Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Obeying God Rather Than Men

Photo of St. Peter, Artwork by diablana81 

God is worthy of our obedience. We should be more concerned about obeying Christ than we are about obeying, or pleasing, the people around us.  

Scripture:

"But Peter and the other apostles answered and said: 'We ought to obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised up Jesus whom you murdered by hanging on a tree. Him God has exalted to His right hand to be Prince and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. And we are His witnesses to these things, and so also is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey Him.'”  -Acts 5:29-32, NKJV 

God’s commitment to us demands our unbridled obedience. Jesus has given Himself completely for us on the cross. God raised Christ from the dead and has defeated sin and death on our behalf.

Because of what Jesus has done, we can have Him as Lord and Savior of our lives. In Him we have the ability to turn from our old ways of living. We have forgiveness of our sins. God gives us this and His very presence and assurance in His Holy Spirit.

Reflection Questions:

In what ways do you find yourself obeying man, rather than God?

How have you experienced Jesus as Prince and Savior?

How has Jesus given you repentance and forgiveness of sins? In what ways do you need these things?

How has God's Spirit bore witness to these things in your life?

Prayer:

“Almighty and eternal God, draw our hearts to you, guide our minds, fill our imaginations, control our wills, that we may be completely yours, utterly dedicated to you; and then use us, we pray, as you will, and always to your glory and the welfare of your people; through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.” (Adapted from The Book of Common Prayer, p. 832)

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

A Review of Your Jesus GPS

Your Jesus GPS: Find Direction, Personal Growth, Inner Peace and Joy
by Fred Apelquist, cover photo from Amazon.com

Your Jesus GPS: Find Direction, Personal Growth, Inner Peace and Joy, by Fred Apelquist, is a fantastic primer for anyone looking to get a big picture of Jesus’ teachings and miracles throughout the New Testament.

In Your Jesus GPS, Apelquist has synthesized the major Biblical accounts of Jesus’ teachings and miracles and has given references to where those major accounts can be found everywhere they occur in the New Testament.

The book’s short description captures the essence of what the author has accomplished in this work:

Whether or not you know who Jesus is and what He said, “Your Jesus GPS” will acquaint you with the messages and miracles, and more. Written not only as a Guidebook but also as a personal testimony, this work catalogs all of Jesus’ major works and words and allows the reader – and student – to pursue the matter further, if desired.

This book is helpful in organizing the teachings and miracles of Jesus and looking at the big picture of the New Testament scriptures, especially the four gospels. This is a particularly helpful tool and resource for Bible teachers, Sunday school teachers, home school parents, first time Bible readers and experienced Bible students alike.

Your Jesus GPS accomplishes its purpose “to provide information, prompt introspection, and encourage action.” After reading this book, the reader truly will find further “direction, personal growth, inner peace and joy.”

Your Jesus GPS: Find Direction, Personal Growth, Inner Peace and Joy, by Fred Apelquist, comes highly recommended.  

Purchase your copy of Your Jesus GPS from Amazon.com here.

Purchase your copy of Your Jesus GPS from Smashwords.com here.


Bibliography

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Discipleship Group: One Word

White Plains, photo from Wikimedia

We had our first discipleship groups of the year last week at Quisqueya Christian School. I have six 9th grade guys and had another 5 students from another discipleship group whose leader was absent.

We talked about some verses in Jude and I asked them to give one word, any word, which describes their relationship with Jesus right now.

“What is one word you would use to describe your relationship with Jesus right now?”

This was our passage from Jude: "Mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you. . . I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints." –Jude 2-3

The word I used to describe my relationship with Jesus right now was plain. Here are some synonyms for plain: normal, basic, bare, or ordinary.

I chose the word plain to describe my relationship with Jesus right now, because, honestly, my relationship with God seems sort of normal or basic. At times, my relationship with God can even seem bare or ordinary. 

As a noun, a plain can be “a flat expanse of land.” “Flat expanse of land” also captures the emotion of the word plain, as well as my relationship with the Lord. The mountains are visible in the distance and there I stand “on the plain”, in the great expanse of it all.

When I posed this “one word” question later on to folks on Facebook, these were some of the words that were used: argumentative, inspiring, accelerating, growing, engaging, connected, humbling, directing, calming, clinging, comforting, seeking, healing, reflecting, awesome, and sustaining.

What is one word you would use to describe your relationship with Jesus right now?

If you would like to support our work of discipleship in Haiti, please click here.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Back to School


The summer has come to a close and it's back to school for teachers and students. Irene and Grace and I have arrived safely back in Haiti and we are already three weeks into the 2014-2015 school year here at Quisqueya Christian School.

If you would like to support our work in Haiti, please click here.

This summer was a great summer filled with time with friends and family, taking classes and speaking about our work in Haiti to churches and small groups in South Carolina and in Virginia. While the summer was enjoyable and adventurous, we are glad to be settling back into our routine and settling into our home here in Haiti. Visit Irene's blog, Our Life With a Little Grace, to take a home tour

My Bible classes have gotten off to a great start and so has the rest of the classes and school activities. To understand a little more about my Bible classes and what we are doing, I'm including part of my welcome letter to the students and parents below. 

For everyone who is going back to school, may God bless your school year. Here is my prayer for you, and for myself, as I am also taking a class this semester.

"O Eternal God, bless all schools, colleges, and universities and especially Quisqueya Christian School, that they may be lively centers for sound learning, new discovery, and the pursuit of wisdom; and grant that those who teach and those who learn may find you to be the source of all truth; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen." (Book of Common Prayer, p. 824)

Welcome to Bible class!

I hope you have had a wonderful summer break and that you are as excited as I am about this new school year!

This year’s school-wide theme is “Celebrating God’s Faithfulness”. As we study the scriptures together this year, it will be easy for us to see God’s faithfulness in the lives of His children. We serve a faithful God and this is indeed something worth celebrating!

We have an exciting year planned out for us in Bible class. Each Bible class will be surveying the entire Bible at the beginning of the first semester using materials like The Story, Frameworks and the Bible Story Cloths. We even have some new Bible Story Cloths this year!

After the survey of the Bible, the big picture, each Bible class will be studying 25% of the scriptures using our four-year reading plan.

Each student will be given a copy of the book “Know Your Bible” this year and some classes will be getting a copy of “Understanding The Big Picture of The Bible.”

I am looking forward to Celebrating God’s Faithfulness with you this year and I am looking forward to studying God’s Word together this year!

In Christ alone,

Mr. Pruitt

Sunday, August 10, 2014

A Review of Church 3.0

Cover photo of Church 3.0, by Neil Cole, from Amazon.com

Church 3.0 is a natural follow up to Organic Church and Organic Leadership, by Neil Cole. Church 3.0 focuses on releasing healthy church movements and gives us some practical applications and insights to help us actually function within the Organic Church Movement. We must move away from the old way to a new mindset of how to function as the global church, and the church missional, without the hang-ups of church buildings and programs. 

Neil Cole emphasizes that we must get out of our comfortable and insular infrastructure and reach out in mission in the world. Programs and centralized locations with the expectation that people will come to a church building simply will not work in this present and shifting culture. Cole emphasizes this when he says, “We are going to have to get out of our buildings and meet people where they live.”

What is most helpful in Cole’s book is the expansion of his thoughts and ideas from Organic Church and Organic Leadership. Both of these books have been very helpful in rethinking how we do church, ministry and mission in the world. Cole elaborates on practical ways to simplify church from the program driven “mega church” models, and the programmatic church models, to smaller, simpler, organic church models that are streamlined and more effective in reaching the world for Christ and in meeting real needs with practical, helpful and real ministry.

Neil Cole spends significant time, and rightfully so, unpacking the value of smaller groups of people in missional community. Larger groups are cumbersome and bottleneck ministry in complexity and bureaucracy. Smaller and decentralized groups of people are simpler and more functional in accomplishing God’s mission and will in the world to usher in His Kingdom here on earth.

As groups grow and numbers increase, intimacy and depth of growth diminish. Cole states that discipleship happens and is more effective in smaller groups. He states that we “have exchanged the role of a shepherd to the role of a rancher.” In other words, we have moved from an intimate and nurturing discipleship, that of a shepherd, to a large-scale mass production model of discipleship, which looks more like a “rancher style” leadership than a “shepherding style” of leadership.  This larger scale does not work effectively and does not produce disciples with the same effectiveness as a smaller and more intimate scale.

Cole’s book Church 3.0 also addresses the issue of leadership authority in missional communities. With the decentralization of the church comes a decentralization of leadership as well. Jesus is the ultimate head and leader of the church, while other leadership roles and responsibilities work together without any one person in charge. This issue of authority in missional communities, or “Organic Church,” is probably one of the most complex issues to navigate. While Cole attempts to address this issue, one may leave his work less than satisfied as it relates to this issue of authority and leadership in missional communities.

Church 3.0 is an enjoyable, insightful and helpful book to read when looking to understand “Organic Church.” This is a must read for anyone starting out in church planting or beginning missional communities.

Bibliography

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

A Review of Get Off Your Donkey

Cover Photo of Get Off Your Donkey from Amazon.com

“He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him.” –Luke 10:34

“The moral of the [Good Samaritan] story is that you have to get off your donkey to help somebody.” —Reggie McNeal

There is an old saying, which you may have heard, it goes something like this, “You should do what you can, not what you cannot.” The point is simple, there are some things that we can do to make a difference and these are the endeavors that we should focus our time and attention on, instead of placing our focus and energies on what we cannot do. There are actions we can take in the contexts of our lives to make a real difference in the world to help others and to love our neighbors.

Reggie McNeal highlights this idea of making a difference where you are in his book Get Off Your Donkey!: Help Somebody and Help Yourself. In this book McNeal highlights the reality that we are all, ultimately, in the people business, especially if we are in church ministry and leadership.

In his introduction McNeal highlights this issue, “I’m trying to help them [church leaders] get out of the church business and into the people business” (McNeal, p. 14). Like the priest and the Levite in the parable of the Good Samaritan, too often the church “has passed by on the other side of the road when we should be the ones showing the way” (McNeal, p. 15).

Oftentimes we can get trapped in over analysis and in paralysis concerning all of the need and brokenness surrounding us in the world. The needs and the problems around us are great, but we cannot afford to allow these to bring us to inaction, depression or fatigue. McNeal encourages his readers with the following, “We can’t afford to let this negative vibe paralyze us into inactivity while people are bleeding out all around us” (McNeal, p. 23). We must take action and help our neighbors. There is plenty we can do to make a difference in our world.

We must be the church in the world and not just be on our way to a church building with all of our religious activities, neglecting our neighbor who is beaten and bloody on the roadside. McNeal says it this way, “The problem is, religious activity is still getting in the way of our being good neighbors” (p. 38).

As the church, we must move away from religious piety and toward a Biblical model of discipleship. According to the book, “The litmus test of discipleship is ‘follow-ship’! Are we doing what Jesus commanded, or are we just really good at recalling his commands?” (p. 39). We cannot be all talk in our service to the Lord and His church. We must put our faith into practice and get off of our donkeys.

Get Off Your Donkey!: Help Somebody and Help Yourself is an excellent book to light a fire under an often apathetic, complacent and lazy church. Church leaders of every level and church members, and laity at every level, should read this book. The church could use a good kick in the donkey to get us back to our mission in the world.


Bibliography

McNeal, Reggie (2013-02-01). Get Off Your Donkey!: Help Somebody and Help Yourself (p. 13). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

A Review of The Present Future

Cover Photo of The Present Future: 
Six Tough Questions for the Church, from Amazon.com

Reggie McNeal’s book, The Present Future: Six Tough Questions for the Church, addresses the need for the church to move from program driven buildings and bureaucracy back to missional service and disciple making.

In this book, McNeal looks at how the church has been inwardly focused and more like a “club” with a “club mentality”, seeking its own good and interests above the mission of reaching the unsaved and those who are “outside the club.” The local church has become something that is antiquated and far removed from its life giving vitality of mission and service toward dead ritualistic programs and facilities.

It has been said that the church is the only organization that exists for its non-members. McNeal asserts, in so many words, that this is no longer the case concerning the church in North America. We, the church, have become more inwardly focused and have done less and less for those who we should be reaching out to in selfless service, evangelism and discipleship. As the church, we must move away from the “country club” mindset and move back toward our mission—people.

The future of the church lies in the present. The old ways no longer work for a new generation with a differing culture and a diversity of need. Old models of ministry and church are ceasing to function and work as they once did. New methods of relationships and decentralization must be put into action. Disciples must be made and leadership must be developed and sent out.

The church is not something we go to, the church is who we are in the world. We must move from an attractional model of church buildings and programs, with the idea of “if we build it, they will come” and move toward being a people who integrate our faith into our work and into every area of our lives. We must be the church in “the present future.”

In The Present Future: Six Tough Questions for the Church, Reggie McNeal addresses six serious topics, which include the following: The church culture, as we know it, is over; we must move from church growth models to kingdom growth thinking and initiative; a new reformation will begin once the church releases equipped people into the world for mission; spiritual formation and development must be at the heartbeat of the church; church leaders must move from planning to preparation so they will be equipped for every good work; and finally, church leaders need to be trained and equipped, not to do programing, but to do mission, and to be missional, as sent people into the world.

The Present Future is an excellent book for anyone in church and ministry leadership. This book is relevant in addressing real concerns with the current state of the church and is motivational and inspirational in addressing real issues with real solutions of mission and focus.


Bibliography

McNeal, Reggie. The Present Future: Six Tough Questions for the Church. Jossey-Bass, 2003.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Summer Update from the Pruitt's in Haiti


Hello Family and Friends!

We hope that you and your family are doing well. Thank you so much for your friendship, encouragement, and prayers. With the school year coming to a close for us, we want to give you an update about our life and work here in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

Ministry Update

We are so thankful to God for another fruitful school year of ministry here at Quisqueya Christian School. Robbie taught all four levels of high school Bible classes and had a role in the secondary school chapel. In chapel, which is a 7th-12th grade weekly service, Robbie gave several talks about the theme of “Following Jesus,” as well as one about Jonah, and another about Judas. Many of the students do not attend church with their family, and this chapel service serves as their “church.” Robbie loves having the opportunity to preach to them in this context, in addition to teaching them in class. If you’d like, you can listen to some of the more recent talks at https://soundcloud.com/quisqueyachristianschool.

Robbie has also been quite involved in some student activities this semester. As the Senior Class Advisor, he chaperoned the class trip to Florida. Before going to the Disney Parks, the class spent several days at h.e.a.r.t. Missionary Training Institute (heart-institute.org), where they learned about world poverty, hunger, and missions. Even though the students come from the very poor country of Haiti, the experience was truly eye-opening to many of them, and they came away from it with a new perspective on their own country. We hope and pray that this experience will mold them as they continue their education and possibly return to Haiti as the next generation of leaders.

Robbie and a few other teachers have started a bike club, and regularly take students on adventurous “urban mountain biking” rides around the area. Though we are the capital city, many roads are still unpaved, making for some great rides. This time with students has been helpful in building relationships outside of the classroom environment.

Both Robbie and Irene have continued leading discipleship groups this year. It has been a real pleasure to be with these small groups of 12th graders through their last year of high school, as they start the transition into college and adult life. Both of us have been encouraged by the openness of the students in the groups, and the valuable conversations that they have had about life and faith.

In addition to Irene’s primary calling of caring for and nurturing Grace, she has been mentoring and counseling a few younger teachers. She has enjoyed this ministry, helping others navigate the transition to Haiti and other personal issues. As always, it is an honor and truly “sacred ground” to walk with people through life’s joys and sorrows, and Irene feels fortunate to be able to serve the community in this way.

God’s Continued Leading

We are excited that God is leading us to continue our work in Haiti next year. Robbie will continue to teach Bible to high school students, help with chapel, and serve as the school’s social media director. Irene will continue to stay at home with Grace, while also providing some counseling and mentorship. Since all of the students in our discipleships groups are graduating this May, we are looking forward to building relationships with and pouring into new groups of students in the coming school year.

Summer Plans

This summer, we’ll be spending most of June in Columbia, SC, and most of July in Northern Virginia. We would love to see you sometime and catch up in person. If there would also be an opportunity for us to connect with your church or small group, we would be happy to share about Haiti and our ministry.

Prayer

God has answered many prayers this last year, for which we are so grateful. We rejoice to see spiritual growth among the students, including some coming to Christ for the first time, others rededicating themselves to the Lord, and others steadily growing in faith and understanding. We have also felt so grateful for God’s provisions for our family, including Grace. It’s amazing to see how beautifully God provided for everything that she needed this year, especially through keeping her healthy and providing the opportunity for Irene to stay at home with her.

We’d ask for your continued prayers for our family this summer and in the coming school year. Please pray that the summer serves as a time of rest and rejuvenation after the busy school year, and that God would bless the time that we get to spend with friends and family. As we come back in August, please continue to pray for safety and health for us, and especially for Grace, while we continue to serve in Haiti.

Please also pray for our students and our ministry. Ask God to draw students to himself, to transform lives for the sake of the Gospel, and to allow us to glorify him through teaching, discipleship and counseling. Please join us in continuing to pray that our students, through their transformed lives, would go on to transform their communities, their country, and their world.

Financial Support Needs

We are partnered with Resourcing Christian Education International (RCE) in order to raise the funds we need to continue our ministry at Quisqueya Christian School. All donations made through RCE are tax-deductible. Please do not feel pressured, but if you feel led to support us financially, please visit:
Contact Information

We would love to stay in contact with you. Here is all of our contact information:
Email: irenepruitt@gmail.com, stay411@msn.com
Summer US Cell Phones:
Robbie: 571-340-6558 and Irene: 571-346-9583
Skype: irene.pruitt, robbie.pruitt
Sending Mail to us in Haiti: 3170 Airmans Drive,
#2029 QCS, Ft. Pierce, FL 34946

Thanks again for your prayers and encouragement! We’ll continue to pray for you, as well!

Blessings,

Robbie and Irene 

Robbie & Irene Pruitt
Bible Teaching | Discipleship | Counseling