January 28, 2009

Leave Room For God

The following is from Oswald Chambers' "My Utmost For His Highest" devotion:

" When it pleased God ..." - Galatians 1:15

As servants of God, we must learn to make room for Him-to give God "elbow room." We plan and figure and predict that this or that will happen, but we forget to make room for God to come in as He chooses. Would we be surprised if God came into our meeting or into our preaching in a way we had never expected Him to come? Do not look for God to come in a particular way, but do look for Him. The way to make room for Him is to expect Him to come, but not in a certain way. No matter how well we may know God, the great lesson to learn is that He may break in at any minute. We tend to overlook this element of surprise, yet God never works in any other way. Suddenly— God meets our life ". . . when it pleased God . . . ."

Keep your life so constantly in touch with God that His surprising power can break through at any point. Live in a constant state of expectancy, and leave room for God to come in as He decides.

January 25, 2009

Preaching In Sao Paulo

Last Sunday night I preached in Igreja Batista Vila Primavera, located in the East Zone of Sao Paulo in the bairro of Vila Primavera. We had a People Sharing Jesus seminar at the church in April 2007, and we have worked with Pastor Enio and the church in 6 schools in the past 2 years. Our friend Elizabete was my interpretor, and she did a great job. God moved in a mighty way, and 16 people accepted Christ.

Preaching with interpretor Elizabete
Praying for the 16 people who accepted Christ
Nancy and I with Elizabete after the service

January 24, 2009

Will We Follow Jesus ?

"Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men." - Matthew 4:19

"Those who had been scattered (all members of the church except the apostles) preached the Word wherever they went." - Acts 8:4

In many churches in the US, and here in Brazil, only the pastor(s) and a small group of members are actively sharing Christ with others in their daily lives (being a "fisher of men"). Many members justify this by saying that these people have a "gift" or a "calling" for evangelism, while their gift or calling lies elsewhere - in the choir, or teaching Sunday School, or elsewhere. Also, most people feel uncomfortable or fearful of sharing the wonderful news of Jesus with others, and thus they don't do it.

Jesus was speaking to all of His followers, all Christians, when He said "Follow me and I will make you fishers of men". He was not talking to just a certain few in the church, Jesus was talking to all of us. Yet only a small group of members are truly obeying and following Jesus' command to actively share the Good News with others. Another way to say what Jesus was saying in Matthew 4:19 is this: "If you are not being a "fisher of men", someone who actively shares Christ with others, then you are not truly following Me". To truly follow Jesus means to do all that He says or commands, not just the things we think we can do, or feel comfortable to do.

The early church in Acts is the example we need to follow. In the early church in Acts all members actively shared Christ with others, because they were passionate about their personal relationship with the Lord, and they fully understood the command that Jesus gave in Matthew 4:19. And they shared the Lord's love and passion to have a restored personal relationship with all people of the world. May God touch our hearts and give us His love and passion for others who do not know the joy and peace of having a personal relationship with God through Jesus.

January 20, 2009

Brazil Photos

Below is a map and some photos of Brasilia, the capital of Brazil since 1960. It has a population of 2.5 million people, and is located in the western center of the country. One of the interesting things about Brasilia is that it was designed to be in the shape of an airplane.

January 14, 2009

A Powerful Prayer Life

"During the days of Jesus' life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission." - Hebrews 5:7

"Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but your will be done." - Luke 22:42

"Prayer is designed more to adjust you to God, than to adjust God to you and your desires." - Oswald Chambers

Some of the keys to a powerful prayer life are revealed in the verses above. Jesus' life here on earth was a great example for us to follow. A Christian's prayer life will be powerful and his/her life will be fruitful when the personal relationship and fellowship with the Lord is similar to Jesus' relationship with God. His life and His relationship with God was marked with reverent submission, obedience, a servant's heart, and a great love & passion & devotion for God.

Jesus was fully committed to seeking and doing God's will above His own, and to honoring and glorifying God. Whenever Jesus needed to accomplish something, He prayed and sought God's will and wisdom. Sometimes He prayed all night (see Luke 6:12-13). And because of His close and unbroken fellowship with God and His reverent submission, He was always heard by the Father. May we have such relationships and fellowship with the Lord.

January 10, 2009

Ministering In The Favelas (Slums)

When we lived in the Atlanta suburb of Marietta, you could drive for miles and see nothing but beautiful & expensive homes and neighborhoods, with manicured lawns and landscaping. It was a very nice place to live. In Sao Paulo, especially in Zona Leste (East Zone), you can drive for miles and see nothing but ugliness and poverty and slums (favelas). We live only 10 minutes from Sao Paulo's largest favela, Heliopolis, which has 120,000 residents in a 1.5 square mile area. To us it is incredible how much most Americans have compared to people here and in other parts of the world.

Alot of our ministry work of sharing Christ is done in these poor areas and favelas. These areas can be very dangerous, and we always have to rely on God's protection. The favelas are well known for having problems with crime, violence, drugs, prostitution, sexual abuse, alcoholism,... So why do we go ? Because all people are precious to God, and He loves people in all areas, including the favelas and poor areas. And He desires a reconciled personal relationship with all people. God is doing great things here, touching and changing many lives and drawing many people to Himself. Amidst the poverty and the ugliness and darkness, there is a great Light shining. Amidst the poor living conditions you find many wonderful and warm people, hungry for the things of God and for a personal relationship with Him. They are humble, and they know they have a need for God (as we all do), and they want to hear the Word of God. In God's eyes these people are precious and dearly loved, and also they are more honorable than many others in His eyes, because of their hunger and desire to hear from God's Word (see Acts 17:10-12).

January 8, 2009

Sao Paulo Zoo

January is a slower month for us, since schools are out until late February for summer break, and many people are on vacation. We have some meetings with pastors & churches to schedule events for this year, but not much else. So we have time to do some fun things. Yesterday Nancy and I visitied the Sao Paulo zoo, which is a nice place to spend the day. Besides all of the animals, there are alot of great tropical plants to enjoy.

January 6, 2009

Inspiring Quotes

Here are some inspiring quotes. Some talk about the vital link between our relationship and fellowship with the Lord and missions & the service of sharing Christ with others. The vital key to a fruitful life is close fellowship with Jesus.

"The spirit of Christ is the spirit of missions. The nearer we get to Him, the more intensely missionary we become." - Henry Martyn

"Where passion for God is weak, zeal for missions will be weak" - John Piper

"I have but one passion - it is He, it is He alone. The world is the field and the field is the world; and henceforth that country shall be my home where I can be most used in winning souls for Christ." - Count Zinzindorf

"The command has been to "go," but we have stayed - in body, gifts, prayer and influence. He has asked us to be witnesses unto the uttermost parts of the earth… But 99% of Christians have kept puttering around in the homeland." - Robert Savage

"People who do not know the Lord ask why in the world we waste our lives as missionaries. They forget that they too are expending their lives…and when the bubble has burst they will have nothing of eternal significance to show for the years they have wasted." - Nate Saint

"How little chance the Holy Spirit has nowadays. The churches and missionary societies have so bound him in red tape that they practically ask Him to sit in a corner while they do the work themselves." - C.T. Studd