Saturday, February 26, 2011

Marching Orders (from Douglas Poole)

Dear Cypress Family and Friends,

“Get up...suit up...give it your best...and leave the results to me.”

Last fall I got away for a few days of silence and solitude. Just me and the Lord. I had some teaching prep materials with me and a couple of books to read but more than anything I was in need of a word from heaven. (I’m one of those people who really believes that when Christ-followers turn an ear toward heaven, God gives discerning whispers, nudges in our spirit or prompting that guide...encourage...correct...challenge or give assignments that bring so much purpose and meaning to our lives.) When that whisper came, it was so not what I was expecting. I wanted an insight that would bring an overnight breakthrough on something that seemed stuck and unchangeable. What I heard was these marching orders: “Get up...suit up...give it your best...and leave the results to me.” H-m-m-m-m

This week I spoke at a whole school assembly on a college campus. I almost didn’t agree when the call came in a few weeks ago and I almost sent Jan Cox, our Director of Student ministries, last minute to speak on my behalf...but when I prayed about it any guesses what I heard? Yep: “Get up...suit up...give it your best...and leave the results to me”. So I did just that and boy oh boy am I ever glad I did. The students connected with what I was saying at a level way deeper than I anticipated. So much so, I spent over an hour after the gathering in conversations with students who were wanting a few moments of time to talk. I drove off shaking my head in amazement of a God who gives promptings to a rank and file Pastor like me...and amazement of what happens when we simply respond to His whispers.

Anybody besides me realize how desperately we need to hear whispers from heaven? In writing this I just got inspired to revisit the book “The Power of a Whisper” by Bill Hybels...if you have never read it and you long to hear from heaven...pick it up today. Okay, I have to put the finishing touches on this weekend’s teaching...time to: get up, suit up, show up, give it my best and leave the results to God...once again.



Saturday, February 19, 2011

Christianity 401 (from Douglas Poole)

Dear Cypress Family and Friends, up for a little Christianity 401? Pray this old Franciscan blessing every day for the next week and then follow the lead of Jesus. Odds are you will begin to find yourself in situations beyond what you can control...and thereby experience God's grace and power in levels that will rock your world.
May God bless you with discomfort at easy answers, half truths, and superficial relationships, so that you may live deep within your heart.
May God bless you with anger at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people, so that you may work for justice, freedom and peace.
May God bless you with tears to shed for those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation, and war, so that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and to turn their pain into joy.
And may God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that you can make a difference in this world, so that you can do what others claim cannot be done.
If that is blessing...then I guess I had a blessed week.

See you this weekend as I wrap up the "i- marriage" series.

May God bless you in a Franciscan sort of way.

- Douglas

Friday, February 11, 2011

A Whisper from Heaven (from Douglas Poole)

Dear Cypress Family and Friends,

“In normal times, isolation hurts. In crisis, isolation kills.
In normal times, community blesses. In crisis, community saves.”

When I read this statement by author/pastor John Ortberg something resonated with it somewhere deep in my soul. So I picked up my handy yellow highlighter and ran it over these words that were jumping off the page at me. Then I set the magazine down to reflect on why I was so stirred...wondering if heaven was whispering in my ear. Sure enough...that familiar, inaudible, still, small voice of God started breaking into my being. I sensed heaven saying...’Get up next to those in isolation and deepen your own connection in community’. In the next few minutes faces flashed on my mind’s screen of people I know who are feeling alone in one kind of a crises or another and the look I saw in those faces revealed a spirit inside them that was dying. So I made a mental list and have begun making contact. One of those faces was that of a compadre whose friendship now spans more than three decades. And oddly enough, he called later that same day to inquire if I could have lunch this week because he was in need of some “DP” time. Hum-m-m-m. Sound like a God-thing to you...did to me. So we will share a meal and community together later today. I pray it blesses him...and I pray it helps to save a man and a ministry well worth saving.

Part two of that whisper was to deepen my own connection in community. Not sure why or what, if anything, awaits me in this journey I am on that would call for that. I have simply learned that whispers from heaven can be trusted, and when I hear His voice I do my best to follow.

I close with this, would you pull off the busy highway of life right now for just a moment or two, quiet yourself and reflect on this:
            “In normal times, isolation hurts. In crisis, isolation kills.
            In normal times, community blesses. In crisis, community saves”

If someone comes to your mind who might just be feeling a little isolated...just reach out. Don’t try to be their therapist nor their rescuer. Just be a friend. Just listen. Just let them know you care. And while you are at it - ponder the quality of your own connection in community these days. Any relationships you should re-connect with and or deepen?

See you this weekend either Saturday night or Sunday morning as Jan Cox will deliver Part II of ‘I-Marriage’. If you missed Jan last week, simply ask anyone who was there about it and you will end up making sure you are in a seat at Cypress this weekend. Better yet, go to the Cypress web page and watch part one for yourself...then I guarantee you you’ll not only be’ll be dragging friends along with you!



Friday, February 4, 2011

Along the way (from Douglas Poole)

Cypress Family and Friends,

“God provides along the way”...if there is a theme to my trip to Haiti this week that is it: God provides along the way. As you go.

I am going to use my Friday e-note to you this week to give a quick report on my time in Haiti. If this interests you then read on, if not now would be the time to exit.

The adventure began on the drive to Miami Sunday night when my Haitian Pastor  friend who usually travels and translates for me, called and cancelled due to a passport issue...not ideal, but not a show stopper. I made sure the guy traveling with me was okay with going in without a guide/translator and we pushed on. Then once in Port au Prince, a friend (Saul) who picked us up at the airport offered to go the rest of the way and help negotiate the trip and translate. Yea God

I’m happy to report that things couldn’t be much better with the chicken/egg micro business we launched...we will double our little farm in February. The limiting ceiling for this effort is the lack of steady electricity needed to have an incubator which will increase our supply of layers and create a market for fryers. Yet through a serendipitous conversation with a new friend I met this trip, we now have access to 24/7 electricity. This man purchased a generator because he needs steady electricity for a hydroponics project he is launching and we get to plug in!!! Some things only happen when you simply show up! Oh and if that is not enough, this man, like us, has been trying unsuccessfully for years to get a well dug so he has purchased a well digging rig put it on a truck and once it clears customs has put us third on the list!!!! Yea God, Yea God, Yea God. Will it be potable? We will see, if not...that problem can be solved with a purification system. God provides along the way.

One evening I met with church leaders and floated the idea of partnering together with us to do micro-loans to help church members start businesses which will help the community, help support their families and help support the church with tithers. They were very warm to the idea. I also meet with the teachers and administrators of the school to encourage and pour into them.  An American friend of mine is arranging for a bonus to be given to the teachers for their efforts. Yea God!

Somehow I also got roped into teaching an ESOL class the church sponsors...which ended up being a blast. 30 Haitians now know how to say: “Douglas Poole is s-o-o-o-o-o cool”.

Another unexpected bonus, is that I invited an in country nurse friend I met on my first trip to Haiti 8 years ago, to visit our church/school/chicken farm/ and clinic. She was swamped and couldn’t visit...but as a consolation prize totally surprised us by giving me boxes and boxes ($5-10K) worth of meds for our clinic. I wish you could have seen the stunned faces, then the joy, then the tears and then hear the prayers of thanksgiving at the little clinic. Oh, and my nurse friend said there is more meds where that came from!!! Again, God provided along the way...simply because I showed up, 1000’s of doses of badly needed meds are going to be distributed in an area lacking in medical care. (Let me know if any of you people in the medical field are ever interested in doing a little good in Haiti with me.)

All along the way...God provided along the way. I wonder where in my life I think I am waiting on God when in reality God is waiting on me? I think I am waiting on God to provide so I can go forward...when really God is waiting on me to go forward so He can provide.

Please keep our Haitian friends in your prayers. Our in country translator this trip, Saul, is showing all the signs of heart issues but does not have access to medical care due to finances. We set him up to get some diagnostic work done and we will go from there. Our church partners do some of the most amazing work in some of the roughest conditions on the planet. I only step into the situation...then leave. I hope I leave God’s grace in my wake there. It feels like I did this time.

I look forward to seeing and greeting our Cypress family at the front door this weekend. See you Saturday night or Sunday morning as we launch a new series: ‘i-marriage’. Or I may see you this evening at the Marriedlife comedy night with Barnes and Minor. (You can get tickets at the door if you didn’t get them on-line).