Tuesday, December 21, 2010


I hate to be disappointed.

And I was this week. Deeply.

It really doesn't matter "why" or "who" or "when" or even "what". As I have thought about it I realize that I must be a disappointment to others--just because I am so aware of the offensive words I can say, the disapproving looks I can give, the promises I don't keep, the flaws in my voluntarily-offered judgmental skills, my inappropriate reactions...and the list goes on.

I can also argue in behalf of the "disappointers"--they love me, they are living their lives the way they think best, they are being straight-forward in their communication with me and they are not setting out to hurt me. For sure.

But...I am still disappointed.

I can mitigate those feelings of disappointment that seem overwhelming for the moment by remembering that even without trying I successfully manage to disappoint others, and to remember there is only one who does not disappoint us--the Lord Jesus Himself.

"And hope does not disappoint us because God has poured out His love into our hearts..." and the context of Romans 5:5ff goes on to tell us that that "while we were still sinners, Christ died for us".

That is a powerful declaration about the certainty of what we hope for in Christ. While others may disappoint us, He will not.

Thursday, December 16, 2010


You ever just have the "doldrums"? Wikipedia defines this condition as "to be listless, despondent, inactive, stagnant, in a slump". Well, I am not "despondent", or "inactive"--but, perhaps, a bit "listless", somewhat "stagnant", and, for the moment, "in a slump".

I would expect you to react to that with some appropriate astonishment. "Come on, Pastor Dale, it's the Christmas season. This is our reason to be happy and joyous. After all, isn't this the resounding message of 'good news' for all men?"

You have a right to be incredulous. It is the season. It is the reason. It is the message.

But it happens. Commercialism shreiks its highest decibels. Christmas parties crowd the calendar. Fatigue reluctantly creeps in. Family we love seems too far away. CNN and Fox News remind us all is not well in the world.

And I get the doldrums.

So here is what I did earlier this afternoon to escape the "blahs". I Francis Chan's latest book, FORGOTTEN GOD. He quotes A.W. Tozer at the front of chapter one.

"We may as well face it; the whole level of spirituality among us is low. We have measured ourselves by ourselves until the incentive to seek higher pleasures in the things of the Spirit is all but gone...(We) have imitated the world, sought popular favor, manufactured delights to substitute for the joy of the Lord and produced a cheap and synthetic power to substitute for the power of the Holy Ghost."

There it is, at least for me. I have allowed myself to get caught up--wrongly focused--on the world and its rituals and celebrations, and I have lost sight of the central thing--"the joy of the Lord" and "the power of the Holy Ghost"...significant components of the true message of Christmas.

I am between this transitional moment and a Board meeting. The doldrums are, for the moment, behind me, and I am looking intently at the focal point so easily forgotten--the core message of the gospel revealed in the One who came, died and rose again...for me.

Board meetings can be necessarily ponderous and even perfunctory. But not tonight. I am re-focused.

And the doldrums are gone...for the moment. If they return--and I am sure they will seek to haunt me again--I'll remember what I have forgotten.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Three weeks after.....

The elections in Haiti have taken place and there is anarchy in the streets. Iread s hort summary from the ECONOMIST yesterday, "Convinced that the government is trying to steal the election. demonstrators threw rubble, burned barricades and set fire to the ruling party's headquarters. Airlines cancelled flights to Haiit...to their welter of reasons--the exclusion of some political parties, a raging cholera epidemic, and the disenfranchisement of many on votng day--they can now add an electoral council that doesn't know how to count..."

I have been visiting with my friend, Gilbert, and inr esponse tot he crisis he wrote these words to me two days ago,

"By the way, the news is niot so good about the eleciton... we will continue to pray for peace. When it seem there is no hope, then God appears and provideds. I can't wait for that day. In the meantime, I am making lot of plans for my business of preaching the gospel..."

Join me in prayer for our Christian brothers and sisters in Haiti stanidng faithful in the midst of physical, political and spiritual storms.


“How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation…”, Isaiah 52:7; Romans 10:15

I read these words this morning as I opened my e-mail from Gilbert Jules, our wonderful pastor-friend in Haiti…

“Thanks for letting God use you in His kingdom. To Grace Fellowship Church we extend our thankfulness of the prayers, the financial support. We have a challenge to spread the word we have learned…”

I have had two days now to reflect on our week in Haiti. I have had surges of deep emotion—some inexpressible joy--when I remember the faces of young men with eyes wide open leaning forward to grasp the truths of Romans. Some have been waves of indescribable sadness, when I think of the young child whose fragile, now scarred body, was cradled during the earthquake by her parents who died protecting her—our ladies ministered to that sick young child in one of their four VBS outreaches.

Driving through the streets of Haiti’s capital city of Port au Prince, home of over 3 million people--1.5 million of them crowded into tiny horrible tents surrounded by the ravages of unemployment, illiteracy and now cholera—is a jarring experience.
Not just because the roads are pot-holed and sometimes covered with earthquake debris, but because it is impossible to believe that in the twenty-first century there are conditions like this—the worst in the western hemisphere.

Cradled between a majestic deep blue ocean and now green-tinted mountains, Port au Prince seems a place from another time…and then there are the cleanly--uniformed children, the beautiful back men and women with muscled bodies from little food and hard physical labor—who testify to the muted potential of Haiti’s future. An election on November 28th sadly portends further governmental ineptness and corruption and the certain short-sightedness of the efforts of men.

Why did we go to Haiti? What possible purpose could ten “rich” Americans have in a country so impoverished by tragedy? Logan, Desiree and Michel Carnell, Evelyn Temple, Martha Johnson, Breanna Cazaad, Ron Bertrand, Terry Throssel and Mike Stromberg joined me in declaring, “We have only beautiful feet to offer.”

Our goal as an extension of Grace Fellowship Church is to produce a sustainable ministry model in Haiti via our contacts through Gilbert. By that we mean to intentionally and systematically invest in ways that will provide for the training of Haitian pastors and leaders, as well as bring the gospel of hope to children and teenagers, so that when we leave to return to our places of comfort and security the Word of God will continue to bring comfort and security to a people shaken by

tragedy and devastated by the ravages of sin. To that end we ministered to 1300-1500 children in VBS outreaches in three villages and Port au Prince; some of those children placed their faith in Christ. Additionally, we taught and trained 125-130 pastors and church leaders in two different settings on how to study the Bible, using the book of Romans as a template. These pastors and leaders currently minister to congregations in Port au Prince and in the outlying areas. As a bonus, Terry and Mike helped rebuild two bridges that provide access to church and school sites, assuring continuing ministry in Desca and Ballenger, two needy villages.

Gilbert informed me in his letter that one of the pastors at the teaching sessions already had called him to hold a seminar for pastors in mid-January. He added, “So, I will hold a seminar on Romans. Don’t worry, I will do very well I know Logan will send me the outline to help me do a good job…” Before we left, an orphanage with 200 children took VBS materials from our team to go back and share with their children. So the work continues.

Beautiful feet. It’s all we have to offer. Beautiful because they carry the gospel. Able to go because many gave and others prayed. We share the joy together.