Friday, December 30, 2011

Dec 30 Devotional Thoughts

My Utmost For His Highest

We want to cling to our natural virtues, while all the time God is trying to get us in contact with the life of Jesus Christ— a life that can never be described in terms of natural virtues. It is the saddest thing to see people who are trying to serve God depending on that which the grace of God never gave them. They are depending solely on what they have by virtue of heredity. God does not take our natural virtues and transform them, because our natural virtues could never even come close to what Jesus Christ wants. No natural love, no natural patience, no natural purity can ever come up to His demands. But as we bring every part of our natural bodily life into harmony with the new life God has placed within us, He will exhibit in us the virtues that were characteristic of the Lord Jesus.

My Thoughts

When we become Christians, God gives us a new way to deal with life … but too often we choose to deal with life the same way we always have … with our ‘natural virtue’  That means our natural wisdom and relational skills.  2 Corinthians 5:17 says that IF we are in Christ, we are NEW creations … old things have passed away .. all thing s are new … those ‘things’ include how we relate to the world and other people.  But we so often continue to try to resurrect the old things … why?  Because if we do things the old way we can do it without God and faith … we are in control … the amazing thing to me is that even though we repeatedly fail miserably … the world is crumbling around us …. we keep trying to do it our way … We are so determined to NOT trust in God but in ourselves …  What will it take for us to let go and let God? 

As I so often find … there is a common thread of emphasis between My Utmost for His Highest and Our Daily Bread … it is the Holy Spirits way of emphasizing a particular truth and confirming that it is from God and not my own imaginations. Today it is about trusting God and not myself to live this life.

Our Daily Bread

Romans 12:1-2

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.

My Thoughts

It is so easy to follow after the pattern of the world .. to like what it likes and relate to people the way it relates to people … how is that?  This is what Galatians 5:19-26  says  ….

19 The acts of the flesh (The ways of the world) are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

Do you see any of that in your relationships?  It is not of God … The problem is if you are not careful you will soon find yourself living that same life … it is natural so it is easy for us to get used to it ….

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.

If you are a Christian then the Spirit of God is in you!  If you are living in the power of your flesh then the fruit of the Spirit will be absent in your life … you are supposed to be showing other people Jesus by the way you live and relate to others … it doesn’t matter what they do … but it does matter how you respond ….

Bondye Beni Ou (God Bless You)

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Responding to God's Call

My Utmost For His Highest Dec 22

“When God begins to draw me to Himself, the problem of my will comes in immediately. Will I react positively to the truth that God has revealed? Will I come to Him? To discuss or deliberate over spiritual matters when God calls is inappropriate and disrespectful to Him. When God speaks, never discuss it with anyone as if to decide what your response may be (see Galatians 1:15-16). Belief is not the result of an intellectual act, but the result of an act of my will whereby I deliberately commit myself. But will I commit, placing myself completely and absolutely on God, and be willing to act solely on what He says? If I will, I will find that I am grounded on reality as certain as God’s throne.”

To properly respond to God does not mean that we should not seek council on whether it is God’s call, but we should not ask others ‘Should I obey the call?’  That we MUST NOT do.  The call is between us and God … James 14:17 If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.  Pretty clear …. Belief is not intellectual or emotional … both are from natural source .. our own being and have nothing to do with God.  But, both intellect and emotion, seeming right at the time,  have led many people down a path that drew them away from God to a place of disappointment and heartache. 

When God calls us and we know it is God, it is not a time to do a cost analysis, use the classical problem solving model, Define the problem, identify alternative solutions, compare the advantages and disadvantages, choose an alternative and act on it.  We must be ‘willing to act solely on what He says’.  That is called living and walking by faith and not by sight ….

Friday, December 9, 2011

God has a plan and it's a great one

I watched a movie last night on HBO called the Adjustments Bureau with Matt Damon.  WHat the movie is about is the will of God and how He intervenes in human affairs to accomplish his purpose ... Although they did not acknowledge God directly or his gender ... They did acknowledge that there is someone superior to man who has a plan and we live our lives in the context of that plan ...Although there are several rough words in the movie ... nothing extreme, they did not use the Lord's name in vain .... no nudity ... It just seemed odd to me that Hollywood made a movie like that .... 

" It is not a question of giving up sin, but of giving up my right to myself, my natural independence, and my self-will. This is where the battle has to be fought. The things that are right, noble, and good from the natural standpoint are the very things that keep us from being God’s best. Once we come to understand that natural moral excellence opposes or counteracts surrender to God, we bring our soul into the center of its greatest battle. Very few of us would debate over what is filthy, evil, and wrong, but we do debate over what is good. It is the good that opposes the best."
That is what we struggle with.  The World says this is what defines a good parent or grand parent .. the Lord says .. Follow me ... The world behind me, the cross before me ... no turning back
"The higher up the scale of moral excellence a person goes, the more intense the opposition to Jesus Christ. “Those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh . . . .” The cost to your natural life is not just one or two things, but everything. Jesus said, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself. . .” (Matthew 16:24). That is, he must deny his right to himself, and he must realize who Jesus Christ is before he will bring himself to do it. Beware of refusing to go to the funeral of your own independence."  
That is the true struggle ... my way or his way ... it is when we become aware of his call to follow him that the struggle begins ... we must surrender .. which may mean abandoning everything we see as success or 'normal' and 'reasonable' for a life that is totally dependent upon Him ... do not marvel at what you have given up but marvel at the One you have given it to.  
"The natural life is not spiritual, and it can be made spiritual only through sacrifice. If we do not purposely sacrifice the natural, the supernatural can never become natural to us. There is no high or easy road. Each of us has the means to accomplish it entirely in his own hands. It is not a question of praying, but of sacrificing, and thereby performing His will."  
What a life we have been called to!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Nov 2011 Newsletter

Matt demonstrating Prototype Block Press
Trust you had a wonderful Thanksgiving Holiday.  Martie, Jessica and I spent a good part of our November in California.  We visited friends, supporters, and churches from one end of California to the other.  While we were in Mendocino - Ft Bragg (not the Army Post in North Carolina) I met with Paul Douglas, as architect; Doug Moyer, a pastor and builder; and John Turnbull, a long time partner in the ministry to discuss plans for Phase 2 of Children's Hope in Jacmel. I also met with Matt Yager who is designing and building a Compressed Stabilized Earth Block press for our use in construction of block buildings in Haiti.  I spoke at Mendocino Presbyterian Church and the Chapel of the Redwoods.  We also spoke at a large gathering hosted by our friends the Christoffersons.  On our way South, we stopped for breakfast and shared about our ministry in Jacmel with Pastor Chris Blaustone, Calvary Chapel - Healdsburg. 

After we left Northern California we drove (10 hours South) to Orange County.  Lisa Shaw, our board president, had some folks over to hear about the ministry.  I also met with Ken Stone, a member at Saddleback Church and a lead volunteer for their work in Haiti.  Ken is interested in the compressed earth block press technology.  I was able to participate in a men's accountability group and attend the 'Herd' the men's ministry meeting at Saddleback.  Several hundred guys show up every Thursday morning.  Both refreshed my spirit.

We spent the next weekend in Victorville, located in the High Desert of California, we visited with friends, my cousin - Karen, and Pastor George Beardsley from High Desert Church.  We were able to attend two services on two separate campuses meeting with a number of folks who had volunteered in Mississippi. We really miss seeing our friends from around the country who came to Waveland.  We count it as a huge blessing.

Martie with 8 Brothers and Sisters
We flew back to Alabama on Thanksgiving day and celebrated Thanksgiving with Martie's brothers and sisters on Saturday.  All told there were nearly 40 family members there.  Please pray for Tom and Pat (front row on left) as both have cancer.  Pat's is in remission, Tom's is not.  We thank the Lord for the opportunity to be with them this year.

What's Next

I am returning to Jacmel on the 6th of December for two weeks.  Right now it looks like Doug Moyer and John Turnbull will be joining me on the second week to help prepare the bathhouse for trusses and a roof.  We are expecting volunteers in January who will set the trusses and put the metal on the roof.

During the past month or so, there have been a rash of invasions of missionary homes and compounds in Jacmel by an armed group of Haitian men.  They scale walls, invade the homes, and over power the guards in the middle of the night.  Although two people have been wounded, it does not seem that the invaders intend to harm anyone, just take valuables and leave.  Nearly all of the missionary families serving in Jacmel have left until this is resolved.  While I am in Jacmel in December, I will be staying at a hotel and working during day light hours.  We don't believe that Children's Hope will be targeted since missionaries don't live there. 

We know that God is sovereign and these attacks come as no surprise to Him.  Please pray for the safety of those who continue to labor there and that these men will be brought to justice soon .. but more than that  ... pray that those men will come to know the grace and mercy found through faith in Jesus.

What's on the Horizon

It looks like I will be home for Christmas and the month of January.  Martie and I  will celebrate our 40th anniversary on the 22nd of January.  I will returning to Jacmel to begin Phase 2 of the orphanage construction in late January or early February.  Martie will continue to make short trips to Jacmel with teams as she can. 

Special Project

Block Press
I mentioned the block press that Matt Yager is developing earlier in this update.  As he works through the development process, we intend to purchase a block press like the one used by Thirst No More to begin our compressed block construction at Children's Hope. 

We must raise the funds for the press which will cost about $8000.00 delivered to Jacmel from India.  Our plan is to use the press for the construction at Children's Hope and train a Haitian in the production process with the intent of helping him start a business. That is where Matt's press will come in.  His press will be simpler mechanically and easier to repair.   We will use his press for business startups and use the press from India for training and Pathfinder construction projects.  If you would like to join us in this project check out our web site for information on making donations to Pathfinder Mission.

Friday, November 4, 2011

October 2011 Newsletter

Greetings friends!  Martie and I trust that this finds you well and confident in our faithful Lord. We are back in Alabama for a season after a wonderful time in Jacmel Haiti.  I spent nearly three months there and Martie joined me for the last week of my stay.  I am pleased to report that our time there was very productive but only because of the Lord’s intervention.  Our experience in Haiti and on the Gulf Coast of Mississippi has shown us that God’s call is always to something that is bigger than we are.  We believe that is so because He is to be glorified in all we do for Him.  If we could do it on our own it would leave no room for His glory.   

Children’s Hope is the ministry that we have partnered with in Jacmel.  Andy and Tanya Birchfield are the directors.  They have a passion for fulfilling the imperative we are given in James 1:27 – visiting the orphans in their affliction – and they have done just that by reaching out to 18 orphans in Jacmel. Espwa Timoun Yo is Children’s Hope in Creole, the common language of Haiti.

Pathfinder Mission is helping Children’s Hope build an orphanage that will eventually host 60 children. For the past three months we have been converting 5 shipping containers on property near the Jacmel airport into the first phase of the orphanage.  On October first, 18 children who had lived in a tent after the earthquake and then in a rented house provided by Children’s Hope, moved into their new home.  The children are now in school, some for the first time, and are in a home that is clean and safe.  They are well fed and loved.  We are thrilled that we could be a part of making this happen.

For now, the Lord has us serving apart in both Alabama and Haiti.  It’s our heart to serve together and look forward to the day that we will spend most of our time together in Haiti. For the next month and a half we will be in Alabama and California.  We are catching up with doctors’ visits, taking care of ‘life’ issues and enjoying our time together.

Martie and I believe that the Lord has called us to serve in Haiti for the foreseeable future. We would never have believed it if someone told us that we were going to have a passion for Haiti, even two years ago. Psalm 37:4, roughly paraphrased, says that if we pursue God, He will put His passion in our hearts … we will care about what He cares about … and so we find ourselves in this place with a passion for the Haitian people and the plight of the orphans who live there.

November Trip to California. We are going to California to meet with folks in both the Northern and Southern parts of the state.  We are going to meet with folks who are helping us plan the construction of Phase 2 of Children’s Hope, to recruit volunteers to help with the work and meet with a good friend who is developing a portable block press that we can use to make better blocks used in construction in Haiti.  Phase 2 includes 8 buildings, a septic system, the possibility of a second well, and developing a solution for providing power to the orphanage.   Like I said, God calls us to do things that are beyond us do He can be glorified through us. 

At present, I plan to return to Haiti in mid-December.  I will be preparing for two construction teams that are scheduled in January.  They will build a roof and porch for the bath house at Children’s Hope.  I should be back in Alabama before Christmas and then will return to Haiti in February. 

While I am in the States, we will also be raising support for our work.  God provides but He does it through the Body of Christ.  Asking for help has never been one of my strengths … but the reality is that it takes money to do ministry.  We have been living by faith since 2004 and I still choke when I ask people to help us.

Having said that … please pray about your helping us with financial support.  I know that we all are facing tough economic times … Jesus praised the widow for giving what she had to give … it is God who brings the increase .. we are confident that where God guides, He provides.

Martie and I thank God for you and your participation in this work whether it be financially, prayerfully, as a volunteer, or some combination.  Until next month
Bondye Beni Ou  (God Bless You)

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

September 2011 Update from Jacmel Haiti

Kitchen and Dining Room

Children's Dormitories

Well Head and Pump House
Greetings, trust this finds you doing well in your faith and with men.  Martie pointed out to me that when I return to Alabama on the 10th of October, I will have been in Haiti for 11 weeks.  The time has sped by.  We are looking at the 1st of October as the date that the children are living at Espwa Timoun Yo, (Children’s Hope).  There will still be things to do, but the basics for their living there will be in place.  Praise the Lord. 

The past months have been amazing to watch as the Lord has worked out every aspect of the building project.  We need certain skills and they are there.  We were connected to Dave and Darlys Bird at the Calvary Chapel Initiative – right next door – and have leveraged the incredible capabilities they have developed in their ministry here.  The really amazing thing is that they served in Bay Saint Louis the same time we were in Waveland. I drove by their tent all of the time, but never stopped to visit … Now I wish I had. 

We have been able to employ Haitians in the work which was one of the goals we set.  I have had opportunities to preach, disciple and encourage both Haitians and volunteers.  I am teaching a young Haitian pastor to play the guitar, something that I did not think I would be doing.  I am struggling to learn the language and find myself using some Spanish when the person I am talking to speaks Spanish as well. 

Martie has been busy in Alabama.  She is not only homeschooling Jessica and doing her part with Pathfinder Mission, but has picked up some of my responsibilities with government reporting and coordinating the building of sheds for the tornado survivors.  Pretty awesome woman, huh?

 Martie is coming to Haiti for a few days in October and I am returning to Alabama with her.  ( I can hardly wait to see her) I was talking with Samuel today.  He is the Haitian who took these kids in and cares for them.  He asked me why I work so hard and do I rest.  I told him that Nehemiah didn’t rest until the wall was built .. and I would rest when Phase 1 was completed.  He asked if I get tired and I told him that I pray each day that the Lord will give me strength.  He asked about Martie and the fact that she is in Alabama while I am here.  I told him that she and I view this separation as a sacrifice and offering to the Lord.  I know he understood what I said, but I don’t think that he understood the thinking or motivation behind it. 

We are starting preparations for Phase 2 of the orphanage and there is a good deal to do to fine tune the work on Phase 1.  In case I have not told you, Phase 2 will consist of 6 small houses for 10 children each and a caregiver – sleeping accommodations only.  Another bath-house, and a house for the orphanage director.  I will have more details on that in future updates.

Thank you for your prayers and financial support, whichever applies to you.  Both are vital to our work in Haiti.  God Bless You – Bondye Beni Ou.

1 Corinthians 3: 10-11  By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should build with care. 11 For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.

Charley and Martie

Would you be willing to help us financially with this ministry in Haiti? Click on this link and find out how?