May 30, 2009

The Wilderness

"Therefore since Christ suffered in His body, arm yourselves with the same attitude, because he who has suffered in his body is done with sin. As a result, he does not live the rest of his earthly life for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God." - I Peter 4:1-2

"My son, do not make light of the Lord's discipline and do not lose heart when He rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those He loves, and He punishes everyone He accepts as a son. Endure hardship as discipline: He is treating you as sons... God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in His holiness... it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it." - Hebrews 12:5-11

When you look at the lives of some of the people that God used in great ways, the majority of them went through one or more times of being in the "wilderness" - a period of trials and difficulties and suffering. In the Bible there are some good examples: Moses spent 40 years in the wilderness, and he came out quite a different person. He came out of the other side of this banishment to the wilderness as a faithful servant of God. Abraham went through a training period of 25 years before God's promise of a son and of being the father of a nation came to be. There was a period of 17 years between the time God proclaimed that David would be the king and the time he actually took the thrown as king. This 17 years was filled with difficult trials, and even fearing for and hiding for his life from King Saul who was trying to kill him. Later in Acts 13:21 God called David "a man after my own heart". Joseph was nearly killed by his brothers and then sold as a slave when he was 17 years old. He went through very difficult times of suffering and heartache, and he remained a slave until he was 30 years old, a "wilderness" period of 13 years. He definitely came out the other side as a different person - he came out as a humble servant of God, a man that God could use to do whatever He wanted.

Our family has gone through alot of "wilderness" time - years of various trials and difficulties - financial difficulties, failures, times of great frustration, cancer, depression, sickness,... Many people give up on their walk with God during this "wilderness" period, which could be a time of punishment/discipline, or it could be a discipline time of training or molding & shaping. These times are very difficult to endure, and in fact too difficult without God's presence and grace. Perhaps you are going through this type of difficulty now. Rest assured that God is in control, and He has a very definite purpose and reason for what you are going through. And He sees the potential and the possibilities of what He can do through you once you get to the other side. You will be a more humble and faithful and appreciative and obedient servant and friend of God that He can use in incredible ways. Stay close to God, your source of victory.

Here are some other verses that may help you: Psalm 66:8-12, John 15:1-5, Malachi 3:2-3, James 1:1-4, John 17:9-11, Romans 8:28-29

May 28, 2009

Religious Freedom In The US ?

"Pastor David Jones and his wife Mary have been told they cannot invite friends to their San Diego, CA home for a Bible study - unless they are willing to pay tens of thousands of dollars to San Diego County."

I read an article on entitled "Couple Ordered To Stop Holding Bible Study at Home Without Permit"- you can see the article using this link : Click Here

This is another example of the spiritual decline in the US. There is a definite double standard these days in US society and in the government. If this case involved Muslims or some other group studying the Koran or some other religious book, this probably would not be happening. There would be an outcry about the separation between church & state, and about how the government should not interfere in religious affairs. But it seems when it involves Christians the tables are turned. What ever happened to the First Amendment right to freely excercise a person's religious belief's ? I suspect things will not get any better, only worse.

May 26, 2009

Another Successful School Visit

Yesterday we spoke at the EE Frederico school in the Vila Carrao area of Sao Paulo. We worked with Igreja Batista Nova Alianca in the school, and we had a great time with the students and teachers. We spoke in 12 classes with students in the 1st through 4th grades, and God did a great work in the hearts of the students and teachers. 295 students, 10 teachers, and the Vice-Director Liliana accepted Christ, and the school really appreciated our help. They asked us if we could come back in the future.

Sharing Christ wih interpreter Iraci in a class
Vice-Director Liliana (front) with our team at the schoolInterpreter Alessandro and John and his teamMarta passing out Livro Da Vida (Book Of Life) to the students
Iraci and Marta giving the discipleship tool Livro Da Vida

May 23, 2009

People Sharing Jesus Seminars

We will be leading a People Sharing Jesus seminar in Igreja Batista Ebenezer in the Mooca section of Sao Paulo on Sunday May 24 & 31, and I thought I would take the time to write a little about this seminar. It is based on the book by the same title, written by Dr. Darrell Robinson, - founder of Total Church Life ministry, and is an excellent training tool for churches to use. People Sharing Jesus is an exciting, breakthrough evangelism tool that provides training ideally suited for Christians at all levels of spiritual maturity who might be uncomfortable, reluctant, or fearful to share Christ with others. It will instill today's visual learners with the knowledge, confidence, and inspiration to successfully share Christ. People Sharing Jesus enables all Christians to experience the thrill of sharing Jesus with others just as God intended. For more information you can visit the ministry website - Click Here

May 19, 2009

What A Difference Between Here & The US

"Some parents in Frisco, Texas are fuming because their public school district allowed Christian evangelists to provide Bibles to students on school grounds, which administrators said was done to stop even more proselytizing outside the schools."

I read an article today on about how alot of parents are upset that the Frisco, Texas school district allowed the Gideons to place Bibles on tabletops at their schools and make them available to students if they wanted them. You can read the article at this link: Parents fuming as Texas Schools Let Gideons Provide Bibles to Students

The article is an example of the sad spiritual state that the US is in. It is amazing the difference between here in Brazil and the US. The US has long since kicked God out of the schools, and continues to try to remove Him from of all aspects of life. It is interesting (and sad) to watch the US experience more and more problems and crisis' with drugs, crime, violence, school shootings, financial crisis,... and yet not see the link between turning your back on God and the increasing problems.

Many schools and many people here are very open to receiving help for the lives of the students, teachers, and families, and many more people here are interested in the things of God and in having a personal relationship with Him. Not all schools here are open to receiving help and to hearing about God's love, but the majority of them are. It depends on the leadership. The Gideons here in Brazil are able to go into the schools and pass out God's instruction book for life, the Bible. We and others are able to speak to students and teachers in the classrooms about how much God loves them and how He has a special plan for their lives, and how to have a restored personal relationship with God. The majority of people here are humble and open to receiving spiritual and practical help for their lives. Let's pray that it continues to be this way here, and let us continue to pray for the US.

May 18, 2009

Inspiring Quotes

Here are some inspiring quotes about missions and serving the Lord. May they bless and inspire and challenge you today:

"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

"God's work done in God's way will never lack God's supplies."
- J. Hudson Taylor

"When we try to do God's work in our own ways, we will never see the supernatural power of God in what we do." - Henry Blackaby

"He must increase, but I must decrease." - John the Baptist

"If Jesus Christ be God and died for me, then no sacrifice can be too great for me to make for Him." - C.T. Studd

"Do not think me mad. It is not to make money that I believe a Christian should live. The noblest thing a man can do is, just humbly to receive, and then go amongst others and give." - David Livingstone

"All my friends are but one, but He is all sufficient." - William Carey

"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

"The more obstacles you have, the more opportunities there are for God to do something." - Clarence W. Jones

"Expect great things from God. Attempt great things for God."
- William Carey

May 15, 2009

Highlights Of The Week

This week was a busy and a great week, and we saw many people receive Christ as their Lord and Savior. On Sunday night I preached at Igreja Metodista Livre in the Penha area of Sao Paulo. Our friend Adriana, who has helped us as an interpreter in schools, is a member of the church, and they invited me to preach in one of their missions services. The church is very missions minded, and they enthusiastically accepted the challenge to be active "fishers of men" in their daily lives. I preached the Gospel at the end, and 8 people accepted Christ.

Then we spoke in a school in the Sapopemba area of Sao Paulo, which is a very poor area. We spoke in 41 classes in the school EE Julieta Farao on Tuesday morning, Wednesday afternoon, and Thursday night, and we worked with Pastor Roberto and Igreja Batista Luz Para As Nacoes. The school has 1st graders through high school, and also has some classes at night for adults. The Lord moved in a powerful way, and He touched & saved 948 students and 13 teachers. One interesting thing that happened on Wednesday morning before we arrived was that a gang that is from nearby had tried to take some of the students from the school, but thankfully the police intervened and stopped them. There are many problems in the favelas and poor areas with drugs, violence, alcoholism,... Please pray for the people that live in these areas.

Sharing Christ with interpreter Adriana in Igr. Metodista Livre
Part of the worship team at Igreja Metodista LivreJohn, interpreters Paulo & Adriane, Nancy, and the church teamJohn sharing Christ with interpreter FabianeJohn, Nancy, Pastor Roberto, and the church teamSpeaking and sharing Christ with interpreter Regis in a class

May 11, 2009

Brazil Photos

Manaus is a city located in the Amazon region of northern Brazil. It is the capital city of the state of Amazonas, and has a population of 1.7 million people. Manaus is the 8th largest city in Brazil, and is located near the convergence of the Rio Negro (Black River) and the Amazon River. The Rio Negro is the largest tributary of the Amazon River. Manaus receives many tourists visiting the Amazon River and rain forest.

May 8, 2009

Scenes From This Week

This week we visited the school EE Paulo Cavalcanti in the Vila Formosa area of Sao Paulo. We worked with Pastor Eliseu and Igreja Evangelica Da Fe, and we spoke in the school on Wednesday morning and Thursday afternoon. The school is a very nice school, and we had a great time with the 1st through 4th graders and also with the teachers. We are very happy that 443 students and 25 teachers accepted Christ, and that the school really appreciated our visits to help the students & teachers. Many of the students come from families that have problems with drugs, alcohol,...

Professora Eliane and her students
John, Nancy, interpreter Elma, Pastor Eliseu and the church teamJohn, interpreter Elma, and the church team speaking in a classInterpreter Ruth and I and our team sharing ChristJohn and interpreter Elma sharing Jesus in a classInterpreter Flavia and I speaking in one of the classesNancy and I speaking and sharing Jesus

May 6, 2009

God Must Be The Source Of Our Vision

"There is a significant difference between revelation and vision. Vision is something people produce; revelation is something people receive... Leaders can dream up a vision, but they cannot discover God's will. God must reveal it... The visions that drive spiritual leaders must be derived from God... It is critical for leaders to walk closely with the Father, so they are keenly aware of his revelation and are ready to respond in obedience."
- Henry Blackaby / Spiritual Leadership

If we are to be fruitful for God's Kingdom, we must be faithful servants of His. Many Christian leaders make the mistake of not continually working on their personal relationship with the Lord, and to seeking His will and His vision of what He wants to do in the world. It is human nature to want to go out and do things for God, and to come up with our own plans and visions. But God's ways and thoughts are not our own. God is on mission in the world, working to redeem humanity, and only He knows how to do this. We must continually humble ourselves before Him (see I Peter 5:6), and seek His face and His will & vision.

The only way we will be successful and fruitful for the Lord is to join Him in what He is doing. In this way we will be instruments and servants that He can fill and empower to do His work. We will never be what God wants us to be, and we will never accomplish what God wants to do by dreaming up our own plans and visions, and then praying for Him to come to join and bless us. We must humble ourselves, work on our relationship with Him, seek His face, and then follow and obey Him wherever and however He leads us, no matter the cost. Then in God's timing He will reveal how we can join Him in His work. It is not us trying to do great things for God, it is God doing His great work through us, His servants and instruments.

May 1, 2009

God At Work In The World

"Look unto the nations and watch - and be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told."
- Habakuk 1:5

In my last few posts I have written about the amazing things God has been doing in Brazil and also in China. Now let's talk about what God is doing in other parts of the world. God is mightily at work in the world, reaching out in love to people who are without Christ. In the past the US, England, and Europe were where the majority of evangelical Christians were, and these were the places where most evangelical missioinaries were sent from. There has been a spiritual decline in these areas for a good number of years now, and the spread of the Gospel of Jesus Christ has been growing dramatically in other places in the world, especially in Latin America, Africa, and Asia. Here is some interesting information about the approximate percentage of evangelical Christians in the world (for example - in 1960 14% of evangelical Christians in the world were in Africa ; today 32% of the world's evangelical Christians are in Africa):

* Africa: 1960- 14% , today- 32%
* Asia: 1960- 9% , today- 28%
* L. America: 1960- 7% , today- 15%
* N. America: 1960- 52% , today- 19%
* Europe: 1960- 15% , today- 4%
* Pacific: 1960- 3% , today- 2%

You can see God's activity and the dramatic spread of the Gospel in areas like Africa, Asia, and Latin America, and the decline in North America and Europe. Here are some other great things that God is doing in the world:

* South Korea has been experiencing spiritual revival for a good number of years now, and the Gospel has spread greatly. They are expected to pass the US for sending out more evangelical missionaries in the future (they are currently 2nd behind the US).
* In Africa in 1900 there were approx. 8.7 million evangelical Christians - today there are approx. 389 million.
* Approx. 20,000 Africans accept Christ as their Lord & Savior each day.
* Approx. 500 Muslims accept Christ every month in Iran.
* It was illegal for Christians to live in Nepal until 1960. Now there is an evangelical church in all 75 districts of Nepal, and there are approx. 500,000 evangelical Christians.
* In 1970 there were approx. 1.3 million evangelical Christians in Indonesia - today there are approx. 11 million.
* Approx. 50,000 people in Asia accept Christ as their Lord & Savior each day.
* Christianity is the fastest growing religion in the world.