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I’ll Never Get Over It

Patty-1If you know me, you know that I talk a lot.  Someone said to me recently as I interrupted the conversation again “you should start a blog.”  Another lady overheard and surprisingly chimed in with “Oh yeah, I would so be on it”.  “Really?” is all I could think.  I just assumed that most people would rather me finally shut up than to actually want to hear more.  My second thought was that I barely know how to find a blog to read, much less write one.  So, I’ll at least start with a blog post!

Over the past year, I had the privilege to go on three short-term missions trips to Haiti. These were actually the first missions trips I had ever been on so I am not sure what the norm is for how to feel after they are over (and I have never been normal anyway) so keep that in mind if you choose to read on.

Many people have heard bits and pieces about the trips and may think, “Here she goes on again about that Haiti.  Shouldn’t she be over that by now?”  To that I will quickly respond that while I completely understand that hearing about something over and over again can be deemed as “boring” as the train ride at GatorLand (per my granddaughter’s observation), I can only say that my prayer is to NEVER get over my experiences in Haiti.

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How can I erase images in my mind of one of the most beautiful terrains that I have ever seen with mountains on one side and crystal blue ocean on the other, but in between the two, pure poverty of the type that twists your soul inside out?  How can I forget such a stark contrast between God’s exquisite creation showing His glory and the devil’s stamp of a beaten down fallen world?  I do not know how.  I realize that many reading this have had other experiences throughout their lives on short-term or even long-term mission trips in other parts of the world, but this was my first enlightenment.  Maybe somewhere out there is a blog on “how to get over experiencing a third world country” but since I am new to the blogging world and missions trips, I surely have not read it and honestly have no plans to search for it. (Remember my prayer is to NOT get over it.) However, I have read four books about Haiti during the timeframe of this past year in hopes of understanding some of what I saw.  Consequently, I did learn that Haiti is amongst the poorest of countries in the Western Hemisphere and its history is almost unbelievable.  Between Haiti’s struggle for independence as a nation of slavery to the constant corruption of governments and the tragedies stemming from tropical storms and earthquakes, it is a miracle that it still exists.  And, try as we might as a non “third world country” to render aid, it has often made things worse instead of better and the resources rarely fall into the hands of the majority of the people who desperately need it most.

Since their national religions in the past have consisted of a mixture of Voodoo and Catholicism, it is not difficult to understand why most of Haiti not only lives in abject poverty but also a state of spiritual darkness and hopelessness.  Many people adhere to the philosophy of “Why bother with Haiti anymore? Haven’t they received enough financial aid that hasn’t made a difference?”  While I can truly understand their thoughts, I keep reminding myself of the truth that shouts louder “with God all things are possible.”   And, surely, Christ even meant helping Haiti.  But, the help must most certainly include the only truly life-changing entity and that is the gospel of Jesus Christ and not just consist of having more money thrown at a desperate, confused and hopeless people.  They must hear about Jesus, while seeing His love in action.

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I ask that you will continue to pray for Haiti and ask God how He would have you be involved in reaching the people of this country and joining Him in making the impossible the possible in a place that is so close to us yet is so extremely far from the type of world in which we live.  We have the hope that they so desperately need, that is, Jesus Christ the hope of the world.

In the near future, there will be a presentation on Olivia’s trip to Haiti during a special service dedicated to sharing what God has done through Flint Hill already in Haiti and upcoming opportunities to be involved with in the future.  For now, please pray!  There is a fierce spiritual battle going on for the people of this country.  It is a very difficult country to minister within.

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Just recently, the child that we sponsor in Haiti wrote us a letter.  In that letter, she, being just a ten-year old little girl, asked that we would pray that God keep her alive.  After being in the country, I can understand why she would ask us to pray for that. Before I went, I would have never been able to comprehend that prayer request.  I can barely wrap my mind around life as the children experience it in Haiti. Can you for one moment fathom that being the prayer of your child or grandchild?  I pray God will never allow me to “get over” it!



Conquered

Last evening, our Couples Life Group had a very helpful discussion about one’s view of human nature and its relation to stress and anxiety. Because we were short on time, there were a few items that I chose to skip over in the interest of getting to the end of the material for the night. One of those items is the poem “Invictus,” (Latin for “unconquered”) by William Ernest Henley; a poem which captures modern man’s view of the self as autonomous, self-reliant, and even defiant toward God.

Out of the light that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be,
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance,
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance,
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears,
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years,
Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate:
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate,
I am the captain of my soul.

In response to “Invictus,” Dorothy Day composed a poem which she called, “Conquered.”

Out of the light that dazzles me,
Bright as the sun from pole to pole,
I thank the God I know to be,
For Christ – the Conqueror of my soul.

Since His the sway of circumstance,
I would not wince nor cry aloud.
Under the rule which men call chance,
My head, with joy, is humbly bowed.

Beyond this place of sin and tears,
That Life with Him and His the Aid,
That, spite the menace of the years,
Keeps, and will keep me unafraid.

I have no fear though straight the gate:
He cleared from punishment the scroll.
Christ is the Master of my fate!
Christ is the Captain of my soul!



Romans 8:13 – How do I “put to death” the deeds of the body?

This entry is less of an article and more of a combination of notes and observations related to Romans 8:13. It’s not long, but I hope you find it helpful.

For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. ~ Romans 8:13
  •  “put to death” is the equivalent to “”consider dead” (F.F. Bruce, Romans, pg. 156)
  • This phrase is paralleled in Romans 6:11 – ”consider yourselves dead…”
So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. ~Romans 6:11
  • Another parallel to Romans 8:13 is Galatians 5:24
And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. ~ Galatians 5:24

Observations:

The mindset of the believer should be that of being dead to sin. On the one hand, we must affirm and declare that we have attained victory over sin through Jesus (and in the Spirit) and live as such; and on the other hand there must be both a conscious reliance upon the Holy Spirit and a consistent plea to God in prayer to continue bringing about the already-but-not-yet reality that we boldly proclaim: “there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1)

Practically speaking, victory in consciously resisting temptation to a particular sinful act (which is the fruit of the inward work of the Spirit) brings a new layer of confidence that I am indeed dead to sin. It is important to give God the glory for resisting sin, lest we become deceived and believe that we have some measure of righteousness in ourselves, apart from God.

As we walk in obedience to God’s commands, and commune with God in prayer, we are taken beyond mere intellectual belief in the statement, “I am dead to sin.” Something great and life-changing happens: We experience the reality of being dead to sin. This, in turn, compounds the growth of our faith and confidence in God.

The converse of this is failing to “put to death the deeds of the body” – or in other words, indulging the deeds of the body; that is, gratifying our natural desires without restraint. This leads to self-deception, hardness of heart, and unbelief. Sin and rebellion always precede unbelief. As J. Budziszewski put it:

It’s a funny thing about us human beings: not many of us doubt God’s existence and then start sinning. Most of us sin and then start doubting His existence.”

So, dying to sin is necessary and  irreplaceable if one wants to fellowship with God, sense His presence, and live a life of peace and victory that honors the Lord.