June 27, 2008

Abundant Life

" I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." - John 10:10

" I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ." - Philemon 6

Jesus came so that we could have a reconciled relationship with God, so that we could have eternal life in heaven with Him, and also an abundant life here. The abundant life that God wants for us is a life full of joy and peace and power and victory and fruitfulness and satisfaction. This type of life brings much glory to Him. Why are there so many Christians who are not experiencing this type of life ? Churches are full of people who are missing out on the abundant life.

Two of the reasons why so many Christians are missing out on God's best for their lives and the abundant life are found in Matthew 6:33 - "Seek first for God's kingdom and His righteousness and all these things will be given to you." Quite simply their relationship with God and the building of God's kingdom are not the first or top priority in their lives. Look at Philemon 6 above, a very interesting verse. Actively sharing Christ with others (being a faithful witness for Christ) is vital if you want to experience all that God wants for you. You will never have the abundant, victorious, fruitful, joyful, satisfying life until you commit to actively and faithfully share Christ with others. Jesus says in Matthew 4:19 "Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men." Unless you are a "fisher of men" (a person who actively & faithfully shares Christ with others) you are not truly following Jesus, The Source of abundant life. You must walk closely with Jesus, The Source, and truly follow and obey Him, or you will never experience abundant life.

June 24, 2008

Brazil Photo

Once or twice a month I will post a picture of something about Brazil. This photo is of an amazingly beautiful type of butterfly called the Blue Morpho butterfly, which is normally found in the tropical jungles like the Amazon. We have seen some here in the forest trail part of the Sao Paulo botanical garden. The top of their wings are blue and they reflect light, so that they appear to be neon blue. They almost do not look real.

June 23, 2008

Congratulations John & Renata

Our oldest son John just got engaged this past weekend to Renata, a wonderful Christian Brazilian young lady. Last night our family had a party with Renata's family to celebrate. Congratulations John and Renata. We love you both, we are proud of you, and we are very happy for both of you.

June 20, 2008

Downtown (Centro) Sao Paulo

Our son Anthony has been visiting us from Atlanta this past month, and we went to centro (downtown) Sao Paulo a couple of times. The following is a slide show of some photos we took there. There is a great view of the city from the Banespa Bank Building, from the 35th floor terrace. The size of the city of Sao Paulo is amazing, and it spreads as far as the eye can see in every direction.

June 17, 2008

Criticizing Others - Ouch !

From Oswald Chambers' "My Utmost For His Highest":

Beware of Criticizing Others

"Judge not, that you be not judged" — Matthew 7:1

Jesus’ instructions with regard to judging others is very simply put; He says, "Don’t." The average Christian is the most piercingly critical individual known. Criticism is one of the ordinary activities of people, but in the spiritual realm nothing is accomplished by it. The effect of criticism is the dividing up of the strengths of the one being criticized. The Holy Spirit is the only one in the proper position to criticize, and He alone is able to show what is wrong without hurting and wounding. It is impossible to enter into fellowship with God when you are in a critical mood. Criticism serves to make you harsh, vindictive, and cruel, and leaves you with the soothing and flattering idea that you are somehow superior to others. Jesus says that as His disciple you should cultivate a temperament that is never critical. This will not happen quickly but must be developed over a span of time. You must constantly beware of anything that causes you to think of yourself as a superior person.

There is no escaping the penetrating search of my life by Jesus. If I see the little speck in your eye, it means that I have a plank of timber in my own (see Matthew 7:3-5). Every wrong thing that I see in you, God finds in me. Every time I judge, I condemn myself (see Romans 2:17-24). Stop having a measuring stick for other people. There is always at least one more fact, which we know nothing about, in every person’s situation. The first thing God does is to give us a thorough spiritual cleaning. After that, there is no possibility of pride remaining in us. I have never met a person I could despair of, or lose all hope for, after discerning what lies in me apart from the grace of God.


I don't know about you but I feel convicted.

June 14, 2008

A Sense Of Urgency

Matthew 24:14

"And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come."

No one besides God knows when Christ will return and the end will come, but I am one of many who believe that we are clearly living in the end times. Many of the signs described in the Bible are happening or have already happened, and it is possible the end could come in our lifetime. This ought to give us a sense of urgency in our attempts to reach out in love to the lost and share the Good News of Christ. Even if the end will not come in our lifetime, our lives are so short and we have such little time here to make a difference in the eternal destiny of others. We need to have a sense of urgency and desire to share Christ with and reach as many lost people as possible. We will be accountable to the Lord for how we have spent our lives (see Romans 14:12), and one of the things we will be accountable for is if we truly followed Jesus and were the "fishers of men" He told us to be (see Matthew 4:19).

It is interesting to see that there has been more evangelism activity in the world in the last 15-20 years than ever before. God is mobilizing His people to share the Gospel and reach a lost & dying world like never before, and more people need to be obedient and go. There are almost 2 billion people who still have never heard about Jesus, so obviously there is much more work to do. We need to get serious in this spiritual battle for souls !!! Here are some interesting facts & statistics for world evangelism:

* World population: 6.6 billion
* Unevangelized population: 1.87 billion
* World Major People Groups: 15,958
* Unreached People Groups: 6,415 (1.8 billion persons)
* 680 million Evangelical Christians (11.5% of world population)
* 1.3 billion Muslims
* 1.0 billion Catholics
* 900 million Hindus
* 875 million Atheists or non-religious
* 350 million Buddhists
* 340 million Chinese folk religions
* 1.6% world population growth rate
* 5.7% growth rate for Evangelical Christians

June 11, 2008

Brazil Photo

Every once in awhile I will post a picture of something in Brazil. Here is a picture of "Foz do Iguacu" (Iguazu Falls), close to where Brazil meets Argentina and Paraguay.

June 9, 2008

Salvation Stories

What a joy it is to see God working in people's lives. What a privilege it is to be a part of His work to reach out to lost people that are without Christ. Yesterday (Sunday) morning we were at Igreja Batista Ipiranga in Sao Paulo leading the 1st of 2 parts of a People Sharing Jesus seminar. The seminar was well attended by a majority of the church and it was a blessing to be there and see church members and leaders commit to share Christ with others. We received a special surprise in that there were some people visiting the church, so at the end of the training period I shared the Gospel and 7 people accepted Christ.

One of these was an elderly woman named Cidinha. Cidinha was raised in the church (Presbyterian), and her family was very actively involved. She has been attending a small group Bible study in the home of one of the members of Igreja Batista Ipiranga, and various people have shared Christ with her. But for many years for whatever reason she could not understand or accept the wonderful Gospel message ... until yesterday. God opened her heart and revealed the saving truth of the Gospel of Christ to her, and now she is a new believer and follower of Christ.

Another person that received Christ was Junior. Junior's girlfriend Tatiani tearfully told me that she and others have tried for 5 years to get Junior to accept Christ and give his life to Him, but he resisted and resisted... until yesterday. I am so glad that we have a God who does not give up on us, a God who is patient, and whose love never waivers or falters.

June 5, 2008

Spiritual Warfare

"For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God..."
- 2 Corinthians 10:3-5

As Christians we must recognize that we are in a spiritual battle against the enemy of God, and that the enemy also wants to win souls. When we are doing all we can to win souls for Christ and make disciples, the enemy will do all he can to try to stop us. Expect spiritual warfare if you have determined in your heart to join God in His work to win souls and make disciples. We experience alot of spiritual warfare, especially right before we are going to share Christ in a school or a church, or immediately after we have seen God win a great victory.

In fact, things can get pretty difficult and crazy. This past week is a good example. We are in the midst of a 4 week period where we will share Christ with over 4000 people, and the enemy is not happy about this. There have been: computer problems; family problems; personal conflicts; sickness; frustrations; increased temptations; near accidents on the way to speak; 4 interpretors that were scheduled to help called and cancelled ; one interpretor's car was hit right before we went to speak in a school; a near cancellation at one school; and at times we can literally feel the oppression from the enemy. Plus add the fact that we get very tired when speaking over 120 times in a 4 week period.

Don't get me wrong - we love serving the Lord and sharing Christ with others, but at times things get very difficult. That is why missionaries and pastors need your prayers. We are human. We are weak. We get tired, yes even cranky. We make mistakes. And the battle is far too difficult for us, and the enemy is too strong for us. I can only imagine how difficult it is for people who are serving in places like the Middle East where it is very dangerous to witness for Christ, where they could lose their lives. I have a great amount of respect and admiration for these servants of the Lord. Praise God that we serve the One who is far greater than he that is in the world. And God has given us His Word, His promises that He will lead us to victory. God cannot lose. Remember that we are on God's winning team. For us, usually the strong spiritual warfare is a sign that God is about to do something wonderful and great, and the enemy is not happy about it. Here are some of the many promises concerning the work of sharing Christ with others and the victories that God will give us:

"But thanks be to God, who always leads us victoriously in Christ, and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of Him." - 2 Corinthians 2:14

" For the Lord your God is the one who goes with you, to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory."
- Deuteronomy 20:4

" Surely, as I have planned, so it will be, and as I have purposed, so it will stand." - Isaiah 14:24

June 2, 2008

The Fear Of God

The following is from Experiencing God Day By Day, by Henry & Richard Blackaby (www.blackaby.org) :

The Terror Of The Lord
Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are well known to God, and I also trust are well known in your consciences. (2 Corinthians 5:11)

The fear of God is the greatest deterrent for sin (Exod. 20:20; Prov. 16:6). Those who perceive God as a benevolent and gentle grandfather will treat their sin superficially. They will worship halfheartedly. They will live life on their own terms rather than God’s. But a reverent fear of holy God will dramatically affect the way a person lives. Even though Paul was an apostle of Jesus Christ, he feared God and knew that one day he would stand in judgment to give an account for everything he had done (2 Cor. 5:10).

Our world does not applaud fearfulness. We teach our children to love God, but not to fear Him. We want to present a loving and nonthreatening image of God to nonbelievers in the hope that Christianity will be more appealing to them. One of the great condemnations of our day may be that we have lost the fear of God. We promote Him as a “best friend” who saves us and “lives in our hearts,” but we do not fear Him. It is true that we are God’s adopted children and that we are fellow heirs, even friends, with Jesus (Rom. 8:16–17; John 15:14–15), but we are not His equals. He has forgiven us, but we are still His creatures. He is God, and we are not!

If you find that you have become complacent with God’s commands and have become comfortable in your sin, you are completely isolated from God’s holiness. Take time to meditate upon the awesome holiness of God and allow the Holy Spirit to instill into your life a proper reverence for almighty God (Isa. 40:12–26). A deep sense of awe is essential to knowing God.

June 1, 2008

Brazilian Food

In the Sao Paulo area there is a large mixture of people from other countries, so you have a wide variety of foods available. There are over 1 million Japanese, over 1 million Arabs, and also many Jewish people, Italians, Portuguese, Europeans, Hispanics, and Chinese. Typical Brazilian food is very good, and we enjoy it very much. Here are some types of foods that are available here:
- Typical Brazilian meal: rice, beans, meat (chicken, beef, or sausage)
- Feijoada: traditional meal, started by black slaves in Brazil; is a stew made of pork & beef, smoked sausage, black beans, and bacon; served with rice, greens, and farofa (a type of flour mixed with things like bacon, or sausage, and other things).
- Churrasco (my favorite): Brazilian BBQ (without BBQ sauce); a large variety of beef cuts, along with chicken, sausages,...
- Seafood ("frutos do mar"): a large variety of dishes with fish, shrimp, squid, and others.
- Pizza: cooked in a wood fire brick oven; typically thin and does not have tomato sauce; a huge variety available & very tasty.
- Italian foods: large variety of lasagnas, spaghetti, and pastas.
- "Esfihas", "Lanches": these are made of bread stuffed with chicken or sausage or beef with cheese.
- Brazilian Hot Dog: it sort of looks like a hot dog, but has cheese & fried potato sticks & sometimes mayo & corn & ...
- Cheese bread "pao de queijo": very tasty round pieces of bread with cheese
- Guarana: very popular & good Brazilian drink made from guarana fruit
- Tropical Fruits: huge variety of tropical fruits
- Fruit Juices: a large variety of flavors; we like it mixed with milk
- Brazilian Coffee: puts American coffee to shame; very good & strong
- Desserts, Sweets: huge variety of "tortas" (pies), "bolos" (cakes), pastries, and other goodies