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When I came home on Tuesday January 12th, 2010, I flipped on the news. I will never forget the feeling of my heart sinking into anguish when I heard the news out of Port Au Prince, Haiti about the devastating 7.0 earthquake that ravished that small island country. I remember feeling a strong tug on my heart that I was to go down there and serve. In the aftermath the Haitian government went on to report that over 230,000+ people had died, 300,000+ had been injured, and over 1,000,000 were left homeless.
Due to civil unrest, lack of inoculations and vaccines, and strategic planning on the ground, we were not able to go into Haiti until July of 2010. I went with a contingent of 7 other guys down to Haiti to help with the rebuilding efforts. We built about 6 temporary structures while we were down there, unloaded 450 five gallon buckets of food off of a shipping container, and had the opportunity to minister to many Haitians in word and deed.
When I left that small island, I had no anticipation or excitement to go back. I truly felt that it was going to be a one-time trip for me. The hospitality and facilities that the Southern Baptist provided were great, as was the team that I was a part of. However, I never thought that I would be going back. Around the 18th of November, I felt the Lord tugging on my heart once again to lead a team back to Haiti. With the churches support and encouragement, I am putting together a team to go back to Haiti June 12th—19th, 2011.
I am as excited as I have ever been before. This will make my 5th foreign mission trip. I went to El Salvador in 2001 to aid in Earthquake rebuilding efforts. I led teams in 2005 and 2006 to Jamaica to build a house and a church. As mentioned I served in Haiti this last summer. My heart is in serving my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, wherever He calls me. So I am being obedient to that call and GOING…
What we will be doing while in Haiti, is aiding in the Rebuilding efforts. So far the Southern Baptist have built 40 concrete block homes, with a plan of building 1,000 by August 31st, 2011. It is my understanding that we might be assisting them in these building efforts: Possibly doing some site preparation, some sub-assembly work, as well as assisting the Haitians in building.
I would like to ask you for two forms of support. First and foremost, I need your prayer support. It has been reported that up to 80% of the Haitian’s practice Voodoo. It has been a country with a very dark occult past. However, since the earthquake, many lives have been changed and transformed. The Baptist have reported that over 140 new churches have been established since the earthquake, and more than 140,000 people have accepted Christ into their lives. Secondly, I need your financial support. It will cost me approximately $1,500+ to go back down to Haiti. Since I already have my passport and vaccines, I will not have that extra added expense.
The Haitians are in much need of assistance. Just because it is not popular on the news any longer, does not mean that the need has diminished. They have been struck with cholera outbreaks, as well as civil unrest during political elections. Would you be willing to help me in support? I am sending this letter out ahead of time, as some people might still be looking for ways of making year-end tax donations. All donations are tax-deductible. If you are not able to provide financial support in tax year 2010, then I would welcome it when you could in 2011.
Make Checks Payable to:
Shelbyville First Baptist Church
Mail Checks to:
3005 Falcon Court
Shelbyville, KY 40065
If you would like to watch a video about the Rebuilding Efforts in Haiti, please click on the following link below:
If you would like to see pictures from my 2010 trip, please click on the following link below, then on the tab entitled: “Haiti”:
I was reading The Courier Journal (Louisville newspaper) this morning, and there was an article about a University Louisville Psychology professor by the name of Walter Mischel. He won the Grawenmeyer award and $100,000, for his life-long studies on "Delayed Gratification" and utilizing "Willpower" to its max.
I know nothing about this gentleman, or his work for that matter. I do not know if he is coming at this from a secular or Christian angle. However, it has got me thinking most of the day about "Self-Control."
We live in a society that is saturated with Instant Gratification. If it feels good, the world says to go ahead and do it. This is why we are in the state that we are in today from a socio-economic standard, spiritually, financially, sexually, obesity, and the list goes on and on...
I am not sure that Delayed Gratification, and Self-Control are necessarily one in the same. I think it is possible to delay ones gratification to a later date, but not necessarily exercise self-control at that point in time. I also feel that chocking it all up to Willpower, could quite possibly admit that the power is somehow within us, when the Bible plainly teaches that we are to submit to His Holy Spirit.
Never the less, I am not going to try and split an atom with intentions of definition. Point being that Delayed Gratification, Self Control, and Willpower are all three things that we could be well served to have more of in our lives. All through Psalms, Proverbs, Acts, Corinthians, Galations, Timothy, and Titus, the Bible stresses Self Control. We are to take control of ourselves, and not gratify the flesh at every whim.
When I was trying to find a picture to attach to this Blog, I typed in: "Self Control," then "Delayed Gratification." and finally "Willpower" in Google Images. I was overwhelmingly amazed at the two themes that seemed to jump off the page. They were without doubt: 1) SEX & 2) FOOD. This should not be too surprising as the Bible talks repeatedly about the dangers of indulging oneself.
I can't help but think of how much better off as a society we would be if we exercised a little self control. So back to the title, is it overrated? Of course not. It is unfortunately not spoken of much in this fast food society that we live in. If you are too tired to cook, just go through McDonald's drive-thru. Of course if you are too tired to cook, then obviously you are going to be too tired to exercise and burn off the almost 1,000 calories you just inhaled down your gullet. If you want to sexually gratify yourself, the world has taught that we should do what makes us happy. Even if this means viewing pornography on the internet, having pre or extramarital relations, or just simply getting divorced. I can't tell you how many times I have heard people give horrible advice to a person to get divorced, so it would make them happy in the here and now.
The challenge is that we all could use a little Self Control in our lives. It is not about feeding and instantly gratifying the flesh. There is an element of willpower that we have to have in order to be determined not to do certain things. However, let us never diminish the Power of Jesus in a person's life. He is just waiting to give you the balance you need, if you surrender and turn your life completely over to Him...
He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth.
WOW...What do you say to that. For the last 36 years of my life, I have always heard people say they wanted to be like Jesus. I have to admit, that I am one of those people as well. We are people that very much are addicted to our society, and the ways thereof. What I mean by that is so many times we accept beliefs and sayings, without giving it much thought. How many people do you know are a certain religious or political affiliation, simply because that is the way that they were raised. Any dumb person can just blindly follow somebody else because they are led that way or told too. We have all heard the saying, "If I tell you to jump off of a bridge, will you do it?" Of course we sheepishly say NO, for that is just plain old stupid. However, how is that any different than blindly going through life under the assumption that the path you are on is the correct one, without ever taking a step back in evaluation.
Is it wrong to want to be more like Jesus? Absolutely not! Should we ask God to make us more Christ-Like? Yes! Right about now I can imagine you saying, "Dang it Greg, now I am more confused then ever? Are you saying that we should be like Christ, or not?" I am glad that you asked... The essence of being Christ-Like can only come through His Holy Spirit in our lives. In other words, there is nothing that we can do to be more Christ Like. Just because you stopped smoking, cursing, looking at girly magazines, started a prison ministry, etc. does not make you Christ Like. It is through your complete surrender to His Holy Spirit in your life, that you become Christ Like.
So back to my original statement about being more like Jesus. My concern is not that people are praying and voicing this, it is that they do not know what to expect in return. If they are to be more like Christ, then Isaiah 53 says that He was rejected by men. Are you being rejected by people, or are you a Man Pleaser? It says that he was a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief. Do you cast that by the wayside, and say that through your self-help books you will always be positive and motivated? It goes on to say that He was despised, and men turned their faces from Him. Are you prepared to walk into Wal-Mart and have people turn away from you in disgust, or even pick up a tomato and hurl it at your head?
Futher down in verse 7 it says that He was was lead like a lamb to the slaughter, but didn't open His mouth. Are you defensive when you find out that somebody is talking about you behind your back? Do you want to be friends with everybody that comes along, and never want to offend. If you do, are you making sure that your "Good Name" is cleared, and not run through the mud? Are you ready to be more like Christ?
If you aren't ready to accept that Jesus was spit on, cursed, called names, rejected by most, beaten, ridiculed, crimes committed against, and ultimately put to death, then don't dare pray that you be more like Christ!!! Unless you are ready to accept the man who died on the cross for your sins, as bloody and battered, then don't confess to want more of Him in your life. If you want a cuddly white Scandanavian Jesus with blue eyes to cuddle up to like a sheep, then don't pray that prayer.
My Jesus is depicted very vividly in Isaiah 53. Revelation 19 says that my Jesus is coming back on a white horse, with fire in His eyes, a robe dipped in blood, a sword coming out of His mouth, and on His thigh is written "King of Kings and Lord of Lords." That is my Jesus.
If you want more of Jesus in your life, and pray daily to be more Christ-Like, please understand who Jesus really is. My prayer is that you do become more Christ-Like, and that you learn to accept the persecution that will come as a result of growing closer to Him.
Jesus Christ is the Most Important Thing to me. Allow me to elaborate… When I was just a year old, my mom and dad got divorced. I grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio with my mom and brother Michael until I was eleven years old. At that time, my mom moved my brother and me down to Shelbyville, Kentucky on a 35 acre farm. I enjoyed riding horses, cutting grass, hunting, fishing, and the overall Great Outdoors.
Although I was raised in church, I knew something was missing from my life. I sat in plenty of church services, and heard about Jesus all of my life, but didn’t know Him personally. I thought that I did. I would go to church and sing songs with the best of them, and raise my hands heavenward. However, I never knew Jesus personally.
On February 19, 1992 I came to know my Jesus intimately. I was just 2 weeks shy of my 18th birthday. Up until that time I had been “Playing Church.” That night Jesus became so real in my life that I realized I was a wretched sinner in need of a Savior. I was broken and cried out for God to forgive me for the sinner that I was, and through His Holy Spirit’s drawing I received Him into every facet of my life.
Life has never been the same for me. I have had ups and downs in life, but my Jesus has always been there for me. I have pushed Him aside at times, but my Jesus has never left me. At a stage in my life when I thought I was all that, He gently reminded me that he doesn’t tolerate Pride and Conceit. My Jesus has never stopped teaching me, because I have never gotten up from sitting at the foot of my Master.
I couldn’t imagine life without Him. Every day I wake up and talk with Jesus. He is my all and everything. Every breath that I breathe belongs to Him, as I realize that He is my Creator, and I am His Creation. I talk and He listens, but most importantly I shut-up and He talks to me. His Holy Spirit leads, guides, and directs my path on a minute-by-minute basis. He provides me a Peace and Calmness in a world that is wrought with confusion and anxiety. He not only promises me a place with Him in Heaven, but He assures me that He will never leave me or forsake me in this life. I do not live life with an end result of heaven, but live in the here and now knowing that I need Him daily, and the end result will come as a result of that.
I am absolutely, unequivocally, sold-out, all or nothing, on fire, wholly devoted to Jesus Christ. He is not a religion that I practice, but a relationship that I cherish. He is not a building that I enter, but He dwells in me as His temple. He is not a god that is dead, but ALIVE in every facet of my life. I can’t contain it and want to shout it from the rooftops. Not because I am told to, but because I can’t contain how much He means to me. He is the most important thing in my life!!!
If you do not know my Jesus, then please go to my “Contact” tab at the top of my website and e-mail me. I would love to introduce you to the One who died for your sins. If you think that you know Him because of your church attendance, but do not have the passion expressed above, allow me to introduce you to my Jesus’ all consuming Power. Yes, the times are short my friends, but more than that, how can you live another day without Jesus in your life?
This is an absolutely phenomenal question. As you know I am not a scholar, but I would love to give you my feedback. As a graduate of Asbury College, Wesley/Armenian was the theological stance. I had never heard much emphasis on “Holiness” up until that point. I will never forget walking into Hughes auditorium for the first time and seeing “Holiness unto the Lord” emblazoned in letters above the choir loft. I was fortunate to have a real man of God, Professor Roy Lauter, mentor me every Monday morning in the campus cafeteria at 7:00a.m. regarding the importance of Holiness. I had shared with him once about my Pentecostal upbringing, and he offered to bestow and impart to me a wealth of knowledge and experience in the realm of Holiness.
Up until that point, I had always been told as a Pentecostal that if things were not going well in my life, I had to have shunned the Holy Spirit, and that I needed to repent. Maybe, but since that time, I have adopted a quote from Oswald Chambers devotional, My Utmost for His Highest: “The height of the mountain top is measured by the drab drudgery of the valley; but it is in the valley that we have to live for the glory of God.” For the first time in my life I was actually shown that my Christian walk was not solely based off of emotions and being on the mountain top; but it was how I walked in the valley day in and day out, that established my foundational walk with God. I have since been very aware that although I sat under a solid word (as legalistic as it might have been at times) I lacked a firm foundation.
Holiness and Happiness in my humble opinion cannot be separated. One is not one without the other. It is the classic definition of Synergy. The sum of its parts are greater than its individual pieces. I do however believe that one comes about because of the other. When we are living sacrificed lives, Holy and contrite in reverence to our spiritual Father, Happiness comes forth. With that being said, I think there are many cotton-candy preachers out there that emphasize Happiness (Joel Osteen), but don’t emphasize Holiness. When we are living Holy lives (of which I am not sure that the church even has a grip on the definition of what this entails) then I find that Happiness and Contentment come.
Fox’s Book of Martyr’s mentions about the martyr’s being focused on the glory of God till the end. Many would sing hymns and songs to their Maker while being ripped from limb to limb by lions, or while being boiled in vats of oil. This brings me to the definition of Happiness. Could it quite possibly be that as a Follower of “The Way” we might have a different definition of “happiness” then a wretched sinner caught up in the vile of his/her own selfishness and pride? God imparts through his Holy Spirit the necessity to live like Jesus and to crucify the flesh and be alive to Christ on a minute-by-minute basis. With that being said, from an earthly stand-point, that is not always a bowl of cherries. However, as a Follower of Christ, I am enthralled to live this way as I know what my reward is right now on this earth, as well as when we go to the place that He has prepared for us. So many people get caught up in focusing on living a good cleaned up lives now for and end result, that they lose sight of the Blessings that God has for them in the here and now. I am not talking about a big house, new car, trophy spouse, or a job that pays them six figures for working 60-80 hours per week. Quite possibly the reward might just be living in a van down by the river, but all for the Glory of God.
Happiness and Joy can only truly be defined from God’s perspective. The world’s definition of this is skewed, slanted, and tainted. We will only know what Happiness means, when we are living under the all abiding shelter of His Holiness. Frankly, I would love to hear more pastors and preachers emphasizing Holiness, and preaching Hell Fire and Damnation. It is not a personal preaching style that we lack, but rather the will and ability to call sin…sin, and to unabashedly and unashamedly declare the Righteousness of God, and what He demands of our lives. It is my personal feeling that there are many in churches that are currently being influenced by satan on a daily basis, as they have been told by preachers that they are okay because they have repeated a sinners prayer. Many do not know what it means to fall to their knees under the all consuming fire of God and repent of their vile nature, because they have not seen it, and we have not shown them. May we all be Ambassadors of the Gospel by not only sharing just the “Good News” but the other side of Jesus that is portrayed in Revelation 19. My Jesus is coming back with flames in his eyes, and a sword coming out of his mouth. May the King of Kings, and the Lord of Lords be glorified, whether or not we are “Happy” by the worlds definition or not. May we all repent for sugar-coating Jesus and putting him into a little box of summation that is followed by a prayer and some water. May we all repent and cry out to God for repentance for not speaking the truth to those who call themselves Christians, but yet are as a nest of vipers. And may it start with me…
Sometimes I wonder in life if I am just living for the next event. Allow me to clarify. As a Financial Planner I tend to have a "Type A" personality, and enjoy the finer aspects of planning, organization, and detail. Friends of mine will come into my office and move my stapler a few inches crooked on my desk just to aggravate me. Sometimes my kids will sit in the front seat of my car, take their shoes and socks off, and put their stinky feet on my dash, knowing it drives me nuts.
By now you are wondering what this has to do with anything. My point is that I am very organized and have to work on not getting bent out of shape when others aren't. I have to admit that I know others that are more organized then I am. A friend of mine prepares a 3 ring binder for his vacations with a step-by-step itinerary as to what his family is doing every hour of the day. I just take a 3 ring binder filled with information on my destination.
As a result of being a planner, I used to live for vacations. I would plan them out a year in advance, and just look forward to my next trip with the family. One of the things that I started realizing however, is that I can tend to miss out on what is happening in the here and now, by only focusing on the future. Matthew 6:34 tells us to "take no thought for tomorrow," however Hosea 4:6 says, "His people perish for a lack of knowledge." I have heard knowledge also substituted with "vision."
Wouldn't you agree that it is easy to get caught up in only looking ahead, that we sometimes forget to live in the now. Here are a few examples that I have seen:
1) As a financial planner, I see so many people plan for the future financially, that they forget to be sensible and wise now. I have seen many people work 60-80 hours a week, just so they can get that dream home that they can retire in. However, they forgot to focus on their marriage during that time, and they lose everything by getting divorced, and many times filing for bankruptcy.
2) I have seen plenty of people work their tails off so that they can provide a superior college education for their children, only to realize that their children go off to college not respecting their parents. All of this due to an event that the parent planned for in the future, that they didn't spend the time nurturing and raising their children along the way. Our children would much rather have their mom and dad spend time with them daily, versus buy them things.
3) Many "Christians" live their lives for Heaven. They only think of God's blessings as an after-life event that will take place in the future sometime, either when Jesus comes back or they pass away. They fail to take a hold of the blessings that Jesus has for us right now daily. Don't misinterpret what I am saying. I am not advocating the "Prosperity Message" that God will give you a million dollars and a fancy car, if you live your life correctly. Quite the contrary. I feel that we need to abandon "The American Dream" that has been sold to us as a Bill of Goods for so many years. I personally am on an aggressive track to get out of debt, downsize, spend more time with my family, and every waking minute under the guidance of His Holy Spirit. I can't wait to spend time with God every minute of the day. It is not something that is in the future for me, but a relationship right now that I develop, just like my marriage and parenting.
So you can see that there are many "Event" based things that we tend to get caught up with in life. Instead of planning for a fishing trip a year out with my kids, I plan the trip, then take them fishing back home through the year. Instead of my son planning to run in the state finals for Cross Country, we look forward to that even, but get out daily and run and practice together. Instead of working 60-80 hours for something that is made of "Wood-Hay-and Stubble" I am focused on building a spiritual household that will last through the ages by working 40 hours a week. Instead of buying my marriage, I invest in it with acts of service on a daily basis.
May we all evaluate our lives to make sure that we are not missing out on the joy of today, by just focusing on tomorrow...
My son just started 6th grade, and has decided to take up Cross Country running. I must first clarify that I am extremely proud of all 3 of my kids, but I intend to brag on David for the sake of this Blog. When he told me back in June that he was interested in running Cross Country, I must confess that I knew nothing about the sport. We have all heard of the big Four sports: Football, Basketball, Baseball, and Soccer. Most other sports, such as Cross Country and Track, get very little attention.
When he decided to run, I went and bought him some running shoes, a stop watch, and some bottles of Gatorade. I thought he was now equipped to run any race that could be set before him. Little did I know about the endurance build-up that would require some time. He immediately started running around the block for exercise. Every day he would attempt to push himself a little further in his length and time of running. Now just a couple of months later, he is running 5 miles per day. He is keeping up with the Varsity runners, and last weekend he ran his personal record of a 3K (1.8 miles) in 12:07. I was so proud of him.
This Blog is not written for the sole purpose of gloating on my eldest son, but rather to emphasize the parrallels to life.
Hebrews 12:1-2 (ESV)
"Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despisingthe shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God."
Last week at our large home invitational meet (there were over 2,000 runners), I noticed some interesting things that might appear as a non-issue for most. As a course monitor near the finish line, I was alert and aware as to the actions of not only the runners, but the parents as well. Each race had anywhere from 100--300 kids running. What I noticed is that you would have several hundred parents hovering over the finish line for about the first 75% of the runners that came through. However, the last 25% that were stragglers, had nobody left to cheer them on. They were out there on their own.
Wouldn't you say life feels like that at times. On certain stretches of our life we have cheerleaders urging us forward, but in other stretches, everybody has packed up and gone home. I love the above passage because verse 2 says "Looking to Jesus." It does not say looking to man, your pastor, your family and friends, co-workers, etc... Man will let you down everytime, but God is the ultimate cheerleader standing there shouting and encouraging us to keep persevering on towards the finish line. He is shouting at us not to give up when the shin's of life start burning. He doesn't want us to keel over in pain because we just can't give anymore.
Just like David has had to run every day in order to run a smoother more efficient race, he has also had to prepare his body. He understands the importance of hydration and eating. He knows that he is going to get pains in his side if he doesn't pre-hydrate. He knows he will not be able to give it his all, if he doesn't eat protein. He is also becoming very aware that all of the junk food that he ate in prior years, won't get him the endurance on a long run.
We have to stay pre-hydrated and filled with protein from God's Word. The Bible is there to feed us. Jesus says that if we drink of His everlasting water, we will thirst no more. He promises to feed us through the meat of the Word, in order for us to have spiritual protein to run the race of life. Unlike Cross Country where their is a finish line for every race, we are in one race that lasts our lifetime. When our lives are over, will you have crossed that finish line victorious and with excellence, or will you be found vomiting on the back side of the course due to low practice and a sugar diet. Times are short my friends. May we all be challenged to exercise spiritually, and run this spiritual race with excellence...
When I walked into my office this morning, I was greeted with a musty foul odor that usually says hello to me in the mornings. No, I didn't leave my dirty socks lying on the floor overnight, or even a leftover reuben sandwich ripening on my desk. It is the smell that comes up through the basement. My bank is one of the oldest buildings in the town of Shelbyville. We know that it used to be City Hall, a Fire Department, and a Funeral Home in years gone by. We even have pictures of this place with horses tied up to the hitching post outside. Are you starting to get the picture of how old this building is? Well about 5 years ago, we remodeled this building into a work of art. We have nice paint on the walls, marble on the floors, and all new carpeting. I must say that I have some pretty nice digs for my office. I love the space that I have, the furniture that takes up residence, and the horse pictures hanging on my wall. The only thing that I despise is the dank musty odor that comes up through the floor from the basement below.
Now before you try giving me suggestions on how to fix this nice little problem, I have had professionals and novices alike offer suggestions to no avail. It has been suggested that I use a Glade plug in for my electrical outlet. All that does is mask the smell. I had the Heating and Cooling Guy drop by a big glob of mystery goo that is supposed to absorb all smells. It must have not been charged properly, as it hasn't seemed to work. I have suggested a de-humidifier in the basement, but that would require installing an electrical outlet to plug it in; not to mention a drain for the water to be disposed properly.
All of this got me thinking this morning about the state of human lives. How many of us live in remodeled bodies that look great from the outside, but inside stink to the core. How many of us have hidden sins and secrets that we don't like others to know about, however they seem to creep through the basement floor anyway. A man or a woman will always be found out from what they possess on the inside. You might think that you are hiding an addiction or vice well, but the Truth will come out in your actions (You will know them by their Fruit). It might be a cross word here, or a lustful glance there, or maybe even a dirty joke around the water cooler. Or it could simply be that you go to church every Sunday and do everything you can do to "Earn" your way into Heaven. Salvation can only come through the free gift of Grace, and nothing we can do to earn it.
Although I seem to be stuck with my dillemma in my office, I know that I don't need to be stuck with this in my personal life. I am a firm believer in throwing open the closet doors of life and allowing the sun to expose any skeletons a person might have in their closet. Why is there a closet in the first place? You see when I sit in my office all day, I don't smell the odor. However, when I leave for lunch and come back later, it hits me square in the face. Life is like this as well. Sometimes we wallow in ourselves so much, that we fail to see the odor rising up from our souls.
The sun that exposes our deepest dark musty smell is The SON Jesus Christ. As always, if you don't know Him, I would love to introduce you to Him. If you think that you know Him, do a self evaluation of your life to never presume that you are free from the stench underneath. Lastly, if you really do know Him, please don't keep it to yourself...
I have been back from Haiti less than a week, and already I am starting to feel the extreme polar opposites here in the States. When the earthquake ravished the country of Haiti on January 12th, I knew that I was to go down and help. It was not my first Rodeo per se, as this made my 4th foreign mission trip. This was different to me then all the others. I wasn't going to just evangelize the lost, or to bestow any kind of blessing to them as the "Rich American." No, I simply wanted to be used by God in any capacity that He saw fit. I had no idea what that would look like.
While in Haiti, all of the things that I had learned while in El Salvador and Jamaica quickly came flooding back. Things such as not flushing toilet paper, but simply wrapping it up and putting it in the trash can (the septic systems couldn't handle it). Also to never take more food than you are willing to eat. Thankfully this has never been an issue for me. Although I am not a big fan of goat, we ate like kings. However, at the end of the meal, we would scrape any crumbs that were left over onto one plate. What usually goes in our garbage disposal at home, went to feed other Haitians. Any of the food not on the plates, went to the preparers family that night. It kind of made it difficult to indulge in seconds, knowing that you were depriving somebody else of quite possibly the only meal they had that day. We were instructed to take "Navy Showers." For those of you that do not know what that is, you turn the water on for a few seconds to get wet, turn it off and lather up, then quickly turn it back on to rinse. It was a blessing if the generator stayed on in order for the water pumps to keep working.
I knew full well that I would experience withdrawals when I came back to the States. This might sound strange to some, as some probably couldn't wait to get out of that country. Trust me when Sunday morning came around, I did not want to miss my flight. However, I am forced to think about certain things. Don't get me wrong, I have really enjoyed flushing my toilet paper while at home, as well as taking my time in the shower. There is nothing wrong with these things. However, I don't want to lose sight of what it taught me. Am I being wasteful of God's resources when I leave the water running while I brush my teeth? Am I throwing too much down the disposal that maybe should be leftovers for the next day, or consumed at the dinner table? Maybe just maybe, I am lazy and lethargic in life because I have not had to fight every day for my daily sustenance.
The Haitian people think in the here and now. If you were to give them a 100 pound bag of rice, they would take what they needed for that day, and they would sell the rest. Is this wise? Maybe...Maybe not... We can all justify our stance on whatever it is we support, but when the rubber meets the road, are we being good stewards of our time, resources, and energy? I never want to forget the filth, devastation, and poverty that I experienced in Haiti. In just the same fashion, I never want to forget the kind and cordial hearts that the Haitians showed to me. They don't know that they are living in less than appropriate circumstances, because it is all in the eye of the beholder.
I asked one of the Haitian translators a question one day. I said, "Andy, does it hurt your feelings when Americans come down to your country and complain about not having air conditioning, the smells, pollution, etc.?" He didn't know what I was talking about. He said, "I don't know what you are talking about. People would complain about Haiti? My country is such a beautiful country." You see what looked like a Hell-Hole to some, was their Home. Though they didn't take pride in it the way we interpret that they should, they have never had anything to compare it with.
Last Sunday night when I rolled through Shelbyville on my way home, I looked down Main Street through a different set of glasses. For the first time I saw the street light, the garbage cans, and the sidewalks. I saw the store fronts without broken glass, and the court house that represents justice. I saw order and not chaos, cleanliness and not filth. I am thankful for my city where I live, but pray that I never take it for granted.
So as I come off two nights of attending the premier Shelbyville Horse Show, I am reminded of the glitz and glamour. I am reminded of the souped up Jaguar and Harley Davidson that I saw roll in last night. As people wore revealing evening gowns and sipped on alcohol, I wondered how much left-over food was being thrown in those 50 gallon trash cans. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed my time there as well, I just don't ever want to forget where I came from...
Thoughts to ponder by: