maybe 15 minutes and heard, “Nick!!!” my heart leaped knowing that many of the kids there remembered me from last year.

2. Loved throwing my phone in my backpack for a week and being disconnected from the world, focused on the Lord and loving and serving the people He sent me to.

3. The team was a blessing, that I was asked to lead. Made friends that will last.

4. Highlight of trip: God allowed me to be part of Him drawing someone to Himself, when He saved a member of the team. Sent a member to Haiti to serve Him and saved him in the process. God’s love and pursuit of us always amazes me

5. That as believers wherever we find ourself that is our mission field, and we are to serve it well. We don’t have to wait to go to Haiti to serve Him, but that He has a plan and purpose for us everywhere we find ourselves.

6. God kept asking me, “Where are all the dads/men? The ones who are supposed to be spiritual leaders?” As it seems most trips I go on and know of going it’s mostly moms and college aged girls. When will the men raise up?

7. Experiencing a church service in a different language and grasping the fact that currently there are people all over the world worshipping and praising God in their language and He understands and meets with all of them.  Also the first time I can ever remember singing, “This is the Day, the Lord has Made” and there was actually joy in the room. They were actually rejoicing in the fact that God had given them another day.

These are just a few thoughts, from my trip. It was a great week, I absolutely love the people there and can’t wait to go back!

 My Boys! Love these guys!

Praying like crazy for Yolde, for healing!

It was a great week! God showed me a lot, and continues to show me a lot from it. I’m sure I will be sharing more over the next few weeks, and already praying for a return trip. One last thing that God showed me on this trip was a quote from a team member as she was leading our devotional the first night:

When stepping into the mission field, you don’t have to be afraid because you are stepping into your calling.

~ Whitney Boone

God had this on my heart and mind all week!

Shouldn’t We All ….

It looks like he just came down Mount Sinai

That was a text message I got from a friend last week. A text message that has rocked me and made me dwell on it all week. Last week there was a conference for college students, and all the main sessions were streamed online (technology is great!). As I sat in my house watching the night session, I received that text from a friend who was also streaming, as soon as the speaker walked on stage. And it hit me hard, I dwelled on it all night and the next morning driving to work I was still chewing on it. So I text my friend and told him I couldn’t stop thinking about that, and his response was “Nick, as soon as he walked on stage, before he even said anything I was convicted.”

WOW! As I have thought on this, the thought is what a complement! For someone to walk on stage, or to walk up to someone and their first thought is this person has been spending time with God is amazing. If you don’t know the story, its out of Exodus 34, Moses is up on the Mountain meeting with God, and when he comes down his face is shinning, so much so that all the people of Israel were afraid to come near him. After he tells the people what God had said, he covers his face with a veil. And this was his practice that he kept his face covered except when he was meeting with God or telling the people of Israel what God had said. Because his skin was glowing!

Here are my random thoughts as I have chewed on this all week:

  • Would anyone in their right mind ever say that about me?
  • If you were to ask someone to describe me, how long would the list be before they got to Nick loves God and spends time with Him? That Nick loves like Christ loved?
  • Why don’t we look like this to the world? If God really is who God says He is, and if we really believe that, shouldn’t our lives look different?
  • How much would you love for that to be said about you? – Not for bragging rights, but because you were that in LOVE with Christ it was evident in your life
  • Reminded me of another story I heard one time of a man who said spending time with a pastor he knows gives him the feeling of this is what is must have felt like to walk with Christ!
  • Why don’t we live like this?

Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abide in us and His love is perfected in us.   ~ 1 John 4:11-12

No one has ever seen God, but if we love His love is perfected. How are we perfecting His love in our day-to-day activities? We are the remaining evidence of the love of Christ in the world today. How are we doing?

All this made me think of Acts 4:13 where is says the Council knew Peter and John were uneducated and common man but were astonished and took note that they been with Jesus! I have always loved this verse, but it’s also convicting, can anyone take note of the fact that I have spent time with Jesus?

If God is who He says He is; and if I believe this, then my life should look different. 

When I talk with someone, or get up to preach, I want people to be able to say, he has been spending time with God!

To get there, we must spend time with Him, be willing to dwell in His presence.

Reflections on 2011

What a year! 2011 for me was a great year, in which I saw God do many things in and around me. If I had to sum up 2011 into one phrase it would be:

“God is Faithful!”

And I saw Him be faithful over and over again throughout the year.

HAITI – The year started with a growing desire to go to Haiti, they had just had the one year anniversary of the earthquake that devastated that country; and I found myself with a longing to go there, to do something there, didn’t know what or how to go about it, but I knew I had to go. Even got to the point where I told my Pastor, you need to find me a trip there; there has to be someone we know who is planning a trip to Haiti. So I just began to pray, pray that if it was Gods Will that He would show me a path and provide an opportunity. And apparently God Tweets! Because not long after starting the prayer, a pastor I follow on twitter tweeted out that his ministry was going to Haiti and if you wanted to go fill out the application. I filled it out, and continued to pray about it, and God in His Sovereignty worked out everything perfectly, and I got to go spend a week in Haiti working at an orphanage. One of the greatest weeks of my life. Every prayer request I had for the trip was answered, and there I met friends that will last a lifetime, as we gathered together not knowing each other and served a long side each other.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Philippians 1:27  This scripture absolutely rocked me week one of the year, and has stuck with me all year, where I continually think about it and dwell on it. The verse is this:

     Only let your manner of life be worthy of the Gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one Spirit, with one mind striving site by side for the faith of the Gospel.

Let your life be worthy of the Gospel, let your life equal the Gospel. Basically saying let your life match what you say you believe! This verse just hit me, I know yes we should live out what we say we believe, but Paul is saying here compare your life to the Gospel, and make it match that. So much more there than reciting a prayer and saying yes I a believer now. But no, now that you believe strive to have your life match the Gospel you proclaim. Theres a seriousness involved in being a believer, we no longer have a life to live for ourselves, but to live a life for Him, and one that lines up with, is equal to the Word of God we say we believe.

Answered Prayers  This year, I saw God answer some amazing prayers in my life, in ways, I hadn’t seen Him move that way before. From big request like Haiti, and let the group get along, to other small request like today can I have an opportunity to talk about you with someone. Some were answered after praying for a few months, and on several occasions prayers were answered within an hour or two. Just continually amazing me that God in Heaven hears me and answers me when I cry out to Him.

He is Faithful! 

He is Faithful, and has proven it over and over again in my life this past year. As I look forward to 2012, my prayer for people is you would seek Him this year, first! And that He may prove Himself Faithful in your life as well. My prayer for you is out of Colossians:

Colossians 1:9-14  And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all Spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to Him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. May you be strengthened with all power, according to His Glorious might for all endurance and patience and with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the Saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son. In whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

May your 2012 be incredible, and may He prove Himself strong in our lives!!

 

I Logged Out and Survived

Recently I took a break from Facebook, and I learned something, that I can survive without it. I can survive without checking everyone’s new status updates and posts every 10 minutes, I can survive without knowing what all my friends ate for dinner, and I can survive without Facebook stalking, we all do it. So this morning I did it, I signed off Facebook; logged off, decided that I’m through with it. My page still exists, and I will probably log on once a week or once every two weeks only because I have some friends that only contact me, by emailing me on there. But other than that I am off. One reason leading to this decision is this quote:

“One of the great uses of Twitter and Facebook will be to prove at the Last Day that prayerlessness was not from lack of time.” 

                                                                                                                                                                               ~ John Piper

Now this isn’t a brand new point, or quote, I heard it probably over a year ago, but just recently began thinking about it. For those of us addicted to Facebook, we are constantly checking it, on the computer and on our phones, we have to know whats going on. So every five, ten minutes we are checking on our phone, over the course of the day think about how many hours this probably adds up to. I didn’t do the math, but I would be willing to bet that the average Facebook addict spends several hours a day on Facebook checking, looking, and stalking. Hours a day that could be used in prayer, reading Gods word, or living out what He has called us to do, be the light of the world. To think of the fact that there is coming a day when I will stand before a Holy and Righteous God and give an account of how I handled my life (Romans 14:12) scares me to death. And the thought that saying sorry God I tried, but I didn’t have time, I didn’t have enough time to pray, I didn’t have enough time to read, I didn’t have enough time to go and love and serve others, I just didn’t. And for Him to tell me, well you spent _X_ many hours a day checking Facebook, so yes I can tell you were busy. I don’t think at that time He will say I understand.

Is our time on Facebook greater than the time a day we spend in prayer, reading, loving, serving, and sharing? If it is, then something is wrong, IF we say we love Christ, we want to live for Him and know His will for our life. Somehow I have never personally or met anyone who learned God’s will for their life surfing on Facebook. We learn that by spending time with Him, reading His word, searching after Him, when we draw near to Him is when He draws near to us (James 4:8). We are as close to God as we choose to be, and if logging off Facebook can help me spend more time with Him, and therefore get closer to Him and be used by Him and learn His will, then goodbye Facebook. It’s not even a contest.

Now this is for me, this is whats been going on in my life, and in my mind. Maybe you can keep Facebook and still serve God just find, and you aren’t addicted, if that’s the case, then that’s awesome. But my question is if someone logged everything you did for a week or two, how much of if would be meaningless stuff such as Facebook, and how much of it would be to advance the Kingdom of Christ, which way would the percentages tilt.

For me, here is just a list of some concerns I come to realize with Facebook:

  • Its Addicting – It sounds funny but people are addicted to it. We are to grow in knowledge and self-control which leads to Godliness (2 Peter 1:5-7).
  • Does Facebook lead to Holiness? If we are called to be Holy as the Lord is Holy (1 Peter 1:16).
  • If we are to: “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. – Philippians  4:8; Does Facebook help promote this? Or does it cause us to dwell, and think on things that quite honestly mean nothing as far as eternity is concerned. And we come obsessed over it.
  • Promotes Gossip – I would be willing to bet that 90% of the time when we talk to someone about something we saw on Facebook, we are in fact gossiping. “Did you see…” – When Paul is describing the man who has turned away from God and choose the serve the creation over the Creator, a characteristic of them that he list right after murders, and right before haters of God, he says they are also Gossips (Romans 1:28-30). Little sin that doesn’t promote Holiness, that we seldom think about, but yet Paul list it in the same list as murders and those who hate God.

This is just a short few thoughts that lead to my decision. In no way am I saying that I am holier than thou, and better than the next person; the best I have to offer is filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6). I just feel in order for me to better draw closer to God, and begin to discern His will in my life, I needed to log off. I yearn to know His will for my life way more than I care about everyone’s status updates, pictures, or than I feel the need to stalk anyone. I don’t want to waste my life, and at the end of it go oh God, I never knew You wanted me to do that, or go there, or to say that, or to etc.. And never know because I was too busy on Facebook. And Facebook is just one thing in our lives that distracts us from Him, just using this as an example because it’s where I am now, and I’ve already been asked why I was getting off.

I want to know His will! I want to know Him!

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect

                                                                                                                                                                      ~ Romans 12:2

This has been a verse that I always strive to live by. You see so many times we want an equation on how to live out the Christian life; well this verse is the closest thing we get to an equation on how to do it.

Not Conformed to world + Renewed Mind = Discern God’s Will

So if I want to know God’s will, (and who would really say they don’t?) then those things that conform me to the world, and don’t renew my mind, they have to go. They have to! I may not see whatever on Facebook, I may not of seen this movie or know this song, etc,etc, etc,  but I get God’s Will, and that has to be worth it. It has to be! Its God in heaven, the One who created you for a purpose, the One who gave you life, He has a purpose for mine and your life, wouldn’t you like to know it? I do! And if logging off Facebook helps me get to know it, then so be it. I have the better treasure! And its Worth it!

I want to finish my race well, I long for the day when my race is over and I want more than anything to hear, “Well Done!” I don’t want to waste my life, and for the sake of the Kingdom of God, we don’t have time to waste.

Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel

                                                                                                                                                          ~ Philippians 1:27

Let our lives be worthy of the Gospel! Let our lives match what we say we believe. He is worth it! One day we will see Him face to face, and at that moment we won’t care what status updates we didn’t see, we won’t care whatever it is we gave up to run after Him more, because He is so worth it!

The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.

 45“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, 46who, on  finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.

                                                                                                                                                             ~ Matthew 13:44-46

I guess the main question really is how much do we really want to know Christ? How much do we really want to know His will?

Tests Reveal our Hearts

Currently I am reading “A Hunger for God – Desiring God Through Fasting and Prayer” by John Piper, and I read this passage the other day in the introduction, and it has really stuck with me, and I have been continually thinking on it. I believe it is something that I have known, but it just really clicked when I read it. It’s a quote from CS Lewis, when asked if God knows everything, then why did God test Abraham, in asking him to sacrifice his son, Isaac on the mountain top; and why did the angel say from God, “now I know that you fear God.” His response:

“If God is omniscient he must have known what Abraham would do, without any experiment; why, then, this needless torture?” But as St. Augustine points out, whatever God knew, Abraham at any rate did not know that this obedience would endure such a command until the event taught him; and the obedience which he did not know that he would choose, he cannot be said to have chosen. The reality of Abraham’s obedience was the act itself; and what God knew in knowing that Abraham “would obey” was Abraham’s actual obedience on that mountain top at that moment. To say that God “need not have tried the experiment” is to say that because God knows, the thing known by God need not exist.” (A Hunger for God, pg 17-18)

So the test was to show Abraham how much he really trusted God, not God testing him to see how much he trusted Him. Thinking on this, I immediately thought about the passage in The Gospel of Mark, Chapter 4, when Jesus tells His disciples, “Let us go across to the other side.” So they get in a boat and set sail, then Jesus goes to sleep in the stern, and a storm arose, so intense that these men who were fishermen by trade, before Jesus called them to follow Him, were afraid and ran and woke Him up. And we know the story, Jesus wakes up and looks at wind and sea and says, “Peace! Be Still,” and instantly the wind ceased and the sea was calm; Jesus turns to His disciples and ask, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?”  So did Jesus, who was 100% man and 100% God, not know that the storm was going to stir up as He slept? In this test He was showing the Disciples, how much they still didn’t trust Him. And through out His ministry He continually grew and taught His Disciples in a similar manner.

In the moments when we are in a test, in a rough situation, maybe instead of wondering why, we need to wonder what God is trying to reveal to us. In situations as with Abraham, He is revealing how much we do trust Him; and in instances as with the Disciples, God was allowing a situation to flush out a response in the hearts of the disciples that He was wanting to work on. He was working on their faith, and growing it.

Just some brief thoughts, from a quote I read last week.

Situations and test in our lives flush out response from within our heart. What are those responses telling us about what we really believe about God?  And if our response is negative, (Disciples not fully trusting), are we willing to allow God to work on this area in our hearts?