Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Thanksgiving reflections

We accomplished a couple of things this Thanksgiving holiday--we got away in our trailer (a favorite past time) and we spent time with eight of our grandchildren (a most favorite pursuit).

We discovered that deep-fried turkey is delicious (just have to figure out how to make gravy), that fourteen people squeezed together in a 32' x 8' trailer is manageable (especially if you like each other) and that even with rain, tight quarters and no television reception for the football games, it was still a memorable--if not the "best"--Thanksgiving celebration!

What made it so unforgettable? Let me list a few significant things.
1. It was not all about the food and furniture--it was more about being together.
2. It was not all about second helpings and desserts galore--it was more about being thankful we had enough to eat.
3. It was not all about the setting and regalia (or lack of it)--it was more about being with family and enjoying one another.

Having just returned from Haiti--an environment of extreme poverty--it was easy to be thankful. Even sleeping in my trailer and surrounded by the accoutrement's of camping life, I realized I am far better off than most of the world, a significant percentage of whom go to bed cold and hungry at night.

I will look back, I'm certain, at this Thanksgiving with fond memories--focused on how we we celebrated together what was really important. And with the hope that we will do it again...maybe next year!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Off to Haiti

I leave Saturday for my third trip to Haiti. It seems a long time ago that I sat in front of my television screen and viewed the catastrophic damage of the earthquake and heard God say, "Go!"

I have never been disappointed. we have held VBS's for over 1000 children, conducted Bible training seminars for over 125 pastors, built a roof for a school/church servicing 500 children and have enjoyed our relationship cultivated by the passionate heart and hard work of Gilbert Jules.

This trip we will deliver finds for a well in one of the small towns, as well as go to teach over 200 pastors the book of Romans over a four day period, eight hours a day. It is a huge but exciting task. We also will talk about how we can reach out to the children of Haiti, the heart's desire of two women in our church family through a ministry they have dubbed "The Bridge".

I am accompanied by two wonderful brothers from our church and am anxious to see how we can be humble tools in the hands of a mighty God.

Pray for us!

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

prayer and fasting

There is a little verse in the New Testament that says "Some things come only by prayer and fasting". it is omitted from some of the later biblical translations which utilize earlier manuscripts where that phrase does not occur. Nonetheless, I am convinced that prayer coupled with fasting has potential significance for me--just as it did for the Israelites in the Old Testament--in seeking and knowing God's will.

I am at a time where I am truly anxious to know God's will; in fact, I have a pretty good idea of how He should work. When I read that aloud I realize how foolish it sounds. My tendency is to try to facilitate God's work by stepping in where only He belongs. It is the ultimate arrogance for me to presume I can "give God a hand".

The discipline of simply adhering to God's invitation and command--"Be still and know that I am God"--encourages me to trust Him. A possible translation of that familiar verse is "Cease from your strivings..." There is the sense that when we abandon the pursuit of our efforts to manage things, God can then manifest Himself as God in His presence and all of His power.

The discipline of fasting allows me to focus my attention on something other than indulging my own fleshy appetites while at the same time seeking after God's direction for my life. I don't fast very often, and it really is between God and me whether I fast at all. I am convinced, however, it is an appropriate way for me to "set my affections on things above" and to listen for God's voice.