August 30, 2008

August Was A Great Month

We had a great month in August, and God did some wonderful things. We praise Him for opening some wonderful opportunities to share Christ in 3 schools in Sao Paulo and for the chance to preach in Primeira Igreja Batista Central in Sao Bernardo. Nearly 2600 people accepted Christ in August, including 48 teachers and 1 school coordenator. The Lord Jesus gets all of the glory and honor, for truly without Him we are able to do nothing. Here is a slide show of our visits in the 3 schools:

August 27, 2008

The Works Of The Lord

"Come and see the works of the Lord... Be still and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations. I will be exalted in the earth."
- Psalm 46:8-10

God is the Living God, and He is mightily at work in the world today. He is mightily at work, touching many hearts and lives, and pursuing a personal relationship with all people. He is the same now as He was in the days when He did miraculous works in the Bible. Nothing is too hard for Him and nothing is impossible for the Living God. He has total power and authority over our spiritual enemy and over all things (see Luke 10:19 and Matthew 2818). So why are there many people who do not see and experience the God of miracles, the Almighty and All-Powerful Living God ?

There are many reasons (sin, rebellion, unbelief,...). Another reason is that we need to adjust our lives to where God is working in order to join Him in His work, and many people are not willing to do this. We need to let go of our own will, our own visions, our own plans and ideas of how we can serve the Lord, and we need to follow God's vision. God is God, and we are not. And we need to be willing to pay the cost of joining God in His work. There will always be a cost, and sadly many people are not willing to pay it. However, the cost is always worth it to be able to see what God is going to do. Jesus paid a great price in order for us to have a personal relationship with Him and to have the privilege of serving Him, and we owe it to Him to be fully submissive and obedient in every area of our lives, including our ministry for Him.

In Psalm 46:8 God says "Come and see the works of the Lord." God wants you to join Him in His work of helping people to have a reconciled personal relationship with Him. He wants you to see His glory and His great works. But you need to be willing to go wherever He wants you to go, and be whatever He wants you to be, and do whatever He wants you to do. He has a plan and a vision for your life and ministry, and it is up to you to seek God with all of your heart to find it, and then to be willing to do whatever it takes to become a part of His plan and vision.

August 24, 2008

Sao Paulo Futebol Club Stadium

Yesterday we had a great time with our friends Eduardo & Flavia, and their 2 boys Gabriel and Leonardo. We had a great lunch with 2 types of lasagna, then Gabriel beat me in a game of soccer on his Playstation 2, and then they took us to Morumbi Stadium, home of the Sao Paulo Futebol (soccer) Club, for a close-up tour. Here are some photos of the stadium:

Morumbi Stadium - Sao Paulo
Leonardo, Flavia, Gabriel, me, Nancy in the satdium
Nancy and I near a caricature of the Sao Paulo team
Nancy and I near the field

August 21, 2008

Brazil Photo

Here is a photo of beautiful Natal, in the state of Rio Grande do Norte. It is located in the northeast of Brazil. Nancy and I will be visiting Natal for a week in December, and we are looking forward to it.

August 17, 2008

Our Anniversary

Nancy and I celebrated our 26th anniversary the other night by going to Vivano Grill in Sao Caetano, which is a Brazilian "churrascaria" (steak house). You start with a buffet of starter foods and appetizers, and then comes the "churrasco" ... tons of different kinds of steaks and meats that they bring to your table in a never ending procession. They serve about 15 different types, and it is absolutely great.

August 13, 2008

It's The Relationship

"We tend to say that because a person has natural ability, he will make a good Christian. It is not a matter of our equipment, but a matter of our poverty; not of what we bring with us, but of what God puts into us; not a matter of natural virtues, of strength of character, of knowledge, or of experience— all of that is of no avail in this concern... The most important aspect of Christianity is not the work we do, but the relationship we maintain and the surrounding influence and qualities produced by that relationship. That is all God asks us to give our attention to, and it is the one thing that is continually under attack." - Oswald Chambers

What would you say is the single most important requirement to being a fruitful and victorious follower of Christ ? The "one thing" that will make the difference in your service for the Lord and produce greater fruit ? Education ? Training ? Experience ? Zeal ? Trying your very best for the Lord ? More prayer support ? All of these things can be very helpful and are important, but the "one thing" that is absolutely vital to being fruitful is your fellowship with the Lord. Many people place their ministry for the Lord as the top priority and emphasis in their lives, and they end up leaving no time for fellowship with the Lord Jesus, who is our Source of power and victory and fruitfulness. No matter how hard we try, and no matter how zealous and passionate we are in ministry, we can do absolutely nothing without Jesus. We first need to have a passion for Jesus, and not just for doing things for Him.

"I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing." - John 15:5

"but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her." - Luke 10:42

August 8, 2008

A Great School Visit

This week we spoke in a school in the Sao Joao Climaco area of Sao Paulo, and we had a great time of sharing Christ and interacting with the students and teachers. We spoke in 42 classes in 3 days, and we need to return next week to speak in 4 more of the night classes. This school has 5th to 8th graders in the morning, 1st to 4th graders in the afternoon, and high school at night. God greatly blessed our visits, and 1393 students and 21 teachers and the school coordenator accepted Christ. Here are some photos of our visits this week:

Speaking to a 3rd grade class with interpretor Christiani

Speaking to a 6th grade class with interpretor Gabriela

Brazilian students are very curious about the US and Americans

John sharing Christ with interpretor Pamella

John speaking to a 4th grade class with interpretor Jaqueline

Speaking to a high school class with interpretor Pamella

August 5, 2008

The Hand Of The Lord - Part 2

Dwight L. Moody was considered the most influential evangelist of the 19th century, and was founder of the Moody Bible Institue. God used him in great ways, and reached many for Christ through him. Yet he was an uneducated, ordinary person who sold shoes for a living when he was young. No one would have predicted that he would become a man greatly used by God. Here are some things that were said about him soon after he became a Christian in 1855:

"I can truly say, and in saying it I magnify the infinite grace of God as bestowed upon him, that I have seen few persons whose minds were spiritually darker than was his when he came into my Sunday School class; and I think that the committee of the Mount Vernon Church seldom met an applicant for membership more unlikely ever to become a Christian of clear and decided views of Gospel truth, still less to fill any extended sphere of public usefulness."

"The first meeting I ever saw him at was in a little old shanty that had been abandoned by a saloon-keeper. Mr. Moody had got the place to hold the meetings in at night. I went there a little late; and the first thing I saw was a man standing up with a few tallow candles around him, holding a negro boy, and trying to read to him the story of the Prodigal Son and a great many words he could not read out, and had to skip. I thought, 'If the Lord can ever use such an instrument as that for His honor and glory, it will astonish me."

Billy Graham is considered the greatest evangelist of all time. God has used him to reach millions for Christ. Yet he was a simple country boy raised on a dairy farm in North Carolina. He accepted Christ at the age of 16, but afterwards he was turned down for membership in a local youth group because he was considered "too worldly". He started college at Bob Jones University, where he was almost expelled. Bob Jones Sr. said this to him: "At best, all you could amount to would be a poor country Baptist preacher somewhere out in the sticks." He finished college at Wheaton College, and although he ended up being a great evangelist he never received any formal theological or seminary education.

How could these 2 men with such humble beginnings turn out to be some of the most fruitful and successful servants of the Lord ? Only by God's grace, and only by the all-powerful hand of the Lord. God's hand was upon these men in a powerful way. When God does great and miraculous things through plain, ordinary people everyone knows it is God who did it, and He gets all of the glory and honor and praise.

August 2, 2008

The Hand Of The Lord

Acts 11:21 - "The hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord."

The early church in the book of Acts saw God do great and amazing things. Many people were reached for Christ, and the church grew quickly. What was the key to their victories and success ? Acts 11:21 shows the one thing that is absolutely vital to experiencing spiritual victories and to being fruitful in ministry - the hand of the Lord.

The hand of the Lord represents God's glory and power, His presence, His blessings, His favor, and His authority over the enemy. Why was the hand of the Lord with them ? Go back to Acts chapter 8 and you find the answer. Acts 8:1 tells us that a great persecution broke out against the church, and everyone in the church except the apostles were scattered to other areas. Verse 4 tells us that everyone that was scattered preached the word of the Lord wherever they went. Imagine a church where everyone shares the Good News of Jesus with others, not just the pastors or leaders. They understood that God's plan for the church is for everyone to share Christ with others, and they understood that this is what Jesus commanded them to do in Matthew 4:19 and Matthew 28:19-20. Not only did they understand this, but they obeyed what the Lord said to do. Thus the hand of the Lord was with them, and He empowered them to reach a great number of people for Jesus. God used everyone in the church, including the ordinary people, to do extraordinary things for His glory.