Wednesday, January 30, 2008

New Ministry

This year at Nova Vida is full of changes.
Pastor Claudinei is heading off to plant a church in northern Parana.

BMM Missionaries Max and Louise Lanz have come to head up this ministry and Brazilian pastor Alberto and family have come to work with us.

Since James and I are still new to the field we need to be under another person and not leading a work. So, James is now leading the youth ministries here.

James brother, David, was actually the one who first led the youth here when the church first began over 5 years ago. Later his Dad, Phil, led the group and now James has the privilege of leading this young people to know and love God.

We are working with Ederson, who was led to the Lord by David.

Eder was engaged in December and we look forward to welcoming his wife, Jessica, to the team in July.
James and Eder have put into place a plan to teach through the Bible in 3 years with the youth. They believe the best way to equip these young people is to teach the whole counsel of the word of God. They get their passion from the Apostle Paul who said, "How I kept back nothing that was helpful, but proclaimed it to you...For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God." (Acts 20:20, 27) We are so excited to see how God will work in lives through His Word.

This weekend begins Carnaval. This is the holiday that precedes lent and encourages people to get all their sin out before lent. We will be having our first activity of the year on Monday and Tuesday. Our theme will be "Don't Waste Your Lives," which is very appropriate for this time of year, since so many teens are wasting their lives at Carnaval. Pray that God will work in the hearts of the young people, that they will see a better way to live their lives.

Monday, January 21, 2008

"To drink from the river of His pleasures"

Photo by Rindy Howard

"God also created us to experience intense pleasure and joy. The problem is that we are prone to seek pleasure in things and people that cannot ultimately satisfy the deep longing in our hearts. For our hearts can never be truly satisfied with less than Him. The unsurrendered heart pursues after what are paltry pleasures, compared with the pure, infinite pleasures God wants to give us."

You will show me the path of life;
In Your presence is fullness of joy;
At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God!
Therefore the children of men
put their trust under the shadow of Your wings.
They are abundantly satisfied with the fullness of Your house,
And You give them drink from the river of Your pleasures.
-Psalm 16:11; 36:7-8

"If we are unwilling to trust God with our happiness and well-being and we insist on the pursuit of temporal pleasures, we may become dominated by overeating, getting drunk or using drugs, sexual promiscuity, adultery, pornography, obsession with television or films or novels, being irresponsible, or living beyond our means."

These two quote were taken from Nancey Lee De Moss's book, "Surrender, the Heart God Controls."

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Hannah's 4th Birthday

Today we celebrated 4 years with our little Hannah Kathryn.

This year she got her very first bike. Since we were on the road so much when she was younger this is her first chance to learn to pedal!

Blowing out 4 candles was lots of fun!

She played with lots of friends and beat up all the bad guys!

For supper, we went out with a bunch of our missionary friends for Pizza.
It was a great ending to a special day!

The rest of these pictures are a trip down memory lane. Most of these are from this past year of her life.

She just caught her first fish!

She loves making silly faces!

"Are you calling me a cone head?"


"My first puppy!"

"I love my Pappa-Honey"

"Aunt Hula, will you read it again?"

I call this "fun with cheese."

"Granna, did you see that big bird?"

"I might obey but I DON'T WANT TO!"

"Ahhh! She's finally done with my hair!"

"Ok, NOW can we open presents?"

A Time of Refreshing

This week has been very special for me. I have been able to participate in an All-Brazil representative conference right here in Curitiba. This is mainly a conference to take care of business and there are only about 35 missionaries here but it has been great.

We have had Dr. Doug Brown from our Alma Mater, Faith Baptist Bible College & Seminary, as our guest speaker. He has been speaking on the Supremacy of Christ. Our study has been mainly in Hebrews. I have been very challenged and encouraged through the sharing of the Word. Each evening as I leave the session, I can't wait to get home and dig into God's Word.

One reason this conference has been such a blessing to me is that it is all in English. To sing hymns where I understand exactly what I am saying has been amazing. We have sang so many songs that are so rich in theological truths about the character of Christ. I have also loved being part of an English service. I do understand a good portion of what I hear at Nova Vida but this week I can dig deeper and take notes and really feel like I have been sharpened. As I listen to the preacher I am not translating words in my head, I am simply soaking it all in.

Speaking of SIMPLY, I learned from a veteran missionary, Harold Reiner, that most English words ending in -ly, like, simply are the same in Portuguese only they have the ending -mente. So, for example you would say simply, simplemente ( pronounced simp-lee-men-che) or normally, normalmente. Kind of a cool trick! Thanks Uncle Harold.

Some Yummy Brazilian Pizza
(The missionaries helped us celebrate Hannah's 4th Birthday)

I was so encouraged to see our kids really latch on the the missionaries and to begin relationships. Hannah is very outgoing and I think she won some hearts. Here, she is showing her "ouchy" to Uncle Harold.

Monday, January 14, 2008

It is Time to Seek the Lord

I began this year redoing a study by Nancy Leigh DeMoss called "Seeking Him." I have to admit that I was feeling "dry" spiritually. I was filled with a yearning to draw closer to God and yet felt lost.The key verse for week one was Hosea 10:12
"Sow for yourselves righteousness;
reap steadfast lov
break up your fallow ground,

for it is the time to seek the Lord,
that He may come and rain
ss upon you."

There were several things that really challenged me. So much that I was responsible to do...

1. "Sow for yourselves righteousness." HOW? I believe by taking the time to be in the Word, meditate on the Word, be still before God and attempting to memorize Scripture.

2. "Break up your fallow ground." WHAT is fallow ground and HOW do I break it up? Fallow ground is ground that was once plowed , but now is now lying waste. It must now be tilled or broken up in order to make it ready for seed and, ultimately, fruitful and productive. After much prayer and meditation, I came to the conclusion that I break up my fallow ground by holding my heart before the mirror of God's Word and confess and turn away from the sins that He reveals to me. I am making my heart ready for fruitful and productive service.
3. "Seek the Lord." I want to seek the Lord, I want Him to rain righteousness upon me.

As I spent the week memorizing and meditating on this verse and the surrounding chapters, God really began to work on my heart. He challenged me to come back to Him as my first love, He gave me an excitement to get up each morning and be with Him. I feel like the past two weeks have awakened or ignited a renewed love and intimacy with my Lord and Savior.

I am now amidst a study of the whole book of Hosea, using a really neat Journaling Bible that my friend Gretchen sent me for Christmas. Since the Bible includes room for writing, Hosea is pretty well underlined and commented on. I am amazed at all I have been learning from this
prophet, how many times I am like Israel, and how much I want to know God.

This is my little devotional corner (right in my kitchen!) I have an appointment here each morning at 6:30. I usually have a cup of tea or coffee to get me started. Then, I have sweet communion with the God of the Universe who lives within me. I am learning so much and can't wait to feast upon His Word each morning!

Friday, January 04, 2008

Our Trip to the Graciosa

The week of Christmas we were able to visit our neighbors who were house-sitting on the Graciosa. The Graciosa is the old road down the mountain to the beach.

As we spent the day exploring I became more and more convinced that I had never seen God's handiwork more magnificently displayed.

"Praise the Lord!
O Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,
for his steadfast love endures forever!
Who can utter the mighty deeds of the Lord,
or declare all his praise?"
Psalm 106:1&2