Oklahoma and the Explosion on Twitter

Earlier John Piper posted these verses in two separate tweets:

and suddenly a great wind came from across the wilderness and struck the four corners of the house, and it fell on the young people, and they are dead; and I alone have escaped to tell you!” Then Job arose, tore his robe, and shaved his head; and he fell to the ground and worshiped. (Job 1:19, 20 NKJV)

Donald Miller said some things about it and long story short, it blew up on twitter. I’m not here to point to who is wright and who is wrong. I’m here to beg the question, “What do non-Christians think/see/feel when they see bickering and fighting amongst the body of Christ?”

It deeply saddens me to see Christians bicker and fight. I know that nobody is perfect and we will not always get along, but it’s not about us. It’s about how we are repping Christ to people and I think that when non-Christians see the disunity within the body, they don’t want anything to do with us and more importantly, Jesus Christ. And to say hurtful things on such a public forum such as twitter makes it that much worse. People all over the world can see the hurtful things we say to each other.

It’s a good thing that there is grace through Christ. Just because Christians are saved does not mean we are exempt from temptation and sin. We will screw up, pretty badly sometimes, and when that happens it’s important to remember our humanity and why Jesus came here. My challenge to you guys is to watch what you say, not only to people face to face but also over the Internet. When it comes to the Internet, I believe people are more likely to say hurtful things when they can’t see the consequences directly and immediately. For those of us in Christ, we need to be the light that He has called is to be instead of bickering and fighting amongst ourselves.

In God’s grip,
Alex

An Undeserved Love

How could You love a wretch like me?
I defile the temple You have made in me.
How is it You could love a man so easily led astray?
I am so quick to fall away.

How is it You could love a nation who can make a living off of killing babies?
Are we so naïve that we don’t realize this is wrong?
How is it You could love a nation who stores up treasures on earth where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal?
Are we so blind we can’t see that real treasure is stored up in where you reside?

How could You love a world so bent on war?
Can we not see we are killing the ones You love?
How could You love a world that neglects the broken and the needy?
Can we not focus on ourselves and help those in need?

But alas, I know the answer to the questions that you ask.
John says You gave your one and only Son to die for these very things.
All for loves sake He became poor.
I know that I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
And for that I praise You.

Psalm 119: Delight

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Delight: noun- something or someone that provides a source of joy.

I was recently reading a devotion about finding delight in God’s presence. It was talking about how if you are in God’s word daily, you will go through the 3-D’s. These are: drudgery, discipline, and delight. At first you won’t want to take time out of your busy schedule to spend it with God, but you do it anyway. Then you will become disciplined and realize how important daily down time with God is. And if you make it past these two D’s, you will start to find delight in spending time with God daily and look forward to being in His presence.

At the end of the devotion, it asks you to go through Psalm 119 and circle every ‘delight’ that you find. So I did this and came up with nine, after reading through it twice. This may not seem like a lot, but to me I thought that it was interesting. Every time the word delight is mentioned, the author talks about how God’s laws, commands, decrees, and statutes gives them delight! How crazy is that? That laws and rules could give someone delight!

Reading through this Psalm and seeing how it has applied in my own life, I can see how the author finds delight in God’s laws. I find that when I am following God’s commands instead of doing whatever I please, that I am filled with more joy. Psalm 119:24 says “Your statutes are my delight; they are my counselors.” I really liked that verse because it tells us God’s commands are our counselors to living a more joyful life.

I encourage you to spend time daily with God and find the delight that I, as well as the author of Psalm 119 has found.

In God’s grip,
Alex

Experience in Haiti

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How do I explain my experience in Haiti? If I really tried I could probably write a whole book. But for now I am going to try to talk about all the things I did and experienced in the poorest and richest country in the western hemisphere (more on that later) in this post.

Just by flying into the country you could tell how bad of a situation that Haiti is in physically. Before I even stepped foot in the country my heart was breaking for the Haitian people. Flying in was one of the biggest culture shocks I have ever had. There are these things called tent cities and they were everywhere. You could fit at least six or seven tents in my living room to kind of give you an idea how of small and packed together these tents were. For miles all you could see were tents. That really got at me because I realized that entire families lived in these tents and I have a room that could fit four or five tents in my bedroom. It just shows how much abundance we Americans have compared to countries like Haiti. When we were in Vegas waiting for our plane, we were walking through a casino and my youth pastor, Brent, asked us to take a mental photo of all that was happening in this casino. Flying into Haiti, that mental photo was brought to mind, and it made me sick. Americans have so much in abundance that we can go and gamble away our money, and the people of Haiti and many other countries live off two or less dollars a day.

After landing in the airport, getting through customs, and getting our luggage, we met our group leaders, Josh, Jenny, and Tiffany. We got on a bus and started the long drive through Port au Prince to Carrefour. Driving through these two cities, I noticed that a lot of the buildings were still in ruin and the rubble had not even been cleared, even after eighteen months. Haiti doesn’t really have people hired to pick up trash so there was a lot of that laying around. Of the whole time I was there I saw one garbage truck. But the whole country is not like this. On one bus ride we were out of the major cities and got to see the country side. Haiti is a very beautiful country. Right now I am trying to paint a picture of the physical description of Haiti to you. To get the full picture you would just have to experience it for yourself.

In the physical aspect Haiti is a very poor country. But in a spiritual aspect, Haiti is one of the richest countries in the world (this is what I meant earlier). The Haitian people are so full of life and they have a faith in God like I have never seen anywhere. They know that God will provide for them. And I think that because the United States and many other richer countries are so independent that we have lost the ability to depend on God for the things that we need.

Throughout the trip we would go on prayer walks. We would walk around Carrefour to pray and talk with people. We would also do these in the tent cities. I remember one time we were in a tent city and a woman walked up to us and told us that there was a sick man and the she wanted us to pray for him. We learned that the week before this man had had a stroke and had lost all feeling in the left side of his body. So we prayed for him and he was very thankful. Another time we were walking around Carrefour and we were talking to a young woman. We prayed for her and afterwards an elderly man, who was blind in one eye, walked up to us and asked us for prayer. We asked him if he knew anything about Jesus and he said he didn’t. So I talked to him about how Jesus was a man but he was also God and that he came to Earth to die for the sins of the world on the cross. I also told him that Jesus was resurrected three days later. After I was finished one of my friends, Austin, told him about how Jesus healed the blind man because he had so much faith that Jesus could heal him. He decided to accept Christ as his lord and savior that day. Our very first prayer walk, another group was approached by a man and he told them that his wife wanted to know Jesus. So they followed him to his tent and when they got inside he told them that him and his wife wanted to accept Jesus. I heard it was amazing and I wish I could have been there. I got to meet them though because they were at church with us on Sunday. God is moving in amazing ways in Haiti.

Church was definitely a different experience. People were dancing and worshiping the Lord with such passion. You don’t really get a lot of worship like that in the states.

We also did Vacation Bible School at the local church and at an orphanage. These kids were amazing. We had a lot of fun with them and we also got to teach them about God. The orphanage was run by a woman named Madame Gustave. The kids there were so full of life, even though some of them had come from bad backgrounds. They loved bubbles, jumping rope, and playing soccer. We also broke out the sidewalk chalk and construction paper and crayons. These kids loved to draw. These kids were so amazing and the spirit of God was alive in them.

My first experience in a tent city was something very hard to see. As we were walking around, we saw many people did not have shoes. There were also many kids who did not have clothes. Many of the babies did not have diapers. The tents were very hot and very small. These tent cities are all over and all the people are displaced because of the earthquake. A few nights it had rained really bad and Josh was talking to us about how he was wrecked at how these people and children had to sleep in a flooded tent city. We take so many things for granted that we don’t even realize how easy we have it. We have food and a place to stay to keep us out of the rain and other types of weather. Most Haitians don’t have these comforts.

Even through all the stuff the Haitian people have been through, they still have a very strong faith in God. And this is what I think is the most amazing thing about them.

One of the things that we learned is that all the money that was donated to Haiti after the earthquake only 10% made it into the country and of that 10% only 3% was used to aid the people. Haiti’s gov. gets 75% of its budget from foreign countries, so throwing money at the country is not going to help.

Haiti is a broken and hopeless country. It cannot be fixed with money. The only thing that could fix this country is God. Thank goodness God can do things that we humans cannot.

Coming back into the US was one of the hardest parts of the trip. Just in the airport alone there were stores dedicated to perfume and purses and many other things. After seeing Haiti and how much need that there is, I was disgusted by how greed has taken over the US.

I hope I have given you a glimpse of what it was like for me to be in this amazing country. If you ever get the chance to go to Haiti, I would take it. It is something that will change your life forever.

In God’s grip,

Alex

Mission Trip to Haiti

Recently God has blessed me with an amazing opportunity. I am going to Haiti this July as a mission trip with my church’s youth group. We are leaving July 7 and returning on the 18.

So before I get into how God did this for me, I’m going to give a little background on it.

Last summer I went to Ecuador with my church on another mission trip. We had been out of the country to Mexico before but nothing like this. Ecuador has been the farthest that we have ever traveled away from home. It was an amazing experience. About the end of summer last year my youth pastor decided Heirforce (our youth groups name) would go to Haiti. Nothing was set in stone. He found an organization that we could go through and it would be cheaper than the Ecuador trip. Heirforce was going to Haiti.

This is where God comes in. I wasn’t originally going to go because of money. I had sent out sponsor letters to family and friends for Ecuador and I didn’t want to do it two years in a row. So for the 6 or 7 months they were planning this, I had no part in it.

Recently one of the members that was going dropped out because she was getting married shortly before we were to leave. So m youth pastor, Brent, talked to my parents and they were willing to pay if I could pay them back. They told me about it and I wasn’t very excited because I had just gotten a job and didn’t know if I could get the time off. I told my mom and stepdad I would ask.

So the next day I asked my manager for the days off. She said yes. I also had to ask my dad because he’s always been over protective, as any parent would. He was against it when it was just starting out before I knew I could go. My dad also said I could go.

So through this process I could totally see God clearing a path for me to go on this mission trip. Another guy who is blessed with me to be on this trip, Carter, is now going to. I know that God has big plans for me as well as my group to grow in our faith and witness and serve the Haitians who were affected by the earth quake.

Some of the things we will be doing in Haiti include:
We will be repairing/destroying buildings depending on how structurally sound they are. We will also be building water systems for sewage to help keep drinking water clean. The thing that I am most excited about is playing with and teaching children about God. This has always been one of my favorite things to do on a mission trip. I think little kids are so amazing and for those who have grown up in a Christian home how unwavering their faith in God is.

I am very excited for this opportunity and your prayers would be greatly appreciated!

Philippians 4:13- I can do everything through him who gives me strength.

In God’s grip,
Alex

Charity Vs. Justice

What is the difference between charity and justice? To start of I suppose I should define the two.

Charity is defined as generosity towards the needy. It could be going to feed the poor or doing community projects in your city. Charity is giving a little bit of your time and or money to help someone in need.

Justice is defined as the quality of being righteous or fair. Justice for the poor, for me, is righting a social injustice, like world hunger. Righting a wrong can also take a lot more time and money than just doing simple charity work. Now don’t get me wrong, charity is really good for your community. But what difference are we really making?

So what is the difference between these two? If you have ever been on a mission trip, you go and do service projects whether in your home town, out of state or even in a different country, you know what helping other people feels like. If you haven’t, I strongly suggest you do, they are an amazing experience.

Last summer twelve people including myself went to a mission trip in Quito, Ecuador. It was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. While we were there, my youth pastor, Brent, asked us what the difference between charity and justice for the poor was. It really got me thinking. What difference were we really making in this country that we were doing service projects for? The organization we went with, Youth World, is the perfect example of righting social wrongs and providing justice for the needy. Youth World is set up all over the globe and take in groups like ours. World Vision is another organization that is providing justice all over the world by helping to end world hunger. If you have ever done the 30 Hour Famine, you know about some of the stuff that World Vision does.

So how can we provide justice and not just charity? This issue can help be more defined by a parable.

There was a village having a social gathering in summer and a villager noticed a baby crying in the river near by. The villager went to go save the child. But more babies were washing down the river. More villagers went in the river to save the babies. But two men went up river to stop whoever was throwing the babies into the river.

The concepts of charity Vs. justice are clearly outlined. Charity occurred when the villagers were trying to save the babies. Justice occurred when the two men stopped the people dumping the babies into the river.

Charity deals with the immediate need. Justice finds the source of the problem and ends it.

The next time you are on a mission trip, think about whether you are providing charity or justice. Are you providing to the immediate need or fixing the problem? With God, anything is possible and together we can right social injustices.

“If you give a man a fish, he will eat for a day. If you teach a man to fish, he will eat for a lifetime.”

Cell Phones Vs. The Bible

My youth pastor showed us this poem on a Wednesday night and I think it brings up a really good point. What if we treated our Bibles like we do our cell phones?

Ever wondered what would happen if we treated our Bible like we treat our cell phones?
What if we carried it around in our purse or pocket?
What if we flipped through it several times a day?
What if we turned back to get it if we forgot it?
What if we used it to receive messages from the text?
What if we treated it like we couldn’t live without it?
What if we gave it to kids as gifts?
What if we took it with us when we traveled?
What if we used it in case of an emergency?
This is something to make you go…hmm…where’s my Bible?
Oh, and one more thing: Unlike our cell phones, we don’t have to worry about our Bible being disconnected because Jesus already paid the bill.
And no dropped calls!
Makes you stop and think, “Where are my priorities? ”

This is a poem written by Resty Rivera. It makes you wonder doesn’t it? I know that it makes me wonder. If we treated our Bibles like we do our cell phones, (if you have one, if not your probably in better shape than the rest of us) just think of how much our faith in God would grow. Do you know where your Bible is? Just a thought to think about.