Many Members – One Body

I can clearly see it in my mind’s eye, and to me it’s almost a perfect picture of what the church is supposed to be like. However, you’re not in my head (isn’t that a wonderful thing!) so I’ll show you what I’m picturing.

It was our last night in Sejourne and I was up for preaching the sermon that night. I wanted to convey what I had observed during our four days in the village and how I, as an outsider, saw their church.

I saw Pastor Touloute. One who is an overseer of overseers and truly a man who is living out his life’s mission well.

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I saw the young man who played the keyboard (“maestro” in Creole)- a very talented youth who was willing to share his musical gifts to lead us in such joyful worship each night.

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I saw the elderly man who was described to me as a “pillar in the community.” He was always there, danced joyfully before the Lord in worship, and worked just as hard as the young men during the day to see the church be built in his community.

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I saw the energetic young lady who led the children during their New Year’s celebration. She stood in front of the children and very enthusiastically led them in song and a chant. I wish I had understood the words to the chant, I just know that it continually had an “oh yes!” in it. I would have had a hard time keeping up with that young lady!

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Then there were the three young men who were willing to escort me to the water hole so I could bathe after a day of working on the church. None of the rest of the mission team wanted to make the arduous trek down the mountain and back up, but these three guys were happy to go with me.

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There was another young lady that I thanked for sticking with me during the time that we were hauling building materials in the dark. I mean it was pitch black outside and we were walking back and forth over a rocky mountain pass. I was never worried because she made sure I didn’t make a wrong turn.

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The pastor in Sejourne is not only the pastor, he’s also one of the main drummers! I commended him for being a shepherd who cares deeply for the care of his sheep.

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And then there was Fenold. Fenold was the one in that church that I have known the longest. He was the translator in the dental clinic during my first trip to Haiti in 1999. He is a wonderful translator, but more than that, he’s a wonderful man of God who wears his faith on his sleeve. I’ve never heard him complain even though I know that the walk into Sejourne and the hours in the vehicle had to be hard on his body and especially his bad hip.

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There was also the mission team. A group of people who love the Haitian people, were willing to give up a week of their life (including New Years) and spend a lot of money to be there in that village.

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On the team I specifically mentioned my daughter-in-law, Alisha. She had a wonderful idea and spearheaded a project on that trip and led the women in sewing menstrual pads and in a Bible study on Isaiah 1:18. Not in a million years would I have come up with that idea as a mission project, and yet it was practical and blessed the women from two villages in Haiti. I thanked her for following God’s leading.

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Speaking of women, there was also Madam Touloute. She came along on the trip and spent endless hours preparing food for the team, cooking over a primitive three-rock fire. I teased her that she spoiled us, but the truth is that she is a tireless woman with a servant’s heart.

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First Corinthians, chapter twelve describes the church as a body and it also states that there is no part of the body that is unnecessary.

For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.

For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.

The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.

Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. (1 Corinthians 12:12-27 ESV)

As I looked around that church, there was no one that I would say was unnecessary. Everyone was very different, but no one was unnecessary. That’s the way it is with the church-in Haiti, in the U.S., or anywhere around the world. We need each other and no one is unnecessary. We all use our God-given gifts, causing the body to be whole.

 

 

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The Joy of a Cancelled Flight

I just got back from a mission trip to Haiti. Which means that you should strap on your seatbelt, you’re in for a few weeks of insights straight from Haiti.

On this most recent trip we were to have six people on our team; four from Caro, one from Belleville, MI and one from Grand Rapids, MI. On the day of our departure five of us were flying out of Detroit and Dan was flying out of Grand Rapids. The plan was to meet up in Miami, spend the night, and then fly into Haiti the next morning as a team.

Dan had to be at the airport before we even left Caro. While I was at home getting ready I got a call from Dan saying that his flight was delayed. The weather was cold, but not really that snowy, but whatever, no big deal. Then while driving to Detroit I got a phone call from Dan saying that he expected to get into Miami about midnight and rather than disturbing us at the hotel he just might sleep in the airport at Miami. I assured him that it was not a problem if he wanted to come to the hotel. We’d let him in the room and then go right back to sleep.

When we arrived at the airport in Detroit I got this message from Dan: “Bummer, I am now on United instead of AA. Still in at midnight.”

That was the last message I received from Dan before our plane took off and I was out of communication for a while.

When we landed in Miami I received these messages:

“I am delayed again. Can’t get out of GR. What should I do if I can’t get to Miami by 7:00?”

“In line to see what I can do. What do you think if I can’t make it by 7:00?”

“I cannot get a seat to Miami out of GR or Chicago tonight. Think it best if I don’t go so you can stay on schedule. I would not be into PAP till afternoon. Talked to Pastor Rob yesterday. Should have been money sent down this week. Money was also sent last May. So sorry but I think this is best.”

“I had to take my checked bags with me.”

Needless to say, as soon as I read the messages I immediately called Dan. I assured him that it was no big deal. We’d either wait in Port-Au-Prince for him to arrive and we’d travel as a team, or another vehicle would be sent to pick him up and he’d catch up with the team when he could. Dan didn’t seem comfortable with that so I encouraged him to talk with Pastor Touloute. I knew that Pastor Touloute would assure Dan of what I had already said. Of course it was now late so nothing would be decided for sure until the morning so the team headed off to the hotel.

In the morning I had this text waiting for me: “I am not coming. I am sorry. Have a great time. Cannot wait to hear and see what’s going on. Just talked to Pastor Touloute. God’s Peace.” I talked to Dan on the phone once again, but his answer was the same.

I shared with the team that Dan’s flight had been cancelled, he had decided to not join the team, but that this did not change our plans. We would still proceed as our itinerary had laid out our trip. Everyone was saddened by Dan not joining us, but everyone was still excited for what was in front of us.

Upon landing in Haiti I used my last bit of connectivity to contact Pastor Touloute. I just wanted to make sure that nothing had changed. He shared that he had spoken with Dan twice and that indeed nothing had changed. And with that phone call I stepped out of being in touch with the outside world for eight days.

Now for a little back story on Dan. Dan was no stranger to Haiti. He had been there multiple times. He had most recently been part of the team that went to Haiti just a year ago. Dan was also not afraid to be in Haiti without other Americans. Last year when the team left to come home we left Dan behind because he was going to spend another week in Haiti on another mission trip out to the island of Ile-a-Vache. This is part of the reason that I was scratching my head so much about his decision. He had been planning this trip for a year, he wasn’t afraid of being in Haiti (even alone), and he was deeply committed to the mission in the village of Sejourne. But, as he put it, he just had a feeling that he wasn’t supposed to go this time.

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Now fast-forward through the whole trip and our team finally arrived back at the Port-Au-Prince airport and all of a sudden we had connection with the outside world again. Besides Facebook messages, texts from my wife, and snaps from my goddaughter, I also had a message from Pastor Rob. He said “Greg. This is Rob Appold. Let me know if you get this.”

I gave him a call and he asked me if I had heard about Dan. Well, I didn’t exactly know how to answer. I knew the decision he had made, but if anything had transpired in the last eight days I was in the dark. Rob filled me in on what had happened.

He said that on Sunday Dan had collapsed. They rushed him to the Emergency Room and found out that he had blood clots in his lungs. They ended up doing surgery to release some blood clot eating chemicals into his lungs.

I just video chatted with Dan yesterday and he said that he is doing well and that he fully believes that the protecting hand of God was upon him! He thinks that the blood clots had actually developed in November when he flew to Colorado. But get this-he had even passed a stress test since then!

Just think what could have happened if Dan’s flight had not been cancelled. He could have easily died in the multiple flights to Haiti, travelling in Haiti (which I don’t think I really have to state doesn’t have the best medical treatment), or exerting himself with the hikes and work in Haiti itself. I think Pastor Touloute had the best summary of all: “All praise be to our Triune God who has planned every detail of our lives! Imagine this were to happen during our time in Lestage or on our trip to Sejourne! To God be the glory!”

John 14:16-17 says,

“And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.”

I am thankful that Dan listened to that Spirit, that God preserved his life, and that God continues to dwell with Dan and is now with him. Knowing all of this, Dan and I can go on another mission trip some other time, if his wife will let him out of the house.

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Tuesday, I Died

On Tuesday about 2:00 PM, I died. I was marked as “Deceased” in the church computer and Cathy took my place as “Head of Household.”

Let me explain. Mimi and I were working on the end of the year church records and we came up against the problem of what to do with those who had been widowed in 2017. You see, while their husbands were alive their giving was recorded together with their spouse. Now with the husband gone it seems kind of odd to still have them connected with the giving envelopes for 2018. It wasn’t clear how to show this properly in our church management software but I had an idea. The problem was how do you test this idea? Those that had already passed away were already “moved” in the software. We needed somebody to die so that we could make the change in the software the “right” way. I happily volunteered.

As I changed my status from “Member Confirmed” to “Deceased,” I thought to myself that if I was going to goof up somebody’s record it might as well be mine. After I was dead we made Cathy the head of household, transferred the giving records over to her and everything seemed like it worked perfectly.

It’s funny how many jokes we made while I was “dead.” It’s also interesting how switching one little computer toggle switch makes you think of things differently. Martin Luther talked about us dying daily when he talked about baptism. He said that “the Old Adam is to be drowned by daily contrition (sorrow for sins) and repentance (faith), by which we resist and overcome evil desires.” That surely is easier said than done. That Old Adam is a pretty darn good swimmer and keeps on popping back up out of the water. But Jesus didn’t sugarcoat it either when he said, “If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me.” (Luke 9:23 ESV) Paul also said, “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.” (Romans 6:3-4 ESV)

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Thankfully I didn’t stay “Deceased” for too long. Mimi and I quickly restored my status to “Member Confirmed.” No electric shock paddles were even necessary!

Luther went on further when he talked about baptism. After we drown the Old Adam in us, “The new man emerges and arises as we daily live and grow before God in true faith and good works.” Paul says that we should “put on the new man which was created according to God, in righteousness and true holiness,” (Ephesians 4:24 ESV) and “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.” (2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV)

I’ll keep on pushing that Old Adam back under but for now I’m grateful that I was given new life on Tuesday…and everyday!

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The Wedding of the Bride

We are right in the middle of the season of Advent. It’s not just a waiting for Christmas, it’s also a time of preparation and a time to focus on Christ’s second coming. There is a metaphor that recurs many times throughout scripture and that is that the church is Christ’s bride.

Isaiah uses this language when he says “As a young man marries a maiden, so will your sons marry you; as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so will your God rejoice over you.” (Isaiah 62:5 NIV) Jesus also uses the marriage customs of his day to describe the state that the Church is in right now.

“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.” (John 14:1-4 ESV)

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You see in that time between betrothal and the wedding the groom would go off to his father’s house and build the home where he and his bride would live. The bride didn’t know exactly when the groom would show up but that she needed to be ready. When the groom showed up there was great rejoicing, the wedding ceremony took place, the marriage was consummated, and then there was a celebration that would last for days including the whole village. The wedded couple would then live happily ever after in the home that the groom had built.

We as the church are the bride of Christ. We’re betrothed, waiting (knowing that our groom could show up at any moment), ready to receive him, and anticipating the great celebration of our wedding day.

I was thrilled to hear that while our mission team is going to be in Haiti that we will get the joy of witnessing a wedding in the new sanctuary. I believe this will be the first wedding in the new sanctuary! To me it’s a wonderful gift to see the church be used in this way! It makes me think of Paul’s words in Ephesians.

In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. (Ephesians 5:28-31 ESV)

As we witness the wedding of Jocelyne Juste and Patrick Verdieu in Haiti I’m going to keep one eye to the sky, just in case the Church’s Groom decides to show up.

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A Way Through

Tuesday was a big day for me. I had two medical appointments and both of them went as well as I could have hoped for! My first appointment was with my physical therapist. She measured my elbow’s angles, did a little bit of stretching of the joint and then declared me graduated, woohoo! Then later that afternoon I went to my surgeon’s office for a follow-up appointment. The physician’s assistant who saw me could hardly believe where I was at just three months out from my surgery. After bending my arm this way and that he said, “if this is the bell curve, you’re way over there.” Then he said, “Get out, don’t come back, and don’t break anything else.” Now I get to move on to the next chapter of my life.

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Although my recovery has been quick (relatively speaking), that doesn’t mean that it has been easy. Just the opposite, it was quite painful. I very clearly remember one conversation that I had with my physical therapist. As she was stretching my arm angle out, and I was doing my best to endure the pain and not resist her, I stated to her that I thought I had a high pain tolerance, but that this was definitely pushing the envelope. She stated that I indeed did have a high pain tolerance. Then I asked, “What do people do that don’t have a high pain tolerance?” She said, “They quit.” That saddened me for those people because the rest of their lives they will live with a joint that isn’t fully mobile.

We all deal with painful situations in our life. It seems that our first reaction is to ask ourselves, “Why me?” Then we might feel sorry for ourselves and wish that we didn’t have to go through this. And some quit.

If I can use my experience as an analogy, I think the only real way forward is to go through the pain so you can come out on the other side.

The really cool thing is that we’re not alone when we go through hard times. Isaiah says this:

But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel:

“Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.” (Isaiah 43:1-3a ESV)

Not only is God with us, he also makes a way. A few verses later in that same chapter Isaiah says:

Thus says the Lord, who makes a way in the sea, a path in the mighty waters, who brings forth chariot and horse, army and warrior; they lie down, they cannot rise, they are extinguished, quenched like a wick:

“Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” (Isaiah 43: 16-19 ESV)

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If I did not implicitly trust my physical therapist I would never have let her cause me so much pain. However, I did trust her knowledge in the physical body and the best plan for recovery. Thankfully God has not left us without guidance, both through other humans who are using their God-given talents, but also through his word. Earlier in Isaiah we read:

“And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your Teacher will not hide himself anymore, but your eyes shall see your Teacher. And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.” (Isaiah 30:20-21 ESV)

Whatever you’re going through right now, know that God is with you, he is making a way for you, and you can totally trust his guidance. Blessings on your journey!

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The Winning Score

For my most recent birthday my wife spoiled me and sent me to a Red Wings game. I’ve played ice hockey for years, but I had never been to a NHL game yet. It was a wonderful evening! The evening was even better because the Red Wings beat the Arizona Coyotes 5-3. There was no doubt who won the game because the score was posted large and in bright lights for everyone to see. At the game they even put this on the big screen.

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I am forever thinking of things as object lessons, and that’s when that big screen at the Little Ceasar’s Arena hit me. When it is all said and done for us, when the “big game” is over what will be the measure of whether we have won or lost?

There are all kinds of things that people try to measure their live’s success. Money, or net worth is a pretty common measurement of success. For instance, I just recently sat with a retired couple as they shared with me how much they were “worth” and how secure they were for the future. If money isn’t your thing maybe you measure your life by happiness. I’m sure you’ve even heard people put God’s stamp of approval by saying, “God doesn’t want me to be unhappy.” Others base their worth on their education, by how many letters they’ve accumulated after their name. Maybe you’re into sports so you measure your success by races finished, trophies accumulated, or by podium finishes. Being a deer hunter myself we could base it on, “did you get your deer?” And if you did, how many “points” did it have? (there is an interesting double meaning in referring to a deer by “points.”) Maybe you’re a playboy and you judge your success by how many women you’ve been able to seduce. Or maybe you’re more holy than that and you judge yourself successful (but probably wouldn’t use that language) by how many things you’ve volunteered for at church, how many boards you’ve served on, or maybe even the different countries you’ve been to on a mission trip. There’s a thousand different ways to measure a life’s success.

We’re not the first people to pursue different avenues for fulfillment. Solomon wrote about pursuing wealth, knowledge, pleasure, building programs, and even women in the book of Ecclesiastes. (For the record, the book of Ecclesiastes is my second most read book in the Bible-after the book of Psalms-because of the re-grounding effect is has on me. I guess I just need this re-grounding over and over again!) In Ecclesiastes Solomon wrote:

I the Preacher have been king over Israel in Jerusalem. And I applied my heart to seek and to search out by wisdom all that is done under heaven. It is an unhappy business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with. I have seen everything that is done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and a striving after wind.

What is crooked cannot be made straight, and what is lacking cannot be counted.

I said in my heart, “I have acquired great wisdom, surpassing all who were over Jerusalem before me, and my heart has had great experience of wisdom and knowledge.” And I applied my heart to know wisdom and to know madness and folly. I perceived that this also is but a striving after wind.

For in much wisdom is much vexation, and he who increases knowledge increases sorrow.

I said in my heart, “Come now, I will test you with pleasure; enjoy yourself.” But behold, this also was vanity. I said of laughter, “It is mad,” and of pleasure, “What use is it?” I searched with my heart how to cheer my body with wine—my heart still guiding me with wisdom—and how to lay hold on folly, till I might see what was good for the children of man to do under heaven during the few days of their life. I made great works. I built houses and planted vineyards for myself. I made myself gardens and parks, and planted in them all kinds of fruit trees. I made myself pools from which to water the forest of growing trees. I bought male and female slaves, and had slaves who were born in my house. I had also great possessions of herds and flocks, more than any who had been before me in Jerusalem. I also gathered for myself silver and gold and the treasure of kings and provinces. I got singers, both men and women, and many concubines, the delight of the sons of man.

So I became great and surpassed all who were before me in Jerusalem. Also my wisdom remained with me. And whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them. I kept my heart from no pleasure, for my heart found pleasure in all my toil, and this was my reward for all my toil. Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had expended in doing it, and behold, all was vanity and a striving after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun. (Ecclesiastes 1:12-2:11 ESV)

Although I appreciate the book of Ecclesiastes immensely I will admit that it is a little bit of a dark book. Over and over Solomon proclaimed “Vanity, vanity! All is vanity!” Other translations use the word “meaningless,” “futility,” “utterly pointless,” or even “smoke.” All of those get the point across that these are not things that we want to put our hope in, or that we want to use to measure our lives success.

What about the more “holy” route of “churchy” things? Well, here I would turn to Paul. He was a pretty saintly guy, I mean they have even named a bunch of churches after him! He had this to say about his own life:

I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless. (Philippians 3:4-6 ESV)

It almost sounds like one of those jokes; Paul dies and ends up at the pearly gates. Peter is sitting there and asks Paul why he should let him in and Paul starts saying, “I was circumcised on the eighth day…” However, this is not an old joke, this was serious for Paul. You would be mistaken if you think that Paul was pretty proud of all of this, but no, he went on:

But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. (Philippians 3:7-11 ESV)

The book of Ecclesiastes and the book of Philippians agree that nothing on this earth fulfills or justifies. Solomon gave the advise to “Go, eat your food with gladness, and drink your wine with a joyful heart, for it is now that God favors what you do. Always be clothed in white, and always anoint your head with oil. Enjoy life with your wife, whom you love, all the days of this meaningless life that God has given you under the sun-all your meaningless days.” (Ecclesiastes 9:7-9 NIV) Although Solomon did talk later in the book about God’s judgment, I think Paul got more to the point at hand when he stated clearly “that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.”

When we die it all comes down to Paul’s words, “not having a righteousness of my own,” but having a “righteousness from God that depends on faith.” Based on that faith, wouldn’t it be interesting if at a funeral there was a huge jumbotron over the casket which proclaimed: “Satan 0 God 1.” I guess it’s better to let the cross do that!

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Three Steps to Build a Church

To understand this devotion you’ll need to first watch this 90-second video of the church in Sejourne, Haiti. See you in 90 seconds.

Isn’t that fantastic?

You might not be thinking that that was a fantastic video. After all, the video quality was poor-I think someone just took it on a cell phone. Not only that, for part of the video they’re covering the camera with their finger. The audio is terrible with wind noise and when they do talk it’s only in Creole without any subtitles.

The reason I think it’s a fantastic video is not just because I’m excited to see the construction of the church in Sejourne begun, it’s also because I think this is a great analogy for what the church is supposed to be. Let me explain.

First off, everyone is busy doing something to further the work. Some are doing very hard physical labor like busting up rocks with a sledgehammer or prying large boulders from the side of the mountain. Others are doing very monotonous work like carrying smaller rocks and putting them in the church. Others are doing support work like providing drinks for the thirsty workers. But everyone has something to do and they’re all pitching in to get the work done.

It may look a little different here in our church but everyone needs to be pitching in to accomplish the work of the church. Some have physical jobs like cleaning the church, some have talented jobs like playing an instrument, some have mental jobs like teaching a Bible class, and some provide nourishment through the church kitchen. If you believe that pastor and I have been granted all of the spiritual gifts, or that we do all of the work, in the church you would be greatly mistaken. John Piper says that there are only three types of people in the church: the goers, the senders, and the disobedient. Everyone has a job and everyone needs to be busy.

Secondly, the video doesn’t really show what lies beneath the ground level, but I know from experience that they have laid a very solid foundation to that church. The foundation goes down about four feet, is then filled with rocks and concrete and is reinforced with lots of steel rebar. You see, in Haiti they have dealt with massive earthquakes and hurricanes. They won’t build a flimsy church! That church has a solid foundation!

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Paul said in 1 Corinthians 3:10-15,

“According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it. For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.”

It’s true for us as we build a church, and it’s also true for us in our very lives. If we build on the solid foundation of Jesus Christ our building will survive into eternity. If we build on any other foundation our building will not survive, it’ll result in an ash heap.

Thirdly, the Haitians are working towards an unseen goal. In the video you don’t really see much at all except some rocks and a rectangle of concrete. Yet what they see is a church! They see a church where people will meet together, where they will hear the good news about Jesus their Savior, a place that will be filled with joyful worship. They see a place where communion will be celebrated, new believers will be baptized, where couples will be married, the young can be educated and even a place where their dead can be put to rest.

Even though we can see our church building, we also work towards an unseen goal. Every time we teach a young child in Sunday school, confirmation, or at home we’re filled with hope for what the future can hold for that child. We work towards an unseen goal when we pray. Hebrews 11:1 says that “faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” When we reach out to an unsaved neighbor or we look for the wayward child to return we’re working towards an unseen goal. Paul says,

“and thus I make it my ambition to preach the gospel, not where Christ has already been named, lest I build on someone else’s foundation, but as it is written,

‘Those who have never been told of him will see,

and those who have never heard will understand.’” (Romans 15:20-21 ESV)

So there you have it, everyone has a job to do, we have to build on the solid foundation of Jesus Christ, and we’re working with hope towards an unseen goal. Now go build the church!

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