October 31, 2008

October Results

Ministry-wise October was another great month, and God did some wonderful things here in Sao Paulo. We are thankful for the many opportunities that He is giving us to share the wonderful news of Jesus Christ with others. We spoke in 3 schools, and we also shared Christ at an evangelism event at a church in the Spaopemba area of Sao Paulo. Overall 2477 people accepted Christ in October, including 49 teachers, a vice-principal, and a school coordenator. One new thing we have started is to have Nancy do part of the speech in the schools, and she is doing a great job. Thank you so much for your prayers. They are greatly appreciated and are making a big difference here. Personally, this past month was a very difficult one for us and our family, as we experienced many problems and challenges. Please continue to pray for us.

October 26, 2008

Idols In Your Life ?

"I will pronounce my judgements on my people because of their wickedness in forsaking me, in burning incense to other gods and in worshipping what their hands have made; I remember the devotion of your youth, how as a bride you loved me and followed me through the desert; Has a nation ever changed its gods ? (Yet they are not gods at all.) But my people have exchanged my Glory for worthless idols. My people have committed two sins: they have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.
- Jeremiah 1:16; 2:2, 11, 13

Many people think of the Old Testament and of wooden or stone statues when they hear the word idol. There are many things in people's lives today that could be considered idols. Here are some questions to ask to see if it is possible that there are idols in your life:

* What do you treasure and value and desire most ? (Matthew 6:21)
- God wants to be your treasure, since He treasures you most

* What do you seek after or pursue most ? (Proverbs 21:21 , Matthew 6:33)
- God wants you to pursue and seek Him first

* What takes most of your time & focus & energy ? (Colossians 3:1-5)
- God wants you to set your heart and mind on Him and His kingdom

* What do you put your trust in ? (Proverbs 3:5-6)
- God wants you to trust in Him with all your heart

* What do you think will satisfy and fulfill you ?
(Isaiah 55:1-3; Psalm 63:1-5; Psalm 81; John 10:10)
- God wants to give you abundant life & fully fill and satisfy your heart & soul

* What are some things you are not willing to let go of? (Philippians 3:7-9)
- you need to be willing to love and follow Jesus, whatever the cost

* Why do you do the things you do ?
(I Chronicles 28:9; Matthew 22:37-40; 2 Corinthians 5:9)
- Your motives should be love for God and love for others

October 23, 2008

God At Work

This week we worked with Pastor Enio and Igreja Batista Vila Primavera in EE Luiza Mendes school in the East Zone of Sao Paulo, and we saw God do many wonderful things in people's lives. We spoke in 18 classes on Monday and in 18 again on Tuesday, and then in 10 classes on Wed. night (yes this is very tiring to speak so many times), and we praise God that 1233 students and 17 teachers and the vice-principal accepted Christ. One teacher told John that she was having trouble with her husband and she was depressed and sad when she came to school, but after she accepted Christ she felt much better and she knows that things will get better with God's help. One student said that she had been feeling very dark and empty inside, and the morning we came to speak she had prayed to God for help and to show her that He is real. When John spoke in her class she knew God sent us, and she was very happy after she accepted Christ. We never get tired of seeing how God lovingly works in people's lives.

John, Nancy & I with the group from Igreja Batista Vila Primavera

Pastor Enio passing out "Livro Da Vida" (the Book Of Life) to students

Interpretor Eduardo and I sharing Jesus in a class

October 17, 2008

Sao Paulo Botanical Gardens

Even though Sao Paulo is a huge concrete jungle of high rise buildings & apartments & traffic, & slums, ... it does have some nice parks and other nice places to visit. One of these places is the Sao Paulo botanical gardens, which is located in a large park complex that also includes the zoo and a safari type drive through zoo. The botanical gardens has many beautiful tropical plants & trees & flowers, and also has a couple of large ponds, and other nice things. One of the best parts is the jungle trail, which is an elevated wooden walkway through the jungle forest. If you go at the right time (early morning or late afternoon) you can see wild monkeys in the trees. You would never know you are in the middle of the city. Nancy and I and our son Daniel visited there yesterday.

Nancy and Daniel at the one of the large ponds covered with lily pads

Daniel and I at the botanical gardens

Daniel and Nancy near the jungle trail

A wild monkey in a tree on the jungle trail

October 15, 2008

Sao Paulo Pollution

Sao Paulo is the 3rd largest city in the world, with approximately 20 million people, not counting some of the surrounding cities. One of the biggest problems in the city of Sao Paulo is pollution. Because it is an industrial city, there are problems with both air and water pollution.

A new study by the University of Sao Paulo shows that 3500 people die in Sao Paulo per year due to pollution related illnesses like respiratory diseases & heart illness. One of the major contributors to this is that there are now 6,000,000 vehicles in the city, and this is expected to grow to over 7,000,000 in the future. The regulations for vehicle emissions here are less strict than in the US, and the enforcement is virtually non-existent.

October 11, 2008

Brazil Photo

Here is a picture of Natal, which is a city located in the northeast of Brazil. The name Natal is Portuguese for Christmas, and Natal is a popular tourist attraction. This photo is of Ponta Negra beach in Natal, one of many nice beaches in the area. Nancy and I will be visiting Natal for a week in early December, for some well needed rest & relaxation.

October 8, 2008

True Worship Of The Lord

" Therefore I urge you brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God - this is your spiritual act of worship."
- Romans 12:1

When most people hear the word worship they think of the worship service at church, and of music and singing. These things obviously are a part of worship, but when you look in the Bible you see that there is much more to worship than this. True worship of the Lord involves fully surrendering yourself and your life to Him as a living sacrifice. It involves living to please God (see 2 Corinthians 5:9) and not yourself. It is a heartfelt expression of love and devotion and passion for God. It is living for Him 24/7, not just on Sunday. Here is a list of the various aspects of true worship and some corresponding Bible verses:

GLORIFY GOD - Psalm 29:2 , I Chronicles 16:2, I Corinthians 10:31
EXALT GOD - Psalm 99:5 , Deuteronomy 10:17
PRAISE GOD - Psalm 22:3, Psalm 8, 19, 23, 46, 95, 100, 150
HONOR GOD - I Samuel 2:30, Colossians 3:23
REVERENCE FOR GOD - Psalm 95:6 , Nehemiah 8:6c , Hebrews 5:7
REVERANTLY HEAR GOD'S VOICE - Ecclesiastes 5:1, I Samuel 3:9-10
BLESS GOD - Psalm 100:4b , Psalm 31:21 , Nehemiah 8:6
GIVE THANKS TO GOD - Psalm 100:4 , I Thessalonians 5:16-18
REJOICE & ENJOY GOD - Philippians 4:4 , I Thes. 5:16-18 , 2 Corinthians 6:4-10
VERBAL TESTIMONY - Nehemiah 8:6b , Psalm 66:16-20
REMEMBER GOD'S ACTS - Psalm 150:2 , Deuteronomy 5:15
SONGS OF WORSHIP - Psalm 100:2b , Psalm 66:4
WORSHIP MUSIC - Psalm 100:1 , Psalm 150:3-5
LIFT UP HANDS - Nehemiah 8:6b , Psalm 63:4
REVERENTLY READ GOD'S WORD - Nehemiah 8:3,5 ; Psalm 19:7-11
SERVE GOD WITH A RIGHT HEART - Psalm 100:2 , Colossians 3:23
SEEK TO KNOW GOD - Psalm 63:1-4 , James 4:8 , Psalm 84:1-2 , Phil. 3:7-11
HUMBLE YOURSELF - 2 Chron. 7:14 , Exodus 33:13 , I Peter 5:6
GIVE TO SUPPORT GOD'S WORK - Psalm 66:13-15 , Malachi 3
HONOR THE LORD'S DAY - Nehemiah 8:9 , Exodus 20:8-11
CELEBRATE GOD & JESUS - Nehemiah 8:10 , Luke 2:10
HAVE AN OBEDIENT LIFE - Psalm 101:1-3 , I John 5:3 , John 14:15
JESUS IS YOUR FIRST LOVE - Revelation 2:1-4
FULL SURRENDER TO GOD - Matthew 16:24-25 , Rom. 12:1-2, Luke 9:23
John 15:13-15 ,Galatians 2:20, Philippians 1:21

October 3, 2008

Passion For The Lord

"Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold"
- Matt. 24:12

"This waning of love refers to the dying out of the fire of a holy passion for the Lord Himself and for those for whom He gave His life, the loss of holy enthusiasm in His service and devotion. It refers not to that fleshly enthusiasm in His service and devotion that shouts and rejoices when the crowd is coming, or works zealously when the brass band is playing and the grandstand is filled with admirers. No! No! It is that enthusiasm that works with a quiet, untiring, unassuming earnestness and steadiness when it must plod on alone unheard and unnoticed except by the Lord- that enthusiasm that is born not of outward encouragement, nor the applause of men, nor by what men call success, nor by the unholy desire for praise, but that which is born of an inward urge implanted by the Holy Ghost, the overflow of the passion of Christ. The waning of this love, said Jesus, will be one of the earmarks of the end-times". - E. S. Gerig

Serving the Lord and seeing Him at work can be very exciting and very rewarding, knowing that He has given you the privilege of joining Him in touching and transforming other lives. But being a servant of the Lord can also be very difficult at times, and it can be exhausting. The spiritual warfare you experience can be overwhelming. And there are times in your walk with the Lord and in your service for Him where you are in the wilderness, and you do not experience any fruitfulness or victories. This wilderness time could last for a long period of time, even years.

There is only one thing that can keep you going through it all , through good times or bad, through successes or failures - having a passion for the Lord Jesus. Not a passion for ministry or for doing things for the Lord, but a real heart-felt passion for Jesus himself. This type of fiery passion for the Lord is not in us naturally ; our natural love or devotion or passion will fail and will deny the Lord, like when Peter denied Jesus 3 times. It is very obvious that there is a real lack of passion for the Lord in the church today, especially in the church in the US. Other things have taken first place in the lives of many believers, and many people are going through the motions - "playing church".

God needs to touch our hearts and fill us with the love and passion that was in Jesus, through the Holy Spirit. Then we will be truly faithful to the Lord and we will have a great passion for Him. This is the type of person God is looking for, the type of person that He can use in great ways.

"The men and women our Lord sends out on His endeavors are ordinary human people, but people who are controlled by their devotion to Him, which has been brought about through the work of the Holy Spirit".
- Oswald Chambers

" The grace of the Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus." - Paul (I Timothy 1:14)

"I will give them a heart to know me." - Jeremiah 24:7

"Give me an undivided heart." - Psalm 86:11