Saturday, November 15, 2014

Satan Prowling

Statue of the Archangel Michael defeating Satan,

"We only fully grasp the gospel when we understand, as Paul did, that we are the worst sinner we know." –Tim Keller

Scripture:

"And the Lord said, 'Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.'” -Luke 22:31-32

Jesus prayed for Peter when Satan sought to attack him. Jesus prayed that Simon’s faith would not fail. Jesus prayed that sin and evil would not win the day, and when it was all said and done, that Peter would return to Him and strengthen his brothers.

Peter Himself would later write, “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8, NIV). Peter understood his sinful self and the presence of evil roaming around seeking to destroy him. Nothing would delight Satan more than to devour us.

It is God’s desire to see our faith remain steady. God desires us to be strengthened so that we might live and strengthen others. We must return to Jesus, stay alert, be sober-minded, and expect God to protect us and to lead us into His way and service.

Reflection Questions:

Does your awareness of your own sinfulness eclipse the sin you see in others?

How does knowing who you are compel you towards the Gospel?

Are there areas of your life where Satan is prowling around?

How do you need to rely on Christ to help your faith to not fail?

In what ways do you need to be alert and sober-minded?

Prayer:

“Direct us, O Lord, in all our doings with your most gracious favor, and further us with your continual help; that in all our works begun, continued, and ended in you, we may glorify your holy Name, and finally, by your mercy, obtain everlasting life; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.” (The Book of Common Prayer, p. 831)


If you would like to financially support Robbie and Irene’s work of Bible teaching, discipleship and counseling in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, please click here. We continue to count on supporters of our work and we need committed monthly donors.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

A Review of When Helping Hurts

Cover photo of When Helping Hurts from Amazon.com

It has been said, “The pathway to hell is paved with good intentions.” Good intentions are not always good enough. In attempting to help others with our good intentions, we can actually do more harm than good. This is the issue Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert address in their thought provoking and challenging book, When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty Without Hurting the Poor . . . and Yourself.

We must be thoughtful and intentional in the ways that we seek to resource those who are in need. As Christians we are called to be restoration agents in the world, but we are also called into intentional and loving relationships. We are called to healthy relationships and investment in people over projects. This is not always easy, but it is essential if we are to be truly helpful, without doing more harm than good. Due to the fallen nature of humanity and the world, even the very systems through which we try to help people are fallen and broken. It is not enough that we have to navigate our own fallenness, and the fallen nature of the people we are trying to serve and help, but we must also navigate the fallenness of systems, government, infrastructure, culture and the like.

When doctors set out to do their call to serve the sick, their first rule of thumb is to “First, do no harm”. This is part of what is called the Hippocratic Corpus. As those who are called to serve others in need and to reflect the love of Christ, we too should practice, at minimum, “First, do no harm”.

There is an old proverb, which states, “Give a man a fish, and he will eat for a day. Teach a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime.” The issue of truly helping someone, as Christians are called to do, is a complex issue. We must look at problems systematically and for the long term. A short-sided view of help, relief, is not as affective as looking at long-term solutions, which address systematic breakdowns. It is important to see beyond relief and to rehabilitation and restoration. Poverty alleviation is better than mere poverty pacification.

Poverty and need is a relational and structural breakdown and is a result of sin. This sin has caused us to be fallen in our relationships with God, ourselves, others and creation. Helping people can be difficult as we navigate our own sinfulness and is further complicated through the fallen nature of creation and the fallen nature of those we serve. We should not do for others what they can do for themselves. We do not want to enable people in our helping them, nor do we want them to become dependent on our aide.

Relief is a simpler and an easier solution than the larger investment of time and resources that it takes to do rehabilitation, development and restoration. Sometimes quick relief is appropriate, but often times what is needed and what is best requires much more effort, time and resources to help those in need when providing assistance. As Christians, our call is a high calling and should be focused on people and loving our neighbors in selfless service. We must consider others and engage the community.

As Americans we can be tempted to move toward the quick fix. We can also be tempted to throw money at problems rather than time, thought and relationships. The importance of the book When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty Without Hurting the Poor . . . and Yourself cannot be overemphasized.

Any person who is interested in appropriately meeting the needs of people and impacting the community and the world for Christ should read this book. Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert have identified and addressed the issues that lead to helping actually hurting the people we are trying to serve. They offer valuable insights and suggestions of how to navigate the complexity of helping, how to honor God in our helping and serving, and how to truly help those in need to move toward reconciliation and restoration.

Bibliography

Corbett, Steve and Fikkert, Brian. When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty Without Hurting the Poor . . . and Yourself. Moody Publishers, 2012.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Reflection on Need

Human/Need/Desire, by Bruce Nauman, photo by eschipul, from Flickr

The other day a man came by our home in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. He knocked on our gate to get my attention. I was working on my bike outside. It was Sunday. The man had his little girl, a toddler, in his arms. I had never met this man before and was curious about what it is that he wanted. 

The guy outside our gate with his little girl: "I am angry!"

Me: "You are angry?”

Guy: "Yes. Very angry!"

Me: "You are?"

Guy: "Yes!"

I go and get my wife Irene and ask her to translate.

Me: "Ask what's going on with this guy, but do not let him in. He is angry for some reason."

Irene translates: "He says he is hungry."

Me: "Oh, this makes more sense."

We open the gate and give the man and his daughter some food and pray over them. Crisis averted, at least for the evening. And what about tomorrow? (James 2:14-17)

Scripture:

"What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, 'Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,' but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead." -James 2:14-17

Reflection Questions:

How do your faith and your deeds sync up or intersect?

What are the needs you see around you?

How is God inviting you to meet the needs of those who are around you?

Are there neglected areas in your life where you can make a difference?

Prayer:

“Give us grateful hearts, our Father, for all your mercies, and
make us mindful of the needs of others; through Jesus Christ
our Lord. Amen.” (The Book of Common Prayer, p. 835)


If you would like to financially support Irene and Robbie’s work in Haiti, please click here. The need is there and we appreciate your support.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

A Brief Update and Thank You


We want to say thank you to our supporters of our work of teaching, discipleship and counseling here at Quisqueya Christian School in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Thank you for your financial support and prayers! We depend on supporters like you. Thank you. 

If you would like to financially support Irene and Robbie’s work in Haiti, please click here. The need is there and we appreciate your support.

Here is a quick update:

We are already 1/4 the way through our fourth year here. Teaching, discipleship and counseling is going well. We have discipleship group every Wednesday and we have just returned from two weekends away, one a Sr. Hike with the Sr. Class, and the other a staff retreat for professional development. It has been a busy, and a good and productive year so far. We have had several re-commitments to Christ and there have been many ministry opportunities as well. I have had the opportunity to speak in chapel, to do staff devotionals and to lead a communion service at our staff retreat this year. I have also had the opportunity to participate in professional development and in leadership development at the school and in the community.

To read an article in the Quisqueya Christian School newsletter, click here.

You can keep up with more details about our work on our blogs here:

Our Life With a Little Grace: ‪http://ourlifewithalittlegrace.blogspot.com



Thanks again for partnering with us in this work!

Friday, September 26, 2014

Seguin Hike 2014

Mountain View, photo by Robbie Pruitt

To read this full article in the Quisqueya Christian School newsletter, click here.

If you would like to financially support Irene and Robbie’s work in Haiti, please click here. The need is there and we appreciate your support.

Our Quisqueya Christian School Sr. Class enjoyed their annual hike to Fondation Seguin this past weekend, September 19th-21st. It was a great blessing to join them and to study 'The Faithfulness of the Wisdom of God'. "Unto them that are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God." (1 Corinthians 1:24, ASV).

Over the weekend we looked at The Seven Marks of a Wise Person, by Mark Matlock. We looked at Proverbs, through The Wisdom Deck, and explored the Seven Marks of a Wise Person, which are: 1. Trusts in God, 2. Walks in Healthy Relationships, 3. Seeks Good Counsel, 4. Speaks Carefully, 5. Exercises Self-Control, 6. Keeps Balance, and 7. Manages Resources.

For more information on The Seven Marks of a Wise Person, please visit www.thewisdomdeck.com. 

There were 30 of us, 25 students and 5 leaders, on this year’s Seguin, Sud-Est, Haiti hike. The hike consisted of two nights and three days. We hiked to Seguin 10.5 miles on day one with four donkeys assisting us from just above Furcy, Ouest, Haiti. There was a 2,000-foot cumulative elevation gain over the course of the hike in.

On day two we did a 5-mile hike to a waterfall, round trip, and on the return we hiked through a 1.5-mile stretch of creek where we swam and worked together to get through.

The final day consisted of 2,000 feet of cumulative elevation gain over 10.5 miles, with 5 donkeys assisting.

Everyone had a wonderful time and completed the trip safely with minor muscle aches and scratches, and one minor sprained ankle.

We were all amazed at how God showed up during our time together and will be processing this wonderful time together for years to come.

You may visit the photo albums for this trip on Facebook here:

Sr. Hike to Seguin, September 19-21 2014: Day One

Sr. Seguin Trip, Creek Hike, September 20, 2014: Day Two

Sr. Hike to Seguin, September 21, 2014: Day Three

Thursday, September 25, 2014

A review of AND: The Gathered and Scattered Church

Cover photo of AND: The Gathered and Scattered Church, 

AND: The Gathered and Scattered Church is a great follow up to Tangible Kingdom.

In their book AND: TheGathered and Scattered Church, Hugh Halter and Matt Smay address the balance that every church must strike between gathering together and scattering outward into the world in mission. While the church is supposed to meet together in corporate fellowship, congregants are also supposed to be scattered. The church is supposed to be missional and leave the corporate gathering and fellowship for going out in mission.

Simply put, the church is supposed to both gather and scatter. The church has left the building. The church is more than a building that we go to. We are the church, and as the church, we must not only gather together, but we must also go out into the world in mission.

AND: The Gathered and Scattered Church is an excellent book to balance out mission and fellowship, the gathering and the scattering.


Bibliography

Halter, Hugh and Smay, Matt. AND: The Gathered and ScatteredChurch. Zondervan, 2010.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Jesus: The Author and Finisher of Our Faith


“Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.” –Hebrews 12:1-3, NKJV

Faithfulness is God’s idea. Jesus Himself is the author and the finisher of our faith. He invented our faith. He sustains our faith. He finishes our faith. Our faith has its being and its completion in Jesus.

Our relationship with Jesus, our faith in Him, as well as our lives, can be complex and challenging. God calls us to live our lives, to run the race, with endurance. We are to live our faith looking to Jesus. He alone will enable us to live out our faith.

It is Jesus who is the author of our faith. He has initiated a relationship with us. As it says in 1 John 4:19, “We love, because He first loved us.” God has invented our faith, He invites us into it, He has crafted it, spoke it into being poetically, written it out creatively, scripted it and brought it to life through His dramatization of it.

It is Jesus who will finish our faith. He will bring our faith to completion. God finishes what God starts. God is working in us and will complete His work of faith in us. As Paul said, “I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6, ESV).

Prayer: Jesus, you are the ‘author and perfecter of our faith’. Lord Jesus, it was fitting for you, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, to bring your children to glory, as the captain of our salvation, perfectly through your own sufferings and sacrifice on our behalf. Help us to run this race of faith and life with your endurance, trusting in you alone to be the finisher of our faith. Amen.  

(Prayer adapted from Hebrews 12:1-3, NASB, and Hebrews 2:10, NKJV).

If you would like to support our work in Haiti, please click here.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Obeying God Rather Than Men

Photo of St. Peter, Artwork by diablana81 

God is worthy of our obedience. We should be more concerned about obeying Christ than we are about obeying, or pleasing, the people around us.  

Scripture:

"But Peter and the other apostles answered and said: 'We ought to obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised up Jesus whom you murdered by hanging on a tree. Him God has exalted to His right hand to be Prince and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. And we are His witnesses to these things, and so also is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey Him.'”  -Acts 5:29-32, NKJV 

God’s commitment to us demands our unbridled obedience. Jesus has given Himself completely for us on the cross. God raised Christ from the dead and has defeated sin and death on our behalf.

Because of what Jesus has done, we can have Him as Lord and Savior of our lives. In Him we have the ability to turn from our old ways of living. We have forgiveness of our sins. God gives us this and His very presence and assurance in His Holy Spirit.

Reflection Questions:

In what ways do you find yourself obeying man, rather than God?

How have you experienced Jesus as Prince and Savior?

How has Jesus given you repentance and forgiveness of sins? In what ways do you need these things?

How has God's Spirit bore witness to these things in your life?

Prayer:

“Almighty and eternal God, draw our hearts to you, guide our minds, fill our imaginations, control our wills, that we may be completely yours, utterly dedicated to you; and then use us, we pray, as you will, and always to your glory and the welfare of your people; through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.” (Adapted from The Book of Common Prayer, p. 832)