Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Being a kid in Brazil

 I thought I would do a short update on our kids and give you a quick glimpse into their lives.  

 Brazilians love kids.  My first visit here with a child was in 2002.  We were waiting in a huge, long line at a hot, stuffy airport and I was holding 3 month old Daniel.  We stood in line only 2-3 minutes when they noticed we had a baby and off we went to the FRONT of the line!!!  Wow, now that is cool.   Even now with older kids I see the love Brazilians have for children.  Our grocery store has a trampoline for kids to use while their parents shop.  Every major grocery store has a free kids room for kids to play in while the parents shop.  It is has adult supervision, movies, games, art projects and more.  Saturday was the first anniversary of our grocery store so they brought in inflatable games and gave out free cotton candy and suckers to all the kids. At McDonalds, they have an employee who just serves the kids by making balloon animals for them or giving them little treats. You even get to pick out your happy  meal toy here!   You cannot forget Children's day too,  it is an official holiday here, just like Mother's day or Father's day. 

 So, I think my kids are enjoying growing up with these special little perks!  
Jeremiah is happy flying kites, watching for kites, making tails for kites...  
It really is the simple things :)

  Daniel is getting so tall and has such a tender heart for God.  He still really enjoys playing soccer and we always seem to have a house full of boys over here playing in the afternoon.  

 Hannah, our most courageous, is always ready to go.  She loves playing school and organizing all the younger kids.  She has a tender heart and I am excited to see what God has in store for her.  

I am so thankful for these  precious blessings that God allows me care for.  I strive to remember that my time with them really is short and I need to take advantage of these moments. 

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Disciples, Making Disciples

One of the goals this year at Redemption Baptist Church is to be disciples making disciples.  As James has worked to encourage and equip the church, he heard about a program that we can use as a structure to help us live this out.  After talking to a fellow pastor in a northern city of our state who has used this program for several years, we planned a trip to travel up and check it out. 

Friday night we had the opportunity to travel to Jaraguá do Sul and participate in a small group meeting out of Berean Baptist Church. They call it a Nucleus of Bible Studies (NEB's).  The Neb's are simply evangelistic Bible studies held in the home of church members.  Each host home (along with the help of a couple other families in the church) commits to invite at least 30 friends, neighbors, co-workers, family, etc., to a 4-week Bible study in their home.   (We invite 30 knowing that only about 5 will come.)  After the 4 weeks of studies with a strong focus on the Gospel, we hold a special service at church, giving them a Bible and a certificate of completion.  The next 3-6 months we spend following up on these contacts, continuing Bible studies with them when possible and showing the love of Christ to them. 
 Saturday morning Pr. JosĂ© sat down with us and went over the whole program, step by step.   We are so thankful to have the opportunity to glean from the experience of others.  Berean has 11 Neb's going on this month. Friday night one of the groups that meets in an apartment complex  had 13 visitors come! 
Pray for our men as they meet tonight to start the process of adapting the program to fit our needs and implementing it here at Redemption.  We are excited about this because it encourages our people to be purposeful about looking at the people around them as ETERNAL souls.  It equips them to share the Gospel more formally in a study but also to work with people one on one.

We praise God for all that He has done the past year in preparing us for this step by drawing each of us closer to Himself and each other.  We are excited to see what God has in store for us this year. 

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Remembering the Cross

Yesterday James and I made a visit on a recent contact.  We spent some time getting to know her better and then pressed forward with some spiritual questions, trying to understand where she is at in her spiritual life.  Here were some of the troubling responses:

-Although she spent many years in a baptist church she could only define the Gospel as inspiring teachings that help us know how to live but are not exactly practical for today's world.
    -Her goal seems to be striving for perfection in this life while having to carry the weight of the results of her sinful choices.  
-A dislike of thinking or talking about the death of Christ because it can make you depressed or sad and God does not want that for us.  

What is also very troubling is the lack of a learning spirit and underlying attitude of trying to teach a pastor what Christianity is all about.   There was no thirst for righteousness or knowledge of God.

This morning I was looking at Ephesians 5:1-2
Therefore, be imitators of God, as dearly loved children.  And walk in love as the Messiah also loved us and gave Himself for us, a sacrificial and fragrant offering to God. 

These verses give me two commands to fulfill, but they are sandwiched between three DECLARATIONS of God's love 
-4:32 "forgiving one another, just as God for Christ's sake has forgiven you" 
-5:1 "as dearly loved children..."
-5:2 "As the Messiah loved us and gave Himself for us..."    
The death of Christ and His Resurrection  are the reason I want to imitate God.  It is the means of my adoption as a child of God.  It is the fuel that enables me to walk in love.   

How can we possibly set aside his death as discouraging or depressing?  If we thought he was still dead, maybe that would be true but we serve a living Savior!  

I have come to the conclusion that the more I meditate on his love; his incredible sacrifice for me, the more I will be like him, imitating Him and walking in love.

Pray for us to continue to faithfully proclaim His greatness because of his extravagant love for us. 

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Wrapping up March

While most everyone was waiting in line, out in the cold and rain at a chocolate shop, to buy very expensive chocolate eggs to give their friends and families for Easter, we were trying to keep focused on what is really worth celebrating.
 Jesus Christ, willingly dying for undeserving sinners like me, and three days later rising again!

 Food art depicting the Resurrection scene, daily  bible readings with the kids, Easter Music, singing, more pictures on the wall showing the suffering Servant...  I am so thankful for the focus all of us had on the true meaning of Easter.  Our kids didn't even ask for an egg this year:)  (Though their grandparents did get them a nice big chocolate bar!!)

 Sunday morning was a blessing.  We had almost all of our people out for the morning and evening services.  In the morning we shared a special prayer time reflecting on the profound love the Father has lavished on us. 
 After the service we had a special breakfast time enjoyed by young and old alike! 
Sunday night we enjoyed celebrating the Resurrection of our Lord and Savior.  We don't normally have special music and were blessed to have Josieneide share with us.   God also blessed us by having a contact visit for the first time. 

Several weeks ago our family went to the park and ran into one of Hannah's classmates.  I struck up a conversation with the mother who claimed to be a christian but didn't have a local church.  So, I invited her to visit us some time.  As the weeks passed, I had given up hope that we would hear from her again, but God had a plan and she and her daughter joined us on Easter Sunday.  Pray for us as we follow up with her; that we could encourage her in her walk with God.