31 December 2011

2e


If you [really] love Me, you will keep (obey) My commands.
John 14:15

Wrestlemania 2012


And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day. And when he saw that he prevailed not against him, he touched the hollow of his thigh; and the hollow of Jacob's thigh was out of joint, as he wrestled with him. And he said, Let me go, for the day breaketh. And he said, I will not let thee go, except thou bless me. And he said unto him, What is thy name? And he said, Jacob. And he said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed. 
Genesis 32:24-28


There has been a lot of wrestling going on in the Sweeney household.  I'm not going to get into any detail except to say that the following has been concluded as a result of said wrestling: We're going home.  Even that statement is still being wrestled through, because it's unclear where 'home' really is.  We own a home in Pennsylvania and when we go back to the States, that is where we dwell.  We feel at home in Port-au-Prince because our daily lives are here, except for Perla, who is already back in the States.  Meanwhile our true home is not even in this world, so, there's that....

We are still wrestling through a lot of things.

Jacob was doing some wrestling.  He had just made a journey that was about to reunite him with his brother Esau.  He was carrying guilt and sin for stealing Esau's birthright.  You say, "Well Esau sold it." True.  But Jacob knew it was not his to buy!

I enter 2012 wrestling.  I'l be wrestling tonight and probably wrestling tomorrow.  From what I see, I'll be wrestling for a bit.  There are some things I need to work through.  There are some blessings that I need.  Most believers know the experience of wrestling with themselves.  We probably do that more than we should, or even need to.  But how many of us know, or are even willing to, wrestle with God?

There's 
a
blessing 
at
the
end

God changed Jacob's name.  There's a lot in a name.  In Jacob's time, it was representative of not only who you were but what you were.  When He changed Jacob's name, He changed his identity.  Is there something about your identity that you need, or would like changed?  If you say no, you're either lying or your name is Jesus.

Within your identity, do you need

more success
                 more holiness
                                  more favor
                                               more grace
                                                               more talent
                                                                              more intelligence
                                                                                                     more wisdom

Wrestle with God until He blesses you.  Let Him change your name in 2012.






28 December 2011

2e


Blessed (happy, fortunate, prosperous, and enviable) is the man who walks and lives not in the counsel of the ungodly [following their advice, their plans and purposes], nor stands [submissive and inactive] in the path where sinners walk, nor sits down [to relax and rest] where the scornful [and the mockers] gather. But his delight and desire are in the law of the Lord, and on His law (the precepts, the instructions, the teachings of God) he habitually meditates (ponders and studies) by day and by night. And he shall be like a tree firmly planted [and tended] by the streams of water, ready to bring forth its fruit in its season; its leaf also shall not fade or wither; and everything he does shall prosper [and come to maturity].
Psalm 1:1-3

25 December 2011

2e


For to you is born this day in the town of David a Savior, Who is Christ (the Messiah) the Lord!
Luke 2:11 

His Prized Possession


For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. 
Luke 2:11

credit: Jennifer Hickey


And it was the third hour, and they crucified him. 
Mark 15:25


Merry Christmas.

24 December 2011

For Elijah

This post is for Elijah. I know he will love it.

You are one of the most amazing children I know.  You are cool and funny.  You are brave and intelligent.  You have done things that other boys your age would never even consider doing - even if their parents made them to do it like we do you. :-)  You totally rock, dude!

Merry Christmas!








23 December 2011

The Real Christmas


That's Christmas (Short Film) HD from St Helen’s Church on Vimeo.



THANKS TO JUSTIN

2e


Therefore the Lord Himself shall give you a sign: Behold, the young woman who is unmarried and a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel [God with us].
Isaiah 7:14 

22 December 2011

Acquiescence Can Be Hell

acquiescence - /n/ acceptance without protest



And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat. 
Genesis 3:6


He didn't say a word!  What was this guy's problem?  It's not like he didn't recognize the fruit.  It wasn't like the fruit looked like every other tree's fruit.  Adam was the smartest man on earth!  Why didn't he say anything?!


Adam and Eve suffered a lot because of his silent acceptance.  His son Abel suffered because of his silent acceptance.  Cain suffered because of his silent acceptance.  Adam's acquiescence has caused mankind a world of suffering.  


He must have regretted his inaction more than once; every time he and Eve played the blame game about the whole 'tree incident'; as he stood over the wounds of Abel still wet from the blood shed by Cain; as he tilled the lifeless soil, day in, and day out - remembering the fertile land between the rivers.  Regret for his silence.


In Haiti, there are a lot of struggles; a lot of pains; a lot of suffering.  Without people speaking and acting on behalf of the Haitian people, it will only continue. 


Fortunately, there are a lot of people working here to change the suffering; people who will never just acquiesce; who are willing to speak up.  A friend of mine says that Haiti is a 'land of unlimited impossibilities'.  It's true, but I thank God that there are so many possibilities in Christ.


I'll be sharing about just a few of the people and organizations here that are willing to work to make Haiti better for her people.  I hope you'll be listening and add your voice to the few who toil in the vineyard.  The posts will be over the next month or so and will feature a different ministry in each post.  The tag for these posts will be 'voices', if you want to find them more easily.


  





2e


You, Bethlehem Ephratah, you are little to be among the clans of Judah; [yet] out of you shall One come forth for Me Who is to be Ruler in Israel, Whose goings forth have been from of old, from ancient days (eternity).
Micah 5:2

Bethlehemian Rhapsody

This posted video is dedicated to my brothers and sisters; Mary, Tom, Kathleen, Don & Eileen, and all their families.  I think you will like this video. Merry Christmas!

21 December 2011

Complete? Trust?


Genesis 6:22 
Noah did everything just as God commanded him.

Sometimes I wonder - and sometimes out loud to my wife: "What were we thinking?"

I think Noah may have wondered the same thing - somewhere in the journey.  Maybe as the lions were giving that sideways glance at the gazelles while saliva dripped from their jowls.  "This can't be right," he said.

What made me think we could do this?  What made me think that picking up the whole family (dog too) and moving to Haiti (of all places) was a good idea?  I mean Haiti is not the safest place in the world, ya know!  Most of the stuff I had heard about Haiti, I have had the (I wouldn't necessarily call it) good fortune to experience first hand.  I know there are many other missionaries that have been here way longer than we have, who probably would shake their heads at some of this apparent whining.

But seriously, I have heard more gunfire than I really would have ever cared to hear.  I have seen more riots than my white-middle-class upbringing ever afforded me.  And I have seen more lying-in-the-street-shot-dead-just-last-night (or in one case 3 minutes ago over my left shoulder) bodies than I ever thought possible.

What in the world was I thinking?  I mean, I can't blame any of this on Perla.  Any of you who really know her knows that she will go wherever I go and she's always got my back.  Although, her impeccable fortuitous character only makes doing something this ridunkulous easier to swallow.  "Sure, honey. Let's do it! I'm with you."  And off we went...to Haiti.

What made Noah keep doing what he was told to do?  What makes me (you) do what God has said do, even though there may be difficulties and challenges (and experiences that some people I know wouldn't even be able to watch on a reality show without cringing) in the midst of it all?

Trust. Trust in God.

Believe me, Haiti would never have been my choice.  No one but God could have gotten me

here


Do you place everything you have on only the promises of God?  All my eggs in one basket? Sure. As long as God is holding the basket.....or the ark.....or the family....or the ministry....or the.....

When we were preparing to go home from our fist assignment in Haiti, we sat in a guesthouse room, together as a family.  I looked at my family and said, "We did it."  And without skipping a beat, Elijah pipes up: "And we're gonna do it again!"

Well, as we prepare to go back home from our second assignment, even though it's earlier than we had planned, we are certain that the same remains true. "We did it. - and we're gonna do it again."  Though we may not be sure where we will be or how soon we will be there, we will be back on the mission field again - because God said, "Go."  We trust Him; no one else.

Yes.

Complete. Trust.

20 December 2011

Not For Sale

And the boys grew: and Esau was a cunning hunter, a man of the field; and Jacob was a plain man, dwelling in tents. And Isaac loved Esau, because he did eat of his venison: but Rebekah loved Jacob. And Jacob sod pottage: and Esau came from the field, and he was faint: And Esau said to Jacob, Feed me, I pray thee, with that same red pottage; for I am faint: therefore was his name called Edom. And Jacob said, Sell me this day thy birthright. And Esau said, Behold, I am at the point to die: and what profit shall this birthright do to me? And Jacob said, Swear to me this day; and he sware unto him: and he sold his birthright unto Jacob. Then Jacob gave Esau bread and pottage of lentiles; and he did eat and drink, and rose up, and went his way: thus Esau despised his birthright.
Genesis 25:27-34

Sometimes we move without thinking.  Sometimes we act on impulse.  In fact, a large part of the retail business is built on impulse.  The other large part of the retail business is built on desire.  When desire and impulse are mixed together, it can be a dangerous combination.

Sometimes we risk that which is valuable for that which satisfies for only a moment.  Esau did just that.  He was hungry.  He was empty.  He was weak.  He had a void that needed to be filled and jumped at the first good thing he saw.  Not only did he act on impulse, but he gave away a very valuable possession in the process.  Esau had a birthright.  Esau's birthright would have provided him with a double blessing, the first blessing. A double portion was his for the taking.  It was something that was meant ONLY for him and never belonged to anyone else - until he gave it away.  He sold his birthright for a lunch!

As an example, most people will trust you at the start - until you prove to be not trustworthy.  Trust is something that is given for free.  It doesn't have to be earned or bought, unless you lose it or abuse it.  If you are found to be a gossip, you have sold your birthright of trust - all for the strange satisfaction of breaking the selfsame trust.

[trust]
            [life]
                      [integrity]
                                        [purity]
                                                       [prosperity]
                                                                             [faith]
                                                                                           [ ____?_____ ]

What is your birthright?  What was your birthright that you sold or gave away?

Jesus told a similar story in Luke 15 of the prodigal son.  This is our eternal hope; that even if we sell our birthright, if we return to Him fully, and with all of our hearts, He will restore it all to us.  It is only through Christ that this redemption of our birthright is available; through repentance and faith.

Return to Him

19 December 2011

Mass Transit - A Tribute

If you didn't have the opportunity to read Mass Transit, Parts One, Two and Three, please make some time.  It's a very funny story.  At least we think so.

Since the original writing of those posts, my mother-in-law, Felipa has passed.  She passed away in 2010, while we were preparing to come to Haiti.

I wanted to make this post in honor of her.  She was a very caring woman.  The way in which she loved her children and her husband was definitely something that Perla got from her.  If you know Perla in the way she loves her family, you knew Felipa.

Felipa & Vicente Ayala


18 December 2011

Weekend Worship

Mass Transit - Part Three - THAT'S my In-laws' House !



View Larger Map


My in-laws' house is somewhere in here.


After generously and in a VERY norteamericano sort of way, paying my taxi driver. I walked across the street to wait for what was probably the 'last-chance-bus' to home. Shortly, after I crossed, my taxi driver friend follows with some of his compañeros. He says they want to be sure that I get on the right bus. I am sure at this point that they all figure they will be handsomely rewarded for their efforts.

As the bus pulls up, they all mutter something in Guaraní. I say thank you and get on the bus. The taxi driver follows. He says he wants to be sure that I get off at the right stop. He talks to the driver in Guaraní. I imagine my whole saga being re-told, probably missing some parts and fabricating others.

I proceed to the third seat on the right, because my in-laws' house, when it passes will be on the right. I sit with my head and shoulders OUT THE WINDOW. I do NOT want to miss the stop this time.

I recognize each turn.

I finally see the half tires on the neighbor's property line. This is IT!. I pull the cord as he turns the corner.

On the road I see the silouette of my father-in-law. He is standing in the road in front of his house waiting for me. It was very prodigal son-like.


I get off the bus. He comes over to me. He looks very concerned.

I realize that the taxi driver gets off with me.

"How are you getting back?", I ask.
"You're going to drive me", he replies.

I look at him, puzzled. He laughs.

"No I'll walk", he says.

We all laugh.

I did NOT think that was funny.

He and my father-in-law talk a bit as I go inside. I think they ended up knowing each other - a friend of a friend of a friend etc sort of thing. Or at least that's what they SAID!

As I go inside, I am pleased to see my oblivious children. I am sure that any talk of my troubling MIA-ness was all in guaraní in the home, so they never realized that daddy was missing in the paraguayan campo. I could sense that my in-laws were worried.

As we lay in bed that night, my wife grabbed me. "I was worried for you Papi", she said, "I was praying the whole time."

"Aah!, What were you worried about? If I can do NY city subways, I can do Paraguayan colectivos!"

I am such a norteamericano.

There is a sequel. It happened 3 days later. I'll save it for another post.

Weekend Worship

The Weekend Worship videos will have a Christmas theme as the 25th draws nearer.  We welcome you to join us as we celebrate the birth of the Savior.

2e


Even a fool when he holds his peace is considered wise; when he closes his lips he is esteemed a man of understanding.
Proverbs 17:28

16 December 2011

Mass Transit - Part Two - Kilometro 21

Please be strapped into your chair as you read this. I do not want anyone getting hurt as their laughter knocks them to the floor.


View Larger Map

This is Kilometro 21.

On the left, the large white building is the gas station with the tan building being a sort of 'convenience' store. On the right of the dirt road, you can barely make out some taxis parked on the corner, with some garages for repair/storage of those taxis just to their south on the dirt road.

I can't believe I was able to locate this place on Google maps!

So here I am standing at Kilometro 21, (not my in-laws house). It is just before 9 pm. The buses I am told, run until 10. I am waiting for the bus to come by. I know the bus I was on was "no longer operating for the evening", but there are multiple buses that run the same route. I know what it looks like. It always stops here. There are other people waiting.

Two words: Taxi driver.

Oh, he seemed so helpful. I knew when he approached me that he was just looking for a fare from the norteamericano. I explained my recent adventure to him. He asked about where my in-laws lived. I gave him the half-tire-my-property-line-Paraguay vs Germany-Vicente-Felipa-three-turns-in-from-the-church 'directions'. He ended up being the only Paraguayan who did not pretend to know everyone in town. He looked puzzled. He calls across the street to some other taxi drivers. About 4 of them now are all talking Guarani seeming as if they are attempting to figure out the great mystery of the ages. One of the younger ones says something and they ALL say, "Oh yes, yes. I know where that is!" "Oh, Great!" I felt more secure with his uncertainty.  He assures me that he knows where this church is and that the young kid actually KNOWS my in-laws. Heh.

Two words: It rained.

As we get into the taxi and drive off, it starts raining; not a lot, but raining. This rain is only the manifestation of the humidity I had been 'enjoying' all evening. I am 6'1" and 280 pounds. I sweat. Humidity condenses on me. He was shorter, but just as stocky for his height. Perspiration? We were equal.

I am not so sure what kind of car this was. It seemed to be a mixture of several different cars all put together in one of those garages. I realized as we drove off that this vehicle was a stick shift with no first gear. We jerked violently to a start. We were off! As we drove along toward the church, which is on this same road, the rain really started coming down. He winds up his window, except for a crack at the top.  I follow suit. He is not using his wipers. We make a turn. I tell him that the church is straight ahead. he assures me that my desired destination is that way.

The car stops. "Is that it?" he asks. I look out the window to see a church. Nice church. Not the church. "Oh, OK", he replies. "It must be the one that is that way. We jerk to a start. We're off again. The rain is really coming down now. He takes me to about 4 different churches. None of them are the right one. If you knew the make-up of this area or any back roads towns in rural Paraguay, you would understand my amazement at the fact that there were even so many churches and that he knew where so many were! I keep trying to explain to him that the church that I am referring to is back on the 'main' dirt road. He assures me again that Fernando and Felipa live that way, and he knows how to get there. Oh, Father! Please come to my aid. It's Vicente and Felipa! Who knows who this Fernando and Felipa are. I am sure they are very nice people and may even take in a lost norteamericano for the night. But my wife and children are at Vicente and Felipa's house.

Three words: Mechanic for hire.

So as we are driving in the manifested humidity, we too big sweaty men in this Toyo-nissa-onda-ford taxi, the windows are fogging up. Now, as I said, he is not using his wipers. Had he used them, he may have avoided the fogging up of his windshield. Now, he is not using the defroster either. Such the foreigner I am! The car stops; and stops in the most secluded, darkest spot on the planet.

He reaches under his steering wheel. Again, I am thinking 'easy prey'. He fiddles around with something.

The engine dies.
The lights go out.

He pulls out a wire from the dashboard and connects it to whatever he was fiddling with under the steering wheel.

The radio, the wipers and the defroster all come on.

We sit there a while, in the dark.

He says nothing.
I am praying.

The windshield clears up.

He disconnects the wires again; dead car, no wipers, no defrost, no radio, no engine, no lights

He reconnects the other wires. The car starts, the lights go on, we violently jump over first gear and we're off again!

After our late night local Capiata church tour, I finally convince him at 9:30 to take me back to Kilometro 21 (not my in-laws house) so that I can at least make one final attempt to get on the last bus. He obliges me. We finally both agree on one thing: Kilometro 21 is (say it with me); that way!

I can now see 'kilometro 21'. It is well lit, there is a gas station, some taxis, some people hanging around, loud music. That is not my in-laws' house. We arrive. He charges me the equivalent of $1.40 for my 45 minute church tour. I pay him the equivalent of $7.00.

It has been almost 3 hours since I last saw Julian.

To be continued....

For Perla

I am so proud of my wife.  Today she took her oath of citizenship for the United States.  She will make a great citizen.  In fact, she was a great citizen before they made it official.

I love you Perla.



2e


Do not fret or have any anxiety about anything, but in every circumstance and in everything, by prayer and petition (definite requests), with thanksgiving, continue to make your wants known to God. And God's peace [shall be yours, that tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and being content with its earthly lot of whatever sort that is, that peace] which transcends all understanding shall garrison and mount guard over your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:6-7

15 December 2011

Throwback Thursday - Mass Transit

This week's installment of Throwback Thursday is the first part of a 3-part post from 2008 of an event that took place in 2005.  It is a very funny story and I won't make you wait a whole week before part two is posted.  In fact, I'll schedule it to post, just like I do all our posts. [we have to do that because of the inconsistency of the electric company here].  


So, here we go...



I recently read a blog online and it reminded me of my own little experience with Mass Transit, albeit, in Paraguay. It was my first time in Paraguay and my first time venturing out alone. A great majority of Paraguayans depend on a 'transit system' of 'colectivos'. 



I found this picture of one online but it really does not do the whole experience any justice. They are more than a colorful bus. They are a crowded yet economical, hot yet convenient method of very public transportation. A good description of a ride on a colectivo can be found in the second paragraph of this post. I went to the Super Seis to buy some food for the family. I knew I could do it. I went with my wife's cousin Julian. I love Julian. He is one of the most energetic, positive people I met in Paraguay. He is really going places. From the moment we got on the colectivo, Julian was announcing the arrival of his friend (me), the norteamericano! Everyone was so impressed, or so Julian thought. I let him be. He was having a great time. When we got to the Super Seis in San Lorenzo, I bought Julian lunch. We sat and talked for a while. We hung out in San Lorenzo. I did my food shopping and we headed back. The sun was setting and Julian asked me if I knew where to get off for my in-laws house. If he got off earlier, he could catch another colectivo to his house and he would get home quicker. I told him no problem. The bus could stop at the corner of their property and I knew I would recognize that. You have to pull the cord to stop the bus as there are no set stops.

Four words. It got dark fast. I thought I recognized the silohuette of my father-in-law standing by what could have been his front entrance, near what was possibly the corner where I definitely wanted to stop. But I wasn't sure. I figured since these colectivos run back and forth all day, I would just wait until we came back this way again and get off then.

Two words. Last stop. When the colectivo got to the 'depot', or the owners oversized yard, the driver looked at me, his sole passneger and asked in Spanish, "Where are you going?" I responded with the only familiar address I knew: Kilometro 21.

OK, so kilometro 21 is NOT an address, per se. It is actually a point on the main (paved) road where the gas station is. This is where you turn into the miles of back-country, cobblestone or dirt roads which weave their way through the countryside. It apperently is NOT my in-laws address. Well, it's where we always mailed their letters and stuff. Come to find out that all the mail for all of these people living back here goes to one location; on the main road. They have to pick it up from there. If you are ever going to Paraguay, be sure and watch several early episodes of 'The Waltons' first.  You will be better prepared.

So this kid (15?) gets on the bus. He and the driver speak to each other in Guarani. That's an indigenous langauge that I do not speak. I only speak castellano (spanish). He smiles at me knowingly. I have heard of the dangers of being out in these areas at night and I am not liking how things are panning out here. Another man gets on the bus. The kids speaks guarani to him. He laughs as he looks at me. Easy prey, I am thinking. I am really going to have to call on Jesus soon. A woman gets on the bus. Everyone speaking guarani.  Everyone laughing. OK, so now I am the butt of some early evening guarani joke, which will probably become folklore in later generations. She looks at me with concern. They speak some more. The bus driver waits for 2 more guys. He starts the bus. "OK", I think, "we're off." I won't miss the stop this time!

The woman explains to me that this bus is no longer operating for the evening. The driver is taking some of the bus 'company' employees home for the night. One of the employees lives near kilometro 21 and he will be sure I get there safely. Whew!

I get off the bus with this guy and he asks me where my family lives. I tell him, kilometro 21. He looked very confused. We start walking. I explain to him where my familia lives the best I can AND as it should be explained to any respectable Paraguayan. You see, they don't give directions in Paraguay like we do in the states. Try to follow along. As I said, I explain where my in-laws live: On the corner where the man has his property line dilineated with the half tires sticking out of the ground so people won't drive on his dirt; around the corner where the lady has a tienda with a TV in the front of her house and the other night when Paraguay beat Germany, everyone was watching in front of her store; it's three turns in from the church where they have the banner out front announcing all of the activities for semana santa; their names are Vicente and Felipa Ayala. "OH! I know where that is!", he says. We keep walking. We pass the church that is three turns out from their house. Yep! walk right by it! I am pleading with him to recognize the church as I do. He insists that kilometro 21 is that way; past the church. Then we pass another place; a house to which my father-in-law and I walked so that I could check my email; they have internet, for a fee. "Wait!" I say. "I know this place." I explain my previous day's journey to him. He continues to insist that kilometro 21 is 'that way'.

We pass by several other familiar sights. I don't bother saying anything because I know that kilometro 21 is that way.

I can now see 'kilometro 21'. It is well lit, there is a gas staion, some taxis, some people hanging around, loud music.  That is NOT
 my in-laws house! I thank him and walk the rest by myself.

It has been about 2 hours since I last saw Julian.

To be Continued...

2e


The tongue that brings healing is a tree of life, but a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit.
Proverbs 15:4

13 December 2011

Tuesday Teaching


"I have swept away your offenses like a cloud, your sins like the morning mist. Return to me, for I have redeemed you."
Isaiah 44:22 

If I sit back and contemplate the fullness of what He did for me; if I consider the vast pool of sin in which I was drowning; if I think on the magnitude of the consequence of my [wrong] choices in this life regarding sin, I can easily become overwhelmed bu my utter filth or His great mercy.

I have swept away your offenses like a cloud...


Before my wife and I were dating, when we were 'just friends' [she had it all planned and I was oblivious, but that's another story], we used to lie back on the grass with some of the children she cared for and watch the sky.

It was her way of getting the children settled down [and staying close to me].  We would watch; point out things we saw.  One of my favorite parts was watching the clouds appear from nowhere.  I actually had a little sadness when they then disappeared into nowhere.  But it never seemed to be a violent event.  Easily they came and easily they were swept away.

...your sins like the morning mist.

Being owners of our own business, we have had more than ample opportunity to awake and set out before dawn.  Our drive from Pennsylvania to New Jersey would take us through a simple mountain pass.  During certain months, this area is frequently in a fog - a morning mist.  Depending upon the time of day or the time of year, you may find yourself driving through the clouds, over the clouds, or under the clouds.  Frequently, you would see the evidence of a past morning mist that had been burned off by the rising sun.  Again, not really a violent event, just a there one moment - gone the next kind of thing.

This is how God describes the removal of our sin.  We know that the crucifixion was indeed a violent event and that was the payment.  But God describes the removal of our offenses as a there one moment - gone the next kind of thing.

And then, the clincher:
Return to me, for I have redeemed you.

In many Christian churches, the redemption is taught as a reason to return.  Come to Christ so that he can redeem you.  That's unscriptural.  We can return to Him because [He has already] redeemed us.

Fantastic!

Just Stop Shopping Right Now.


H/T to Janette

12 December 2011

And He Shall reign....

I've been reading a lot about the commercialization of Christmas this year - more than past years - which is strange because I'm not even in the land of Christmas comercialization right now.

Anyway, I saw this and it nearly made me cry.  Wouldn't it be great if some churches did this in their local mall? It would be awesome to remind everyone that after the presents are wrapped and unwrapped; assembled and put aside; after the tree is put out at the curb, He shall reign!

08 December 2011

Can I Stand the Test?


And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: 
Genesis 3:4

There are certain truths that I am certain of.

God is omnipresent.
                             God is omniscient.
                                                        God is omnipotent.

I am also certain that the Word of God is true in every sense.

I am certain that I am
 saved
          healed
                    victorious
                                   and delivered.

As I take into account those truths [of which I am certain], I must be able to stand the test when it comes my way. How did you do the last time some spiritual truth was challenged in your life.  I have to admit, sometimes I do not do all that well.  Sometimes I feel no more successful at facing faith-challenges than Eve.  She knew the truth.  She dwelt with the Truth. Hmm.  

I write today to encourage myself; to help myself for the next challenge that comes my way. Yes, it's coming, all right.

When my faith is tested in the area of salvation and freedom from sin, am I certain that I am saved? [Acts 16:31]

When my faith is tested in the area of my health, am I certain that I am healed? [Is 53:5]

When my faith is tested in the area of victory over circumstances and challenges - when faced with imminent failure, am I certain that I am always victorious? [2 Cor 2:14]

When my faith is challenged by temptation, anger and the like, am I certain of my deliverance? [John 8:36]

Yes, I am.  In all these things I am certain. 

For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. 
Romans 8:38-39

I am CERTAIN.

07 December 2011

An Eyeful

We haven't posted some random photos in a LONG time.  They always get a lot of hits and feedback, so here they are:

One of our Ice Cream Nights



There is also a corresponding video for Ice Cream Night starring Perla and Leonard.  You can view it here.

Here are the first papayas - one is a basketball.

Some sandal photo journalism Cecilia was doing

Toys

Love. These. Children.



You can support the children and the orphanage through their website: www.lovehaitischildren.com

06 December 2011

Tuesday Teaching - Can I be Baptized?

It's a question I've encountered more times than one would expect, here in Haiti.  The Haitian church in general, though, admittedly not across the board, has put so much restriction and tradition into their beliefs and doctrine, that it becomes a challenge for some adherents to answer a simple question such as this.

So, let's tackle it.  Note: this is not an exhaustive teaching on baptism itself, but an attempt to break the titular question down so one can give a simple answer.


Can I be baptized? Well, let's see if you meet the requirements that God has set forth in His Word.

And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation. Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.
Acts 2:40-41

It says here that the people heard the Word of God, received it and were baptized. Have you heard the Word of God and received it gladly?

If ye love me, keep my commandments.
John 14:15

If you have in fact, received the Word of God with joy then you are willing to obey it. Are you willing to obey the Word of God?

Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
Acts 2:37-38

Has the Word of God "pricked your heart"? Have you, by the Word preached and taught to you, been convicted of sin? "Convicted" - a conviction in your heart that sin is displeasing to God and there fore should be avoided at all costs. I know we speak Christianese sometimes. So, have you been convicted of sin?

Have you repented of that sin? Repentance is not just a change of heart, but a change of mind also. It is doing a complete 180 degree turn, stop going our way and start following God's way.

He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.
Mark 16:16

Do you believe in the Lord Jesus Christ?

So, can you be baptized?

2e


First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is being reported all over the world.

Romans 1:8

02 December 2011

2e

I call Heaven and Earth to witness against you today: I place before you Life and Death, Blessing and Curse. Choose life so that you and your children will live. And love God, your God, listening obediently to him, firmly embracing him. Oh yes, he is life itself, a long life settled on the soil that God, your God, promised to give your ancestors, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.


Deuteronomy 30:19 - 20 MSG

01 December 2011

Great Expectations

It is possible to be disappointed. 


Did you know that, dear reader? 


It is possible that what you desire to be fulfilled, can not be fulfilled by another person. It's even possible that you, yourself can not do all that you have dreamed was possible. 


The expectations we have of 


others, 


ourselves 


and life


do not always match up with what is possible. Yes, with God, all things are possible. That speaks to the abilities and power of God. However the Will of God has been intercepted and derailed ever since the beginning of time by the enemy and man and sin and culture. There are some things that will never change. 


Does prayer work? 
Yes. 


Is God all-powerful? 
Yes. 


Does He give man freedom? 
Yes. 


Does man mess things up? 
Frequently.


Our great expectations can only be fulfilled by God - and then only when man doesn't get in the way.  All too often WE are the man (or woman) that gets in the way of God fulfilling our own dreams and desires.


What to do then?  What is the remedy for this?


Well, it's a good thing for you that I have had many opportunities to experience this! :-)


First, if your great expectations are derailed by some other human being, and this person is frequently causing problems for you, you should not include them in the big picture.  You can still be friends with them.  Don't ban them from your Facebook lists just yet.  But definitely do not include them in your plans any more.  If you are willing to risk the friendship of someone who may be offended, tell them what the dealio is.  You may be saving them from having to handle the next option on their own on the future.


Next, look at yourself.  This is never easy - an inventory of self.  If you find that you are the cause of your own failure - the source of increased challenges in life - CHANGE.  I'm not sure which is more difficult; the discovery of the mess in you or the cleaning up of it all.  Many times, people will not tell you that YOU are the problem, especially if your character is not conducive to openness about yourself, like I used to be, and you'll have to do this on your own. Sorry, Charlie.


Once you've sorted out all of the problems, including yourself:




[make a fresh start]  


                                [redraw the lines]  
                                                              
                                                              [rewrite the plan] 


Your Great Expectations can be met.


You can succeed.


You can achieve your destiny.


It's just a matter of change occurring; either you or them - or both.


If nothing changes, nothing changes.


Wishing God's best for you....


And let us not lose heart and grow weary and faint in acting nobly and doing right, for in due time and at the appointed season we shall reap, if we do not loosen and relax our courage and faint.
Galatians 6:9 AMP