8Nov15 – Sermon – God above all Gods

The past few months, Jamie and I have been working with our friend Pierre and Lorphine St. Louis to start a church here in Jacmel.
Pierre is an Air Force Reserve chaplain, and the son of a Haitian pastor who immigrated to the U.S.
Lorphine was born and raised in Haiti, and just recently finished up her naturalization as a citizen of the U.S.
Down here, God has called them to start an orphanage, called Faith House, and they have been led to start Bible Studies and focus on outreach and discipleship, which now includes two Sunday service.

Typically, we do a morning service at their house, where Jamie and I lead the music and Pierre preaches, both in English, though we translate the sermon as the crowd is still mostly Haitian.
Then, in the afternoon, they hold a service at the orphanage, and I am helping their Haitian band with preparations and play guitar as needed.

However, about 10 days ago, Pierre and Lorphine went started a month-long trip to the U.S., leaving me in charge 😉
So, despite “not being a preacher”, I started with a sermon last week, and continued in a sort of “series” this week.
I’ll start by posting last weeks sermon, plus some additional comments to get across some of the cultural context that Haitians understand more easily.

Also, for the sake of humor, I must admit that this is “mostly” what I preached, though a miscommunication caused me to preach in Kreyol as I didn’t have a translator present, and therefore, it was not as clear as what I’ve written here. 🙂

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“The One True God in a land of many false gods”

This weekend is the celebration of Fet Gede within Voodoo culture. Gede is a celebration of “Gede” family of lwa (spirits) in Voodoo. It’s also a big “tourist” thing to do I guess, because the ministry of tourism publicizes Voodoo celebrations as some simply “cultural.”

I cannot claim to speak as an expert on Voodoo, but I have learned some things over the past 5 years that I want to share now.

It is obvious, from the time someone comes to Haiti, that Voodoo has a strong hold on this country. The ministry of tourism celebrates it, and many of the holidays are connected to it, including Kanaval, Rara, and Gede.

As a stupid blan (foreigner), that did not understand anything, I didn’t think much of Voodoo when I first came to Haiti. I figured it was a completely fake teaching, and that it had no power at all. I even tried to tell some haitians that there was nothing to be scared of because Voodoo had no power.

This was due to my upbringing in the U.S. In short, we typically disregard ghosts, mediums, spiritualists, demons, possession and the like as superstitions or irrational fears, even to the point of using them simply for their entertainment value.

Now, I have come to realize that I was wrong.
First, I was hit by a passage in 1 Samuel 28, where Saul goes to a “Witch” to raise the spirit of Samuel, and it works, and the ghost of Samuel rebukes Saul fiercely for using this evil magic. This told me that the Bible acknowledges witches and evil spirits, and there are also plenty of times in the Gospels/Acts and speak of demons and possession, so they must also be true.

Second, I had my eyes opened to the power of Voodoo firsthand.
Sure, sometimes the “magic” that Voodoo claims to use is fake.
But, sometimes, the “magic” is real. Sometimes, there is something very spiritual going on during Voodoo rituals, and that there is a power in it.
One night, in 2010, I was at an orphanage and saw firsthand the work of evil spirits possessing 2 of the girls. These tiny 10 and 11 year old girls required 3 or more grown men to restrain them, to keep them from throwing themselves on the ground and hurting themselves with sharp rocks.
They didn’t respond to their own names, but claimed different names which I couldn’t understand.

So, I had a practical experience to highlight the knowledge I had gained from scripture. There are supernatural events which are not of God, and are of other “gods” of this world.

As I began to realize this, I learned that Christians in Haiti are in a similar place to the children of God in the Old Testatment.
In the times of Moses, and later, Elijah, the children of God were living in a land where they were the minority. Most of the people in the land believed, and feared other gods, other spiritual beings.
In Haiti, it is said that the country is 80% Catholic, 20% protestant, and 100% Voodoo.
Everywhere you turn, there is evidence of the followers of Voodoo, and the spirits they worship.
But I want to talk today, not just about the spirits of Voodoo, but what God has done in situations like we are in today.

First, we will talk about Moses.
In the time of Moses, the children of God were in Egypt, living as slaves under the Pharaoh. The Pharaoh believed himself to be a God, and called upon spirits of this world in his practices. He had magicians and sorcerers that worked for him to put spells and curses.
So when God called Moses to go to Pharoah, he gave Moses certain signs to perform to prove that He was the One True God, that He was more powerful than the spirits that the Pharaoh believed in.
So we read in Exodus chapter 7 through 11.
God sent Moses to Pharaoh to demand that Pharaoh would let the people of God out of their slavery. The first sign God gave was that moses would throw his staff on the ground, and it changed into a snake.
At this, Pharaoh has his magicians do the same thing, proving that they also had some power. (though Moses and Aaron’s snake did eat all the other ones)
Second, God commanded Moses to turn the water of the river into Blood. Again, the magicians of Pharaoh were able to do the same.
Third, God sent a plague of frogs into Egypt, but, again, the magicians did the same.

Finally, God decided to show his true power.
He sent plagues of Gnats, Flies, and Locusts, which the magicians could not do, proving that he was the God over all the animals and insects of the earth.
He sent Hail, large chunks of ice, which fell from the sky and was strong enough to kill animals and damage houses, proving He was the God of the weather.
He caused Boils on the skin of the Egyptians, proving He was the God in control of sickness.
He caused 3 days of darkness, to show his power over even the Sun in the sky.
And, he caused the death of all the animals belonging to the Egyptians, before finally showing his ultimate power by causing the death of the first born child of all the Egyptians, proving that he was the God over life and death itself. The one God above other spirits.

As we look around this country, and we see the power of the evil spirits worshipped by Voodoo, it is important that we remember clearly that we serve the God above all Gods.
We cannot deny that there are other spirits which have power, but the God we serve is the all-powerful, the almighty God.
We should take courage to know that any evidence we see of the power of spirits is smaller than the power of our God.
Our God is greater, and therefore any display of power we see from the evil spirits of this world should serve to INCREASE our faith, because we know that God is bigger than each of these displays.

However, there is a second part to this sermon as well.
All throughout the Old Testament, we hear the stories of the children of Israel.
Unfortunately, since they were living in a land that was full of people who worshipped other spirits, these people of God often started worshipping those spirits as well.

In our lives, we must heed the lessons learned from these Old Testament times.
Just as we are not to fear the spirits of this world, we must also be careful to not fall into trusting in, or worshipping these spirits.
Our God, the God of Israel, the one True God, is a jealous God.
He gave his children, in Exodus 20: 1-3, clear instructions.
“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You shall have no other gods besides me.”

All the days of the Old Testament, there is a pattern that is easy to see.
God Blesses his children when they are obedient, and must discipline them when they turn to other spirits and away from Him.

We must learn from this pattern. We should take this passage in our hearts as this…
“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of your sin, out of the bondage of death by the blood of Jesus. You shall have no other gods besides me.”

I have heard many stories in Haiti of “pastors” and “christians” who still seek the voodoo priests for direction, or for blessings and curses.
(This was even confirmed as each member of our church nodded in acknowledgement that they know of a “pastor” like this).

Jesus told us the problem here in Matthew 6:24
“No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other.”

So, we are called to live in devotion to our Father, the one True God.
We are called to live, not in fear, but as a light and a testimony to the power of God in this land of darkness.

Elijah, in 1 Kings, also lived in a land of darkness.
In 1 Kings 18: 21-39, he says he is the last remaining prophet of God, yet there are 450 prophets for the spirit called Baal.
Read Passage*****

In this passage, God had Elijah prove that he is the one true God.

We must never grow complacent to the point that we dismiss the supernatural occurrences in life, and we should hold firm to the histories and testimonies we have of when God has indeed proven himself greater than all that we see and know.
Remember Elijah, remember Christ and the apostles casting out demons and performing miracles, and hold firm to any miracles you have seen in your own life. Do not downplay them as happenstance or luck, but acknowledge that the God you serve is mighty and has performed miracles on your behalf.
Be ready to show to other that the God you serve is the One, True God.

🙂

Again, this is “mostly” what I spoke, both due to a lack of a translator and the fact that I don’t read from this page, but simply used this as a basis to get my ideas in order. I just wanted to share it with you so that you more people can hear what God lead me to say last week.
Blessings.

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13July15 – Truck Parts

Need some help from a mechanically minded friend or two.

I’m in Finland, but I’ll be heading through the U.S. for a supply run on our way back to Haiti.

Gayly sent me these pictures from underneath the front of the 2002 F150.
What is the broken piece called?
What tools do I need to fix it?

Suspension1

Suspension3

Suspension2

Suspension4

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18June15 – Billy Oram

18 June 15 – Billy Oram – Genesis 5:12 Ministries

As promised, I’m not coming back to the solar installations we’ve done recently to catch you up a bit and share the awesome stories of these missionaries we get to support through F1 Engineering.

Billy and Debbie Oram live and work in the Cote De Fer area of Haiti with their three boys. This area, only 30 miles west of Jacmel as the crow flies, is extremely remote. Since I don’t have 4×4 on my truck, we had to drive 120 miles to get to their house. The closest gas station is about an hour away from their place, as we tested on the way home.

The red line shows the "as the crow flies" route. The blue shows the route we had to take. Never trust maps of Haiti, as the routes shown may not be passable in a vehicle.

The red line shows the “as the crow flies” route.
The blue shows the route we had to take.
Never trust maps of Haiti, as the routes shown may not be passable in a vehicle.

Billy is there to share the Gospel, and the two means that I was able to observe are:
(1) “Farming God’s way” – Following instructions laid out in biblical principles, they are using low-tech methods to farm the land with greater efficiency. Additionally, as they teach these methods, they get the chance to discuss how these principles cross over from simply God’s instructions for the land, to actually showing a picture of God’s desires for people’s lives and how we can apply them to our own spiritual journeys.

(2) Partnership with local churches – I was privileged to join Billy on a trip to a local church one of the evenings we were there. On this evening, we took a small generator and a projector to show a movie created by Billy Graham’s organization to a very remote church. It was great to see how the local pastors chose the movie, and ran the whole evening, with Billy and I simply sitting in the back, enabling them to do the ministry God has called them to.

Billy and his family have been in Haiti for 3-4 years. They started life here by shipping down an old tour bus that they had renovated to be their family’s housing. That is where I stayed with Gayly and Waly when we came to work, and I must say, it was comfortable for 2 nights with the three of us, but I have to give a ton of credit to the Oram family to have persevered at living together in such a small space with 5 people for a long time. Now, they have been able to build a house, which is even still a work in progress, but provides more adequate space for the family, and for homeschooling their children.

The bus.

The bus.

Billy and I have crossed paths several times over the years, initially meeting at the ECHO conference in 2010, and getting reacquainted through Steve and Gina Concepcion about a year and a half ago. Up until last month, when we got the chance to go work with them, they have only had power from a small generator, which would last them several hours a day. Now, for the first time, they should have refrigeration available, and be much less dependent on gasoline.
But again, just to realize their hearts, the first thing they said they want to refrigerate is vaccines for the livestock in the area, as there have been a few diseases destroying the animals (and livelihood of the farmers) in their region.

We installed a system for them that will produce about 6 kWhrs/day. For comparison sake, you should look at your average kWhrs used on your next electric bill just to get an idea of what this means. Their system is about the same size Jamie and I would use if we were to expand our system at home to stop using our generator for a little bit each evening. The whole system probably cost about $6-7,000, but these are the systems I love installing the most, where there is a clear need for a more permanent solution, and where solar is about the only option around.

The batteries and system electronics are stored in the cargo area of their bus.

The batteries and system electronics are stored in the cargo area of their bus.

Another issue that was discussed while we were there is that water is a major problem. Despite having 7 wells drilled in their region and being along the coastline, non-salty water is scarce. So, while we did have fresh water to drink, we bathed each day in salt-water. This, while not ideal, isn’t a big problem, but the effects of using salt-water for irrigation and problematic. Therefore, this is a huge problem, when there isn’t enough water to sustain the farming or livestock in the region.
I’m looking at ideas for desalination (taking the salt out of the water), but so far, every system I have found that is for a “community” size system costs upwards of $10,000. Please let me know if you hear of any efficient ways to do saltwater desalination.

Finally, pray for Billy, Debbie, and the kids, that God would continue to bless them, and use them to touch the hearts of those they are ministering to and with in the Cote-De-Fer region.

Also, this trip was a great time to spend with Gayly and Waly. Gayly did most of the driving, but it wasn’t without some adventure. On the way home, we ran out of gas. Thankfully, we were within a mile of a gas station. We knew that gas would be low on our return trip, but it was surprising just how far it was from Billy’s house to the closest station. Then, as we were driving back on a good stretch of road, we blew out a tire like I’ve never seen before. Once again, I thank God for having dual wheels on the truck, as it makes issues like this much less dramatic.

Our tire after the blowout.

Our tire after the blowout.


The other piece that was left of the tire.

The other piece that was left of the tire.

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16 June 15 – Workshop Updates

As I write this, Jamie and I are on a flight to Toronto, en route to Finland to visit with her family. We are blessed and very excited for this trip. For her family, a “reunion” is quite difficult, but this summer presented the first opportunity to see everyone in 2 years.
Her older sister, Daisy, lives in Southeast Asia with her husband, Matti, and their three kids. They are missionaries, seeking to aid locals in planting churches in a region where Cristianity is still very scarce.
Her younger sister, Ellen, and her husband, Reese, just welcomed their first child in December, and they live in Finland.
And her parents still live in Uganda as missionaries.
So, it’s kind of a big deal to get all of us together for a bit this summer. Please pray that God would use this time to encourage and strengthen each of us to continue in the life which He has called us to.

Now, that being said, the preparations for a trip away from Haiti have been exhausting, but I have many stories to report back now that I have time to sit down and write them.

The past month or two have been filled with some outstanding developments in the “business” end of F1 Engineering, volunteering my services to help missionaries solve power problems, as well as great developments in the workshop, and in building relationships with the team of young Haitian men that God has blessed me with.

For clarity, I will start with a post about the workshop and the guys, and I will do some of the “project” descriptions as separate posts, including a bit more about who we worked with and what we were able to do.
Also, I will put “technical details” in italics, so feel free to skip them if the details are not interesting to you 🙂

THE WORKSHOP:
Near the end of June, we had Maria Curlej and Zack Zankey come to visit us from Johnstown. It was such a blessing and encouragement to spend time with them and welcome them into our lives and ministry. While it was only a portion of the impact they had while they were here, Zack was able to help me kick start the next phase of the workshop construction.

Essentially, we built the frame of the structure back in October, with the crew from Somerset, and we finished up getting the roof on shortly thereafter, but then things got busy.

Mom and Dad came in February and worked with the guys to organize all the storage in the container, and we’ve been working out of the container side of the shop exclusively on all our projects since then.
So, it was a big deal to get back into “construction mode.”

Our first major step was to set the floor level of the building. We already had a “floor” somewhat in place, as you can see in this picture.

Putting up the roof trusses, fall 2014.

Putting up the roof trusses, fall 2014.

However, since that was put up as a scaffolding for installing the bracing and roof trusses, our top floor was only about 5′ tall, so we had to drop the level of that floor significantly. We managed to simply lower the entire floor level with a bunch of rope to a good height, then filled in the floor joists to complete the support structure since we only had joists at 4′ spacing on the scaffolding, but decided that 2′ was more appropriate for an actual floor.
Once we had the floor level established, we moved on to the next project of building a staircase and a landing to get there. Once again, Haiti made life a little harder in that we couldn’t get any 2×12 boards for stringers, so we “laminated” two 1×12 boards for each side with glue, clamps, and lot of screws. So, by the end of the week, we had a staircase with railing, going up to the second floor of our structure.

Even the process of this work was quite fun. I had been building up good relationships already with Gayly, Waly, Andersen, and Bouki, but we also had a chance to work with another two guys that God has put into our path, Pastor Mario and Fleury. Between Zack asking good questions, having a pastor in the mix, and my Kreyol skills finally taking some significant strides, it was a great week for our relationships with the guys. Pretty much all of the guys believe in God to some point, and it is sad to realize how broken the church can be, even here in Haiti. A couple of them expressed that they aren’t welcomed at church because they don’t have “church clothes”, or because of their ear piercings and tattoos, while another one basically said he would love to do a Bible Study, but struggles with the idea of going to church to hear a pastor give a list of rules that the pastor himself doesn’t even follow.
Looking forward, we want to start a bible study of some sort, and hopefully even get involved with a church where people will not be judged by their appearance, but can truly come to know Christ, as He is, and not based on rules that are rooted so fundamentally in legalism.

After Zack and Maria left, we took a week off to focus on some solar installations, before jumping right back into the shop construction. Thanks to a donation that had come in at just the right time, we were able to pick up some much needed materials to continue building, such as the metal roofing which we used for the walls of the building, and plywood to lay a floor on the joists we had just laid. Next, we laid down 2 rows of cement block around the perimeter of the foundation of the building, so that it would be up to the same level of the driveway (when that gets concrete poured someday), and then we put down some flashing material to keep water from running down into the bottom.

First Pieces of tin and flashing on top of the block perimeter.

First Pieces of tin and flashing on top of the block perimeter.

After the October trip, we realized that the hardware store had mistakenly over shipped the Roof Cap, which is the metal pieces bent for the purpose of covering the peak of the roof. We needed 44 feet, but they sent us 44 10-foot pieces instead. I had tried to return it, but, on the way to Port-au-Prince, the metal broke the cords that had it tied to the roof of the truck, and they all ended up sliding off the front, crashing down over the hood and onto the road. This damage meant I couldn’t return it anymore, so I kept it around instead, figuring it would be useful somehow, someday.
Now, since it was bent to be a roof cap already, I wasn’t really sure what to do to reshape it, as we didn’t have a sheet metal brake, but I did know that this was as close to flashing material as I was going to get. Finally we figured out that a solid wooden beam, a few clamps, and a rubber mallet actually worked pretty well as a bender, and so we made our flashing out of the extra roof cap!
Our Method of Bending Metal
Sorry if that’s a bit long, but I appreciated how a “mistake” from in October served our needs so well at this point, so I wanted to share it.

Anyhow, getting back to the construction story, the guys started by putting up the tin around the building, from the top of the foundation and halfway up the middle of the second floor. Most of that work, they did themselves with very little input needed from me except a quick lesson on rivets. It was impressive to see how fast they work.

The tin was almost finished....

The tin was almost finished….

Then, we had another week of solar installations.

When we returned to the shop, we put 3/4” plywood down as flooring for the 2nd story, and started on the “window” areas. After we finished the flooring, we tried to take a picture, but everyone just kept laying down 😉

Testing the new floor.

Testing the new floor.

The top 4′ of the 2nd story is all bordered by expanded steel so the whole building will have nearly unobstructed breezes. We actually found the temperature so comfortable up there that Gayly already put an army cot there to stay in occasionally when it’s too warm to sleep indoors.

Exterior View of the Expanded Steel Windows

Exterior View of the Expanded Steel Windows

A view from inside when the metal was partially in place.

A view from inside when the metal was partially in place.

We also framed out the doors, and then built our first door for the lower floor of the building. It was a fun activity, though I must confess that this door is probably a bit overkill (and heavy!), as it is two full layers of 1x4s, with vertical pattern on the front, and a horizontal pattern on the back, but it was another good project for practicing biscuit joining with the guys. Here’s a look at the door right now. The guys will stain it while we’re gone, then put the handle back on.

Even before I left, Bouki was already working on prepping the door for stain.

Even before I left, Bouki was already working on prepping the door for stain.

Finally, the leftover roof cap was used to “trim” the corners of the building.

All trimmed out. :)

All trimmed out. 🙂


Can you believe what this crew accomplished? Now they're ready for more.

Can you believe what this crew accomplished? Now they’re ready for more.

What do you think? I think this is quite a beautiful workshop, and Gayly showed how proud he was as well by stating, “we should build shops like this for other people,” and “we can use this as a ‘hotel’, for when people need a cheap place to stay around Jacmel.”
It’s great to know that we have the skills to do it again, but I do have to shoot down Gayly’s hotel plans, for now, as we don’t even have a toilet on the property. Maybe somedey we will, but a septic tank is another big step to put in on “leased” property, so I’ll be continuing to seek God’s direction on that and the rest of the project.

So there you have it! A little bit on the technical side of what we’ve been up to. Of course there is always so much more, but I don’t want to go too long in one post 🙂
Thanks for reading, and please continue to pray for our ministry, for our guys, and for our time with Jamie’s family this month.

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3May15 – Persecution

Today’s post has almost nothing to do with Haiti, but God was teaching me something and I wanted to share it.

It all started by reading this article:

I’ve been having discussions lately about the “social gospel” and how often, we, as believers, think we need to fill the role of savior and end up getting in the way of people actually living out a faith in God. So, this one kind of hit me again. As I read the article, it is saying that Christians should be calling out to President Obama and the Kurds to rescue our fellow believers, but how does this stack up with what the Bible says our response should be for persecution.

I started with a search on Bible Gateway for “persecute” and “enemies” and a few variations.
There were a bunch of results, and many of them apply with a pretty accurate context, but…you know what was missing? The part where the early church called for a petition of any government body to save them from their persecutions, and, actually, there isn’t even a mention of the early church asking God for an end to their troubles.

What did the results say?

Expectation
We WILL be persecuted for following Christ.
John 15:20-21
Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’
If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours.
But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me.

Matthew 10:19-23
When they deliver you over, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour. 20 For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. 21 Brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death, and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next

Therefore, we should not be surprised that Christians are being persecuted and killed, it has been that way since the beginning. If anything, our current lack of persecution in the U.S. may actually be a reflection on how (un)Christ-like we are actually being.

Response
BLESS, and PRAY FOR, the persecutors.

Romans 12:12-21
“be patient in tribulation…Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them…Repay no one evil for evil…beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengence is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’
To the contrary; ‘if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink…Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

Matthew 5:43-45
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’
But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,
so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.

Luke 6:27
“But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,”

Luke 6:35-36
But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. 36 Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.

Rationale #1
BLESSED are the persecuted.
Matthew 5:10-12
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

Rationale #2
Be a WITNESS in persecution
Luke 21:10-16
Then he said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.
There will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and pestilences. And there will be terrors and great signs from heaven. But before all this they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors for my name’s sake. This will be your opportunity to bear witness.
Settle it therefore in your minds not to meditate beforehand how to answer, for I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which none of your adversaries will be able to withstand or contradict. You will be delivered up even by parents and brothers and relatives and friends, and some of you they will put to death.
Matthew 10:16-18
Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.
Beware of men, for they will deliver you over to courts and flog you in their synagogues,
and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them and the Gentiles.

Rationale #3
Persecution CANNOT DO ANY HARM to the believer.

Luke 21:17-18
You will be hated by all for my name’s sake. 18 But not a hair of your head will perish. By your endurance you will gain your lives.

1 Corinthians 4:11-13
To the present hour we hunger and thirst, we are poorly dressed and buffeted and homeless, and we labor, working with our own hands. When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; when slandered, we entreat. We have become, and are still, like the scum of the world, the refuse of all things.

2 Corinthians 4:8-10
We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.

Romans 8:31-39
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be[i] against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written,
“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

In David’s words (while under afflication):
Psalm 119: 150-151-
“They draw near who persecute me with evil purpose; they are far from your law.
But you are near, O Lord, and all your commandments are true.”

And my final reference, from Paul, regarding his response to affliction:

2 Corinthians 12:10:
For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

In conclusion:
Call upon the Name of the Lord. Trust in His Sovereign Power.
We are called to do many things, but let us not try to usurp responsibilities from God. Vengeance and Judgement are his. Calling for a government to arm one set of non-believers, to fight another set of non-believers (all of whom are destined for hell) to protest the mortal bodies of people who are already granted eternal life in Christ doesn’t make any logical sense, and doesn’t line up with scriptures.
Pray for the persecuted church, not for the persecution to end, but for them to know they have the strength in Him to endure, and that they would bear witness in all the nations in this time.
Pray for ISIS and all of those who oppose the Name of Jesus Christ.
Don’t every forget that we don’t need to seek aid from a government, or fear a government.
We have access to the one who allows all rulers their places to begin with. He has the power to unseat rulers and destroy nations.

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2Feb15

So, today, I needed to write this for myself. To remind myself, and maybe to give you an idea of prayer requests.

I have two guys working with me. Bouki and Andersen. They are nice guys, and they work hard. They work with me so they can learn, and they are learning bit by bit.

But, today I was reminded how much I NEED Christ daily.
I woke up to them knocking on the gate. I gave them keys to the container and told them what tools to get out, then I went to rush through breakfast.
Biggest mistake was that I never took time for God.

I was stressed from the start, and it was compounded by the language barriers and the fact that I was teaching them new skills.

So, we got some pieces cut to make a table. First was the chop saw, and that went smoothly.
But then we were working on the table saw. They’ve used it before, so it’s not a new concept to them.
However, when they used it previously, we were building shelves for in the workshop and I cared about function, but not so much about form. This time, since it will be a table in someone’s house, I wanted things to look pretty, so we are making multiple passes on the table saw to get all the sides of the rough cut lumber cleaned up.

We got a few pieces run over, and then I looked closely at them. Somehow, my legs, which have had all 4 sides trimmed on the table saw, are not square. I don’t know the culprit. Sometimes it’s that the sawblade gets out of alignment, or the guide is crooked, or when they are pulling it and don’t hold it flush. I don’t know the reason, I just know it was wrong. So, I threw the piece of wood on the ground.

I felt like such a failure. Partially because I can’t explain what’s wrong in Kreyol, but mostly because I lost my cool. As I talked with them, Andersen asked, “what’s wrong, you’re not normal this morning?”

He’s right. Normal is when I give God control. Today I wasn’t normal. I was myself. And myself includes a short temper, lots of frustration, and lots of stress. Thankfully, they are easy-going guys.

I stopped, went to the house to pray, and came back and apologized.

Let me not forget that I am THAT guy, and I need Christ to keep that guy from getting in the way of His plans.
I won’t bring people to Christ, only Christ in me can do that.

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