We just returned from a 1 week trip to the nation of Haiti a few days ago.  processing my thoughts and feelings about the trip has been more difficult than I expected.  We went with a group of 16 people, all hoping to make a change and show God's love and encouragement to a nation ravaged by earthquake, disease, hunger and long term poverty.  The needs were so great.  Clean water, dry shelter, food, peace and order, leadership from government.  I've been a few places in my life where basic human need were lacking.  Places like Tijuana, Mexico and Nairobi, Kenya.  I was not prepared for the total poverty of this island nation.  Simple things that we enjoy like trash, sanitation, water and roads void of potholes are just a dream for much of Haiti.  And in the midst of this tragic situation, God was working.  Out of the rubble, lives are being rebuilt.  I had heard that the Haitians were a strong and resilient group of people.  Seeing them and meeting many for myself brings me to the conclusion that Haitians are the strongest and most resilient people I have ever known.  The spiritual strongholds of voodoo and withcraft are well known in Haiti.  There is a spirit of fear that affects many people.  But since the earthquake, several Haitians I talked to said that the power of voodoo is diminishing and that more people are turning towards a loving, benevolent God.  I went to Haiti because God's love compelled me to go.  I thought I might be a part of rebuilding what was destroyed.  I'm walking away from this trip with the feeling that no amount of money or man's effort can rebuild Haiti.  It's too far gone.  Only God himself can bring about this kind of change.  The good news is that is exactly what He wants to do.  It is God's plan to bring beauty out of ashes and exchange mourning for joy.  There is hope for Haiti, but it will take more than the NATO forces can provide.  Even if the USA sends the 1.1 billion it has promised to aid this country, it will still take a gracious work of a redeeming God to transform lives and breathe hope into this people.  Let's pray for Haiti.  Let's send teams to encourage what God is doing among His people.  Let's sponsor projects that work to rebuild and restore our neighbors in the Carribean.  hen it's all said and done, lets give God the glory for what He did!
 
 
This last week I attended a conference of Foursquare ministers from southern california.  We met in Arroyo Grande for 3 days of ministry, encouragement and fellowship.  There were approx 300 people who came for the same purpose - to get refilled for our roles as spiritual leaders.  The main speaker the first night was Rev. Leslie Keegel from Sri Lanka.  We were encouraged by this brother in the Lord do something radical, dump all our programs and man made ministry tools and return to a dependancy on the power and direction of the Holy Spirit.  He told us that we needed to stop our toiling in the flesh and get back to spiritual dynamics like prayer and fasting.  We were chastised for over an hour by this apostolic figure who started a church in his home 30 years ago which turned into 1200 churches today.  The most wonderful part of the whole thing was not that we got a spiritual spanking, but in the way in which it was delivered.  This mighty man of God was anything but imposing, standing maybe 5 foot 5 inches and weighing in at about 125 lbs.  He was a picture of humility, in his manner, his speech, and personality.  But this man really stood 7 feet tall and weighed about 350 lbs in a spiritual sense.  He was a heavyweight!  He came in such a loving and humble spirit, that after having been chastised for the better part of an evening, we all humbled ourselves in prayer afterward and gave him an extended applause.  It never felt so good to get beat up.  It reminds me of how the Holy Spirit works on us.  He is such a gentleman when it comes to conviction, guidance, direction and correction.  God doesn't want to hurt us, He wants to love us, even when correcting us!  Isn't God good?
 
 
The headlines this past week of Bishop Eddie Long's alleged sexual encounters with 4 young men have rocked the church once more.  I've been grieved by this scandal.  It's the church that suffers when it's followers and especially it's leaders violate the morals that they profess.  A few things that I've been chewing on:
1.  Matthew 7:1,2    'Judge not, that you be not judged.  For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you."
2.  1 Corinthians 10:12  "Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall."
3.  Ephesians 5:1-7  "Therefore be imitators of God as dear children.  And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling aroma.  But fornication and all uncleaness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints; neither filthiness, not foolish talking, nor course jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks.  For this you know, that not fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the ingdom of Christ and God.  Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.  Therefore do not be partakers with them." 
4.  Galatians 6:1,2  "Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted.  Bear one another's burdens, an so fulfill the law of Christ."

When I think about this situation with Bishop Long, on one hand it makes me angry knowing that there is damage to the body of Christ but on the other hand I am compelled by Christ to respond with 1.  Personal humilty  2.  Graciousness  3.  Christ likeness
I hope for the Bishop's sake that he comes clean about any inpropriety so that he could be healed.  1 John 1:9  If we confess our sins, he will forgive us of our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.



 
 

Today we picked up a load of food from the LA Foodbank.  Our bus was filled to overflowing.  Each thursday morning a small group of guys head out at dark to drive to Los Angeles so that we can pick up food in order to give out the next morning at our church.  We normally get about 3500 lbs each trip plus a pickup full of fruits and veggies.  Today we got a bigger load, 5900 lbs!!  The suspension was bottoming out and the chassis creaked and groaned all the way back to Lancaster, about 80 miles.  I'm now on my way to meet a friend for lunch and the thought that stuck me was that I know where I'm going to get each meal.  I am very blessed.  But this is not true for many people who live in our area.  The Antelope Valley has 17% unemployment right now and many people are losing their jobs, homes and hope.  Each week in our food ministry we estimate that we are providing food for 500-800 people.  It is such a blessing for us to be able to be a part of God showing His love and grace to people.  It feels good that I've been a part of helping others receive  meals.  Isaiah 58 holds great promises to us if we will consider the plight of those in need around us.  

 
 
This last week I was with a group of pastors from around the US who were meeting as representatives for the Foursquare Church.  Our discussions centered around our funding model of the church in order to accomplish our mission, "Raising up leaders to go to the world and make disciples of all nations.".  In our conversation regarding funding, we talked alot about tithing.  It's a sensitive issue.  Some people (really just a few) in our movement are concerned that the word "tithe" may have a negative connotation for the next generation.  This word "tithe" has been used at times in the past as a synonym for "obligation" or "requirement".  The implication is that the tithe is a tax from God to pay for God's workers. 
During the discussion about how we as a denomination fund our movement, one of the pastors presented a view of tithing that was refreshing to me.  He shared that the tithe was originally used as an expression of thanks to God (ex: Abraham and Jacob) and that the tithe is a form of worship.  There are certainly other good dynamics about the tithe, ie. covenental promises, laws of reciprocity.  But this one dynamic of worship got my attention.  Romans 12:1,2 tells us to present our bodies as living sacrifices which is our reasonable act of worship.  It seems very reasonable to me to give God the firstfruits of all my increase as an act of thankfulness to Him for all he has done for me.
 
 
 John and Laura Navarro are getting ready to take their family to Mexico to start their new new ministry as missionaries in Guadalajara.  I just spoke with them today about all of the details they are working through.  Where they will live, how they will get there, and how to get their belongings across the border - legally!  They both are very good organizers and are trying to plan for each aspect of the trip, but the truth is that they are going to have to walk in faith in order to make it there.  It's a reminder to me that God wants each of us to walk by faith even though we may not be missionaries.  Faith pleases Him.  It draws us closer.  It challenges us to trust Him more and to lean on Him for everything!  So how is God teaching you to grow in faith?
 

    Sean Appleton
    Senior Pastor

    Kay and I came to the Antelope Valley in 1989 after graduating from LIFE Pacific College to become assistants to Dan and Connie Stewart.  In 1997 we assumed the role of Senior Pastors at the church.  We have 2 boys, Aaron (married to Jennae) and Brandon.  My hobbies are gardening with Kay, bike riding with Kay, crosswords with Kay, and playing with old cars (where's Kay?)

    Archives

    November 2010
    October 2010
    September 2010

    Categories

    All

    RSS Feed