Monday, July 26, 2010

When God Speaks

In my walk with the Lord, God has spoken to me through many different vehicles. I feel like I have heard promises or callings from God through; people, the Bible, preachers, and other books. God is omnipresent. He can get a hold of us where ever we are. There is nothing like the feeling when the Holy Spirit speaks a promise directly to your heart.
When I was at church yesterday, I had a moment when God spoke directly to me about an area of my life that I have been neglecting and actually gave me a promise about the future in it.
I don't know how everyone hears from God. He has a different relationship with everyone of His beloved children. Personally, I feel that I tap into God the most when I approach Him with an attitude of praise and worship.
I have found that when God speaks to me regarding a promise for the future, He gives me vision for where He wants to take me. He validates the promise with a feeling of confidence that I am truly hearing from Him and that the thought is not just made up in my head. It is tough to describe the stamp of validation. It is a feeling in the heart that the body cannot naturally generate. It is a resonance with the Holy Spirit inside of my heart.

Proverbs 29:18 (NIV) Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint; but blessed is he who keeps the law.

If God did not give us vision or revelation, then we would not have direction at all. Revelation is found in pressing into God. The Holy Spirit is always on time to give us the revelation that we need to carry out God's will for our lives. Our part as believers is to seek God for this revelation and to be obedient to His calling.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

A Prayer for Camp Hope

Psalm 72:12-14 For he will deliver the needy who cry out,
the afflicted who have no one to help.
He will take pity on the weak and the needy
and save the needy from death.
He will rescue them from oppression and violence,
for precious is their blood in his sight.

Now being 3 days apart from my newest friends in Haiti, I feel so helpless. This verse helps in times of helplessness because God promises that He will help in times of need. He is faithful and I am standing on the promise that He will rescue my friends from their troubles.

Check out the video that my wife Jennifer put together: Haiti Video

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Kingdom of Heaven is "Simple"

I am on day 2 and a half from being back in the US from Haiti. Yesterday, was rough on me with the re-entry. It was something that I haven't experienced since my very first missions trip in 2008. I thought that I had grown accustomed to leaving the mission field and coming back to reality, but after this experience, it is apparent that I am not.

Today in my personal devotion I read Matt 13. In this chapter Jesus tells several different stories through parables to describe God's Kingdom. The thing that stuck out to me was that Jesus chose to continuously start the parables with the words "The Kingdom of Heaven is like..."
Jesus gives these stories to tell the wondering disciples many of the secrets of the Kingdom of Heaven. This scripture is jam-packed with great revelations. The stories that Jesus tells are very simple. He describes how both the mustard seed and yeast are small in nature but have an influence way greater than their size would indicate. This shows how no matter what size the package, God's intent is what truly matters. Jesus also tells about the value and treasure of the kingdom of heaven through the story of the Hidden Treasure and the Pearl.

This hit home with me because I feel like God imparted a seed into my heart during my time in Haiti. While there, we had the opportunity to play with the Haitian kids and orphans several times while we were there. In Matt 18:5 Jesus says"And whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me." I take the words of this verse very literally because while in Haiti playing with the kids, I felt as though I was on a cloud walking in the Kingdom of Heaven. These kids had love and compassion for one-another. While the rest of the world is fighting with each other, these kids did all they could to wrap their arms around each other and fit their entire crew in on the photographs we were taking. The sight of this practically brought me to tears. These small humans had not be manipulated by society. They just knew fun, laughter and love.

This brings me back to what I felt Jesus is showing the disciples in Matt 13. All of His illustrations through the parables are so simple. Like Jesus, let's keep the Kingdom of Heaven simple.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Reflections from Haiti

So it has been over a year since my last blog post. Thank you to whoever has followed me patiently waiting for me to write :) It is crazy to think where God has brought me over the past year. I am now married and about to celebrate my first anniversary. I have passed two parts of the CPA exam and looking forward to carrying the momentum into finishing the last two parts this fall.

God has been good to me. I just got off a mission trip to Haiti. I feel like the blog is the best place to list my reflections. It will be difficult to describe a trip that is truly "indescribable," but I will try my best to convey the experience and the work that God has done in my heart.

Jen and I had the opportunity to lead a team of 9 people to Haiti for a week on a Construction Mission Trip. It was rewarding, exciting and a lot of work. We started our recruiting efforts by speaking to our previous mission team from the trip to New Orleans and added a couple friends from Church who we knew wanted to go on a trip. The team was a great joy to be around the entire time on the trip. There were 4 first time missionaries and several people traveling internationally for the first time. We worked with an organization called Love-A-Child, founded by Bobby and Sherry Burnette. They started an orphanage over 30 years ago in Haiti. Our project was building homes for the people displaced by the earthquake. Love-A-Child with the help of Joyce Meyer ministries developed a plan to create permanent housing for a group of 2,000-3,000 people living in a tent city. The housing project is to build 500 homes for these people. Our team's role was to help frame the wooden homes.

We were greeted in the Port-Au-Prince, Haiti airport by Carlos Silvestre, our Love-A-Child, mission team host. This guy was one of the most amazing men of God that I have had the privilege to meet. He is a Dominican Republic native who has the anointing of Jesus Christ all over his smiling face. Carlos, is an example of someone who has laid down his live for Christ and picked up his cross daily to follow Him. He has a contagious smile and the ability to make anyone laugh at will. He just has a "Jesus attraction" that makes you want to tap into him and hear what he has to say. He found his way to Haiti by serving the people in the earthquake disaster. Right after the disaster he used his van as a free shuttle to anyone needing a ride from Haiti to the Dominican airport. He did not charge people for a ride. Instead he showed his heart to the people by serving them without any compensation in mind. He told me that he put 20,000 on his van in 2 months. During that time, one of the Love-A-Child board members took a liking to Carlos because he could see Carlos' generous and humble heart. The board member offered for Carlos to come to Love-A-Child to host mission teams. So that's Carlos' story. Throughout the week, I took every opportunity that I could to try to get in on conversations with Carlos. I gleaned much from the wisdom that God has entrusted him with. He is truly an amazing man.

In Haiti we had 4 and a half hard work days. This was a time to bond by working together as a team, but also to bond with the Haitian natives that were working on the job site as well. I felt that each member of our team really connected with the Haitians. There are some things that you don't need a translator to interpret, and the one that stuck out to me through our interactions was the expression of God's love through our smiles. As I was working with our team, I noticed many smiles being exchanged. By the end of the week, our team had caught onto enough Creole, and their team English to have short conversations. Many members of our team noted that the Haitians have personalities just like ours...They love having fun, cutting up and laughing. Most of all, they love to receive and give love. I truly felt like we established a "brotherhood" with the natives. It is an awesome and eternal experience that I hope to never forget.

Aside from the manual labor, our team had the opportunity to experience the tent cities that the natives lived in. Carlos took us on a couple tours of the villages in Fond Parisien. On Day 1, we went to Le Taunt. Le Taunt was our first experience to see the poverty of the Haitians' living conditions. Many of these people lived in small shacks or tents. Many of the children under 5 years old ran around through the streets naked. We played a game of keep-away with the children with a football that we brought and just tried to show them as much love as we could in the half our that we were able to spend with them.
On the 4th day of our trip we had the opportunity to help with a food distribution in Camp Hope. Camp Hope is a tent city that was created a few months after the earthquake. Our team was responsible for carrying the amputees' food back to their tent homes. Many times, the amputees lived the furthest from the food distribution center. This was probably one of the most impactful moments on the trip for most of the team. This is where we were able to interact on a personal level with the people. I took a man's box of food to his tent and we had about a 15 minute conversation. His name was St. Pierre Charley. He spoke the best English for a Haitian that I had met. He told me all about his plans to marry his girlfriend and asked me all about my family. His sincere gratitude for our team being there really spoke to my heart. The one thing that I took away from our visit to Camp Hope was all of the peoples' thankfulness for us being there to help them. St. Pierre Charley was so excited to meet me that he actually gave me his phone number when I got back to his tent. We had just met and immediately, he wanted to share his life with me.

Now that I am back in the States, I am missing my friends that I made in Haiti. I hope to go back. I am still ironing out how the impact of the trip will affect my life and perspective going forward. God gave me a taste of something in Haiti that I wish everyone in the world could have. I have been on 5 mission trips in the past couple years, but none have affected me like this one has. God really tenderized my heart.

Two main thoughts stick out to me from this trip:
1. I need to spend more time with Jesus one-on-one. I am still trying to figure out exactly how to practically apply this point to my life because I feel like I go through seasons trying different things. The message was clear that I need to get alone with Christ more for pure worship. I plan to go camping more frequently and experience the wilderness.

2. I need to listen to the Holy Spirit show me how to better serve God's people. God really got a hold of me about serving his people. Each one of us was created as a vessel for love and worship. I am asking God to expand my capacity to love and serve His people.

So, there you have it....a jumbled mess of my reflections from Haiti.