Thursday, August 27, 2009

How Great Is Our God Video

We had many people ask about the video from last night's service and where they can get it. The video can be purchased here:

It can be purchased as a whole set (4 DVD's in the set) or individually. The DVD we used last night was called How Great Is Our God.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Private Worship Day 7 - Enough

Author: Chris Tomlin

Scripture References: Psalm 103
Verse Text: Psalm 103:1-5 “Praise the Lord, O my soul, all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits…who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.”

I still remember Louie handing me a torn piece of paper from his journal just before the 2001 Passion tour was to hit the road. On it was written this thought among others; “all of you is more than enough for all of me… for every thirst…for every need.” I thought this was such an important and refreshing truth. A truth not just for an audience, but a truth for me personally. Let’s face it, we live in a broken world and we live broken lives. There is so much advertisement today for the “other side of the fence, greener grass” life. TV, magazines, Internet, everywhere you turn, it’s one big plug for that “something else” to make life just grand. And since man and woman first came on the scene, it’s the same trick, the same lie. And the lie just leaves us empty and more unsatisfied every time.
That’s why I love Psalm 103.
v. 1-5 “Praise the Lord, O my soul, all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits...who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.”
God is enough! Way more than enough! In your loneliest and most broken times, he is the one who satisfies. I am not writing from some place I’ve never been. I know what it is like to feel lonely. I know how it feels to lose someone very close. And I know the game of chasing a temporary fix that just leaves you more desperate.

That piece of torn paper had so much to say. Attributes of God were scribbled randomly all over it. And this statement kept appearing in the midst of them… “And still more awesome than I know.” I would encourage you to do this as well. Write down on a journal page the most amazing and beautiful attributes of God you can conceive. Let it be a worship time to God. And end it with, “and still more awesome than I know.” One day the “coming King” will appear and we will see just how awesome.


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Private Worship Day 6 - The Discipline Of Lonely Places

The Discipline Of Lonely Places
Author: JD Walt
Scripture References: Luke 5:16:
'But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed."
The multiple tasking pace of the Palm Pilot age (or DayTimer for the luddites) poses a perilous threat to the ministry Jesus would do among us. Clearly our lives are over-scheduled and under contemplated. But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed. 9 simple words, yet they contain a major strand of the DNA code of Jesus Christ. Let’s break the code.
BUT--But is a context word; a word that says look around; a word signifying a contrast. To be like Jesus means we will contrast with the world around us. Note what comes before the but: crowds, demands, stress, responsibility. (see vv.1-15) But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places where he prayed. Being like Jesus means we need a strategic but (oops!) in our lives too. He moved in a rhythmic pattern between crowds, small groups and solitude. It is no different for us. (see Mark 6:30-32)

OFTEN--the Greek verb tense here is the imperfect which means “he continually withdrew.” Over and over and over, it was his pattern of life. But how can we find time for this? Do we think we are more in demand than Jesus? He carved out the time because his life and ministry depended on it. Until we cultivate this kind of dependency our ministry will not properly be in his name.

WITHDREW-- the sense of the Greek word here conveys a planned, intentional deliberate course of action done repeatedly.

TO LONELY PLACES—The late Henry Nouwen put it this way: “In solitude, I get rid of my scaffolding.” Take some time and examine the Scriptures. In Luke 4, prior to beginning his public ministry Jesus goes to the desert. Luke 4:42 “At daybreak Jesus went out to a solitary place.” Luke 6:12 “One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God.” Luke 11:1 “One day Jesus was praying in a certain place.” Luke 22:39 “Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him. . . . He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed...”
AND PRAYED—Thoreau went to the woods to think. We go to pray. Why? Because prayer is God’s most powerful way of engaging the participation of his people in the particularity of his plans and purposes in the world. Until we learn to pray “Thy Kingdom Come. Thy Will be done on earth as it is in heaven,” we cannot hope to be a significant player in God’s economy. And until we learn the discipline of lonely places we will never learn to pray.

But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed. It is a practice He longs to weave into our genetic code. And remember, a stone’s throw is enough.


Monday, August 24, 2009

Private Worship Day 5 - Everlasting God

Everlasting God
Author: Brenton Brown

When the words of Isaiah 40 were first written, Israel was in exile, punished for abandoning her first love, and scattered across the lands of the middle east. Her temple destroyed, Her people conquered in warfare and then enslaved or forced to live as aliens in other countries. In every way they were far from the blessing and peace of David and Solomon's reign. And then God, through Isaiah, speaks these words to her.

6 "All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field. 7 The grass withers and the flowers fall, because the breath of the LORD blows on them. Surely the people are grass.

One of the things i love about God is how aware He is of our weaknesses - even more aware than we are i think. Aren't these words a healthy corrective to the 'you can do anything you put your mind to' approach we tend to adopt in the West when we want to get things done. The truth is we can't do anything we put our minds to. Sooner or later, no matter who we are, we are eventually confronted with our own mortality. Our own limits. We are weak and fragile and the time we have here on earth is very small. Unfortunately we tend to be mindful of this humbling truth only when we encounter tragedy. But God in this chapter not only reminds Israel of her fragility. He offers His people something they had not known for a long, long time - hope. God promises Israel His comfort and His strength if they simply call on Him. 'Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her hard service has been completed, that her sin has been paid for, that she has received from the LORD's hand double for all her sins....' What God says next to Israel offers all of us hope today because it depends not at all on where we are in history, but entirely on who our unchanging God is. 'See, the Sovereign LORD comes with power, and his arm rules for him. See, his reward is with him, and his recompense accompanies him.11 He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young'. As God reminds Israel, He reminds us, the spiritual Israel today, that He is aware of us. He is aware of our needs. He knows exactly who we are and what each one of us is struggling with. And He gives us this hope. That those who wait on Him, those who entwine themselves in Him, like a cord is entwined with other cords and is strengthened, will be strengthened by the God who does not grow weary or weak. The everlasting God.

27 Why do you say, O Jacob, and complain, O Israel, "My way is hidden from the LORD; my cause is disregarded by my God"? 28 Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. 29 He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. 30 Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; 31 but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

Doesn't this stir your heart to praise? I know it stirs mine. I've said it before, and I know it sounds strange, but I am so proud of our God. I am so proud of His consistency, His compassion, His awesome and unlimited power. But even beyond His power I am moved by the mercy and compassion He has for His people. This is a God worth following, this is a God who stirs my heart in adoration and worship.


Sunday, August 23, 2009

Private Worship Day 4 - How Can I Keep From Singing Your Praise

How Can I Keep From Singing Your Praise
Author: Chris Tomlin
Scripture References: 2 Corinthians 11: 24-27, 2 Corinthians 4:7-10, Philippians 1:19-21

I had the opportunity a couple of weeks ago, to go to one of the biggest college football games ever, the University of Texas vs. Ohio State. While I was there I realized that it did not matter whether you are a fan, alumni, or just a person mooching off a season ticket holder (like myself), that when the band starts playing the Texas fight song, “The Eyes of Texas,” you cannot help but sing along. It is so exciting to see a sea of burnt orange standing with their pointer finger and pinky in the air and singing, “until Gabriel blows his horn.” At that point you move from spectator to participant. For those on the outside, or at home watching the game on TV, this may seem strange because at that point you are a spectator. However, if you are in the stands, participating, there is absolutely no way you can just sit and watch everyone else sing their hearts out. You have to sing. You can’t keep from singing.
Isn’t that the same way with our faith? The bible tells us that, “the message of the cross is foolishness to those that are perishing (spectators), but to those that are being saved (participant) it is the power of life.” We can see this truth fleshed out through the life of the Apostle Paul. In Acts 8 we meet Paul, who was at that point named Saul, who was a spectator to the faith and a persecutor of the church. He was present during Stephen’s sermon and stoning. Verse 3 says that Saul made havoc of the church and was dragging men and women to prison because of their belief. Saul knew that the name of Jesus Christ was beginning to spread throughout the land and he was watching it happen.

However, everything changes when we read on into chapter 9. This is where we see that God shown a light down on Saul and gave him his calling. His calling was very clear in verse 15 and 16. It reads, “for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear my name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel, for I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name’s sake.” Saul immediately began preaching boldly in the name of Jesus. What was the change? How could a man who was a persecutor of the church change instantly into arguably the most influential Christian of all time? The answer is Jesus. Coming face to face with Jesus, and understanding his calling, changes everything. At this very moment he moved from spectator to participant, or from Saul to Paul.

These verses also give us a little more understanding of why Paul had to suffer so much. 2 Corinthians 11: 24-27 (from the Message) says:
I've worked much harder, been jailed more often, beaten up more times than I can count, and at death's door time after time. I've been flogged five times with the Jews' thirty-nine lashes, beaten by Roman rods three times, pummeled with rocks once. I've been shipwrecked three times, and immersed in the open sea for a night and a day. In hard traveling year in and year out, I've had to ford rivers, fend off robbers, struggle with friends, struggle with foes. I've been at risk in the city, at risk in the country, endangered by desert sun and sea storm, and betrayed by those I thought were my brothers. I've known drudgery and hard labor, many a long and lonely night without sleep, many a missed meal, blasted by the cold, naked to the weather.

How could anyone go through all of that and still have so much joy? Paul obviously got the bigger picture. He had met Jesus and was doing the work that he was called to do. This understanding of his calling and his new identity in Christ is the reason that he could go through such difficult times and still say, “but we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be God and not of us. We are hard pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed- always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.” (2 Corinthians 4:7-10)

Acts 16 is home to the story of Paul and Silas singing in a jail cell. Incase you are unfamiliar with this story, Paul had just commanded a spirit to come out of a young fortune-teller girl. Her father was angry at them, because now all his hope and profit was gone. He then took Paul and Silas to the authorities in the marketplace and we read that, “the multitude rose up together against them, and the chief magistrates tore off their clothes and commanded them to be beaten with rods. And when they had laid many stripes on them, they threw them into prison, commanding the jailer to keep them securely. Having received such a charge, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks.” After being beaten, sentenced, and chained, how did they respond? Verse 25 says, “But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them.” They were singing! In the midst of extreme persecution, they still sang their praise to God… and what happened? Their chains were loosed. They could have run away (like many of us would), but they stayed around to see the hand of the Lord at work and see their jailer get saved. Paul was now participating in the gospel being spread. How could he not sing?

Our friend Paul understood that no matter the circumstance he would be delivered. “For I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayer and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, according to my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body whether by life or by death. For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” (Philippians 1:19-21) He had met Jesus! He had been given his calling, and was fulfilling that calling no matter what came his way. He says that if these circumstances bring death, then Praise the Lord. There was nothing that was going to keep him from singing to his Lord and Savior.
Let us be reminded that we, like Paul, have had the grace of Jesus extended to us. We have been given the same promises. It is because of Jesus, and the hope that we find through Him that we can sing:

There is an endless song
Echoes in my soul
I hear the music ring
And though the storms may come
I am holding on
To the rock I cling
How can I keep from singing Your praise
How can I ever say enough
How amazing is Your love
How can I keep from shouting Your name
I know I am loved by the King
And it makes my heart want to sing

I will lift my eyes
In the darkest night
For I know my Savior lives
And I will walk with You
Knowing You’ll see me through
And sing the songs You give

I can sing in the troubled times
Sing when I win
I can sing when I lose my step
And fall down again
I can sing ‘cause You pick me up
Sing ‘cause You're there
I can sing ‘cause You hear me, Lord
When I call to You in prayer
I can sing with my last breath
Sing for I know
That I'll sing with the angels
And the saints around the throne


Saturday, August 22, 2009

Private Worship Day 3 - Glory

Glory - It's What You're Talking About
Author: Louie Giglio

Scripture References: Psalm 16
1. Preserve me, O God, for I take refuge in You. 2. I said to the LORD, 'You are my Lord; I have no good besides You.' 3. As for the saints who are in the earth, They are the majestic ones in whom is all my delight. 4. The sorrows of those who have bartered for another god will be multiplied; I shall not pour out their drink offerings of blood, Nor will I take their names upon my lips. 5. The LORD is the portion of my inheritance and my cup; You support my lot. 6. The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places; Indeed, my heritage is beautiful to me. 7. I will bless the LORD who has counseled me; Indeed, my mind instructs me in the night. 8. I have set the LORD continually before me; Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. 9. Therefore my heart is glad and my glory rejoices; My flesh also will dwell securely. 10. For You will not abandon my soul to Sheol; Nor will You allow Your Holy One to undergo decay. 11. You will make known to me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever.

Nobody likes exams. At least I never have. They stress us out, make us cram and cause us to be anxious when it’s time to see the results. Why? Because tests show us, and unfortunately those around us, what’s true about you and me.

And that’s the way it is with glory. We know what is supreme in our souls by what comes out of our mouths. That’s the true test of our devotion and affection. In other words, what we value most is what we talk about. Whatever we’re talking about is what we value most. It’s one thing to say the words “I want to glorify God with my life” or “God, be glorified in me,” but at some point we have to break these wonderful, spiritual sounding phrases into practical terms. And to do that we have to ask the question, “What am I talking about most?” Because whatever it is that we talk about most is what we are glorifying with our lives!

The reason is simple—we all have been made in God’s image, housing mirrored souls designed to reflect His glory. We are created to worship and that’s what we constantly do, declaring the praise of whatever our heart’s affection is riveted on.

Imagine carrying around a huge mirror everywhere you go. It’s going to reflect to you, and to those around you, whatever you aim it at. If you turn it away from yourself, it will reflect the objects or people that you point it towards. If the mirror is facing you, it will reflect your image back to you and others.

It’s no different with our souls. They reflect whatever we point them towards. Our souls give glory to whatever they are fixed on. But since we cannot see the soul, how do we know what we have aimed it towards? By what comes out of our mouths. The truth is, we talk most about what we love, what we think about, what we’re impressed by, enthralled with… what our hearts are set on.

That’s why I love the declaration David makes in Psalm 16:8 when he says, “I have set the Lord always before me, because He is at my right hand I will not be shaken.” The scripture tells us that David was a “man after God’s own heart,” and we know that to be true because of his actions AND his words. All through his life, in good times as well as in difficult places, David keeps on telling of the greatness of God. In all kinds of varied circumstances He always ends up glorifying God.

And you know how he pulls it off? As verse eight tells us, David was “always” setting the Lord before Him. David knew the secret of aiming His gaze (his thoughts and affections) towards the Almighty God at all times. Another translation says David set the Lord before him “continually.” The result—God’s praise is continually coming out of his mouth.

Listen to some of the things David says about God in this Psalm:

Apart from You I have no good thing. (v. 2)
You fill me with joy. (v. 11)
I love being in Your presence. (v. 11)
My pleasure is being with You. (v. 11)
You are my refuge. (v. 1)

Once David’s heart (mirror) is pointed at God, amazing things happen. For one, his heart is glad. Aiming our souls toward an unshakable God brings us “inside joy” in any situation. As well, his tongue rejoices. Oh yeah! There it is. His tongue (some versions interestingly say his “glory”), or the core of who he is, tells God’s praise. And to top it all off, his body rests secure.

So, what are we talking about? As followers of Jesus, worshippers and lead worshippers alike, we must examine ourselves, asking the hard question about what we are glorifying with our lives. Is it the songs? Is that what we talk about most? Our ministries? The hottest band? The latest conference we attended or the latest CD we listened to? Or what “so and so” said about whatever? Or what book we read? Or the latest ministry strategy?

Or somewhere in the midst of it all are we talking about Jesus? Is His name often on our lips as we go about our lives… as we are hanging out with friends over a Starbucks or lunch? The degree to which Jesus is the center of our conversations is the true test of how much we really have found our delight in Him.

Think about how much glory we give to sports teams, pop stars, ourselves, the clothes we wear, other people, possessions, events, experiences (the stuff our souls are aimed at most) everyday as they fill our mouths and dominate our conversations. And yet we claim to have an intimate love affair with the God of the universe.

The life that glorifies God is not easy, but it’s not complicated either. Such a life begins with little intentional steps as we moment by moment turn our attention to the living, loving Lord of All. The point is NOT that there’s anything wrong with enjoying the life around us, but that these “lesser things” are no match for the God who has made us… and they never fully satisfy our souls. So the answer is NOT that we stop talking about them, but that we more consistently take time to redirect our souls towards Him. Soon, His joy will satisfy our hearts and shape our words. And even our flesh will rest secure


Friday, August 21, 2009

Private Worship Day 2 - Above All Else

Above All Else

Author: Vicky Beeching
Scripture References: Matthew 13:44
Verse Text: "God’s Kingdom is like a perfect, flawless pearl. When a Jewel Merchant sees it, in his excitement and joy he sells all he owns to buy this one treasure” (Matthew 13:44 paraphrased)

Listen to the song:

Life can often feel like a busy, fast-moving journey. We have to keep running onwards, and get little time to look around and take in the scenery. But every now and then, we arrive at a bend in the road, or reach the top of a hill or mountain. In that place we have to pause, take in the view around us and decide which direction and path we will take next. We must also choose who and what governs our decisions and priorities in life.
I found myself on that hill-top of decision, after three busy years at Oxford University. There had always been an obvious next step – school, college, university, and now what? I looked around at the view, seeing many pathways and options to pursue. I needed God’s direction as I stepped into this next season of life.

At that time of reflection and decision making, a song was born. It was a heart cry that clothed itself in lyrics and melody. I had dreams, goals and hopes for my life, but one desire eclipsed them all - wanting more of Jesus. At that bend in the road, I chose that all my decisions in the years ahead would be based on one foundational prayer – “God, above all else in life, I want you. Give me Yourself”. The song lyrics I wrote, express this desire:

Jesus, my passion in life is to know you
May all other goals bow down to
This journey of loving you more
Jesus, you’ve showered your goodness on me
Given your gifts so freely
But there’s one thing I’m longing for
Hear my heart’s cry
And my prayer for this life...

Above all else
Above all else
Above all else
Give me yourself

It is my ‘mission statement’ for life, in song form. It reminds me what really matters. When I’m faced with decisions, the jukebox in my head usually starts playing this song! Suddenly I hear the line “may ALL other goals bow down to this journey of loving you more”, and it keeps my choices anchored on loving and following Jesus.

Right now we all stand on a hill top together, watching as this day comes to a close and a new day begins to dawn. The view stretches out ahead of us - new horizons, new challenges, new choices to make. I hope you will join with me, praying that God will be first in our lives - above all else - in all that lies ahead. May knowing and loving him more, be the passion that guides our steps.


Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Private Worship Day 1 - Beautiful Savior

Beautiful Savior
Author: Stuart Townend
Scripture References: Psalm 27:4, Ephesians 1:19-20, Colossians 2:15...

Listen To The Song:

As I look at the wonderful outpouring of worship songs in recent years, I’ve noticed that many of them describe our feelings and experiences of God in worship; rather less turn our attention completely away from ourselves to look at God. We need to make sure we don’t limit God to our experience of Him; part of our worship needs to be exclusively for, about, and to God Himself – as the psalmist says, “to gaze upon His beauty” (Ps 27:4).
That’s what I’ve tried to do in the chorus of this song. The verses chart our history, current place and future in Christ, but the chorus is entirely devoted to describing the Saviour, using various names that the Bible itself uses for Him. Let’s examine a couple of them.

Lord of history – the Bible teaches that God is sovereign over all the earth. Although there are many things we don’t understand about what happens in the world, whether it’s an international crisis or a personal tragedy, we do know that God is bringing all things to a divine conclusion. God is not frustrated by the plans of men: His plan for the world and the church will not be thwarted. We can trust in His total sovereign plan.

But God isn’t just Lord of the big picture: He’s Lord of our personal history too. He knows where we have been, what we have done, and He’s used it all to bring us to this place and point in time. His purpose is being worked out, and we are being shaped by the same power that raised Jesus form the dead (Eph 1:19-20).

Heaven’s Champion - sometimes we can be so focused on our personal redemption that we can miss the glory of the greater purposes of God in salvation. Jesus came to earth with a mission – to bring back a lost humanity, to restore a relationship severed by sin and rebellion, and to shape a beautiful Bride for eternity.

Jesus became the Champion of heaven as He set about His mission, preaching good news to the poor (Isa 61:1ff), enduring the cross, defeating death and the curse of sin, and arriving back in heaven having disarmed the principalities and powers (Col 2:15). Imagine the celebration of heaven at the ascension of Christ – truly the Champion’s return!
Finally, there’s one phrase in the song that I want to look at, which I believe is fundamental to our full freedom in Christ (2 Cor 3:17; Rom 8:21; Gal 5:1). In verse 1 we sing “of sins forgiven, of conscience cleansed”. Now the first phrase we tend to fully embrace. We know that our sins are forgiven, that all the wrongs we have done were laid on Christ at the cross (Isa 53:6).

But many of us stop there. We know we’re forgiven, but we still carry round with us the guilt and condemnation associated with those sins. We may be free, but we still think and act as slaves, “miserable sinners saved by grace”. We know the prison gates have been smashed open, but we still live within the prison walls.

But Jesus didn’t die just to forgive us when we sin: He broke the power of sin over us! The forgiveness of God means we can live with a clear conscience, knowing we stand pure and blameless in His sight, with the ability and power to live in a way that pleases God. Sure, we may fall from time to time, but His acceptance, love and presence are always there, and are not dependent on our effort or righteousness (Rom 8:38-9; Heb 10:22).

May God really establish these truths in our lives as we gaze upon our beautiful Saviour.


Sunday, July 19, 2009

Drought in East Pokot

drought conditions in East Pokot

Saturday, at 6:30 AM Joe, Molly, Daniel, Victor, Jennifer and I left for East Pokot. Before leaving town we picked up Theresa, a pastor who sold her home in the US and moved to Nakuru in December.

We went to East Pokot to visit Pastor Chochoi and his wife, Nelly, who operate a home for 50 girls. Many of the tribes in Kenya do female circumcision/mutilization and forced marriages. Often girls 15 years old (or younger) are forced to marry 50 or 60 year old men. They are essentially sold for a dowry. The Cana Girls Rescue Home takes in girls some as young as 8 or 9 who have run away to escape these horrid customs.

East Pokot is about 100 miles north of Nakuru. The drive started on a rough, paved-but-potholed road and after we crossed the equator it went down hill from there. The last 30-40 miles there was no pavement, no gravel, just dirt and rocks. The climate and vegetation also got more rugged as we traveled north, from a fairly temperate climate here in Nakuru to semi-arid and then arid. The East Pokot area is desert, similar to what you’d find in Arizona. The area is so dry, they can’t grow any crops.

Continue reading Drought in East Pokot


Paul and Jen with a massive flock of pelicans and flamingos on Lake Nakuru

Today Jennifer, Molly, Daniel, and I did a safari in Lake Nakuru National Park. The animals are most active early in the morning, so that meant leaving the house at 6:30 AM. It was a fantastic experience! We got right up close to lots of beautiful wildlife and got to see some spectacular vistas.

Because I am very tired this evening and we are heading out at 6:30 AM tomorrow to serve some folks in another community I’m going to let the photos speak for themselves. I do have one brief story, though, which you can read if you scroll all the way to the end of this post

Continue reading Safari

Amazing Community


This morning we drove to the rural village of Kabarak. This village had lots of problems with alcoholism and prostitution, but about a year ago All Nations Church, the church in Nakuru that Joe and Molly are a part of, planted a church in Kabarak. The church building that was constructed not only serves as a place of worship but also as a nursery school and a community center. The church has become the heart of the village and the transformation has been remarkable.

As a rural community they rely on agriculture to survive. The last couple of years have been very dry, and this year again the rainy season has been short. Crops are failing and many of the people in the village are hungry.

We arrived and went into the church building where about 40 children under the age of 6 and 40 adults had gathered. We were welcomed warmly, and a group of the children sang a song for us. By the way, you know you’re in a rural church when you glance outside and see cows strolling two feet away from the window. Anyways…

Continue reading Amazing Community

The Beautiful and the Not-So-Beautiful

people and pigs picking through garbage at the landfill

We started this morning by going to the infamous landfill. I say infamous because I’ve been told about it by Joe and Molly as well as Douglas (senior pastor of my church) and Chris (worship leader of my church) when they went to Kenya earlier this year, and I’ve seen some pictures. There is an entire community of people who live on the local landfill. I don’t mean near it or next to it, but literally on top of it.

The Not-So-Beautiful

Walking up the hill of garbage on our way to the landfill community was just surreal. It was not far from what I expected but it was still difficult to believe it was real even though I was seeing it with my own eyes.

Continue reading The Beautiful and the Not-So-Beautiful


boys playing soccer at the school(Apologies again for some of the low-quality pics, as several were ripped from our low-quality video as we tried to be as inconspicuous as possible taking pictures in some sensitive settings.)

We started this morning by visiting a local school. The school has about 600 students ranging from what would be about 1st through 8th grade in the US. We brought with us about a dozen soccer balls and some shoes and socks. When we arrived, there was a group of about 30 boys running around on a soccer field kicking around a plastic bag. As Joe pumped up a soccer ball, several other groups of students noticed the ball and started excitedly jumping up and down. Joe shanked, er, I mean punted the ball out to the boys on the soccer field and they just went crazy for it.

And things at the school only got better from there…

Continue reading Intense

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

A Typical Day for Us


Today was our first full day in Kenya. We woke up to a cool but sunny day. After breakfast and getting a tour from Molly of the grounds Joe, Molly, Jennifer, Victor, and I set off on our first adventure.

Victor is a Kenyan, about 30 years old, and lives with his wife in a small house on the same property as Joe and Molly. He’s an accountant by trade, but has been working more or less as the general contractor for the orphanage, hiring workers, ordering materials, making sure the work is done right. He also has a wonderful love for God and other people. He’s a month away from graduating from Bible college. He does a lot of other ministry work with the Bails and his real passion is for counseling people.


Our first stop today was to help a boy named Samuel…
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A Tour of the Bails’


I mentioned before that I wanted to give you a tour of Joe and Molly’s place. I think one of the fears people have of going on a trip like this is fear of what their living conditions will be like. You go in with so many stereotypes and preconceived notions of what things will be like. Many of them simply are not accurate.

The equator runs right through Kenya. Equator = hot and humid, right? I’ve also seen plenty of pictures of the Serengeti – vast plains of flat grassland, so I figured that’s how most of Kenya would be. But that’s not accurate at all. Nakuru is at an elevation of about 7,000 feet above sea level. That’s higher than the Mile High city of Denver.

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We Made it!

arrivalOur trip from Tampa to Nakuru couldn’t have been better.

Our first flight left Tampa at 3:30 PM Saturday and arrived in Detroit at 6:15. We had just a hour layover in Detroit, so by the time we found the gate for our next flight (which they had moved without notice) most people had already boarded. The flight from Detroit to Amsterdam was about 7 hours. It arrived in Amsterdam at 9 AM their time, which was 3 AM to us. Again we had only about an hour layover in Amsterdam before our flight for Nairobi took off. But everything went smoothly and we made it through customs/check in just before they started boarding.

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Sunday, July 12, 2009

Africa Update

Made it to Amsterdam. So far, so good...

Saturday, March 14, 2009

I’m ba-a-a-a-ck!

Yeah God for an action packed, full, challenging but successful trip to Haiti and back. This trip was fraught with obstacles that had to be overcome which gave an added sense of adventure. Annoying things like being bumped from a flight after waiting hours and being stuck in Port au Prince…a rooster who parked outside our open window and decided that 4 AM seemed like a nice time to begin crowing…our driver being detained by the police for over an hour until a little cash suddenly made things better…a bank president in Port au Paix who wanted me to go back to Port au Prince for a couple of days and stand in obscenely long lines to get papers documented before doing business with me and the Cypress money in his bank, for there is no other way he insisted – but when I reminded him how much money we put through his bank every year and that he is not the only show in town – he found a way…eating my yearly quota of way over cooked goat…to Chris being hustled off to a “room” as we tried to clear US customs in Miami where he was given a full dose of “Guantanamo hospitality” until it was verified that he was not the Chris Cox from Indiana they were looking for…and so on. Now tomorrow morning people will ask me how my vacation was! Yeah right!

Anyway, every time I began to wonder if it was worth it…I either thought of or looked into the eyes of the precious children who attend our school and then I would remember that outside of our involvement they have no other apparent option for the hope and chance at a better life and eternity we bring to their lives…and I would again find the fight needed. And the fight was won. The bank account was settled; encouragement was poured into our teachers and administrators; advance work on the well was done; filming was completed for our next focus on the school; the mayor pledged both support and a field for a sports camp we will offer this fall; plans were laid (bad pun) for launching a chicken farm so eggs can be sold to support the school and we ministered to numerous children and adults that God put in our path.

Thanks for your prayers…thanks for your support…and thanks for being a part of something that is bringing hope to an area of the world that is in short supply of it. The church is the hope of this world because we alone have the message of God’s grace through Jesus Christ.

I’ll see you Meadowers at the front door of Cypress tomorrow morning…10-10.



Life on the Lamb

Every time I'm returning from out of the country and the plane wheels touch down, I'm so grateful to be home. I love my country. As I walk off the plane I see signs of organization and order. Moral and good people who are for the most part considerate and kind...

But then I enter into another world known as customs. I've certainly never enjoyed my experience working my way through the netherworld of customs, but tonight as I attempted to navigate my way through the chaos, it was a much different experience than I have had the pleasure of expereincing.

I'm always afraid I'm going to say some bad terrorism buzz word that will get me thrown into prison for years. I just try to answer questions in the most direct way possible - but something went drastically wrong this evening.

As I waited in line, the lady in front of me, on her way up to the official, invites her entire family in the back of the line to come join her. And as much as that stuff frustrates me, we had plenty of time to kill before our next flight, so I waited until her crew was through and told Douglas I would meet up with he and Pastor Caleb (a haitian american pastor friend) on the other side of the glass.

I finally made my way up to the official and was asked three questions: where were you born, where are you coming from, did you ever live in Indiana... I answered them and packed up to be on my way - however, he said that I needed to follow a customs office for further questioning.

The official led me down a long hallway and into a rather small(ish) room packed with about 250-300 people. As I looked around I noticed that I was one of the only caucasian-americans in the room. The official who led me into the room, turned around quickly and left through another door. As I opened the door to follow him, other officials communicated very clearly that I was not to go in "that" room and that I needed to wait in "this" room.

There was another official who was standing on his chair yelling (literally) at the crowd to make some space at the front of the room (which was really humorous because of 1-the size of the room and 2-the amount of people crammed into this small space. I asked the man yelling at the room if my name will be called or if I was supposed to wait for someone. He shot me a dirty look and said, "I DO NOT HAVE TIME FOR YOU!" Because they had my passport, I found a seat near the back of the room and tried to figure out what was going on. I found a couple people who spoke english and found out that they had been in there for anywhere between 3 & 5 hours, and since I had a plane to catch in 3 hours, I was getting very nervous. I sent Douglas a text as quickly as I could so I wouldn't have my phone "confiscated", and told him I might not be making the next flight with him.

After about an hour of waiting, a man came in and asked if anyone in the room was in transit and hadn't already missed their flight. Three of us shot up our hands, but because they had actually already missed their flight, I was directed to come to the front. He asked me a few more quick questions then said I could go. I asked him if he would tell me what in the world the problem was. He explained that there was a warrant out for an arrest for a Chris Cox from Anderson, IN (which is where I lived for 4 years) and took them a while to figure out that I was not the one they were looking for. I grabbed my passport and ran out of there as quickly as I could, eventually found Douglas and spent the rest of the time there trying to stop shaking from frustration.

So that was my night last was yours?

Friday, March 13, 2009

My Heart Will Go On (and on)

I've been sitting in a tiny outdoor airport terminal for a while now. We're now on the third time through the Celion Deon cd that is blaring through the speaker mounted just two feet above my head.

As we waited, a little boy came up to me and wanted to shine my shoes. Today I'm wearing my 7 year old "run around in the mud" shoes. I'm sure you have a similar pair. I had no desire to have these shoes in any better condition then they were, but was happy to have a reason to give this little boy some money.

As he shined my shoes, I thought about how shoe shinning is a modern day foot washing. The same type of people would be doing the job (enconomic/class), it's a dirty job, cleaning the dirtiest part of the body. Then the thought overwhelmingly hit me-what if this were Jesus on his knees in front of me scrubbing the years of dirt and dust off of my feet. Could I stand there and allow him to do that for me?

Even as I write this now, I don't have an answer. I'm sure I would have reacted in some similar ways the disciples reacted.

As I hum along to the titanic song for the third time, I think about how I am so happy to be going home and at the same time, wished we had more time to be here. We sqeezed so much into two days time. Days started so early and went to very late with very little down time. I've just now started finding the time to process the things I've experienced. One thought (or emotion more acurately) that is certain in me is that I'm renewed in my commitment to make a difference for these people I've come to love.

I'm going to begin editting more of the photos and videos we shot here this week and will share as quickly as I can.


Lord willing...we return home sometime after mid-night....if the plane arrives, if we get on, if the plane takes off...if. The thought that runs through my mind is the same thought I have each time I prepare to leave the island...the thought that I am about to step out of the pervasive suffering and lack that so defines Haiti and step back into my over-privilegeded life of electircity, fully stocked food pantry, water heater and over stuffed clostets. I step out, while my friends and brothers and sisters here have no escape available to them. And what I admire is their determination to not escape but to see their homeland transformed by the power and grace of our God. So once again I recommit to and raising awareness and support for this grand vision. I leave Jean, Jos, Tanya, Wilson, Marita and many other people whose faces are in my mind but the ever present savor Jesus never leaves nor forsakes. Yeah God. If you want your life to matter give your life to what matters most to God...people. If you want your life to matter to people...make people matter to you. -Douglas

Thursday, March 12, 2009

A long...long day

9:30 at night, and I am falling over as I type. Our day started at 4:45 this morning. We woke to the sounds of a church singing...loudly. It was on one hand a beautiful sound, and on the other hand, just %@#$ me off. We were told at breakfast that the church across the street has a morning service each day at 5:00. I eventually gave up the fight to get back to sleep and climbed up on the roof to watch the day begin.

For the rest of the day, we fit a weeks worth of work into a one day visit. We squeezed every potential drop out of the day. It was both exciting and exhausting being chased all day by hordes of screaming children wanting to rub my head and hold my hand. I met so many beautiful children today, got excited and proud of the work we are doing here with the school, saw the potential of a new generation of hope rising in Haiti, and got to spend a lot of time with a few of the sharpest minds in Haiti (the guys running our school).

I have so much in my heart, but my head is done for the day.

Chris is right...a very long day...I left nothing on the table today so by now I feel as if I have nothing to say which would coherently capture the day and do justice to what needs to be said. So for tonight I will let the pictures speak on our behalf. Tomorrow will begin long before the sun rises and we retrace our steps back home. Somewhere as we sit in airports or ride on planes we will work to find the words that deserve to be said about these last three check the blog sometime tomorrow night. Au revoir -Douglas

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Blah, Blah, Blah

I've heard it all day long...blanc, blanc (pronounced "blah"). Literal translation: "hey white boy". Little children yelling it over an over again as they run behind the pickup truck that we're riding in. Saying it over an over again as we walk down the street wanting me to take their picture so they can see their beautiful faces on my 3" lcd screen. Beautiful children, not given the same chances that my own boys will never realize they have.

Its good to finally be here, it wasn't easy. We've had so much trouble on this trip. We got into Port Au Prince, Haiti around 11:00am yesterday and jetted over to a smaller airport just down the road to try and book the next leg of our trip to Port de Paix. We were told to wait, so we waited, and waited, and waited. Finally our names were called! Up to the counter to find out that they were full. So we purchased our tickets for the next day. We found a place to stay for the night and got to the airport the next morning (today). We checked in with no problems, but once we got on the plane, we looked out the window to see my luggage still sitting on the runway as we pulled away. We were told that it would get to us sometime worries. So not only am I'm I without a toothbrush and clothes, the video camera is also in there, so no filming. We were also stopped by the police and took about an hour before we finally worked a "deal" with them. Spent hours at the bank trying to rap up some school business. Yes - it was a long trip here.

But now that we're here, it seems right. It seems right to be with the people we're with. It's good to connect with people who live in a culture so different than my own, but still have so much "core" stuff in common. And - as I was writing this, my bag showed up! THANK YOU GOD! We have finally arrived!

We start filming tomorrow, lots of pictures today - I'll attach a few of the best below - all for now from me (Chris)


PS. A Few thoughts from Douglas

Once again I am seeing the faces and hearing the voices of some Haitian brothers and sisters I have come to love. As Chris said the journey here took longer than expected and was fraught with an interesting twist or two. As we drove the hour it takes to travel the 8 miles from Port de Paix to St Louis (yes you read that right...a hour to drive 8 miles) I saw again the simply deplorable conditions people live in here, I saw some spray painted words on a wall that read "Haiti, Mission Impossible". Were is not for the God with whom all things are possible the graffiti artist would be right. In the middle of this mess is a ray of hope, a church changing this little corner of the world one life at a time. After the bank fiasco...the police "pull over" and the bag issue I silently prayed and ask the Lord to remind me why I'm doing this...then we got to the school and I was met by the smiling faces of some of the children we sponsor and I saw hope in the middle of this hopelessness and I remembered why I'm doing this. Were things reversed, I hope some Pastor in better circumstances would jump in the mess with I'm elbow deep in it again.